Sunday, August 15, 2010


"Too many people grow up. That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don't remember what it's like to be 12 years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well I won't do that.
Walt Disney 

Today I turned 29, and as I reflect on this past year I realize just how much my life changed in 12 months.  Never has one year made such a difference, such an impact, in my life.  Since last August 15th I have embarked on the greatest, most challenging, and most rewarding endeavor possible: motherhood.  Not only that, I tackled the beast of all musicals, no pun intended, in directing and designing Disney's Beauty & the Beast while very pregnant, then on maternity leave, and finally coming back to finish the show with a newborn.  I have begun serious work on a couple of my passions: my travel agency and cake baking/decorating.  And, I have started really, really working on our budget and climbing out of a huge debt hole.  (Note to my graduates, do not use your credit cards just because you have them!  Really, I promise it will be better for you in the long run if you figure out how to live without needing them and weighing your wants and needs).  This coming year is shaping up to also be quite busy and full of wonder, but right now I want to just think back a bit.

I never knew if I wanted to have kids.  Pretty much up until the time we found out we were expecting Connor I still wasn't sure.  I have never seen myself as the motherly type.  Never enjoyed babysitting, except for the Drubes who had the greatest kids ever, never wanted to hold babies when a friend or family member had brought theirs to an event, never felt a particular connection to the kids who came into Disney Store with their parents, and just didn't really feel any sort of pull in that direction.  As a result, I think it took me longer than normal to feel a bond with Connor.  Not because I didn't desperately want to feel one, more because I didn't know what it should feel like.  In the first couple of months I never felt like I did anything right.  Other friends with newborns couldn't stand to be away from their baby, and I would willingly and easily hand him off to my parents for sleepovers.  I was willling to let anyone hold him if he was fussy, and I let Chris get up with him at night and feed him in the morning.  I just felt lost, and really, really stupid.  I'm not going to lie, the first 3-4 months with Connor were hard.  I just had no idea what to do and felt like everyone was telling me that what I was doing was wrong.  Can I be honest?  The most annoying thing in the world to me is when people compare me to themselves.  I just want to scream, "I'm not you, it isn't the same for me, no matter what you think!"  I knew/know that everyone wanted to offer their advice, but when you already feel like you're failing, it just makes it seem like they think you are too...  Things are better now for the most part.  I still question myself all the time, and often feel like I'm barely treading water in the motherhood department, but I feel that bond to Connor, and that helps a lot.  Being home with him so much over the summer solidified those feelings, and I do not look forward to leaving him every morning for this next school year.  And, I can't fathom that he will turn one in six weeks...  I thought I would post some pictures of Connor over the last year.

Just hours old.  So precious, sweet and perfect.

Our first family picture.

One week old.

First Halloween.

First Thanksgiving.

First Christmas.

Happiest baby in the world.

Getting so big!

Ready for our first Rangers game!

Walking at the zoo with Grams and Mommy.

Alright, I really didn't intend for this to all be about turned into that though!  So, since I have to go back to work tomorrow (boo!!!!)  I will just finish by saying that I know this year will be full of its own challenges and rewards, and that I see a bright future for all of us.  Here is to a fantastic 29!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Travel Thursday - Up Today, Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter

I have this goal...I want to stay at every resort on Walt Disney World property, and I would like to do it in a relatively quick fashion. Generally speaking, we would stay at a different resort each year, but a couple of years ago I found a resort that I love, and since then I have a hard time staying anywhere else.

I don't quite know what it is about Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter that I am so drawn too. Perhaps it is the size of the resort, it is much smaller than all of the other Disney Resorts with just over 1000 guest rooms (half the size of Disney's other Moderate Category Resorts). This makes it feel quite intimate, and removed from the hustle and bustle of the theme park world. Perhaps it is the property itself, with its cream, and green coloring, wrought iron details, and gorgeous grounds. Maybe its the proximity to Disney's Downtown area; you can take a relaxing boat ride down the Sassagoula River straight to the Marketplace. The overall atmosphere is wonderful too; the resort has a sort of old world romance about it with plenty of tucked away places and grounds to stroll through. I don't know exactly what it is, but there is just something charming about this resort.

I am about to stay at Port Orleans - French Quarter for the third time. The first time was with a girlfriend for a friends wedding, then last year over the 4th of July with just me and my husband on our "babymoon", and our upcoming trip will include our son. No trip for the same reason, no trip with the same traveling party, but I know this resort is perfect for each traveling reason. Here is a short rundown of why I think Disney's Port Orleans - French Quarter is the perfect resort.

1) Size. I know I touched on this above, but it bears mentioning again. Of all the resorts we have visited, the size of this one is a huge bonus. You are never too far from the lobby, bus station, food court, pool, arcade, boat dock, etc. The entire resort is within comfortable walking distance, and believe me, being there at 7 months pregnant and in the dead of summer I would know! Other resorts on Disney Property are insanely huge, and while I enjoy them as well the size can make things difficult. For example, we stayed at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort over Christmas in 2007, and while our room was supposedly near the food court building, we wound up driving our car over just to fill up our drinks. You can be on the other side of a rather large lake from the main pool, or dining areas, and while there is an internal shuttle, catching it can be next to impossible. At the end of a long day in one of the Parks, you want to be able to get to your room quickly. At Port Orleans - French Quarter you are dropped off right beside the Lobby area, the food court is in there for a quick refill, and when you exit the lobby area you are only a very quick walk to your guest room!

2) Atmosphere. Again, I know I touched on this, but bear with me. This resort feels quiet compared to other Disney Resorts. Not creepy, where are the people quiet, but because there are fewer people it just never feels insane (this does not apply if you try to go to the food court for breakfast anytime after about 7:30AM, you are on your own then!). Even the pool area, which has a very cool slide, isn't particularly loud, and the play areas for children are a little farther from the resort buildings than at other resorts. They play some soft jazz music throughout the resort property, have a live jazz musician in the bar area some evenings (he is fantastic, by the way) and the resort often smells lightly of the magnolia trees planted throughout the property. This resort feels laid back and homey. You feel like you have some space to spread out and relax. The atmosphere is what I am looking for in a hotel stay.

3. Theming. Styled after the historic French Quarter in New Orleans, LA, the resort buildings are surrounded by gorgeous wrought iron gates and balconies, there are numerous small fountains, cobblestone streets, "gas" lampposts, and each building features its own color scheme. With the above mentioned jazz music, the gorgeous landscaping, and the street signs featuring clever names (Jazz Alley and Rue D' Baga) you can't go wrong. The rooms interiors are simple yet elegant, with either two double beds or a single king, dual sinks and a bathroom complete with a tub/shower combo. The colors inside the rooms are soft yellows, deep greens, and hints of purple - your basic muted take on the Mardi Gras colors. The pool area is particularly neat, and features a giant sea serpent complete with King Neptune, and an alligator jazz band. This resort still feels like Disney without being overly so. You will find hints of Disney everywhere, but it doesn't scream at you like the Value properties do. It is just a very pretty, well conceived resort.

Enjoy the pictures!

Beautiful lobby with tons of natural light!

Room with 2 Double Beds

King Room

If you wish to see more pictures, please visit the Disney's Port Orleans - French Quarter photo page at
Not only does allears have great pictures, but they have a video walk-through of the resort so you can see it in  all its natural beauty!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Friends and Mentors

"To captivate our varied and worldwide audience of all ages, the nature and treatment of the fairy tale, the legend, the myth have to be elementary, simple. Good and evil, the antagonists of all great drama in some guise, must be believably personalized. The moral ideals common to all humanity must be upheld. The victories must not be too easy. Strife to test valor is still and will always be the basic ingredient of the animated tale, as of all screen entertainments." —Walt Disney

"Of all the things I've done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them toward a certain goal." —Walt Disney

Inspiration comes in many forms, and often those you hope to inspire can turn out to also inspire you. I know I'm supposed to talk about food today, but instead I'm going to embark down a path of inspiration and reflection, as today closed a chapter in my life. It is a chapter in a book that I know I will pick up from time to time to revisit, but it will never be the same as it was.

Today I had the distinct pleasure of meeting several of my recently graduated senior for coffee before they all go their separate ways for college, or whatever path their future is directing them towards. it is entirely possible that I have spent more time with this group of students over the past three years than their families have. These were the kids I depended on, the go-getters, the leaders, the creative, the enthusiastic; the kids who gave up their Saturdays to help finish a show build without much complaining, who came in before school to fit in extra rehearsal time. We spent so much time drawing on each others talents in our little corner of the world, that it was all to easy to get caught up in the group dynamic and lose sight of the individuals. Today, as I listened to them talk openly about their futures with excitement and anticipation, the individuals emerged. They are all such different people from one another, but so much a part of each other that it is strange to think that they will go their separate ways. I remember to well the end of high school, knowing that some of my friends would be with me forever, while most would go their own way and we would lose contact. Even in the presence of Facebook, many of those on my friends list are simply people I used to know, who are sometimes perhaps curious about me, and who I, in turn, sometimes wonder about. I think these kids know this too. You could see in their faces that they knew this was probably the end of something. They are about to go make new friends, form new social groups, and have new social homes. High School officially ended for many of them today, whether they realize it now, or will realize it sometime in the future.

But, I noticed something as we sat in a very crowded Starbucks taking up almost every table and chair they had. These kids inspire me. When I began teaching high school these kids were sophomores, and I have been able to watch them grow into wonderful young adults. I have been witness to their personal triumphs and failures, their relationships and break-ups, fights with friends, anger at parents, and more. I have seen their faces when they didn't get just the right part in the show, seen their faces when they got exactly the part they wanted, and seen their faces when they were shocked that they got a part they were certain was going to someone else. In essence, I have seen them through the thick of it, and I have seen them triumph. They are a breathe of fresh air, ready for anything, and prepared for whatever outcome they receive. I had set out to be an inspiration to them, to hopefully teach them something that they could use in their lives. I did not expect for them to also teach me quite so much. And I love them all for doing so. They taught me not to fear the future, but to embrace it. They taught me to love unconditionally. They taught me to laugh just because. They taught me to have faith in others, and faith in myself. And, they taught me that nothing is impossible or out of reach.

I have high hopes for our nation's future. These kids will go on to do wonderful things in the future. In this one small group I see future executives, vocalists, actors, and teachers. And I'm certain that one or two of them will surprise me completely, in fact, I'm counting on it. I see myself at 18 reflected back at me 10 years later. These kids will build our nations future, and I am proud to know them.

So, in closing, this post is dedicated to my shining stars: Lexi, Haley, Kelsey, Mary, Carson, Sean, Joel, Nathan, Zack, Jeremy, Logan, Cory and the rest of you that couldn't make it today. Go out and do good.

"Somehow I can't believe there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C's. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably." ~ Walt Disney

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Bittersweet End

I know, I know, I was supposed to write this blog yesterday. In my defense, I spent very little time at home yesterday, and therefore did not have much computer access. I suppose I could have blogged from my iPhone, but that sounds miserable; I can barely send a text on my iPhone without being annoyed at its spelling and grammer changes, and the amount of time it takes me just to type it out! So, I am pretending that it is still Sunday for the purposes of this blog.

My birthday is next week, so I thought it would be fitting to reflect on what my birthday has always symbolized in my life.

Growing up my birthday was always a bittersweet reminder that the carefree days of summer were winding down, and school was about to return to its normal position in my life. Back home in Minnesota, August was one of my favorite months for many reasons: my birthday typically marked opening weekend of The Minnesota Renaissance Festival, was close to the start of the Minnesota State Fair, and was when Dance Team and Marching Band started back up. These were all things that I loved and looked forward to through the entire year. Once I hit high school I almost always chose to spend my birthday at the Renaissance Festival, just listening to the sounds, smelling the air, taking in all the fabulous crafts and apparel. We typically dressed up for such occassions, leaving me with a closet full of peasant clothes that are simply too hot to wear to festivals here in Texas, but that have come in handy several times in my job as a theatre teacher. I remember loving Fest whether it was hot and muggy, or cold and rainy, and thinking that it was the perfect end to my summer vacations. The State Fair was another such event. The Minnesota State Fair is different than its counterpart here in Texas. Concerts are the center of Fair festivities, with headline acts such as Garth Brooks, Reba McIntire, and Brooks & Dunn playing nightly shows. When we were younger we would spend at least one day at the fair as a family, and I distinctly remember sitting at the kitchen table when the newspaper would release the fair concert lineup with my dad and deciding which concert we would try to get tickets to for this year. When I was in high school we would go as a family, and I would usually go again with a group of friends to see a second concert as our summer wound down. I still remember the taste of Sweet Martha's Cookies, and wish I had some now.

Now the final days of August are different. Rather than beginning my end of summer preparations on my birthday, my summer ends the Monday following my birthday. I spend the summer planning to plan my school year, and realize the week before I start back that I haven't done a dang thing to get ready, and then fly into a small panic, which I quickly get over. But this year things are different. I have been so blessed to have Connor to spend my summer with me, and feel a slight tugging at my heart when I think of not having the days to spend with him like this for another school term. Now, I know that I in no way have it in me to be a stay-at-home mom, and have missed the busy schedule of the school year, but I will also go back to work this year missing the thing most dear to me. Connor has gone to daycare twice a week all summer, just to stay acclimated and used to being dropped off, and to get to play with his friends there, but we have been spending the rest of the week together. It has been a roller coaster of emotions; some good and some bad, but it has been wonderful regardless. It often left me exhausted and wondering how Lesa, his fantastic daycare provider, manages to keep up with all the children in her care when I can barely function with Connor. But, I wouldn't trade the moments for anything. Connor has changed so much over the summer, he has gone from scooting across the floor to crawling and to pulling up easily. The little buggar is fast! He now walks comfortably and rather easily in his walker, along the sides of the couch and coffeetable, and whenever anyone holds his hands. He will be walking for real before we know it. It makes me a bit sad to think that I won't be there all the time to witness his little landmarks on his journey through "babyhood". He is such an incredible blessing in my life, and I will miss our mornings just sleeping in, and his little catnaps in my arms after some playtime. But, it will make days off and holidays all the more enjoyable and precious!

It is interesting to look back and see how things have changed. Just further proof that we all grow up!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thursday is Travel Day!

So, since it is Thursday and I just said in my goals that I will be dedicating Thursday to travel, here is my first travel dedicated post.

As many of you know, I have an insane love for all things Disney, especially Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line. I am currently planning our son's first trip to Disney over Thanksgiving Week and have been thinking quite a bit about how different this trip will be for us. The pacing will be different, we won't be able to schedule like normal, we will have to think about things like naps, bedtime, what restaurants are appropriate, etc.

Lucking, my specialization in Disney travel has been a huge help! At first I was totally out of my element, but I started to think about this trip from a different perspective, "what do I want to get out of this trip", and it sort of fell into place. What is important to me is that we get to see the experience from Connor's perspective. He will have just turned 1 a month prior, and will still be so completely in awe of everything. Now, keep in mind, this is a kid who loves lights, fireworks, water, animals, etc. The lightshows, jumping fountains, fireworks and special effects will be mesmerizing to him, and luckily he doesn't seem to mind loud noises! We also plan on getting his first haircut at The Harmony Barbershop on Main Street; U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom!

For those of you who don't know, Disney caters to babies more than you might think. There are infant care stations at all the parks, and they offer nursing rooms, clean changing areas, play rooms stocked with toys, an area with highchairs where you can feed babies and toddlers, etc. These locations are free of charge to use, and sell things like formula, and diapers if you run out. There are also playgrounds scattered throughout Disney property with soft floors and smaller "attractions" where babies and young toddlers can play while adults take a bit of a rest from the hustle of the theme park crowd. Often these playgrounds are located near larger attractions and offer you the option of playing at these playgrounds while others in your party ride the rides. Two such locations are at Magic Kingdom at the exit to Splash Mountain, and at EPCOT Center at the exit of Mission: Space. Perfect for us since Chris enjoys both of those attractions, while I do not!

Another fantastic amenity offered at Disney Parks is the "Rider Swap" option. This option is great because it allows one rider to ride while the other waits with their child, then they swap people without having to wait in the line a second time. Normally this wouldn't matter to much to me, as I'm not much of a ride person, but Chris is, and he will enjoy this feature! Although my parents are going with us this trip and Chris is glad to have my dad there to enjoy some of the more thrilling attractions with him instead of having to ride alone for once!

Disney actually has an entire experience worth of advice for parents with babies and smaller children that they call "magical beginnings", you can see the height requirements for their rides, find out which rides baby can sit on your lap for, find the best dining options for small children, print personalized park maps, etc. It is great!

In addition to researching and blogging on my own, I also follow several Disney related blogs, and have one in particular that allows me to combine my love of Disney travel with my love of food. My blog today is a shout-out to this excellent blog, The Disney Food Blog. This site has everything for the Disney Foodie, and if you don't know it, Disney has some fantastic food! The pictures and reviews are excellent, the details they share are well-placed and you can just feel the love they have for the product when you read their blog. Check it out at!

Blog Goals

So, I'm thinking that my blog needs some goals. Goals tend to help me keep my head in the game, and give me a purpose, so here goes.

First, my first goal is to keep the blog going! I want to post a minimum of 3 days a week, with extras thrown in when I feel like it.

This leads me to Goal #2, blogging with purpose. There are so many things in my life that I am passionate about, and this blog is here to help me express my feelings. So, I am going to do this Mickey Mouse Club style, with different blog themes for specific days.

So, Goal #3 is to set up those days. Here is what I am thinking. One day will be dedicated to travel, one day will be dedicated to food, and one day will be dedicated to my family. These are still preliminary ideas...and I'm looking at other blogs to gain more, but I want to write about these things, so I'm thinking that they are a good start. I'm going to try to blog on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays going forward. Sunday will be family, Tuesday will be food and Thursday will be travel.

My 4th and final goal for now is get this blog to the point where I can develope it into more of a website than a blog. I want to have enough content and following that I can create a site where my blog topics have their own pages, that will be more user friendly and easier to follow, and will allow me to advertise and market more strategically.

I would ask for thoughts, but my blog has no followers, so it wouldn't do any good! Maybe one of my goals should be to gain some followers....

Monday, August 2, 2010

Did You Know That I Am A Travel Agent?

Yep, I sure am!  I specialize in Disney Vacations, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and All Inclusive Resorts.  Disney is by far my favorite, and there are some great deals to be had out there!

Please check out the following links for more information.

Walt Disney World Resort


I can't for the life of me get the background of my facebook button not to be transparent, so I apologize for that!