Star’s Hollow Gazing

To make the time go faster, I have been watching Gilmore Girls on my phone while I work out and it’s delightful.  Like any true GG fan, I’ve already seen the series a number of times, but that doesn’t subtract from its charm.

I didn’t like the reboot episodes or mini-series, or whatever it was officially titled.  It was too political and seemed to really strain for jokes where in the original they came fast and easy.  I’m also a fan of Logan, who in real life I’d probably think was a total tool, but I’m allowed to like him because this is make-believe.  I love the original show, all the quirky and lovable characters, the speedy dialogue and especially the obscure pop culture references.  I’ve actually learned about a lot of random things watching the show, including Pol pot, Groucho Marx, and coffee (which I don’t drink but I do like to smell).

So right now I’m watching the episodes where Luke and Lorelai dated, then broke up, and the town had pink and blue ribbons and yada yada.  There’s still some awkwardness between them and Lorelai is currently getting her coffee at Weston’s and Suki is gearing up for maternity leave from the Inn and everything is chaotic and yet somehow, in the midst of the chaos, there’s a pleasant, familiar charm.  There’s a knowing that everything is going to work out like it should.

That’s my life right now.

Everything is up in the air, or rather, all the things I’ve recently thrown in the air are orbiting, and it all feels mixed up and crazy and uncertain and yet, I’m standing here, sitting here, sleeping here in the midst of it with a deep knowing that it’s not just going to be ok, it’s going to be brilliant, and I’m not just happy, I’m inching closer and closer to that deeper knowing that comes from within, that everything is exactly as it should be.

So much of my investment in Gilmore Girls has to do with whether the characters do what I think they should do (or what choices I would make if I were in their shoes).  Predictably, I yell at the television a lot.  But there are those times when the stars align in Stars Hollow and I feel it in my gut.

So much of my own life has to do with my choices, analyzing them, questioning them, garnering feedback on what was right or wrong or stupid or perfectly planned.  Predictably, I beat myself up a lot.  But there are those times when the stars align in my life and I can feel it in my gut and my spirit.

NOW is one of those times and this week I’ve experienced ALL the emotions.  Fear, anxiety, frustration, outrage, relief, contentment, joy, hope, optimism, grief, determination and so on.  I am so excited to see where life will takes me.  I am letting go of negative things and trying new things with gusto.  Hopefully the next steps for me won’t be years of silence followed by a lackluster Netflix miniseries, but if that happens, I promise to include the entire original cast, plus some interesting originals, fast talking and a satisfying conclusion.  Much like the original Gilmore Girls, which I’m on my way to watch.  Again.

 

 

 

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Sticky Fingers, Sting Rays, and Strides

[Chattanooga Recap]

My family and I (minus the tiniest guy) went to Chattanooga for the weekend, not knowing what to expect, but full of excitement.  We all enjoy an adventure and I have a serious inexplicable need to see and touch every part of this country and other countries.  I would like to put my two (bare) feet on the ground in every city in every country on Earth, if I could.  I am comfortable at home, but I have a nomad’s heart.

Word to the wise: A trip to the mountains – any mountains – is refreshing to the spirit.  If you’ve ever felt like your soul needs to take a good, long, tingly fresh breath, the mountains are the place for you.  If you don’t believe in that mumbo jumbo, well quite frankly, Chattanooga may still be the place for you.  After all, some things are true whether you believe them or not.  *wink, wink*

The drive from our house to the Noog (as some of the locals call it) was an easy, painless, traffic-free 5 hours.  I love a good road trip and I always like driving through Atlanta and daydreaming about the people who live and work in the beautiful buildings there.  (I see you, Tyler Perry.)  We arrived and met up with my step-dad, and then promptly drove over to see Mom at her wordplace.  Now, I’m going to keep this place anonymous in order to protect her, but we have this running joke that she actually works at a CIA Front Operation (ala Sydney Bristow in Alias) because there is no way any workplace can be this wonderful.  It’s a beautiful glass building that sits on a cliff overlooking the river, complete with coffee shop and neatly manicured courtyard including infinity waterfalls, where she’s encouraged to take yoga classes ON THE CLOCK because wellness matters.  I mean… WHAT?!  This alone is reason to move to Chattanooga.  We took a tour of the building and I tried to get the elevator to go to the “bottom” floor, but it wouldn’t. Probably because I don’t have the security clearance and wasn’t willing to do a retina scan.

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Allow me to inquire about your health insurance.

Since our trip was just for the weekend, we had to try and squeeze a lot of activity into just a few hours.  We were up to the challenge, and we started with Rock City on Friday Night.  I have been to Rock City once, but it doesn’t count, because it was the middle of winter and I didn’t get out of the car.  My 7 year old son has been once before, so he was my official guide.  Rock City is one of the most well-known attractions in Chattanooga, and I recommend it.  Because we arrived somewhat late in the evening, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which was great because we could wander and chat and it felt very relaxed.  There’s a lot of walking through beautiful foliage and ancient rock formations,  and at the top of Lookout Mountain, you can “See 7 States”, which is really rad.  There are garden gnomes all over the place and a rickety bridge that unfortunately doesn’t come with an alternate route.  I felt a little like Indiana Jones, if Indiana Jones was a complete coward.

(At the end there’s a small gift shop that has some really kitschy gifts.  I chose an agate slice to use as a coaster on my writing desk, and some small vials of blood stone and citrine, which I’m very excited about.)

Saturday morning started early with a 6:30 am wake-up to run in the city.  I had planned to go alone and use my MapMyRun app, but Mom wanted to run too, so my step-dad drove us over to the Walnut Street Bridge and off we went.  Firstly, the weather was fantastic!  We started just before sunrise, and I tried to take some photos of what I was seeing but the photos don’t do it justice at all.  It was cool, not humid at all (a big change from home), clouds hovered around the mountains and there was a nice breeze.  Ideal running conditions.  Walnut Bridge itself is fun to run, it’s made of wood and forgiving on the joints and it’s over half a mile long.  My legs felt fresh and breathing was easy.  Excellent way to start the day, and running is a wonderful and underrated way to explore a new city.  We ran through the Bluff View Art District and Coolidge Park, saw several interesting works of art, and smelled tons of baked goods being prepared for the day.  The run was so good, we repeated it on Sunday morning!

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Panorama at Sunrise, Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga (photo: me)
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Sunrise at Bluff View Art District (photo:me)

That brings me to two other great things about Chattanooga:  The food and the architecture!  The amount of coffee shops and bakeries here is mind-blowing and extremely pleasing to the fat girl inside me.  I’m sure I could eat my weight in delectables at Rembrandt’s Coffee. (If you’re ever there, try the Nutella Macaroons!) Many of the buildings in C-town have a German feel to them. I lovingly refer to them as gingerbread houses.  My husband lived in Germany for several years as a kid, so I was particularly excited for him to have the opportunity to see something familiar and tied to happy memories.

Beyond patisseries, there are LOTS of places to eat in Downtown Chattanooga (we mostly stayed around the downtown area for this trip).  We chose to eat at Sticky Fingers BBQ, and it was a magnificent choice, if I do say so myself.  Here in Georgia we use Sticky Fingers sauce and until we drove past the building, I didn’t realize they even had restaurants.  I chose a sampler plate that included a pulled pork sandwich, ribs with sauce (you can also choose them dry), veggies, and sweet potato soufflé that will make you say Hallelujah.  The food was satisfying, the ribs in particular were very well cooked – tender and flavorful – and the sweet potatoes were some of the best I’ve ever had (which is saying a lot, given my affection for my aunt’s Senator Russell potatoes) and our server was very friendly.  I can’t wait to go back and have more ribs.

After our exhilarating run, we headed over to the Tennessee Aquarium.  For my son, the Otter Whisperer, this is a big deal.  We arrived to see that the Saturday Market was going on right outside, so that was fun.  We shopped and met local artisans and crafters and I was reminded that we humans are creative.  We are wildly imaginative and talented, and I’m proud of us.  High five, homo sapiens!  Inside, the aquarium was a little crowded but the place is huge so the crowd moved freely.  There are escalators to the different floors, which is nice, and the air was on “Arctic” setting, which after standing outside in the sun for a while was a welcome break.  Sadly, the otters didn’t feel like playing, but we did see penguins and the gator feeding show, and I pet something!  I honestly do not remember WHAT it was, probably because I was terrified, but on coaching from my son I put my fingers in the water and touched some kind of gross fish!  Check that off my bucket list!  It was softer than I expected, and kept swimming back for more loving.  It acted like a cat, but was definitely not a catfish.  I learned some new things while there, which I love doing, about jellyfish – the Sea Walnut (which reminded me a lot of a flux capacitor) and the Upside Down jelly, in particular.  I also was a magnet for the Sea Horses, which just reaffirms my belief that I am Snow White.  Even though it wasn’t an outside activity, this aquarium was one of the highlights of Chattanooga for me.  If you get a chance to go, please do!

That night we went by Publix, ate at Mom’s and watched Jurassic Park.  It was lovely to get a rest and some family time just relaxing.  Everyone slept early, which was also nice.

Sunday after the run, we packed up and went to Shoney’s.  Step-dad wanted us to go and Emmett is nearly dumbfounded at the idea that you don’t have to wait for your food, you can just go get it!  The breakfast bar was delicious, and I ate way too much.  For our last stop before driving home, we hit up Build-a-Bear at the Northgate Mall.  We don’t have a Build-a-Bear Workshop near us, so this is a special treat that Emmett gets each time he travels to a place that has one.  After some deliberation, he chose a Pokemon outfit for his bear, and we hit the road.

The Noog was fun, refreshing, and educational.  I really have nothing negative to say.  Some things were a tad bit expensive, though someone pointed out that it might have been due to large crowds traveling up to view the eclipse.  We didn’t get to see Ruby Falls because of an enormous crowd, and I’ll also blame that on the eclipse.  The great news is, the tickets we purchased are good for a whole year!  So we’ll be back to Chattanooga in the Fall to see Ruby Falls and Christmas lights.  There was a LOT of art and friendly people (and dogs!) and we walked 4-5 miles each day.  We saw the Trail of Tears and a handful of other historical places, and I got a hug from local radio DJ Joe Cook, my mom’s friend who I’ve known and loved since I was around 5 years old.  Shops like All Things Groovy have a special place in my heart, and while I didn’t photograph them I did shop them.  Highly recommend the Chattanooga experience to anyone who wants to feel a mix of down home and big city, shore town and mountain hideaway, hipster-friendly with an appreciation for history.

Mountain High

Noms –   Barbecue!  This weekend has been lots of good Southern food, thanks to our friends in Chattanooga, TN.  We stopped by and ate lunch on Saturday at Sticky Fingers and it was incredible!  I cook with their sauce a lot and never knew there were restaurants.  Highly recommend the ribs!

Tunes – Coldplay.  Coldplay just calms me down and makes my spirit sing, and it’s what I needed this week.  I’m mostly playing this one and this one on repeat.

Wanderlust –  Chattanooga is in the books, and was WAY fun.  We didn’t have time to see everything, but we sure tried!  (I’ll be posting about this later in the week.) Right now we have no concrete plans, but we will get back there before the end of the year, I’m sure.  I am suddenly itching to go to Greece, so I’ve been stalking Google Flights to find affordable rates.

 

Fitness – Lots of outdoor running.  I convinced my mom to run with me in the Noog, and we had 2 excellent sunrise runs through some historic areas.  My legs felt good and the weather was ideal for running.  I’ll continue with running this week (focus on hills) in order to build my base.

C-town run
We are SUCH morning people.

I also spent a day to myself relaxing and watching the Wake Board Nationals at Callaway Gardens.  I love having a beach in our backyard, without all the hassle of living in a tourist-clogged area!  I can go, be fabulous for a while, then drive home to the forest and hibernate.  It’s the ideal situation.

Spiritual – Lots of Law of Attraction speak this week, as Mom likes to discuss manifesting.  We went shopping for gems and I found a new one – Bloodstone – and purchased.  From what I have read it’s highly effective for healing, and great for Pisces, so I’m super excited to have it.  I’ll be doing a separate post on gems later this month.  Also, I’ve read about a dozen interesting – and convincing – reincarnation stories told by kids and parents of kids who believe they’ve lived before.  Some of them are truly creepy.  There’s even a woman who has claimed for most of her life to be Anne Frank reincarnated. (How have I never heard of her?)  Anyway, click here to read a little about her.

 

Dreams – I have had one dream about HRH Prince William, and one other that I delayed in journaling and thus, have lost to the abyss of my mind, likely for all eternity.  But a week with a dream of Wills is still a good week in dreams, I think.

Photos – Architecture and interesting sculptures!  I love art, not so much modern art but even that has its place.  One of my favorite things about visiting a new place is seeing some of the art.  I’m saving most of the photos for my Chattanooga post, but here’s some chalk art I passed while walking around town.

 

TV and Film – Zip, Zilch, Nada.  I have seen maybe 2 episodes of Law & Order: SVU this week and the beginning of the original Jurassic Park.

Between the Pages – I am still trying to read Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich.  I thought the North Georgia mountains would be the perfect setting to crack this one open, but I was feeling rushed and uninspired.  Maybe this week I’ll get to it.  If not, I’ll choose something else.

Tech – A couple new apps have been brought to my attention this week.  (Note to reader: when I say new, I mean new to ME.)  One is PostMates, which I heard about from Bob & Sheri on their podcast.  Apparently, PostMates allows you to order food from one of several different restaurants and have it delivered for a nominal fee.  Unfortunately, it’s not available in my area and it wasn’t available in Chattanooga, so I haven’t had a chance to use it.  The other app I learned about is PICO Digital Film. I spend a lot of my time taking photos with my iPhone, so this one is of particular interest to me. PICO allows an iPhone user to select different types of film (MAX, Noir, Kodak Gold) and shoot photos using that setting. It’s a little like Instagram filters, but more specific and detailed.  I like it.

 

Let’s Kick It

karatekids
There can be only one.

Eats:  Fluids!  No, it’s not a new diet.  It’s the stomach flu!  No kidding, everyone in the house was sick this week so I indulged in such delicacies as Lemon Lime Gatorade, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, and Fruit Punch Gatorade.

Pandora:  Celtic music is my jam.  This week I’ve been listening to a lot of it.  This is possibly because I watched Braveheart a few times while I was sick (as one does), but I’ve always had an affinity for the fiddles and bawdy lyrics.  If you haven’t before, search “Celtic” in Pandora, choose “Station” and give it a listen. I bet you’ll be doing an Irish jig in no time.

Michael Flatley – Irish Jigger Extraordinaire

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Wanderlust:  Nothing new to report, sadly.  It’s a dream of mine to go to a film festival, though, and I might be close to making that happen.  Fingers crossed!

Workouts:  Because of the sickness, all I managed were Gatorade curls and sleep.  I will say, though, that the sleep was glorious.  Also, my older son is a blue belt in karate right now and I get a “kick” out of watching him practice!

Spiritual: Lots of talk about magic going on in our house this week, thanks to the Harry Potter books and Hogwarts at Universal Studios.  My son and I had an interesting discussion about magic, in which he stated he didn’t realize that “real” magic existed.  “Of course it does!”, I told him, hand to chest in faux dramatic fashion.  I let him know the secret, as I understand it:  The less a person believes in magic, the less one sees it.  The more a person believes in magic, the more he or she will be able to recognize it in the world around him.  He was delighted in this truth, and I was delighted to share it with him.

Dreams:  Animals!  I’ve had dreams about baby pandas and an avalanche of black sheep this week.  I am SURE they mean something but also sure that I probably don’t want to know.

Photographing:  Lots of screen shots of quotes this week.  I’ve been kinda grumpy and stressed, so I keep things to help me remember nice thoughts and encouraging words.

dumbledore

Movies and TV: I’ve been waiting to write this portion of the blog all week!  Rumor has it (and rumor actually confirmed by Vanity Fair ) that the original cast of The Karate Kid will be reuniting for a TV special!  Words cannot express (at least, not any words in my limited vocabulary) the elation I experienced when I heard his news.  For many reasons these films (ahem, the originals only) hold a special place in my heart.  Of course, there will be a gigantic Pat Morita – sized hole in the special, but I’m hopeful that his character will be treated with honor and respect.  Ralph Macchio is by all accounts quite a nice guy, and I hope this is a hit for him and Billy Zabka.  I will definitely be watching!

Library:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Seriously, I’m only 2 pages in.  This week I’m taking sabbatical from work (don’t worry, they know about it) so I will try and sink my teeth in and share with you guys if I catch feelings.  Or start speaking Parseltongue.

Tech:  Words With Friends, mis amigos.  I’ve been challenged this week by friends, former English teachers, and total strangers.  I’ve won, I’ve lost, I’ve pitched my fists into the air in frustration.  It’s a great way to keep the mind sharp, or to get upset about how dull your mind is.  It’s one or the other.  Also, check out the Robin Hood App.  It’s a FREE stock trading app, and it is quite user-friendly.  Aptly named after the legendary outlaw who “robbed from the rich to give to the poor”, this app promises to help the “little guy” who isn’t educated on trading to build his portfolio.  Does it work?  I have no idea.  Right now they have a promotion going and if you sign up RIGHT OVER HERE you will receive one free share of mystery stock.  You can also receive free stock for any person who signs up using your link.  Free stock is free money, so go get some!

One last serious note: Rest in Peace, dear Robin Williams. It’s been three years already. Your life touched me.  Your death shook me.  Your legacy inspires me.  **If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or considering suicide, please get help.  You are not alone and you are worth fighting for.  You are unrepeatable.  There is a magic inside you that is all your own. (D.M.Dellinger)

Life Story, Take Two

Nomadic

Sporadic

Romantic.

Wanderer.

Type    Writer

Lover

and

Fighter.

Fanciful

Magical

Impractical.

Barefoot     Soul

Passionate

and

Cold.

Curious

 Furious

Mysterious.

Historian.

Book    Reader

Skeptic

and

Believer.

At Present

Eats:  I am loving all things Mediterranean right now, after my first trip to Zoe’s Kitchen a couple of weeks ago.  Kebabs, yes!  Olive oil, yes!  Grilled veggies, oh goodness yes!

Tunes:  A little old school and a little new stuff.  Toadies, Twenty One Pilots, Aerosmith, and Maroon 5 are TOPS on my playlists right now.

Wanderlust:  Working on Chattanooga and Disney, and still infatuated with NOLA.  Seriously considering a little weekend jaunt to the Big Easy ASAP.

Body:  Trail runs are where it’s at.  Enjoying my Brooks Cascadia.  They fit well and grip the muddy Georgia terrain, keeping me steady and helping me to feel confident bounding up and down the MTB trail I’ve been galloping on.  Even got the hubs to come out and run with me this week!

Heart and Soul:  Ho’oponopono, the ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness.  I read an interesting article this week on the basics, and I’ve found it fascinating.  I have begun to say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”  I will update as miracles happen!

Dream News:  This week I’ve had a few memorable dreams, the most interesting took place in my grandfather’s old office.  In the dream I was searching frantically for something – anything – of his that I could keep, just to have a piece of him.  I ended up rifling through some papers and just tracing my fingers over his handwriting.  Definitely significant.

Photographing: Mostly kids.

My Eyes are Watching: The Vampire Diaries on Netflix.  I never (and I do mean never) expected to watch, let alone like, this show.  I was on edge for the first few episodes, as there seemed to be a tremendous amount of neck-popping going on.  That has settled down a little, and the story is interesting so I’m committed.  Just started Season 3.

Bookshelf:  I’ve just finished reading “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns)” by Mindy Kaling.  I’m not a big fan of Kaling’s in that I’ve not seen her show(s), but I’m also not a non-fan. She s genuinely funny without losing her authenticity.  Reading this book, I felt like “I know this girl” and “Yep, I’ve been there”.  I recommend it.

Tech: Nothing new here, except doing much less on social media.

Encounter 

Dark

Light

Pain

Delight

A stolen glance.

“Take a chance.”

I can’t – 

Circumstance. 

Bright, Shiny Things

When I get attached to a musician or band or song, it’s about the lyrics.  Yes, the music has to sound good, but the ones that sneak up behind me and capture my heart are the ones that have clever lyrics and tell good stories.

Vacation is coming.  I cannot WAIT to post about vacation in a historic city and being there with proper adults – no kids!

Bright, shiny things.  I keep them in my treasure box and I pull them out sometimes, and instead of just enjoying how bright and shiny they are, or the joy they brought me once, I study them and wonder if they are still as fond of me as I am of them.

Hemingway.

We choose friendships and form relationships based on what we subconsciously think of ourselves.  Aim high. Aim higher.

My son thinks time travel is possible and I hope he always believes in things and hopes in his own abilities and has faith in his fellow man to accomplish great feats together.

It takes courage to be so vulnerable.

How can writers be so insecure and so vain at the same time?

Debt is an illusion.  So is power.

No judgment, but it’s ironic when a famous person who’s had lots of plastic surgery and other enhancements says “just be yourself”.  Like, yeah… how did that work out for you?

Paris.

Running is hard. I love it, and it kicks my ass, and I feel like such a warrior when I finish.  Doesn’t matter the terrain or mileage.  Just challenging my belief system about how strong I am (or am not), how far I can go, how fast I am, it’s an incredible feeling.

Sometimes late at night I just sit here and read memes and laugh until I get a Charley Horse in my abdomen.

 

 

Nuun, Ruuns, and Fuun

Hi Guys!

I’ve been absent for a while, I know.  Here’s a quick update:

I’m now a Brand Ambassador for Nuun Hydration and I LOVE it.  I’m currently training for fitness only and varying my running surfaces more.  Treadmill, road, and trail.  I am also using the stair machine a few times a week to gain strength in my hamstrings and glutes.  I can tell a difference after a couple of months of consistently doing this.  My legs are more powerful and I can run a bit faster.

In addition to working full-time, I have a 7 year-old scientist and a 1 year-old bulldozer who share my space (and most of my food).  Life in our home is CRAZY.  With Summer fast approaching, I hardly have 2 minutes to myself, let alone time to write.  PLEASE STAY TUNED ANYWAY!  I will be launching a series of book reviews soon, so you won’t want to miss it! (And thanks for your support.)

Also on the way: A recipe series starring my son, who is an aspiring chef/astronaut/storm trooper.

Music for the day: Anything from the Revivalists Pandora station. SO good.

Book I’m reading: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Thought for the week:  Let the fire inside you burn brighter than the fire around you.

MAKE TODAY GREAT!  LEAVE ME SOME LOVE IF YOU FEEL SO INCLINED.

 

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The Saga Continues…

OFFICIAL DISNEY DAY 1: THE MAGIC KINGDOM (part 2)

(…So where was I? The Disney experience is so large-scale and fast-paced, it can be wildly disorienting. The same is true of returning to the ‘real world’. I’ll do my best to continue the story.)

Ah, yes. We had just had our photo taken.  From the castle, we walked over to Tomorrowland, one of my son’s favorites because it houses the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin.  Buzz Lightyear is definitely one of the park’s most entertaining rides, so each time we visit MK we try to ride it at least a couple of times.

This is easier to do with Fast Passes, which I learned I could both book and access on the My Disney Experience App.  Brad in Tomorrowland was helpful in booking our Fast Passes.  I’ve had the app on my phone for months, but never knew that or even read it anywhere in my research.  So, good to know.  I did also find that the app does not work, most of the time.  It worked well inside our hotel room, and it was anyone’s guess whether it might work the rest of the time.  We got our Fast Passes and continued walking through the park.

One of our goals this year was to meet as many characters as we could.  Last year we concentrated on rides and missed out on a ton of special encounters, so this year we wanted to remedy that. In Fantasyland, Emmett met with Cinderella and Elena of Avalor first. (They were in the same room together.  One line, two princesses? Good deal!)  He was quite nervous to meet Elena (I’ve noticed he has a thing for brunettes) but she was patient and kind with him, asking him birthday questions like what is his favorit ekind of cake, and sharing with him that her favorite is called Tres Leches.  (Disney Character Cast Members are remarkable at staying in character, and knowing their characters. I am convinced that they have to study up on themselves, because kids ask questions and they definitely have answers.  It adds to the experience.)  We took some photos and moved on to Cinderella, with whom Emmett was considerably less impressed.  I think this is due in part to the fact that he’s never actually seen her movie.  Joseph, the Memory Maker photographer was super nice and funny.

We walked over to the Mad Hatter Tea Party (referred to by the masses as “The Teacups”) and Alice was there!  We had to wait for her to go and take a short break, but the advantage here is that everyone else walked off so when she came back, Emmett got to spend LOTS of time chatting with her.  He liked Alice a lot!  I don’t know if it was her British accent, or just that she took so much interest in him, but he seemed comfortable chatting with her and posing for several photos.  As a mom, I cannot compliment these characters enough. I know it’s hot out there (even in November), and it’s tough meeting kids all day and having to be bright and smiley and ooey-gooey nice at all times, but for my Emmett and kids like him, it means the world.

We had Fast Passes for Teacups and it wasn’t time to ride yet so we walked on over to the Big Top tent, where we stood in line to meet Donald and Goofy. (Another two-for-one, YAY!)    Minnie and Daisy were also in the tent, and Emmett made the agonizing choice to get in the guys’ line and wait to meet the girls another time.  Even waiting in line here was fun.  In between photos, Donald and Goofy were joking around and being silly for the kids.  Just ahead of us in line was a very tall man wearing a Goofy hat, ears hanging down, grinning from ear to ear.  After a few minutes we realized he had special needs, and was visiting the park with his mom.  As he stood clutching his autograph book, he could barely contain his excitement at meeting Goofy.  Many of us in line watched him as he approached eagerly to greet his hero.  Goofy – or the Cast Member – was sensational.  He hugged the man and spent a lot of time with him, taking photos, admiring his hat, and inviting the man’s mom over to get in the photos as well.  I have to be honest here, I actually cried.

Damnit, Disney.  I’m standing inside a giant circus tent crying at the kindness of an imaginary talking dog.  And I don’t even mind it.

After, we walked around the store.  You’ll notice in Disney that nearly every attraction or ride has a gift shop attached to it, usually at the end or exit, so that you have to walk through or past the merchandise to get out to the main area of the park.  Marketing-wise, it’s very smart.  As a mom who sees her dollar bills actually growing wings and flying away, it’s very annoying.  In the Big Top Gift Shop (probably not its actual name), I found a super cute onesie for our 6-month-old, but he’s wearing 9 month clothes and I couldn’t find that size.  I asked Francesca at the register for assistance, and she went above and beyond. I’m sensing a theme here.

The next character we met was in Adventureland.  It was Aladdin!  Unfortunately Jasmine wasn’t with him, but the line was pretty short and hey, why not meet a Disney PRINCE for a change?  Aladdin bears a striking resemblance to my step-brother, who is an actor at his school and who, coincidentally, I think should work at Disney one day in the near future.  Emmett and Aladdin got along like gangbusters!  As we were in line for the other characters, I found a site online that had “secret” questions to ask the characters, so I found one for Aladdin – ask him if the lamp next to him is real.  I didn’t see any of the other kids ask him, so Emmett didn’t know what was going to happen.  I love this!  It felt like Christmas!  I’m highly excitable! (haha I just wrote that to see if you’re paying attention.)

I am NOT going to spoil this, but please parents, ask the secret questions.  It’s really cool and we got some awesome photos and Emmett felt like he was in the Disney “in crowd” after that.  Aladdin even walked over and shook my hand and James’ hand, I’m not sure why exactly, except he honestly seemed to enjoy Emmett’s company as well.  Full disclosure: I was kinda sad to walk away from Aladdin.  That experience made my heart feel full.

Alas, much more to see! Much more to do!

(continued in part 3…)

 

***ETA: I forgot to mention a Cast Member!  He was a nice young man who worked in the Big Top Circus tent, and chatted with us at length about Disney Pins.  We are not collectors, but these pins are very popular with Disney fanatics, and after seeing some of the ones for sale, I’m seriously considering starting a collection.  Juan, or perhaps Jose – I could not see his name tag clearly – from Trujillo, Peru answered all our questions about the pins and even gave us some pointers about which ones were rare and all the different lanyards.  It was truly fascinating and once again, Disney’s commitment to giving guests a magical experience shone through one of their employees.***