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.

Cinema Dry Spell

Movies.  Let’s talk about movies.

Cinema, film, the theater.  I have a great affinity for the medium.  When movies are good they can make us laugh, cry, and wonder.  They can make us feel joy, curiosity, sadness and pain.

Lately, though, all they make me feel is pain.  Not the pain of being emotionally involved.  Not the pain of reminiscing lost love or the pain of not knowing how the story will end.  No, mostly the pain I feel lately in relation to the movies is more like how it feels to break up with someone you’ve been wanting to leave for a while now but you can’t find the words, so you let them linger.  And every time you see them you’re just like “ugh”.

Movies, you make me say “ugh”.

Where are all the good choices?  My husband and I were last in the theater for Gone Girl.  Admittedly, going to the movies isn’t something we do often, as wrangling a sitter and getting dolled up is infinitely more difficult and less cost effective than just choosing something we’re mutually “meh” about on Netflix.  [Don’t get me started on Netflix – that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.]  Since then, we have not been back ot the theater, and that’s not for lack of trying.  Every time he gets a day off or someone offers to watch our kids for a while, we get excited.  Pull up the Fandango app and let’s see what’s playing!  And then, disappointment.  Every.Single.Time.

Here are things I won’t pay to see:

* Scary Movies, any kind.  I don’t care if it’s ghosts or zombies or supernatural things or hexes or witchcraft or someone wearing night vision goggles running through the woods, I will not see it.  No way, no how.

* Potty Humor movies.  These, and it makes me sad to say, seem to be the majority of what’s considered “comedy” in America today.  Bodily function movies, movies that use words like p****, c***, d***, etc., I will not see.  I am embarrassed for everyone involved in these NONfunny films, from the writers to the actors to the audience members who choose to support them.  If you can’t make me laugh without passing gas, getting naked, or being otherwise inappropriate, you aren’t funny.

[Just eliminating these two types of movies pretty much eliminates my choices altogether.]

* Animated films. I have no problem if we are taking my 5 year old to see the Lego Movie.  That movie was entertaining and, again, the 5 year old was with us.  For a date night, I don’t really want to see a cartoon.

* Stripper movies, soft porn, 50 Shades of “Even Though I’m Grown I Still Think My Grandfather Would Be Disappointed in Me” films.  I don’t watch porn.  I’m not going to pay to watch porn.  I’m not judging you if you watch porn, but for me it’s a no.

So, using this list, let’s look at the options available to me right this minute at our local movie theater:

50 Shades of Grey – no

Spongebob – no

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Paddington – no (but this will be a YES for my son. I adore Paddington.)

The Wedding Ringer – no.

So my option is Kingsman.  To its credit, Colin Firth is wonderful and I could probably be at least mildly amused listening to him read a phone book.  Does it look like the kind of movie I want to spend $200 on (plus $355 on popcorn and drink)?  Not exactly.  Again this week, we will not have a movie date night.  And I’m telling you, it’s been like this for months!

Gone Girl was pretty good.  I mean… well, it was ok.  It wasn’t what  I wanted it to be, but I also didn’t leave feeling like I should demand my money back.  Still, after hearing and reading such rave reviews for the actor and the story and then experiencing its total mediocrity, I was left wondering, is bad the new good?

Are we, as a culture, so used to seeing abysmal films, that when something with even a hint of creativity, a smidgen of hilarity, comes along, we jump up and down and sing its praises?  No matter that the dialogue doesn’t make sense or the costumes are horrible.  Don’t pay attention to the similarities between the film currently showing and that OTHER romantic comedy (many times starring the same actors) that you paid to see LAST month.  In Gone Girl’s defense, the ending was a bit surprising.

Where is my generation’s answer to Raiders of the Lost Ark?  Why has no one written a screenplay that can stand up to  Shawshank Redemption?  Why are extraordinary films so hard to come by?

There is a cinema gift card in the drawer of my desk.  It may never get used.  Maybe that’s a good bad thing.