Saturday, 24 October 2009

It's never too early

Having spent the yesterday evening researching our options for Disney 2011, we, along with the Kohs, were inspired to do a "practice run" before the real thing. We had to simulate American conditions as closely as possible to see if we could handle American cuisine. Ethel and Jason even came attired in their matching Mickey and Minnie T-shirts from their honeymoon!

First up, yummy golden fried chicken. It was of the Indonesian sort but no one was complaining. Dinner at Ratu Sari hurt the wallet somewhat, but boy was it satisfying. Kangkung belacan, telor Bali, ikan belado...Mmmmm!

That was followed by some good old ice-cream and waffles. We went to an ice-creamery near Arthur's pizza. It is amazingly still present and looks unchanged from university days. The area around it though has turned into a hotspot. It is apparently the place to be. After finally getting a parking spot, we managed to get ourselves into 2 booths and ordered our poison. The children finished theirs in one breath. It was hard work trying to stop the vultures from devouring our share.

If this is what dining in the states will be like, then BRING IT ON! But first, we diet...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Quiero la leche

I have been busy researching information on Barcelona as well as the various ports that we will be visiting. I am very fortunate that Brian has a Spain lonely planet guidebook which is always a good place to start. In addition, he also has a Spanish phrasebook! Hurray! So now, at the dinner table, we are practising Spanish. There will no more "wo yao he niu nai". It is now "quiero la leche".

So engrossed in my quest for information that I let myself be distracted into reading about Spanish history for 4 hours while trying to find information about a tourist bus. Perhaps my need to "know" down to the minute details may be my undoing. It can't be healthy scouring forums on cruisecritic, thorn tree, tripadvisor and DISboards for hours just to verify the cost of a taxi from Barcelona airport to town...

On the upside, I have discovered that the people on DISboards are quite friendly! We have received offers to be hosted for New Years Eve, offers of a garage to store our luggage and many, many ideas and advice for travel in the United States. Yes, I have switched topic to my "other" Disney holiday... Speaking of which, we have added another family to our Disney adventure...The Marrs!!! It seems like half the church will be away in December.

Which brings me to another realisation. There is just over 9 weeks left before Christmas! I think I really need to update my to-do list. It is too long for me to remember it all in my head.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Mama Mia Mia

Baby Jonah started his first day of childcare at Mia Mia yesterday. My earlier confidence of previous weeks dissipated as I approached the gates of the building. I had to start leaving my baby behind with someone else.

It didn't take long for the routine of the nursery room to come flooding back. Put his bag in his locker, put the sheets on his cot, wash our hands, put his bottle away, make his breakfast and start the day! I had forgotten what a well-oiled machine Mia Mia was. The room was so well set up with such great equipment. Their processes were also well thought out and well-practiced! I was happy to notice that staff were pro-actively cleaning snot off the children's faces with a glove and tissue and then discarding it straight away.

The staff... I couldn't rave about them enough. It was nice to see familiar faces. Out of the four that was on that day, there was only one new face. Their love and dedication for their jobs clearly showed through in the way they interacted with all the children. Boundless patience, plentiful cuddles, playful banter, and all the time striving to engage the children in various ways. They didn't mind me sitting in for the whole day at all.

Jonah seemed to be very interested in his new surroundings. He was confident enough to wander outside away from me on his own and joined another toddler in emptying the baskets of their contents. He was also comfortable enough to let one of the staff put him down for his nap which was a relief for me. Lunch was a big hit. He wolfed down all of it without spitting once! This included large chunks of the little monster can chew after all!! The civility of meal times at Mia Mia always amazes me. Why can't children behave like that at home?!?!?!

Before long, it was time to go home. Malcolm, bless his soul, took today off to take up "shift" at Mia Mia with Jonah. He was asked to leave after an hour as Jonah seemed to settle in well. He didn't cry, and in fact seemed to enjoy his day. He managed to have two naps albeit short ones and really enjoyed washing his hands...He only protested upon being picked up because he didn't want to stop playing! So all in all, a good start.

It is never easy to juggle family and work but it certainly helps to know that you children are in fantastic hands. Three cheers for Mia Mia!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

All's well that ends well

For the past few weeks, we've been praying for a heatwave. Specifically, a heatwave for today, the day of Jonah's first birthday party. We were lulled into a false sense of security by the unusual and short-lived spell of warm weather, and chose a theme of "BYO pool" party.
The fact that it had been raining for the past few days and that the temperature had struggled to even hit 20 degrees was only the beginning of our woes.

We then had to contend with THE dust storm. The one that turned Sydney into a martian-like landscape, the very same one that covered everything outside with a not so thin layer of red dust. Yes, everything including the outdoor setting cushion covers that I had painstakingly washed, the seats that I had carefully cleaned, the pavers that were lovingly scrubbed. AAARGGHHH!!! That is a lesson learnt that diligence is a waste of time. I should have kept to my usual procrastination.
And then, we got distracted by our bid to get on the Panama Canal cruise. Before we knew it, we had only 3 days left to finalise the details and prepare the house for Jonah's party. To make things worse, Jonah was due for his 12 month immunisations. We jabbed him (well, the nurse did) and hoped for the best. Luckily for us, he behaved like a good Albany child and did not get any fevers, rashes or unwanted changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Malcolm and I needed to celebrate this small but significant acheivement as well sustenance for our multipronged attack on our "to-do" list. So we arranged to have food from the 4 essential food groups in the one sitting. KFC, Hungry Jacks, Oporto's and Mc Donalds. Unfortunately, we were not able to fit in the 5th, pizza by any fastfood chain.
We managed to shop for all the food, organise the games, clean the house and kept the rain away! We had a fantastic time with family and friends and Jonah enjoyed opening all his presents and throwing them all over the room. We even remembered to take pictures and video footage. I now only have to remember where I put away the electronic equipment...

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Earnt my ears

What lousy weather for a long weekend. The cold, miserable conditions have dampened my spirits enough for me to blog more. What kind of silly weather is 30 degrees and sunny and then becoming 15 degrees and rainy? Having said that, I am still glad that I don't have to go to work on Monday. The gloss of returning to work has already lost its shine. Luckily I have more exciting things to pre-occupy me. I am a now a mouseketeer on disboards! No longer just "earning my ears".

Our Panama Canal cruise booking has meant that other parts of our Disney adventure can now take shape. We have all agreed that the best way to avoid the chaos that is Walt Disney World over Christmas is to hit WDW first up and have a white christmas in New York instead. The Parsons have volunteered to co-ordinate our New York leg while everyone else is busy researching their various sections. This was when I discovered that I had made what turned out to be a most fortunate error. To cut a long story short, I had mistaken dark orange for light orange. This meant that we had booked verandah staterooms which were right at the back of the ship over 3 different decks with solid metal railings rather than see-through plexi-glass ones. Because we could only get category 6A GTY (guaranty) rooms, this means that our rooms won't be allocated until right before our cruise, so Disney can shuffle their guests appropriately. All we know is that we will be guaranteed at least that category for our cruise or better. Our inside room in the meantime, is fixed and is right at the front of the ship on deck 7. I was devastated. What had I done? or rather what had I not done?!?!? Obviously my research was not up to scratch. So I dug deeper.

It appears category 6A rooms only hold 3 people with the exception for 4 handicapped rooms at the back of deck 7 which can hold 4 people. Upon reading the reviews of the rooms and looking at the pictures, I found out that these rooms were nearly double the size of a standard room and had HUGE balconies. Disney also tries to hold these for those who really need it, which means we either get a free upgrade or we get rooms which will give us fantastic views of the Canal!

Yippee!!! I can now concentrate on other important things I have to do over the weekend, like playing boardgames at the Kohsino...

Friday, 2 October 2009

Cabo San Lucas anyone?

Where to start?!??!? I have been so full of nervous energy and excitement that the ability to sit still long enough to blog had deserted me.

The 21st of September seemed like a lifetime ago. Another monumental life-changing day was to be had on the 28th of September. Why are these dates so important you may ask? As my dear friend Hester would say, "WELL..."

The privileged platinimum and gold members were able to book the Disney 2011 cruises on the 21st of September. I kept nervously refreshing my disboards page as I read posts on member's waiting times on the phone..."got through at 8:03am, waiting time 16 minutes", "got through at 8:12am, waiting time 57 minutes", "8:23, waiting time of 647minutes" WHAT?!?!?! That can't be right. I can't afford to make such a long international call just to be kept on hold. Bugger, what now? The good news was that the cruise hadn't sold out. One of the previous Disney Panama Canal cruise sold out in 4 hours.

The troops had to regather and formulate a new plan of attack. Guerilla warfare was in order here. Our new motto was get on the ship AT ALL COSTS! In the process, we collected another family to join us on our adventures. Woohoo!!! We now have a slightly better adult to children ratio of 7:9. We decided to go with a travel agent, a Disney vacation specialist of course. We armed her with our credit card ready for battle on the 28th of September, when everyone else gets their chance to book the 2011 cruises. She assured us that we were her number 1 priority. We expected no less.

At 9:39pm our time (21 minutes before bookings opened), I logged onto the disboards to discover that online reservations had apparently already started. Frantically, I sent an email to the frontline to let her know (just in case, even though she mentioned that she would be online an hour early and be on the phone as well). She confirmed that she was already online and the stateroom acquisation had begun. By 10:01 pm, she had accomplished her mission of securing our 4 staterooms. By 10:14pm, our category had sold out! 5 minutes after this, early dining had closed.

WAHOOO!!!!! We are going on a Panama Canal cruise!!!!!