Christmas 2012 Florida

Many thoughts about this trip, but in all we had a great time.

We have always had a very high opinion of Disney, but this trip I would have to say that Universal was a hands down winner. We spent 5 days total in the parks with 1.5 days at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, 1 Day in The Magic Kingdom and 1 day in Disney’s Hollywood Studio.

Universal really impressed me. I felt that the tickets were reasonably priced for the experience they provided.

  • $49.23 Average Daily Price Per Person – There was a deal to buy 2 days and get the third free.
  • Photo Connect Program – Allows you to collect your park photos in digital format. For $40 we were able to download all of the photos taken of us in the park, at the gates, with the characters and on the rides (Harry Potter was the only exception).  These were edited for us at no additional charge each night.  The images were available almost instantly on our cell phones to be posted to Facebook or emailed.  We loved this Program and had about 65 images for the money.
  • Crowds were managed well with employees directing traffic in congested areas.
  • Reasonably priced food. – Mythos was a wonderful sit down meal for $10-$18 per person.


I don’t want to down Disney.  We did have a good time, but I felt that the experience was not worth the price that we paid.

  • $91.66 Average Daily Price Per Person
  • Disney PhotoPass is comparable to the PhotoConnect, but the price is more than 4 times as much @ $169.
  • The crowds were horrible.  We were told that they were at capacity, but that must have been the # of people allowed by the Fire Marshal not what they could service well.  The other travelers were extremely rude.
  • At the Magic Kingdom – The Buzz Lightyear ride was closed for most of the morning and the lines in the new Fantasyland were multiple hours.
  • At Hollywood Studios – Toy Story Midway Mania was an awesome ride, but the wait was over 3 hours.  We got a fastpass early that morning and were able to ride it once around 10pm.  We were also disappointed to find that multiple attractions in the park close at 5pm.
  • We did dine at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios and the food was great.  We did have to wait an hour to be seated and the average cost was $35 per person.  I also felt that we were being rushed out to free the table for the next group.



To end on a fun note watch Jessie and Bailey on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket.  I will say that he had been on this ride before and multiple times after this video.  Fear was not an issue, but you couldn’t tell that from his expression.

Bahamas 18th Anniversary 2011

It has been a while since we have had a real break.  This short trip seemed to be exactly what we needed.

From Bahamas 18th Anniversary 2011

We stepped from the gangplank and onto the ship around 1:30 Friday afternoon.  We were ready for 2 1/2 fun days at sea as well as a day in Grand Bahamas and a day in Nassau.  We took a very unconventional approach to this trip.  The port was chosen for convenience and price, but we do have a history with this ship.  Carnival’s Fantasy was the ship that we spent our honeymoon on 18 years earlier. We are a family of 6 with children ranging from 5 – 16 years old and this would be the first vacation without the kids in over 8 years.  The purpose of this vacation was relaxation.  We did very little planning, no excursions were booked.  We planned to simply do as much or as little as we wanted at any given moment.  We were simply looking for a chance to be away and carefree.

Our first stop after boarding the ship was with our Maitre d.  We were able to switch from a table for 8 to a table for 2.  The meals and service were unbelievable each evening.

The days at sea were enjoyed on the Serenity Deck.  This is the child free, adult retreat on the back of the ship. It provided sun or shade, plenty of chairs, two hot tubs and very little noise. It was most enjoyable during the rain on the day we departed.

We booked no excursions.  As we disembarked in the Bahamas we would look for transportation.  Each day that turned out to be scooters/mopeds.  After returning to the boat in Freeport we discovered that Carnival does not recommend using mopeds because “they are very dangerous”, but we are rebels and did it again the next day.  The mopeds combined with the geocaches that I had printed before we left home provided a great adventure.  The caches had been placed on the paths less traveled.  In most cases these locations were both deserted and breathtaking.

I would recommend taking a look at CruiseCritics Secret Tips to cruising. There was a lot of good information though some of it has changed over the years.  On this ship they no longer provide free playing cards at the pursers desk.

If I had to guess,  it has been  about eight years since our last family photo shoot.  I can’t believe how much has changed during that time.  It is easy to be distracted by “life” sometimes and forget to count our many blessings.  I have been blessed with an amazing family.  I love the fact that pictures give us an opportunity to look at ourselves from a different perspective.  This shoot has created stories that will stick in my mind forever.  The shots captured the smiles that these stories enticed from us. I have looked at these shots 100 times already and can only imagine how many times I will do so in the future.

Take a look at her work will take your breath away in many cases.

Lake Waccamaw Family Campout

This was our first time at Lake Waccamaw and our first family camping trip with the Troop.

Friday night was interesting with a race to setup camp before dark and there was a little rain during the night, but we managed.

Saturday was a very busy day.  We had fun watching the scouts cook their own pancake breakfast before heading out for our service project.  The kids made the 5 mile walk to the dam and back collecting trash as they went.  Lunch for the families was prepared by the scouts and enjoyed by all.  They did a great job. The afternoon was perfect for a dip in the lake.  It gave everyone a chance to cool off before we began a family scavenger hunt. The afternoon ended with a Court Of Honor. The scouts received individual recognition for badges and rank they had earned.  Saturday continued with a second Court Of Honor for a soon to be Eagle Scout and concluded with a retirement ceremony for two flags. This was a great way to end the day.  It focused on the highest rank that can be achieved in scouting, a goal that all of our scouts should strive for.  It also focused on the reverence that we should have for our freedom, our country and the symbols that represent it.

On Sunday morning a service was presented by our Troop Chaplin before we broke camp.  A quick sweep of the site to ‘Leave No Trace’ completed the weekend and we were on our way home.

This was a great weekend with the Troop.  Many thanks to the leaders involved in making this happen and providing this opportunity to these kids.  I personally would like to thank them for the work that they do weekly for our Troop.

Bailey’s Birthday Bash

With Jessie out of the house for a week and Bailey’s Birthday around the corner, plans for a birthday celebration quickly began. You would think that all day in the pool and on the slide would wear this crowd down, but they were still going at 3:00AM.

Camp Coker Parent Night 2010

Here are a few pictures from Family Night. Had a great time last night. It was a reminder of how much you can enjoy the basics. The old shelters kept us dry, the boys cooked supper in an open fire and people talking face to face.

Sondance Camp for Kayla


Kayla participated in Sondance Camp this week at Grace Baptist Temple.  She had a great time with normal summer camp activities, but was also given the opportunity to worship through dance.  I love seeing her eyes twinkle and that beautiful smile as she dances. I was very proud of her a she performed last night.

This group is offering these camps around the county this summer to raise money for a mission trip to Guatemala.