Of ponies and parenting

My sweet T just loves horses. I don’t know where she gets it, but she has that true devotion–passion–and innate ability that just floors me. She’s been fascinated with them since she turned 2. And it has only grown stronger and more fervent. I knew I was in for the long haul as a horseback mama when she wanted me to take her to work at the barn one Saturday. No ride. Just mucking stalls. This is Taylor with her riding instructor, Erin. Erin has been such a blessing to our family. She is a Godly woman who motivates and inspires Taylor. I love that they both have on pink shirts (Moms Panel pink, I call it-my Disney friends will get this one)! And did you read my girl’s shirt? It says “Yes, I was raised in a barn.” Yes, she is horse crazy. Which makes it even harder as a parent when inevitably, your wonderful, loving, kind child temporarily becomes the spawn of Satan in her attitude and you MUST take away the thing she loves the most. (I feel as if I’m letting you glimpse into our evening last night with that last statement). But certain situations call for tough parenting, and a crackdown was already brewing for the past few days. I absolutely know that punishing her by taking horseback away is the most effective tool I have–but I can’t help but feel it undermines the commitment/dedication character I’m trying to instill in the kids. You know what this sounds like: “we have committed to this activity for the year and we’re going to follow through.” But what their behavior trumps that, all bets are off. Game changer. Ah, parenting, why does it have to throw so many curveballs? (shakes hand at the sky)

Any sage advice you can offer on what works for you? Or reassurance would be welcome, too…I could sure use it! (sigh)


You ARE Special-regardless of Klout

I hopefully won’t offend with my post, but I don’t understand what’s the big deal about Klout. In its own words, Klout says it “measures influence online. When you create content or engage, you impact others. Klout analyzes that impact to find your Klout Score, influential topics, and your influencers.” Sounds good, right? Don’t we all strive to “make a difference”? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want people to read my blog and get something out of it.

So when I’m on Twitter, occasionally a Tweet will pop up saying that Friend #1 gave Friend #2 Klout in a particular subject. It seems to be a metric to measure how successful you are in your online endeavors. And for some, it provides useful information on how influential they are in social media. Maybe my disdain/skepticism says more about where I am in the blogosphere. And I’m fine with that.

I guess I’m drawing too many parallels between Klout and this wonderful children’s book that my son loves entitled You Are Special by Max Lucado. The story focuses on the loveable but imperfect Punchinello and a society of wooden people (Wemmicks) focused on giving one another stars or dots. Finally, Punchinello meets the woodcarver, Eli, who reminds Punchinello that he is special and it doesn’t matter what the Wemmicks think. In other words, stars and dots don’t mean a thing.

Which brings me back to Klout. Looks strangely like the Wemmicks giving stars, huh? Maybe I’ve been reading too many kids books lately and you can dismiss my ruminations based solely on that. And for those that make their living on social media, I get it. But I’m OK with trying to live a Klout-free life. And it feels pretty special all the same.

My HGTV tour of Bay Lake Tower’s Grand Villa

You have probably heard me rave about our upgrade in October 2010 to the Grand Villa at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower. If not, you can find my over-the-top ecstatic post about it here at the Disney Driven Life: a-villa-with-a-grand-view-abe . Anyhoo, I also attempted a video tour of the property since I figured this was a once in a lifetime moment. Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel has nothing to worry about-I am definitely not going to quit my day job to pursue a career in TV (Ugh-am I the only one who HATES how her voice sounds?) That being said, I had a blast filming it because it made me appreciate being there all the more. And believe me, I explored every inch of that space! From the bathroom TV to the sliding door beside the master garden tub, everything blew me away. I wasn’t surprised though-Disney does everything top-notch and the Grand Villa was no exception! So without further ado, I give you my HGTV tour of BLT’s Grand Villa!


The perfect rainy Monday

Ribs on the smoker. A leisurely stroll with our elderly golden. Kids peacefully playing together. (That should be in bold, don’t ya think?) Gentle rain tapping the gutters outside. Rocking on the front porch, reading my new B&N purchases (Disney oriented, naturally).

A do nothing kind of day. Stress free. Chill. Just what I needed. Now, how to keep it going this week?

Summer, you were fun, but I’m ready to move on. Because my favorite season-FALL- is just around the corner. You know what that means…falling leaves and pumpkin spice lattes. Candy corn and crisp weather. Football games and s’mores. Picking apples and going on hayrides. Halloween. LOVE. IT.ALL.

What do you love about fall?

Wordless Wednesday

Can You Help Me Out? Disney Dream Questions!!!

Photo by Disney

Disney Dreamin’ 2011 is a reality, people! In two short months, we head south to embark on our first ever cruise on the Dream. Yes, we have a countdown calendar going but I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to give too much specifics online (paranoid, I guess). So I’m moving into overdrive on the details. Excursions? Check. Brand spanking new 9th edition Passporter DCL book? Check. But I still have questions, and I need the advice of my “oh so knowledgeable” friends who are cruising experts. So PLEASE post comments to any and all of my queries. I would SO appreciate it!!!!

1. Seriously, what time should I register for check-in? Any advantages beyond the obvious to “getting in early” besides being able to gawk at everything and take tons of photos of the ship uninterrupted? (Yes, I am dorky like that!)

2. To spa or not to spa? Sounds crazy to question it but the price is really blowing me away because all I can think is how many treatments I can get back home for the same money! I know, it’s the Dream, live a little, but deep down, I’m a frugal gal, and it’s hard to get past that budget-conscious self.

3. Ok, we’re doing a 3 day cruise so do we stay onboard at Nassau, go ashore part of the day, or dive in and do stuff all day in Nassau? I’ve heard mixed reviews of this port of call, and am leaning towards doing the pool and Aquaduck while the masses head for the shore. Thoughts?

4. What souvenirs do you like to pick up? Or what have you gotten home and thought-shoot, I wish I had gotten that! I know Disney Store online is now carrying some DCL items, but would love a heads up on what are your hot-ticket items!

5. Castaway Cay-stingray encounter: yes or no? (Kiddos are 10 and 6.) And if not, what DO you recommend?

6. Have any of you done second seating for dinner? If so, how did the whole “pick the kids up at 9PM so grownups can linger over dinner” thing work out for you?

Thanks, everyone!

My Summer Playlist

My intentions with the blog have been good…it’s just summer has provided WAY too many distractions. Let’s just say that in a little over 1 week, the school schedule will be kicking my tush! I LOVE the sleeping in and relish the mornings when the kids pile into bed and snuggle. Because I know all too well that these days are fleeting.

Another way to hold on to the last remnants of summer is music. I love iTunes, especially the celebrity playlists because 1) they pick some really random music; 2) you occasionally find a new song or artist you like; and 3) most the time they pick some totally laughable stuff! So I’m willing to put my  list of summertime tunes out there…IF you promise to list a few of your own in as comments!

  • Three Little Birds by Bob Marley (because it’s a great song and it reminds me of Jamaica. Enough said!)
  • Turning Tables-Adele. Girl can sing her face off!
  • Carolina by Matt Wertz-reminds me of my alma mater (the Gamecocks).
  • Ships in the Night-Mat Kearney. I already liked his stuff and this is his newest single.
  • Until You by Dave Barnes. Love his voice.
  • Light Up the Sky by the Afters. Because our God can and does. Every day.
  • Somewhere Only We Know by Keane. Liked it before Disney used it for the Winnie the Pooh trailer. Now I like it even more:)
  • You and Me-Dave Matthews Band.
  • Any songs by Kaskade for dancing!

So what’s on your playlist right now???

“My Yard Goes Disney” Inspires Disney Dream (literally)!

Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

OK, so if you haven’t heard about HGTV’s My Yard Goes Disney, then you should check it out! (Mondays at 8PM) Because you never know what might result from watching an innocent little show…
So here’s the backstory: my kids and I are sitting in the den, cozily curled up in front of the TV to watch this new HGTV show which pairs two of my favorite things: home improvement and Disney! My kids like the show because 1) hello, it’s Disney and 2) they love to see the kids reactions to the amazing yard transformation! My son always prefers the youngest kid-go figure! Well, on this particular show (titled Disney Shaped Pool if you’re interested), the Farrell family had recently cruised on the Disney Dream and wished to have a Dream-inspired backyard. And the Imagineers obliged them and simply went wild! They designed a Mickey shaped pool complete with lighthouse slide! Who has a Mickey pool in their backyard? That is sick (in the cool sense)! But the episode also showed footage of the Farrells on the Disney Dream, along with the kids splashing down the Aquaduck, the ship’s 765 foot waterslide!

Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

And that’s when it happened…my kids vaulted off the sofa, hurtling toward the screen and screaming, “We want to do that! Can we go there? Please, Mommy?” If witnesses had been present, they would think my kids lived a caged existence by the way they reacted. It was as if they had never been ANYWHERE before (akin to when you send them in public and they eat like you never feed them). Hanging on every word of the show, the kids had been transported to the Disney Dream, and they knew one thing: they want to go there for real! Well, unbeknownst to them, my husband and I had been talking about a tropical getaway, but hadn’t reached the planning stage yet. And now I had my marching orders: the kids vote clearly was for a Disney cruise!

Of course, the concept of a Disney cruise really floated my boat (bad pun, I know) but I wasn’t so sure about Hubby. We’ve never cruised before, and someone in our family who shall remain nameless is prone to motion sickness (ahem, I am the designated roller coaster rider just to clarify). He was on the fence and needed some selling on the idea. But when you combine two cherubic faces intent on sailing with Mickey, a fanatical Disney mom, and the Disney Dream itself, you will soon find yourself with a confirmation number and a squealing family! So I owe it all to a little show called My Yard Goes Disney for the inspiration that catapulted us in the direction of the Disney Dream!


Walking around Target, I was blindsided. “Mom, can I buy a bra?” An innocent enough request. After all, she is ten, though she hardly NEEDS to wear one. And yet I am dumbfounded and rendered speechless (no small feat, I assure you). I SHOULD have seen this coming. But it’s like I’m living in Denial-land. And of course she decides to go for the one-two punch a few days later, asking to have her ears pierced. Yes, I know as parents we can say NO. And I often do. But with Taylor, I know these requests are more about confidence and self-assurance, and she is saying, “I’m ready, Mom.” Ready to bridge the gap between little girl and young woman. Moving on from kid to tween.

So I am now the mom of a bra-wearing, ear pierced ten year old (but keep it on the down-low because she would FLIP if she knew I had shared this). I just have to sigh and stifle the tears a bit. Because it’s not about me. She is testing those wings. And this is all part of the process where I learn to let my babies go. Thankfully, it’s a long progression and I have many years left. But here in Denial-land, the warning bells are going off.

Over a month ago, I discovered a bird’s nest in our garage. The mama bird had built it in my party decorations box stored on a top shelf. From that moment, we had to leave our garage door open-all the time. Even while we were gone to the beach for vacation (thankfully we have awesome neighbors). And we watched for weeks. And waited. Until finally, we heard little chirps. Saw the 3 babies. Even after I was convinced that they babies were dead (in my defense, there was no chirping and I hadn’t seen mama bird), they made it. Our garage-bound baby birds lived. And we witnessed their takeoff. Actually, we had to help them escape our messy garage, to the backyard where mama bird waited to begin flying lessons. (Because they might have gotten lost in the maze of all our crap and never gotten out.) Out of habit, we left the garage open that night-just in case-but they didn’t return to the nest. They were out in the world. And who knows how long with their mama until they flew off for good. I marvel at that when I think about my baby birds. Nope, I’m not ready. But I better get there. Like it or not, flying lessons have already begun.

Happy 4th, Y’all!

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