November 2016

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Today, we slept-in a little later because we didn’t get home from Disney until after midnight. And the boys wanted to go to the pool for a bit, so we waited until late afternoon to head-out to Disney Hollywood Studios. My favorite Disney park. Here we go!

Sven

On our way into the park, Cindy was the lucky random winner of a special ride through the metal detector…

Security

Although there were still a lot of people in the park, it wasn’t near as crowded as the Magic Kingdom was yesterday. Which made it much easier to get to our first destination: Front row seats for Star Tours! And look! Everything is 3-D!!

Star Tours

The last time we were hear, the boys didn’t get a chance to visit Chewbacca. We tried, but he was called away for some reason…maybe something broke on the Millennium Falcon or maybe he was sick…anyway, he was “home” this time around and the boys, especially Alex, were thrilled…

Chewy Hug Chewy and the Boys

Our favorite Wookie…

Chewy and the Family

And I guess you just can’t get enough Star Wars…

Stormtrooper

Before long it was time for the Christmas show at the center stage, “Jingle Bell, Jungle BAM!” featuring the “Prep and Landing” elves, Wayne and Lanny…

Jingle Bam!

The light and firework was presented against the park’s full-scale replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, home of The Great Movie Ride. The show was a lot of fun and we had a great spot right at the front of the stage.

Jingle Bam!

What an AWESOME night!

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This year we decided to forego the traditional Thanksgiving holiday at home and instead, over the river and through the woods, to Orlando we will go! So, piling in the family truckster, our Disney World Thanksgiving Extravaganza begins! Yesterday afternoon, we arrived at Hilton’s Tuscany Village Resort, one of our favorite hotels…an oasis in the middle of the city.

Tuscany

and today, “HAPPY THANKSGIVING”, we were up early and off to the Magic Kingdom…

To Orlando!

posing for selfies on the tram…

Mom and Alex Mom and Alex

and, of course stopping for even more pictures before Mom would let us enter Main Street USA! Fearlessly, Adam inquired, “Why do we have to take so many pictures?” That’s a rhetorical question, right? Cause I ain’t touching it with a 10-foot pole! 😛

Magic Kingdom Entrance

Anyway, once we crossed the threshold we headed to Tomorrowland so the boys could race the Grand Prix. This is a “must ride” every time we visit…and Adam, like Ricky Bobby, knows if you’re not first, you’re last!

The park was pretty crowded today, but we got around pretty well by timing our Fast Passes to take advantage of shows, like the “Hall of Presidents”, and fast moving lines, like Alex’s favorite ride, “The People Mover.”

We did endure one long line for “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin”…not exactly sure why, but it did give Adam and I a chance to ride it, as we normally split the Fast Passes for this ride, which Alex likes, and “Space Mountain”, which Adam likes…

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin

By late afternoon, we had been moving non-stop and it was time to take a break for Thanksgiving Dinner. So, we headed back to Tuscany Village for a GREAT Thanksgiving spread! The food was great and there was A LOT of it! After dinner, we went back to the room and rested-up for our return to the Magic Kingdom to see the lights and fireworks!

Naturally, and to Adam’s chagrin, we had to take more pictures…

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree

but it was worth it!

Christmas Castle Christmas Castle

and once more before we leave!

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree

Tomorrow, we’re off to my favorite park: Disney Hollywood Studios!

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Alex wrote himself a reminder in his planner to wear his “field trip sh*t” to school today. Don’t get excited, he meant field trip SHIRT. I just thought it was funny.

Planner

Art Linkletter always said, “kids say the darndest things,” well, let’s not forget the written word because sometimes they write the darndest things, too. 🙂

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Dr. Strange ComicSo I took the boys to see Doctor Strange, a movie I’ve been waiting to see for 40-years! It was AWESOME! Now, I’m having to dig-out my old comic books for them to see. Anyway, I’m reminded of my (much) younger days growing up in Florida. I remember walking in bare feet to the 7-11 with nothing more than a dollar bill in my pocket. The year was 1975, and that dollar was a veritable goldmine for a 12-year-old kid.

Comic books were a whopping 25¢! In fact, 1975 was the year prices rose from 20¢ and I railed to the heavens about the way Marvel and DC were extorting me. A Slurpee in a collectible Marvel cup was about 35¢ and penny candy was 2¢ (why we still called it “penny” candy is beyond me). So that dollar bill would buy me a comic book (or two), a Slurpee, and a bagful of penny candy. Sales tax was 4% then, so I essentially had 96¢ of purchasing power (Not that I ever thought of the tax on items back then. After all, I had a dollar and should be able to purchase a dollar’s worth of goods. I always felt a little ripped-off when I had to surrender 4¢ for a “tax” that produced no noticeable benefit for me).

Anyway, this happy reminiscence got me thinking: What would that dollar buy me at the 7-11 today? Let’s assume I went to my 1975 neighborhood 7-11 with my dollar and purchased:

  • 1 comic book (normally, “Doctor Strange” in those days): 25¢
  • 1 cola-flavored Slurpee (in a Marvel Comics cup): 35¢
  • 18 pieces of penny candy (Zotz, Pixie Sticks, etc) at 2¢ a piece, that’s 36¢
  • and 4¢ sales tax

Dr. Strange Comic Beast Cup Penny Candy

Today’s comic books are $3.99, Medium Slurpees are $1.50, and penny candy is 20¢. In 2016 dollars, my 1975 7-11 shopping spree would cost $9.09 plus 64¢ sales tax or 9.73 (an increase of 897%). Considering the buying power of my 1975 dollar in 2016 is only $4.49* (an increase of only 349%), it’s apparent that the value of my dollar hasn’t come close to keeping up with inflation. Today’s dollar would only be worth 22¢ in 1975.

It’s sad to think that my 2016 dollar wouldn’t even buy me a 1975 comic book.

*241.428 (2016 CPI)/53.8 (1975 CPI)

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This year we took to the boat for our annual family Christmas pictures. We docked on Julington Creek, set-up the camera, then set the timer…again and again. As always there’s one or two good ones in the bunch. Don’t know if these will make the final cut (that’s Cindy’s job), but you get the picture (pun intended)…

Family Boat

…and outside the boat…

Family Boat

Getting a good picture of the boys and Charlie is a lot like herding cats…

Family Boat

We spent about 30-minutes taking pictures. In between Cindy’s arranging the boys, the dog, and the boat, I snapped the scenery…

Deck

When the pictures were done, we headed back to the marina. The sun was getting low in the sky, so we took our time. The boys napped under the watchful eyes of their best friend…

Sunset

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Once again, the boys’ school held a Veteran’s Day celebration. This is always a fun experience. The kids are asked to invite family members that are veterans to participate. I retired from the Air Force before the boys’ first birthday and they’ve never seen me in my uniform (other than pictures, of course). So, I shaved my beard and pulled the old BDUs out of the box in the garage. To my surprise, it still fit (albeit a bit tighter)…I’m certainly a lot greyer, though!

The Old Airman

This year there was a presentation in the cafeteria by the older kids, then the vets went to the various “houses” (first grade area, section grade area, etc.) to participate their kid’s, grandkid’s activity. The boys took part in the group event with other members of their cub scout pack, lining-up on stage for the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem. Adam and Alex looked great!

There were several vets connected to first graders in the “Fire House”. All the kids classes lined up and sand several verses of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” for us, then there was a Q&A, which was a lot of fun!

Alex Adam

It was a very special day for this old Chief…

The Old Chief

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Everything Alex plants grows. Everything.

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This afternoon the boys and I scouted locations for our next Den Meeting. On the bridge at Alpine Grove Park, the boys flash the scout sign…first and middle fingers held high representing the wolf’s ears.

Alex has it right, while Adam is showing the bunny ears behind the head of his brother…

Scout Sign

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Casey Kasem As is often the case, I wax nostalgic, sharing with the boys how things used to be and what I enjoyed when I was younger. When I was a teenager in the ‘70s, I listened religiously to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio show every Sunday morning. I was always impressed by the way Casey found something unique in each song he introduced. A combination of his creativity, his commitment to research and his love for the work he did motivated people, me especially, to listen to his program.

Now, more than 35-years later (and true to form), I still listen to Casey on Sunday mornings via replays on XM’s “70’s on 7” station. What’s nice this time around is there are no commercials! It’s really quite interesting when you consider that most of the parents around us with kids Adam and Alex’s age are a generation younger than we are. I’m a kid of the ’70’s, while they grew-up in the ’90’s. The world changed considerably in that 20-year span…and so did MUSIC! The music Adam and Alex are starting to enjoy spans 40-years (or more). Take a look at this playlist from Adam’s iPod…

Adam's iPod

Yep, that’s Three Dog Night! I wonder how many kids in their first grade class know that Jeremiah was a bullfrog? One of Adam’s favorite songs is Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way” and it’s really cool (and terribly funny) to hear Alex singing the “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King one minute, then the Runaways, “Cherry Bomb” the next.

Just wait until they have kids…my music will endure!

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It sucks when your bed-time trumps the World Series. Although we cheated a bit this year by stretching the bed-time deadline, A2 wasn’t able to stay-up for last night’s 10-inning Game 7 clencher when the Cubs took home the championship. What makes matters worse is I had to be up early for work, so I wasn’t here to give ’em the results and recap the game. So, here’s the announcement, and we had to catch-up via phone later in the day…

Cubs Win

One of the cool things about THIS series is it gave me an opportunity to introduce the boys to iconic Cubs announcer Harry Carey, who passed in 1998 (sadly, he never saw the Cubs win a World Series). Anyway, I was introduced to Harry in the late 70s, when cable television came to our neighborhood. All Summer long, we’d watch the Cubs on WGN and Harry “Cub Fan-Bud Man” Carey. Although I was never much of a Cubs fan, I always had a special place in my heart for him.

So, given their dad’s reminiscent tales, what did the boys’ think of Harry? I guess Adam summed it up best with…”He’s old”.

Yeah, just like his dad.

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