January update and much to update

wow, i am sorry that i cannot get Paula involved more with this site. surely she would help fill some gaps. instead, all is left to me <sigh> (let’s not talk about chores around the house . . . i am trying to look good here).

we had terrific holiday season. we had x-mas here in EGR. JD received an air hockey table from Santa, which provided our early highlights and continues to provide some heated battles. we also spent some time in Illinois with Paula’s family. one day, we all drove down to Springfield and visited the Abraham Lincoln presidential museum and also his home. the kids asked a lot of questions and a good time was had by all. we returned for new years and had grandma and grandpa Cook visit along with Amber and Dave and AJ. more good times.

shortly into the new year, President Ford died and his funeral was right here in East Grand Rapids. so, i took the kids a few blocks over to see the motorcade. Ellie saw a bunch of friends and the kids played with other kids while we waited. the streets were lined with folks. JD got excited as the motorcade approached . . . and quickly passed. JD blurted out loudly, “that’s the worstest parade ever!” heh heh.

just over 1 week ago, we visited Disney World. wow! WOW! i had no clue it was so easy to spend money and not realize you were spending it. WOW! that being said, we had an awesome time. well, except for the day Paula spent sick in the hotel room. Paula’s parents and here brother Chris and his family were also along. Chris and his wife Jenn also spent a day sick, so grandma and grandpa and I got a lot of individual time with the kids. we stayed in the Disney Wilderness Lodge. i am not sure about other lodging but this has to be one of the best. our room had a view of the nightly fireworks at Magic Kingdom and we were just across the lake from the Magic Kingdom. though, the boat was a bit slower than a quick 2 minute bus shuttle. in fact, we had a direct bus shuttle to all of the parks, so that was very nice. here are some photos from Disney (click on any image to get a larger version):







one of the neatest things we experienced was a Disney Magical Moment. we were in a long line to take a crowded raft over to Tom Sawyer’s Island when an employee came up to us and said, “how would you folks like a special experience?” we went along and they had a private raft waiting for us. the 4 of us along with 4 disney employees. they made JD and Ellie the Sheriffs of Tom Sawyer Island and they gave us a raft ride all around Tom Sawyer’s Island with a guided tour along the way. When it was all done they dropped us off at Tom’s Sawyer’s Island and presented us with a coupon to ride Big Thunder Mountain immediately without standing in the 80 minute line:


An awesome experience and the kids were just thrilled. in fact, Big Thunder Mountain was our favorite ride; though, JD might have liked Buzz Lightyear a bit more.

We also had a family at the hotel hand us their FastPasses (6 of them). These were immediate fast passes. Everyone who goes to Disney can use their ticket as a fast pass for big rides. you stick your ticket in and it allows you to return an hour later to move to the front of the line. however, the FastPasses these folks handed us were instant — meaning we didn’t have to wait an hour. this is huge at a place like Disney with young kids. this made our experience that much better.

We visited Magic Kingdom, Disney MGM Studios, Animal Kingdom, and even Epcot. we weren’t sure the kids would like Epcot, but they loved visiting the various foreign countries and learning about the countries and trying the foods . . . particularly trying the foods. Good times all around . . . until our flight home, that is. we ended up being severely delayed in Chicago and had to sit on our plane nearly two hours being de-iced and waiting. and we landed in GR to a runway that was completely packed with snow. talk about scary. but we made it and we’re now back in the swing of things.