The wonderful world of Justice and Mommy aka Mary!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kids Say The Darndest Things

Last weekend Justice and I went to a few of my local thrift stores looking for whatever treasures we could find. After picking through the board games and finally finding a few with all the pieces till in tact, I noticed a few VHS Disney movies we don't have. Now I wouldn't normally buy VHS anymore except they were all one-two dollars. I picked a few out and added them to my other purchases.

When we got home Justice noticed the Snow White movie in the bag and said, "Mommy, why did you get this movie? We already have it." Knowing we did not have that particular movie I said, "No, we don't." Then I asked "What's it called?" He looked at it for a moment then said "It's Snow White and the Three Dirty Little Men" Immediately I started laughing hysterically. "Why are you laughing?" he asked me. All I could say is "I can't tell you!"

I think he got the "name" from looking at the cover. He knew who Snow White was and in the movie she comes and cleans their cottage. Three of the dwarfs are more prominent on the cover, so he focused on them and came up with his own name. Kids, ya gotta love em!
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posted by Mary Gerber at 1/22/2008 0 comments

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Coming in February

I'm really excited about what's coming up next month! We will be going to ArtiGras, the Port Saint Lucie Fair and a Renaissance festival. We've been to ArtiGras every year since Justice was born and absolutely love it; however, we've never been to the other attractions. The Port Saint Lucie fair is just a month after the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach, so we are usually broke and can't afford it. The same goes for the Renaissance Festival. This year it just so happens that we are broke in January instead!
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posted by Mary Gerber at 1/20/2008 0 comments

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Autobiography Of Two Lives

Last year one of my new years resolutions was to get into scrap booking. It’s one of the hottest things out in the craft world right now and it’s something I’ve always admired. The problem is, I am not a very artistic individual. I would like to be able to draw a straight line and cut a perfect circle out of paper; but, I just wasn’t born with that skill.

A few months ago I started blogging after being inspired by Ali Rae Mondok's blog. If you are looking for another blog to read I highly recommend hers. She has been affected by shaken baby syndrome and the blog depicts her daily struggles to overcome adversity. She has consistently been exceeding every prediction the doctors and nurses have made for her and the family attributes that to the many prayers of concerned friends and family. Ali and her family have been in my prayers for several months now and it would be great if you would consider adding them to your prayer list too!

Like Ali’s blog, The Wonderful World Of Justice And Mommy depicts our every day lives; however, it’s quite different from Ali’s for obvious reasons. Our blog consists of detailed re-tellings of our weekend getaways and the many great and not so great things that naturally occur between a mother and her child. It is the autobiography of our lives.

As I was looking over the posts I’ve made and I saw the pictures and video’s I’ve included, it occurred to me that our blog was like a living scrapbook. I may not have the gift of drawing and cutting intricate patterns out of paper; however, the good Lord did bless me in the writing department. Now I’m not claiming to be any James Joyce; but, I can hold my own with a pen and paper- or in this case a keyboard and screen.

This blog is my living legacy for my son. It is the story of our lives in letters and pictures. It’s something I can pass down to Justice when he gets older, or print and make a book out of, so that he has all of his memories forever captured in a collection of short stories. How many people are fortunate enough to have their whole life’s autobiography written for them as the live it? Not very many I suspect.

The only regret I have is that I have not done this since day 1, so I have decided to include some “Blasts From The Past” each month in order to memorialize some of the other things we’ve done over the years. I realized as I was looking over the posts that I’ve made, that the incredible things we’ve done over the last few months are just a snippet of the many great experiences we’ve been lucky enough to have. I want to share as much as I can with everyone who is interested while creating an amazing, life gift for my son, who is the center of my universe.

Starting this month I will be posting at least 1-2 Blasts From The Past!
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posted by Mary Gerber at 1/19/2008 1 comments

A Camping Disaster

Well we just returned from our first totally solo camping trip and lets just say we were not happy campers. The whole trip was a disaster from beginning to end; but, I did learn some important lessons that I had already learned in books. Although I had read about camping and rain extensively and knew just how to handle each situation I still made several key mistakes.

First, I had a tent that required at least two people to set up. Now, I did have the required two people; however, I don’t think Justice really counted due to his small stature and wise old age of 5. In my defense I feel I should mention, that there were supposed to be a few friends and acquaintances on other sites; however, they all bailed out at the last minute. When I got to the site I thought there were at least 2-3 other people there that I knew and could ask for help when needed.

I wanted to see if I could possible erect the “Gerber Hotel”, as Scott from the Outlanders had named it, by myself. If I was ever going to take a trip with just me and Justice I really needed to know if I could do it alone. Of course it was raining when we got there and pitch dark, which was not going to make things any easier. Bravely I threw down a large blue tarp to act as a ground cover then unfolded my 14X10 cabin tent on top of it. Drip drop, the rain went on my face. I took the shock corded polls out and set them up on the wet picnic table. Splish splash, the rain continued to fall all around me.
Justice, bless his little heart, wanted to help so badly, but lacked the skills and size needed to do the job. He had to resign himself to holding the flashlight in key places as I continued to struggle with the tent which had become the enemy. A few expletives escaped my lips as I tried to figure out where the tent poles were supposed to go, while the rain began to saturate the directions. Ok, I had the poles in the roof, so now all I needed to do was insert the support poles and steak them down. Easier said then done. It was becoming increasingly clear to me that I could not do this alone and Justice was not going to be able to do the job of a full sized person.

I gave in and decided to call Scott. He had sent me an e-mail earlier in the day which had been worded a little funny. He said it might just be “you and Justice”, however I thought he meant on our site…..not completely alone. In retrospect I realize I should have called him to clarify and canceled the trip; but, then I would not have learned such valuable lessons!

Scott informed me that he was not there and my heart sank to my feet. I was in this all alone and knew I couldn’t possible get the tent up by myself. At that moment the neighboring campers came over to offer some assistance. Praise God. It was the help I needed. Quickly I got off the phone with Scott and accepted their offer.

As the tent began to take on real form we all heard a very loud RIP. It came from the front of the tent and it was accompanied by an “Oh no!” from the unnamed helper. “That’s ok!”, I shouted. “Don’t worry about it. This is just a cheap Target tent.” I read many reviews about this particularly tent online and they were all awful. Most people reported leaky seams, breaking polls and tents that fell apart in just one use! I had already used it several times and knew I was on borrowed time with it. I think he felt kind of bad, but accepted my explanation without much of an argument.

We were almost finished when we realized we didn’t have the rain fly. The weather forecast had predicted the rain would stop within the hour, so I wasn’t too nervous. The guys on the other hand, seemed a bit more concerned. They threw the room divided over almost one half of the screened roof. “This way if it rains, you can sleep on one half of the tent at least.” one of the helpers said. Again I didn’t think much of it because of the forecast; but, I let them do it for the “just in case”.

After about 3 hours just in case arrived. It started to pour and it became instantly clear to me what the rest of the trip was going to be like. Our bed had been made near the covered side; but, we were not out of the danger area. Immediately I jumped up and shoved our inflatable bed as far over to the covered side as possible. I turned off the electric heater and moved it over to the dry section, then brought the crock pot in as well. “Man, this sucks” was all I could think. I knew the whole tent was going to be flooded now and there was nothing I could do about it. Packing up and going home was going to be even worse than staying and I was way too tired to drive all the way home.

Mercifully I fell asleep for several hours. I think I started to stir somewhere around 3 or 4 in the morning and it was damp and cold in the wet tent. I decided to take my chances and turn on the heater again. After making sure it was as far over to the dry side as possible I flicked it on and within minutes I started to feel a bit warmer. Not warm exactly, but warmer.

Most campers wake just after the sun comes up, prepare their breakfast and get ready for the day; however, the rain seemed to have an effect on that. As the sun came up and the sky turned from dark to a subdued blue the campground remained silent. This was something I had never experienced before. Usually you can’t help but wake up due to the sounds of dishes clanking and conversational voices., but; today was different.

I decided to get up and take a walk around the campground to see how the others had set up their sites and get some ideas for the future. It was obvious to me who the seasoned campers were. There were a few people who had the foresight to double insulate their tents with blue tarps. One ambitious camper had even gone so far as to cover not only his tent with the tarp, but extended it over his dining canopy and the open space in between. He had used guy ropes and steaks to tie the ends securely into the ground and used a few poles for stability in key places. The end result was quite ingenious. He could walk from the dining area to the tent without getting wet.

After walking the loop a couple of times I decided to go back to base camp and begin to break things down. I wasn’t looking forward to it; but, knew it had to be done. Again, poor Justice wasn’t able to help much. He stood carefully off to the side and listened to me very well. I allowed him to help me whenever possible and he did a wonderful job each time.

It had stopped raining and the sun was out; however, everything was still soaked. I decided to start hauling our stuff into the car first. Back and forth I went loading the cooler, extension cords, blankets and other odds and ends. Next I took the trash up to the dumpster which was not too far away. Then I had to deal with the tent. It was a broken mass of puddles and nylon and I wanted nothing more to do with it.
Gingerly I began to remove the tent polls. I was trying desperately not to get any of the wet sandy mud on my skin; however, no matter how careful I was my attempts seemed to be in vain. One by one the poles came apart until just one remained stubbornly in place. I fought the pole for a few minutes then decided that it would just have to remain in place. With that, I grabbed one end of the tent and proceeded to drag it to the dumpster. SHHHHHHHHH, the tent drug along the ground. Our fellow campers next door looked over as they heard the noise, smiled and waved. SHHHHHHHHHH, we continued onto our final destination.

Once we were there I sized up the dumpster and the tent. The lid to the dumpster was closed and after a few tugs at it I realized I couldn’t possible hold it open and throw the tent in at the same time. I also realized that, once again Justice was too little to help. As luck would have it two nice campers were walking towards us. They noticed my predicament and offered to help. Within 2 short minutes the Gerber Hotel became a thing of the past. It was laid to rest in the large green dumpster at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. I shed no tears.

We went back to our campsite and I sized up our situation. There were a few dishes that needed to be washed and the blue tarp that I had used for a ground cover was still lying in its place on the saturated earth. I choose to deal with the dishes first. Isn’t it funny how we tend to leave the worst for last, hoping that the worst might disappear before we get to it?

As it turned out the dishes proved to be more of a challenge than I originally anticipated. Every time I have gone camping there has been a nice dishwashing station at the bathrooms. I’ve also had the good fortune to have coin laundry, sparkling clean bathrooms and spacious stalls available. This particular park seemed to be a bare bones facility. There was no dishwashing station, no coin laundry, the bathrooms were dirty, in need of renovation and the stalls were uncomfortably small. I was forced to wash our dishes at the spigot protruding from the ground at our campsite. Let’s just say that I did not feel like Zsa Zsa Gabor in Greenacres.

The menacing tarp was the last enemy I had to deal with. To be honest for a minute I really thought I might just drag it to the dumpster to find it’s final resting place with the tent. Then I took a good hard look a the tarp and realized that with the exception of one shabby edge it was in almost perfect condition. I saw dollar signs in my head and didn’t want to throw away something I could still use. Although this trip was a bust I knew I wasn’t put off from camping forever. This was a learning experience.

I drug the blue demon into the sun and tried to shake the water from it. As the water rushed off the edges I began to feel a sense of accomplishment. Shake, shake, shake, more water came off. The wet mud remained; but, I knew there was nothing I could do about it till it dried, so I began to fold the tarp. Ugh, I was getting more wet sandy, dirt on me. I continued anyway. Eventually I had the whole thing folded into a reasonable square and took it to the car. I loaded into the backseat and we were ready to go.

The Outlanders were supposed to meet for a day in the park; but, I was over it at that point. They weren’t due to show up for an hour and a half and even though I had brought breakfast with me there was nowhere dry to eat. I decided to find a local haunt to fill our stomachs then drive home and SLEEP!

The best part of our trip begins here. After driving north for a few minutes we passes a country restaurant Harry And The Natives. From the outside it was cute and quaint. The wooden structure had a front porch, windows with curtains and several well placed signs. One sign read “If the doors are closed just slip money under the door- the help”

When we entered I was completely enamored with it’s good old country charm. It was everything Cracker Barrel tries to be, but only copies. It was southern dining at it’s best. There were no booths anywhere, just old fashioned tables and chairs. Some of the table tops were hand painted with tropical scenes and covered with clear glass and the walls were unfinished planks of wood as was the ceiling.

A man dressed in jeans and a T-shirt asked us how many were in our party then led us to an empty section. He looked as though he could have been a customer and yet he worked there. That small detail really gave me that “Good Country People” feeling. I felt as though I had been invited into an old friends home for a hot meal.

We choose a table for two painted with pink flamingo’s. I started to peruse the menu as Justice took notice of the nearby bookshelf which contained a mix of eclectic decorations and small plastic toys . He wasted no time picking out a Winnie the Pooh phone to play with. I could tell he really liked this place and felt right at home.

With the Disney magic still flowing through our veins I knew instantly when I looked at the children’s menu Justice would want the Mickey pancakes. I read off the choices and of course he picked the mouse shaped hotcakes. Once he was set I tried to figure out what I wanted. I was quite amused to see they offered a dish called, Canadian. It offered no explanation except that it cost $20 dollars and in parenthesis said “No Tip”. For anyone who has ever been a server in an area Canadians like to frequent, it is a well known fact that they are notorious for either not tipping or leaving an insulting tip of 10%. Instantly I knew this place was more that just a good country restaurant. It was wit and satire in print and practical application. These were my kind of people.

Eventually I settled on the surfer girl breakfast with a side of grits and placed our order with the friendly server. Within minutes she had brought our drinks and we sat back to enjoy the atmosphere while sipping on our beverages. The walls were plastered with pictures ranging from pieces of island artwork to photos of the restaurant and it’s workers over the years. Some pictures were of random people who perhaps worked there at one point in time or were frequent patrons. Each one seemed to have some sort of story that went along with it and my only regret is that I didn’t have more time and energy to inquire about them.

When our food arrived we were once again pleasantly surprised. There was nothing pretentious or overly fancy. Just good food at a good price. Justice’s Mickey cakes came with a hot sausage patty and carefully placed banana slices that made Mickey’s eyes, nose and mouth. My eggs and grits had been prepared just the way I requested them and I had a choice of grape or strawberry jam or orange marmalade for my toast. Everything was just right.

We dug into our plates with genuine appreciation. After our horrendous night and disappointing morning we were so grateful for a good hot meal in a comforting environment. It gave us the feeling of eating in Nellie’s from “Little House On The Prairie”. Harry and the Natives somehow managed to take that feeling and bring it into the 20th century. It was like we had been transported into the simpler times I love to watch on TV but never seem to experience. It was like the porridge that goldilocks tasted and said “This one’s just right.”

After we had our fill of “porridge” we paid our bill then decided to take a walk around. First we went to the bathroom. It was brightly pained and sparkling clean. There was a cute sign posted at the sink stating “We aim to keep our bathrooms clean. Your aim will help.” “Brilliant”, I thought. If only all bathrooms could post a sign like that.

Next we decide to check out the gift shop. To get there we had to go through the patio. It was covered by a thin ceiling and huge blue and white awning. Outdoor heaters warmed the area and made the seating enjoyable. The gift shop was at the far end of the patio and resembled a small wooden shack. Inside it was jam packed with all sorts of chotchkeys and a few really cute pieces of Floridian themed items.

After that we got into our car and made our way home. I have never been so happy to see a dry bed and made good use of it the moment I walked in the door. A few hours later I woke and started to muse over the many ways our trip could have been better. The number one thing was a better tent I could put up myself. I decided to make it my mission to do some extensive internet research and find out about every tent on the market one person could put up.

Of course, the results of that mission will be reserved for another posting; but, I can tell you I found some really interesting tents out there!
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posted by Mary Gerber at 1/19/2008 0 comments

There are Gerber's in Who-Ville

Islands of Adventure was hosting Grinchmas this year and we were super excited about it. Because the park was so crowded, we decided to skip most of the main attractions and visit some of the other things we normally skip over, before heading to Suess Landing for a Grinchy Christmas. Justice really liked the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, where we could inspect and scan dinosaur eggs. We could also pretend to be archaeologist and scan rocks and look for fossils, as well as view large dinosaur replicas. I was really surprised at how much this grasped his attention. Sometimes we think we have to provide glitz and glamor for our children; but, in reality they are truly happy with so much less. It’s us, the grownups, that create the need for more. It is the grownups who are never satisfied. It’s no wonder to me that the Lord said “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

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After exploring the prehistoric wonderland we made our way over to The Lost Continent. It was here that we came across a middle eastern shop modeled after ancient Arabia. I noticed a man tattooing a girl with henna, which is made from an Asian plant and temporarily stains the skin a reddish brown color. I had always wanted a henna tattoo and recently my boss had gone to EPCOT and gotten a beautiful temporary tattoo of her own. When she showed it to me I was instantly jealous and vowed to get one for my self the next time the opportunity presented itself.

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I knew this trip had to be made on a very tight budget; however, my thrifty choices and packed lunches had allowed us enough spending money to get a couple of modest tattoo’s of our own. I let Justice pick his design first. He choose a snake. The artist asked where he wanted it and Justice pointed to his forearm. He sat on the exotically pillowed chairs and held his arm out with anticipation. The artist began to work his magic and made his snake much larger than what we had paid for. I was thankful for that.

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After his art was finished I sat for mine. I picked a flower and asked the man to put it on my hand. That’s the beauty of a temporary tattoo. You can choose to have it placed on a taboo spot with no trepidation, knowing it will slowly fade away in a week or so. As with Justice he made my tattoo larger than the 1 inch we paid for.

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After that we had to be very careful not to smudge our new artwork for at least 30 minutes while it dried and turned into a flaky, clay like substance. This proved to be a bit difficult in a theme park setting; but, we were successful. Suess Landing was just around the bend and we were ready for some action. We crossed the bridge from one land to the next and found ourselves in the pages of every beloved Dr. Seuss book. Who’s were strolling about the street like everyday people and Christmas trees with over sized glass balls were tucked into every corner. We were walking through a very unique Christmas wonderland straight from the imagination of Dr. Sues himself.

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I noted the time and realized it was almost time for the next showing of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas“. Quickly we managed to snag some seats on the ground close to the front of the stage. As we waited for the show to start Justice struck a friendship with a little English girl. I think he was quite taken with her accent, as he said to me “Hey, I heard somebody talk like you on a TV show.” Of course I’m sure we sounded just as strange to her.

The show itself far exceeded my expectations. It was very well produced and included a few new musical numbers by Manheim Steamroller. It told the story of The Grinch most similar to the movie released in 2000, starring Jim Carey. The thing that had my jaw on the door what the Who’s. I was in utter amazement at the makeup job done on these individuals. It was impossible to determine whether their elongated snouts were natural or manufactured by highly talented make-up artists. Again and again I searched their faces for some trace of truth, but couldn’t find any. They could have been natural born Who’s for all I knew.

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Other than the impeccable Who’s I was quite taken with Mac, the Grinch‘s dog. He was so cute and they had somehow managed to attach the infamous reindeer ears to his little head. Off to the side I could see a treat bearing trainer coaxing him along with perfectly timed morsels. He was quite eager to perform for food and love. Now, if only I could get Justice to work that way….(just joking)

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posted by Mary Gerber at 1/19/2008 0 comments

The Macy's parade in.....Florida!

There were two things we were really looking forward to this Christmas at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Grinchmas. One of the things I miss the most about Philadelphia is the parades. From the Mummers to the marching bands Philly sure knows how to put on a killer parade, unfortunately the southerners down here haven’t quite mastered that art; however, Universal Studios has proven to be a close second to my favorite parades.

We decided to go to Universal Studios first, so as soon as we finished up at Gaylord Palms we headed over to the park. As soon as we got there we looked at the time and the map to get an idea of what we could do with the time we had. I let Justice pick the first attraction which was Jaws. He always looks terrified as we boat through Amnity and jumps every time he sees the shark coming towards us. It’s something I have yet to catch properly on camera, but I did get a small shot of the trepidation in his face.

After that we played the balloon game, won a stuffed bear then decided to squat in front of Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride. Disaster is a totally new attraction which is still in rehearsal. Basically, that means if you are in the right place at the right time you will be asked if you would like to ride the ride. I’m not the kind of girl that likes to be told no and Justice is not the kind of kid that likes to be told no, so we decided to wait for the golden moment.

Our perseverance paid off after about 20 minutes and we were shuffled into the pre-show room with a large crowd of park goers. They picked a few people out of the crowd to participate in a short skit, which relied heavily on PG rated comedy to entertain us as we waited for the real show to start.

Next we entered into a standing room only theater and waited for the next part of the show. To my utter amazement Christopher Walkin hosted this part of the show….in the form of a 3-D hologram! He spoke and interacted with a real life actor on stage and completely blew me away. If you ever want to know what the cutting edge entertainment technology is you have to look no further than the major theme parks on Orlando. The really pull out all the stops to entertain is for about $70 a day.

The rest of the attraction was suspiciously similar to the previous attraction Earthquake, yet was still largely entertaining. In the final leg we were led to subway cars and taken for the ride of our lives. At the first underground stop the car began to shake and the ground around us seemed to roll and peak with unseen waves. The street caved in and asphalt tumbled towards us. Sirens were going off and the cacophony of sounds was deafening. A gasoline tanker lumbered towards us and exploded into flames while water mains and pipes burst flooding the landing and car with water. Then, suddenly, it was all over and we were returned to safety.

At this point there was not much time before the parade would begin. We hightailed it over to New York and quickly found a place to sit on the curb. Of course Justice was hungry; however, we didn’t have a-lot of food options as we couldn’t leave our seats unattended. Across the street I saw a vendor selling turkey legs and decided to purchase the barbaric meal for him. Like any good Barbarian Justice grabbed hold of the oversized leg and sunk his teeth far into the flesh. It was so cute to watch him wrestle the turkey with his kindergarten sized teeth.

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The original Macy’s parade in New York City was started by Louis Bramberger in Newark, New Jersey, but was moved to New York by Macy’s in the early 1920’s. Many Americans were first-generation immigrants at that time and wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with some traditions from the old countries. In Europe they often celebrated major holidays with festivals and bright costumes, so the parade was a perfect marriage of the cultures…a melting pot if you will.

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The parades popularity grew solidly over the years; however, it wasn’t until it was features in the 1947 film “Miracle on 34th Street” that it became a permanent part of Americana. Now, it is nationally broadcast on CBS, so every American can share in the holiday magic, no matter what city or town they live in.

Universal studios could see what an icon this was and found a great way to capitalize on it. In 2002 they partnered with Macy’s to bring a portion of balloons and floats to the park for several weeks leading up to Christmas. Of course, it also includes the infamous Santa Claus float which no Thanksgiving Day Parade would be complete without. We may not have the money to go to New York right now; but, thanks to Universal Studios we could get a small slice of the action and that’s exactly what we were waiting for.

Soon we could hear the music getting closer and the first snippets of oversized balloons were peeking over the city buildings. The parade had begun. This was our second year viewing the parade; however, we were still equally entertained. Balloon handlers walked the massive figures down the streets with grace and seemingly little effort. Rollerblading characters threw candy out to the children and stilt walkers offered high fives to eager kids. The crowd was brimming with excitement.

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The parade culminated with Santa on his sleigh and Justice screaming, “Hey, I want a skateboard!” It was so cute I could hardly keep my face from breaking with the hugest smile from ear to ear. The crowd disbursed and we decided to pick just a few of our favorite attractions to ride before calling it a day.

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From the ICE to the gigantic floating balloons, we had had a great day. After a long walk back to the car we drove back to our hotel and laid our heads down to get some much needed rest for the next day.

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posted by Mary Gerber at 1/19/2008 0 comments

Whoa! It's 9 degrees in Florida!

During our special Christmas Vacation Extravaganza we decided to veer from our carefully planned itinerary and take a side trip to Gaylord Palms- ICE. After hearing about a special discount for anyone with an annual pass for the major theme parks in Orlando, it seemed as though our Busch Gardens and Universal passes were going to provide us with another unforeseen discount and we were happy to take advantage of it. As a single mom on a constant budget, I’m always looking for a discount or coupon for anything and everything.

The road that led to the resort was paved with a-lot of bumps and snags; but, after a forgotten credit card, several sets of bad directions, getting stuck in a ditch and pulled out by a good Samaritan we finally made it to our destination. The resort was quite grand and it was immediately obvious to me that it was made for the upper class.

When we entered the doors, we were immediately met with a rush of cold air and an e-mail station for Santa. You could actually e-mail your Christmas wish to him and watch on the screen as he read your letter. Justice asked for a skateboard and was so excited when Santa sent him a return e-mail within seconds. He couldn’t read it just yet, but he did see his name on there and knew it had been specially written for him by the big man himself.

Just down the oversized hall was the entrance to the exhibit. Quickly we purchased our tickets and entered the turnstiles to wait for our turn to view the display. They only allow a carefully selected number of people to enter at one time, so as to avoid overcrowding and allow everyone to have a good view of the sculptures. Luckily we only had to wait about 15 minutes before we were to enter.

Our group was ushered into a large room with a huge movie screen followed by yet another room with an equally large screen. Santa Clause and Old Man Winter visited us on those screens and gave us a little bit of history regarding the ice display. We learned that ice carving had originated in Harbin China out of sheer practicality. Fisherman would carve lanterns out of ice and set candles inside to provide light during the cold, dark nights. Over time practicality gave way to the human desire for grandiosity and the world famous, annual ice festival was born in Harbin, China.

A team of carefully chosen sculptors had been flown in from Harbin to carve over two million pounds of ice for our enjoyment. They used a variety of tools including chisels and chainsaws to create magnificent, jaw dropping displays and utilized food coloring and special freezing techniques to create a variety of different looks. Truly, I had no idea so much could be done with ice. Normally I just stick a few cubes in my iced tea and call it a day; but, there’s so much more that can be done with it.

After our history and ice carving lessons, we were taken down another hallway where employee’s were handing out shinny blue parkas. The temperature inside the exhibit was a shocking 9 degrees, so we were going to need all the protection we could get. Because this arctic attraction was being hosted in sunny south Florida they knew their patrons were not going to have the proper attire for such cold weather; therefore, providing warm winter jackets was a must. Long pants and closed toed shoes were a must for entrance; however, those two items could not possible provide enough protection from such cold weather.

I could tell Justice was getting very excited by this point, as he was jumping up and down. There was something very foreign and exotic about putting on such strange clothing with hoods and extra padding. Even on the coldest days in Palm Beach County we can usually get away with wearing a sweater and light jacket, so this was quite different. I had grown up in Philadelphia; therefore, I knew what we were in for; but, my dear child has never had the great misfortune to feel anything colder than 20 or 30 degrees and even then he was on vacation up north.

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Finally we entered the main room of the attraction. We were instantly blown away by the glistening ice lit with bright lights and appropriately contrasted with black fabric walls which were twinkling with white lights.. The effect was like seeing a bright and shinning star from a ship in outer space in utter amazement. The light from the ice looked even brighter when surrounded by the darkness as I suspect the Christians of this world appear to God in heaven.

The first room was appropriately named Winter Wonderland. We had to pass through an adult sized igloo to get there and it was right then that I knew this experience was going to exceed my expectations. Justice was overly excited and found the chilly air to be invigorating. Is was as if we had been transported to a forest, in some deep tundra far, far away. The trees were carved from solid ice that had been frozen white and bore every detail of a winter wonderland. Woodland animals and life sized deer were peeking about the trees. It was magical, almost like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia.

The focal point of the room was a huge ice gazebo which was perfect for a photo op. Patiently we waited our turn and enjoyed the fairytale like surroundings. When ti was Justice’s turn he quickly jolted up the 4 or 5 steps and jumped onto center stage with his arms spread wide.

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The next room was appropriately named Candy Land. It was filled with whimsical toy trains, oversized lollipops and a massive gingerbread house. We took a bunch of pictures in here; however, it was here that we started to feel the full effects of 9 degrees. Our hands started to creep up our sleeves and we were checking to see that we had all of our buttons buttoned up tight. My nose had lost it’s feeling and I was beginning to remember exactly why I moved to Florida.

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A little more bundled we entered the Nativity room. They had carved a life sized Nativity from clear ice and incorporated a light show which told the story of the first Christmas. I would have liked to have stayed for the next showing; however, Justice was starting to complain about the temperature and it was a hard point to argue. We snapped one great picture then moved on.

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Finally we had made it to the last room. The one I was waiting for. We were in the SLIDE room! They had created three unique slides made entirely of ice which “kids” of all ages could enjoy. We choose to ride the advanced slide first. As we entered the line we were flanked by huge blue penguins wearing winter caps and scarves. Somehow the solid ice penguins seemed to look even warmer that we were!

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Slowly the line moved forward and the cold sunk deeper into our bones. We had stopped moving and generating heat, so the frigid temperature was really beginning to set in. At this point I turned to Justice and asked him
“How do you like it? Do you want to come here again?”
“Don’t you ever take me here again where it’s so cold!”
he told me! I couldn’t believe it. The magnificent ice sculptures and eye catching displays were not enough for him to want to weather such extreme temperatures. I decided that this was definitely a Kodak moment and whipped out my Kodak Easyshare digital camera. It has the ability to take short video clips and I decided to take advantage of that. Take a look at the videos below to see how funny my little man is!

After a few chilly minutes we made it to the front of the line. WHOOSH, Justice went down the sheet of ice. WHOOSH, I went down the sheet of ice. Immediately we hopped back in line, but this time opted for the intermediate slide due to the shorter lines and our increasingly numbing extremities. This slide seemed to be even fast that the advanced slide. It was so much fun, my only regret is we were too cold to ride over and over again.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Cold and now wet we made our way to the exit. We passed by the sign for the North Pole and a couple of Coca Cola bears then exited through a set of plastic draped double doors. Warmth. That’s all I can say for what met us next. I was so cold that as the heat began to seep into my frozen body my hands and feet actually hurt. My face was tingling. These are sensations I had not felt in over ten years and do not care to feel ever again….Unless I’m visiting an ICE display!

All in all I have to say this was one of the most unique things I have done in Florida. Even at full price I think it was worth the money; however, if we visit this attraction again next year I will be sure to wear more layers and bring a good hat, scarf and gloves!
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posted by Mary Gerber at 1/19/2008 0 comments

Thursday, January 17, 2008

We're Syndicated Now!!!!!

I have big news for The Wonderful World of Justice and Mommy! We're syndicated now. What's that you say? How does this affect me? The answer is it only affects you if you want it to. You can subscribe to this feed by clicking on the little yahoo, google or bloglines icons to the left of the page. Then when you log onto google, yahoo or bloglines a pared down version of the blog will appear on your page along with whatever other info you have on there such as news, weather, celebrity gossip etc.

If you haven't taken advantage of setting up and or customizing your igoogle or myyahoo page I highly recommend doing so. Quite simply, it puts more information at your fingertips faster. Instead of having to go to one site for news, another for weather, another for this and another for that, you can put whatever you want on your home page. It's your "home" page so you should be able to have whatever you want there. I'm kind of new to it; but, I can see already that it's a huge time saver!

You can still go directly to the blog to get the full content; but, by subscribing you get another avenue to view the main content a little faster. I'm not sure how this is going to affect the blog in the long run, but for now it's pretty cool! The internet world is expanding so fast with blogs, podcasts and syndication that it's hard to keep up with the newest thing, but I'm sure as heck going to try!
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posted by Mary Gerber at 1/17/2008 0 comments