Monday, January 31, 2011

Movie Review-The King's Speech (2010)

I have a special affinity for movies that have an historical context.
My wife Tammy and I saw The King's Speech this past Saturday night (1/29/11).

A few things attracted me to this movie. First the reviews have been outstanding. Second was the fact it was based on historical events surrounding England's King George VI sudden ascension to the throne following his brother Edward's abdication in 1936. Third was that is stars Colin Firth, who was brilliant in 2009's A Single Man.

The movie did not disappoint. I was very impressed with Geoffrey Rush in the role of Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who helped King George VI overcome a debilitating stammer. The interaction between Mr. Rush and Mr. Firth in their scenes together were both funny and emotional. David Seidler, who wrote the screenplay, delivered a wonderful story by weaving the intimate relationship between King George VI and Lionel Logue with the events leading up to World War II.

As Tammy and I left the theater, I mentioned how beautiful Helena Bonham Carter looked in the movie playing King George VI's wife Queen Elizabeth. I am used to seeing her in roles such as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series and Marla Singer in The Fight Club. This role seemed like a departure from the typical roles I have seen Ms. Carter take on, and she was outstanding.

The King's Speech is a very good movie. I'm not sure it is the best of the 2011 Oscar nominees, but just like Chariots of Fire (another well-written and acted movie based in England) in 1982, it may just win Best Picture in 2011.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Woot! Made the Studio30 Plus Sunday Spotlight Magazine Today!

Check out the Studio30 Plus Sunday Spotlight Magazine at http://www.studiothirtyplus.com/magazine/read/-the-sunday-spotlight-_1080.html. Discovered this Website a couple of weeks ago. Great place to find interesting and intriguing bloggers! Also a very good place to network with others in the blogging community.

You can check them out on Facebook and Twitter (Studio30Plus) too.

Book Review-Water for Elephants (2006) by Sara Gruen by Guest Reviewer: Dad

I haven't read Water for Elephants, but my Dad and wife Tammy have. Here is my Dad's review, sent via email to me this morning. He likes it!
Review Part 1:
To all family members by blood or marriage: 
I just finished an excellent book " Water for Elephants " by Sara Gruen. I highly recommend reading it. On my reading scale it is a high 5. It is available at the I-Pad bookstore. 
Dad 

Reading Scale ( Sometimes known as the SellBSscale ): 
5. Very compelling. I want to read it through with no break, but contradictorly hate finishing it. 
4. An enjoyable and delightful book. I will keep it on my I-Pad or home bookcase. 
3. A pedagogic somewhat historical book. A didactic treatise. Hard to read! 
2. It was OK, but I would rather read the dictionary, at night, with no light. 
1. Why did I waste my money buying it and the time reading it. 
-1. Any biography or autobiography about a movie or TV star or non-classical composer or singer.
Review Part 2:
To all relatives by blood or marriage:


That excellent book ( 5 ) I recommended, " Water for Elephants " has been made into a movie to be released in April. You can see a short preview on the website Rotten Tomatoes.
From The Ringermaster
Dad "The Ringermaster"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why I Buy-Another Philosophy to Live By

Essentially there are three things people take under consideration when making any buying decision.

1) Do you need it?

2) Do you want it?

3) Is it a good deal?

Apply this to anything. You need to buy food. You may want to buy a new TV. You might be at Barnes & Noble checking out the books on the discount table and see one that looks interesting and at $5.99 is a good deal.

Now add another dimension. Use the 2 out of 3 rule to make buying decisions. Ask yourself the three questions above. If you can answer yes to two of them...go for it. If you can answer yes to all three, even better!

It's lunch time. Your hungry. You need to eat. You want a Beef n' Cheddar from Arby's. Is it a good deal. Probably not. But two out of three applies. Buy it! While you're at it, add some waffle fries and a Jamocha Shake!

Need gas for the car? You may not want to buy gas as you can think of a bunch of other things to spend your money on, but you drive down the road and find that the Kroger Gas station is 7 cents cheaper than the Shell across the street. You're getting a good deal! Fill 'er up!

That new 3D TV? Do you need it? Maybe not. Do you want it? YES! Is it a good deal? Best buy has 36 months same as cash? Yes? Make the buy!

Just another philosophy to live by.

I have more! http://jiresell.blogspot.com/2009/05/three-philosophies-to-live-by.html

Special thanks to Erik Kuselias, co-host of The Morning Drive on The Golf Channel.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Restaurant Review-SmashBurger, West Chester, Ohio

So did we really need another restaurant in West Chester, Ohio?
Classic SmashBurger
The answer is...YES, especially when the place serves a great burger! 

SmashBurger opened this past December (2010) in West Chester. I have been there three times and have enjoyed my my experience every time.

The chain originated in Denver, Colorado. I had not heard of SmashBurger until the day I saw a "Coming Soon" sign on the door of the empty space in a strip mall on Cox Road a quarter mile North of Tylersville.

My wife Tammy and I visited on opening day, and were very impressed. Usually restaurant openings can be challenging for the staff, but that visit, and our two additional visits have been very good! 

Food at SmashBurger is made to order. They take your order at the front counter, give you a number, and the food gets delivered to your table within 5 minutes or so. The menu has quite a variety of items. They serve grilled and crispy chicken sandwiches, salads and hot dogs. They also have a nice variety of side items, including haystack onions, fried pepper rings, fried pickles, and sweet potato fries. Of course they serve french fries and their house specialty, SmashFries, are tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic. Pretty original. And very good!

I should add that they also have milk shakes, malts and floats, all made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

The highlight of the menu, is of course, the burgers! SmashBurger serves 6 specialty burgers, and usually have a couple of special burgers on the menu also. They give you a choice of a 1/3 pound or 1/2 pound patty, and true to the restaurant's name, they literally smash the burger on the grill as they cook it.

My favorite burger (so far) is the Classic SmashBurger. 1/3 pound is plenty for me. It comes with American Cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, onion and pickles. The toppings are crisp and very fresh. The burger is delicious, and rates two-napkins (you need two napkins nearby, as it is very juicy). In addition, they add their special SmashSauce to this particular burger. The SmashSauce is a tangy combination of mustard and mayonnaise and is a nice addition.

Be prepared for a crowd if you eat at peak dinner hours. My last visit was with two of my children (Mallory and Michael) and my wife Tammy this past Friday, January 21, 2010. The line was to the door, but ended up only being a 5 minute wait until we placed our order. Usually with this type of service you will see people send one person to the register while the rest of the party grabs a table. This can cause problems for people who have already ordered and need a table. The staff at the West Chester SmashBurger do a nice job of managing the dining room so that the people who have ordered their food get seated, thus alleviating the problem.

Sin City Burger!
One last note. I tried one of the burger specials this past Friday, the Sin City Burger, pictured above. Bacon, cheese, onion straws and SmashSauce. Oh, and a fried egg! Excellent!

SmashBurger
7598 Cox Lane
West Chester, Ohio 45069
(513) 847-4840
http://www.smashburger.com/

Smashburger on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Two Hour Delay-My Dad's Response

My Dad's response to my Two Hour Delay post. He's old. And funny.


Family members by birth or marriage,

America's kids today are wussies, primarily because they are coddled, according to Amy Chua who wrote the very controversial and argumentative best way to raise children in her best seller "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother". When I read the E-Mail my older son wrote about his son and the working of snow days and because of them getting to sleep in a couple of hours longer or all day depending on what the school declares is their decision on hours of closing. It made me think what would Amy do. Probably what I did between 1937 - 1948 when I was going to school in Pennsylvania.

In those days ( commonly called "the good old days" by people who didn't live through them ) bussing was very uncommon unless you live 10-15 miles away from school. There were no snow days! I remember as a grade schooler determining how deep the snow was by what goulashes by mother put by the front door - 2-3 inches, rubbers which fit over shoes; 3-4 inches, two buckle boots; 4- 6 inches, 4 or 6 buckle boots. Anything more than 6 inches you just waded through it and wore wet socks all day from the snow that got down in your boots.

To make matters worse there was not a cafeteria at school so you had to plow home at noon and then back to school for the afternoon session. When I think back it seems like we lived 8 miles from the school, but in actuality it was about 1 1/2 miles. most of it uphill, both ways, for you always took a different way home. As a grade schooler the greatest thing that could happen when it was snowing or snow was on the ground was for the high schoolers to have already gone to school ( they started 15 minutes before grade school ) that way they would have partially cleared a path as they marched to their classes. We had a bunch of older kids in my neighborhood who tramped down a path and made it easier for us little kids.

There were no 1-3 hour delays unless it was determined by your parents. Although a delay was nice, this was considered being late for class by the school, resulting by having to stay late and make up the time. Which option was better, I still reflect on now, and debate the up-side and down-side.

 The other problem in those days with snow ( or cold ) was you really had to bundle-up. Down clothing had not been invented, and light weight, but warm material a thought for the future. So to prevent perma-frost from building up in the body you layered clothing. And unlike today where this is still the method of keeping the body from hyperthermia, but the clothing is light-weight and very warm, back then the material for clothing was heavy weight. The theory being the heavier it was, the warmer it would be. Wool was the material of choice. Of course the more wool garments you wore, the warmer you would be. The down side, though, was after wading a short distance in snow up to your knees, you would start to sweat ( girls would only perspire or gleem ) and worse of all itch, and with no way to satisfactory scratch through the many layers of clothing, it became a more wretched walk to school and more disconcerting the realization you would have to do it over on the way home. Think of Ralphie in the movie "Christmas Story" on clothing, and it will give you a clear, realistic view of the way we dressed. Most first period classes started a few minutes late to give us time for a thorough scratch.

High school was different, for now parents were weaning kids away from parental control to prepare them "for life's experience". So if you walked out of the house during a blizzard to go to school wearing a T shirt, they might admonish you and suggest something warmer, but let it up to your judgement as to what to wear. Snow boots were absolutely forbidden to be worn my high schoolers under penalty of being snow balled to death. There were never any reports, as I recall, of kids dying because of this.

With all the problems encountered because of the cold and snow, being hit by snow balls added to the weather hazards. It behooved a person to continue to swivel the neck ( much like fighter pilots do ) to watch for enemies coming from behind and always carry a snowball in your hand, preferably one that had partially melted then refroze into a iceball.

One thing I kind of liked back then were no weathermen ( weatherperson ) or as they are now called meteorologists (probably because TV has not invented them yet) to give detailed, comprehensive weather reports. If you wanted to know what was going on weatherwise you went outside and looked or turned on the radio and heard the announcer say rain, snow, warm, or some other one-word description, with about the same accuracy as they now have.

Dad

Dad

Friday, January 21, 2011

Two Hour Delay

We've had snow the last couple of days in the Cincinnati area. My youngest son, Michael, a junior at Lakota East High School in Liberty Township, Ohio, still enjoys a snow day (Don't we all?). Both yesterday and today were declared snow days by his school, and as is typical of a male teenager, he slept in till about noon both days.

Michael's school has the customary options when it comes with dealing with the snow. One hour delay, two hour delay, snow day. Michael usually wakes up at about 6:20 AM to get to school for 7:15 AM first bell.

Lakota Schools do a nice job of using all the technologies to notify kids and parents if delays or cancellations are possible. The Lakota website, automated phone calls and local radio and TV outlets are all used to communicate school closing decisions.

Earlier in the week, there was a pretty good chance that a two hour delay was going to happen. It was finally posted about 10 PM, before Michael went to bed. Michael would get to stay in the land of Nod till 8:20 AM the next day, which is like GOLD for a teenager.

Tammy, my wife, told Michael to bring our iPad up to his room so that if the decision changed to a full snow day when he got up at 8:20 AM he could go back to sleep.

The next morning, our phone rang about 6:15 AM. It was the automated phone notification calling to say there was a two hour delay, no change from the Website posting the night before. Tammy answered it, and headed upstairs to wake Michael.

As Michael tells it, she went in his room, "Michael! Michael! Are you awake? I just want you to know you're still on a two hour delay! You can still sleep an extra two hours!"

Michael, as grateful as ever, "Thanks Mom for waking me to tell me I can continue to sleep..."
obriencomics.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And The Winner Is? Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!

Admittedly, only two people voted, and one was me. But by an overwhelming majority the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was voted better than the Red Bull Mini!

Winner!
I'd blow my wiener whistle to celebrate-if I had one...


http://jiresell.blogspot.com/2011/01/red-bull-mini-vs-oscar-mayer.html

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review-The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (2009), Graphic Novel by Max Brooks, Illustrated by Ibraim Roberson

I have just started getting into graphic novels. I am currently reading The Walking Dead Series, but recently finished The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. Written
by Max Brooks as a companion piece to his very successful 2003 book, The Zombie Survival Guide (reviewed on my blog 1/15/11) , this graphic novel is illustrated by Ibraim Roberson.

The last section of The Zombie Survival Guide is dedicated to documenting historical Zombie attacks ranging from 60,000 B.C. in Katanda, Central Africa to 2002 A.D. in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Mr. Brooks chose several of these attacks to be highlighted in Recorded Attacks.

The book is illustrated in black and white. Ibraim Roberson's illustrations are very well done. I wish I had purchased Recorded Attacks at the same time as The Zombie Survival Guide, as the novel would have enhanced my reading experience.

I don't know if Mr. Brooks has plans to publish additional graphic novels, but certainly based on the quality of his first work, I would look forward to additions to his portfolio.


The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded AttacksThe Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a graphic novel, this is a great companion book to the Zombie Survival Guide. I reviewed on my blog on January 17th, 2011. http://jiresell.blogspot.com/2011/01/boo...

View all my reviews

More Lego Fun-Columbus Crew!

Another great Lego creation. I can't get enough of this stuff! Massive! Go Crew!


http://www.thecrew.com/news/2011/01/crew-fan-lego-magic

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book Review-The Zombie Survival Guide (2003) by Max Brooks

I have a bit of infatuation with Zombies. My first experience with the genre was on a visit to New York City when I visited The Strand Bookstore located at 12th and Broadway. As I was hunting through the stacks there, I discovered the book World War Z, by Max Brooks. I thought the book was very well written as a fictional account of the World as it would be after the Zombie Apocalypse. In fact, my brother Mike, Professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania assigns the book to study in one of the courses he teaches.

The Zombie Survival Guide, written by Max Brooks, was published in 2003. Max is the son of filmmaker Mel Brooks. This book is written as a serious, tongue-in-cheek, guide to how individuals can survive a Zombie attack. The style of this book is very matter-of-fact, with sections describing the undead, weapons and combat, attack and defensive strategies, and a list of historical recorded attacks. (Mr. Brooks has since written a graphic novel with more details on the recorded attacks aptly named The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks.)

As I was reading this book I became immersed in the thought that I had to prepare for the potential of attacks by the undead. That's where Max Brooks has succeeded as a writer. The notion that there is a virus that exists that can cause a dead person to reanimate is preposterous, but as I read the book, I felt as if it could really happen, especially when I read the accounts documented in the section "Recorded Attacks", including the cover-ups of the more recent attacks Mr. Brooks writes about. The book also comes across as very well researched, another consequence of the writing style Mr. Brooks uses.

If you are a fan of all things Zombie, read The Zombie Survival Guide. Even if you are not, it is a short and entertaining read.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living DeadThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead by Max Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading this I feel very comfortable that I could survive a Zombie infestation. Reviewed on my blog January 15th, 2011. http://jiresell.blogspot.com/2011/01/boo...

View all my reviews

Lego Ohio Stadium!

This is amazing! I like Legos. I like Ohio State. But this guy took both to another level!


More info here:

http://www.mocpages.com/moc.php/245542

And and article in today's Columbus Dispatch. Be sure to go to the link in this article with more pictures!


Lego hobbyist spent 2 years building model of stadium

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Red Bull Mini vs Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!

New School vs Old School!

Cute Girls Giving Out Free Red Bull vs College Interns Giving Out Wiener Whistles!

Modified vs Custom!

Easy to Find vs. Hard to Find!

Red Bull Mini vs Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!

I used to think the Wienermobile was the coolest car I had ever seen, but the Red Bull Mini...very cool too!

Which is better? Take the Poll on the right side of the Blog! Results published in a week!


Red Bull Mini



Oscar Mayer Wienermobile



Monday, January 10, 2011

New Puppy Part 2-The Verdict on a Name? Gracie!

Our new puppy came home today. We decided to name her Gracie. Not an original idea. Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has two dogs named (and very appropriately I might add) Scarlett and Gracie.
Isn't she cute?

video

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Restaurant Review-Hot Doggin' It, Loveland/Maineville, Ohio

Storefront
I graduated High School in West Chester, Ohio in 1981. After college I worked in the Chicagoland area for 13 years. Now I'm back in the Cincinnati area. I guess that makes me a transplanted Cincinnatian/Chicagoan? No matter. The point is that when I moved to Chicago I fell in love with the the Hot Dogs served at the traditional Hot Dog stands/restaurants in the area. 1100 of them in the Chicago metro area alone!

I married my wife Tammy in 1986, and when she moved to Roselle, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) with me the first thing she noticed was the all of the Hot Dog restaurants. Quoting Tammy in 1986, "I can't believe they serve Hot Dogs in restaurants!" We were used to cheese coney's in Cincinnati, but nothing like they served in Chicago.
Chicago Dog with Everything!

Portillo's and Teddy's Red Hots were our favorite places when we lived in the Chicagoland area.

We moved from the area in 1999. Since then our desire for a great Chicago style Hot Dog continues unabated. A couple of year's ago Tammy noticed an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer rating the best Hot Dogs in Cincinnati and discovered Hot Doggin' It located in the Loveland/Maineville area.

Hot Doggin' It is located in a strip mall very close to Montgomery Road and Fields Ertel. The storefront actually faces away from Montgomery Road, next to a Domino's Pizza. But in the classic tradition, the location (strip mall) is similar to many of the Hot Dog places you would see in the Chicagoland area.

Hot Doggin' It rates with the best of the Chicago places! Everything is made to order. Go to the counter, owner Ava will take your order. David is usually running the grill and steamer. Sit down and within 5 minutes your order is ready. The fries are made to order. They serve a Charburger, Italian Beef, Italian Sausage (combine the beef and sausage with Hot Giardeniera for a real treat), chicken sandwich and Gyros. They also serve a Maxwell Street Polish Sausage (deep fried as is tradition) and Chili.
Front Counter

My wife and I have probably eaten here 20 times, and although tempted by the rest of the menu (and it is all good judging by the satisfied customers, many of whom are transplanted Chicagoans) I always get a Chicago Dog with everything, and an order of Tamale's (Tom-Tom Brand, 2 per order).

So here is how to assemble a great Chicago Dog. Start with a Vienna all beef wiener. Place it on a steamed poppy seed bun. Toppings are critical. Mustard, bright green sweet relish, diced onions, sport peppers, tomato wedges and a dill pickle spear. Sprinkle with a little celery salt. Done! You have a Chicago Dog and Hot Doggin' It makes it a good as their Chicago counterparts. Oh, one more thing...NO KETCHUP!


I encourage everyone to visit, whether you have a Chicago background or not. Well worth the drive to Loveland/Maineville!

Hot Doggin' It
12082-B Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242
(513) 831-DOGG (3644)
http://www.hotdogginit.com/

Hot Doggin' It on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A New Puppy!

Black Lab Face, but Short Little Corgi legs!
My wife Tammy and I went out this afternoon to run a couple of errands. One of our stops was PetSmart. We went in with the intention of getting a new ring for Hallie's (our 2 year-old Black Lab/Shepard mix) collar, but ended up adopting a 17 week-old Corgi (yes Corgi)/Black Lab mix puppy named Nunki.

We will pick her up later this week. Isn't she cute? Getting a new pet is usually a fairly irrational decision, but we just couldn't leave without her. A name change is in the offing. Ideas?

The organization we are adopting Nunki from is the Homeless Animal Rescue Team of Cincinnati, Inc. Other wise known as HART.

website: http://rescueahart.org/

Tammy and Nunki

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Home District Congressman is Speaker of the House!

I live in Liberty Township, Ohio just outside of Cincinnati. Liberty Township is in Ohio's 8th Congressional District and our Representative is the new Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

I describe myself as Libertarian in my beliefs, which probably make me more of a Republican than a Democrat in a two party system. But I have centrist views on social issues.

I write this not to generate debate about government policy, or take sides on the key issues, but more to provide a little more background on me.

Getting to the point. It is pretty cool that my Congressman is Speaker of the House. My Mother-in-Law has known John and his wife Debbie for many years. Speaker Boehner has been described as a hard-core conservative and I don't lean as far to the right as he does. But the fact that the 61st Speaker of the House and the person who is 2nd in the line of Presidential succession lives 10 minutes away from me gives me a real sense of civic pride.

On another note, I believe that two political party's holding power in different branches of our Federal Government is actually a good thing. The Republican party now has an opportunity to move their agenda forward, but they will have to figure out a way to work with the Democrats to get it done (and vice-versa). We can also hold the Republicans responsible for their actions, not just listen to their rhetoric.

Here's how the Cincinnati Enquirer covered John Boehner's historic day.

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110105/NEWS0108/301050070/John-Boehner-becomes-speaker-of-U-S-House-of-Representatives

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy for Bert Blyleven!

One of the most deserving players that should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame received that honor today!

Bert Blyleven, in his 14th year of eligibility, made the Hall of Fame today, along with Roberto Alomar.

I have always thought it was a travesty that Blyleven wasn't in the Hall. He played in the Major Leagues from 1970-1992. He was known to have a devastating curve ball. He currently ranks 5th all-time in strikeouts (3,701, one of only 16 pitchers who have more than 3,000 in their career) and has 287 wins. He played for 6 teams and won the World Series with the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1987 Minnesota Twins.

The rise of sabermetrics as the measure of a player's real value was probably the reason that Blyleven finally made the Hall. One of my favorite websites is http://www.baseball-reference.com/. This site has everything you would want to know statistically about every ballplayer that has played the game. WAR is a statistic that measures a player's value in terms of runs saved or created for his team and then into the number of wins the player adds to his teams total. It then compares that win total to a replacement players total. Bert Blyleven ranks 13th amongst all pitchers all-time in that statistic! In fact, Blyleven ranks above Hall of Fame pitchers Christy Mathewson, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and Fergie Jenkins!

Blyleven's inclusion in the Hall is well deserved. I am very glad to hear he has made it. My attention now to shifts to Barry Larkin, who finished third in this year's voting. 2012 will be his year!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Disney Fun at the Magic Kingdom Dance Party!

Had to add this. We were at the Magic Kingdom at 2am on December 31st. They had a big dance party going on in front of Cinderella's Castle. My son Michael decided to partake!

video

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Family Vacation to Disney World!

Michael, Brian and Mallory at Downtown Disney
My family and I just returned from a six day vacation to Disney World this morning. It was our third family trip there, in addition to random visits when we have had soccer tournaments in Tampa or Orlando.

I have been wanting to go back for a while now. My daughter, Mallory, who will graduate from The Ohio State University this Spring, and I were talking about a graduation present a couple of months ago. She mentioned wanting to go back to Disney World, and we decided to go over the Christmas Holidays as the summer would be very difficult to go with every one's schedules being so hard to coordinate.

For those of you with older children, you probably already know that when the kids reach college age, getting time to go on family vacations becomes more and more difficult. Mallory is 22, Brian is 20 and Michael is 17. If you can go with your kids when they are older, it ends up being a very special time. For my wife Tammy and I, this week was great!

We stayed at the Polynesian. Great room with enough beds for all of us. We visited all the parks and spent New Year's Eve at Hollywood Studios. We took advantage of the Extra Magic Hours, staying at the Magic Kingdom on Thursday and Hollywood Studios on Friday until 3am!

Our favorite ride-Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios. Brian had the high score amongst us, over 200,000!

The kids rode Everest in the Wild Kingdom and The Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios several times, but once was enough for Tammy and I. We also rode Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion several times

We had a chance to dine at several of the Disney World Restaurants. Our favorites were Artist's Point at the Wilderness Lodge, Tusker House at the Animal Kingdom and the Biergarten at the German village at Epcot.

We are so happy we could do this vacation as a family. These opportunities are going to become rarer and rarer as the kids get older. It's a special experience when we vacation together!