Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If you're thinking Florida....

We are winding down our time in Florida and are heading back to the northern climate on Friday. We are only going as far as Ottawa so it won't be too extreme a change but really, when you've got used to at least 20 degrees and sunny, anything less is... well less.

But I'm getting off track. When we decided to do this extended Florida trip and to rent a house rather then stay in a hotel I was a little leary to blog about it because I didn't know how it would work out. We know people that have done it but didn't want to recommend something that we hadn't tested ourselves. Now that we have, I want to share this tip. Renting a house rocks... even if you are only staying for a short time. This link will show you pictues of the place we are staying. The reality is as good or better than the pictures show and the location is fabulous. We have 4 bedrooms, heated pool and hot tub. It sleeps 8 (10 if you use the pull out couch) and it's only about 15 minutes from Orlando's major theme parks. Ours is just one in a million places up for rent and from what we found, the market is saturated with houses and they are all vying for your business so you can get some really great deals. Especially if you are willing to wait for the last minute.

The procedure is simple. Google something like Florida Vacation Rentals or Florida Villa Rentals (they call them villas) and you'll get quite a few sites. I'm sure they'll all be similar but this is one of the ones we used. We went right to the General Inquiry where we typed in our dates and what we were looking for (number of bedrooms, pool, hot tub and included baby gear) and waited for people to come to us. By the next morning we had about 50 responses to sort through with a wide variety of prices and house types. We narrowed it down to the few we would choose from and then negotiated the final price. As I said, since there are usually many more villas than there are occupants you can negotiate some pretty good deals. Including the cost of heating the pool is what I recommend as a first step of negotiation. Most will want to charge you $15 or $20 a day for the heat but will usually throw it in if you ask. 

You will also find most of the houses have websites for you to check out where they boast about the extras they have to offer. Cribs, strollers and high chairs are pretty much standard if you need them. Game rooms with pool, ping pong and fuseball are very common. Most offer TV's in every bedroom, cable, playstations, movie selections, wireless internet and even free long distance. Some we saw even had kids playrooms with toys and kids movies included. There really is something out there for every need whether you're coming down here as a couple or two families wanting to share a place.

Now that we've done the rental thing I would highly recommend it to everyone. We love being able to cook our own meals if we want and not have to live off restaurant food the whole time. You can save alot of money that way too. The best part is having our own private pool and hot tub which we have used every day. The management company comes by to clean the pool a couple times a week and make sure the chemicals are right so we don't have to worry about that. They take care of the lawn and garbage removal and they send in cleaners when you leave so you don't spend the last day or two of your vacation doing manual labour.

And my other tip... if you need to rent a mini van from the Orlando airport use Dollar Rent-A-Car. They were about a thousand dollars less than the other big companies and the vehicle is a brand new 2011 Dodge that seats 7. Not sure why they are so much cheaper but I won't complain.

We will definitly be doing this again it worked out so well. I can't wait actually. After a slow and bad start, this vacation has turned out to be one of the best we've had in a really long time. I dread leaving but all good things must come to an end I guess.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Trip highlights in pictures

I thought it was finally time to share some of the highlights of our trip so far. I should say I've finally taken the time to sort through some pictures. We are having a great time and I've got to do some pretty cool things in the last couple of days. I can't believe we only have a week left.

O was so excited to see Goofy. He's the only character we actually 'met'.

Komodo dragon at The Animal Kingdom.

The Lion Prince.... He was so pleased with himself.

The floats where based on Broadway's The Lion Kings characters. They were all amazing!

Carousel at the Magic Kingdom

I love a place where grown woman can wear bejewled ears and be totally in style.

O loved the rides, especially the teacups.

We're making good use of our pool at the house. Well, mostly the hot tub.

Visiting with Shamu
Watching the dolphins.

Oliver and Nick in the 'Soak Zone'

I got to feed and pet the dolphins! Very cool experience.

Where they put together the shuttle for launch.

The shuttle Discovery due for launch next Thursday.
The shuttle is actually on the other side of the rockets so you can't see it.

Lovin' the slide.

Just cute.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Stacy's Heaven

Things are looking up here in Orlando. We are all feeling better and the weather has improved greatly so it finally feels like we are on vacation. I have taken tones of pictures but once again haven't taken the time to sort through them all so you'll have to wait.

One of the things I'm loving about being in the states is getting to try out all the Stacy's Pita Chip flavors that I can find. You may remember that the Simply Naked flavor made my 2010 favorite things list so I couldn't wait to see what else they had. The multigrain ones are now my favorite. The Parmesan Garlic and Herb are pretty good too but I'm not a fan of the Garden Veggie Medley. I have yet to try the Cinnamon and Sugar because I want to have them with my famous fruit salsa and I just haven't had time to get it made. I'm now searching for the Italian Harvest flavor which is the only one I don't have.

If you haven't tried them yet, do it. Enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011


We've decided this vacation is cursed.

As I've already mentioned, our outgoing travel nightmare started us out on the wrong foot. Since we live in the arctic that's not news. But it's seems it's contageous this time around. My parents were delayed getting here by a full 24 hours. Nick's mom and sister missed their flight, and then had a 3 hour delay on the next one.

When I left last Thursday I came down with a pretty sever sore throat that continued day after day. Today it's been 7 days and the side of my neck is swollen to the size of a baseball. Nick has been running a fever for the last 3 days and has picked up my sore throat. We finally gave in and went to the walk in clinic this morning and we are now both on antibiotics.

My mother ended up with blood poisoning, we think care of one of Isaac's explosive poops. She was holding him when he did it and ended up with it all over her arm. She had a small cut on her hand from something she had done previously and by the next morning had a nice red line running up her arm. Antibiotics to the rescue there too and luckily all is well.

The weather has been pretty crappy since we've been here too. Most days have been rainy and cool although this is the least of my worries. It was -30 in Pang when I checked so no matter what, no complaining about the weather.

Lastly, nobody is sleeping well. Well, Isaac seems to be doing well which is good for me but that's the only thing working in my favor. I hate our pillows, my neck and head are sore, Nick is tossing and turning cause he's not feeling well, Oliver keeps getting up and coming to 'not sleep' in our bed. All around, we're tired.

So that's the run down. On a positive note, Isaac got some medicated cream at the walk in clinic in Ottawa when we went through and is doing so much better. His face is almost cleared up completely. We are enjoying our company and look forward to us all feeling better so we can make the most of the time we have left. Still lots to do and see and I refuse to remain angry about all the negatives.

Here is to the next 16 days. They can only get better!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oliver's need for speed

We finally got to Orlando on Saturday afternoon, only 3 days late, after a long and painful trip. Painful mostly due to lack of sleep, aching body parts and a little sickess among our party. Since we lost the first few days with my parents we jumped right in to sighseeing spending Sunday at Disney's Animal Kingdom, shopping with my mom on Monday and then to Disney's Magic Kindom on Tuesday. It's been a busy few days so we plan to lay low for the next couple. Nick's Mom and Sister come tonight but they are here for 2 weeks so we're in no hurry to hit the bricks and be total tourists.

I haven't really had time to sort through pictures from the first few days so I'll leave you with this video. This is Oliver's first roller coaster experience. It was Goofy's Barnstormer in Toontown at the Magic Kingdom. I knew he we would love it since he loves everything fast and has no fear. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Poor Baby

We are still in Pang due to a number of the usual northern travel issues. Weather, broken planes etc, etc. We're hoping to get out tomorrow, only 2 days late, and I'm feeling like it IS going to happen. This crap can only go on so long right? I'm not going to complain about it or bother telling you the story because it's always the same story in the end. Living in the north is great till you try to leave, because you can't. Or not on time anyway. Enough said.

So, I thought I'd share the latest pictures of my poor little man who is suffering from some skin issues. It's been going on a while and am pretty sure it started as nothing more than dry skin that seemed to get much worse when the weather finally turned cold. Then we noticed that it seemed worse in the mornings than later in the day. In the last couple of days I've pretty much deduced that 75% of the problem is that he scratches himself through the night and wakes up a scabby mess. I do my best to keep his nails short but it doesn't seem to help. His nails are not at all what I think are typical baby nails. They are beautifully shaped, strong and thick, so they are weapons.

Last night I put him to bed with socks on his hands so he can't do any more damage. I've bandaged his face with some ointment to try and heal up the worst part. I'm hoping these measures along with the warmer weather (if we ever get to it) will get the problem to a manageable level. I just feel so bad looking at him today cause he looks like he's been through a shredder. On the bright side, the socks are also keeping his thumb out of his mouth which is something else he's picked up in the last few weeks.

Poor little man....