Just Another Storm

All that panicking over Hurricane Irma was for nothing, folks.  We have lots of water to drink, which won’t be a problem, and BOY am I glad we didn’t buy anything else in bulk.  Thankfully we never even lost power.  That said, being stuck inside with hubs and kids for a couple of days, I was probably more in danger of losing my sanity.

Menu:  Vegan-ize all the things!  After my second bout of stomach flu in about a month (I know, right?!) I decided to go into “Immunity Improvement Mode” and eat all the fruits and veggies I could get my hands on.  I generally feel better when I cut out meat, which I do a few times per year, sometimes for weeks and sometimes as longs as 6 months.  Normally I do it as a cleanse or as a way to raise my energy and vibration.  Try it, it works!  Even the mood is lifted, which I think has something to do with the hormones in our food and the emotions of the animals before and during their slaughter.  I know what you’re thinking and yes, I’m basically the Mister Wizard of nurition.  Sha-zam!  [All of that said, I’m really not promoting one way of eating or lifestyle over another and I don’t call myself vegan at any time because it’s offensive to people who actually live it 100%.]

Music:  Tchaikovsky!  Particularly the Sleeping Beauty Ballet.  If you’ve never heard or seen it, that’s basically a crime against humanity and your parent and/or guardian should be punished.  Allow me to rectify this situation:

Also, I learned this week that the song in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, when Aurora is singing in the woods, “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…” is from Tchaikovsky’s Ballet.  Isn’t that cool?  Yes it is.

Travel:  The Great Wall of China has just been added to the list.  As I type this, though, I’m reminded how badly I’d like to go and see Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches across parts of Ireland and England and has great historical significance as well.  It’s also the wall seen in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Hmm.  Which Wall?  I guess it depends on where Kevin Costner is at the time?

 

Gym Rat:  I took a break this week and did mostly yoga and sleep. It was glorious.

Soul: With Hurricane Irma being in the forefront of everyone’s minds this week, I wondered (out loud) whether in times of crisis people are more or less in tune with each others needs.  I think both are true. Some of us are natural caregivers, so when disaster strikes we are even more empathic than usual.  Others of us are selfish, and panic amplifies that selfishness to a degree that makes it difficult for us to even see other people.  Just my opinion, though.

Dreams:  Nothing I’d like to share this week.

Photographing:  Also nothing to share.  (What? We were prepping for a storm!)

Movies and TV:  Law and Order: SVU and all the marathons on all the channels.  What can I say? I love it.

Library:  Aside from GQ magazine, not much.  The current issue has an interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh and a pretty good profile on Robert Pattinson.  Both of them are pretty talented and I enjoyed reading.

Tech: Two new apps this week: Stone, which is fascinating and wonderful and very, very useful if you are into and own a lot of gemstones (which I do).  Stone is a user-friendly guide to gemstones, with photos, historical factoids, and what each gem can be used for.  The other is Golden Thread Tarot.  It’s a fun digital tarot deck that does much more than just give general readings.  It explains each card and even allows the user to log and journal about cards and readings.  I don’t know anything about tarot, and I like being able to choose emotions to go with my daily card, like “hope” or “frustration” and knowing I can later search for cards or readings by emotion.

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H.A.P.P.Y.

Summer is winding down, and Fall is on the way!  I’m completely indifferent to Pumpkin Spice, but so excited about the cooler (less humid) weather.  Here’s what’s going on with me this week:

Menu –  Semi-homemade chicken salad.  I use a rotisserie chicken from Fresh Market or Publix, shred the meat with a fork.  Add mayo (Duke’s, obviously), mustard, chopped spinach and onion.  My secret ingredient?  A little pickle juice and some chopped up hamburger dill chips.  Eaten over some blue corn chips, it’s currently my favorite thing.

Tunes – Heard a new song by Jack Garratt called Water, and it took my breath away.  The Revivalists, who I love, are coming to the Tabernacle in Atlanta and I’m really hoping to get to this show!

Wanderlust – Disney is almost paid for!  I’ve moved on to buying our shirts and silly fun things for the trip.  Next is the beach, hopefully Gulf Shores, before it gets too cold.  In the meantime, we’ve been going to Callaway for day trips with the kids, and it’s a terrific way to get the beach vibes without all the time in the car and other hassle.

**Shopping** – I don’t normally include news about purchases here, but I bought some rad new workout gear at Target.  I bought cute leggings, a sports bra, and a tank top, all for about $30.  They have an amazing clearance going on right now as Summer apparel gives way to chunky sweaters and pumpkin everything.

Fitness – I’ve been reading about Buti Yoga, and there’s a local gym that offers free classes on certain Saturdays so I’m talking myself into trying it.  According to MapMyRun I’ve run about 80 miles since I started running outside, which is GREAT.  I know I have a long way to go, but 80 miles is 8,000 calories and lots and lots of power gains in my legs!  I feel good about it.

Spiritual – Everything is circular, not linear.  I keep thinking about the phrase “Everything comes full circle”.   I have believed for a long time, and still believe, that all things are connected, but now I am starting to see that the connections tend to be circular, in that our understanding of them has a beginning (confusion/noticing/wonder), a middle (generally when something happens again, or we experience deja vu), and and end (light-bulb moment, connection is made, we see the result).

Dreams – My 8th grade English teacher, Mr. Decker, was a guidance counselor and he hugged me and talked to me about what was bothering me.  Rather benign dream, but nice to see he’s doing well.

Photos – Aside from kids and beach, mostly horoscope screenshots. Nothing new here.

TV and Film – To The Bone on Netflix.  SEE IT.  SEE IT NOW.  Also lots of Chopped on Food Network, Cooks vs. Cons, and Beat Bobby Flay.  What can I say, I like food.

Between the Pages – Still nothing. I’m in desperate need of a new good book.

Tech – Perusing podcasts this week, and learning to use SnapChat to actually chat instead of just playing with the filters.  I both like and dislike that the conversation disappears so quickly.  I am considering buying a MacBook, but I have always been a computer user so I’m afraid I’ll hate it.  Thoughts?

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H.A.P.P.Y. family

 

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.

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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

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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)

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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.

Good(funny)Fellas

Remember that iconic scene when Tommy DeVito (portrayed flawlessly and I suspect somewhat effortlessly by Joe Pesci) goes on his rant after being called “funny”?  Here’s the quote:

I mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Joe Pesci’s genius notwithstanding, this is a hard scene to watch.  It’s one of the most cringe-worthy, yet most quotable scenes in the history of film. Isn’t it?

That scene, that momentary lapse of sanity for Pesci’s character, when he’s not sure whether to be insulted or flattered, is what comes to mind when I hear things like “I just want someone who makes me laugh.” What, like, on command?  Please elaborate.  I mean if I’ve got to stand at the mic and tell you jokes, you’d better be pulling out some pretty astounding party tricks yourself.  You know what I’m sayin’? *wink, wink*

That said, it’s actually me who has been thinking it this week.  Someone who makes me laugh is probably the one quality I value over all others when it comes to friendships, acquaintances, sometimes even work collaborators.  It’s something I cherish in all my dealings with my brother.  It’s something I admire in clever people and I find charming in men.

I went to lunch with a friend this week.  She’s a sweet person.  We went to high school together but only recently have become close.  She is funny and, even better, she laughs at my jokes.  We have similar outlooks on life and work.

When I think about recent date nights I’ve had with my husband, the ones I consider most “successful”, meaning we got along great and had a good connection and I felt reassured about us, are the ones that included laughter.  Lots and lots of laughter.

No one is funnier than my brother.  I don’t know if this is because we grew up together so I’ve grown accustomed to it, or because he is truly a genius, or if we are so similar and have been “in the trenches together”, so to speak, so our humor is naturally shared and familiar.  We laugh every time we are together.  Heck, I laugh at his texts and social media messages, too.

Sometimes my seven-year-old tells me I’m “hilarious” or high-fives me to indicate approval of a joke.  It’s one of the highest compliments my heart can receive.  I remember how excited I was when his humor evolved from knock-knock jokes that don’t make any sense but it’s my motherly duty to laugh, to puns that were so clever I found myself questioning whether he’d actually made them up himself. (And the pride I felt at that!)

Levity seeps into all areas of my life.  Books, podcasts, tv shows, work… I seek it out.  I suppose this is partially because I associate humor with wit.  Or, rather, humor is generally associated with cleverness, outside of my own opinion, and I greatly admire clever people.  To take it one step over that line is that humor opens the door to empathy.  The Human Experience.  When I find someone who is funny, who finds humor in the same things I do, who thinks my jokes are funny or whose humor tickles me, a bond is created.  There is an immediate trust, an instant understanding.

So… yeah.  To hold a special place in my heart (and my social circle), you need to be funny.  Funny like a clown.  I’ll be funny too.  I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you.

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.

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.***

 

Movie Dates and Southern States

This weekend my husband had a *rare* day off work, so we decided to take our littlest guy to see a movie called “Strange Magic”.  It was playing at our local “cheap” theater (tickets are $2.25) and we had a gift card, so after concessions we only paid $5.00 for everything.  Totes winning.  (Thanks, Carmike Cinemas for having a more affordable option in our town!)

Usually I have to really pump myself up to see animated films.  I know the theater will be packed with kids talking and/or crying, and I would really just rather take a nap.  However, Strange Magic is the second movie I have seen this year that surprised me with its greatness.  This movie is delightful.  Delightful, I say!  It’s a musical, which I did not expect.  The Bog King (voiced by Alan Cumming)is totally my favorite character.  The plot is not extremely predictable, the animation is good, and the songs are so enjoyable.  At certain points I was singing, my husband was singing, our son was dancing… it was a wonderful time!  I’m telling you, there’s nothing so sweet as catching glimpses of a little one’s face while they are completely entranced in a story like this one.  Half the time I was watching the screen, and half the time I was studying my boy, sitting on the edge of his seat, smiling, fascinated.  Why can’t all movies be this good?!

The rest of our weekend was filled with house cleaning, workouts, and car shopping.  Two things we always do on Sunday (or I do alone, if my husband is working): Church and Fried Chicken.  Almost every week.  On both sides of my family Sunday is a day of eating.  My mom’s mother is French, and makes bread by hand every Sunday morning, then we all feast on it after church.  My dad’s mother makes country-style meals with fixins.  In my house, we do fried chicken.

As we were sitting at the table looking over our Sunday lunch, I felt overwhelming gratitude.  The South, particularly the states I have lived in most of my life – Georgia and Alabama – takes a lot of crap from the rest of the nation.  It is the butt of many jokes, and is criticized on the regular for not conforming to what is normal everywhere else.  But I am SO grateful we live here.  Grateful to have been raised here, with front porches and rocking chairs and sweet tea.  With tire swings and creeks and Sunday Service.  We worship Jesus and we say ‘yes ma’am’.  We say grace and we walk around barefoot and we make our biscuits from scratch.  I cannot imagine life any other way.  I cannot imagine raising our kids any other way.  If you don’t live down here, well, y’all just don’t know what you’re missing.