Thursday, May 14, 2009

Goin’ To DisneyWorld….

Next month, the fam will be heading down to FLA for a few days of Disney splendor.  Seven dollar Cokes, here we come!

That said, my cousin, who interned down at the happiest and humid-ist (sp? Is that even a word) place on Earth, passed on some great recos.  So good, I think I should share with the world.  If you like, don’t praise me, praise her:

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Oh Disney, Disney, Disney.  Pretty much my favorite place on earth.
 
Just a few general hints or tips.  Keep in mind I have no idea when the last time any of you were there so please dont take offense to any of my suggestions, just letting you know from my experience.
 
–Bring small snacks to munch on throughout the day.  Snacks are expensive and its more worth it to spend your money on a big meal at dinner in my opinion. 

–All lines will be long because summer season picks up in June usually.  However, GUEST RELATIONS IS YOUR BEST FRIEND!  I am fairly certain you can get a guest assistance pass that will allow you to skip all lines. You will definitely want to check into this.  Guest relations is located at the front of all parks and they really can do a lot of things that most people just ignore.  It never hurts to ask, trust me.

–If you plan on eating at any restaurant at any park, you must have reservations.  You can put your on the waitlist (sometimes cant) but it will always be a multiple hour wait.  Guarenteed.  I would call asap to make reservations if that is the way you want to go.  And always show up early.  You are NOT guarenteed to have a table waiting for you at your reservation time but you will have perfered status.  Most places are really good about getting you in asap though.

–All restaurants on property have gluten free options on hand, you just have to ask for them.  It is not necessary to call ahead to set up meals for gluten issues, but if there are allergy issues, you must call early and speak with a Chef.  If you do this, make sure to call in the morning the day of the reservation to verify that they havent forgotten or misplaced the order.  Im sure you all are very good at this process, Im just giving it as a reminder because I worked in and around many chefs and restaurants across property and I know how these things work and what they tend to do.

–Water is expensive.  Which is nuts to me.  I suggest taking water bottles and filling them up at the hotel before you leave.  The fountains are not always too tasty.

–Also, they took away soda in bottles and only sell cups with lids at the popcorn carts now so if you are a bottle person, sorry!  (Yes, I met many a specifically bottle person who was quite upset over this)

–Disney offers Meal Plans which are sometimes an awesome thing and sometimes a hassle.  I suggest at least looking into it if you think you are going to do a lot of eating in the Parks.  Most plans offer snack, quick-service, and table service meal points so basically you just hand them the card and everything is paid for.  When you go that route though you are limited on what you can get based on your plan.  Certain times in the year when you book you actually get a free meal plan so you might want to look into when that is and see if its during your stay.

–If you want to see any shows, always arrive at least a half an hour early.  Not even joking.
–Take advantage of Fast Passes if you dont get the Guest Assistance Pass, or if not all of you get one.  If you play the fast passes right, it saves you tons of time and hassle of lines. 

–If you want to see a parade, its advised to line up as soon as you see them start to bring out the ropes, usually 45 mins to an hour prior.  Line up along the rope so noone gets in front of you. 
 
–Disney offeres a Magical Express Shuttle from the airport which delivers your bags to the hotel room for you and drops you off as well.  I highly suggest looking into it unless you are renting a car, in which case never mind.
 
–If you are staying on property then you can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours also known as EMH.  Every park has them, sometimes an hour before park opens or two or three hours after park closes.  It used to be you needed to get a wrist band for them to be allowed to stay in the park but now all you have to do is show your room key at the enterance of the rides to go on them.  It used to be that all other guests were kicked out of the park and only those staying on property were allowed to stay sort of making it an exclusive type deal but they dont do that any more.  Its still fun to stay later and the lines usually get shorter.
 
–Let me know if and where you are staying on property and im sure I know some special things about it as well.
 
–Every resort offers mugs that you can refill infinitely while you stay there but they are not good in the parks only at the resort.  They are around 15 bucks but if you arent going to hang around the hotel a lot, not too worth it in my opinion unless you like to collect mugs, which lots do.
 
 
Here is my list of must dos according to park.
 
Hollywood Studios
–Newest ride Toy Story Mania.  Absolutely must.  Its awesome and its brand new.
–Block Party Bash the 3 oclock Parade.  So much fun and so cool.  Its brand new as well and features Pixar characters.  Best place to see this is in the area to the left of the Mickey Hat near the American Idol theatre.
–FANTASMIC NIGHT SHOW!!! This is an absolute must.  However, it is only shown twice a week now.  Make sure you ask which days it is showing when you are there and you have to go.  They usually have two shows and the second is always less crowded.  Sometimes based on attendence they will add an additional show so make sure to ask throughout the day to see if thats the case.  In any case you will absolutely need to go at least an hour early to get good seats.  They give a warning that it might scare little kids because it features a large dragon and some loud noises, just FYI.  I was in charge of the food vendors and the concessions stands as a part of my job when I was working there.
 
Epcot
–Not a lot for kids to do here but they recently just added a Kim Possible adventure game to get kids into the park which kids run around collecting clues and what not to complete a mission using a niffty cell phone.
–Their fireworks show at 9pm is called Illuminations and is one of my favorite but not too interesting for kids.  If you go, get as close to the water as possible because a lot of things happen on the lake that you cant see too well from far away. 
–Soaring is an awesome ride that came from California and is over in the Land area of Epcot and is a must as well.  If you go, ask to sit in the top row to get the best experience.  This ride is a simulation of flying over california and features a lot of popular sights as well as smells.  You do get a little bit of that feeling in your stomach so sometimes kids do get a little freaked out.
–The Nemo ride is a cute ride as well and features the largest cue line in the park (incase you were wondering).
 
Magic Kingdom
–They have a new 3 O’clock and day parade that are both pretty colorful and fun. 
–They always have the best fireworks.  Their goodnight fireworks titled WISHES is really neat and def worth hanging around for.
–They mostly have all the classic rides and not much new. 
–I always have to have a hot dog and fries from Caseys Corner, but thats just me.
 
Animal Kingdom
–Expedition Everest is so cool.  Most super rollercoaster people will say its dumb, but i love it.  It goes backwards in the dark.
–Nemo the Musical is pretty neat, but once is enough in my opinion.  Again, must get there EARLY to get a good seat.
–Festival of the Lion King is my FAVORITE show at any park.  I see it every time I go.
–Its Tough Being a Bug is a really cute 3-d show at the base of the Tree of Life.
–Dinosaur is a really awesome ride, but I always get scared at the end. Every single time even though I know whats coming.  Not always a good one for kids.  Its loud and rough.
–Near the Nemo Musical theatre is a carnival type area.  There is a crazy spinning old fashioned carnival ride that looks like its a little kids ride but its actually quite fun and spins and jerks you around a lot with three or four small drops but its so much fun.
–The Safari ride is hit or miss.  Sometimes there are tons of animals out and they get really close to you and sometimes they are all hiding or sleeping and its really boring.  I still suggest doing it though because its a neat experience regardless.
 
I think that is about all I can think of at the moment.  If you have any other questions feel free to shoot them back.  Im full of lots of useless knowledge about Disney.
 
Oh! Ps…Downtown Disney is mostly just shopping and dining, but still worth checking out.  There is a lego store with giant lego sculptures, a stage where they have music playing and a guy teaches you how to do the dances to them, usually a big hit with kids and youll even see a lot of parents bopping to the beat.  They also have a new feature that was in the works when I was there in March that will be open by the time you go.  It is a hot air balloon that is teathered to the ground, takes 30 people at a time 150 feet in the air and you can see all over Disney property.  It sounds really neat. 
 
Anyway, Im sure thats more than you wanted but there ya go!

Posted by Jerry in 02:20:04 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Update On Stuff

I know this story has worked around in studies covered in chat rooms, but this is the first time I’ve seen a story on the results.

So does something trigger the growth, or is it ‘au natural’?  TBD I guess…

Last week, at hiking, Kim took Maya’s buddy Harrison with them. Now, Harrison, being all boy, decided that going hiking would be substantially cooler than hanging out with Maya and Ms. Kim, but he was out of luck. This week, as Super D took off with the group, Harrison, Ms. Kim and Maya took off too, and I got the phone call about Harrison being on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, shin deep in mud.

Now doesn’t that sound like fun?  Maya was out in the water too.  Kim? No, she just had a pedicure earlier in the day. She had pretty toes you know – for the Kentucky Ballet on Saturday. Maya decided that was too far off in the future. Much more fun to play in the mud now, and worry about your toes later.

Tom Boy…..that Ms. Maya….hanging out in the mud with Harrison…

Posted by Jerry in 02:30:32 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Photos And Videos From Yesterday’s Halloween Party At Casa Grasso!

Guys, this was all Kim, but those of you that know here, would you expect anything else?


Maya in her Witch Outfit (with pink Crocs!).  The outfit lasted about ten minutes, until she began jumping on the bounce house (not costume condusive)


Maya and Colleen icing some cookies out front (notice that the witch hair is now gone!)


Nicole Lynch and her ‘sister’ are supervising some of the boys as they make their masks


Mike Yeager, Kim and Mark Zana supervise the pumpkin decorating station


A couple of the ‘red’ guys at the party commented on our ‘scary sign’ in our front yard. :-)


Harrison Tew getting into the bounce house in the front yard


Janie and Jessie Siebold dressed up at the party


Suzanne Tew supervising boys playing Halloween Twister


Demetrius jumping in the bounce house in his Green Lantern costume


Trying to scope out all the ‘going ons’ at the party


Kids being kids……

Posted by Jerry in 15:14:16 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Andersons

When I moved to Atlanta and was getting on in my job, I was taking a couple of VPs out on a press tour (which means company men sit down and talk to reporters over and over and over) in NYC. We had about a two hour break, so we sat down at a cafe in Grand Central and were people watching (had to, it was January and #*#* cold!).  Demetrius was in the middle of his autistic testing, so as I’ve said before, a very dark and gray year for us.  It did come up and I discussed as objectively as I could.

One of the two guys wife was expecting, and he let me know he too was in the same boat. Yep, down syndrome baby on the way.  Instant connection between the two of us (all said, we had a few other things in common, but this came through first and foremost).  What he didn’t, and couldn’t, know on that particular day, was what a rough time it was going to be.

If you watch the below video, I think you will see exactly what I mean, along with being a bit inspired by it if I do say so myself.  What the Andersons have gone through with ‘Little Joe’ makes me feel like we have a walk in the park with Super D on some days… but like us, they keep on pushing through the fog, and Little Joe is now motoring around using a walker… and I am sure of it, doing everything possible to keep up with his little sister and brother.

I miss working with Jim.  He’s a great guy, and we get together for lunch not nearly often enough.  But this video, again, makes me realize that outside of our own little ‘autism’ bubbles, we are not necessarily in this alone, here in Alpharetta.

Congrats on being such a tough little guy, Joe….

Posted by Jerry in 13:36:32 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Twice As Nice

Our friend Joseph has a birthday upcoming.  He like, me, is nearing 40, or he may be that age already. Don’t know (funny how the actual age matters less-and-less, year-after-year).  I tease him mercilessly when the right opportunity arises – he’s a Jets fan. 

So when we found out he had a get together upcoming here to celebrate, I thought it would be a great, fun gift to get him a ‘Favre #4′ Jets uniform/tee shirt.  So I called his wife Elaine to ask if he already had one.  As the phone was ringing, Kim walked in to the kitchen, and since I am her oldest child, she asked me who I was talking to.

Elaine answers, I tell Kim it’s Elaine, and I become the messenger between the two.  Finally, after I’ve finished playing oral courier, I ask Elaine if Joseph has one of these shirts.  At the same time this is how it is answered on both sides of the phone line:

Kim – Elaine will never let Joseph wear something like that, he’ll look silly
Elaine – No presents. He doesn’t want that

Sometimes, it is best just to give up and understand I’m what I’m up against. 

Posted by Jerry in 15:24:48 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just Some Great Summertime Photos

Kim is busy trying to cram as much in for the kids as possible before they go back to school in two weeks.  So last week:


Demetrius was involved with a hiking camp called ‘Learning on the Log’ which he absolutely loved.  He got to go kayaking on Thursday last week, here he is with Maya.  He’s all smiles, and I think she’s decided that she is definitely missing out not getting to go to this particular camp…..


On Friday Ms. Heike and Kim took the kids to the Botanical Gardens: (L2R) Emilly Sellers, Maya, Mr. Frog, Anna Sellers, Super D


Saturday it rained and we had a relaxing day with our friends the Carraghers.  Demetrius and Joseph watching some TV on the couch….


Ever since he could walk Demetrius has loved sitting in the laundry basket.  He can barely do it, and he has to contort his body to get into one, but he does. Here he is rocking and watching Peter Pan on Saturday night in the laundry basket


Yesterday at Demetrius’ camp there was a face painter.  Maya is a red-white-and-blue butterfly, Demetrius is a puppy


Ta Da!  The new room! Maya began moving back in yesterday…..of course, no room is complete unless your American Girl Doll is first to lay on the new bedding (Marie is her name and she was moved back into the room first!)

Posted by Jerry in 14:50:10 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Some Monday Photos

I haven’t done this in awhile, that being, posting photos from a busy week before, so here are a few:


Kaileen and David Button, Demetrius and Maya building some sort of Blair Witch appartus in our front yard.  Lots of weird noises and lights that night…..


I wrote about how tight Demetrius and David are still, even after two years of living around the world from each other. Here the two of them PSP together…..


Maya reading her story to everyone at her creative writing camp last week….


Buddy was a good sport when Maya dressed up as her ‘princess doggy’ for a day

Posted by Jerry in 19:59:13 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Buttons Are Back In The States!

Our friends from Singapore, the Buttons, are in the States and hung out with us yesterday.  They are doing a US tour, and are moving on from the tip of Malaysia to New Zealand, which is where they want to be.  We couldn’t be happier for them.  Unfortunately the dad, Andrew, is moving the family’s belongings, so we weren’t able to catch up with him.  But it is always great seeing Amanda and the kids.

That said it is always interesting to see the kids after a couple of years (at this age, we certainly change less than they do…outside of a few more lbs.!).  Their son, David, is just a taller version of the same kid.  Building stuff, negotiating for ice cream (he’s a future lawyer, no doubt) and smiling the big toothy smile he’s always had (even when he’s missing teeth).  He and Demetrius were in school together, and the boys, and the families just bonded.  We miss them.  Though, with Skype – we can talk much more often (and for free!).

Kaileen, she’s moving from an 8-year-old to 10-year-old.  Big changes there.  Actually acting older, more reserved… as I think is appropriate.  It isn’t so much of a ‘physical change’ as a ‘mental one’.  When I went to give her a hug, it was more ‘proper’ than typically with the kids. Why?  Becoming a little lady.  I needed to make note of this, as I’m very informal, and frankly, I need to approach kids at different ages differently….and she hasn’t seen me in a few years. She should be reserved!  

She didn’t really make too much eye contact, and it took her a few hours to get comfortable. But she did finally warm up and we did chat a bit about schooling and what’s next for her (different countries, different systems, different evaluations of skill sets…and we think we have it bad!).

We talked about when we’ll get to New Zealand to come see them (jet fuel prices might just make that even more prohibitive then I would have initially thought!).

When I went to bed (the kids were having a sleepover) Demetrius and David were still up, looking at a SpongeBob book together.  David had his arm around D’s shoulder and David was doing the reading out loud. I gave them a lights out, and gave Super D a kiss on his forehead.
 
There are just some friends you pick up with where you left off with.  I think it gets harder as you get older.  Some of us just don’t have SpongeBob to bond over.

Posted by Jerry in 18:28:16 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Monday, June 23, 2008

Greatest Pick Up Line Ever

A friend of mine was telling me about her three year old son, and how he really likes to hang out with older girls…and we debated on whether or not Maya would give him the time of day.  (Maya’s not one of those kids that really takes to ‘Mommy-ing’ other little kids…if the kid can keep up, great.  If not…come back when you can!)

She was telling me how smooth her son is with the ladies. For instance, at a birthday party last week, he went over to a 9 year old girl and sat down next to her.  When she finally acknolwedged he was alive he struck with the best line ever:

“So what is your favortie sea creature?”

Classic. I love it. Good, good stuff.

Posted by Jerry in 15:11:15 | Permalink | Comments Off

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Big Trouble For Demetrius On A Wednesday

Has it been a couple of months? Lets see, February…March…April… it has been! Time for a trip to GA from grandparents!

Yesterday Nonni and Grandpa flew from Texas (I need to be fair here, Grandpa has meetings in Atlanta) and I picked them up and we all hit Casa Grasso at about 7pm.

As we are getting ready for dinner, Kim tells me about the interesting afternoon D, Maya and Kim had at a friend’s house. Where Demetrius broke a VCR (putting the tape in backwards); went out into the friend’s mini-van and tried to watch movies and then was caught climbing on furniture trying to pull DVDs down from a cabinet.

Of course, he caught heck from Kim, they left early and then Daddy got the story when we got home later in the evening.

So while the adults ate dinner and the children ate dessert, Demetrius got TV and computer time taken away from him (and he didn’t argue, fuss, whine, or cry, so he got it and knew what he did was wrong) and got fussed at by Daddy (he’d taken it from Kim already).

But it was so hard to keep a straight face as he would look across the table at his grandparents for ‘help’ and watch them ‘look away’ and to see them ‘suffer’ as this child, who rarely does anything wrong (don’t all grandparents think that about grandchildren?), get what’s coming to him. Grandpa and Demetrius, after the ‘TV at Patrick and Shannon’s Affair’ ended, went into the basement… Nonni handled it better (hey, she did more of the day to day rearing of kids…she knows I was a little shit a touch better than my dad remembers). But man, was it fun to watch.

It shouldn’t be a practice to enjoy ‘giving the boy hell’, but watching him try to work his grandparents while catching it, and watching them try to manage it, was a hoot.

Posted by Jerry in 15:32:22 | Permalink | Comments (1) »