Writing Again After Months Away

Dear Readers,

It’s been quite awhile since my last blog. A lot has happened since then. We have been looking for a new home for several months (to own, not rent, as my husband and I have been doing for the first 13 years of our marriage), and I was starting to think it was never going to happen. In this economy and in this city, finding an affordable home seemed like a pipe dream. But thanks to God’s amazing provision we not only were able to afford our own home, but it turned out to be the home of our dreams. We moved into a condo with lots of light, a lovely balcony (which I promptly turned into my patio garden), amazing neighbours, easy access to the transit for my job and even a heated outdoor pool within steps of our place. We have been truly blessed. I also found a new job (or they found me) which I started March 20. We moved into our place April 20. What a whirlwind those first few months were! I barely wrote anything on my books in that time. Now, I’ve been able to start writing again but have been super busy with other things and this blog has been allowed to slide. My apologies. Part of me wanted to have something super exciting to share like the previous vacations, but I am starting to realize that I need to write more about the everyday, wonderful and not so wonderful things in my life. I used to keep a journal and wrote nearly every day. Now that I’m busy with my new job, our new place and my side business with Jamberry (you can see this awesome business here: www.amyvirgin.jamberry.com/en.ca) I have to remember that there are people who actually read my blog and would like to hear what I’ve been up to.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. I started a new job as office manager for a dental clinic four days a week, I have a new three bedroom condo which means my husband has a home office and we have the space to have company, and I’m actually looking forward to the winter because it will be the first year we don’t have to shovel the snow or clean off the car because we now park underground. I have a pool to look forward to at the end of a long day, I am making friends in the complex, my daughter is making friends and every morning I get to listen to bird song and watch my plants grow as a cool breeze envelopes me through the screen door while I sit at my dining room table and eat breakfast. I have come up with new story ideas and been able to add things to current stories. The new atmosphere, new job, new life…have all helped so that I’m writing more than ever before.

I can’t say I’m really done any one book, as right now I have about three books going (and am thinking I really need to complete at least one of those) but I am enjoying writing again. For awhile after our last vacation I was so stressed with home life (issues with our landlord and starting to get really depressed living in a basement) and work that I didn’t know what to do with myself. Now I actually enjoy my job and look forward to coming home each day instead of dreading going underground and making dinner after working until 7 or 8 some nights. Life has definitely improved.

This summer my daughter went to her second week of overnight camp, she took a week of Pedalheads and is now eager to ride her bike (it was like pulling teeth previous to Pedalheads because she just didn’t have the confidence), and I have been able to spend a bit more time with both my husband and daughter.

Things are definitely looking up. Yes, there’s still piles of laundry that wait until the weekend, there’s still dishes to wash and floors to sweep and mop and meals to cook, but for the first time I’m okay with it. What a difference owning our own home makes. And what a nice home!  Sometimes, after my daughter has gone to sleep and the house is quiet, I’ll pad out to the balcony on bare feet and sit on the couch or look out over the complex and just think, “What did I ever do to be so blessed?” The peacefulness of a home on the second floor, with amazing landscaping and a great patio garden is something I hope I get to enjoy for a long time. I try to remember to thank God for His blessings every day, even when life isn’t as peachy as I’d like. What can I honestly complain about?

I have access to a heated outdoor pool, every shop and grocery store I could need within walking distance, a brand new library just down the street and even a Cineplex movie theatre just 20 minutes walk away. Everything I need is within walking distance, except for my job and my daughter’s school, and it only takes me about 20 mins by bus to get to work and soon my daughter will be able to go to school and back in about that time.

The only down side (and I am slowly learning to go to bed earlier to make up for it) is how little sleep I get during the week since I wake up at 6 am. But seriously, I can cope. A lot of people work more days and have less sleep than me. I just have to be more adult and not stay up so late. Life really is great right now.

So, sorry I haven’t written in awhile, but I will try to do more writing soon. Now, I have to go get some work done and maybe write a bit more of one of my many books. Tomorrow I’m hoping to take my Bunny to see Despicable Me 3.

Until next time,

Keep dreaming and never give up!

Amy McGuire

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Florida Vacation Day 13

Hard to believe it’s been over two weeks since this vacation ended. I guess a lot of this blogging has really been for me. I don’t want to forget all the wonderful times we had on our two week Florida vacation, especially the days in Disney. Some trips you make once in a lifetime. This was definitely one of those. My husband teased me that I took too many pictures on our trip. I am actually glad I did, so that long after the post vacation glow has left, I can enjoy the pictures of this amazing trip. Well, without further ado, here is the last entry from our two week Florida vacation.

Dear Readers,

I have come to the conclusion that packing up after a vacation is both easy and hard. Easy, because you don’t have to decide what to pack, nor do you have to be as careful because you’ll just be unpacking it all at home and probably doing a ton of laundry. Hard, because you know you’re at the end of your vacation, and that’s kind of sad. Today was a wonderful last day of vacation though, with just the right about of sleep in time, Disney park time and pool and hot tub time with my daughter.

This morning we all got up about 8:30 – a far cry from the 7:30 we did the other previous park days – and ate a leisurely breakfast of biscuits with butter and apple jelly, as well as some yummy freshly cooked bacon. And then followed that with glasses of juice. Then we all piled into the van for one last trip to Disney and drove to Epcot for a 10 am arrival. I booked us three FastPasses today and we ended up doing only two but being quite satisfied that we’d done our last park with all we wanted to do.

First, we went to the TestTrack ride by Chevrolet where we as a family got to design a really cool race car, then take it on the SIM Track, which was both indoors and outdoors and put it through its paces. I was so glad I’d gone on a few fast rides at the other parks, because I was pretty ready for this one. We went from 0-60 in less than three seconds a couple times and then when we really stayed up to speed, we were almost completely horizontal to the track. I was quite nervous as we started, but I pushed through my fear and really enjoyed myself. I think my family enjoyed themselves a ton too. My daughter especially liked designing her own cool car.

After the TestTrack we decided to go check out the World Showcase and went all the way around through the major countries of Japan, The UK, Canada, America, Morocco, China, Italy, Germany, Norway, France, and Mexico, where you really felt like you were in those countries. I got lots of pictures of the various buildings and even got pictures of a few gondolas in Italy. My daughter was able to meet Anna and Elsa in Norway, Mulan in China and Mary Poppins in the UK. What I really loved about the character meets at Epcot was that each character really took the time to talk to my daughter and she got hugs from three of them! It was as if she was the only girl in the whole park and they had all the time in the world to talk to her. I have to say, Disney staff really know how to treat kids. I was so pleased and very glad we decided to do Epcot after all.

And I was so glad we did what we did, in the rides we took and the various places we went. There is one ride called Spaceship Earth that I would highly recommend to anyone going to Epcot, where we went in a ‘time machine’ through the various eras of earth, learning about computers, verbal and written communication and how our civilization changed over the years. It was really educational and done in such a way as to be interesting to even an eight year old.

Then we of course went on the Imagination ride where we met Figment, the Purple Dinosaur and Nigel Channing, the scientist. What a fantastic ride that was! The best part was of course when we went into the smell lab and got ‘sprayed with skunk scent’. That was pretty funny. And then near the end we had wind blown in our faces as part of the ride and my daughter’s hair was all in her face. She thought that was pretty funny, as well as the What If Imagination Lab afterward. There was also a whole innovation section of the TestTrack ride where we got to make commercials for our car, try out various things and nearly every ride we went on today had some kind of hands on ‘lab’ afterwards. It was really fun for my daughter and we the adults had some fun too.

Towards the end of the day we finished up with the Disney and Pixar Film Festival in their 4-D theatre with moving seats. I had seen Get A Horse! but not La Luna or For The Birds. I will have to look those up on YouTube sometime soon. It was quite the fun experience. One thing this whole Disney trip has taught me is a more true appreciation for all the Disney movies, the staff, pretty much everything Disney. I went into an exhibit called One Man’s Dream in Hollywood Studios and learned so much about Walt Disney. He really was an incredible man.

We stood in line for 55 minutes for the Frozen Ever After ride and ate our lunch. It was well worth the wait. I was told it took four years to make the ride and all the sets. It was a really fantastic ride, although a bit short after such a long line up. If not for the lines, I would have gone on it a second time, it was that good.

After we left Epcot around 4:30, and got a tour of the orange groves due to traffic on the 192, I took my daughter to the heated Recreation pool for a nearly forty-five minute swim followed by a short dip in the hot tub. While in the hot tub, my daughter had a nice little chat and we also saw a cat come visit on the pool deck.

The coolest part of Epcot, besides the World Showcase, was definitely the miniature village. It had working trains and not a detail was missed. These are just a few shots, but you get the idea. I could have sat and studied it all day long if we weren’t trying to get my daughter to all the character greets and determined to see all of the World Showcase in the meantime. It was just fascinating.

Well, we have to get up pretty early for tomorrow’s trip back to Canada, so I’d better sign off for now. Will write more when we are officially back home. I’m sad to leave our wonderful vacation, but looking forward to seeing family and friends and telling them all about our wonderful trip.

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up.

Amy McGuire

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Florida Vacation Day 12

 

Hard to believe it’s been over two weeks since I wrote the following in Word to be saved and finally posted on my blog. Yesterday in Toronto we had freezing rain. The day I write about here was warm enough to go around in nothing but a towel and swimsuit. Sure missing Florida right about now.  Well, enjoy.

Dear Readers,

This evening as I recap the day, I feel much more refreshed and relaxed. Today the weather was perfect. The whole day was pretty good. I awoke to my daughter coming onto the bed for a cuddle then we both went back to the pull out couch and watched Teen Titans and The Lion Guard for a bit. Then we watched one episode of Tom & Jerry before we got up to make breakfast at about nine. After breakfast it was time to put on our swimsuits and head on over to the Recreation Pool or Big Kahuna pool which is a well heated pool with the deepest part being only 4 feet, a splash area and a nice big deck with plenty of shady and non shady spots with green, comfortable loungers. We enjoyed the morning together, my daughter, mother in-law, father in-law and I while my husband rested his feet at the condo after getting major blisters the past two days.

After a yummy lunch of pepperoni pizza, we all headed back to the pool for a pool party hosted by the resort. There was a hula hoop competition, dancing, and a game called Majority Rules. We ended up winning that and once again, got a free pizza. This time though, we gave it to the runners up since we have so much other food to eat up before we leave Florida on Saturday.

It is now just after 10 and I have made lunches, finished washing, drying and folding the laundry and am pretty ready to turn in myself. An early night might do me good. I don’t know how I’m ever going to return to normal life with its dishes, laundry, part time job, running the household…but I’ll do it. And I will hold all these precious memories to my heart. We’ve spent a ton of time together as a family these past two weeks and it’s been very special. I’m looking forward to going home and telling our friends and family all about it.

We also got a coupon for free mini-golf for four and since my husband wanted to rest his feet, the rest of us went. It was a pretty fun 18 hole course. I didn’t win but boy did we all have fun. It was getting late by the time we finished, so we rushed back to the condo for tacos and then did some FaceTime with family back in Toronto. After that my husband, daughter and I headed to one of the many gift stores on the strip and my daughter bought a Minnie Mouse touque and a small stuffed Marie the Cat from Aristocats with the money she had been saving up from chores.  Well, tomorrow is Epcot, so I’ll say goodnight for now.

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up.

Amy McGuire

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Florida Vacation Day 11

Dear Readers,

Today was Hollywood Studios. We were all pretty tired this morning and it was difficult to get my daughter out of bed. So, we decided early today to take tomorrow off and hopefully do Epcot Friday after a day of rest. Anyway, today was probably the best day we had in terms of being able to see everything, get tons of FastPasses, my daughter’s enjoyment maximized and even being able to not only see Fantasmic at the end of the evening but then we caught the park’s Star Wars Fireworks show as we were leaving the park. Fantasmic was pretty awesome, with our section in the amphitheatre having a little party of our own. We all did the wave, were clapping and singing along with the songs the dj played over the sound system and just had a great time.

This morning we registered my daughter to do the Jedi Training Trials of The Temple and since she had a 2:10 show time, we went from there to a bunch of other things and made it a fantastic day. My husband and I were chatting about him going to a the Aerosmith Rollercoaster that he had put us all on Fastpass-wise and how we’d meet him afterward, when a cast member overheard us. He told us to wait where we were, then came back a few minutes later with three free FastPasses! We were surprised and pleased. Today we saw Muppet Vision 3D, The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, One Man’s Dream (The Walt Disney story walk through), The Path of The Jedi, and Voyage of The Little Mermaid as well as Beauty and The Beast – Live On Stage. My husband and I were chatting with one of the cast members (that’s what they call all Disney parks staff) while we were waiting for the Little Mermaid show and the next thing we know, not only does our daughter get to be the cast member’s ‘second mate’ and say ‘Welcome To The Show’ to everyone in the room after his safety speech, but she also got a beautiful certificate with the signatures of Ariel and Prince Eric and her name done with the cutest little Mickey ears. It was super cute and my daughter was so pleased.

We went on the Toy Story Mania! 4-D ride and had a lot of fun on that. We went on the Star Tours simulation ride where my daughter was worried before we got on and then afterwards loved it so much she wanted to go again, and where I enjoyed myself but felt totally nauseous afterward. But would I do it again? Heck yeah! But next time I’d be wearing seabands because I was starting to sweat by the end of the ride. It was so much fun seeing C-3P0 and R2-D2. R2-D2 was the pilot of the ride and C-3P0 was the co-pilot. What a fun ride! My daughter also had a surprise when Stitch snuck up behind us while we were waiting in line for something and ‘licked’ her cheek. So of course, we got a couple pictures of her with him. She also got pictures with the Jawas as well as Chewbacca (she felt pretty shy when she realized just how tall he was) and finally Moana. We saw parts of the March of The First Order (Star Wars) show, went on The Great Movie Ride and pretty much the only things we didn’t go on were The Hollywood Tower of Terror and we skipped For The First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration.

My favourite part of Hollywood Studios though, had to be hanging out at Muppet Studios and being surrounded by everything related to my favourite characters, The Muppets.

What an absolutely incredible day. We saw all the shows we wanted to, went on the rides we were hoping to, the lines were short and we had perfect weather. Pretty much the perfect Disney Day. My daughter is in bed, dreaming of being a Jedi in Training and defeating the Seventh Sister and all the characters she met. Moana even gave her a hug! She also has an Honorary Jedi pin to go with her 1st Visit Disney pin.

She told us that her top three favourite things she did today were: The Jedi Training, Star Tours and Fantasmic. All pretty good choices in my opinion. Fantasmic had a wonderful ending. Just, totally perfect. Wish I’d been able to get better pictures for memories but at least I got some and I’ll try to commit the rest to memory. If I could, I would just go back and watch Fantasmic again.

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So, tomorrow is a rest day where we’ll see about getting a couple Disney souvenirs and do some swimming then we gear up for Epcot on Friday.

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up!

Amy McGuire

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Florida Vacation Days 9 and 10

Dear Readers,

Yesterday we had a fantastic time at Animal Kingdom. We saw many animals, watched great shows like Finding Nemo The Musical and Festival of The Lion King, and went on a few rides.

Lots of walking and checking out everything. We took the Maharajah Jungle Trek where we saw pacing tigers, magnificent wild birds of every size and hue and saw huge winged bats hanging from branches.We all went on the Kilimanjaro Safari Tours in the morning and then again in the evening. My husband and his mom went on the Mt. Everest rollercoaster. My daughter did a scavenger hunt for badges and ended up with 22 by the end of the day and learned a lot about animal and habitat conservation into the bargain.

Of all the things we saw though, the Okapi was the most spectacular. I hadn’t seen another one since I was very young and living in Africa, so it was a real treat to be so close to one and get so many shots and videos.

Today was Magic Kingdom. We all went on Splash Mountain, my daughter and husband went on Space Mountain, we all saw Mickey’s Philharmagic in the 4D theatre, my daughter and husband went on the Crazy Tea Party teacup ride, Prince Charming’s Castle and we all went on Haunted Mansion as well as The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride.

I really enjoyed our tour of the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse. I took many, many more pictures than those below, but these few give you an idea of the incredible attention to detail that was put in this. I’m guessing the creation of this particular attraction had to have taken a couple years at least.

 

One ride I have always wanted to go on was Pirates of The Caribbean. Well, let me tell you, if that was the only ride in all of Disney World, I would be okay with going on it over and over again. What a blast!

My daughter and husband went on Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride, we saw The Enchanted Tiki Room show as well as enjoyed going on It’s A Small World twice, and we saw the Main Street Festival Parade.

We did so many rides and shows that it’s all a bit of a blur. Thank goodness for digital cameras. My daughter also got to be in a play and met Belle. We took the Jungle Trek by boat and got to listen to some cheesy puns while seeing some great animatronic animals. That was a lot of fun.

 

We pretty much did every ride we wanted except Peter Pan’s Flight, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Big Thunder Mountain. We saw Pluto from a distance as well as Minnie and when we came in the gate, we were able to watch the tail end of That’s How You Know from Enchanted. The Main Street Festival Parade near Cinderella’s castle was pretty cool. At one point we also decided to climb all over The Swiss Family Robinson tree house and see all the props from the movie right up close. Well, replicas but it was still pretty cool. My favourite ride in Magic Kingdom was The Pirates of the Caribbean. By far the best ride in the park in my opinion.

I would say without a doubt that Magic Kingdom is the crown jewel of Disney World. There was so much to do and see and I could have easily gone back for a second day.

We ended our day with a ferry ride back to the mainland, just as the sun was setting. Here are a few pictures, some clear, some not so clear, but all evoking memories already.

Tomorrow we go to Hollywood Studios and we’re talking about Epcot on Thursday. Sorry this is a short post, but my daughter is just finishing her bath and I need to get her to bed. Tomorrow is another crazy, awesome day.

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up!

Amy McGuire

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Florida Vacation Day 8

Dear Readers,

Today I got to sleep in a little, then my daughter came to my room and asked if she could watch TV. So, I got out of bed and crawled onto the pull out couch where I half dozed while she watched Finding Nemo and snippets of Teen Titans because they have Disney Channel in Florida, included in the price of staying our lovely resort. And it is a really nice resort. There are six heated pools throughout a really large acreage. There is a huge recreation pavilion with board games, puzzles, a couple nice lounges and a room where kids can play video games on large tv’s, but of course, we won’t be using that particular amenity.

After snuggling and snoozing, we all got up and my daughter went with her dad down to the recreation pavilion where they were supposed to participate in a game called the Amazing Chase where they run all over the grounds finding clues and eventually get a prize.  Except, no one else showed up, so they won the prize just for participating. A coupon for a free large pizza in the local restaurant. If course, I didn’t know this until after I went shopping with my in-laws and came back with an extra large pizza from Aldi’s. On the way back, we stopped at a fruit stand and got a small pint of fresh Florida strawberries to take back to the resort. Those were met with happy faces all around in our group. We also saw grove after grove of orange trees heavy with fruit. What would it be like to have an orange tree? Amazing I bet.

After a late lunch, I joined my daughter at the clubhouse pool where we played Family Trivia and much to my amazement, our little group won. And what did we win? A little bag of candy which included tootsies rolls, rockets and sugar sticks, as well as a squishy rubber toy and get this…another coupon for a large pizza! So…we’re going to be eating a LOT of pizza this week.

Well, it’s getting late and I am going to bed so I won’t be exhausted before we even get started. Hoping to write about tomorrow in the evening. My daughter is asleep on my bed and soon my husband will transport her to the couch so hopefully we all get a good night’s sleep. More tomorrow!

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up.

Amy McGuire

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Florida Vacation Day 7

Dear Readers,

Today was a travel day but since the resort we were staying at this past week allowed their patrons to stay until afternoon after we checked out, we were able to enjoy the water slide, lazy river, pool and hot tub for a little longer. I actually went down the slide a fourth time and this time my father in-law took a picture, so I have proof that I did it.

See? Proof!

We enjoyed a picnic lunch after a wonderful time in the water, then decided to take a hike along the jetty. Glad we did, because we got to see some pelicans up close, watched a bunch of people fishing and on the way there we all got to see the feral cat colony (two of the cats anyway) as well as a whole bunch of vultures.

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It was a good day of travel, relaxation and sightseeing. We saw an aquarium at the Cocoa Beach Gift Shop, had some frozen yogurt a little ways down from there at a place called I Dream of Yogurt, and eventually ended up at Summer Bay in Orlando.

My daughter discovered that there was a movie playing at 7pm by the pool, so she and Grandma went and checked it out while I unpacked and dealt with a key that wasn’t working for the first half hour. After that I joined them and we watched The Jungle Book (the 2016 version) before bringing my daughter back and tucking her into her Grandma’s bed while I finished unpacking. For the first time in ages she fell asleep in moments. I expect she will be pretty tired each night this week with all our Disney trips, so hopefully she will be getting some good rest while we are here. Looking forward to a fairly restful day at our resort tomorrow as well as getting some planning done for our trips to Disney. For now though, I’m going to bed and hopefully sleep in for the last time until possibly Friday morning.

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up.

Amy McGuire

Disclaimer: All the quality shots in this post were by my father in-law.

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