Thursday, December 11, 2014

Camp Bubbie and Saba in Florida 2014

We hit the ground running, literally, as we returned from our two-month vacation in Europe. Jess and Alex had driven down to our home in Orlando a few days earlier with Izzy and Yona, and had picked up Sami at the airport in Orlando. The following day, Jess retrieved us. We used the next few days before Jess and Alex started back home to take advantage of Jess’s annual pass at the Disney Parks and we all enjoyed the great weather by taking advantage of the pool. Jess and Alex also were able to meet up with their friends who were here vacationing with their children. They all had a buffet dinner together at Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

After their parents left, the girls easily fell into our summer routine. We would decide each night, based on the weather, if we wanted to go to one of the Disney parks. Sami would figure out which Fast Passes we would prefer and then she and Saul would book them in advance so we knew how early we needed to get going in the morning, or if we could spend the early hours in the pool, nap, and then arrive at the parks in the afternoon. Izzy and Yona were early risers, but frequently, Izzy would very competently cook breakfast for her sister, and sometimes, for the rest of us. After about a week of crankiness, tantrums, and falling asleep at dinnertime, Yona finally learned that she needed to take a nap in the afternoon if she wanted to have fun in the evening.

Erica and Danny drove down with Brenna and Ava at the end of July and stayed with us for about a week. This worked out well as Brenna and Izzy enjoyed the wilder rides. Erica and Danny would take her on these, while Saul, Sami,Yona and I headed for home early. Ava and Yona were great playmates and kept each other amused for hours each day. Because of Danny, and his gift to them of a few pins with lanyards, the girls got into pin trading in a big way.

Our weather was so beautiful this summer that we practically did not have any really rainy spells. On the few times we did, we cooked and baked together, made homemade ice cream, went to the movies, watched movies at home, worked on the doll house, and Izzy and Yona built amazing chair/pillow/sheets and blankets forts to play inside. Sami spent much time reading and making origami constructions. Jess was able to return after a few weeks. She obtained an inexpensive flight and spent a week with us at the beginning of August, while Alex was preparing for the next school year back home.

Although I had greatly wanted to visit Clearwater Beach or St. Augustine Beach with the girls, I was pooh-poohed for almost the entire summer. Everyone was so happy to have time at Disney and our pool that no one wanted to pack up a picnic and take the one to two-hour trip to the shore. When Jess visited, we did have one glorious day near Clearwater Beach. Purely by accident, while exploring a little further south, we discovered the fantastic, almost private, Belleaire Beach in a residential area of Sand Key. There was inexpensive parking for about 25 cars, a covered picnic table area, drinking fountains, outdoor showers, and clean public restrooms. Only a few dozen people were on the beach on that beautiful day. The one drawback was that there is no lifeguard, but the water was very shallow there for a long distance out, and was very calm that day. We just kept our eyes on the girls the entire time. Izzy was in her glory with her new boogie board.

Sami and I, and eventually, Izzy and Jessica, spent many hours doing the circuit at Hollywood Studios where they teach people how to draw the Disney characters. Saul would take Yona to play in actual snow, while we were drawing, at the Frozen experience, where they also had an ice-skating rink. They rented out skates for an extra fee and we took pictures of the Zamboni clearing the ice during July in Florida. Saul actually slipped and fell on the snow one day, but luckily, as he said, only his dignity was injured. We made it a point, this summer, to try to get the girls to all of the out-of-the-way attractions at the parks that they had never done before. There is little left that they have not done.

During the many times we have dined at Sweet Tomatoes, we have befriended one of our waitresses, nicknamed Jelly. We invited Jelly and her husband John, along with their four-year-old, Olivia, to join us for an afternoon in the pool. Although, in usual Florida fashion, the weather went from hot and sunny to teeming rain with thunder and lightning, we did manage to get in an hour or two in the pool. Yona and Olivia got along really well, while Izzy joined in and also played her part as protective big sister. We got to know Jelly and John much better outside of the restaurant. A few weeks later, we took the girls to Olivia’s birthday party at Monkey Joe’s and then to Jelly’s parents’ home in Winter Park for a light buffet, cake, and ice cream.

For Sami’s fourteenth birthday, while Jess was visiting, we had an incredible dinner at Artist’s Point in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. During Jess’s stay, we discovered Beaches and Cream, an ice cream parlor at Disney’s Beach Club Resort on the Boardwalk. There, we indulged in a family-sized sundae, served in what looks like Minnie Mouse’s red plastic sink. We also had dinner at the Polynesian Resort when the girls became sushi-starved after a few weeks. The Polynesian Resort was undergoing a massive renovation at the time, but Saul and I had not been there since we had taken a family vacation with my mom and dad, our small children, and my sister and brother-in-law and their children many, many moons ago. It was a great trip down memory lane for us. The girls really enjoyed their dinners, and Yona flabbergasted our waiter with her appetite for sushi.

A few weeks later, we dined, along with Ken and Randi, at Whispering Canyon CafĂ© in Wilderness Lodge, a more informal restaurant experience, and had a caricature of Yona done by a Disney artist there so that she and Izzy could have matching ones hanging over their beds. Adele stayed with us for a few days, too, during the time that Ken and Randi stayed with us for a couple of weeks, beginning August 11, in preparation for moving into their new condo. I spent a day with them, while Saul entertained the girls, at Hudson’s Furniture with the decorator who helped us furnish our house, Heather. With our four heads put together, Randi, Ken and I, but especially Randi, chose almost a whole house full of new furniture to be delivered at the beginning of October when their tenants were due to move out. Although there have been many glitches with the furniture, Hudson has managed to make almost everything right, eventually. Ken and Randi also got along well with the contractor we used to get our home ready for move in. The condo looks great and we are so happy that they had a good experience as well. For a period of several days in August, Ken and Randi spent some time in southern Florida vacationing with Randi’s sister, Lori and her husband, Jules, as well as joining us for some of our adventures with the girls.

Ken and Randi flew back to Pennsylvania with the girls at the end of Camp Bubbie and Saba in order to put their affairs in order for the final sale of their home in advance of returning permanently to Florida and their new condo about five miles away. Jess met them at the airport, returned Ken and Randi home, and spent a few days getting the girls ready for the new school year.

No comments: