30 Days of Thanks-Day 6

I am thankful for my friends. There are those that have know me FOREVER…and know how to keep things in the vault so to speak. (Suzanne, that’s you, ya know!) Dear friends from USC whose friendships I treasure to this day. Former roommates, classmates, and sorority sisters (ΑΔΠ). Church friends (including the awesome staff), Oakbrook friends, law school “survivors.” Seriously, you would call it that too after 3 years followed by a 3 day Bar exam!. Fellow orchestra geeks (like band geeks only more snooty). The Muskies– aka my adoptive brother and sister–love you guys. Recent friends I have made via Facebook and Twitter. And of course my Disney buddies (especially the Pink Ladies, who supported each other through 2 years of Moms Panel applications-and aren’t giving up on the dream.) My life is richer from knowing each of you.

One of my favorite shows was The West Wing. I didn’t always agree with its politics, but I loved the storytelling. Leo and Josh both work for the Bartlett White House, so they are colleagues but also friends. Josh is struggling with post traumatic stress from a shooting attempt. So Leo tells him this story that sums up friendship:

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”

Thanks for being my “jump in the hole” friends.



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!


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 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!

Disney Bliss

Just returned this Tuesday from Disney World and all I can say is…WOW! Highlights (in no particular order):
-Cinderella Castle with the gorgeous icicle lights (it was dripping in diamonds)
-The Very Merry Christmas Party parade
-Osborne lights (A-MA-ZING)
-Candlelight Processional…goosebumps from the music (and the cold) and Steven Curtis Chapman did the best job as celebrity narrator!
-Riding Splash Mountain in 40 degree temps three times in a row and managing not to get soaked (I think the kids will remember this one more so than anything else)
-Watching the kids fight Darth Vader in Jedi Training Academy
-Wishes (and that song makes me cry every time, darn it!)
-Meeting up with the Moms Panel crew at Magic Kingdom
-Spending family time with ZERO interruptions/distractions!
So now I have literally thousands of photos to go through…but I will post some soon, I promise!

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