Showing Our #DisneySide

With the New Jersey weather about as warm as we could hope – and the temperature in the kitchen from all the cooking as warm as the Magic Kingdom in July – we celebrated our Disney Side!  The place festooned in traditional Mouse colors of red, yellow, and black; and guests festooned in their best Mouse gear, we enjoyed food, Frunch (straight from a recipe from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge), and even an attempt at Dole Whip (nothing beats the real thing), and some Disney games.

Here are some photos from the festivities!

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Teeny tiny tuna salads in Mickey Mouse “bowls”
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Baskets of popcorn and cotton candy – just like at the Magic Kingdom!
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Cakes by Carrington – so cute!
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Wicked awesome Krispy Rise Treat – super sized!

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Oh You Crazy Cosmo Girls!

My husband is a bit of a pervert, and if there is anything worse than a regular pervert, it’s a delusional one.  Part of his delusion – for the past 25 years – is to see the Cosmopolitan magazine at the grocery store check out, with the scantily clad cover girl gazing seductively back at him, and immediately thinking there is something in there among the articles about sex, sexy, sex starved, and sexting that will teach me something, and therefore, benefit him.

And then he buys the magazine.

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I’m convinced that only men buy this magazine.  Even in my 20s, there was nothing of any value to me in Cosmo.   My spring wardrobe consists of the same jeans I’d wear in the winter with short sleeved t-shirts instead of long sleeved sweat shirts.  And if by “Hot New Bod”, they are offering me complimentary use of the Extreme Makeover team, I’d be all over that.  But the worst of all?  The articles!  Who are they written for?

Ladies, let me save you the $5.  Or let me save your husband the $5.  Based on the cover articles, I thought I’d put my own spin on things and let you put that $5 in your pocket.  Or your $5 jar.

Cover Article #1:  15 Easy Ways to Score an Extra $2,000

I have to admit, this article goes where I never expected it to be going.  I mean, I’ve seen the girls in Cosmo Magazine, and I could come up with a few ways they might quickly score $2,000.  The article, however, recommends that instead of putting your spare change in a change jar like us shlubs, you put your spare $5 bills.  Every time your wallet fills up with those pesky Lincolns, you put them in your $5 jar.  My advice – put your annoying $100 bills in your $100 bill jar.  You’ll get to $2,000 much quicker.

Cover Article #2:  Is Oral Sex Dangerous

By the time I found the page this article was on, picked up the 42 subscription cards that had spilled out all over my floor, and blew my nose – which was running from inhaling the fumes of numerous designer perfumes, this is the tip I can offer you.  Yes – if you do it with vampires.

Cover Article #3:  What Guys Secretly Freak Out About

This could be a very useful article to someone who had never lived with a man before.  They’re very difficult to read, and any sort of manual to help you figure them out could come in quite handy.  The brave men in this article have imparted this wisdom unto you, you dear girl.  “I’m afraid someone is going to beat me up in front of my family.” (If this is really your secret fear, they probably will someday.)   “I worry my arms won’t get big, even though I work out four days a week.” (Maybe those four days would be better spent lifting something else – try a book.)  “Girls always tell me I’m ‘too big’ – I think my penis is too long.” (Oh, come on, that’s about as real as a reality show starring the Kardashians!)

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Let me clue you in on what guys REALLY secretly freak out about.  Getting married.  Having children.  Being left alone with those children while you run to pee.  Running out of wings during the Super Bowl.  Beyond that, most guys are pretty chill.

So, there you have it.  I hope my husband reads this blog post so he knows there is never again a need to pick up Cosmo magazine.  I’ll never fit into the clothes – or look good in them if I could.  I’m not going to make any secret confessions about having sex under the dining room table while my parents are entertaining the whole convent full of nuns (nor am I likely to get any ideas from these true confessions).

If something on the cover peaks your interest.  Come see me.  I’ll tell you what the article says, without even looking inside the magazine, and you can put that $5 in your $5 jar.  You’ll be at $2,000 in no time.

It’s a Beautiful Day – Don’t Let it Get Away

baby eilis 2The first words my daughter heard as she took her first breaths in this world were not mine.  They were not the doctor’s.  The words did not belong to her father or the nurses.

“The heart is a bloom.  Shoots up from the stony ground.”

After 10 years of heartache and heart break, my tiny, pink, screaming bundle of beautiful baby entered this world to the sounds of Bono and U2 singing this song.  “It’s a Beautiful Day”.  How ironic.

“You’re out of luck and the reason that you had to care.”

The song is about finding hope where there isn’t any anymore.  It’s about grasping at the straws of the best things in your life and not letting go of the grasp you have on them.  It’s about looking past all the bad and finding the good.  It’s about losing everything, but appreciating the fragments that are left.

“You thought you’d found a friend to take you out of this place; someone you could lend a hand, in return for grace.”

Everything about this baby was perfect.  What she did to my heart was nothing short of a miracle.  It was a healing, grace from God to bring peace to my entire being.  Because until the moment she was born, I didn’t count on this being the blessing it was.  So many times, this ended in nothing but agony.  But not this time.

baby Eilis

“Touch me; take me to that other place.  Teach me.  I know I’m not a hopeless case.”

My entire soul was lifted the day Eilis was born.  From the embers of crumbled dreams, from the despair and the desperation, she emerged with light.  And love.  And beauty.  She was renewed hope; happiness rejuvenated; life refreshed.

“And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth.  After the flood all the colors came out.”

She was the rainbow – a promise from God like the one sent to Noah.  There would never again be the flood of sadness into which I was so sure I might drown.  My beautiful, much loved, much wanted baby girl was my sign that the flood waters were receding, and I had been left with so much more than I ever dreamed I had.

And as my beautiful baby girl turns 13, she continues to light my way.  So different from her sister, she brings a new perspective to this world, one unique and utterly Eilis.  I am truly blessed each day I get to share with her and watch her turn into an incredible young woman.  I am so grateful to be her mom.

“It was a beautiful day.  Don’t let it get away.”

Happy birthday, Eilis.  I could not possibly love you any more.  Until tomorrow.

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Last Minute Disney World Trip for Valentine’s Day? What’s a Procrastinator to Do?

You’ve just realized you have a long weekend over Valentine’s weekend because of the President’s Day holiday, so you’ve decided to take your Sweetheart to Walt Disney World.

What are you, crazy?

No, I didn’t mean that.  You’d be crazy NOT to jump at that last minute trip to the House of Mouse!  But what the heck are you going to do, with no dining reservations, no FastPasses, and no chance to choose the romantic color red for your Magic Bands?  Well, let’s just see what we can do to make this trip not only happen, but happen with many wonderful, romantic memories to boot!

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Let’s start with dining reservations.  I’m going to break this to you gently.  You are not getting into Cinderella’s Royal Table.  And there are probably a few other options not available to you at this late planning stage, but fear not.  You’ll be glad to know that a quick search today, just 9 days in advance, shows dinner reservations available at many Walt Disney World resort restaurants, both inside and outside of the theme parks.  You may not get prime time for V-Day dining, but if you don’t mind eating before six or after 8, options include my favorite Artist Point, the way under talked about Turf Club at Saratoga Springs, Sanaa, Jiko, Paradiso 37, Bongo’s Cuban Cafe, or numerous options at EPCOT.  That romantic dinner can be something intimate and quiet, like Artist Point; or you can opt for fun and rambunctious, like Raglan Road.

And while this may not be the romantic dinner you had in mind, there is all sorts of magical moments dining for lunch at Be Our Guest.  You don’t need reservations to eat there at lunch time, and you can sit in the West Wing with the enchanted rose, or check out the room with the giant music box.  Great memories to be made if you are willing to wait in line a little bit.

FastPass+ encourages you to book your ride times in advance, but you may not have time to do that.  Thankfully, you’ll find locations at each theme park where you can choose your FastPass+ options after you arrive at the park.  I’ve seen pretty good availability last minute so far on rides and attractions, so if you want to steal a smooch with your Sweetie as you kick his butt on Toy Story Midway Mania, you may still find a FastPass+ available.

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How about those plain grey Magic Bands you’ll be stuck with, since you didn’t customize them in advance?  Gotcha covered.  You’ll find virtually every resort and gift shop now stocks a supply of Magic Band covers and Magic Bandits, which are little pins you can stick in the holes on your Magic Bands to make them more personal.  You can choose from solid colors, patterns, favorite characters – any combination of accessories to make the bands ones you love.

There are rooms available, plenty of park passes to hit up the places where you’ll find the most magic, and if you decide to wait until the moment strikes to pick up the perfect gift for your Valentine, you’ll find everything from delicious smelling bath products, watches, jewelry, clothing, accessories, or the gift that keeps on giving – annual passes!

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So pack those bags, book those flights, and get your hiney down there with your honey.  A Valentine’s Day full of love, romance, and magic – what could possibly be better?

Philip Seymour Hoffman – Tragedy or Travesty?

In what may be his last interview, given during the Sundance Film Festival just a few weeks back, a reporter asked Philip Seymour Hoffman how he most connected to his character his latest movie.  Hoffman responded, “The loneliness, he’s pretty lonely…unforgiving of himself.”  More than anything, I think this hints at the demons that plagued Hoffman throughout his life.

I’ve seen numerous tweets and Facebook posts talking about the ridiculousness of calling Hoffman’s death “sad” and a “tragedy”, taking the opportunity to attack a man who clearly lost the handle he held on his addiction after 23 years of fighting the good fight.  So where do you stand on his death?  Is it clearly a travesty to treat his death as a tremendous loss?  I’ve seen posts that have said things like, “Cancer, that’s a tragedy.  PSH is a fat loser who offed himself.  Good riddance.”

Where do you stand?

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Every day that an addict stays clean is not a day where they have won the battle.  It’s a day that they’ve survived another day without succumbing to their disease.  The battle is never “won” for an addict – it’s fought every day, with every breath.  It takes a strength and a willpower many of us could never understand, let alone live up to.  Yet Philip Seymour Hoffman got up every morning for 23 years, determined to fight for his career, for his long time partner, for his children and his friends.  He showed a strength for those 23 years that highlights his determination to survive.

And he didn’t.

Jim Carrey said it best in a tweet about the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman.  “For the most sensitive among us, the noise can be too much.”

After 23 years of fighting to block it out, the noise won.  He was a brilliant talent, and from all accounts, a dedicated father and supportive and devoted friend.

Where do I stand?  Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was a tragedy.  On more levels than I want to imagine.

PSH Sundance