Saturday, March 31, 2012

On the road and back

Alison was watching the Simpsons today. She discovered them at the Ogdens recently and has been DVRing like a rabid beaver.

She laughs out loud and says, stuff like, "Oh, that gets me every time," and, "Now THAT is funny." She sometimes laughs like the bully: "Ha-haaa."

It's hysterical just listening to her. But today the episode she was watching involved Bart's wish for a little brother and got a little close to home on how that actually could be accomplished. I remarked that maybe she should cut back on her time with her newfound friends.

"Mom. Do you think this is where I learn words I can't say? You should listen to boys practicing football at Aftercare," she said.

"What do they say?"

"Stuff I can't say. And I would NEVER say," she said. "And a lot of it. But that's not where I learned the most stuff."

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and dared to inquire further.

"In that canoe with Uncle David and Uncle James," she said, hearkening back to a canoe trip we took down the Androscoggin River a couple years ago. "I learned 7 new words that day. Seven!"

I did not ask for specifics.


Profanity aside, I think she was thinking of that trip because we canoed a bit in Florida over Spring Break. It was a great, great trip, made even more special with the addition of Rachael Weir, the cousin closest to Alison in age. They're great travel buddies, and buddies in general. They're both avid readers, Harry Potter fans and ice cream afficiandos.

Rachael may be the most easy-going kid you'll ever meet. While generous with her things, Alison is a serial clothes borrower and a terrible bed hog. Neither of these foibles seemed to annoy her cousin. Rachael has two sisters at home (one younger, one older)so Alison's encroachments are apparently a refreshing change.

Rachael is also a great softball pitcher and a big STL Cardinals fan, which went over really well with Team Johnson -- Bob, Kathy and Millie -- who we visited a bit on the trip. Bob is also a Cardinal fan and he took great delight in giving Rachael tips on how her Uncle Jeff was not entirely trustworthy given his allegiance to the Red Sox. She soaked it all up.

Rachael was missing some of her school days to go with us (date mix-up among the mothers) and had to make a daily journal entry. One day I asked what she was going to say about the day and Jeff offered himself as a worthy subject.

"Why?" we asked.

"Because I'm so awesome," he said, matter-of-factly.

"You're not THAT awesome," Rachael retorted. "You're not even a Cardinals fan."

He tried again: "I am super-awesom. I drove you to get ice cream that you said was the most awesom, best-ever ice cream you had ever tasted."

"No you didn't. BOB drove us the first night," she said, a wicked gleam in her eye. "And, YOU pushed me into a cold swimming pool."


We had started our trip at Disneyworld, ventured to Universal's Islands of Adventure for a visit with Harry Potter, drove down to Fort Myers to see the Johnsons and get Jeff and Bob to a Red Sox game; us all to the beach; and the girls and I to a little canoe adventure.

The time just flew. We stayed on the Disney property, and I thought I'd arranged for unlimited park visits, but we learned at 8 p.m. or so that we were limited to one park a day.

It was outside the Magic Kingdom we learned this, and Rachael had been regaling us with all the rides that awaited inside. We'd spent the morning in the Animal Kingdom where we rode her favorite ride -- Everest -- and had a little R&R at the resort pool in between trips to the parks.

We had four hours of Magic Kingdom time to spend. Or so we thought. For a mere $129 a ticket, we could have tapped the magic, but it just didn't seem worth it when we had Universal waiting the next day. We debated. The price came down to $59 more per ticket. (Yeah. Funny, that.)

Jeff and I looked at each other, mentally prepared to fling down the extra cash. But Jeff presented them with the situation and offered the option of skipping the Kingdom for the chance to visit Hogwarts.

"Harry Potter?!" they squealed. We reminded them that that meant we wouldn't go into the Magic Kingdom. "That's OK. What can we do instead?"

Rachael suggested Downtown Disney and off we went. They were happy as little clams, and we had a fabulous time there, not getting home until midnight. Price of admission: $0.

I just love those girls. In seven days, we had not one instance of bad behavior. Well, I almost hoarked on a trip to Mars, and Jeff did push Rachael into that pool. But the girls's behavior was A-plus.

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