Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! 
May you find peace, rest, and hope this holiday season. 

~Heather

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Almost There; January

I was almost there!  About a month ago, I had the pleasure of getting the flu.  Just the run of the mill achy, stay-in-bed-and-wait-to-die kind of thing.  My husband came home at lunch and said, "I hesitate to even tell you this..."  I'm thinking, now is not the best time to tell me you got laid off, or that you would love it if I could make you a sandwich.  His news was much better.  He said his boss had casually mentioned sending him to a conference in January.  In Orlando.  To be exact, at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort hotel.  <beat> 

My dear sweet husband, who knows me so well, said - "Now, you need to rest.  I know you're going to want to hop out of bed and run downstairs, grab your laptop, and plan out four different versions of this trip.  But don't.  Rest up and get better."  Me: forcing a grin & rolling my eyes, "You act like you know me or something"

He does know me quite well; that's exactly what I did.  We just had the privilege of going to WDW with the kids in September/October, and they pooped out after the first week.  The idea of going back just us adults was thrilling to say the least.  We could ride the rides, see the shows, eat at the Mexican Pavilion... It would be very grand indeed. 

So, I plotted and schemed, daydreamed and wished.  There's no better way to spend a sick day; it was the perfect distraction!  As I obsessed we mulled it over throughout the next several weeks, it became clear that the company would leave the choice up to my husband: did he need the training, would it be good for the company, cost effective, etc ... all the technicalities.  As it turned out, my husband made the difficult, yet responsible choice; it wasn't a necessity that he go.  The trip may have not panned out, but the thrill of the planning and just the idea of going was wonderful.   It was like I was almost there!



The San Angel Inn restaurant
inside the Mexico Pavilion in EPCOT

(Just writing this post has gotten the "Tres Caballeros" song from the ride stuck in my head!  ?Donde Esta Donald Duck?)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Whistle While You Work

This holiday season, as with most company-arriving seasons, I am compelled to clean.  I am a bit of a perfectionist, which means my house is always in disarray.  Which bugs me.  A lot.  But I can't do it ALL, so I often don't even try.  How's that for a legacy to hand down to the kids?

Last week, however, I found myself in a cleaning mode.  I had made a list(seven, actually) of all the things I would have to do before Thanksgiving.  I had a "house to-do" list, a "bake ahead" list, a "menu" and "shopping" list, a "kids' rooms" list - yes, they needed their own list! - and a "Christmas kick-off" list.  That's only six.  Well, perhaps I had just six... Oh!  Nope.  Just six. 

Anyway, the 'worst' thing that could happen to a planner and perfectionist like myself is to have the plan altered in such a way that is beyond one's control.  The day after my glorious list-making epiphany, the day that I was to begin my shopping and cleaning and then bake with the shopped-for items, it snowed.  It snowed and snowed and snowed.  Then it froze, snowed some more, and we watched the temperature drop to eight degrees.  The children were giddy shouting exuberantly and asking me "how cool" it was that we were snowed in.  Well, Mrs. Grinch here did not find it quite so cool. 

After grousing around about how there was no way I could complete several of the menu items without a trip to the store(or two), it hit me how grinch-y I was behaving.  Snow should be fun.  Being snowed in should be even more so.  Realizing this, but still being frustrated made me feel like a horrible person.  A horrible person with no way of controlling the situation.  So, I snuggled my kids and my husband by the fire and they watched a flick and played video games whilst I went to work.

I needed to feel a sense of accomplishment.  So, I grabbed my list and started scrubbing the bathrooms.  I cleaned the floorboards.  I swept and mopped every hard surface in our house.  I dusted and vacuumed.  Somewhere in there, I prayed for a better attitude.  I asked that I would be a blessing to my family instead of just frustrated and negative.  As I was bleaching the shower tiles for the second time(don't judge me) I realized I was whistling.  Not just any song, but "Whistle While You Work" from Disney's Snow White.  That actually made me laugh out loud.

It also got me thinking about Disney movies and cleaning.  I thought about how Cinderella cleaned for her Step-mother, and how Snow White cleaned for the dwarves.  Cinderella cleaned out of a gentle sense of duty.  She was altogether willing to do as she was asked, regardless of the person asking.  Snow White cleaned because she was grossed out.  She was more of a compulsory cleaner.  Perhaps she was distraught over the fact that her Step-mother was trying to kill her and it was beyond her control to stop it.  Regardless of motive, both characters cleaned with good attitudes.  (and woodland creatures, but I have no analogy for that)

Thanksgiving turned out just fine.  We didn't have the pomegranate brussels sprouts, the pear and gorgonzola salad, or fresh herbs for the turkey.  We did share provisions with our fellow snowed-in neighbors(traded some milk & chicken stock for some rolls, potatoes and onions!) and ended up with a feast fit for a Disney Princess, her Prince, and their dwarves. 

It's Sunday now.  Even though not quite everything has been cleaned up and put away once more, I'm almost there.  I think it's time to start making some Christmas to-do lists!

Wishing you Pixie Dust & Clean Kennels,
Heather

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Almost There; Disney Food

Be careful, looking at or thinking of Disney food causes insane hunger, and might even pack on pounds to those caught unaware.  I suppose it's not so bad when you're walking through the parks all day, burning way more calories than, say, sitting in front of a computer all day. (Which reminds me, I need to take the dogs for a walk...)

I love food.  (Shocked? I didn't think so.)  I adore Disney food.  Not the hamburger-fries-corndog stuff, but the aromatic soups and, well, everything at the Animal Kingdom Lodge's restaurant, Boma - Flavors of Africa (it's my fav. restaurant); beef and bleu salad at Hollywood Studio's Sci-Fi Dine In Theater; the all-you-can-eat crab at Cape May Cafe in the Beach Club Resort(okay, this one ties for first!).  The food choices in Disney are as unique as the guests themselves.

If you have an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World, *hooray*  I am so excited for you!  You're almost there!  You may already know that you need to get your dining reservations well in advance(3-6 months before you go).  I had a hard time trying to sort through all of the choices.  Dinner on Tuesday, in three months?  I don't even know what I'm making for dinner tonight.  One thing that helped me immensely was allears.net They have all kinds of fabulous planning tips and tricks of the trade.  They even have menus from all the restaurants.  No more, "Mom, what do they have here?" conversations that inevitably end up, "Well, I don't want that, I want something else"  You can preview your choices and pick a restaurant that fit's your family's inclinations and avoid the melt-downs. 


Today's feature on Almost There:  The Kitchen Sink at Disney's Beach Club Resort's Beaches and Cream Soda Shop.  This puppy may not be gourmet, but it sure is a Disney experience not to be missed.  Oh, bring your friends.  Seriously, let your friends bring friends. 

Yeah.  It's even bigger in person.  $23.99, or 4 Table Service desserts from the dining plan, gets you: 8 softball size scoops of ice-cream, 1 whole banana, 1 angel food cake, 1 brownie, 1 Milky Way bar, 4 Oreos, a handful of cherries, a mix of all toppings and syrups, and -get this- an entire can of whipping cream!  Bring BIG friends.

Mmmmm, just thinking about it is like I'm almost there...

Wishing you pixie dust and clean kennels,
Heather
at the jukebox

The Kitchen Sink, Ladies and Gentlemen!

before

after
(No, Zack didn't eat it all himself...but we don't look as darn cute in pictures!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Almost There; Epcot World Showcase

Hello! 
Ciao!  
Habari! 
Namaste!

These are a few of the friendly greetings you may hear as you walk around the eleven countries that are EPCOT's World Showcase.
(and Swahili and Nepali that may be heard in Disney's Animal Kingdom, but we'll get there another day...)

Have I mentioned before that I LOVE EPCOT?  It's simply one of the most amazing places on earth.  Earlier this week, I waxed on about Future World; the science and technology filled first half of the park.  In the second half of the park is the World Showcase; a collection of pavilions, little models of towns or replicas of landmarks from the given country.  Each pavilion has cast members from that particular country, and they are all very willing to chat about their country.  Although they are all proficient in English, they will happily(and patiently!) engage in conversation in their own language.

A replica of a Norwegian stave church in the Norway Pavilion

For homeschool, my kids and I decided to learn how to say 'hello', 'please', and 'thank you' in every language.  I figured we already had America, Canada, and the UK down.  Spanish and French are familiar to pretty much anyone who has watched Sesame Street, and we found that the rest weren't too hard to remember with a little practice.   I know if I were away from my home, I'd love to hear a friendly 'hello'.  I think we shocked the Norwegians the most with our, "takk skal du ha" (thank you).  After the initial surprise, they smiled greatly and rattled off something else.  Whoops, only know three words, folks!  We did, however, learn how to say, " 'later " in Norway - "Ha det bra!"  It made us giggle, because it sounds like 'had a bra" 

The Mexico Pavilion
My kids were all pretty willing to try out their new-found tongues, and so was my husband.  When you approach the loading area for a Disney ride, the attendant will ask you, "how many in your party".  As we were walking down the ramp towards the boat ride in the Mexico pavilion, My husband led the party, and I was the make-sure-no-kid-gets-left-behind station.  I loudly whisper-hissed at my husband, who was just about to round a blind corner, "siete, personas, por favor y gracias!"  He rolled his eyes a bit, but cheerfully complied.  The cast member, seeing only him, smiled really big, and with one flirtatious eyebrow cocked said, "You speak Spanish?"  My voice cut between the other five members of our party as I finally rounded the corner, "Yes, he does!" and flashed my best where-do-you-think-he-got-all-these-kids smile her way.  But we're used to that, my hubby gets a lot of flirtatious smiles;) 


Zack, my youngest, is obsessed with France.  He loves engineering and building, anything aerospace, and France.   He has plans to live in Paris, work in the aerospace engineering and (probably) marry a french girl and settle down.  So, a meal at Chefs de France was a must-do.  We also watched the extremely well-done film at the French pavilion, Impressions de France, three times.  And made a penny in the penny press inside the french gift shop. 


Zack, giving us his best "french" look
Outside Les Chefs de France

In one night, we strolled through Morocco and Italy, had beer and pretzels in Germany, Kaki Gori in Japan(sort of like a snow-cone), and sailed as Vikings in Norway.  Just thinking about it, it's like I'm almost there...

Wishing you pixie dust and clean kennels,
Heather


Morocco

France

Germany

Norway

The United States - this picture does not do this group justice.  Make *sure* you catch the Voices of Liberty perform before you watch The American Adventure film.

Teppan-yaki in the Japanese pavilion (can you spot the hidden mickey?)

The United Kingdom Pavilion

Espresso, anyone?  Italy pavilion
Miniature houses, villages, and trains in the Germany pavilion

Koi pond in the Japan pavilion

The beautiful Canada pavilion.

It occurs to me that I have no pictures of China pavilion.  I believe that was the day I had a lost 11 year old.  I was too distracted to take pictures.  But the Terra Cotta Warriors were impressive, as were the acrobats(which were the cause of the distraction and reason my 11 year old had quit following the rest of the group...) and the 360 deg. film, Reflections of China.  My kids were giddy when our Chinese host taught the crowd "ni hao" and "xiexie" (hello and thank you)  They were practically jumping up and down(We know that!  We know that!)

Perhaps it's a small world after all ;) 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Almost There; Another Year

Well, the Moms Panel round II emails went out today and... it's going to have to be another year for me(I think it's a stretch to say I was "almost there"!).  Although I am disappointed, I am not particularly shocked.  I don't mean to sound cynical, but I have seen the current and past members, and have been facebook-ing with potential panel members... there are so many amazingly knowledgeable Disney people out there!  It was fun blogging and getting to know some of them.  Well, not like there were some that it wasn't fun getting to know... everyone I 'met' had the Disney *magic*. 

The cool thing, though, is that everyone who applies for the Moms Panel gets to be part of the Mickey Moms Club (Disney's version of a consolation prize?).  Our evident neurosis for all things Disney seems to be the magic word that lets us into the Club.  Could it be Disney's way of telling us we're almost there?  I have heard that the Mickey Moms Club sends Disney news, deals, & freebies as well as hosting special gathering opportunities.  They actually had a catered party in EPCOT for the Moms last year!

When I told my husband that I hadn't gotten the email to advance to the next round, he said, "Sorry, hon, but you still get to do that other moms thing where you can go party at the World Showcase with all the other (snicker) toasted Disney aficionados".  Umm, yeah, honey - thanks!  He had actually listened to some of my incoherent babbling about this whole process.  What a charming prince!

So, I'm ending my evening pretty excited to receive my Moms Club invitation.  I'll let you know what I hear:)

A *HUGE* congrats and wishes for continued pixie dust in the paths of all the applicants advancing to round II.  What a well-deserved honor.  Check out the current Walt Disney World Moms Panel at:  http://disneyworldforum.disney.go.com/home.aspx

Wishing you pixie dust and clean kennels,
Heather

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Almost There; EPCOT and The Land



EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow
(or, jokingly, Every Person Comes Out Tired!)

With it's 300 acres, copious walking is assumed.  I love the Magic Kingdom.  Disneyland in California is amazing.  But EPCOT has always had a special place in my heart.  It is the first park I head for in Florida.  

It is broken into two sections, Future World and the World Showcase.  Future world is full of great ideas and inspiration for, are you ready for this?  the future!  Obvious, yes.  Disney has always had a way of inspiring greatness.  Instead of being bogged down by what's wrong with the world today, it encourages you to see what's right and what could be.   Imagination and optimism infuse the rides, science museum-type activity centers(Innovations East and West), and the eco-preservation themed "The Land" and "The Seas" exhibits. 


I remember as a teenager going on the boat tour called "living with the land".  It was classic Disney - you were having so much fun you forgot you were learning!  In this ride, you see life-size sets and dioramas of different temperate zones.  (There is even the quintessential mid-western farm house, complete with the barking dog out front!  OH, to live in a Disney diorama!)  Then the ride changes course and takes you into a series of real, working greenhouses, with the latest and greatest of the future of farming.  As a teen, I remember seeing hydroponics for the first time.  It was so space-age to me to see these plants in neat little rows growing vertically in what looked like pvc plastic pipes suspended from the ceiling.  No soil, just water and nutrients.  Of course now, it's a common an expected thing to go to your grocery store and see products such as BC hothouse tomatoes, peppers, or cucumbers.  

This time around, Disney had many new futuristic farming ventures.  There was a continued focus on sustainability, as well as viability in otherwise hostile environments.  Think: growing plants and fish in space!  Not too far off, actually.  Disney and NASA have partnered since the 1990's on research and developement of just such a possibility.

It was difficult to snap pictures while on the tour - both because of my very amateur camera abilities, and because I was so immersed in what was actually going on and all the things to see, I simply forgot to take pictures of it all.  I did, however, come away wanting to have a greenhouse and raise sustainable fish like Tilapia! 

Come along for the ride, if you'd like...

On the boat for Living with the Land
In the greenhouse

Cinnamon


Dragon Fruit

My Tilapia!  Aren't they beautiful? 

My daughter spotted this hidden Mickey.  For those who don't know, Disney loves to hide "Mickeys" all over the parks.  There are even books dedicated to finding them!


Nine pound lemons! 

A tomato "tree"

Beautiful and savory; a rosemary tree.





Fluted pumpkins?  Looks uncomfortably like the pods from the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but okay...

Life imitating art imitating life?  Monet anyone?



Here you can see the canal through one of the greenhouses.


Pacific Northwesterners love their coffee...

Papaya

I had never heard of Jackfruit before.  Loved the name(our dog is Jack... more about him on http://twopointfivedogs.blogspot.com/ Sorry, shameless plug!)  Turns out Jackfruit is a member of the mulberry family.  It is also the national fruit of Bangledesh(who knew?)

Jackfruit

Just looking back over the pictures is like I'm almost there!  Are you almost there, too?  Drop me a line in the comments section and tell me about your Disney experience or your future plans.  I'd love to hear from you. 

Wishing you Pixie Dust and clean kennels,  Heather



Coming Soon: World Showcase!



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