Jailhouse Rock

A La Carte:  Let’s see… A lot of my focus has been on cutting out snacks and sugars.  Pure Protein bars are an “old school” favorite of mine, and I’ve had one with a piece of fruit or some cherries every day this week.  Also EAS AdvantEdge shakes are great.  As far as ACTUAL food, sweet potatoes are life right now.  Any way I can get them, especially fries.

Tunes:  Elvis!  That’s right, I’m tuned in to the King this week.  My 7-year-old saw a book at the store and said, “Who is Elvis?”, and I knew I had done him a great disservice.  So this week we’re blasting favorites like “Teddy Bear”, “Blue Christmas”, “All Shook Up”, “Viva Las Vegas”, and “Hound Dog”.   I have fond memories of dancing around to Elvis in my mom’s room, and we’ve had a fun time re-creating it at our house.

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Where I’m Going:  I want to go somewhere new for Christmas.  Well, maybe not ON the day, but for Winter.  It doesn’t snow here.  I’m fantasizing about somewhere white and romantic.  New York?  Paris?  Heck, I’d even consider somewhere out west.  I like to ski!  Maybe Aspen?  I could ski with Tom Cruise and we could discuss our mutual disdain for vitamins and how we both do our own stunts.

Trees in Aspen
Image courtesy Pinterest.

Flesh:  Elliptical cross-training!  I forgot how much fun the elliptical can be.  The ones at my gym have a setting called “X Train Backwards”, and on this setting you go 4 minutes forward, or regular, and 4 minutes back.  It’s great for working quads and hamstrings, and it’s FUN.  If you know me, you know fun is a necessary component in fitness.  Life is too short to have it otherwise!  So if there’s an elliptical at your gym and you’ve never tried it, please do!  Challenge yourself with the settings, too.  I like to go to the very highest level for a minute, then turn it way back down and get high reps, and repeat.  (It’s a lot like doing intervals in spin class.)  Another bonus:  The elliptical simulates skiing motions, so you’ll be prepared for that ski date with Tom!

Here’s a short article on some of the benefits of elliptical training.

Soul: I did a blog post the other day about the small eclipse this month, and already I have seen a few eery things happen (ALL good) in my life.  I’m reading about the BIG eclipse that’s coming and doing my best to prepare, without stressing or planning everything.  I like for things to happen organically and naturally, and not be forced.

Dreams:  Both dreams I remember this week took place in my grandmother’s home.  She is heavily on my mind this week, and I am supposed to go and visit her, so this is probably why.  I’ve also been researching our family tree and thinking about getting some oral histories from her.  One final explanation is that I miss her and her home, and the time I lived there, terribly some days.

Cruise Home
Image from Business Insider

Photographing:  SCHOOL IS IN!  My phone is full of photos of my big 2nd Grader.

Movies and TV: I have discovered a show for children called Pocoyo.  It is available on Netflix and it is adorable.  Very simply animated, and narrated by a man whose voice is quite similar to the guy from Winnie the Pooh (from the 80s), it’s the only thing my toddler will pay any attention to.  Before this, he would not watch TV at all.

Library:  My own book.  Two years ago I wrote a book to honor my grandfather and to process some of my own grief.  The end result has been sitting on my computer since, and I’ve been inspired by some writer friends to go ahead and self-publish on Amazon.  The issue I’m having is that it’s full of religious/spiritual references that I’ve moved on from, and I don’t want to be a phony.  I’ve attempted several different edits, but none of them feels authentic to who my grandfather was.  So… I’m stuck.  I’m sure it’s only temporary.  The next step will be figuring out how to format from Word to e-reader, and so far I can’t even get a successful download (thanks, Firefox!)

Tech: Duolingo is my best friend.  I’ve been sitting up at night becoming fluent in French, in preparation for our inevitable Paris take-over.  If you want to learn a language, consider using the Duolingo App.  It’s fun, free, and easy to learn.  Duolingo offers a variety of languages, and the lessons are short and fun.  You can track your progress, earn rewards, and share Fluency percentage with friends or even have it posted on your LinkedIn profile.

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On the Menu:  Pork chops in A1 marinade.  This was a happy accident, as the A1 bottle fell out of the fridge and busted, and, having been raised by my grandmother, I know better than to waste food.  Baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and yellow squash FTW.

Lyrical:  No new music this week, looking for something fun and uplifting.

Walkabout:  Chatta and Disney are on deck.  Found some RT tickets to Rome for around $500/pp, so we might be saying “Ciao, Bella!” before my birthday!  So exciting!

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Image from Google
Temple:  I took a much-needed rest week.  This was completely unplanned.  I had several symptoms of stress and over-training:

  1. Fatigue – I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open, and even “accidentally” fell asleep a couple of times.
  2. Weight Gain – Suddenly my weight was up 3-4 lbs, though my diet hadn’t changed.
  3. Muscle Soreness – My legs were hurting, big time.  It wasn’t just superficial pain, it was DEEP down.  When I laid down, they would throb and ache.
  4. Irritability – Emotionally, I felt so drained, and I started lashing out at people for no reason.

So, I made a decision for my health, against the advice of my ego, and I. SAT. DOWN. Difficult (and sometimes it can feel shameful) in #MomLife, but very, very necessary.

Ethereal:  Listening to my August forecast on YouTube, and as always, taking lots of notes and excited to see what this month will bring.  Check out my favorite reader, Kayleigh Jean, at Falcons and Pentacles.

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Best Card Ever.
Dreams:  The only thing I remember from this week is a dream about a former teacher.  Mr. Mustache was my English teacher in 8th grade, and was quite a character.  I dreamed he had died, which according to this link can have several different meanings.

Photographing:  Kids, Snapchat selfies, the usual.

Movies and TV: Mostly Law & Order: SVU.  It’s definitely a guilty pleasure show for me.  I miss Stabler, but like the new characters, too.  Check it out on Netflix, or check USA channel, it’s normally running there around mid-day and afternoon.

Words on Pages:  No books this week.

Tech: Looking for a new laptop, one that is versatile and user-friendly, but also will last a long time.  I currently have a DELL, but I’m looking at the Chromebook too.  Also loving my GIF keyboard by GIPHY, it’s fun and silly and easy to use.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Grub –   Maybe because it’s Summer Time, and maybe because I live in Georgia where if the humidity doesn’t bother you the heat and humidity combination will make you question everything you thought you knew about the melting point of human flesh, I am super into ice cream this week.  Two favorites are Ben & Jerry’s Urban Bourbon (delightfully indulgent) and Halo Top’s Mint Chip (light and guilt-free).  The Halo Top could use more chips, but I just add some Ghirardelli baking chips and I’m good to go.

Straight Outta Pandora – artist I’m super into is BORNS.  I heard the song “Dug My Heart” and it was all she wrote.  Check it out here.   Their music has a very… mystical quality to it.  It’s 80s but it’s also modern.  “American Money” is mesmerizing.  Another band on my list this week is Young the Giant.  Listen to “Something to Believe In” and get back to me with opinions and suggestions.

Globetrotting –  Found a great deal for flights to Rome, Italy.  I think it was posted by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, but don’t quote me on that.  Trying to get my bro and sister-in-law on board.  I’d love to be there this winter!  We’ve been to the Colosseum once before but unfortunately Gladiator hadn’t come out yet, so I’ve not had the opportunity to stand inside it and scream, “Are you not entertained?”  So.  Life goals.

Body – My focus right now is on sleep, rest, self-care, and hydration.  I notice a real difference in myself when I drink lots of water and when I get lots of quality sleep.  On the fitness end, I’m spending tons of time outside, touching nature and breathing fresh air.  Highly recommend this to all my fitfam/gymrat friends.

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Callaway Gardens, Robin’s Lake Beach. @emmettsmommy86 on IG

Heart and Soul – Psychometry has been on my mind this week.  The following is from Wikipedia:

(from Greek: ψυχή, psukhē, “spirit, soul” and μέτρον, metron, “measure”), also known as token-object reading, or psychoscopy, is a form of extrasensory perception characterized by the claimed ability to make relevant associations from an object of unknown history by making physical contact with that object.

I don’t know if I believe a person could pick up an antique and discern things about its previous owners, but I do wholeheartedly believe that all things are energy.  (Notice I didn’t say all things “have” energy.)  Living things like people, plants, and animals as well as non-living things are all made of energy.  Some people call this vibration.  I refer to raising vibration a lot, because I believe positive things in life vibrate at a higher level than negative things, so the goal is to always raise or keep high vibration, so that you’re always energetically on the same wavelength (so to speak) with those things that are most desirable for you.  For more information on attracting, check out Agnes Vivarelli on YouTube.  Her videos are about vibration, manifestation, and radiating love.

What Dreams May Come – The only dream I had this week was a nightmare, so I’m not going to post about it.  Hope to have a better dream story next week.

Photographing – Trail runs, nature, animals, moving away from selfies and people photos.  Also, painted rocks, both hidden and found.  Haven’t heard of the rock-painting phenomenon?  Get Involved in Your Community!

 

Big and Small Screen – I have only seen a couple episodes of Criminal Minds this week, but they were good ones.  The relationship between Derek and Penelope is everything. I watch this, totally enjoying their back-and-forth dialogue, and half-hoping for a hookup.  Also watching SDCC footage here and there.  Love the new Justice League trailer, especially Jason Momoa as Aquaman (you can follow him on Instagram ) and Ezra Miller (also on Instagram) as Flash, who my son is most exicted about.  Momoa has been my main guy for a while, I’m so excited to see a spirit like his succeeding in Hollywood.  Miller is a talented actor and I’m curious to see where he’ll go.  Flash also seems to have all the funny lines, but maybe that’s just the trailer.  Oh, and you can see the Justice League trailer from ComicCon 2017 right over here.

Between the Pages – This week I read Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” for the first time.  A self-professed Shakespeare lover/buff/geek, I am ashamed that I haven’t read everything he’s written.  I’m not into the comedies as much and the language (and therefore the humor) can be difficult for me to digest, but I got through it.  I also went to SparkNotes.com and read the synopsis.  It’s a helpful website as it also gives context, informing the reader of what was going on in England at that time.

Tech – My only news here is that I finally played Pokemon GO.  It was underwhelming, but thankfully I didn’t walk off any cliffs.

Frankly, My Dear

Eats:  Craving lasagna this week, and all things Italian.  Think Joey from Friends – “Fried stuff with cheese!”  I’m also trying to make a peach cobbler, a la Gone With the Wind. Baking is my culinary “sweet spot” (excuse the pun), so I’m expecting it to be delicious!

Tunes:  Infatuated once again with Sheppard, after hearing this song on YouTube. “Keep Me Crazy” is another Sheppard favorite.  I suggest creating a Pandora station centered around them.  Coldplay, Chainsmokers, and Jeff Buckley because he’s eternal and if you don’t know him, you should.

Wanderlust:  Disney and Chattanooga are booked!  Looking at NY at Christmas or early 2018, and Vegas in the Spring for my HS Reunion.

Body:  Running roads this week.  Morning, afternoon, whenever I can fit it in.  My right hamstring is sore, so I’ve been doing yoga, applying ice and heat, and generally going easy on myself.

Heart and Soul:  Forced laughter turns into real laughter, if you do it long enough.  It’s actually very good for you, and can be contagious.  This is known as Laughter Yoga, or Laughter Meditation.  This week I have been working on spontaneously laughing.  Frustrated?  Laugh.  Sad?  Laugh.  Doing laundry with the kids?  Start laughing.  It leads to all kinds of pleasant things.  In our house, it led to telling jokes, which evolved into an impromptu crawling-on-all-fours tickle war, an experience every family should have at least once. There’s no quicker way to raise your vibe, or to feel connected to someone, than to lie on the floor and laugh with them.  Good times.

Dream News:  Not much to report here.  I’ve been so tired this week, and yet not sleeping well.  I’m not sure there have been any dreams at all.

Photographing:  Leaves, plants native to Georgia.

My Eyes are Watching:  Game of Thrones, DUH.  Actually didn’t watch on premiere night, but did watch the next day and without giving anything away, I’ll say my mind was blown before the intro music even started.  My allegiance has been with House Stark from the beginning (except I do totally love Khal Drogo and Khaleesi).  The North Remembers!

Bookshelf:  I’ve only read blogs this week, especially Abundant Mama, who features a whole series for highly sensitive moms. I am currently in desperate need of book suggestions, if anyone has them.  My oldest just discovered the Magic Treehouse series and he’s totally enchanted.  We also picked up some Solar System flash cards from Target and they’ve been fun for the whole family.  I can boast that I now know what an Eagle Nebula is.  Do you?

Tech: Today I figured out how to get the “Mail” app/shortcut back on the iPhone, in the event your 15-month-old grabs the phone and deletes it like the little maniacal genius he is. See How Here. Also reading up on creating a podcast, and might have something going in this department in the next month or so.

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.

Strange and Unusual

It was all very The Bridges of Madison County.

You know towards the end of the story, when Francesca is sitting at a stoplight in her husband’s truck, watching the rain and re-living the past few weeks as she contemplates whether to jump out and run to Robert, abandoning her current life in favor of excitement, passionate love, and the unknown?

That’s what my trip to New Orleans was like.

It was like that one time I wandered into a goth bar, looked around, gulped, and decided to stay.  Then, several hours and several drinks later, realizing I wasn’t just surviving the situation, I was enchanted with my surroundings.  The music, the people, feeling my horizons stretching as I breathed in new smells and entertained new ideas.  Infatuated.  Curious. Entranced. Hypnotized. Beguiled.

And I don’t want to let it go.

Some people say that a place like New Orleans, or the French Quarter in particular, allows the visitor to be someone else for a while.  True, there are lots of bars, lots of boobs, lots of interesting characters and avenues for transformation.  In my case, though, the opposite was true.  The New Orleans experience, for me, didn’t feel like an opportunity to be someone else.  It felt like the opportunity to be who I am, authentically.

What does that mean?  Who am I, at my core?

If you must know, I’m an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in bacon.

It’s hard for me to articulate what I mean.  To look at me, you’d see someone who is responsible, clean, not tattooed or pierced, a runner, someone who likes to sleep and read books and pet cats and dogs that aren’t mine, someone who dreams of Paris and plays at photography and likes a nice cardigan sweater.  If I’m totally honest, I don’t look like New Orleans.  I look like White Bread, USA. This is where, as an outside observer, you’d get me wrong if you were to judge based on appearance.

I may not like scary movies.  I don’t enjoy music where people scream at me in what may or may not be an intelligible language.  But at my center, I tend towards the melancholy.  Always have.  Even as a kid.  I like Poe, I like dark art.  I’m fascinated with magick and gem stones, the moon and its power, psychic abilities, and the things that go bump in the night.  Just last week I was researching wolves and skin walkers because I totally believe it’s possible (and I kinda hope it is).  [True Story: The Wolf is actually my animal totem.]

I think tattoos are sexy as hell.  I don’t have one because I’m indecisive.  Piercings, even more so.  I’ve always wanted a few of them, but besides the navel I’ve been a chicken about it.  I want purple hair sometimes, I want to wear a corset, I watch Vampire Hunter D and paint my nails black and weirdos are my favorite kind of people.

Maybe I’m Lydia Deetz – not so hardcore that I wear pentagrams and know which bars the vampires frequent, but genuine in that there’s a part of me that is authentically goth, macabre, gloomy, and intrigued by the people who are deep into that scene and living it out loud.

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Actual Photo of me in New Orleans.

I could have been that, had I jumped out of the truck.  No, I AM that.  Deep inside, past the big smile, GAP tank top and gooey marshmallow center.  I am.  Wandering the streets of the French Quarter was like reading the part of the “choose your adventure” book that you didn’t choose, just to find out what would have happened.  It was also like coming home to somewhere I didn’t realize I had left.  Like meeting a gorgeous, eccentric relative I never knew existed.

It was rad. I won’t ever forget it, and I’m forever grateful for it.  I can’t wait to get back to her – I think the city is definitely a woman – and I doubt a day will go by that I don’t think of her until I do.

p.s. Friends, if you get to New Orleans before I do, there’s a little shop called JEWELS that I wish you’d go and visit.  You’ll be glad you did.

The Most Congested Place on Earth

Are you, dear reader, familiar with the scene in the film 300 that references the strategic funneling of enemy soldiers in order to lead them to slaughter?  The area the 300 Spartans want to siphon the opposition through is referred to as “The Hot Gates”.  I think that name gives an appropriate visual without me explaining any further.  We lived in a house once that had a narrow hallway we called “The Hot Gates”.  We had birthday parties and holidays in that house and I swear to you, guests would have to walk single file down that hallway.

This week, at several different times while visiting Walt Disney World, I was reminded of that scene and that hallway.  Disney, though, does everything on a much larger scale.  Disney felt like The Hot Gates almost everywhere we walked, not just while standing in line for rides, although a few of those were psychologically tough to handle.  There were so many people at our resort, so many people on the buses to the parks, so so so so so many people inside the actual parks, that a good portion of my subconscious was anticipating being attacked or trampled by Leonidas and this legendary troops.  It was like having flashbacks to a historical event you didn’t actually attend.

So, in short: Disney, man. It’s crowded.  Moving on to my review of our stay…

We (my husband, myself, and our 7-year-old son Emmett) set out on our adventure on a Sunday morning, after checking and re-checking that we had packed all the clothes and gift cards and the plants had been watered and the appliances were turned off and most importantly, there was nothing in the apartment that would cause it to smell like an animal had burrowed under the sofa and died while we were out.  I know it sounds strange, but my dad always had us take out all the trash and do all the laundry in the house before vacation, and I have adopted that habit and now inflict it on my own children.  Seriously, though, what’s worse than coming home to some strange odor?  Anyway, we loaded up in my VW Passat, and settled in for the 6-7 hour drive to Walt Disney World.

***Be warned now: This is not going to be a short blog post.  Not at all.  There’s a lot to cover and I tend to ramble.  Consider yourself warned. Continue at your own risk.***

The drive to Disney was relatively uneventful. I’m blessed with a husband who drives well and a little boy who is content to draw, read, or watch a movie in the car without complaint.  It was a nice drive on a beautiful Fall day, and thankfully we arrived safely at our destination, Disney’s All Star Music resort.

We have stayed at the Art of Animation resort before, so we chose All Star Music to try something different that was still in our price range.  Listed as one of Disney’s “Value” resorts, it is a little bit like a motel with doors outside and little extras.  We knew this before we arrived and personally we are fine with it, as we spend a total of 30 minutes a day in the hotel and the rest of the time at the parks.  It’s a good option if your main focus is the parks.  We don’t use the pools because we typically travel to Disney in the cooler months.  It’s fine for what it is.

At check-in, Stephen was polite and smiley, as Disney Cast Members tend to be.  He offered my son a “Celebrate” button, wrote his name and drew some balloons on it.  This is something Disney does for special occasions. They have buttons for First Time visitors, Birthdays, Honeymoons, and I’m not sure what else.  It’s a great and cheap way for them to make guests feel special, and I love it.  If you have young kids, you know that they love stickers and buttons and my son is no exception.  I appreciated the effort to make him smile upon arrival.

After a few minutes of typing on his keyboard, Stephen told us our room was in the Country Music section.  This was not music to my ears – not because I have something against Johnny Cash – but because Country is located WAY out in the back of the resort.  In the woods.  We’re already talking about a bare-bones resort, and now we’re talking about a half-mile trek from the front desk out into the woods on the back of the property.  I wanted to change this immediately, but nothing else was available.  (I thought booking our trip for a Sunday-Wednesday in November was a smart move, but apparently no one else worries about their kids’ education because the place was jam-packed.)

After dropping our bags off in the room, we came back to the desk to talk to a manager about the room and one other big disappointment.  We learned that the Main Street Electrical Parade (one of the things on our list of “MUST SEE” items this trip) was no longer running.  Not only that, but there would be no parades at night at all because we were unlucky enough to have booked our trip during the “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” time.  This was news to me, and a bit distressing for two reasons:  1)I really wanted Emmett to see a parade, as we didn’t see one last trip and 2) I had never even heard of the Christmas party, and we would have enjoyed going to that.  Now, standing at the desk sniffing back tears, I’m told the admission to the Christmas party costs as much as one day of park admission.  So there’s no way we can attend.

I’m a big believer in addressing issues as they arise, and not letting them fester.  Disney has a reputation for pleasing its guests and making things right, so I knew it wouldn’t hurt to ask.  That said, it had been a long day of travel.  I was tired and all my balloons were being popped before our actual vacation even got started.  What gives, Disney?  Big, hot tears were welling up in my eyes, mostly about the Christmas Party situation and about 10 percent about not wanting to be murdered in the back of the hotel property by some insane woods-dweller and never ever being found because not even the maintenance guy goes back there.

Nick, the manager, politely apologized about the room and said he would be happy to move us to the Broadway area (one building closer to civilization) the next day.  We made arrangements to do that.  I tucked my tears back in and resolved to make the best of the rest of what Disney had to offer.  We had 2 1/2 days of fun in the park to look forward to! Chin up! Let’s go to the gift shop!  [Note: The next day we inquired at the desk about our room change, and there was no room change noted or listed for us.  Nick was off that day, because of course he was.  We waited quite a while to get it moved, but at least something else was available.]

So we looked around the resort gift shop for a while.  My son decided that first night that he wanted to spend his $25 gift card on a Stitch doll.  We persuaded him to at least wait until we were in the Magic Kingdom to make up his mind, and he acquiesced.  I noticed that the resort gift shop carried baby clothes for girls, but nothing for baby boys.  I inquired about this, because we also have a 6 month old who stayed home with the grandparents, and the attendant told me she wasn’t sure why that is, they used to have boy stuff and now they just don’t.  Um… ok.  At this point I decided to start taking notes.  Positive and negative, I would record this trip for posterity and for Disney’s, and other travelers, information.  We went to Publix to grab a few snacks for the park the next day.  I’m no penny-pincher, but I’m not going to pay $75/day for meals and snacks.  Okaaaaaaaay?

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

We awoke on Monday morning and walked (and walked and walked) to the resort dining hall for breakfast.  The prices give me a headache, so I tried to coach myself that this would be the only ‘paid for’ meal today so at least there was that.  I got the Bounty Platter, which is eggs (I believe this is actually egg product scrambled to look like eggs, but I digress…), 2 strips of bacon, one sausage, one biscuit, potato squares with onions (strangest thing on the plate) and a waffle shaped like Mickey’s face.  Emmett ate the waffle and biscuit, I ate the eggs and bacon.  No one ate the potatoes, and I can’t really figure out why they’re there.  The platter costs $11 so I was half-expecting some Mickey Mouse – shaped lobster chunks, but no such luck.  My husband ordered the biscuits and gravy and a coffee and said it was fine. I don’t know how much it cost. Part of me doesn’t want to know.

While eating breakfast, we were approached by Cast Member Joshua.  He told Emmett “Happy Birthday” – something that happened over and over and over again during our stay thanks to the marvelous button on his shirt – and inquired about our stay and where we were from.  He gave a few suggestions of his favorite things in the Magic Kingdom and wished us well.  This, I like.  This, I expect.  I hope that Disney encourages this kind of behavior in cast members and from what I can tell, they do.  Every time a cast member went above and beyond, whether in attitude or in service, I made a note.  They’ll all be mentioned by the time I’m done writing.

After breakfast, we boarded the bus, which was pretty standard and uneventful.  We arrived at the Magic Kingdom full of hope and expensive egg substitute, feeling excited for our day of magic.  (Last year, Emmett’s review of the Kingdom was that it was “too girly” so we tried to be more aware of ‘boy’ things in the park, like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.)

[Note: I LOVE the Magic Bands, they make everything so simple and organized, connect reservations, photos, fast passes, practically all the info about the trip is on them. we just scanned our bands and went right on in.]

Right inside the park, before walking down Main Street, we entered the Town Square Theater, where Magician Mickey was doing a Meet and Greet.  We wanted to get this most important meeting done early, so we went inside and stood in line.  It was about a 25 minute wait.  Meet and greet wait times don’t bother me as much as waiting for rides, because the character cast members genuinely take time with each visitor, hugging and joking with them, signing autographs, and posing for several photos.  The Disney photographers take PhotoPass photos and will also take photos with a guest’s smart phone.  Finally, we got up to the front of the line to meet Mickey.  Emmett was so nervous, his little clammy hand was pressing into mine.  Mickey is his guy, y’all.  He met him last year at Epcot but this time, Mickey was talking. This Mickey talks!  Right away, Emmett’s “Happy Birthday” button was noticed.  Mickey said, “This calls for the birthday song!”  My heart skipped.  What’s this?  THE Mickey Mouse is going to SING to my Emmett?  Oh boy!  And he did.  Y’all.  I was like a child in that moment, too, just soaking it all in.  Unfortunately all the basking meant that I completely blanked on taking video of the moment, but it was incredible.  From what I understand it is somewhat rare, as well.  Emmett hugged Mickey and left that meeting knowing that they were BFFs.  This, Disney.  This right here.  This is why you are successful and drowning in other people’s dollars.  Please never forget it.  Please never stop doing it.

We’re all on a high from what just happened, walking towards the iconic castle.  We got to the area right in front and while attempting (and failing) to take a family selfie, we were approached by a custodian in all white who offered to take the photo for us.  Sweet!  His name was Richard and he was from Trinidad and Tobago.  His personality was almost effervescent and we thanked him profusely.  This small act, coupled with the Mickey Birthday thing, had me feeling like I was walking on air.  This place really is magical. I was starting to feel it.

***To be continued with Official Disney Day 1: The Magic Kingdom (part 2)