Sunday, May 3, 2015

Like a river

This whole Freddie Gray case sickens me. I mean yes the riots, yes the cop hate, yes definitely the potentiality that a guy was killed unjustly by police- but even more the comments in my newsfeed by people I know and even larger the disgusting comments on conservative sites following articles .

I absolutely hate the race card and immediately called bull on the ferguson narrative . This case has messy edges, the scenario isn't easily defined . What I've mostly heard is from the cops own testimony they had an unlawful pursuit and arrest.

He looked a cop in the eye so he dies? And people are all outraged that others (not the rioters bc their behavior invalidates their opinion) just normal people online, in their communities wherever are alarmed that a young man- whatever his background, his color, his record whatever - a human being - ends up with his spine severed In a police van.

The report put out by the prosecutions office says the police reports say they basically hog tied the guy, put him on his belly on the floor and left him with no means to stop himself bashing into the back of the van as he was unrestrained.

How is that ok? Is it ok bc he's black? Or bc he was a rap sheet? Bc he did drugs? Bc he dealt them?

I'm just curious bc all I see on these sites is that he deserved it- without any evidence . Yet when anyone postulates that maybe JUST MAYBE cops were wrong in this scenario they're pelted with all kinds of abuse.

I'm sorry but I don't live in a reality where every police officer is perfect, out to serve and protect and sacrifice. I think most are. I hope most are. But reality is there are bad people in every group in life. No one gets a pass bc they wear a badge, or priestly vestments or a stethoscope or chalk stained hands.

The truth is the professions we hold in highest regard are going to have bad people in them- bc they're everywhere. We don't blindly disregard horrible behavior or even the thought that certain segments of society are exempt from wrongdoing just bc of the profession they're in.

People will willingly jump to "these cops are blameless" without any back history on them. Just because they're police.

And yet they are hard fast in their belief that Freddie Gray not only was guilty (for what do we know yet? Looking at a cop and then running is all I've heard so far. Neither are crimes) by knowing just as little truth and detail about his life and his circumstances that evening.

Do I think the cops are absolutely guilty- no not all the evidence is in but I will say my stomach turns by this narrative we have so far. I could stomach for sure a shooting easier than I could what went on. Shootings can happen in a split second - and while many of those are still unlawful by cops , I can see mistakes being made with a gun. This is more sinister and calculated and prolonged. It stinks of intent- to harm. To kill? Probably not but that doesn't excuse their actions, just like if you or I intend to just hurt someone but instead kill them, our actions aren't excused.

Freddie Gray deserved death, say the OVERWHELMING consensus on these sites.
Why? Well they don't say because he's black, but how can someone, even someone like me who strains her eyes eye rolling so hard anytime the race card is played, ignore the fact that assigning guilt onto a person WITH ZERO EVIDENCE THUS FAR sounds a bit fishy. I'mnot going to say racist because we all know how that works up the self righteousness in people "gasp no not I ! " so fishy. We will go with fishy.

Even people I know to proclaim to be Christians. People who have been forgiven much. With nothing . Free . Totally free grace and forgiveness. They deem him worthy to die without trial and whatever evidence against the cops or whatever evidence against Freddie. He should've died like a dog . Been put down because , you know, he had. A rap sheet.

Oh ok. That's how we do justice now?

I am SO glad that legally that isn't how we arrive on guilt innocence and punishment in society. Or American society, so far.
I am even more glad that this isn't how we are judged by God for our lives . In righteousness terms- we all have rap sheets and we add to them daily. Daily.

I'm so glad the proclaiming Christians who say Freddie should have died , Deserved it definitely , That the cops are 100 percent innocent and should've killed him and should get off bc they're scape goats to appease rioters (you know those awful people in projects ugh ...) and killing people is fine if you know they have a past . Or even a dirty present. They deserve to die. No trial needed. It's justified . I'm so glad they aren't judged for their litany of sins, indulgent gluttony, shoddy shady thieving business practices, general mistreatment of people, gossip, slander, lying spirits to the point where it's not just a lie it's their lifestyle and what just emanates from their mouths, for their porn addictions, lust, affairs, anger, division causing, judge mental attitudes , self righteousness, their own drunkeness and addictions- I am sure glad those Christians aren't judged by their rap sheets and past and their continued sinning by the same measure they are saying Freddie gray and ostensibly anyone like him should be judged.

Am I saying the justice system work like Gods grace . No. Obviously. But for those who like to twist or have a hard time connecting coherent points- I am saying those quickest to judge someone is worthy to die in the street are the same ones who claim what they do is all forgiven in the blood. ( which it is ) . How quick to claim we are undeserving of our just deserts in the eternal while determining in the earthly realm that law doesn't need to be followed by police or others if it ends in the demise of someone with a rap sheet.

I'm not even saying Freddie wasn't doing anything- even though thus far that's what police reports tell us. Maybe he was dealing like everyone wants to say. Punishment for that is still not death. Not even if he had made it to trial- that wouldn't have been an option.

Finally, the most sickening (maybe -it's hard to rate the vileness of these attitudes) it's not fair to deem him a "worthless POS" which is the number one characterization I see.

Everyone has inherent worth. You don't get to determine they don't so I am not even discussing it.

I know several former "worthless POS" drug users and drug dealers . A couple of them found Jesus in jail . One woke up passed out in snow and realized she probably should've died and went to church and found Jesus. They're all pastors now working in churches - and not the comfy kind of Christianity - but the gritty get out there like Jesus and actually DO something style of Christianity . The real kind. And I know many many other former drug users. And they're all some of the very best people I have had the pleasure to meet.

And yet. According to a disgustingly and alarmingly large segment of our population (a population that overwhelmingly identifies as Christian) they should've been put down in the street. Long before they cleaned up. Before they had a chance to straighten up their lives . Before their chance to do all the good they currently are working hard to do.

Before the chance of redemption.

None of us have a right to deny someone their chance of redemption.

"Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream" - God

Whether Christian or not, we don't have that right. Whether a spiritual redemption or a just in this worldly sense of changing their ways and not breaking the law, of getting clean. It doesn't matter. We don't get to determine that someone should be dead just because he was on the street and may or may not have done something. In this country people get trials to allot punishment. In the spiritual realm we just have to accept grace.
Everyone has the right to experience both those things.

Whether Freddie Gray dealt drugs in his past or whether he was dealing that minute . Unless (and there is zero to say he was ) he was endangering someone at that second - he did not deserve to be killed or put in danger.

Nor did you or I in all the things we have done.

(And disclaimer for the simple minded who will want to say this means I support the riots or the killing of cops. Obviously not. I'm sorry you have no way of wading through slightly complex issues that have more than one facet to weigh)

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

- Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have A Dream Speech"

Sunday, April 19, 2015

It's that time of year again- I'm fully engaged in planning our next Disney trip!

Normal people just go on a Disney vacation like they would any other- book it and go- but there is a sub set of the population who will not set foot on sacred Disney soil without reading at least three guides,spending countless hours on Disney world message boards, and making spreadsheets,grids plotting each scheduled event from EMH (extra magic hours) to parade and show times thereby ensuring each park day is spent in the best choice for maximizing magical opportunities. This all before making ADRs (advanced dining reservations).

It's advanced vacation recon and not for the faint of heart.

Don't let it stress you, you can jump into a Disney vacation with no reading or planning and have a beautiful time.

Ignorance is bliss afterall and you will be clueless to all your missing out on, while uber planners like myself utilize our knowledge to maximize our time and take advantage of the little known perks of Disney.

We only go once a year so I feel it's my duty to pack all this in for my kids. My friend goes several times a year and is in fact on her way now (jealous) and though she does read up some, and was the one who first told me about the crazy Disney forums I frequent she probably has done less planning/ research than I and this is only my third trip total! Frequency of visits means she can gather this info naturally, though she has read enough to know of many perks beforehand - like the Wishes desert buffet and preferred viewing area.

I don't have the luxury of frequent visits so I go into crazy planning/research mode for about 8 months of the year. And I love it! The only thing better than being on a Disney vacation is planning one.

So since this is occupying about 85% of my brain at this time and i have several friends planning their first Disney trips with their kids I am going to start another new weekly segment-

Another Disney Day.

Playing on their current promotion One More Disney Day, I feel it's an appropriate title.

In this segment I plan on interspersing little vacation tips and tricks I've learned, planning info, any little interesting tid bits about Disney that strike me , Walt Disney World news, and my own trip report I'm writing from our last trip. I wrote it up for our own memories but since I use this blog for that purpose anyway I'm posting it on here. Yes, I'm still writing it!

So Disney fans you'll enjoy this, others maybe don't read on Thursdays...

I'm not pretending all this info is original to me in any sense. I'm merely packaging what I find helpful and interesting for my readers so they don't have to search on their own. I have what's called a marathon nurser in Layla which has left me sitting for many hours over the past 17 months and much of that time is spent researching Walt Disney World, not many have that much time where they are forced to sit and entertain themselves so I will help by wrangling all the massive info from the interwebs in one convenient place- muh blog. You're welcome :) Feel free to pin Anything you find helpful ;)

I was going to leave this as just an intro/ announcement but I'll start with a personal tip that I came up with on my very own.

Disney trips are chock full of memorable moments each day. But as sensory overload and fatigue set in those memories fade away.

What I found to be endlessly useful this trip was to jot everything down in my iPhone . Waiting in line is a great time to do this. Unfortunately I waited often to do it in bed and probably forgot little things but still so much was retained that I would never have remembered. Now months later I can read my notes and the memories come rushing back and I can capture them forever as I write out my trip report. It's worth it! So when your child eats her first Mickey head ice cream- take a picture and write it down in your notes for the day, a cast member gives you some kind of pixie dust- write it down! All the little magical moments are still magical and you'll thank yourself later!

(staring endlessly at Cinderella's castle while waiting for Daddy to pay our Crystal Palace bill...magical)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thinking of a getaway? Hit my travel button in the sidebar to access my travel agent page. My services are free to you paid for by Mickey!

What?! You didnt do ADR for CRT during FD?

I'm in the midst of crazy stressful dining planning for my Disney trip. We just booked this week and I only have 12 days before the 180 day mark to make ADRs (advanced dining resevations) .  Crazy you say?

No. Not when you go when Disney is offering the free dining plan.

While other times you may be able to mosey on up to any kind hostess and be given a wait time for a walk in, if you do this during free dining you're going to get laughed at by the same hostess and by all the other smug guests waiting in the their seat they scheduled 6 months in advance.

You see, free dining means EVERYONE at the Resort hotels is offered the plan with the purchase of the magic your way package (room and tickets) so unless you are an annual pass holder or opt to use another discount you're eating free. This means
              NO. SEATS. ANYWHERE.

And counter service restaurants where no reservations are accepted are like fight club. With babies. And a fixings bar.

Now why is this stressful? Well if only it were so easy to just pick where you want to eat 6 months from now- that alone is a task- I'm not sure what I want to eat tomorrow.
... Or for dinner tonight, I didn't thaw anything out.... I was making spreadsheets for meals 6 months from now.

"No kids idk what we are having for supper I can't figure that out I'm trying to figure out how in the name of Walt we are going to fit in a blasted Boma reservation to keep your dad happy! Eat a banana"

Not only do you have to know what foods sound good on the fourth Thursday of a month half a year away you have to figure out what park you will be in!

And no you can't just go magic kingdom epcot Hollywood magic animal kingdom magic.

No you can't because Wishes is only this night that night and maybe that night and the electro magic parade is only one night the week you're there- thank God coinciding with a Wishes fireworks night....

Oh and extra magic hours are at Hollywood  on this day but oh so is Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) ... HOW DO I MAKE THIS ALL WORK?!?
(shell out an extra $300 for a park hopper and be done with it)
But if you're husband says "NO I hate Disney transportation we are not park hopping" you make grids and graphs and spreadsheets and scribble all over them.

-You plot out your week and mark down the park hours for each park.

-Then you note which parks have Extra Magic Hours (EMH)- hours only available to resort hotel guests - yippie .

-Then you note down all special events limited to certain nights  - fireworks, parades, shows, parties...

-Cross reference all of them. Making sure to take advantage of all EMH and special events.

*That will give you the best day for each park.... Based on my system .

Some people say don't do EMH parks because they're busy. Those people are insane people who get up at the break of dawn and head to a park . I don't do that. EMH in the evening are a beautiful thing allowing us to ride everything in a few hours with no wait.

You've pinpointed what days you will be where now to figure out restaurants by reading tons of reviews realizing some people think they're the Queen of Disney and no food would ever be good enough for them.

Check out this site for reviews based on the best eateries for's Disney though so anywhere will accommodate your little monsters darlings.  Even the nicest places have Mac and cheese and chicken nuggets.  Boma the African buffet has a Childs buffet full of American junk food for picky kids.

After you decide what places sound best  while making sure to pick the best character restaurants you have to decide when to dine where!

-Plop them on your grid based on proximity to the park you're in that day.
* Remember if they are in the park instead of a hotel you will need park admission.

-Doodle Mickey heads while husband puts in his two cents (you're planning this not him but humor him so he doesn't argue against  your plan out of spite and feeling left out... But he has no clue how involved this really is )

By now you should have at least most of your meals planned. I always end up tweaking it for weeks changing and canceling them up until a few weeks before for the less popular restaurants. Or cancelling extra reservations on the bus to Magic Kingdom...  Yes I ended up double booked a couple days :p see you need to call early for reservations because there are a lot of selfish indecisive planners out there double booking days ... Don't judge me.

- Sit back, breathe and put the pen down! There are too Many choices and not enough days!

Now technically not all restaurants have to be picked this early and if you're very flexible on times even less need to be. But there is so much to do at Disney and if you don't take that into account early you will miss a lot due to poor planning.

Restaurants that need to be booked far in advance:

-1900 Park Faire- character meal with Cinderella and her step family at Grand Floridian.

This has become hugely popular even harder to book than the castle meal.

-Ohana- Stitch, LILO and Mickey at the lovely Polynesian resort serve a family style breakfast and host games for the kids. The breakfast is very popular but there is also a non character dinner that I could not get an ADR for the life of me last year.

- Cinderella's Royal Table- breakfast, lunch and dinner inside the castle! It's the only way to go up into the castle unless you're some lucky jerk who wins a stay in the suite. It includes a picture with Cinderella. Breakfast and lunch are with princesses, dinner has a show with the fairy godmother and mice. It is two table service credits or many Many dollars.

Chef Mickeys at the Contemporary is a buffet meal with the Fab Five, it's kind of the quintessential character meal with Mkckey that everyone knows about so rather popular and should be booked asap. The food is good the characters are swell- can't go wrong.

Also, now if you are not on dining plan they make you pay the full price up front when reserving. Cinderella's table and a few other "signature " dining experiences.  Ouch.

So what are you waiting for?! This is complex! head your browser to this page
(it has a much better layout with all the show times etc and all park hours in one place unlike the official Disney site)
And start plotting out your vacation!

Free dining is now available for vacations most dates August 25- September 29! Check here for details. Rooms are limited and they're going fast! Some resorts are all booked out which is unusual this soon!

Planning a getaway? Hit my travel button in the sidebar to access my travel agent page. My services are free to you! Paid by Mickey!

Another Disney Day

I want to start posting my trip report for Disney day segments , but alas it's on my computer and I have no wifi access on the farm (yes I know I say that a lot) so it takes some planning.

Instead I have a small bit of advice and some pictures.

Always buy your child a costume at Disney, if they want one. You will never be disappointed in the smiles and joy that comes from seeing your child dressed as their favorite character. They are pricey but well worth it and the price is well worth it because they hold up for years of play as opposed to department store ones that really aren't that much cheaper.

And they bring moments like this:

Worth of every cent....

Planning a getaway? Hit my travel button in the sidebar to access my travel page. My services are free to you! Paid by Mickey!

Disney Pre trip 2011

We had waited three years since our last visit and after six months of saving, planning and disboards reading the time was here – we were headed to Disney World!

The last time we were at “The World” Laci had just turned 5 and Ella was a tiny 9 month old.  Though she had technically been there before and loved it, waving for the first time in her life (at Pluto) screaming in joy at princesses – for me this was Ellas first “real” trip and I couldn’t have been more excited.
Being a three year old means you are obsessed with all things princesses – especially when you have a princess loving older sister and a room full of princess gowns. A normal day at our house consists of multiple wardrobe changes. I have no idea why I have so many regular clothes for the kids as they spend their days wandering about in renaissancestyle gowns provided by the Disney store.  A princess dress is the uniform of their childhood.

This, I knew, would make this trip special for all of us. I cried everytime thinking of those giant blue eyes lighting up as the castle first came into sight, as she saw Ariel, Cinderella and Belle at the three o clock parade and the sheer joy when she would finally get to meet them and hug them. I knew it was going to be magical.
I was a little worried about Laci – being 8. Our last visit she was 5 and still very much enthralled with all things Disney. And while she still is a Disney-phile, the innocent simple faith of childhood is being washed from her eyes and I worried that she would see through my explanation from our first visit that the “animal “ type characters cannot talk because in our world animals don’t talk but Mickey and friends can talk in the cartoon world just like on the movie Enchanted….

Of course the challenge of having Layla just having her first birthday the day before we departed on our Disney adventure weighed on my mind and kind of dampened a bit of my pre disney excitement. Going to Walmart with these three is a hardship what will 7 days in the World be?  The stress of that thought was pushed aside though as I remembered how much Ella had loved her trip as an even younger baby and I knew that despite being a stroller hater on  a normal day would be provided with enough sensory input in Magic Kingdom to make her endure sitting in a stroller much of the day.  The added task would be entertaining three kids at different ages and excitement level.

The day before we left was sheer chaos. It was Laylas birthday and I was determined to not allow her first  birthday be overshadowed by this trip.  It really already had been as most of my organizing/planning faculties had been directed towards making this trip perfect .  In order to not further push her day into the background I spent the week prior staying up til 4 and  5 am trying to get things ready. In a silly notion I had decided I wanted to make the girls adorable custom Disney outfits  like all the boutiques sell.  Great idea- just not a month out from the trip date. So I had to finish all these things, pack, and of course clean the house top to bottom – because everyone knows the cumpulsory need for a spotless house before vacation.
By the day before we left- Laylas birthday- I was a zombie. A severely behind in her duties zombie. We enjoyed a nice day of cake and presents before Tony left for work.  Instead of packing we put together her cozy coupe car. Madness. 

After running to stores to get last minute supplies for the trip and last minute sewing neccessities –no I had not finished their outfits (or mine and Tony’s costumes. Yes costumes for the parents) but was determined to do so, I came back to finish packing. Did I mention I way over pack. It’s a sickness.
We were travelling from MD to FL with three young kids. I felt we needed ample entertainment.  And snacks. Lots of snacks.  Each girl had at least one big bag of toys. Not to mention the Disney stuffed animals they “had “ to take with them (about 20. I am not lying) in a suitcase, our entire Disney DVD collection along with some other kid movies, a cooler, a huge tote of candy; chips; cookies and general unhealthiness, a new thirty one bag filled with coloring books and art supplies. This was in addition to our several suitcases of clothing – including one full of dress up clothes.

Yes my girls dress daily as princesses in the park. If they want to walk around in itchy organza and a full four layer skirted dress in the oppressive Orlando heat- im going to let them. It makes a great photo.
My husband was ready to kill me as he packed the car –even a roof cargo holder- full. There was just enough room for human occupants as we left- 7 hours later than planned.
I popped in a Newsboys dvd and blasted our travel theme song  with the lyric “everywhere we go that’s where the party’s at” and off we went.
We made it a couple of hours and hit Berkely Springs when Ella asked
“is this Disney?” 
Wow were her expectations low!
Ella’s bladder cooperated with my first Target sighting somewhere in VA. Tony had said no to Target and a little voice yelled “I have to PEE” and mommy said “YES that Target has a bathroom! “ 
After scooping up Great buys on cute clearanced shorts and a flip video camera purchase for me to more easily document my trip and make a fun travel video for us to enjoy we finally made It to our first rest stop- just inside NC.
Rocky mount NC was far far from our planned overnight stay in Savannah GA.
Tony was not at all happy.

The next day we left at 10 am – again late and continued the venture. Our destination wasn’t Orlando but The Villages – Floridas friendliest hometown.
We were spending two nights with Tonys grandmother before our Disney extravaganza. We didn’t arrive there til about 10 pm but being that we werent under a reservation for a couple days I really wasn’t stressing on how long it took to get there. Car rides are about the only time tony and I have time to talk.
Did I mention all the toys I packed to entertain the monsters on the 16 hour car ride werent touched?

 \The couch potatoes were fully entertained the entire time with dvds. Kind of sad really, but I don’t let them watch much tv at home so I suppose they were making up for it. In all honesty I didn’t care I was just glad there was no crying and tearing out of each others eyes. 
Lesson : $100 for a set of portable DVD players will save you from fights and free up three suitcases worth of room on a long trip. Buy them.

The following day we spent a nice day swimming at the family pool at The Villages , chasing geckos and counting hunreds of golf carts.
They even drive those things to Target and Walmart. Amazing.
  It was nice to visit family and have a  day of down time before our real trip began but the anticipation was mounting. Ella spent her pool time reenacting the Little Mermaid – making me sing the entire score. Thankfully we were the only ones there – aside from one young guy sitting in a cabana pretending to read as I made a fool of myself.

^^ the youngest people in The Villages by about 90 years.

 Pointing out geckos.
 Finding geckos and spying on retirees.

                                looking for the elusive outer space geckos

After minnie mouse manicures the girls surprisingly went to sleep without issue.  I on the other hand stayed up gluing rhinestones on their outifits. Its not like I would have slept anyway – I was going to Disney the next day!!!
Still having stayed up til about three I woke ready and eager at 6 am. I am not an early riser but the prospect of Disney will get me moving.

Interested in The Villages ( who wouldn't be with the  peeping tom toddlers and herds of golf carts described in this post?) check out Dwellable for more info!
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Disney Trip

After the obligatory photo pass shot on main street with the glorious castle background :
we came upon the  Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It parade
Ella was thrilled shouting out character names. Laci had an air about her I just couldn’t figure out. I feared the worst- she was too old for magic.  She didn’t get excited except maybe when she saw Jessie from Toy Story. I was already getting upset.  I was not ready yet for a trip with a kid who didn’t buy into the magic. I held out hope she was just worried about tarnishing some kind of image. You know she just turned 8 and all, she can’t seem like a little kid at that ripe old age…
So I focused on Ella who was bopping about to the lively music and dancing along with dancers waving at all the characters she could.  Since we happened along the parade already in progress, Tony and I got seperated in order for all kids to have prime curb side viewing. He had Layla and was not far away, still in view. I could see her in her stroller bouncing, clapping and screaming enjoying the spectacle as much as a 369 day old little person could.
Several parade performers wished Laci a Happy Birthday and one in particular came up shook her hand and wished her Happy Birthday by name. She didn’t crack a smile acted awkward and above it all. I was trying not to be upset. I hoped it was just her feeling out of place and shy and not that she was going to act non plussed the whole trip.
After the parade passed by we moved quickly towards the castle. We were amazed that cast members were already out in force with these super long grabby claw things removing streamers that were shot during the parade from the trees.
Disney means business when it comes to park cleanliness. Another reason to love the place.
Our first ride, in hopes to loosening Laci up and by virture of going around the castle instead of through it landing us in Liberty Square, was Haunted Mansion. 
Laci fell in love with this ride on our first trip. I fully expected her to be scared out of her wits. I rode it with her her very first time which was mine as well, and to be honest- I was scared myself and admitted so to her to help her feel better about her own emotions.  She did well on it though I didn’t expect her to love it like she did. We rode it so many times that first trip and Ella threw three bright green pacifiers outside her doom buggy.
Haunted Mansion went through a major rehab last year, including a new queue area full of new scenery and interactive features. Die hard fans aren’t happy with the change, as they typically hate any change but it was pretty neat. 
The drawback for us was that we were trying to convince a child who has horrible nightmares already and is scared of her own shadow that it was a bit spooky but ultimately a fun happy ride. 
The new giant mausoleums and above ground interactive tombs did not help our case in the least.
Ella was already terrified and velcroed to my leg.
Haunted Mansion is a Disney classic and an amazing exeperience.
 We wanted Ella to try it just once to not let her fear keep her from having fun, which is why we talked her into it. Some parents may disagree but knowing what lies ahead in it we felt she would be fine so we encouraged her to go on.
 Besides, who wants to split up the family on your first ride on your first Disney Day?
The cast members did not help our case. They are paid to look quite morose and unwelcoming to convey and eerie ambience. They do their job well and Ella was throughly freaking out as we were ushered into the Stretching Rooms and told to drag ourselves to the “dead center of the room” .
Welcome , Foolish Mortals , to the Haunted Mansion! I am your host. your ghost host…
As the door shut with a disturbing creak I felt at  this point the need to pre narrate the experience seconds before it happened. Having the actual narration memorized from our many rides last visit helped.
 “Look at the pretty girl on the tight rope in the painting Ella. She’s holding an umbrella to keep balance”
“yeah shes nice mama”
“Ok in a second youre going to see an alligator under her”
“ and don’t look at the other pictures. “
Is this haunted room really stretching or is it just your imagination….
“Ok Ella, the lights are about to go out don’t scream”
“what mama why?”
…and consider this dismaying observation: this chamber has no windows and no doors, which offers you THIS chilling challenge… TO FIND A WAY OUT….
“Ella don’t look up , and its about to fake thunder and lightning”
“I hate that “
Of course, there’s always my way muahahha.
After the corpse lights up ( which I never saw on all of our first trip rides!) the door opens and Ella thinks the ride is over. Having a brief moment of relief myself thinking if she made it through the stretching room she could make it through the rest, I realized this was a major set back.
As we are herded into the line to board a doom buggy she starts freaking out and I’m looking for a creepy maid or butler to usher us to the chicken door.  By the time we get close to a doom buggy I’ve managed to be able to distract her with the doom buggies themselves.
“Look, a round car. I wonder where it goes…”
We board and she is fine til our ghost host says he will lower the bar for us. I try to make it seem cool and wondrous -she remains completely freaked out that he did it.
Clinging as tightly as she can to my arm after finding out the ghost host lowered the bar too low for her to climb in my lap, she nuzzles into my arm pit and digs her fingers into my flesh.
The beginning is quite unnerving especially when you don’t know what to expect. Or when youre four and its all real to you.
She enjoyed the ride from the ballroom scene on until our buggy stopped momentarily and that dumb skeleton head in the graveyard popped up right by us in the graveyard. Of course! 
I sang along to Grim Grinning Ghosts but she couldn’t be soothed.  I couldn’t convince her that they were happy haunts despite their cheery tune. This was going to be a challenge!
As Little Leota beckons us back as we exit Ella declares that was the worst thing shes expereienced and will never go on it again.
I felt bad that was her first impression of Disney World rides! Worrying about keeping Laci happy I didn’t think about Ella and that she was even younger than Layla on her last trip so this would be her first real ride. We needed to remedy this situation and quick!
Sadly, Peter Pan as usual was a 45 minute wait. We were not at all willing to do that at this point. Instead we grabbedour first fast passes of the trip for Peter and qued  up for Snow White’s Scary Ride.
Now I am no dummy.
 I realize that the word scary is in the title of this ride but a 4 year old sees a princess ride and you tell me how to dissuade her ! 
Rejecting Pooh and Dumbo we were forced to ride it.
Although nowhere near the creep factor of HM it prominently features the witch. I love Walt Disney and I know he was a genius, but I still have never figured out why this ride which would obviously be a kiddie hit was designed to be scary. I can only surmise it is because the princess culture Disney has marketed in the last decade and a half had not yet begun and both adults and children alike were fans of the movie, but little girls were not so enmeshed in the fantasy world that perhaps having a Princess as the subject didn’t mean a must ride for kids.
After many appearances of the Snow Queen as the Witch (old hag is the official name), Ella declares she hates rides.
 I feel awful and defeated and am wondering how a week long vacation at a theme park  is going to pan out with a child who is terrified to ride!

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Day 1 of Disney- Throw your bags in the room and RUN to the castle.

We actually got on the road within about a half hour of my projected time of 7. I wanted to be at the hotel to check in and get our tickets and get to the park as soon as possible as the Magic Kingdom closed at 7 that day.
We packed up and off we went. The tired children demeanors did not reflect  our destination but my excitement and bouncing made up for their surprising lack of enthusiasm.  I hit play on our Newsboys theme song. Apparently “everwhere I go is where the party is at” applied only to me because you would have thought these nerds were going to get compulsory vaccinations not a ride on the tea cups.
We were an hour from Disney World and I could barely contain myself.  I finished gluing rhinestones and sewing bows on minnie heads on matching dresses.
 Finally I passed out for a few minutes on my pillow. Tony didn’t say anything as the first disney sighn appeared. I was so frustrated. I needed video L
As I searched for my camera I missed the second overhead sign. So much for my opening sequence to the travel video.
Still the kids were not feeling the pixie dust. My irritation at being the only outwardly excited person was mounting.
Then we got lost. 
If you haven’t been there, you don’t realize that Disney World really is a world unto itself.
 Roads zig zag off in directions leading to various destinations of excitement and relaxing resorts.  I was becoming anxiously agitated. Magic Kingdom was only open til 7 tonight and I had to squeeze as much M agic out of that kingdom for our first day as I could and not seeing a sign dedicated to Port Orleans French Quarter- where my keys to the kingdom awaited- was not magic squeezing .

Finally after a call to an amused cast member, we found out what section our resort was in and arrived. Tony went in as I stayed out with the kids- still watching movies… as if this were any mundane stop
After what seemed forever  (to me at least) Tony came back out with a gift from Mickey! He left the girls a bunch of pins to start their Disney World Pin Trading collection.
After we ran the bags to the room, I was a harsh task master. We changed clothes – the girls of course had to change into Disney themed attire. I held off on princess dresses because I knew something  special was in store… and didn’t want to be lugging around two discarded princess gowns…
 we ran to the bus stop to head to Magic Kingdom for the first time on our trip!

I again can barely contain my excitement as our bus rolls along the ten minute drive from Port Orleans to Magic Kingdom. Thankfully we did not have any stops to make since we were staying at French Quarter. I don’t know that I could have handled it!

As we sat down and I asked Ella if she could believe we were headed to where Cinderella’s castle was she gave me a huge smile and her giant blue eyes lit up bright as she nodded excitedly.
Laci seemed very reserved and still unexcited.
This is definitely not acceptable behavior on the bus ride to Magic Kingdom the first day of a Carey Family Disney Vacation- or any of the trip for that matter!!
I couldn’t figure out what her deal was, and it was bumming me out so I focused on Ella. Layla was far too young to get the anticipation- I knew though I would have beautiful moments with her as well, but she had no idea at 1 year 3 days what she was about to experience.
Ella, however, was the prime age. Still, distracted by Laci’s attitude I’d glance her direction every now and then to see if any emotion crossed her face as I talked to Ella about all that we were going to do that day and pointing out sites along the way. I became increasingly disappointed by Laci being compltely non-plussed by the whole thing thus far. I was worried she was already too old, fears exacerbated by Tony expressing his sadness we hadn’t returned sooner and that he shared the same suspicions that it just wasn’t going to be magical for her.
I spotted Space Mountain before any  other bus passenger and excitedly pointed it out to Ella.
Still nothing from Laci. Mild patronizing interest perhaps.
I had to just let her have whatever experience she was going to have and not let it ruin this long awaited moment so I picked ella up on my lap and whispered (a loud whisper that all surrounding could hear, so that Laci didn’t feel left out- or the middle aged woman with no kids who had been watching our interactions with a kind smile and genuine interest in watching Ella experience the magic for the first time ) that Cinderella’s Castle would soon be in view.
Ella bounced a little, still understated excitement compared to what I expected, and started pointing out random things –none of which were a castle belonging to anyone. 
Soon I spotted the spires. I squealed “Look Ella the spires the spires” and before she could spot or figure out what the heck a spire was, the castle dipped out of view. She was extremely excited at this point and squeezed my hand.

“look Ella its Cinderella’s castle!” as it peeked into view again briefly.
“mm hmm” she said nodding, clearly not seeing anything except possibly Space Mountain.
Laci looked so underwhelmed I could have screamed.  Didn’t she realize where we were headed?   Is she told old for all this? Did we already have our last and only magical Disney vacation with her? Why didn’t we come last year, I could have waddled around very pregnant if I knew she would have out grown it.

Then came the music. My favorite part of the ride. We were receiving the royal proclamation (on a mass transit bus) that we were entering Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
I got butterflies in my stomach and grabbed Ellas hand pointing out the now very visible castle as we heard:

 It is one of my favorite sounds in the world. Even just thinking about it wells up such excitement in me that even Christmas morning as kid cannot compare to. I LOVE THAT RECORDING!!!!

Im tearing up watching Ellas face brighten, everyone near us is watching as a child’s first trip to Magic Kingodm is one of the most wonderful parts of childhood. It is.
Everyone has sense enough to let the super emotional mom and three princesses exit the bus first. Unfortunately, the girls stroller royal carriage is a bit cumbersome to unload so we have to wait for Tony anyway as he plays Royal Coachman and unloads the two seater. We zoom off the bus and Ella and I are halfway to the turnstiles before I realize that Tony has to haul the stroller. Sigh. He’s still at the bus drop off point. Slowly we skip back as I throw things all over in order to get the stroller open and things settled and us onto Main St USA.
My husband is many things, fast paced is not one of them. He moves at a leisurely rate at all times and is very laid back. Disney World with me is not the time to behave in such a manner. You would think this was a vacation or something.
FINALLY we are moving back towards the glorious destination. I am way ahead with Ella and Tony thankfully picks up his pace, probably not so much to appease me as to beat the occupants of the two busses pulling up at that moment.
I know the drill. I unzip the bags and have them at the ready. No reason to spend anymore time in line than need be.
The  beautiful thing about September is there is no long line to get in and wait, wait, wait.

 However the three people ahead of me in security are KILLING ME. THREE people? And what the heck, they don’t even have their bags open.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? UNZIP YOUR BAGS PRIOR TO QUEING UP. (do that. Do it when you go. Do not wait til the guard asks you . Get all your crap out of your stroller and hold it precariously in one hand as you unzip with the other. Be prepeared and get out of there for the sake of everyone. Disney minutes are precious. )
Like a good Disney guest I had my stuff prepared and set down with a smile. The older gentleman seemed somewhat stern, I was a little off put as Disney Cast Members are exuberantly happy. Sacchrine sweet and joyous to an odd degree.
He checks our bags without much conversation, or verve or vigor… and I smile and say thanks- genuinely but impatiently. He stops and asks Laci – by name to step up. He needs to talk to her.

He asks her what her business here today is. She is not saying anything. I make a joke trying  like “uh oh Laci” just trying to get her to react in some way and to make sure she knows this is light hearted and shes not being dragged off to Disney jail. (it exists)
I receive a “shut up” glance from the cast member. Im teetering on yelling “don’t steal my magic little man” as he continues to question an unreadable Laci when he asks her to hold out her hands.
 I think ive figured out his game.
Laci is hesitant so despite being told shut up by his eyes I tell her to go ahead hold out her hands.
He informs her that he was left a message for her from his boss and was to give her the message along with something else left for her.
Shes getting irritated or nervous, Im not sure which.
He asks does she know who his boss is?
She  barely shakes her head no.
“Why, Mickey Mouse  of course” he replies.
“Mickey told me to wish you Happy Birthday Laci and to welcome the Magic Kingdom” as he says this he dumps a load of our favorite Mickey head shaped sparkly confetti into her hands.
I tear up (I think we are at three and have yet to enter a park) and  thank him, instantly forgiving him for the side eye he shot me.

Aside from the continued amazing treatment from random cast members while weve been at Disney barely two hours, it warmed my heart because on our last trip, our first trip,  Mickey confetti were both  a joy and a huge pain.
Laci was just enthralled by the sparkly Mickey heads laying about the streets of Magic Kingdom and picked them up as we walked along – constantly. It was cute to begin with and quickly begin burdensome and perhaps dangerous- have you seen how some of these mothers wield strollers?  They should be required to have a dangerous weapno permit and there is my princess crouching down in full royal attire in busy pathways stopping short at the sight of sparkle shaped like everyone’s favorite mouse.
On our last day as we are terribly sad about leaving , we walk through the turnstile and are stopped by a castmember wearing oversized Mickey hands. He tells laci to close her eyes reaches into his pocket and just before throwing it over her head tells her to open them. He then gives her a huge handful of her very own, that she does not have to pick up  off the sidewalk.
So it was as though Mickey saw her coming this trip and left these Mickey heads just for her.
We passed security and the creepy digital fingerprinting we were home free!
 Smiling cast members wearing over sized Mickey hands waved us to the magic that awaied.  We walked under the train station and came out in a whole new world.   Immediately we see Daisy in the town square.  The kids waved hello but were unsure, so we kept  walking.