Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Best Birthday Present EVER

Let it be known that Mary gives pretty great gifts. I was luckily on the receiving end this time. For my birthday, Mary bought tickets for a snorkeling tour of EPCOT's The Seas aquarium.

What can I say? She knows what I like.

The Seas Aquarium houses one of the largest single seawater aquariums in the world. If you picked up the Spaceship Earth, the large sphere that is in the center of EPCOT, it would fit inside the tank with 5 feet of room to spare on each side. Yes - THAT big. The aquarium houses a variety of animals, including dolphins, sharks, manatees, seaturtles, rays, and a wide variety of fish. It is also super great - that is a well-known fact.

It started with a quick walking tour of the facilities, and before we knew it, we were suited up in wetsuits and being thrown into the cold water of the tank. We were told not to reach out with our hands - the tank inhabitants were accustomed to being fed by divers - but nonetheless, the fish and the rays made sure to check us all out. It was a little unnerving to be swimming with the sharks, but because they're fed in the dark, they couldn't care less about the humans in the tank. Tourists inside the guest area filmed us as we swam by. The rays raced by our faces, inches away, and the sea turtles came up from the bottom to take in gulps of air. It was a truly picturesque and relaxing experience.

And I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Valentine's Day Cactus?

This may be a bit random- but I was really excited by this. When I was growing up, we had a "Christmas Cactus" in our dining room that usually bloomed around Thanksgiving. So last year, when Walmart was selling Christmas Cacti, I bought one. Of course, it didn't bloom last year. (Anyone who knows my luck with plant life will not be surprised by this. It's more surprising that it survived the move down here and is still alive a year later.)

When it didn't look like it would bloom this year, I did some research online and found articles with very specific directions on light and temperature. Still, it didn't bloom this year at Christmas. Then, last night (after forgetting to water it for about 3 weeks), Darren looks over at the plant and gasps. There must be about 10 buds. So apparently, we didn't purchase a Christmas cactus- it's a Valentine's Day cactus!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


No- it's not currently snowing in Florida. Actually, the highs for the next few days are in the 70s. What I want to talk about is the 10-day, record breaking cold we had the first 2 weeks of January, including the day of the half-marathon.

That's right, just a little over a year and a half since the idea first entered in my google search, Dad, Darren, and I were running in the Disney World Half-Marathon. Temperatures for this race are usually in the 50-70 degree range, making it a nice to warm run in January. But oh no. Not this year. This year- it snowed. There I was, 4:30 in the morning, sitting on one of the main roads in Disney World, watching it snow. It was a lot like TN snow- where you see it coming down but it melts almost instantly? But it was still snowing. In central Florida. By the time we started the race (at 6:10), it had turned to mostly sleet.

The first few miles, we were trying to start slow and not let the excitement of "OMG- running at DISNEY is so much fun!" mean that around mile 6 we collapsed. And besides, that many thousands of people running in the same direction at the same time meant that we traveled at the same speed, at least until the road opened up and people were able to spread out.

As we headed to the Magic Kingdom, area high school and middle school bands and cheerleaders were lining the road, cheering us on. When we entered the Magic Kingdom and started running down Main Street, we were trying to find Mom in the crowd, but we only glimpsed the back of her head. :(

We then traveled backstage (seeing Captain Jack Sparrow and other pirates on a pirate ship playing the Halloween parade music was quite entertaining) where we saw more characters (Bert, Mary Poppins, and TWO penguins!). Back here, the scenery was a little lacking, so Sharpie (one of the sponsors) set up signs every 100 ft or so with interesting facts. None of which I can remember now, of course!

Finally, 3 and a half hours after the start, we rounded a corner in Epcot- and there was the finish line. By this point, it had been raining/sleeting on us for a good 4 hours. Darren was in shorts, which isn't too bad when you've been running for 3 hours. My hair had gotten wet from the rain and then frozen so that I had little ice curls. Not to mention, by the time we reached Epcot, little puddles had formed on the course that meant when you ran through them, your socks and shoes were completely soaked. We all headed straight for the food tent and then to get our bags of clean, dry clothes. We found Mom, took a group vote that we wanted to head straight back to the hotel instead of venturing into the parks, and boarded the monorail.

Did I mention we're ready to register for 2011?! :)