7 entries categorized "disney"

We're Heading to Disney!

In less than 24 hours, three of the kids (the three who don't have jobs!) and I are heading to DisneyWorld in Orlando.  I have been invited, along with about 174 other bloggers, to bring my family to play in the Central Florida sun while learning what Disney has to offer families.  

Below is a collage of our 2012 trip down there.  I'm so happy to go back but sad our now-17yo can't go with us. He has a full-time job, and the trip across America was what he chose over the Disney trip, since he had never been in the Western states.  It was a good choice, but we will miss him very much. 

Disney smmoms 2012

This year, I decided to focus on a theme:  how homeschooling families can benefit from going to DisneyWorld.  I'll be looking for all sorts of learning opportunities and collecting tips for you!  I'll share them on FreelyEducate.com, my other blog, or here.  

While I'm away, look for my photos of magical moments on Instagram.  View the tweets here.  And read my Facebook updates here

Have you been to DisneyWorld?


Invited to Dance at Disney

All fall and winter, our 15-year-old daughter worked on an exciting trip...to dance on the waterfront stage in Downtown Disney at DisneyWorld in Orlando, a priviledge extended only to those dance companies who audition and are invited. 

It's a big deal.

We drove hundreds of miles for practices and rehearsals,  paid hundreds of dollars,  massaged muscles, rubbed sore feet, thought positive thoughts when teachers were negative, pushed through blood sugar issues, ate mini meals to keep energy up...and it was going to be The Trip of a Lifetime.

But...it kinda...wasn't.

The teachers were stressy, the stage was slippery, dancers tumbled, shoes fell off, and one dancer came even though she was ill with a stomach virus..and it spread through the group like wildfire, to our gal, too.  (don't, don't, don't, please don't send your kid to an event while ill)

Life isn't nice. 

                   Sometimes.

Well, lots of times.

When she spent Monday in a hotel while the other dancers were enjoying DisneyWorld's Magic Kingdom, life was not nice.  It was not nice when I spent 48 hours waiting up, worrying, texting, calling, wondering, praying.  I'm not normally a paranoid mother, but our gal has problems keeping her blood sugar stable, so this illness could not be a more dangerous one to her (please, please don't send your ill kid to an event). 

I wish I had a "but this is why it was worth it" thing to say, but I don't.  I just don't.  At this point, one week from that awful Monday, and now that she is well enough for me to get away to think, I still can't reach the conclusion that the trip was worth it.  It really wasn't worth the money we didn't have but put into it anyway, and it wasn't worth the hours upon hours of rehearsals and driving, and it wasn't worth the stress and worry over whether or not we should take her to the hospital.  

And so, when you're a mom, what do you say to a kid when something so wonderful fails so miserably?

I'm not sure.  

And so I said, "Wow, yeah, life sure isn't nice sometimes. Want to have a movie marathon?" 

#My15yo and I, a few months ago, when she wasn't so ill.  This thing can't beat us; we can kick it!

These Crazy, Busy Days

Life has been full and busy and amazing. And busy.  Here is a little glimpse at our past month, through the lens on my iPhone camera...

image from www.flickr.com

I have more than a few blog posts in my head about these busy days and those photos, but the busyness needs to slow down so I can actually write!

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I Will Finally Stop Posting About the Disney Mom Blogger Mixer...

...after this post.

Day Three, the day we unhappily/happily go home (I mean, we're really sad to leave and sad to leave each other, but we can't say we're sad to go home to our babies!).

We enjoy our last meal together: a  breakfast buffet, called "Character Dining," because we are dining while select Disney characters roam the area.

Warning:  Okay, little ones, if you totally believe the fuzzy life-sized Mickey that you meet at DisneyWorld is really really Mickey himself, stop reading for a sec.

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Did you know that there is only one of each character roaming the park at one time?  So, if Mickey Mouse is at Cinderella's castle at 9am, he is not also at the character breakfast at 9am.   He's not like Santa, in other words, who simultaneously is at both ends of the mall and in 5 nearby stores.  Keeping the characters believable is part of the Disney magic. 

Not that a 7-foot tall Goofy with a fuzzy stuffed-animal face is believable to me, but it is, apparently, to many children and their parents who wait literally hours in line just to get his signature. 

And did you know this?  Whoever is in the costume is not allowed to talk about being in the costume, nor can he/she say which character he/she was that day.  It's all very hush-hush.  In fact, he/she typically doesn't even know which character he/she will adorn that day.   You're not always in the same one, but are usually in ones of the same general height (eg.  Goofy will also be Aladdin, but never Chip & Dale, who are shorter). 

Also, whoever is in the costume may not speak to anyone unless her face is showing (like Cinderella) because, of course, that would totally destroy the belief in Mickey if Doug from Detroit spoke from inside the costume in his low booming voice, while everyone knows that Mickey has a sweet, high-pitched voice.

My brother worked at DisneyWorld for a couple of years as a character.  When I said this to Sean, the Disney VIP driver at the airport, Sean said, "Ah, he was a friend of the characters?"  in a sort of wink-wink tone.

Wink-wink tones are totally lost on me, so I said, "No!  He was a character." 

Then..."Er, I mean, yeeesss, he was a friend of the characters." 

Sean nodded and said quietly, "We never know when little ears are listening." 

I felt like a complete dork.  Right off the bat like that.  Ah, well,  I'm me.

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Unwarning.

I'm not into characters.  In our kids' rooms there are no Sponge Bob bedsheets or Hannah Montana posters and very few character toys.  In fact, if an item has a character on it, I'm usually turned off of buying it.  It just feels like advertisement to me, and children these days are bombarded with that enough that they don't also need it in their bedrooms.  Having a "no character" rule has the side benefit of keeping the "but I want..." requests (demands) to a minimum, too.  I mean, you don't hear, "But I really really really need a poster with a pink flower and a mug with a pink flower and a clipboard with a pink flower and ..." but you'll sure hear it if you start buying Tinkerbelle stuff or Hannah Montana stuff.

I didn't think I cared about meeting the characters at Disney.  I mean, you're really just hugging Doug from Detroit, you know?  In a stuffed, fuzzy, oversized costume.  (Oops, shoulda said "warning" again).  I have a habit of avoiding stuffed walking things.  I don't know who is in there, and that creeps me out. 

So at breakfast I completely surprise myself by jumping up the minute Goofy walks into our breakfast nook in his humongous feet.  He's just so cute, you know?  The minute I see him, I have to greet him.

I further surprised myself by asking my friend, JoLynne, to take a photo of us.  I normally avoid the camera. 

But there was just something about that Goofy that goofified me.  I guess it's that Disney Magic they talk about.  It got me.  Isn't he adorable? 

Within a few hours of breakfast, our last day at Disney is over and I'm hugging my 4 babies (one taller than me, but whatever, he's still my baby, too) and my man, who apparently missed me a bunch because while I was away he and the kids painted the front porch, bought me flowers, mopped the kitchen, and even dusted my teacups!

I really should leave more often.  Oh, Disney?!


Disney: Day Two at the Mom Blogger Mixer

After a nice continental breakfast, we head to the DisneyWorld's Magic Kingdom.  That's the one with the castle. 

First, we go to a grassy area to get our photos taken by our papparazzi (okay, James) in front of Cinderella's castle.  Because we're princesses.  You know.  All girls are.

Visiting the Magic Kingdom is so surreal.  Every tiny detail is thought out.  Every. Tiny. Detail.  The topiaries are even dancing!

      

I could learn a lot about housekeeping from Disney.

After a delicious lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby, we head off to Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) to scoop the media by being the first non-Disney people to tour the new Toy Story ride, called Toy Story Mania.  It will be open in a couple months.   

While in the waiting line at Toy Story Mania, you won't be bored as you are surrounded by recognizable toys, which are all your size (or are you their size?).  Lincoln Logs, game boards, TinkerToys and a Mr. Potato Head are together, surrounding your tiny self.  While touring the still-under-construction set, Mr. Potato Head surprised us by dropping his ear (!) in the middle of our tour.   The Imagineer (our guide) said it wasn't on purpose, but I think  know Mr. Potato Head looked guilty.  It was frightening having a giant ear clang to the ground.  I hope Mr. Potato Head pulls it together before the opening day!    I didn't see a Mrs. Potato Head, and that's probably the problem right there.

After a visit to PlayHouse Disney (a show) and a parade, we go back to our rooms to rest (whew) and prepare for a full evening. 

Walking out of the lobby, looking so pretty (ie. no spit-up on our shirts), we're surprised by Michelle, our Disney hostess, who has brought us three white stretch limos, complete with chauffeurs in ties.  Champagne, Cokes, and water are in each limo.  I can't remember ever being in a limo before.  I think I might be able to get used to being treated like that.

 

(I'm in the black and white top. Wish I didn't just tell you that. I don't like being in front of the camera)

Steven, our limo driver, takes us to the California Grill, which I've been told is the best restaurant at Disney.  I know one thing:  it's on the 15th floor and has an awesome view

and awesome food.

One of the fun things about our trip is getting to meet Disney experts.  At the California Grill, while someone strums a guitar, we're introduced to two of Disney's top chefs.  I ask one of the chefs (a lady from Germany) if I can take her home to be our family's personal chef. 

"We'll give you lots of appreciation.  No money, but we'll thank you."

She refuses my offer.  Ah, well.  You just never know.

That leads us into a quick chat about cooking, and after hearing my frustration over my cooking skills (must have a recipe.  must follow the recipe. can't find a recipe. didn't think ahead.  peanut butter and jelly, everyone?), she says something that I hope changes my cooking skills forever.

"You don't need a recipe!  Just taste.  If it tastes good to you, its good!"  She suggests adding a dab of, say, sauce or spice to a recipe and tasting that.  If it's good, add more.  If not, well, don't.

And she suggests thinking of what takes the longest to cook and cooking that first, adding that the starch (rice, potatoes) usually takes the longest. 

I know, that's really simple advice.  But I'm a simple gal and need simple advice.   

After dinner, we get into our limos again to head to the Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba show, one of my favorite shows on Earth.  No, I think it is my favorite show on Earth.  But I've only been to one.  But, still, it would be even if I'd gone to more than one.   

After the Cirque, we meet two of the La Nouba performers, the singer and the ballerina, who are also moms.  We're able to ask them a few questions about how they juggle motherhood and work.  Inspiring girls, those two!

So ends our very long but very memorable second day at the Disney Mom Blogger Mixer.  Here is JoLynne and I in the limo on the way back.  We look a bit more tired, but quite happy! 

So, happy, in fact, that we're glowing, it seems.


Disney: Day One, After Dark

After I wake up, I head to the hotel lobby to quake in my heels meet the other bloggers and our Disney hostesses.  My fears are for naught; everyone is so approachable and easy to talk with that I feel at ease almost immediately. 

This weekend ends up being one of the most pleasant gatherings-of-women that I've been to, as there wasn't any one person trying to take all the attention or be the know-it-all or always be the leader.

Hmm.  It just occurred to me that that person never realizes that they are being that way.

Oh. So then, was it me? 

Nah.

We chat easily with one another, going from person to person, genuinely interested in each other.  Talking with these other gals was certainly my favorite part of the entire trip.  It starts this Friday evening  in the lobby and continues until the airport on Sunday.  We seriously do not ever stop chatting.  Without kids interrupting, or men to fuss at, we talk and talk and talk. 

We enjoy cocktails under a poolside gazebo with a photographer assigned to take candid photos of us.  We can't help but snicker and call him our papparazzi, but honestly we're more like tourists as we're snapping more photos than he is.  After this, we make our way to Italy. 

Italy, as in the Italy part of Epcot.  You knew that. 

The Italian dinner is fabulouso.  I order salmon after a short hesitation because I don't know if Italy is known for its salmon.  Is it?  Or is it just something they stick on the menu for non-pasta people?  I mean, ordering salmon in Italy - is that like my kid ordering a hamburger at the local Gulfside seafood joint?  But on the menu it is called Salmone, so I justify it by saying it just like that: sal-a-mone-ee in my best fake Italian accent when I order.

Our Italian chef insists on us staying for his desserts, even though we have an appointment in the United Kingdom for dessert.  Oh, well, if he insists, we might as well accept.  Sigh.  While we're eating our desserts, someone from the United Kingdom comes by and says, "The Italian desserts are good, but ours are better! Save room!"

I think every one of us takes a photo of the Italian desserts.  By the end of the weekend we are so used to fancy things that we don't take photos of our food anymore.  But tonight, we do:

The strawberry is my favorite.  I'm a simple gal.

Disney people with bright red glowing light stick things lead us through the mob crowd from Italy to the United Kingdom.  The tourists stare at us and after a quick look to see if we're someone famous, definitely not, they seem to wonder why we are so all-important.   I wonder the same.  I want to yell to them, "Start a blog!  You just never know!" 

But instead I accept my wonderful fate and follow the red glowing stick to a private area to watch Illuminations, Epcot's light and fireworks show. 

This show is my mother's all-time favorite show on Earth, well, no she really likes the dolphins at Sea World, so it's her second all-time favorite show on Earth, and I think of her the entire time. She would absolutely love every minute of watching Illuminations right on the lakefront in a reserved area, without any crowd, with candle-lit tables and our very own guy serving our second helping of desserts, coffee and tea.  Start a nana blog, ma.  You just never know.

Sigh.  There's even a full moon.

We get three more hours to roam the park, but, honestly, we're all too wiped out.  After one ride, we head back to our pretty hotel for the night. 

Next:  Day Two!

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More friends have posted their perspective of Day One:  Kris at Clever Parents, Elizabeth at Table for Five , MaryBeth Whalen at Cheaper by the Half Dozen and Stephanie at  Adventures in Babywearing, who posted the evening in a separate post, here

(note:  here is an explanation of why I was in Disney)


Day One at the Disney Mom Blogger Mixer

Alright, I'm finally* getting around to posting about the trip (click that for more info, but the lowdown is that 16 mom bloggers were invited to DisneyWorld to talk to them about blogging).  I'm going to assume that you want all the details.  If not, read anyway to make me happy (leave a comment!) and in a few days I'll get back to posting about ducklings and kids and crafting.

Day One, while the sun is shining...

I only have a one hour flight to Orlando, so I am concerned about the "puddle-jumper" airplane I'll be going in.  The last time we went to Orlando, my man and I drove because we valued our lives more than we valued the couple hours we save flying (only a couple hours saved, since airport security is so time-consuming these days).  The plane we'd flown in previously had to have been in existence since the Wright Brothers.  Our legs literally cramped up, the plane shook the entire time, the air was stale and hot, and the plane was so loud we couldn't even hear our mp3 players!  I grew up in little Cessnas, but that airplane was no cute little Cessna.  I prayed the entire time for our future motherless and fatherless children.

Happily, this time my worries are in vain as I get to fly in a newer, quieter, smoother, air-ier jet. 

Goodbye, Pensacola!

I wonder if you're even allowed to take a shot of the airport?  Security is so sensitive these days!

I love seeing where I live from high up.  It is such a beautiful spot. But I knew that.

When I arrive in Orlando (in the basement, after walking on the runway), I feel a bit conspicuous when I see a guy holding a sign with "Seaborg" on it.  Who, me?  C'mon, put that thing down.  I'm just a mom, you know?

Holding the sign is Sean, whose job is to work with the VIPs who come to Disney.  Snicker.  Me, a VIP.  Seriously.  Does he really think so?  I try to come up with things to say to Sean to sound oh-so-important and worthy of sitting in his VIP vehicle (a car), but instead we chat about the company and the celebrities he's transported (not the Jonas Brothers yet, but his younger sister keeps asking). 

It seems everyone who works at Disney really really loves Disney, or at least that's the ones we meet, and Sean is no exception.  He's from New England but left it because he adores Disney and his job and the weather. 

(the above photo is by Elizabeth of Table for Five)

When we get to the hotel I have a moment of panic when a bellman asks if I'd like help with my bags. I'm not much experienced in who you tip or don't tip and how much you should tip or not tip -- I can make myself crazy with a decision like that -- but Sean thankfully notices my hesitation and offers to walk me right up to the hotel desk in the lobby.

Our hotel is wonderful.  It's called the Disney Beach Club Resort, has restaurants in it, shops, waterslides & pools my children would have adored, and even a white sand beach (like home!) on a lake.  In my packet of stuff...

...is a ticket that will take me to all four Disney theme parks and their two water parks for three days.

So, guess what I do first? 

Um...nap. 

I know!  Who does that?!

I have Mickey Mouse shaped towels for company, and two cozy queen-sized beds.  Choosing which one to use is tough, and I call my man before I sleep to let him know there is room for him.

But he's 500 miles away and ain't walking that far. 

Besides, he's got our 4 kids for the weekend.  Lucky him. ;)

Our itinerary, packed full, looks fun!

To keep the posts from being too huge, I'll stop here and continue with the evening of day one. 

Remember, I stopped off while I'm napping.  I know.  Sorry again.

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My blogging friends are also posting their Day One experience!

Read about our Day One through the eyes of Suburban Diva and Musings of a Housewife.

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*p.s. So, about the lack of posting....there was internet at the hotel, but it was one you have to pay $9.95 for 24 hours to use.  That's not too expensive, but I am on a personal boycott against high-end hotels charging for wireless internet service in the rooms when I can go to my wee little town, turn on my laptop, and catch 4 free wireless services from the nearby mom-and-pop shops (except from Mr. Gene's Beans because Mr. Gene told me, when I asked why not, that he thinks "the internet is a passing thing.")  And that is my one and very only one complaint about the Disney hotel and Disney experience.  I should add that my little issue is not only aimed at them, but at other nice hotels I've stayed at in the past year for my husband's business trips.