Making Magical Disney Memories

If it seemed kind of quiet around these parts this past week or so, it’s for good reason.

Disney World.

That’s right. I was making memories with my family at the happiest place on Earth.

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I know I’m supposed to say that it was grueling; that it was four days of pure torture, and that I’ll never head back to the Land of the Mouse again.

But I cannot tell a lie. We had an awesome time. Dare I say, we had a magical time.

Now, don’t worry. This won’t be one of those Disney posts where I tell you all the tricks to getting through the Magic Kingdom without waiting in lines for an eternity, or where to get the best churros.

Because, c’mon, there is no such thing as a bad churro as Disney World.

Though I will take a moment to wax nostalgic about how much fun it was to see the non-stop grin on my son’s face throughout the weekend. And how much fun it was to watch my daughter experience, for the first time, the wonder of Fantasyland, the thrill of Space Mountain, and the excitement of getting a glimpse at a Disney character.

Except for Elsa. To this day, my daughter is completely and blissfully unaware that, if we really wanted to, we could have waited in line for eons to spend 30 seconds with the ice queen and get her autograph.

And we shall keep it that way, forever. Right? All agreed?

Okay, moving on.

We picked the kids up early from school by surprise one afternoon and told them we were headed to Disney World, which was the most fun thing I’ve ever blurted out in my entire life. We spent a day at Magic Kingdom, a day at Hollywood Studios, a day at Animal Kingdom, and then for a change of pace, we spent a day at Universal Studios/Island of Adventure.

I know. That’s a lot of amusement. Highlights of the trip were the big rides, of course, and since my youngest child is now tall enough to ride most of the big ones, ride we did.

The Rock N Roll Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios that goes from 0-60 mph in two seconds? Check! Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain? Twice. Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom? Four times.

It appears I’m raising a couple of adrenaline junkies.

Suffice it to say, we had a blast, even in the 90 degree Florida heat and humidity. And can I just say here that one swift swipe of deodorant before you leave the hotel in the morning isn’t enough? I wish I’d brought my travel deodorant with me to reapply throughout the day. And perhaps a few extra to hand out to those in need, because people can get pretty funky-smelling in the line for It’s A Small World.

Yes, it was exhausting and a bit overwhelming at times. And I would be lying if I said we coasted through the trip without some whining and screaming.

The kids did some of that, too. But the fun we had made up for it.

The last thing we did on our trip was the Expedition Everest ride at Animal Kingdom, which is a pretty fast roller coaster that bolts you forwards and backwards in sharp turns and through darkness.

And while you’re at the peak of the mountain, waiting to plummet down a huge drop at high speed, flashes pop from the cameras they use to take those scared-as-hell pictures you make fun of each other for after it’s all over.

But, if you ride this thing more than once, you know exactly when that picture will be taken.

And that’s when Disney World becomes truly magical.

My son and I thought we were being original by staging our photo to look like we were dead asleep in the car, only to find that some people shut this whole fake picture thing down.

One guy was sitting like Barbara Eden making a wish in I Dream of Jeannie. And his son had perfected the art of looking like he’d passed out to the point you would be tempted to call a medic. They said this was about the 8th photo they’d taken, and in the others, they’d really gone for it, pretending to be eating corn on the cob, reading books, or meditating.

And as my son and I scoured photo upon photo to find ourselves, we spotted the best one of all. There, with his head turned towards the camera, was a stone-faced dad with his thumbs in his ears and his hands splayed out to the sides.

Just like Mickey Mouse.

Have you ever been to a Disney park? If so, what’s been your favorite memory? I’d love to hear them…and the more bizarre the better!

Kids and Weight

“Mommy, do you think I’m fat?”

Those words from my five year-old, uttered in a soft whisper of a bathroom stall as we changed in to her ballet tights and leotard, stopped me dead in my tracks.

“God, no!” I replied, and then quickly wanted to backtrack.

Not because I think my daughter is fat. She is anything BUT. However, I wanted to backtrack because I didn’t want to condone a belief that she should look to other people’s opinions to feel good about herself.

Kids and Weight

So, there I was, squatting in a bathroom stall, trying to figure out how to make sure my daughter had a positive self-image while I got her dressed.  Sometimes teachable moments happen when you least expect them, right?

Instead of trying to skirt the issue, I asked her if she thought she was fat. And thankfully, she said no.

Digging deeper, I asked why she asked that, and she just shrugged.

I still don’t know where this question came from. Maybe it was from a misplaced joke about full bellies after a big meal, and my daughter just grabbed hold of that thought and ran with it.

Or that time last year when a kid larger than my daughter made a comment about my daughter getting “fat”, because my daughter outgrew her 4T shirts. Because, you know, she was growing. Like little kids are supposed to.

Perhaps I’m blowing all of this out of proportion, or that I’m making too big a deal about this question she asked. I mean, she hasn’t brought it up again, and I doubt she sits around worrying about it since then. But I hate that my Kindergartner is questioning her body at such a young age. That she feels, even for a brief second, she might not be as perfect as she thought she was, or that I think she is.

I think some kids are just more fragile when it comes to their bodies than others. And because she’s a girl, I think the issue becomes exponentially more acute.  Those quick little “fat” comments, even though they may be made in jest, can plant seeds in young girls that root down deep, and there’s just no weed killer for that.

I know that my daughter loves her body. She’s not afraid to get in a bathing suit, and she loves every item of clothing you put on her, no matter how it fits. I’ve seen her checking herself out in the mirror when she’s in her undies before a bath. She likes what she sees. And I want to keep it that way. I don’t want any cheap shot to chip her confidence away.

But more importantly, I want to her to continue liking how she feels in her own skin. I want her to appreciate how strong she is, how good it feels to be active, and how nice it feels to eat healthy.

I know far too well from experience how your mind can mess you up. I’ve been so careful not to make remarks about my own weight, or have her see me scrutinize myself in front of a mirror. But even I fall prey to letting someone else’s comments get the best of me.

One day while driving to school, “All About That Bass” came on, and my son yelled from the backseat “Mom! This song is a good one for you!”

My first instinct was to get defensive. “What the hell? I know I’m not as lean and strong as I used to be, but is all my son sees when he looks at my body is a gigantic ass?” were the kind of thoughts ran through my head at that moment.

But after taking a beat, I realized that this was not how I wanted my daughter to see me react. My son was meaning this as a compliment, with no ill intent.  That even though I may be an apple-bottomed girl, I am strong, healthy, and, like Meghan Trainor explains, every inch of me is perfect. From the bottom to the top.

Just like my daughter.

 

Has your child ever asked you if you thought they were fat? If so, how did YOU handle it? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below!

When Dancers Aren’t Graceful

As a dancer, it’s sorta my job to have control over my body, to be in command of every muscle and fiber so that I can move through space in a physical art form. I think that’s why most people assume that dancers are graceful people offstage as well.

But for me, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

dancers aren't graceful

Recently, I had to attend a photo shoot for a dance company I’d only rehearsed with twice.  I didn’t really know anyone in the company well either, so I already felt a bit self-conscious.

Now, let me pause here and state that I am not in what I would say is my “fighting shape.” It’s been over two years since I have danced consistently, and I’ve lost a bit of strength and stability, which translates to “I’m not feeling as spry as I used to.”

Given all of that, yeah, why not get in front of a camera and try to look photogenic in a room full of strangers? Sounds like a great idea! What could possibly go wrong?

Because there was no set choreography yet to capture, the photographer crammed the three other dancers of the piece and me on a tiny square of dark grey background paper, and under very little direction, asked us to improvise a bit to get some photos taken.

If you’re thinking, “Man, that sounds awkward,” you’re completely correct.

It had about the same result you’d think it would: odd, ill-composed photos with perplexed looking dancers.

To change things up a bit, the choreographer decided to have us improvise one at a time.  We were directed to perform a few movements to get about four to five photos a piece, then exit so that the next person could run on in to the frame and start dancing.

I stood on the side, waiting my turn, and when it was time, I did what I was told.

I ran on.

And as soon as my foot hit the grey paper, I started to slide.

Like, in slow motion. Limbs flailing. Unable to prevent disaster.

Down I went, like an exaggerated banana-peel-on-the-sidewalk skit, all the while screeching like an opera singer.

OoooooOOOOoooOOOOooooOOOOoaaAAAAAHHHHaaahhhoooooOOOOhhhhhhhh!!!

In any other situation, like with my last company for example, once I hit the ground and assured folks I was physically okay, everyone would have gotten a good chuckle. Heck, I might have even peed my pants a teeny bit from laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of the situation.

But in this instance, no one was laughing. Well, I kind of was. But then I quickly stopped when I realized that everyone was just staring at me, stunned, mouths agape, not sure what to make of this aging lunatic that had just flung herself on the ground like a fish out of water.

After I lay there on the floor for what felt like 24 hours, the photographer finally ran over, and I thought, “Oh, thank God, someone is coming to my aid.”

But really?  He was just trying to frantically save his background paper, smoothing out the edges and re-taping the whole thing down so that we could get on with the shoot.

The choreographer and the other dancers eventually started to make sure I was all right, and I reassured them that the only thing hurt was my pride as I lurched myself upright.

But deep down? I was mortified. Humiliated. And I certainly did not want to get my picture taken anymore.

It was all I could do not to pack up my gear, dramatically sling my bag over my shoulder, and yell “that’s it, I’m outta here!” before storming out and slamming the door behind me.

But I didn’t.

See? I tried to take the high road. The mature route. The harder option. Even though it sucked balls.

One of the dancers tried to make me feel better and tell me that it wasn’t as bad as I imagined, and that I fell very gracefully. To which, I giggled politely while hiding my tears and thanked her for trying to make me feel better.

However, the crinkled marks on the background paper told a different story of disaster and defeat.

I couldn’t high tail it out of the studio fast enough once the photo shoot was over, and having a week where I didn’t have to face the same people helped heal my wounds. So, now? I’m almost over it. Almost.

Thankfully, the photographer swears he didn’t capture my embarrassing moment on film but I am waiting for some kind of GIF of me falling over and over on a loop to make it’s way on the Internet sometime soon.

When folks like Jennifer Lawrence fall in front of an audience of millions, it’s adorable and endearing.

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But when I fall in a room full of people I barely know, in a situation where I’m supposed to, you know, move like I’ve been dancing forever, I just fall flat.

Literally.

After a couple of days, I could tell the story and laugh about it. Because, c’mon, falling is pretty funny.

I guess it just goes to show that I’m never too old or too experienced to get humbled. That life will continue to knock me down, and it’s up to me to decide if I’m going to get up and storm out of the room, or stand up and get my picture taken, red-faced and all.

With grace, of course.

 

Do you have any embarrassing stories you can share to make me feel better? 

A Memo To My Kids From The Department of Fairness

A Memo To My Kids From the Department of FairnessDear Children,

It has come to our attention that you two siblings have been engaged in consistent disagreements concerning the fairness of treatment in the household with respect to each other. Such arguments have increased in frequency to the point it becomes necessary for our department to step in and act as arbitrator.

We have reviewed your recent claims and deliver the following decisions:

Claim #288: In the case of “Who Got More Time On the iPad”, your parents made a judgment call based on who got dragged to the other sibling’s extra-curricular activities more often during the week, and have tried to find the proper balance between making the non-participating sibling perform homework, and keeping them occupied enough not to drive the other parents in the cramped waiting room at the dance studio crazy.

It is our decision that all iPad use will not be tallied and accounted for in equal amounts between the two of you as per your request, as your mother does not have the mental capacity to keep track of that kind of data. Your mother has asked that you cease and desist with all further complaints on this matter until you have children of your own that you need to shuttle around town.

Claim #7191: We find that there is no point in arguing over who received more Cheetos, as it has come to our attention that neither of you completed eating your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apple slices in the first place.

Henceforth, all crunchy side dishes will remain off the table until said “growing food” portion of the lunch is completely consumed.  Once this task has been completed, you will then receive a serving of Cheetos deemed appropriate by the Preparer of the Lunches.

Furthermore, the Preparer has rejected notions of counting out equal portions of desired processed cheese snacks and requires you to just get over it already.

Claim #553095: In response to the disagreement over which party was more injured in your recent physical altercation, and thus, deserved more attention, we offer this simple piece of advice: Keep your hands to yourselves.

Claim #1469370: All decisions regarding which television show you will watch on Saturday mornings will be made at the discretion of whichever parent has had more coffee.

You will be permitted a total of two shows, with one show choice per child. Should you begin to watch Woody Woodpecker, but decide midway to agree with your sibling and watch Phinneas and Ferb, you are thereby forfeiting selection and will not be allowed to choose the next program.

Our recommendation to you? Pick a show and stick with it.

Claim # 918882947750123:  With regards to accusations of devotion equality and child preference, make no mistake. Your parents love you both equally and fiercely. You are stuck with them loving you unconditionally and thinking you are the best thing since sliced bread.

To settle future issues of this nature, please submit claims to The Department of Hugs and Kisses.

 

 

Fabulous Fall Giveaway!

September 22nd is a bittersweet date. It’s the first day of fall, which means saying goodbye to summer, sandals, and sundresses. For many, it means embracing the chance to get reacquainted with cozy sweaters, fun boots, and pumpkin-spiced everything.

And for me, it also means I turn another year old.

Yep, today is my birthday! I have big plans to spend the day doing fun things like paying bills, organizing my closet, and using the occasion as an excuse to eat something chocolatey on an hourly basis.

I know, I’m going WILD, right?

But when some fellow blogger friends suggested hosting another giveaway to start today of all days, I said “Heck yeah!” What better way to celebrate my birthday than by giving YOU a chance to win some cold hard cash?

I’m a giver like that.

First, let’s meet the the bloggers who have joined forces to offer up this Fabulous Fall Giveaway!

Fabulous Fall Giveaway

Down the left side: Jen, Jessica and Julia.  And then down the right side: JeanaeGina and Rachel.
When you get a moment, do me a big favor and go check them out!

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is participate in the Rafflecopter below. The funds will be transferred immediately via Paypal once the winner has been notified. And then, you know, the winner might want to head out and buy a new fall sweater. Or a pumpkin-spiced pumpkin. Totally up to you, winner. Go nuts.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway