Today, my younger brother Mr. John turned 30. This is a milestone for the whole family because it is a sign that we’re all really getting up there in years. But it’s also an excuse to celebrate life — what we’ve experienced and what’s still to come. Mr. John and his wife, for example, are expecting their first child in early April. Just today we celebrated the birthdays of of our cousin Amy, cousins Antonio and Tommasina, and Big Fran, whose birthdays who all fall during this time of year. And the world continues to turn. Happy birthday to Mr. John and all our friends and family celebrating birthdays and life’s special moments. (For more photos of Mr. John, visit many of the photo albums on this site and especially the latest one from our most recent stay in Florida.)
Anyone who reads my blog — or knows me — is aware that Disney World in Orlando, Fla. is one of my favorite places on Earth. My brother used to work there and my sister and sister-in-law still work there. But for me Disney is still one of the best tourist spots. You feel like a kid again — and it brings back delicious memories of the annual vacations my family took there when I was younger. I grab every opportunity to return. Now, when I visit Mickey, I get to visit my siblings, too. (For pictures from this latest trip to Disney, visit the “Disney World 2009” photo album.)
In 2009, Disney was all about celebrations. People got in for free on their birthdays, and you could wear buttons indicating what you were celebrating — from anniversaries to honeymoons. Some of the restaurants would offer you special surprises for your anniversary, such as cupcakes or chocolate-covered strawberries. Disney also offered exceptional vacation packages that included 40 percent off meals if you purchased the dining package. I jumped at the chance to go on this vacation with the deluxe dining plan for our first anniversary. We headed there in mid December, and it was a dream, except for two days of bad weather and Antonio’s cold. We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, which was romantic and lovely but out of the way. It required a 20- to 30-minute bus ride to get to the parks. Our favorite restaurant was California Grill, which is atop the Contemporary Resort. We were able to see the “Wishes” fireworks show at Magic Kingdom from the California Grill’s terrace. Spectacular!