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Archive for the ‘Disney’ Category

CHAPTER 4:  DADDY VERSUS THE DISNEY PRINCES

 

Insanity.  My kids have it.  From where did it come? 

 

Editors Note: Notice how the preposition “from” began the sentence and did not end the sentence.  A preposition should never end a sentence.  No matter how much I see it in our local paper, or in my kids school textbooks.  Please make a grammatical note!

 

It all started with Seinfeld.  You may have hated the sitcom made famous for being about nothing.  Or, you may have loved it.  But the fact remains that some aspects and characters from the show have permeated our culture.   The foundational fabric of our free, flourishing, fellowship, if you will.  One such lovable creature is the Soup Nazi.  Eh?  What’s that?  Never heard him?  Hmmm.  Well, here’s a small sample.

 

 

Anyways, as this story goes (and it goes this way because I’m telling it), over a dozen odd years ago, in high school (or shortly thereafter), I was at a friends house.  Being dorky kids, he went off on a tangent, impersonating, from the sounds it, an arabian sheik, who was trying to get a woman to dance for him.  Good grief, I feel brain cells dying just typing out that last sentence.  The impersonation went something like this:  “You dance for me?  You no dance for me?!?!  No soup for you!!!”  That’s all.  Mainly those 3 sentences repeated for about 5 minutes.  Yeah, I know, but it did seem funny at the time.  I guess in this situation, the quote fits: “You had to be there!”

 

Skip ahead several years.  Almost to the present time, but not quite.  For a gift, for some occasion, one of my oldest, or maybe both, received the Disney Prince’s Playset Figurines.  Oh sure, they’ve gotten nearly every princess there is, pre- and post-Walt.  But what, I ask you my brethren, is princess without a prince?  Now the imaginative scenarios are exponentially multiplied.  And that is where I found myself, wanting to spend time with my daughters, and they, wanting to play with the Disney princesses and princes.  I was forced to be a prince.  Go figure. 

 

disney-princes

 

I tried to be a good dad/playmate, really I did.  I mean, at least it wasn’t Barbies, right?  I don’t know if there is anything more difficult, more ridiculous feeling, then a father trying to play along as the side-kick male in a female dominated franchise and a female dominated playtime (2 girls versus 1 Daddy.  They win.).  Like I said, I tried to play along, but between the two of them, they kept changing the story situations faster than Bugs did to Daffy in “Duck Amuck”!

 

 

So finally, out of boredom laced with humiliation, I took my prince (I think it was Prince Charming, or maybe Alladin…I have too much respect for Prince Philip), trotted him up to the nearest princess, and declared, “Will you dance for me?  No…then no soup for you!  Would you like to see ME dance!?!?!”  Then I began to swivel the upper torso of my prince (they swivel at the waist, for reasons unknown), and shouted gleefully, “A-do-ti-do-ti-do-ti-do-ti!”  All this, of course, to the loud laughter of my delighted children.  I should have known then that they’d be asking for an encore.  So, I did it again.  But since then, I have never picked up another prince.

 

A few months ago, the older two say they have a dance they want me to see.  I’d love to see it, I tell them.  Then I get the video camera out, because these are the moments to save for future embarrassment of teenagers.  And this is what I get.

 

 

Notice, if you will the scared look on Brie’s face the ENTIRE TIME!  Yeah, I was nervous, too.  Also notice Cee-Cee starting to shake her head, too, toward the end.  The insanity before me was both humorous and breathtaking.  They’ve repeated their performance on different occasions since then, so I think its a favorite. 

 

Now, where was I…oh, yes.  Insanity.  Yep, there can be no doubt: They got it straight from me. 

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lost and found

Talk about frightening a mother to the end of her wits.  I lost one of my girls today!  The oldest one was there one minute and gone the next.  We were leaving to go home in a dark-ish place and she headed left while we went right.  She was never more than 20 feet away from me, but there were enough people, noise, and displays that we didn’t find each other for a few minutes and with the help of others.  Poor gal was crying and I was doing all I could not to so as not to upset the other three (who were yelling her name at the top of their little lungs) and my mom.  Then I saw her and it was even harder not to cry, though I again held it together as best I could (not very well) in order not to upset her additionally.  She still is a bit shook up and it was a few hours ago…not something a child soon forgets (especially one with the imagination Jane has!)

I’ve always told my girls that if they are ever lost there are a couple things to do.

  1. find a police officer, security personal, or employee of where ever it is that we are
  2. find another mommy, with kids

We re-visit this strategy every so often with them so they know it.   Every time we are in a crowd, at a theme park or festival, even occasionally when we aren’t somewhere like that.  In today’s instance, a mommy saw Jane wandering around upset and took her to a nearby worker (which comforted my girl greatly since this followed protocol.)  She said she at first was looking for me, but then was starting to look for a worker when the mommy helped her.  I wish I could have told that woman thank you but alas I was so happy to see her that I didn’t pay much attention to anything except making sure she was safe and sound.

Sigh

Being a mom is a stressful job most days and it’s amazing how you find the strength to carry a nearly 8 year old when the need arises!  I spent all day watching the twins as they are getting a little braver about walking in crowds.  Next time I think I will write my cell-phone number on a slip of paper and put it in their pocket.

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At long last, the final installment of my Disney series.  To be honest, life got way busier this week than planned.  However, you do not want to read excuses…here’s the post:

It is possible to nourish your family at Disney.  I must say that this is not in the strictest sense of things, but all in all I was impressed.  This post focuses mainly on the table service restaurants at the counter service restaurants tend to serve basically the same thing: burgers, chicken strips, fries, and soft-drinks.  Though if you look, you’ll find wraps, salads, roasted chicken and other odds and ends…so far as counter service goes, it really pays to plan ahead and know what places have options you are willing to work into your diet.  A great website for this is www.intercot.com and click on the “Info Central” tab to look at menus for the various restaurants on property.

When dining at a table service restaurant, the chefs will come directly to your table if you have allergies or dietary restrictions.  We often would talk to one about which dishes to avoid if we were trying to elliminate MSG, processed sugar, and artificial flavors.  From there we would be able to figure out what was ideal, what was compromise, and what was off-limits.  They were always beyond helpful and friendly and at times we have had them prepare something specifically for one of us to avoid the above things.

This meal was a buffet in The Magic Kingdom called the Crystal Palace.  There is a huge variety of foods there.  I’m a bit sad that my salad plate photo turned out so wonky as I was super pleased at it.  When going to buffets I try to take child-sized plates if they have them, if not I fill my plate and then make the twins’ plates off of mine to help me from overloading.  The above plate has salmon, broccoli, braised cabbage, spoon-bread, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable fritatta.  (If you look close, you can see my licked-clean empty salad plate in the upper-left.)  The salad plate had mixed greens, a quinoa and seafood salad (that was very tasty I might add), tomato and mozzarella salad, tropical cole slaw (with coconut), and beets.  I tried to help the girls with their selections asking them to make sure half their plate was veggies.  They didn’t do too bad.

Here’s an example of another buffet (1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian) we went to and my girl’s picks.  She made sure to mention to me the three pieces of broccoli as soon as she hit the table.  She finished the broccoli, pizza, and grapes. She nibbled at the mashed potatoes, bread, and pineapple.  Then she went back for salad and ice cream.  I can’t complain there.  One of the twins was near needing removed at this meal, so the older girls were pretty much on their own and avoided many things that looked great but would have caused major issues as the day progressed.  My girls know what makes them feel awful, understand it is okay to occasionally have a treat, and are learning right along with my what are better food choices. 
Sidetrack:  If my children are upset in a restaurant I remove them.  Even if it is an already noisy restaurant and a meal I pay handsomely for…out we go.  Perhaps because I’ve spent some time waiting tables, perhaps it is just me liking peace and quiet.  Whatever the reason, I just simply can not handle my children whining, fussing, or crying through a meal and am certain the people around me do not want to hear it either.  So at this meal it was either hold the fussy toddler or remove the toddler.  The thought of leaving my mom (this was a girls only meal) solo with three others was enough to keep me in there but holding the offender as a sort of peace treaty.

 

First comment on this photo is I love the monorail Bento.  I would have bought one, but wow was the dish pricey.  This restaurant was called Tokyo Dining and it is in EPCOT.  I’ve eaten here before, have a weakness for good Asian food, and was glad to bring the whole family.  The above bento had a piece of chicken and shrimp tempura fried, a mashed potato ball, broccoli, and mixed vegetables with a side of fruit for dessert.  The girls like it because it’s cute, I like it because it’s a fair amount of veggies and little to no sugar (not counting the fruit.)

Here is husband with one of the twins eating sushi.  Tuna roll, if you must know, though the salmon was the favorite.  We like sushi, eat it very rarely, but like it none the less.  Poor husband had to order another roll as the twins ate the majority of his.  Mine they wouldn’t touch (eel, salmon, avocado, and spicy mayo.)  With the sushi we also had a bowl of miso. 

So my tips for nourishing your family at Disney:

  1. plan ahead (recurring theme don’t you think!)
  2. see things as nourishing, compromise, and off-limits and making your choices from there
  3. limit portions/share plates as the portions tend to be fairly large
  4. have fun trying something new and spending time with your family!

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up and coming

I’m not sure I’ll have time today for an all out post so I figured I would do a quick “what to look” for post. 

Don’t miss yesterday’s quinoa recipe.  If you’ve never cooked with qiunoa, now is the time to try it.  It’s a very nutritious grain that reminds me a bit of rice…but better.  Trust me, scroll down and take a look.

The final post from our trip to Walt Disney World is almost finished and will be posted by the end of the weekend.  Photos, food, Disney…what’s not to like?

Last, but certainly not least!  I am planning a major cooking day on Monday.  It will be mostly apples, well I’ll be honest it will likely be 100% apples.  Applesauce, apple cider, maybe some hard cider, apple butter, apple chips, apple syrup, and anything else apple you can imagine.  Yeah, 2008 is looking to be the best apple harvest we’ve had since we moved into our house with it’s gigantic apple tree.  Add too that, my in-laws have 4 or 5 trees as well.  Some of theirs are so heavy with fruit that they have branches propped with posts to help keep them from breaking off.

My best friend Deb will be helping the girls and I.  It should be fun, come join us!

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This one is short and sweet as it is Sunday and I’m really busy…just being honest.  Monday’s post of food at Disney will be much longer I am sure.  Food is something I seem to be able to talk on and on about.

Everyone misses the comforts of their own home when gone.  In planning a trip to Disney, or any trip for that matter, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • will you have a vehicle to get to the parks or do you need reliable transportation
  • is being able to prepare a meal or two a day important to you
  • price you are willing and able to pay
  • how close to “the magic” are you wanting to be

We have stayed on Disney property and love it.  They have transportation that takes you to and from the airport as well as continuousservice to all parks and some.  You are right there in "the magic" and every place we have stayed at has been wonderful.  If I had the money to do it, we would fly and stay on-property much more often, if not all of the time.  Let’s face it, a two-day ride in the car (16 hours driving time, plus a good 8 hours in bathroom, food, and sanity breaks) is not any parent’s cup of tea.  Of course, footing the bill isn’t every parent’s cup of tea either. 

The place we keep returning to is a 3-bedroom timeshare condo unit.  It’s as big as my house, 3 bedrooms!  My parents take one, the girls take the small one, and the twins sleep in our room.  A full kitchen so we can eat a hearty breakfast and cook meals on days we aren’t out and about.  Living room for relaxing and space for the kids to play.  Timeshares are all over the place.  Disney even has their own that you can buy into or rent from current owners.  A quick web-search will give you more info on that.  We drive down so we have a vehicle to use whenever we want.  The Disney units have non-stop service to the parks while off-property units have service at a couple pre-selected (and often reservation only, but free) times of the day.  The price is for us free, as it is my parents and I honestly wish everyone were as blessed as we are. 

My second favorite place to stay would be one of the Disney moderate resorts.  The rooms are a little bit roomier than the value resorts, and the property a bit less cartoon.  Don’t get me wrong, the value resorts are not bad.  I just have one child who really needs some down time with less stimulation.  Most kids (and adults) would love nothing more than to sleep in a room with Mickey all over it and a 3 story tall Disney character outside.  The moderate resorts also have a nicer pool and just feel a little more relaxing to me.  The bus system runs all day and is for the most part efficient. 

My place to stay were money no object would be a monorail deluxe resort.  Plush and a monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom (the girls’ favorite park and tied with EPCOT for my favorite.)  The monorail means less fuss for us.  With a double stroller on a bus, you have no choice but to fold it up.  On a monorail you can keep it open and the children in it if it is not packed.  We plan accordingly and go when we know the twins can stay buckled in and the diaper bag in the bottom with the snack bag.  On a bus we end up folding the stroller, wrestling the twins (who are extremely shy in crowds), juggling the diaper bag and snack bag, and trying not to clobber people with our folded stroller.  Taking a vehicle in is another option to avoid this, though if you take a parking-lot tram you talking more of the same so you need to get there early so you can walk in.  The deluxe resorts on the monorail, though, wow.  There is a reason they cost what they do and sell out like they do…they really are that nice.

Qucik re-cap: Figure out what is more important and weigh your options against cost.  If your going to be away from your room 90% of the time it would be a waste to spend loads of money on a plush room.  If you plan on spending a few days at your home-base then it pays to have some comforts and ammenities.  It’s all about balance and planning.

Next (and last) Disney post tomorrow and will be all food.

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My next couple posts are going to be about Disney.  It started out as one post, but lets face it, Disney is huge and my post got way too long for one post.

A little background, perhaps.  While growing up we took one family vacation.  I was in second grade and we went to Disney.  We all loved it, but it was the only trip we took until I was in highschool.  No complaints here, I know many people never make it there, ever.  Since I went twice with my highschool band, we’ve returned many times.  Why?  Finances for one, a trip to Disney isn’t free after all andmy parents opened their own small restaurant in our small town around the time of the first Disney trip.  Small town restaurant does not equal big bucks.  The highschool trips were largely paid for with fundraisers (even my parents fund-raised as they went as chaperones.)  Also different were the planning and driving as well as taking young children.  When it gets down to it, my mom about lost her mind in the car with us thee girls while trying to plan it all and do it all.  Where to eat, what to see first, packing for everyone, and figuring it all out.  I have to watch myself as I get this way.  My husband is a perfect match for me here as he knows how I get and does what he can to help.   A good example is the night before hitting one of the theme parks we pack some snacks or sandwiches as well as packing the diaper bag and planning what is on everyone’s “must-see” list…all my husband’s doing this trip.  All this to say, your spending some cash if your headed to Disney and you might as well enjoy yourself.  So here are some tips for enjoying Disney as well as a special bit about food at the end.

 

First thing first, plan to have fun.

I know many people only make one trip.  I know you want to get your money’s worth out of that trip and see all there is to see, but the question I pose to you would be is it worth it?  Is it worth it to push yourself so hard?  Is it worth it to push your children to the point on tantrums and whining?  Is it worth going home absolutely exhausted and worn out?  If so, more power to you go for it!  If you are like me this is not worth it. 

Planning ahead is one of the biggest things to help combat this.  Walt Disney World has a wonderful website regarding the different parks.  There are descriptions of all the parks and rides/shows they contain.  There are other websites out there to help as well.  My favorites are Intercot and the Disney Moms Panel.  Check these sights out and plan what everyone wants to be sure to do.  As you go to the parks, then make sure you do those things and anything else you manage to catch will be icing on the cake. If you have kids like mine who want to do everything have them decide on a couple things at each park you plan on going to that they have to do.  Compile your lists and plan accordingly.

Another tip is to get there early and take a break if you need to.  Get there at park opening.  There’s a cute little show to open the park and the lines for the first hour are pretty slim.  An example for those of you who have had the pleasure of waiting in long lines at the Magic Kingdom: in our first hour we rode “it’s a small world”, “Peter Pan”, “The Haunted Mansion”, and a bathroom break.  All that andwithout rushing from place to place in one hour’s time.  Around lunch time the line for Peter Pan was 30 minutes long for a bit of reference.  Taking  break is also a good way to survive the parks.  Mid-way through the day we would return to our rooms for the twins to nap, the older two to swim with daddy and Papaw, and Mom and I to cool off and relax a bit.  I know, I know…two hours that could have been spent in the parks, seeing more, doing more.  But this little break enabled us to stay to closing without meltdown.  About 8 P.M. you could see the kids that were what I call “over-cooked”: long day, rushing from ride to ride, overstimulated, hot, and just plain done with it all.  For those of you concerned about food, this is a great time to catch a meal full of nourishing traditional goodness.  For those of you from up-north like me, it’s a great time to cool off in the air conditioning.  For kids it’s the perfect time to escape the noise, character’s, and bling that is what draws us to Disney, but in the same respect mentally can wear you down.

 

I’ve mentioned before to involve your kids in the planning.  My girls always have a few things they simply do not want to miss and something special they are saving their money up for.  This year’s must-do’s included: the new Toy Story ride, American Adventure, Fantasmic, and Big Thunder Mountain.  They saved their money up to get their face painted.  I’m sorry, but I simply can not pay $15 each for my beautiful girls to get their faces painted.  It’s just more money than it is worth to me.  If they want to save up money here and there for it, that is great and for this trip that was their treat to themselves.  When it came time to do it, they looked at all the options, noticed some were less than $15, counted their money again and picked so that they had a little bit leftover for a small toy they found and were wanting.  So this year’s money savings bought two face paints, a beauty set (brush, hair dryer, hair gel,andnail polish…all pretend and princess themed, of course), and two pressed pennies.  Last year’s money savings went to picking an oyster and receivingthe pearl inside.  They had to save up a fair bit more for that, though, as the settings also cost money.  Their oyster’s had one medium sized silvery-blue pearl and a very large (biggest one in a long time, we were told) white pearl.  Each had them set into a simple necklace.  The pearls were around $15 each and the settings brought the total up to around $80 total.  I chipped in on this, my girls save, but with not getting an allowance they were about $20 shy.  You can only wrap so many potatoes for a nickle each, after all. 

Another way the girls get involved before you go is by picking an outfit to wear.  Below is a photo of all four princesses in their royal garb.  Disney has many choices in outfits there in the parks, many of them very beautiful (if I had the money the twins would have matching Minnie Mouse dresses!)  My mom made all the dresses in the photo below.  The girls know that others dress up for a day in the parks and what could be more exciting to a 2nd grader than picking a princess dress for yourself and one little sister.  The only snag we ran into is that the oldest, who picked out all her own fabrics I might add, needed a long sleeve shirt under hers as the purple fabric made her break out.  Poor girl, she’d rather roast than go without wearing her outfit!  My mom’s amazing, and like I said, you can buy dresses there if it is something your girls would be into and you don’t have your own “fairy grandmother” like my girls do.

So, key points:

  • plan what attractions you want to see
  • get there early
  • take a break if needed
  • involve your children where you can

Um, writing out the key points makes me think I am a bit too wordy.  Planning ahead really is my biggest tip, though.  We love going to Disney, are beyond thankful to have a grandma and grandpa that want to take my girls there every year (husband and I just tag along to change diapers.)  Other things I plan on addressing are eating nourishing meals and where to stay.  Hopefully they will not be quite as wordy.

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