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Old 01-07-2009, 10:56 AM   #16
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Daring Moves That Distress

DARING MOVES THAT DISTRESS

Finally, we arrive at our original place of boarding and make our way back home. This time, DD3 will not allow me to assist her on the moving stairs at all. She has become a professional in escalatory travel at this point. So, entirely on her own, she steps confidently on the descending staircase. There is a little confusion as to her hand placement since the wall next to her does not move along with her tiny platform. But she eventually finds the progressing handrail above her head, and she does her best to reach it, resting her fingertips on it for more stability.

The bottom of the staircase quickly approaches. I, nervously, rattle off instructions to DD3 for a safe exit. She gives me an annoyed glance and tries to appear as if we are not associated. Then, with all the fortitude of an Olympian, she crouches down on her small platform and prepares for the jump of a lifetime.

I become more jittery. What if she doesn’t make it? What if this ends as a fatal escalator encounter? I decide that I must intervene. But before I am able to grab my child and save her from certain death, the nearing level arrives and DD3 leaps with both feet and sticks a victorious landing on the motionless ground. The euphoric feeling that always accompanies such great feats washes over all who witness this precious moment in time. But the euphoria is short lived as I hand DD3 over to DH so that he can prohibit future risky behaviors.

I take on the responsibility of DD8 now. DD8 never attempts any action that may pose a threat to her, so I figure my NDM nerves will bide in a more relaxed state with this child. As we walk hand-in-hand, she dreamily says, “Disney’s Contemporary Resort is my favorite resort. I hope that one day we will stay here.” I find I am impressed with her mature tastes that favor sophistication over the alarmingly huge, child-friendly monuments of the Disney Value Resorts.

We both longingly look towards the construction project that is being erected next to the hotel’s main building that we just exited. It is rumored that this tower is destined to be an addition to Disney’s Contemporary Resort; however, it is supposed that it will emerge as condos for Disney Vacation Club Members. Should it prove to be true, some time in the future I will fulfill this dream of my elegant vacationer. DD8 and I utter our shared hope for such an outcome as we venture out towards the edge of the marina.

The blue-flagged ship, once again carries us over the calm, murky waters. DD8 expresses a desire to have more “girl time” this evening. She states that she really enjoyed our exclusive moment while watching “High School Musical” and is a bit regretful that we don’t have exclusive moments more frequently. I agree that those occasions are lovely and need to be scheduled more often. So I whisper that I will discuss the possibility of “girl time” with DH, and we both cross our fingers for a positive outcome.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:03 AM   #17
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The Irony Of A Waterslide

THE IRONY OF A WATERSLIDE

Approaching the Wilderness Lodge brings a sense of closure to our afternoon excursion, but DH, DD8 and DS6 are not ready to resign for the day. They determine that a swim in the pool is an ideal mid-day activity. But this doesn’t seem to be a wise choice for DD3. She exerted an immense amount of energy with her gold-winning leap off of the escalator, and I can see that a nap is needed to restore her resources. So after some lunch in our villa, DH, DD8 and DS6 tramp off to the water hole while DD3 and I ready ourselves for a siesta.

I confess that a part of me is nervous about sending my older kiddos off to the pool with just DH. They are not strong swimmers, and DH is not always attentive like NDMs tend to be. I imagine that Marlin must have felt much like this when he let Nemo and his “lucky fin” go to the Drop Off with his well-meaning but distracted teacher, Mr. Ray. However, this is a good opportunity for me to practice “taking it slow,” so I push my concerns aside and hope for a better outcome than the disaster that befell Marlin. I put DD3 in her resting place, and I snuggle up in mine. As my breathing slows and I recede into slumber, I note that relaxing while on vacation does have benefits.

When DD3 and I awake, we find that there is still time for us to join the others at the pool. We put on our bathing best and scurry out into the sunshine. DH, DD8 and DS6 are delighted we came, and DH tells me of my elder youngins’ reaction to the slide. DS6 is enthralled by the rush of accelerating down the slope and into the pool. But DD8 is slightly mortified by the inevitable thrust of her head under the water when she reaches the slide’s end.

DD3 looks at the playful waterfall in question and decides that it is not beyond her capabilities. If one can manage the perils of moving stairs, surely one can handle the docile pushing of a water current. So DH and DD3 accompany one another to the water slide line.

DH comes down first and waits at the bottom of the slide, ready to catch our little fish that is to follow. DD3 does, indeed, descend with the current. But the current is not gently coaxing her along. It is vehemently shoving her down its tract. I watch in horror as my baby spins recklessly, bumping her head and bottom as she bounces between the sides of the slide. DH grabs her as she is dumped into the water. This has not gone well. My little trooper will need to be comforted by the safety of her mommy’s embrace as soon as she regains her bearings. But—to my surprise--a smiling and laughing child emerges from the scene. She can’t wait to do this again.

DD8 is slightly shamed by the courageous acts of her younger sister, but she will not be bullied into such dangerous endeavors. I offer the plausible option of wearing a life jacket, and she agrees that this would resolve her slide-phobic mentality.

Since Disney Vacation Club Members can avail themselves of life jacket privileges at no extra cost, we take advantage of this perk. DD8 is fitted for her new attire, and I sign off on its use. We then return to the pool with a new sense of bravado.

DH greets me at the pool steps with hearty laughter as he relays DD3’s insatiable desire to go down the slide. DD3 proudly holds her head high, and she and DS6 play near us while we talk. I show DH the new solution that DD8 and I found for her dilemma. He admires her sporting fashion and encourages her to try the slippery slope once again. We look to DD3 for confirmation that the slide is nothing to fear, but she has disappeared. My heart is seized with immediate terror as my eyes dart to different locations in hopes of seeing her. I chance to spot her little bottom running toward the water slide. Her sense of invincibility has overcome her sense of reality. She is going to throw herself upon the avalanche of H2O without parental supervision. There is no time to stop her, so I command DH to go back to the bottom of the slide and catch every being that descends until we have recovered our ego-inflated baby. After a full minute of agony, DD3 comes sliding down into the eager arms of DH. She is safely delivered to her NDM who looks around for a paper bag to breathe in.

Witnessing the panicked reaction of her parents in reference to the water slide, DD8 reconsiders the wisdom of coming down its slippery tract. We try to reassure her that she will fare well and has no reason to fear. She finally relents and goes with DH who promises to catch her just as he caught DD3. Meanwhile, DD3 receives an animated lecture about the fatal dangers of wandering off without a parent, especially when it is towards a continuous flow of aggressive fluid.

DD8 makes a successful journey down the wilderness slide and receives many rounds of applause from her adoring family. DD3 and DS6 are once again granted permission to accompany DH in the water slide line, but this is the final round of sliding for all.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:07 AM   #18
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Fashion Is A "bear" Necessity

FASHION IS A “BEAR” NECESSITY

We head back to our villa to clean up and change. The Cub’s Den, a kid’s care center, is open from 2 – 4 pm today for free arts and crafts. My little cub’s can hardly wait to see this den and delve into the planned activities, so we ready ourselves and head in the direction of the fanciful playroom.

We enter a pleasant room. Wooded murals are painted on the walls. The creative artwork of various cubs is proudly displayed. There is a significant inventory of Disney books, Disney movies, Disney games, Disney action figures and toys. We see on a miniature table, surrounded by miniature chairs, the supplies for today’s craft. The supervising Mama Bear of the kid-friendly den explains to us that we can design our own sunglasses today. All my critters get a twinkle in their eye at the suggestion. They have never designed their own sunglasses before.

DD8, who has a natural artistic inclination, immediately gets down to business. She seems to have already decided on her personal plan. So without hesitation, she avails herself of the various colors in the middle of the table and begins detailing the rims of her given glasses.

DD3 sweetly says, “Mommy, you do it.” She hands me her sunglasses so that I can concoct some flamboyant frames for her. I ask her if she wants anything in particular on her glasses. She shrugs and says, “No. Just put whatever you want.” Easy to please, I write her name in a clever font and accessorize it with stars.

DS6 stares at his blank sunglasses for a time, deep in thought. He seems to have a direction that he wants to take with this craft, but he hesitates in starting the process. This is not unusual for DS6. He is a perfectionist at heart, and his fear of not reaching his own standard often stops him in his tracks. Finally he hands me his glasses and says, “Mommy, I want a dog on my glasses. Will you please make one?” “But DS6,” I implore, “don’t you want to make the dog?” “No,” he resolves, “I do not know how to draw a dog very well. You need to do it.” I inform him that I don’t think I can draw a dog very well either . . . at least not in such a small area. But he insists that I have this ability and should apply myself.

I get to work on the dog, but—as suspected—it does not meet with DS6’s expectations. He suggests that maybe DH can do a better job and fix the disastrous design I have created. I warn that DH’s artistic abilities are inferior to mine, so I doubt that he can improve on my humble beginning. But DS6 decides that DH should be given a chance. DH does, indeed, manage to disturb the dog image even further.

Seeing that he is now doomed to don the deformed dog shades, DS6 bursts into tears. He cannot bear the thought of such humiliation. I agree that this appalling accessory will not do, so I offer to repair the situation if DS6 is agreeable to a more simplistic design. He tearfully surrenders his dog-fashion dream to my less enticing idea of a masculine color scheme that features his name.

Once the new creation is complete, DS6 does find his shades to be acceptable. No more tears are shed, and he even tries them on to see how the man-empowering design makes him feel.

We play with the toys in the den for a while, but time soon runs out. The den is closing so that it can prepare for the arrival of the privileged children with pending babysitting reservations. We clean up our mess, make way for these important visitors and leave the great fun of the den behind.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:16 AM   #19
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THE GRAND AMENITIES OF THE GRAND FLORIDIAN

Our growling, bear bellies persuade us to go home. It is time to think about our next meal. While preparing dinner, I broach the subject of “girl time” with DH. DH is agreeable to this idea since it means that he will be able to remain in the villa and watch ESPN without the naggings of a NDM who has no appreciation for sports. He adds that he will borrow a DVD from the mercantile, a delightful perk for Disney Vacation Club Members, and we can have a “family movie night” upon my return with DD8. This sounds perfect, and I turn to wink at DD8 so that she knows our request has been approved.

DD8 and I make our plans and relish the idea of “getting away.” We decide that a tour of the monorail resorts is the best option for the evening. She and I, both, thoroughly enjoy inspirational atmospheres, but such surroundings are sometimes lost on the remainder of the family. So we agree that this is our chance to indulge in the dreamy environments of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa without the bothersome presence of less-romantic relatives.

After a healthy dinner, DD8 and I trek back to the marina to catch another ride to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. DD8 meekly petitions the driver about the possibility of driving the boat. This rigid skipper expounds on Disney regulations that prohibit non-licensed persons from sailing his fine ship. Drats! DD8 was hoping to commandeer this vessel so that her brother would no longer have bragging rights concerning this privilege. But she is rejected and given the consolation gift of a Mickey Mouse sticker.

We take our places in the boat, arrive at the desired location and board the monorail with smug familiarity. Our first stop is Disney’s Polynesian Resort. It is exquisite with its water gardens and exotic flowers. We wander outside and discover erupting volcanoes and a placid pool. The views of Seven Seas Lagoon are particularly calming, and DD8 and I revel in the aura of this place. We lament that we don’t have more time but know that we should move on.

Next, we journey to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. There is so much to see, and yet the pace of this elegant place is one of leisure. So we stroll side by side as we window-shop and pretend to be of higher breeding. Riding in the glass elevator gives us some amusement as does watching the toddlers in princess attire, spinning in the lobby. A formally dressed pianist provides concertos and minuets for the princess’ dancing pleasure, and we can’t help but smile while taking in the whole ensemble.

The sight of twinkling lights outside catches our eyes. Darkness has now fallen over the grandeur of this picturesque habitat, and white lights accent the structures and flora beyond the lobby’s enclosure. We venture outside so that we can take part in the delicate atmosphere of the Victorian walkways.

Upon finding a romantic water fountain, DD8 confesses that she has an urgent need to use the restroom. We quickly change our focus from the fantastic views to the hunt for a toilet.

We find a bathroom of elaborate propriety back in the lobby and are not above marveling over the refined faucets and commodes. But apparently, these are not the only amenities that capture DD8’s attention. For as we leave the facility and rejoin the aristocratic population of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, my daughter brashly inquires, “Mommy, what are tampons for?” “Why do you ask,” I respond in a hushed tone, noting the raised eyebrows of others who pass us in this awkward moment. DD8 does not follow my subdued example. She responds at an uninhibited volume, “Well, I saw a box hanging on the bathroom wall. It looked like a machine that you get candy from if you put a quarter in it, but it said ‘Tampons’. What are they? And why do we need them in the bathroom?”

I ponder how I should direct this conversation. I am a little unprepared for this topic since I hadn’t suspected its relevance for another four years. But, nevertheless, I am now confronted with this delicate matter. What should I do?

On the one hand, in the family of a NDM all momentous occasions should take place in Walt Disney World®. Certainly the explanation of puberty and its purposes qualifies as a momentous occasion. What could be more memorable than enjoying the homestead of Mickey Mouse and having an enlightened discussion about the process a girl goes through to become a woman?

On the other hand, the uptight, Victorian décor of this particular resort along with the many potential eavesdroppers doesn’t lend itself to such dialog. Maybe this topic should be reserved for a less frigid hotel. I quickly search the Disney files in my memory for a more appropriate setting . . . perhaps a Winnie the Pooh area with a birds-bees-and-honey-trees theme. But, alas, I cannot immediately recall such a place.

In the confines of my head, I concede that this conversation begs for better preparation as well as more time than we have been allotted for the evening. So I tell DD8 that her questions have complicated answers and that I find myself unable to satisfy them at this time. But I placate her with a promise to take her on a retreat to Walt Disney World® when she is 10 years old. It will be a whole trip that she and I enjoy alone. On this trip, we will have “girl time” all the time, and—after I look into the matter a little more—I will be fully prepared to answer her questions. This is acceptable to DD8, and we move out of the abrupt situation and back into the suave practice of resort hopping.

The monorail returns us to Disney’s Contemporary Resort where we board another blue-flagged vessel. We have a different skipper than the one who navigated our last trip, so DD8 tries again for the coveted, boat-driving experience. Perhaps, now that the night could hide her illegal activities, she will find a skipper that is more apt to bend the rules. But, once again, she is met with a gentle but unyielding captain who explains the fun-inhibiting restriction of the Disney seas. She is smiled at, patted on the head and given another sticker. Doh!

When we arrive back at our villa, we are welcomed with hugs and kisses. The movie is about to begin, and our entrance is timely. “Meet the Robinsons” is the pick of the evening. So the sleeper sofa is unfolded, and we all gather upon its comforting mattress to celebrate the beauty of family by watching the touching story.

As the film comes to an end, DH and I tuck our little ones into their soothing blankets and place the billowing pillows under their heads. We pray that they will get a good night’s sleep because tomorrow we take on the demanding mission of mastering the Magic Kingdom®.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:25 AM   #20
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Matters That Could End A Marriage

DAY 5
MATTERS THAT COULD END A MARRIAGE

The alarm goes off at 6:00 am. The first thing on my mind is the third tenet of The Sacred Seven: Thou shalt arrive at the theme park before the gate opens.

Getting a family of five ready for a full day at the Magic Kingdom® takes a lot of time, so an early start is completely necessary. I find that I am a little groggy. The movie last night kept us up past our bedtime, so I am already starting the day off with a less than ideal amount of sleep. But as I pull out my ULTIMATE DISNEY PACKING LIST and stuff my backpack with all the necessities for our big day, my adrenaline starts to kick in.

I try to wake DH so that he can help me get through the morning routine with the kids, but he is unwilling to get up. He mumbles that he doesn’t have anything he needs to do before we leave. I suppose I can let him sleep another 15 minutes before the NDM in me turns ugly.

I get myself dressed and primped for the day and then return to the bed where DH continues to snore. “DH, you need to get up now,” I declare in no uncertain terms. “Extra Magic Hour begins in under two hours. No one is dressed. We still have to prepare and eat breakfast. And only Heaven knows how long it will take for us to catch a bus.” DH grunts at me and begrudgingly gets out of bed. He seems unable to move faster than a sloth submerged in a tank of peanut butter, but I figure that in a few minutes his adrenaline will kick in just as mine did.

I wake the children gently. They seem a little cranky too, but their dispositions improve with every minute as the realization of going to the Magic Kingdom® sinks in. I get them dressed and tie up DD8 and DD3’s hair so that they won’t have rats’ nests for heads at the end of the day. Soon I have three kingdomlings, eager for the magic that awaits them.

DH continues to proceed with all the haste of an elderly couple taking a Sunday stroll. As we go through the motions of our breakfast and supplement routine, he seems more deliberate in his sluggish mode.

It is known that DH carries his family’s “passive-aggressive” trait, which means that his behavior pattern is to aggressively frustrate plans that he doesn’t like by passively resisting them. In this instance I conclude that he is resentful about being awakened so early. So as everyone else becomes more anxious to leave, he seems to become more purposeful about resisting our exit.

In spite of the fact that during his morning gruntings he communicated there wasn’t anything that warranted his attention and early rising, he now finds various tasks that need to be managed. His pace is maddeningly apathetic.

It is a rare occurrence for me to have the children completely ready for departure before DH is ready. DH is always the one standing around, waiting for the rest of us to get our acts together. So I am a little baffled that this morning the tables have been turned.

The children and I stand at the door of our villa, dressed, groomed, fed, packed and ready-to-go. We watch DH slowly walk to and fro throughout the rooms as if the Magic Kingdom opening weren’t for another 6 hours, and we grow more frustrated with every passing second. What is he doing? Does he not realize that when married to a NDM this is grounds for divorce?

DH finally gets his act together and is ready to leave. Sheesh! The children and I bolt out the door, leaving DH in the dust. When we are half way to the bus stop, I hear DH call out to us, “Oh! I forgot that I have to return the movie to the mercantile.” What?! He told me that he didn’t have anything that he needed to do this morning! This is the last straw! I am calling my lawyer when we return home. Actually, I don’t have a lawyer, but you can bet your sweet, mouse ears that I will find one.

Apparently DH sees the darts flying out of my eyes and towards his head. He quickly turns back towards the villa and sprints to retrieve the movie. The kids and I continue towards the bus stop. Little, dark rain clouds, much like the ones that follow Eeyore, form above our heads and hover as a warning to any other obstacles in our path to the Magic Kingdom®.

Within two minutes of arriving at the bus stop, the bus for the Magic Kingdom® pulls up. DH is nowhere to be found. So as all the other happy guests excitedly board, DD8, DS6, DD3 and I remain seated on the bus stop bench. The bus leaves, and we are left behind to contemplate our irritation with DH.

We see DH running feverishly past the bus stop and toward the mercantile with DVD in hand. Lightening bolts now shoot out of our rain cloud head-coverings, aimed at the moving target. He is worthy of a good filleting, but he narrowly escapes electrocution with his frantic speed.

After a few minutes, DH arrives at the bus stop. He sheepishly approaches the rest of the family, knowing that he has crossed an unspoken line with his behavior. DS6 and DD3 find it easy to forgive DH and are happy that we will now be able to proceed. But, in hopes that he will feel some remorse, DD8 and I inform him that he caused us to miss our first bus. Then we stand at a satisfactory distance so that he will understand he is momentarily banished from our good graces.

Multiple buses arrive at our stop, but none of them are for the Magic Kingdom®. With each one that comes and goes, the anxiety builds into a disabling tension. DD8 and I despair. Hopefully this is not a foreshadowing of our day-to-come.

Six buses later, another Magic Kingdom® charter pulls up to the stop. We frantically gather and hop on board. We take our seats, and I look at my little ones. They are antsy with expectation, trying to suppress nervous giggles. I acknowledge that it is time to release DH from his prison of ostracism. To express his repentance, DH adjusts his attitude to conform to the appropriate, excited and motivated mentality of all Disney park guests. I mull over the fact that this change is happening a little late, but for the sake of our Disney day, I spend the five-minute bus ride letting go of my pent-up irritation.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:25 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDM#1 View Post
DAY 1
ROAD TRIP

Two months ago, I scoured many Disney related websites in search of a list that would help me get ready for our trip. TheMouseForLess.com provided the most thorough guidance with its ULTIMATE DISNEY PACKING LIST. Since then I have acquired, organized and packed all the items that it said I must have.

The suitcases have been sitting in DS6’s room for at least a month, waiting to be loaded into our minivan. I thought my diligent preparation would eliminate the frantic running-around that happens at the last minute. But here we are--the day we plan to leave--and there is still so much to be done!

My children have a medical condition that requires them to be on a restricted diet. This complicates our departure considerably. Since I can’t risk getting to Orlando and not finding their approved foods, we have to gather our groceries prior to leaving. Unfortunately, almost everything my children eat is perishable, so virtually none of these food items can be purchased or packed ahead of time. This leaves much work for us to do on the last day.

My husband seems to be dragging his feet. I know that he is excited to take this trip, but his attitude can resemble Grumpy’s when it is time to load the vehicle. I understand that it is particularly laborious, but I am so anxious to get going that his difficult manner is irritating me beyond description. Doesn’t he know that going to Disney invokes blissful joy that overcomes all other dislikes? His apparent lack of understanding this basic principle somehow renders me incapable of entering this gleeful state myself. His contagious cranky spirit is stealing my happiness, and this irritates me further as I acknowledge the hypocrisy of being irritated by someone else’s inability to overcome irritation. I find myself in a vicious downward spiral at this point that drags me into the dark recesses that hide in every NDM’s mind.

Once packed, we have to make a 13-hour trip in one big drive straight through the night to reach our destination. I am a little anxious about having to make this drive because I know that DH will not be much help when I am ready to occupy the passenger seat. He is incapable of driving for more than an hour or two at a time. He gets road hypnosis or something and goes right to sleep, and it scares the snot out of me since he could kill us all. This obviously means that the brunt of the journey falls to me, and I find myself getting more irritated as I think about my impending duty as primary driver.

I was hoping to feed the kids, clean up from dinner and get on the road by 7 pm so that I could get a good portion of the trip covered by the time sleepiness hits me. But DH's horrid attitude is prolonging the process to an extent that makes me want to pull my hair out.

We finally get in the car about 9:30 pm and pull out of the driveway. DH then tells me we have to stop at Walmart to get some more last minute things. I am not amused. After our stop at Walmart, we finally begin our trip at 10:30 pm . . . 3 1/2 hours behind schedule! This is not a good start, and I empathize with Rabbit who is constantly unnerved when the other characters in The Hundred Acre Wood foil his best laid plans.


DH offers to start the drive. I turn him down because I know that I will have to take over for him within the hour, and that would only further frustrate me. Also, I know that my current inner-turmoil will serve us well as I tend to drive a little faster when I am cranky.

So off we go. I am conquering the road at an exciting pace. DH promptly falls asleep. DD8, DS6, and DD3 are squished but quiet and content as they watch a movie together from the lone, bench seat of our van.


DD8 is crammed up against the side of the van because the two car seats of her siblings occupy the vast majority of the bench seat. At one point DD8 whines a little about being uncomfortable. Even though her frustration is valid, she is barked at by her lunatic mom, who has not yet relinquished grudges against the vacation-menacing dad. "I don't want to hear one syllable of complaint,” I exclaim. “I am working a job for the sole purpose of financing these wonderful Disney vacations, and being cramped in the car is the only way we can get there. If I hear even one whimper of complaining--so help me--the
complainer will not go on any Disney trips in future years. He or she will stay home with Grandma because only happy people are allowed in Disney World!" In my mind, I am fully aware that if this were entirely true, I would be the first one eliminated right now. But being the NDM that I am I tend to say these hypocritical and guilt-inducing things in times of high stress. My empty threat works, and there are no complaints henceforth.

Once the movie is over, it is time to turn off the TV and allow my sweet offspring to dream away the miles between our blissful Disney destination and us. Since the car’s sound system is no longer occupied by the screen-play of “Treasure Planet,” I put on music and keep blazing a trail on the interstate.


As I immerse myself in the consuming world of radio, I begin to sing away my frustration over the challenging start to our trip. Slowly, all becomes right again. With each note I gradually evolve into the compassionate, loving, comforting, fun-filled, doting wife and mother that I usually am. So I continue to sing with a smile as I think about my now inevitable arrival in Florida . . . if I can just get through this drive.

Apparently, I hit some kind of groove and find myself driving without the faintest sign of impending exhaustion. The states go by, and I am still going strong. Around 6:30 am, I begin to feel a slight inkling of reduction in energy and my vocal chords are hoarse from the relentless abuse of an eight-hour singing marathon.


I am truly pleased as I acknowledge my Walt Disney World® driving record. I have taken us from central VA past the FL border and somehow shaved two hours off of our trip. With this badge of honor worn proudly on my sleeve, I relinquish the wheel to DH who awakes and is in awe of me. I smugly tell him that I can take the wheel back should he tire in an hour. He smirks at my snootiness and assures me that he is capable of handling the remainder of the drive.
As I snuggle into the passenger seat, my slight reduction of energy becomes complete exhaustion. I happily go comatose in an uncomfortable, upright position, knowing that in a few hours I will wake up at my friend's house in Kissimmee, and I will be only one day away from arriving at Walt Disney World®.




I'm the same way. There's nothing I enjoy more than rubbing it in to my dear, lame-o husband (who also can't drive more than an hour without falling asleep) that I've once again gotten us to our destination.

Love your TR!
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:36 AM   #22
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Mafia In The Magic Kingdom

MAFIA IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM

Mission accomplished. By the time our bus pulls up at the Magic Kingdom®, I successfully put aside my dissatisfaction with DH and move on. Our family unit is emotionally united once again and proceeds toward the security tables and ticket turnstiles.

Once we have been approved at all checkpoints, we are free to enter the Magic Kingdom®. The excitement begins the moment we pass under the Walt Disney World® Railroad station. Posters advertising different rides in the park catch the attention of my little adventurers. DD3 screams loudly, “Look, Mom! There is a picture with the ghosts. Look! There is a picture with the tea cups! Look! There is a picture with the jungle animals!” I can’t contain my laughter. I remember feeling the same elation at 3 years old when I saw those posters, and her reaction to them makes me feel that age again.

We emerge from the underpass onto Main Street, U.S.A.®. All the children gasp at its beauty, for it gives the feeling of having entered utopia. The index fingers on three separate hands point in all directions, vying for the attention of our group. But no one’s enthusiasm matches that of DD3 who is yelling out the names of everything she sees of interest. “BALLOONS! FLOWERS! PLUTO! JIMINY CRICKET! PIANO! ICE CREAM!” I cannot take my eyes off of her. Her giddiness is contagious, and I feel so full of joy. This must be spilling over to others around us. I look at other guests in our vicinity. As DD3 continues to yell, it catches their attention. Once they settle their eyes on her and see the magical world she has discovered, they smile and laugh too.

Soon the greatest Magic Kingdom® icon comes into view. “IT’S CINDERELLA’S CASTLE!!!” DD3 can hardly contain herself, and I briefly fear she may faint. “DD3, would you like to walk near the castle,” I ask. “Yes! Yes! Yes,” she cries.

During my Disney investigation for this trip, I was advised that the best strategy for parents with young children was to pass by the castle and go straight to Fantasyland®. Children are at their best early in the morning so they can enjoy these rides before the noon-time “crankies” hit them. Also, the lines are minimal at this time, so you can get on all these rides within a few hours. So the plan is to head straight for Dumbo The Flying Elephant, DD3’s ride of choice. Then we are to go to Peter Pan’s Flight. After that the remaining Fantasyland® attractions can be done in any order.

We speed-walk towards the castle and around its sky-scraping turrets. DD3 gawks at its towering presence, but she is now anxious to see what lies behind it.

Fantasyland® appears and more gasps are heard as all the children take in the sights of whirling elephants, prancing carousel horses, colorful banners and storybook buildings. A little girl from Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, dressed in a princess costume with an immovable hair style and glittering make-up, passes in front of us. “Oh, Mommy, it’s a princess,” DD3 says in an awe-struck whisper. I grab her up into my arms, hug her tightly, kiss her cheek and nuzzle her. “You are MY princess,” I remind her affectionately.

We continue on our path toward Dumbo The Flying Elephant when we are abruptly halted by a husky, bald, Italian New Yorker. He points to DS6 and says in an accent reminiscent of the Godfather, “Hey you! We’ve been looking for you!” DS6 looks panicked and doesn’t know what he has done to warrant this search. The hefty mobster, whose name-tag says Edward, pulls out his walkie-talkie. “Yeah! I found him. The kid with the pirate shirt that you been looking for is right here. I got him.” DS6 looks bewildered. Yes, he has made some mistakes in childhood, but—surely--he is not deserving of being whacked by the mafia. “Follow me,” Edward commands in an intimidating voice. DS6 looks to me for guidance. I gesture that he should be obedient and reassure him that we will all be right behind him.

We trail Edward to a sword stuck in an anvil. DS6’s eyes are wide in disbelief. He was unaware that executions were performed in the Magic Kingdom®. Is this the end for him? He looks to me for clarity, but Edward’s commanding voice draws his attention. “This sword in the stone, here, needs to be pulled out. Now, we haven’t been able to find anyone who can do it, but we think you might be able to. With your tough pirate shirt and all, you seem to be a strong, young man. Do you think you can do this?”

DS6 appears confused. Why would the mafia need the assistance of a 6 year-old boy? DS6 looks to me for a translation. I explain, “DS6, do you remember watching ‘Sword in the Stone’?” He nods. “This sword is just like the one in the movie,” I continue, “Do you remember how ONLY Arthur was able to pull out the sword in the movie?” He nods again. “Well, this man is looking for the ONLY person here who can pull this sword out. He thinks it might be you, and he wants you to try.”

The light bulb goes on in DS6’s head. He now understands what is being asked of him and lets Edward know that he, indeed, is the man for this job. Countless hours of gymnastic lessons have increased his muscle mass exponentially, and DS6 frequently takes pleasure in performing feats of great strength. He now sees that all of his previous hard work has prepared him for this moment of destiny.

DS6 pushes up his short sleeves to display his bulging biceps for the crowd that has begun to gather around him. He places his hands on the silver handle of the piercing weapon and strains to release it from its confinement in the anvil. Edward’s hairless scalp perspires as his nerves are wracked with the suspense of the moment. Slowly the sword gives way until, finally, DS6 has accomplished what he set out to do.

Edward calls on the crowd to give DS6 a round of applause. Everyone explodes into loud cheers and shrill whistles. Edward turns to DS6 and assures him that he has shown himself to be of noble character by completing this task. The hefty, bald man then places a wand on DS6’s shoulders and knights him as “Prince of the Day.” DS6 then receives a sticker-badge, proclaiming this honor to all who look upon his t-shirt.

DS6 is ready to descend from the platform and rejoin his anxious little sister who is now pulling on my arm and pleading, “Mommy, we have to go to Dumbo right now!” But as he begins to leave, Edward calls out, “I’m not done wit’ you yet.” DS6 returns to Edward’s side, and Edward gives him a certificate to commemorate his achievement. DS6 thanks him and readies to exit. Edward once again calls out, “I’m not done wit’ you yet.” DS6 returns again, and Edward presents him with the official photo of Alice and The Mad Hatter. DS6 thanks him again and attempts to leave again. “Hey,” Edward bellows, “I ain’t done wit’ you yet!” DS6 crinkles his eyebrows in annoyance but returns to Edward’s side. Edward pulls out a small bottle and blows bubbles all around DS6. DS6 now crinkles his nose along with his eyebrows as bubbles envelope him. He looks to the bald man for permission to leave, but Edward still insists that he hasn’t finished, so DS6 stays put. He is then given a golden ticket that takes him to the front of any one line of his choosing.

DS6 wisely hands the ticket over to me for safe-keeping. Edward asks him if he will use his pass for his first ride. DS6 looks uncertain, so I answer for him. I explain that we will most likely save the pass for the long line of Splash Mountain® but, right now, we need to hurry because Dumbo The Flying Elephant is our first destination and the line is building as we speak.

DD3, who has not stopped begging for permission to board the Dumbo ride, is now dragging me in the direction of the flying pachyderms. She cannot be put off another second. Edward seems a little disappointed that he will not witness our prince using his pass, but the better plan of saving it for a more opportune time stands.

We thank Edward profusely for the grand memory he has bestowed upon us as well as his time-saving golden ticket. Then we pack away all our new treasures and make tracks to the Dumbo ride.

As we walk, I become aware of a stalking presence behind us. I turn to find a troubled Edward deep in thought. “Ya know,” he says as he comes out of his intense consideration, “I’m gonna get you to the front of that Dumbo line, and you can still keep your pass. ‘The ‘Prince of the Day’ waits for no one, so you just come wit’ me.”

DD3 and DD8 cannot believe their luck. Their brother is “Prince of the Day,” which makes them princesses by association. And now the royal benefits begin with a direct entrance to our first ride.

We walk past the queque line that has piled up to a surprising length in such a short period. Edward deposits us within the designated exit area and calls to the operator of the attraction. “These are my friends,” he tells the Fantasyland® wench, “We have the ‘Prince of the Day’ here and his two princess sisters. They are to get on this ride the next time around because the ‘Prince of the Day’ waits for no one.” The lady smiles kindly in DS6’s direction and curtsies out of respect for His Majesty. DS6 blushes because of her exclusive attentions and hides behind DD8 and DD3.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:37 AM   #23
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Yeah! A reader! I'd love to have your feedback as we go along.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:39 AM   #24
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I'm the same way. There's nothing I enjoy more than rubbing it in to my dear, lame-o husband (who also can't drive more than an hour without falling asleep) that I've once again gotten us to our destination.

Love your TR!
LOL! A kindred spirit! Thanks for your comment. It is encouraging to find others who "get it."
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:44 AM   #25
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Hard-knock Life Lessons

HARD-KNOCK LIFE LESSONS

Within a minute, DD8, DS6, DD3 and I climb onto the backs of two Dumbo carts. DH sets up in a spot outside of the gate to capture the certain-to-be-unforgettable video footage.

Our elephants soar, and DD3 squeals with delight. I witness the highlight of her lifetime as we rotate around Timothy Mouse perched on a circus ball. I look for the elephant hosting my other two circus performers. Once spotted, I see that DD8 and DS6 are looking at each other and laughing with great gusto. I take out my camera and manage to snap a fantastic photo of the castle from my elevated vantage point. We have not been here long, but this is shaping up to be a terrific day.

The elephants land gently, and DD3 exclaims, “I want to ride that again!” I try to explain that we may come back to it later, but we will not ride it again right now. She protests, but I explain that Peter Pan’s boat is waiting for us. She allows me to coax her from the grey, circus animal and be escorted to the next ride.

The whole family enjoys a pleasant trip across the skies of London and Neverland with Peter and his dedicated troop. DD3 once again cannot believe her eyes and thrills over the sight of Tinkerbell, pirates, mermaids and crocodiles. When our boat comes to rest safely on the moving platform, DD3 cries, “I want to ride that again!” I assure her that there is more fun to be had on other rides, so we must go. She doesn’t believe me and insists that we must stay on the boat for another time around the suspended track. But I point out that there is a ride operator, quickly approaching, who will demand that we get off. She surrenders to this fate and scrambles out of the boat.

“It’s a small world” is the next logical choice since its placement is closest. DH volunteers to skip this insanely repetitive ride and get FastPasses to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. He plans to meet us when we exit the attraction. I agree that this is a good plan, and we go our separate ways.

In the boat, DD3’s eyes glimmer in expectation. The boat lurches forward and my world travelers yell, “Whoa!” Once we are immersed in the international community of singing dolls, my brood joins in the musical festivities by singing along. I look at DD3. Undoubtedly, there is no other child of happier countenance at this very moment.

Nearing the end, our floating vehicle approaches the area where we first boarded. DD3 gleefully laughs, “I want to ride that again.” I give her the same reasoning for moving on as I have on the previous rides, and her broad smile turns to a threatening scowl.

When our boat finally halts next to the exiting platform, DD8 and DS6 happily jump from the ship onto the platform, eager to find DH and board the next ride. I turn to DD3 so I can assist her in climbing from the boat, but she is unwilling to take my hand. “DD3,” I express, “it is time to get out now. Our turn is over. The people standing next to you are waiting for their turn.” This rationale does not persuade DD3. She will no longer be denied her second time around. She wants to sing along with her new, ethnic friends once more, and she fully intends to do it. “DD3,” I call to her in a very firm voice. She glares at me defiantly and crosses her arms while roots sprout from her small derriere into the seat. An invisible battle line has been drawn. Fellow park guests and cast members alike watch to see what my next move will be.

Since it is her first time in the Magic Kingdom®, DD3 has not yet learned the fourth tenet of The Sacred Seven: Thou shalt not repeat a ride until each one has been experienced.

Many months of analysis have led to a carefully devised strategy for completing all desired activities during our few hours of Magic Kingdom® bliss. This strategy does not include repeating the same experience over and over. If rides were to be repeated according to whim, there might be rides left at the end of the day that were never enjoyed. DD3 is short-sighted with her willingness to be dictated by momentary desires. Her rationale that the Magic Kingdom® gives pleasure in an unorganized fashion--that one can enjoy the magic as it just happens to present itself--is flawed. One must plan for it, seek it out and adhere to the schedule! DD3 is naïve in her approach to taking on a Disney theme park as well as insensitive to the others in line behind her, but she is about to be schooled.

Being left with no alternative, I pass my camera to DS6 and backpack to DD8. I then swoop down upon DD3 and uproot her from her plantation. She is slightly stunned as I swing her over my shoulder and hike up the ramp, out of the building and into the blinding light.

Tears begin to stream down her cheeks. Her heart is broken. Her pride is crushed. She sobs her story to DH, who greets us in our designated meeting spot. DH sympathizes with DD3 but firmly says that disobedience is not allowed . . . especially not in Walt Disney World®. If she wants to continue to have fun in the Magic Kingdom®, she will have to abide by the rules and get off the rides when our turn is over. People who don’t follow Disney rules, he relays, are taken to Disney jail. I echo this truth and tell a story about my good friend in middle school who was taken to Disney jail and banned from the park when she and a pal trespassed into an area that was off-limits.

The story makes an impact. Although the thought of Disney jail sounds like it might be fun, all three mouseketeers shrink back in horror at the thought of being banned from the park. DD3 counts herself lucky to not have been served such consequences for her recent rebellion and commits to better behavior in the future. We make our way around Fantasyland® without further difficulty and decide it is time to brave the two mountains in Frontierland®.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:48 AM   #26
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Yeah! A reader! I'd love to have your feedback as we go along.

You have more than one reader! I am now late for work, thanks... I love your writing style and I still have the print out of the submission that you posted for all of us to read. I am glad to have more from you to read. What a fantastic tale of Disney World wonderment!
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:50 AM   #27
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Tales From The Briar Patch

TALES FROM THE BRIAR PATCH

Finally coming of age for these rides, DD8 and DS6 realize that potential thrill brings excitement but also trepidation. However, DD8 and DS6 have been informed of the fifth tenet in The Sacred Seven: Thou shalt not reject a ride until it has been personally experienced. They have also gone through intense training to ease the shock of their upcoming mountain expeditions. We have discussed these upcoming events over numerous dinners. They know what to expect. They have practically memorized the tracks from months and months of viewing runs of the mountains on You Tube. This has provided all the preparation one could hope for.

Splash Mountain® is first. DH and I have to take turns riding because DD3 does not meet the height requirement and must be chaperoned while everyone else rides. So DS6 and I hastily run to the entrance with his golden ticket, leaving the others at The Laughing Place playground.

DS6 likes the ride, but with each approaching waterfall I can see tremendous apprehension. He consistently blurts out, “Is this it? Is this the ‘big one’?” I encourage him to simply enjoy himself and all the friendly animatronics around us, but he is unable to relax entirely as the inevitable five-story drop looms in his future.

We reach the long incline that takes us to the precipice of the watery mountain. As we jiggle our way up to the top, DS6 looks a little frantic. I counsel him to just hold his breath, brace his feet and grip the bar as tight as he can. I also remind him that I will hold on to him fiercely, and we will safely arrive at the bottom of the Briar Patch in a few short seconds.

As we plummet down the waterfall, I am exhilarated by the adrenaline rush. I do find it a little more terror-inducing since holding my son leaves me with only one hand to grip our log. But it is still the great experience that it always is, and I feel blessed to be the one to induct DS6 into the Splash Mountain® Riding Club.

DS6 is shaking from the frightful sensation of falling from such a height. “Wasn’t that fun,” I exclaim. DS6 looks doubtful and refuses to answer the question. “Later on, would you like to do it again,” I ask. DS6 responds quickly with, “No.” He is taking no chances that hesitation will land him in another Briar Boat.

As we get off the ride and head towards our unsuspecting family, I convince DS6 to not reveal his true feelings to DD8 until she has visited the Briar Patch herself. He agrees to hold this temporary confidence and stumbles beside me, trying to shake off his jelly-like limbs.

DH sees us coming from a distance. I signal to him to take DD8 and get in line before she sees DS6. He lays eyes on DS6, who has not fully recovered from his engagement with Brer Rabbit. He understands, takes DD8 in hand and exits. I have sighted DD3 on the playground slide, so DS6 and I join her in The Laughing Place.

Much to my astonishment, no one is laughing in The Laughing Place. DS6 is now trying to hold back tears. My Brer Bear-like hug during our plummet has crinkled his “Prince of the Day” sticker-badge, and the water has made the corners curl up. DD3 is succumbing to the misery of being left behind in a hot, plastic playground and is close to crying as well. How is this possible? There is no unhappiness in the “happiest place on Earth.” Something else must be at work here. I check the time, and the answer becomes obvious.

I reach into my backpack and offer my little Brer critters a homemade snack. Then I reach into my backpack and pull out a spare “Prince of the Day” sticker that Edward slipped me in his wisdom and forethought. They find these items to be an appropriate peace offering for making them endure such hardships.

As we munch on our nutritious edibles, DH and DD8 reappear. DD8’s face is splotchy; tears are streaming down her cheeks, and she is whimpering like an abused puppy. I look to DH and venture, “How did it go?” DH replies, “Oh, it went great aside from the terrified, screaming girl that clawed me throughout the whole ride.” Apparently, You Tube has been unsuccessful in helping my thrill-challenged youngins’ embrace the fun of a near-death experience.

I offer DD8 an almond flour muffin in hopes that raising her glucose level will help her to calm down. She accepts, and we all take the moment to breathe and recoup for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

A similar strategy is used for Big Thunder Mountain except that this time DS6 and I hold the FastPasses that DH acquired earlier in the morning while we were on “it’s a small world.” DS6 loves the fast-paced, run-away train, so the nightmare of the Brer creatures is quickly replaced with great enthusiasm for mining in haphazard train cars.

When the thrill ends, we rejoin our family and allow DH and DD8 to have their turn. When they reappear, we find another happy miner. DD8 gushes about the great time she had and her hopes to return sometime. Now that two of the four mountains in the Walt Disney World® mountain range have been experienced, I realize that my two eldest have shed half of their Disney mountain virginity. One small tear escapes my eye. They grow up so fast, and I am very proud.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:01 PM   #28
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You have more than one reader! I am now late for work, thanks... I love your writing style and I still have the print out of the submission that you posted for all of us to read. I am glad to have more from you to read. What a fantastic tale of Disney World wonderment!
LOL. Yes, the book idea has expanded past this trip report, so I decided to just go ahead and post the report. Plus, by the time I get a book published (if that happens), the report will be outdated. There seemed little point to withold it anymore.

I tried to add it to the original thread, but that thread got moved to "Completed Trip Reports" and it didn't give me an option of adding anything. So I just started over. Thanks for finding me again .
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:19 PM   #29
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I was just about to say you should write a book........
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:43 PM   #30
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I found you ...again! Now I need to get caught up.
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