The kids and I are back from our trip to sunny Florida – and have been welcomed back with a snow day! I am SO not a winter person – I just don’t understand why anyone would enjoy being cold. When the colonists decided to settle in America, why didn’t they go further south so they wouldn’t have had to worry about those severe winters anyway?
At least for a few days, we enjoyed some gorgeous weather and great company. We stayed with my dear friend Linda, her husband Tom and their children Kylee and Zachary. My kids were excited to be able to swim outside in February.
And yes – I took all three kids to Florida by myself – Mike stayed home with the dogs. Getting through security at the airport was interesting – we had to take out all of our electronics, remove our shoes and put all the bags, coats and liquids on the belt – not nearly as easy as it sounds. With three of us, it was quite the project. To make it easier on the way home, I pulled out all of the iPods, Gameboys, cameras and cell phones ahead of time – plus, we were able to go through the faster “employee” line after I showed my FAA badge (it doesn’t come with many perks, but that’s one of them).
This was Matt’s first time flying and I was afraid that with his AS, he might have an anxiety attack. He did, at first, but I was able to distract him by letting him play on my laptop (something he is not normally allowed to do). Mid-flight, he looked over and said, “I don’t even feel like I’m on a plane – I feel like I’m at home.” I was happy he had a good flying experience on the way there, because on the way back, we flew through a front that caused some moderate turbulence during the ENTIRE flight (even I was stressed – FAA perks don’t help you there). But he handled it okay – I told him it was just like going over bumps in the road.
While we were visiting, we spent a day at Epcot which was a GREAT choice for Matt (he doesn’t like rides at all) and the other kids as well.
Epcot was a great combination of hands-on science stuff and cultural displays which was perfect for the kids. They also had a new scavenger hunt program using a Kim Possible theme. You’re given a Kimmunicator (aka cell phone) that gives you clues and activates special features throughout the park – even Andrew thought it was really cool!
We also visited the beach while we were there:
I wish I would have pushed my hair out of my eyes for that photo! And I’d also like to point out how tall my son Andrew is (although he was standing on a little sand dune).
The kids enjoyed staying with their friends and had so much fun playing and swimming – we also visited Linda’s friend Judi who was kind enough to warm her pool for our stay. My kids were in the pool for hours – the last time they’ll be able to swim until Lake Kandle opens on Memorial Day weekend.
Oh – and we also attended a ‘Puppy Shower’ – the Brandons got a new Westie puppy after we left and the neighbors threw her a party to celebrate while we were there. It was actually really cute – there were games like ‘pass the rawhide’ and a little agility course for the kids to maneuver while acting as puppies. Their new puppy Molly will join Geddy’s brother Buddy who was more than happy to attend the party:
It was so nice to be in the sunshine – even if only for a few days. But now it’s back to reality – and about 8 inches of snow. Even the FAA Technical Center is closed today – and no one can remember the last time that happened!
One more thing – I managed to stay on my diet and exercise plan (for the most part) while we were away and I’ve now lost a total of 18 pounds since the holidays. Unfortunately, I’ve still got a long way to go (I was pretty discouraged after seeing the photos of myself), but at least I’m making progress…
I received an email last week from children’s author and fellow Daisy-Doodle goldendoodle owner James Preller. James is the author of the “Jigsaw Jones” mystery book series as well as other titles.
James happened to stumble upon my blog and found that we have goldendoodle ownership in common.
A quick side note here – we found a fabulous new place to have our doodles groomed – Pet Styles in Pine Hill, NJ. We had the dogs groomed for the holidays – how cute are they?
They even painted Daisy’s nails red and green:
Anyway…back to Mr. Preller…
As many of you know, I’m a HUGE fan of Barack Obama. And as many of you may also know, the Obamas are in the process of selecting a new puppy for their daughters to bring to the White House. They want a family friendly dog that is low shedding to help with allergies but still want a substantial dog (as mentioned the other night on the Barbara Walters interview – when Barbara suggested that the Obamas choose a Havanese dog, Barack asked if that was one of those little ‘yappy’ dogs). Emily and I talked about writing a letter to the president-elect suggesting they try a goldendoodle – but it appears that Mr. Preller’s dog Daisy has beat us to it. Read for yourself and see what I mean…
An Open Letter to President-Elect Obama
I couldn’t have said it better myself (nor could my own doodle Daisy – seems she’s a little behind in the abilities of learning to type or form complete sentences – maybe some further training is in order).
I would also like to thank James for his most recent email where he said, “And by the way, you have a really nice, natural voice on your blog, very warm and welcoming.” Thanks, James – you are welcome to stop by anytime.
We spent Thanksgiving yesterday with Mike’s family in Elizabethtown, PA. Even the dogs came along, dressed for the occasion:
It was nice to see Mike’s family again – especially his grandmother, Nan. Here she is with Mike, his brother Mark and sister Terri (Mike’s brothers Don and Fred couldn’t make it yesterday):
And here’s the Torrence gang from NJ:
It was also nice to see some cousins too. Matt and his cousin Devin were born just days apart – here’s Nan and Devin with his mom and dad (Mark and Sue from Littitz, PA):
It was a long day – we had a two hour drive each way – but everyone enjoyed spending time together.
We took our last camping trip of the summer season this weekend in Elizabethtown, PA at the local KOA campground. Why Elizabethtown you ask? Mike grew up in nearby Ephrata, PA, so this was like a trip home for him. We booked this trip months ago so that we could combine a camping trip with a visit with Mike’s 91-year-old grandmother, Nan, who lives with his dad in Elizabethtown.
I have to admit, the trip started out not-so-well…the weather was fine when we left home on Friday, but by the time we got into central PA, it was POURING down rain. And it remained raining as we set up our camper and pretty much the entire first night we were there and into the next morning.
Which would have been okay but…there was no cable TV at our site! Yikes! Stuck indoors in the rain with the kids and no TV?!?! Oh…and then the bathroom roof started to leak as well…and did I mention that Geddy refuses to pee outside when it’s raining?
Andrew wasn’t with us this weekend – he was vacationing in Ocean City with his dad and step-mom. I called him when we arrived and told him not to feel bad…he wasn’t missing much so far…
But we made the best of it – we threw a duct-taped trash bag over the roof (now that’s classy, ain’t it?), watched some movies and played some games…before we knew it, the sun was out.
We took a trip to the local flea market where we picked up some great bargains at the book stall. Kids books were 3 for $1 and grown-up hardcovers were $3 each – not bad! We also picked up some whoopie pies, one of our favorite sweet snacks. For those who don’t know what a whoopie pie is, it’s basically a Pennsylvania Dutch version of a Hostess Devil Dog – but better.
We had a chance to visit with Nan in the afternoon – here she is with Matt and Emily:
Nan was kind enough to give Emily a lovely bracelet that her mother gave her:
The initials on the bracelet are “NM” for Nelly Marx, her mother’s name. It’s over 100 years old – what a special piece to pass along to your great-granddaughter! Emily is a very lucky little girl – and she was a very gracious 6-year-old, I’m proud to say.
This weekend, we also managed to fit in a hike along the Conewago Recreation Trail for a few miles:
This was a great trail (very level – I liked that!) that led through some cornfields and shady trees with lots of friendly bikers and hikers along the way. We also saw an entire family of deer crossing the trail – and our own family didn’t even complain…that much, anyway.
We also took advantage of the campground activities – the pool, BINGO (Emily won a toy snake during one round – Mike was upset that she didn’t choose the Penn State coffee mug instead…), hayrides…
The activities also included a ‘wet hayride’. We basically rode around the campground on a ‘pirate ship’ and were armed with large water guns and water balloons while campers sprayed us with hoses (and water guns, fire extinguishers, buckets of water…whatever they could put water in) as we rode by. The kids had a blast – and we were soaked to the bone when it was all over.
But now summer’s over and it’s time to get back to reality…the back-to-school clock is ticking down – only 2 more days to go!
We took advantage of the gorgeous weather with a hike in Ceres Park this week. It’s only about a mile from our house, but I haven’t been there in YEARS.
It’s not your typical park with a playground and picnic benches – instead, there are lots of hiking trails leading to a lake and beautiful clear stream. I forgot how pretty it is back there…
We took the dogs along – Daisy loved swimming in the stream:
But Geddy wasn’t having any parts of it. I wish we could let Daisy off the leash, but prior experience tells me that she WILL make a run for it as soon as she’s free…
Posted by Kathy Torrence on Jul 12, 2008 in Our Goldendoodle Puppies
I took the two dogs to PetSmart to be groomed yesterday – after all their camping trips and illnesses, they were pretty scruffy.
When I got there, they said that because the had some mats and their hair was so knotted, they both needed to be completely shaved down. I was so sad!
We really try to keep up with their curly goldendoodle fur. We brush them daily – even more so after they get wet. I guess we need to be a bit more diligent and brush them a few times a day – or take them in for grooming more than every two months…I don’t know.
Anyway, I knew that the dogs were going to look different with no hair, but I wasn’t prepared for how little dog was under all of Geddy’s fur…here’s Geddy last week on our camping trip…
And here he is this morning:
I’m sure he feels better without all those knots and this is great for the hot summer weather, but I had no idea how SKINNY he was! He looks like some sort of hound dog – or neglected puppy (and believe me, he is NOT neglected!).
Daisy was also shaved, but she’s been shaved before, so it’s not as big of a shock.
Here she is on our trip last week:
And this morning:
This is going to take some getting used to…
Posted by Kathy Torrence on Jun 28, 2008 in Family Stuff
, Our Goldendoodle Puppies
We just returned from a week-long vacation at Frontier Town campground in Ocean City Maryland. Unfortunately, Andrew wasn’t able to come with us this year – he opted to attend a baseball camp instead to help him get ready for the high school baseball team next year.
We had a great time camping, but why do I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation?
Is this how you feel as you get older? Or is it just that I try to cram so much into each vacation that by the time I get home I’m exhausted and just want to vegetate in front of the TV for a day or two?
But I’m here in front of the computer for now and thought I’d post a few photos from our trip…let’s see – we tried our hand at crabbing from the pier inside the campground:
We used some crab nets that I found at a yard sale last fall. We did catch some crabs…two were too small and one escaped from the net and did a very funny sideways walk across the width of the dock (right back into the water).
After not having much luck at the crabbing pier, we gave up and left our nets with the Raup family (who just happened to be camping at the same campground last week too). The Raup girls managed to catch almost a dozen crabs! Not being big crab fans, they left them at our campsite in a bucket of water for us to eat…
Meanwhile, we spent the rest of the day at the beach on Assateague Island trying to convince our two goldendoodles that they are indeed ‘water dogs’:
They weren’t buying it. It was like a scene from the TV show, The Monkees – whenever a wave came up to the dogs, they scrambled away from the water as quickly as they could. But for a little excitement, they did manage to escape from their leashes and ran down the beach at one point, kicking sand on everyone as they went. Luckily, Matt was able to catch them as they paused to wrestle in the soft sand (no, they still didn’t go anywhere NEAR the water).
And speaking of dogs, the reason that we took them to the beach with us is that the previous day, Geddy proceeded to get sick in the camper while we were out. And I mean SICK. On every single piece of upholstery in the camper. I was absolutely in tears cleaning up after him while Mike went out and bought a steam cleaner and mop. Before our trip, I went over the entire camper with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (LOVE those things!) to get rid of little marks here and there – I was so proud of how clean the camper was. As I was cleaning up after the dog, I kept thinking to myself, “What a waste of time THAT was!”
Anyway…by the time we returned to our campsite and found the crabs that the Raups had left for us, the crabs were no longer moving. I shook the bucket. No movement. I picked one up by his big blue claw. No movement. Apparently, the crabs had died while waiting for our return! Frantically, I called the campground store and asked if it was safe to cook dead crabs – all I could think of was the delicious dinner that was in jeopardy! But it seems that is it not safe to cook and eat crabs that are already dead. What a waste…we had to have our originally planned hamburgers instead.
We also visited the Frontier Town western theme park while we were there – something we’ve never done before.
We watched gunfight re-enactments (which the kids weren’t crazy about), the kids panned for gold, we rode in paddleboats, Emily went on a pony ride and we also watched some traditional Indian dances – Emily got up and danced with them onstage – hers was more of an Irish jig than a Native American dance, but it was still fun to watch:
Matt also learned to shoot a bow and arrow – he was surprisingly accurate:
We also went on a stagecoach ride:
During which we were ‘robbed’ by some bandits…again, as you can see by the look on Emily’s face in this photo, she wasn’t crazy about the whole thing…
After that, she refused to go on the train ride since rumor had it that there may be some bandits there too…
But all-in-all, we had a great time – in spite of the dog illness, stagecoach robbery and even the dead crabs.
We’ve been to this campground twice before and it’s still one of our favorites. In fact, while we were there, we made reservations to go back again next year.
Oh – and we also wandered over to the Ocean City boardwalk on our last day. It was HOT – 100 degrees – and we were looking for any place that was air conditioned. We came upon the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum and paid it a visit:
Boy, is that a bizarre place! Here’s Mike and Matt next to a replica of the world’s tallest man:
They advertise the museum as “fun for the whole family”…and it was interesting enough…once we got past the room with the shrunken head, torture implements and photos of an actual beheading! Not sure if that is actually fun for the whole family…
We managed to divert the kids’ attention until we got to the more appropriate optical illusions and other weird – but less gruesome – stuff.
Hopefully, my kids aren’t scarred for life after being ‘robbed’ at gunpoint, seeing a bucket full of dead crabs and viewing (albeit quickly) an actual shrunken human head…just another typical Torrence family camping trip for ya’!
We had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend camping at Holly Shores campground in Cape May. The weather was absolutely glorious!
We spent some time on the beach at Sunset Beach and took the dogs with us…
Although they weren’t crazy about the water…
There was a dog park at the campground which was great – the dogs got lots of exercise!
The kids had a nice time too – Emily got to ride a pony…
And we went on a hayride…Matt wasn’t crazy about that…
Poor Matt – at the end of the weekend, he wound up with poison ivy on his cheek! The whole side of his face was swollen – but he’s doing better now…
No more camping for another three weeks – we have lots going on at home in June…
I finally have a moment to post about our wonderful weekend in Florida – we had an absolutely AWESOME time!
Thanks so much to my friend Linda for hosting us at her home and treating us to a fabulous girl’s birthday weekend!
We went to the beach on Saturday and had a lovely sunny day – it was so nice to feel the warmth again – I could feel my body soaking up the vitamin D!
The grown-ups also went out to a yummy dinner at a fondue restaurant called The Melting Pot (thanks to Linda and her friends for making me laugh all night – and thanks to Tom for watching the children):
We also got to meet our goldendoodle Geddy’s brother, Buddy. Linda had Buddy shipped to her in Florida when she found out that no one had adopted him…
They also have another dog – a Westie named Max who is 18 years old. Max (who has to wear diapers now, unfortunately) took it upon himself to take up residence in my suitcase…
Hmmm….I love dogs and all, but I wasn’t crazy about this…
We also visited a local arts festival where the kids got to create some pottery pieces…
That’s Linda’s son Zachary with Kylee learning to throw clay on the wheel.
Emily also leaned how to play the bongo drums…and she was surprisingly good at it!
On Sunday, we visited Linda’s church – Georgianna UMC on Merritt Island. I was so moved during the worship service – the Holy Spirit was obviously alive and active in that gathering. I hope that we can capture that energy in our own church soon.
On Monday, we visited the Magic Kingdom (certainly a different kind of kingdom in Walt Disney World. The day was fantastic – our timing was great, the weather was super, the kids held up well…we even got to meet Cinderella in the VIP room:
I almost didn’t think I was going to have anything interesting to blog about! Until the “Princess Tragedy”…
It all started out well enough – after our day at the park, we scheduled princess makeovers for our darling girls at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Downtown Disney. The girls were treated to their own personal “fairy godmothers” styling their hair, makeup and nails – and to save a little money, we decided to pull a BYOD – Bring Your Own Dress. Emily had a gorgeous sparkly pink dress that Linda had given her for her birthday – here she is after her makeover…
Doesn’t she look happy? Unfortunately, after we left the boutique to go to dinner, Emily decided that her dress was itchy and uncomfortable…things went downhill fast…
In a moment of motherly-panic, I felt I had no other choice but to purchase another dress – we just spent a large amount of money to have Emily’s hair and makeup done and it was running down her face! The whole makeover experience was in jeopardy!
So I frantically searched through the Disney Store and could find no costumes in her size except for Jasmine’s…
I’m really trying to focus on living in the “now” – I am reading the book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, in an effort to help me still my mind and deal with those things that come my way without stressing. I tried to pause and take a deep breath – I tried to remind myself that there are no “problems” – only “situations”, as the book recommends.
I was doing well until I took the costume, rushed back to the bathroom to change Emily…and the pants were so big, they fell down her tiny hips. There were no other costumes to be found – not even Jasmine in a smaller size! No problems…just situations…
I rushed back to the counter and with that mother-desperation in my voice, asked for some safety pins. Of course, they had none (but the woman at the counter had witnessed the princess meltdown and was very sympathetic). Finally, I went back to the boutique and found some clear rubber bands that I used to gather the material on the pants…we had a happy princess again!
Then it started to rain…no problems, just situations…
Of course, we were forced to purchase a very expensive Walt Disney World “souvenir” umbrella…but we had to keep the newly coiffed and outfitted princesses dry…
Which, of course, let to a couple of very cold princesses. No problems…just situations…
At which point I pulled out my final “mommy-trick” – a sweatshirt that I just happened to purchase a few hours earlier…all was well!
And I got through it without having my own meltdown…I’ll keep working on it…
Emily loved her new outfit so much, she wore it home on the plane (and loved all the attention it brought her). And the fairy godmothers used so much gel and hairspray, the hair stayed in for three days! At least I feel like we got our money’s worth and that all the effort to avert the Princess Tragedy was not in vain…
Thanks again to the Brandons for a wonderful weekend!!!!!
Just a cute photo of Emily and our dog Daisy with some bunny ears…