Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Did You Know About Hollywood Studios--Part 2?

Did you know about Hollywood Studios?

For fear of leaving out a couple of things, I want to insert them here: We did enjoy a quick walk through of the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground set. We were all too big to play this time, but we liked seeing the giant sized stuff.

I also enjoyed seeing the huge backdrops of San Francisco and New York City.

After we finished our meal in the 50's Cafe, the boys took off to the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show. Us girls were a little behind and got there late. We were afraid we would miss the show or have poor seats. As we were funneled around the stadium, we were brought back to a section in the middle where the cast member opened a roped off area. We got to sit right in the middle in some excellent seats!

We saw some extremely beautiful driving in the car ballet scene. We learned how the cars are able to do backwards stunt driving, how they can jump a ramp and keep driving, and how they can drive on two wheels. We even got to see Herbie!

Next, the motorcycles came out for some cool stunts. One guy skidded into a fire. We were shown his protective gear and how he caught on fire and how quickly this had to be put out, even under five layers of protective clothing! We all enjoyed this show a great deal.

Next we enjoyed the Great Movie Ride, reliving scenes from some classic movies, all housed in a replica of Mann's Chinese Theater. My daughter and I went on to meet Mickey. We had to stand in line for a good while before getting him to sign some Mickey Mouse shoes she had bought!

We met up with the boys and rode the TOT and coaster again. We tried to get in to see the Fantasmic show. We actually could not get a seat at the first show, so we went out and walked around a bit more, grabbed something to eat, then came back to sit outside the gate for the next show.

I got in line early and was able to grab some great seats for this wonderful show, hosted my Sorcerer Mickey! The scenes were wonderful and filled with characters, dancing water, fire and fire works! I adored seeing my teenaged son clapping through the show like a little guy! A great way to end our fun filled day at Hollywood Studios!

I had heard there is a Journey Into Narnia (which will soon be turned into Prince Caspian) exhibit that I wanted to see. We never did see it, but since being home, I heard it is still running. I am sorry to have missed it. We also did not get to see the new Toy Story Mania , which opens in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Did You Know About Hollywood Studios--Part 1?

Did you know about Hollywood Studios?

The next part of our big adventure was over to Hollywood Studios, formerly called MGM Studios. Both the kids were looking forward to this park and my son seemed to really remember it well. There was so much we wanted to do there, and for resort guests, the park stayed open til 1am! The first thing we did was head over to the Hollywood Hotel Tower of Terror.

We grabbed a fast pass and headed over to ride Rock N Roller Coaster while we waited. The line was very long at the roller coaster, so we thought we would wait til the time specified so we could get another fast pass for the roller coaster. While we were trying to decide how to best plan out our time, a lady gave us her three fast passes to the roller coaster. So the kids and I went through the fast pass line and my husband went on the single riders line. The kids rode together and I rode with someone else, as did my husband-who actually got on before us. We decided to use this method each time we rode it after this. Going through the single rider line cut the wait time substantially.

After these rides, and I believe the Star Tours, we really wanted to see the Indiana Jones stunt show. We did not know that fast passes were used for this show as well, and did not feel like standing in the very long "standing room only" line. We tried to get fast passes for a later show, but it just kept not working out for us, since we had a reservation to eat at the 50's Prime Time Cafe. We did get into a later showing by having my husband go early to get into the "standing room only" line. We got seats no problem, though at the time we were not sure we would. The show was really great and my son remembered quite a bit of it (from our previous trip.)

After the show, we went over to the 50's Prime Time Cafe for our reservation. My husband went to try to get fast passes for another motor stunt show. They did not give them out for that show, so we had to wait before we could check into the diner until he was back with us. The cafe was set up like a home in the 1950's would have been. There were different rooms to seat guests in, each with an old fashioned TV playing a reel of clips from 50's shows. The food here was ok. My husband had the meat loaf, my son had the chicken pot pie and a really excellent chocolate malt, my daughter had fried chicken and I had a grilled chicken sandwich. My daughter ate the drumstick and mashed potatoes, but did not want to try the greens (an unusual side dish I thought!) so our waitress, "Cousin Silvante" fed them to her "airplane style"! My husband was threatened with punishment for putting his elbows on the table and my son kept getting told to stop being a tattle tale!!

Did You Know a Good Mother's Day Gift?

Did you know a good Mother's Day gift?

Well, since Mother's Day is around the corner, I guess I better start dropping hints to my family. Never mind all the signs in all the stores-they seem to never notice! So here are some good ideas: clean the house, make a nice meal, another family trip, a massage chair, books, chocolate. Maybe that will help get them started...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Did You Know About Our Adventure in Animal Kingdom?

Did you know about our adventure in Animal Kingdom?

Our first stop at Disney was Animal Kingdom. They opened early for resort guests this day. There were only a few things we wanted to do in this park, so we went early and got them done and moved on.

We of course wanted to check out the newest attraction, Mt. Everest Expedition. The line was a little long, but we got through fairly quickly and got fast passes for another ride later. The ride was fun. You climb up and ride up and down to a "broken end of the track" (from here I could see Hollywood Hotel Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios.) Then you ride backwards for a ways. There is a part where the Yeti's shadow is animated onto the wall and you see him tearing up the track. You finish the ride going past an angry Yeti who will be waiting to catch you on your next ride through.

After this we went on the the Dinosaur ride. We did not do that last time and so wanted to check it out. It was ok, and probably better if you really like dinosaurs. The "show" and animatronics is good. The ride is a bit jerky and maybe scary for young kids (dark and dinosaurs "jump" out at you.) After our ride through this era we headed to the Tree of Life to see the Bug movie. My husband and son had seen this one before, but it was a first for my daughter and me. The 3D is fun, but I don't like getting squirted with "bug juice" (they squirt water on you for effect!)

There is much more to do in Animal Kingdom, but for the sake of time, we left after this and headed out to Hollywood Studios (formerly known as MGM Studios.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Did You Know What the Meteorites in Space Mountain Are?

Did you know what the meteorites in Space Mountain are?

Well, as we stood in line for the Space Mountain ride, my husband asked if the meteorites floating across the screen were chocolate chip cookies. We all laughed. But I found a site today that actually confirmed that the meteorites on the screen are indeed chocolate chip cookies!!

Did You Know About the Role of Diet Pills?

Did you know about the role of diet pills?

Since we were gone for nearly a week, we had little options for healthy eating. And being on vacation, we wanted to be able to enjoy splurging a little and enjoying some treats while we were gone. I know that eating right is a major part of being healthy. I have heard some diet pills claim that you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight. I would have to say that no diet pill, from Akavar to ZyMelt can take the place of eating right, whether at home or on vacation.

Did You Know About Pop Century Hotel?

Did you know about Pop Century Hotel?

I had never stayed in a Disney resort before. We enjoyed our stay and the Pop Century had a lot of fun items to look at and to reminisce over. Each wing was set as a different decade from the 1950's through the 90's. At the top there were several sayings popular during those years. The stair wells were designed with different fads from those particular years. The 50's had bowling pins, the 60's had yo-yos, the 70's 8 track tapes, the 80's Rubik's cubes, and the 90's cell phones. It looks like they are building another wing. We think it will be the 2000's. Maybe their stairs will have iPods.

The pools are nice. There are playgrounds and kiddie pools too. A walk down "Memory Lane" has signs telling you about different happenings throughout the years. (This is a good place for joggers too.) The shuttle buses come through about every 20 minutes to take you to your different theme park destinations. There is a food court and a souvenir shop as well. We even had our towels folded into Mickey one night.

The only downside to staying here was that we felt the lack of options for food. We did not care for the food in the food court, but ate breakfast there every day. There were no grocery stores nearby to get stuff for sandwiches either (not that we had anywhere to keep the stuff anyway.) Overall, the hotel was a positive place to stay and we liked the convenience of catching a shuttle bus almost anytime we wanted to.

Did You Know About Shangri La Gardens and Nature Center?

Did you know about Shangri La Gardens and Nature Center?

I just learned about this new nature facility that opened recently here in South Texas. Just two hours up the road from me in Orange, Texas, lays the Shangri La Garden. In a cypress swamp just a couple of hours from the Louisiana border, folks can visit the natural landscape and see native plants and birds of the area. There are more than 300 native species of plants to see as well as a bird blind to observe the native nesting birds of the locale. The Discovery Center houses a hands-on exhibit. There is also a laboratory and three outdoor classrooms. You will find an Exhibit Hall, Discovery Theater, Children’s Garden, Exhibition Greenhouses, CafĂ©, and the Garden Store. Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is committed to showing how people can live in harmony with nature through its eco-friendly gardens and has received the U.S. Green Building Council's Platinum certification for LEED®-NC.

In addition to offering these displays of natural beauty to the public, Shangri La offers school programs and tours at discounted rates. You can bring your school group for special grade appropriate programs. The discount rates only apply during weekdays, though you are welcome to schedule a trip during a weekend.

Shangri La is offering many educational programs for schools, kids, adults-to anyone interested in learning more about the natural surroundings of this area. From teacher workshops to eco rangers, the trash-off to Earth week celebrations, Shangri La offers many opportunities to get in touch with your Earth and learn more about the nature that surrounds you.

Shangri La is open Tuesday through Sunday. You can tour the gardens, the outpost or both. The outpost tour does require reservations, so be sure to make arrangements soon to visit Shangri La Gardens and Nature Center.

Did You Know We Just Returned from Disney World?

Did you know we just returned from Disney World?

That's right! My family just spent most of this week in Disney World!

For the last six years, we have planned on taking the kids back to DW. But since my son went into public school this year, we thought it just would not work out. So we were debating on other vacation choices. Then, two weeks ago, my husband found an envelope in his office. Inside was the itinerary for a trip to Disney World...hotel arrangements, airline arrangements and DW passes! Well, we felt we could not pass up a trip that someone else had paid for, so we did take our son out of school for a trip to Disney World!

We had a great time (though the son was/is stressed about all the make up work). We made it to all four parks and had a great time seeing and doing all things Disney! I will be sharing many of our adventures and pictures over the next few days!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Did You Know About Forbidden Gardens?

Did you know about Forbidden Gardens?

I have known about this site for several years, but have never been able to visit before today. Forbidden Gardens is the site of a replica terra cotta army, a replica Forbidden City and other interesting artifacts of ancient Chinese history. In order to view the clay army, which is about 1/3 scale in size, you must go with a tour guide. The tour feels a bit rushed, but you can go on a following tour if you desire to get more photos. You will also see Chinese weaponry, architecture and the 1/20 scale model of the Forbidden City.

The terra cotta soldiers are reproduced in formation in front of a hill representing Emperor Qin's burial site. The infantry soldiers are lined up in a shallow pit, with the outer line facing the outside of the configuration. It is amazing to think about the original 6,000 clay soldiers, each with individual features and clothing, covering close to three football fields!

Did You Know How My Daughter Got a Pearl Necklace?

Did you know how my daughter got a pearl necklace?

When my daughter was about five, she helped my husband at one of his camps by doing a skit. It is a really touching skit about a little girl who loved her dime store pearls. The skit meant so much to him, that for our daughter's birthday, he wanted to buy her a string of pearls. Being a minister, he could not afford a set of pearls for his young daughter. But he did find her a single pearl on an add-a-pearl necklace. Now this may not be Akoya pearls, but it is a pretty good start for a little girl.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Did You Know About Running Bamboo?

Did you know about running bamboo?

I did not realize there are different types of bamboo. But yesterday at my in-law's house I saw a type of bamboo they have recently planted. They say it is "running" and kind of takes over an area. My FIL says if you dig a little ditch for it to follow, it will grow there where you want it. But if you are not careful, it can crack a slab!

Did You Know About Interval Running?

Did you know about interval running?

My husband says it is good to include interval running during training. I was never very keen on it, as it is hard for me to keep track of my time, even with my alarm on my watch. So he gave me a good, quick interval run to do on the treadmill. It is pretty simple and is a quick workout. First, begin with a four minute warm up jog at a mid-moderate pace. Then sprint for one minute. Next is a moderate paced run for two minutes. Repeat this sequence two more times. Finish with another four minute jog. This takes 19 minutes and gives a good interval workout.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Did You Know About the Japanese Plum?

Did you know about the Japanese plum?

Apparently my in-laws have a Japanese plum tree in their yard. I never knew this, but today it had the fruit on it. I don't think this is a true Ume tree, but my FIL said it was called Japanese plum. He described the taste as between an orange and a plum. I tried it, but it was pretty sour. He said someone nearby comes and picks them and makes a nice jelly out of them.

Did You Know About the Different Types Of Magnifying Glasses?

Did you know about the different types of magnifying glasses?

Before my grandpa died last year, he had gotten to the point where he had to use a magnifying glass to see anything he wanted to read. He had macular degeneration and it continued to get worse for him until he passed. There are some really uniquely designed magnifying glasses available today. I had never seen those available on a watch or the ones that are actually made into spectacles to wear while reading. I also just learned about the one that you can use to magnify print onto your TV screen!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Did You Know About Presidential Park?

Did you know about Presidential Park?

While trying to find out information about the "Spirit of American Statesmanship" statue, I came across another project of artist/sculptor David Adickes. Since I did not know that name of the statue in question at the time, I stumbled upon this article about some giant presidential heads that were being made to become an attraction known as Presidential Park. Adickes is lending 43 of his 18 foot statues to the new attraction. It seems as if the first five were brought in on this past President's Day to begin the project. This is not far from me, so I need to drive over and take a look at this!

Did You Know Your Plans for Mother's Day?

Did you know your plans for Mother's Day?

It's only about a month until Mother's Day is here. I don't know for sure yet what I will be doing for Mother's Day. A friend of ours is going to be participating in a women's only triathlon. I think that sounds like a really cool thing to do for Mother's Day, but I cannot join in that day.

Maybe after church I can come home with a good book and spend the afternoon reading in bed. That really does sound ideal! I usually would rather cook my own meals at home rather than go out to eat, but it's even better if someone else cleans the kitchen! I would say that one of the best mother’s day gifts I've gotten is the day my husband and kids spent all day cleaning the house for me! That was pretty cool!

My mom and mother-in-law usually just get a card from us. But even better than that would be sending flowers. It is so easy and is a sure fire mom-pleaser! There is even a "Celebrate Mom For Who She Is Contest" that I could check out. It might be that I could nominate my mom for the wonderful mother that she has always been to us and the super grandmother she is being for my kids and nephews. She certainly deserves it!

Did You Know About the "Spirit of American Statesmanship"?

Did you know about the "Spirit of American Statesmanship"?

A couple of weeks ago as we left town, something caught my eye just as we were leaving downtown Houston and heading onto I10. It was a large white monument that reminded me of Mt. Rushmore. I was not sure really what this was, so I wanted to be sure to get a look and a photo as we came back through town on our way home.

Returning home, I had my camera ready and sure enough, there was something Mt. Rushmore-like on the side of the road! I only had the chance for one shot, but it turned out not too bad.

I came home to find out just what this statue is. My husband said he had seen it on news . It is basically an artist's tribute to the historical leadership of great American and Texan men. The statue includes over sized busts of Washington, Lincoln, Houston and Austin. I must say that it definitely is an eye-catcher!

Did You Know The Best Acne Treatment?

Did you know the best acne treatment?

I know many people that would love to get their hands on the best acne treatment. Both young and old search and spend lots of money on this. I know that for my son we searched through several treatments looking for the best. We tried a popular brand that seemed to work for a short time and then we switched to something a little cheaper. It has been pretty effective for him. I am wondering if the best acne treatment is different for different people.

Did You Know How to Make Your Own Terra Cotta Soldiers?

Did you know how to make your own terra cotta soldiers?

In our study of Ancient China, we could not leave out the clay army surrounding Emperor Qin's tomb. The kids were fascinated by this pretty recent discovery. It is amazing the detail that was put into this army. The figures are all different and the carving and painting were astounding. There are even models of chariots and horses. Originally, the soldiers held real weapons.

To supplement our reading about these soldiers, we will be going to visit an exhibit not too far away that has replicated this tomb. But I really wanted to see if we could make our own terra cotta soldiers. I found this recipe to make your own terra cotta soldiers. I got it from a unit done at St. George Elementary taken from the book "Marco Polo for Kids".

You will need

1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
Red and yellow food coloring
4 T. paprika

Preheat your oven to 250. Boil the water. Stir in the salt. Put the flour in a large bowl and add the salt water to it. Mix well and then divide dough into four pieces. You can put each piece onto wax paper. Add 8 drops of yellow and 4 drops of red food coloring to each piece. Add 1T paprika to each. Work the clay until the color is uniform. When the color has been distributed, shape your clay into soldiers, chariots or horses. Be sure to use toothpicks to carve faces and details of uniforms,etc. You can make holes in hands to place toothpick weapons after baked.

Place on a cookie sheet (I sprayed it first) and bake for 2 hours until hard.