Friday, August 30, 2013

It's Circus Night!

Follow along with our adventure 
Friday 8/30 after 5pm CDT

on instagram at 

and Facebook

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Disney Inspired Letter N


Today's blog hop theme is a Disney inspired letter "N" - so I offer you Narcossee's.  A Disney signature dining experience at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Narcossee's waterside building offers sweeping views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and a prime location for fireworks viewing. 
For more fantastic Disney inspired Worldess Wednesdays
 Head on over to the Focused on the Magic Blog Hop!

Focused on the Magic

Monday, August 26, 2013

PicMonkey Monday: Sunshine Through The Clouds

Katie to this beautiful cloud picture out the car window while we were driving to Florida in June.  She's such a good photographer, there's some real natural talent there that I wish she would explore more.  The radiance of the sun is not filtered at all, it was simply one of those beautiful moments.

I was in a super sparkly mood when I did this one and wanted to see if I could make something a little over the top that felt like - well - a ray of light.  I was looking to express the end of anxiety, and the hope that things are getting better.

First I boosted the color with saturate (this is fast becoming my favorite edit), then I used a bokeh filter for sparkle.  I wasn't sure what Dodge and Burn did, but I see them talked about frequently in a photography newsletter I get.  Turns out that they essentially make things darker or lighter in specific areas, vs. using an overall exposure adjustment.  I'm sure that's an overly simple explanation, but I'm not an expert.  I made the bottom of the middle cloud a little darker, and lightened up the sunburst, and the top left clouds just a bit.  And there you have it!

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  What do you think?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Katies Clouds Sunshine

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Disney Weenies


This weeks Blog Hop theme was Disney Weenies. To Disney Imagineers a weenie is a large scale visual point that draws you further into the park, it's something you see and want to walk towards to get closer.   The big park icons are "weenies."  I chose the Sleeping Beauty Castle, because one could argue that it's the very first Disney Park weenie.  And - because I've been really wanting to head back to Disneyland.

For more fantastic Disney inspired Worldess Wednesdays
 Head on over to the Focused on the Magic Blog Hop!

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Trip Report: Disney Day 3 My Night Full of Fail

Fair Warning - If you have ever taken Disney advice from me, you may rethink that after reading this part of the trip report.  I haven't told anyone about the total and utter disaster this night was for me, so if you're hoping for a happy go lucky trip report, stop reading right now.  If you want to read about how even a Disney "expert" can fail repeatedly at the place she loves most - read on - you'll love it.

We said good-bye to Becks and Carlos at the Polynesian Valet stand, where they were getting a cab back to their hotel.  I decided we would walk back to the Wedding Pavilion where our car was.  It's right next door - right?  WRONG!

We were all tired, and with all wedding obligations finished, I think this was the point that my fibromyalgia took over and my body just went "Done!" It started with my feet hurting so at first I tried to take my shoes off for the walk back to the car.  Fail - The sidewalks are scorching hot in Florida at 2 in the afternoon ... duh.

Fail - Then I got us lost.  Instead of following the beach, which I KNEW I needed to do, I followed the sign to Luau Cove.  So after some exploring (read that as pushing our way through the landscaped tropical jungle because I could see the path I thought I wanted to be on and just not get there) we made our way to what I thought was the right walkway and continued down it. WRONG AGAIN!

With my feet aching and body starting to fail I was at the point that if I stopped moving for even a second I would not be able to go on.  I had hit a serious wall.  So, I chose to ignore the "Cast Members Only" sign and continued our "off road" adventure from the Polynesian to the Wedding Pavilion by foot.  We cut across lawns and past some dumpsters - yea - this was obviously "back stage."  My family was truly not pleased with our little adventure, and I just wanted to die.  But there was light at the end of the tunnel because we could at least see the parking lot.


Eventually we got past the Polynesian grounds, and found the car.  As I slid my bare back and legs into the black leather passenger seat of the black mini van that had been sitting out in the sun for 6 hours I wanted to scream and jump back out.  Fail - I was too tired so I just sat there while my skin burnt.  Everyone climbed in - Geordon was going to have to get us back to the hotel, I thought I might be able to navigate but told him to just read the signs and he'd be fine. WRONG A THIRD TIME!

As we pulled out of the parking lot, I got a text from Bekah telling me that they were chilling in their hotel room and that Ian was on his way to meet us at Hollywood Studios. W.T.F.  How long had it taken us to get back to the car?

Now - As my friend Jackie can attest, because this has happened before - no one should ever take my advice on how to drive around WDW.  I will get your ass lost.  Seriously, I never have a car at Disney.  After driving around the Speedway and through the TTC parking lot in our attempt to get from the Polynesian back to the Wilderness Lodge I finally said screw it and told Geordon just to keep driving straight ahead and that we would take the first exit and turn around then head back to the hotel.  That only sort of worked, because there was no place to turn around!  As we passed Epcot (FAIL) I realized that I should never EVER be  allowed to navigate a car at WDW for any reason what so ever.  I started laughing hysterically and could not stop,  I think that was the point that my brain just broke.  

By some small miracle of God (or Uncle Walt) we finally found our way back to the Wilderness Lodge.  Geordon dropped me off at the sidewalk near the Villas so I would have a shorter walk to the room.  I have very little recollection on what happened for a couple of hours.  Maybe there was a nap - maybe I was just so crunchy that I can't remember.  What I do know is that by about 6pm I I was in my ecv and we were waiting for a bus to Disney's Hollywood Studios, where the kids were going to hook up with Ian, who was spending the night with us so his Mom could have a nice wedding night.

It was about 30 minutes before a Hollywood Studios bus came, and there was a huge crowd to get on because there were Extra Magic Hours that night.  This was when we discovered that Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness share buses because not everyone got off.  Being in an ECV - they loaded my family and one other ECV family first.  Because not many people had gotten off of the bus at Wilderness Lodge, this meant that people who had been waiting for the bus longer than I had been, did not make it on the bus!!  They were IRATE and I felt horrible - but there was honestly nothing I could do.  To make the situation worse though, the bus driver didn't fill all the standing room on the bus before she closed the doors.  Some of those people could have totally gotten on the bus and I'm not sure why she didn't fill it.   When we got to Fort Wilderness to let people off - there were even more irate guests.  Because there were already two ecv's on the bus, they couldn't load the person waiting at Fort Wilderness.  It was an absolute nightmare, and there were many cranky guests. I just tried to look at the floor and feel like it wasn't all my fault that they felt their night was ruined because I have fibromyalgia.  This was the whole angry able bodied people bus situation that had kept me from renting a length of stay ecv in the past.  I was crazy happy to get off that thing.

Tori and Geordon

Kirk and Katie took off towards Tower of Terror while Geordon, Tori and I moved at a slower pace.  Kirk didn't want to do Tower of Terror because the line was so long, so there was sibling drama.  Kirk and Ian met up an went off on their own while Katie called me to complain.  We headed to Tower of Terror, because doing the roller coasters at DHS was one of the few things that Katie had asked to do on vacation.  After some discussion with a very friendly cast member about my physical condition and the accessibility of the Tower of Terror line, somehow I ended up riding this thing with Geordon and Katie.

What on earth made me think I could go on that ride? My little girl had a fight with her brother who headed off with Ian because they didn't want to wait in line for an hour and I didn't want her to have to go alone. I am a S.U.C.K.E.R.

Oh... My... God! The things that we do for our children. I sat between Geordon and Katie, holding each of their hands as tightly as my eyes were shut. We made that first drop, I came out of my seat and thought for sure that the seatbelt had broken. I had trouble getting it buckled and when I flew out of my seat I just though "that's it." I prayed that I was wrong and that it would all be ok, I squeezed their hands harder and every time it dropped I wondered if it would stop dropping again before I got too far off the seat. Up and down and up and down and up and down... the thought actually occurred to me that at least I would die at Disney. I screamed and screamed, my husband was giggling like a school girl. And than it was over, and my heart started beating again. Fail, fail, fail.

 After that I met up with Tori and Geordon and Katie went on Rockin' Roller Coaster.



Tori and I did some shopping and went in search of a snack.

Tori found this adorable hat on sale while we were looking for food.  She left it to buy later on so that she wouldn't have to carry around the bag.  When she went back to the store before leaving the park.  They were closed!!  More fail.  She never did get her cute little hat.  Seriously - what the heck is with everything closing so early at Hollywood Studios, it sucks.  Ugh... so frustrating.  Isn't this an awesome picture of Tori in the hat she didn't get to buy?


Finding something to eat was another adventure in fail.  I didn't want to eat in the overly crowded Market area on Sunset so we wandered towards Echo Lake.  Starring rolls - closed, Min and Bill's - closed, Gertie's - closed.   I now understood that the Market was so crowded because they herded everyone into that one section of the park by closing everything else.  Talk about feeling like cattle. 

Dockside Closed

Gerties Closed

With no other option we headed back to Anaheim Produce and settled on a Mickey soft pretzel and some plastic cheese, with a frozen lemonade chaser.  The night was not going smoothly, but at least they had little Orange Bird cups at Anaheim Produce and that made me smile, because I do love the Orange Bird.


Orange Bird Sippers at Anaheim Produce

Tori and I met back up with Katie and Geordon and headed off to find some honest to god dinner.  On our way we passed "One Man's Dream" and stopped in briefly.  We would have stayed longer, but Katie was bitchy so we didn't really see anything.  Fail.  Then heading back towards Pixar Place we stopped at the new Jack Sparrow show/feature/thingy FAIL - we waited 30 minutes for THAT!?  So lame. I just can't even type fail enough for that one.

Obviously we walked the wrong direction because as we came out of Pixar Place we discovered the Backlot Tour was closed - fail - Studio Catering Company CLOSED - fail-  oh...my... god...  I was absolutely exhausted, everyone was hungry and grouchy, the girls were both limping because their legs and feet hurt, and it was now dark.  We really wanted to see Fantasmic! so everyone was pushing towards the end of the night.  Through the Streets of America we went, finally we came to the Writer's Stop and it was OPEN!

Everyone ordered sweets and drinks and sat down to try to regroup before heading to get a seat for Fantasmic!  Even though I was in my scooter at DHS I was struggling with my pain levels, but I kept pushing because I love Fantasmic, and it was the ONLY thing that Tori had said that she wanted to make sure she did on vacation.  Like Katie and the roller coasters I wanted to try and make sure that it happened for her.  I mean really, my girls were not asking for much.

As we sat in the Writers stop and I tried to cut into my brownie (pictured below - doesn't it look good?)  I started crying from the exhaustion and pain.  I want to be able to express what I was feeling just then, and I'm not even sure that I have the words in my vocabulary to do so.  I put the piece of brownie in my mouth and the pain from trying to chew was so excruciating I had to spit the brownie into a napkin.  I couldn't even eat because my entire body hurt so badly.  I had prescription pain killers on board and there was nothing I could do.  My body was fighting back, it apparently had no care for our limited time to scrunch in some fun.   I told the girls and Geordon that I was done and had to go back to the room.  The girls decided that they would meet up with Ian and Kirk at Fantasmic! to enjoy the show.  Geordon - bless him, accompanied me.


Geordon and I went directly to the bus stop.  It was crazy crowded, and we had to let the first bus drive off without us.  Why?  Because I had a basket on the back of my scooter it wouldn't fit on the older style bus.  FAIL.  Before the next bus came - Tori was texting me that Fantasmic! had ended and they were heading back to the hotel.   Seriously the kids went to the show, watched the show, and were leaving.  Fantasmic had ended - without me seeing it - and I had not even made it onto a bus yet.  MAJOR FAIL and more crying.

Luckily we were able to make it onto the next bus back to the hotel without a problem.  Mostly, there was no problem because I was so tired I got out of the scooter and let the bus driver load it.  My ability to manuver, or balance while sitting in it on the bus, was completely gone.

We made it back to the hotel, I laid down on the bed, Geordon said that he would stay up and wait for the kids, and everything went black.   There you have it, my night at Disney full of fail, this time with no redeeming fireworks show at the end.  Maybe I'm just a freak, but a bad night at Disney is better than any night at home.  Tears and pain and all the fail, I'm sure at some point in the future, I'll do it again. 

Apparently the kids all had an AWESOME time at Fantasmic! and had fantastic seats.  I'm so glad that they had fun.  This may be the most unflattering picture of Tori in history, I'm not sure what she was thinking, but she should not do that again.   I think they were trying to look cool.

Did you miss the rest of this trip?  Check out the other posts from The Great Wedding Roadtrip!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Giveaway

As a Feld Family Ambassador not only do I get complimentary tickets to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show DRAGONS! in Moline, IL with my family - But I have a family pack of tickets to give away to one of you as well!  So who wants to go to the circus?!

I'm going to make this super easy and quick because I'm not sure how many readers I have in the area, the contest runs just two days 8/18 -8/20. 

You could win tickets (up to 6) to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey DRAGONS
in Moline, IL on August 30th at 7:00pm
Go ahead and enter in the Rafflecopter ... you know you want to!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 DRAGONS will be in Moline for 4 days only Friday, August 31st through Monday, September 2nd, 2013.  With just 7 shows on the schedule, be sure to grab your tickets early to experience some truly classic family entertainment fun.  Because I'm a Feld Family Ambassador, I'm able to offer my readers a limited discount of $3 off select performances*!  To get your discount use Promo Code: BLOG3 at this Ticketmaster Link.

Discount valid Saturday 11:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 p.m. Not valid on Circus Celebrity or VIP tickets. Limit 8 tickets. No double discounts. Additional fees may apply.  

I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Watch A Day at Disneyland

Since I returned from my June Walt Disney World Disney trip I have been obsessed about the though of returning to Disneyland in California. Last year the kids and I have the most marvelous time at Disneyland, and it was truly a relaxing and enjoyable vacation. We have DVC points at Disney's Grand Californian and I think in 2015 we may head west again.

Anyhow - I found this video yesterday and it just plain made me happy. So I thought that I would share.

I hope that watching put a smile on your face too.

If this video made you happy too, and you would like to know more about how it was made, check out the source piece from the LA Times.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Trip Report: Disney Day 3 Morning - Bekah's Wedding

After a long engagement, the big day was finally here.  My best friend's beautiful Disney Wedding. 
A little disclaimer right from the top here though.  This was a very long day so I'm going to split up the report into at least two (maybe three) different posts. Also if the picture you're looking at is beautiful and amazing with perfect lighting - Randy Chapman took it.  If it's just ok, either I took it or Katie took it.

I woke up early (around 4:30am) to hop in the shower and pull some last minute things together.  Since I had the two bedroom suite I had volunteered the room for Becks, and her sister Catey to come to get ready in.   As spread out as we were, I  can't imagine what it would have been like in a standard hotel room.  Having the living room in the Villa made everything run so smoothly.

Hair and make-up arrived first.  Becks had booked a team from Beaute Speciale to do hair and make-up for us.   Laine and Jenny arrived about 5:30 bright eyed and cheerful, they were amazing.  If you ever need services like this in Orlando, call them!  All three of us that they spiffied up looked amazing.  Becks was absolutely radiant.  I'm not generally fond of mirrors, but even I thought that I looked great.  Somehow Laine even gave height and fullness to my fine thinning hair, it was like a little wedding day miracle gift Becks gave me.



Over the next several hours we were primped and pampered.  I had breakfast delivered by Earl of Sandwich, and popped open a bottle of champagne for Mimosas.  The time flew by.  Before long the rest of my family was up and getting ready, and then the photographer came.  Randy Chapman was who Becks has chosen, and once again - great choice.  I was very impressed with his professionalism, plus he was funny and charming, and even took pictures and made jokes about my printed schedule.

R,C0653 6-10-2013

Yes!  Of course I had a spreadsheet just for the wedding morning.  How else was I supposed to keep everyone moving on schedule and get us all out the door so my girl could get her wedding on?  No matter what he may tell you - there was not a copy in the lobby. 

The last vendor to get to the room was the florist, as Becks had ordered some additional floral from a third party, I can't remember their name though. There was a bit of a hic-up there, but nothing we couldn't deal with and I ran down to the main lobby with Katie to grab the flowers and bring them back to the room. The flowers were absolutely amazing and Becks had even gotten feathers in them! Yay! I loved the feathery surprise.  I guess I had made a comment when we were looking at the florists website online about how cool a bouquet with feathers was, and so she added them.  I swear it was my honor to stand up from the start - but she was *so* awesome - she made being her bridesmaid super special.

Bridesmaid Floral

Geordon and the kids headed off to Disney's Wedding Pavilion. Kirk cleans up so nice.

R,C0561 6-10-2013

Next Catey helped Becks into her gown - and I cried. She looked so beautiful, and I was so overwhelmed with joy for her. I tucked a handkerchief into the pocket of my dress. Oh! When you're looking at these pictures, check out that veil. Sewing GODDESS Beck handmade it and embellished the whole thing - it's way quality and a totally amazing heirloom.

R,C0625 6-10-2013

R,C0666 6-10-2013

Shortly after that we were out the door a few minutes early and Randy had time to get some wedding shots in the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge before us girls climbed into the limo. Doesn't Becks look amazing?  And look!  I had great hair!

R,C0064 6-10-2013

R,C0742 6-10-2013



The trip over in the limo was quick, and sentimental. Becks had some beautiful heartfelt words for her sister and I and it was all we could do not to bawl. Thank goodness the make-up artists had put a fixer on our faces so that the make-up wouldn't budge. I can't remember what the name of it was - but I really wish that I had some here at home.

Disney made sure that all the guests were seated and in the chapel before we were allowed to get out of the Limo.  They don't want to risk anyone seeing the bride who isn't supposed to, it's a wonderful attention to detail.  We got out of the car and made our way to the small ready room where Becks was able to have them bring her mother and grandmother to talk to for a minute, and to touch base with the officiant.  Don't ask me what the rest of the guests or the groom was doing at this point, I have no clue. From the look on Katie's face, there may have been some mischief involved.


I'm a control freak - what - like you didn't know that? And it can be hard for me to let go of wrangling my family or not looking at the clock every couple of minutes to make sure whatever is supposed to be happening should be. Once we stepped out of the limo though I knew that I could put my trust in the Disney team to have everything handled, and they did.

Before we knew it - the groom had taken his place and it was time to head down the aisle.




The ceremony was lovely the officiant wasn't long winded and seemed to keep things moving along - Catey read a poem - I offered a blessing. I must admit I was super nervous that my voice wouldn't fill the room or that I would speak too quickly. Or heaven forbid my fibro-brain would kick in and the words wouldn't come out in the right order leaving everyone sitting there scratching their heads at my jibberish. That didn't happen though, and even though I stumbled a couple of times I got through the (kinda long) blessing successfully.


Then suddenly they were married! And this wonderful family was "official." They've always been the most amazing family, together for seven years, it's nice though to have the little piece of paper and the beautiful, nay, magical moments to confirm it.

Kiss me darling!

R,C0381 6-10-2013

Then typical after ceremony stuff happened.  Fast forward ... no really ... just fast forward to the stunning Whitehall Patio at the Grand Floridian Resort!

The lovely ladies from Disney loaded us into Limos once again and shuttled us over to the reception. It was cake and cider time whoo hooooo! Everything was beautiful and I was so happy with how a couple little surprise details that I had been in cahoots with Disney with went.  See that look on the Bride's face in the next picture?   From here on out that look is called "cake face" and it's a moment that I will never ever ever forget.

R,C1109 6-10-2013

There was music, and bubbly, dancing and laughing and socializing and the eating of delicious awesome too good to be true cake.

Many members of Becks' and Carlos' family then headed over to the Polynesian for a delicious wedding lunch via Limos.  But really... this was a Disney Wedding, why would anyone want to travel to the next destination in any way other than this!?

Oooooh yaaa baby... you know it... it was monorail time.

R,C1347 6-10-2013

R,C1358 6-10-2013


At the Polynesian we took over one side of the Kona Cafe were we feasted on sushi, noodles, and drank Lapu Lapus. 






At one point I had a brainstorm and disappeared from the party.  You see - I tend to know where they keep the Pixie Dust and thought that I could make just a little bit of extra magic with Disney's help.   I was right, and I returned with armfuls of brightly colored silk leis for everyone in our party, and real floral leis for the Bride and Groom.  It was a fantastic finish to a fantastic Disney Wedding.


I truly hope that when my kids time comes to get married that they consider having a Disney Wedding.  Every single aspect of the day was just fantastic, and I know that my family had a spectacular time as guests.  I was a fan before - but after having experienced this I just can not say enough good things.  The best part however, was the simplest, and that was to see the love and joy beaming from Bekah and Carlos.

Up next time in the trip report ... what we did after the wedding festivities were all over.

Did you miss the rest of this trip?  Check out the other posts from The Great Wedding Roadtrip!

To see many more beautiful and stunning pictures of Becks' wedding by the phenomenal Randy Chapman please visit her Flickr page.

Monday, August 12, 2013

PicMonkey Monday: Frontierland Wooden Indian

It's PicMonkey Monday!  In this new series I'll give you a before and after look at some of my photography as I learn to play with some photo editing.  Tori and I just bought a PicMonkey.com subscription, so I've been playing with filters and trying to learn what things do.  I've never done much photo editing, mostly because I don't own photo shop and was raised taking pictures in a film environment.  In a way editing really seems like cheating to me, but I've come to learn that many of my favorite photographers edit their work fairly heavily.   I thought maybe I should give up my high horse and move on into the 21st century at some point. 

Today we have an artsy attempt and making my image of the wooden Indian in Frontierland look old. As with most things Disney he's in excellent condition and looks brand new, even though he's been there as long as I can remember.  I was perfectly happy with the original image and wasn't trying to "fix" it, this was just something artsy to kill time.  First I put a daguerreotype filter on it, then soft focus, next I added a papyrus texture, then a sketchedy frame.

Which one do you like better?  Before or after? Leave a comment and let me know!

DSC_0064 Frontierland Warrior