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55 Things to Remember About Disney World 2012

  1. Matt’s excitement over going on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with his kids
  2. Jonas refusing to have any fun Monday morning until he saw Woody, went on the Toy Story ride, or got his Mr. Potato Head toy (none of which happened until later in the week)
  3. Jaden grinning at and hugging every character she met
  4. Maranda nearly crying when we entered Disney World, arrived at the resort, and during the Magic Kingdom opening ceremony
  5. Jonas passing out at the dinner table our first night
  6. Pressed penny collecting
  7. Looking for Magic Mickeys
  8. Jaden meeting Merida and Merida completely surpassing all expectations and saying Matt should be King Fergus for Halloween.
  9. Woody scolding Maranda for wearing an Evil Queen shirt
  10. Buzz trying to shoot his laser at Jonas’ shoes until Woody convinced him they were not laser shoes
  11. Kids laughing with glee and wonder during Sourin’, Star Tours, and Mickey’s Philharmagic.
  12. Amazing bus driver from Hollywood Studios
  13. Restful and beautiful resort: Port Orleans Riverside
  14. Matt’s persistence in making sure his kids got to go on the rides and see the attractions they wanted to
  15. Jonas having a 20 minute melt-down starting in the resort gift shop and ending in the bathtub because I hurt his feelings by not buying him a second Mr. Potato Head.
  16. Both kids fighting over the stroller
  17. Walking through Andy’s playroom on our way to the Toy Story Game
  18. Jaden suggesting having a special “Daddy Day” after Matt had a rough ride on the bus, starting with getting up early and surprising him with coffee in bed.
  19. Upper 80s and 60% humidity the entire time until the weather broke Saturday when we left.
  20. The special surprises left in the hotel room by the princesses: arranged stuffed animals, towel animals, recorded story books
  21. Seeing the Ewok Village; rather, Matt’s boyish glee at seeing the Ewok Village
  22. Maranda singing the Timmy Time song with the kids in line (“Aaay-ooh-ooh, we-er, we-er, we-er-er.”)
  23. Jaden and Matt’s Agent P Secret Missions in Epcot
  24. The completely lame Maelstrom Viking ride
  25. The morning safari in Animal Kingdom and the kids asking if they were real animals or robots like the Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom
  26. Jonas giving Jake one of the gold doubloons he got during the Disney Junior show.
  27. The Princesses at the Akershus Castle lunch:
    1. Snow White’s voice and blowing Jonas a kiss
    2. Cinderella admiring Jaden’s headband
    3. Ariel playing with her hair like Jaden
    4. Belle wishing us a happy anniversary and commenting on Matt’s “Beastly Beard.”
  28. “In the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room.”
  29. Both kids jumping in the pool and not being afraid to go under the water.
  30. Filling the Giant Mr. Potato Head with pieces
  31. Getting a sneak peak at the New Fantasy Land attractions: Beast’s Castle, Gaston’s Tavern and Fountain, The Little Mermaid Ride and meeting Ariel in her Grotto.
  32. Jaden helping Matt get breakfast for everyone every morning.
  33. Matt throwing drinking straw wrappers at the kids then laughing hysterically at my reaction.
  34. Jonas and I getting drenched on the Animal Kingdom Rapids ride neither of us wanted to go on
  35. Jaden making a deal with us to go on the Haunted Mansion, trying to back out of it, crying during the ride intro and then yelling at Matt afterwards. Jonas laughing at the ghosts.
  36. Playing in the resort arcade: digital bowling, skee ball, photo booth, crane game, Jonas playing the basketball toss, Matt playing off one credit on some carnival video game for 20 minutes and Jaden placing 9th in the motorcycle racing game.
  37. Seeing Captain Jack Sparrow give a pirate class.
  38. Four people in one day complimenting Matt’s Muppet shirt he bought at Hollywood Studios.
  39. Boat ride to Downtown Disney.
  40. Jonas fully embracing his four-ness, both good and bad.
  41. Jaden playing with the jumping fountain at Epcot and the mini-splash station in Downtown Disney
  42. Epcot fireworks show and Jaden not needing the ear plugs
  43. The electric parade at night and seeing Woody and Jessie in the Celebration parade.
  44. Our collection of desserts from all the meals we could not finish
  45. Lizards that moved like a blowing leaf all over the resort
  46. The kids surviving “It’s Tough for a Bug” and looking at real spiders  at Animal Kingdom without freaking out.
  47. Great seats for Finding Nemo the Musical. Got to see Dory and jellyfish up close.
  48. Getting the kids names embroidered onto their hats at a discounted rate. The embroidery ladies being impressed with Jonas’ eye-rolling skills.
  49. Tapes N Tapes hipsters. “That guy was wearing a Tapes N Tapes shirt!”
  50. Being able to get onto Splash Mountain with no wait time
  51. Turtle Talk with Crush
  52. The Festival of the Lion King
  53. Breaking the bus and needing to transfer coming back from Animal Kingdom, and in turn canceling our reservations at Downtown Disney
  54. Matt and Maranda lying next to each other every night discussing what fun we had that day.
  55. Laughing. Lots of laughing.


Let’s play catch-up, shall we? Well, the last week at least.


Guessing Game

A couple months ago I asked Jaden if she had any guesses as to where we were going on our Super-Secret-Special Trip. She guessed the Science Museum to which I replied, “Dream big, Jaden, dream big.” In my most encouraging tone, of course.

The other night at bedtime I asked her if she had any new guesses since we’re getting close to The Trip.


I busted out a, “HA!” and thought, “Well, I told her to dream big.” Now, I’d originally told her I wasn’t going to say “yes” or “no” to her guesses but that it’s still fun to guess. However, I really couldn’t let the girl think we’re going to Paris so I said, “Oh, Paris would be wonderful but it’s a little out of our price range.”


“Honey, we would love to take you kids to Hawaii but that’s in the same price range as Paris. Meaning: out of ours. One more guess?”


“Wow. Ok, no. We’re going to stay in the Continental U.S. So, in this country but not Hawaii or Alaska or Puerto Rico or any other U.S. territory not attached to the main bulk of the country.”

“Is Montana in the country?”

“Yes, Montana is.”

“What about Europe?”

“No, sweetie, that’s a whole different continent across the ocean and Paris is there. I think you’re done guessing for tonight.”

The next day Jonas guessed New York City and Jaden guessed Washington DC. Is it weird that neither of them has guessed Disney World yet?



Last week Jaden made the comment that she doesn’t get to wear her sandals anymore because it’s getting colder out. I gave her a clue about the Big Secret Trip: “You’ll be bringing your sandals with.”

The next day Matt called me while I was driving home and asked why Jaden and Jonas were digging through closets and bins of shoes looking for sandals and why Jaden was crying because they couldn’t find them.


Matt and I are having a hard time keeping this thing secret. Ok, mostly I. I’ve slipped a few times when the kids, luckily, weren’t listening.  I really want to tell them something. I thought I was alone in this until Monday when Matt tried again and again to give Jaden challenges to pass so we could tell them something:

1)     If she got another 20/20 on her spelling test.

  1. Matt couldn’t wait until Tuesday and he gave her a practice test. She got 19/20. So…

2)     At dinner he told her if she spelled “vacation” correctly.

  1. She was VERY close but forgot the “t.” I was willing to give it to her because seriously, English is so effed up, I’m surprised she got that much correct. Matt wasn’t quite as ready but gave her another shot. He spelled it out for her twice and asked her to repeat it but, again, she forgot the “t.” Then he got desperate.

3)     “If you can tell me one amazing thing that I’ve never heard before, we’ll tell you something.”

After a mere second or two of thought, Jaden said, “Today, I petted a unicorn.”

“Really?” I asked, genuinely interested, “Where did this happen?”

“At school,”she said simply, “There’s a petting zoo there with all kinds of animals that don’t exist. There are unicorns and pegasi and colored ponies.”

4)     At this point I looked at Matt and mouthed, “Pegasi?” and was (again) ready to give it to her right there for using an awesome plural form of Pegasus. Matt was not. However, he agreed that this was indeed an amazing thing he’d never heard and asked Jaden what’s the difference between a Pegasus and a unicorn.

“A Pegasus can fly and a unicorn has a horn.”

“OH,” Matt said, giving me a significant look, “So you’re saying Pegasus can fly? Hmmm… I wonder what else flies.”

Because god forbid Matt just come out and tell them plain. After some ideas from both kids, I finally stepped in, had them clean off the table and told them we were taking a plane.

They are both very excited.



Jonas has a blanket that he got for his 2nd Christmas when he was just a year old. It’s well-loved, to say the least, and Gramma has mended it several times. Finally it got to the point where we had to talk about replacing it. Jonas wanted another brown and white striped blanket. This is when I found out my mother –in-law, the same Gramma who mended the original blanket, can knit and I asked her to knit him a new brown and white striped blanket.

This morning, I told the kids to get their shoes and jackets on because it was chilly. Jonas did not want to wear his jacket. I held it out to him and said, “Here, just put this on, ok, buddy?” He dashed off to his room while I wasn’t exactly paying attention and came back with Old Brown Blankey. “I’ll bring this and I’ll be nice and cozy.”

I tried to explain to him that Old Brown Blankey is very fragile and suggested he bring New Brown Blankey. This did not go over well. Back and forth we went. I was standing my ground because this is why we have the New Blankey, to protect the Old Blankey. He did not see it this way. I took the blanket and showed him all the stitches that had been made to fix Old Blankey’s boo-boos. He stormed off to his room and faced his door with his arms crossed in front of him, not looking at me.

“Come on, bud, we gotta go. Please put your arm in,” I pleaded holding the jacket open for him.


“Jonas, honey, we’re late. Come on.”

There was a pause and then he turns to look at me with this look of triumph in his face and says with the smallest of smirks,

“I’ll put my jacket on if I can bring Old Brown Blankey.” The sentence was laced with threads of “I got you now, woman.”

Long story short, while I commended his efforts I came out ahead in the bargain by way of promising the last banana if he put his jacket on and took New Brown Blankey.

3 minutes later he tripped on my sister-in-law’s drive way and skinned his knee and was happy to have any blankey he could get his hands on.



Pandora is awesome for setting the mood for those intimate moments with your lover. Except for when an ad for Kraft Macaroni in Cheese Bowls comes on with the tag line, “Perfect for nights like tonight.”

Out of Family Experience

Every family has their own little quirk that makes them unique. Something you all probably know about my family: we sing. We sing a lot. We sing songs we know and songs we make up. I know most families don’t live in virtual musicals; Matt knows this. Up until yesterday, this was all theoretical. Yesterday, the reality of our own particular quirk became all too clear.

This weekend is our city’s annual festival thing, complete with parade, carnival and fireworks. Over the last couple months, Jaden has become “friends of convenience” with the neighbor girl who visits her dad every other weekend. Yesterday we invited her to come with us to the carnival. We all crammed into Matt’s mitsubishi outlander and we discovered that “5 passenger family crossover” doesn’t include three booster seats. But we made it work and away we went.

Immediately, Jonas starts singing “It’s a party, it’s a party for Brobie!” and Jaden joins him. The friend was quiet and I suggested the kids maybe sing something else. “Follow the askie bugs, follow the little askie bugs!” I gave up suggesting they stop singing and instead explained that the kids were singing songs from Yo Gabba Gabba; they kept singing and the friend kept silent. Matt and I glanced at each other with sudden understanding in our eyes.

Later that night, we were driving to his sister’s house to watch fireworks and Matt said, “So, earlier today when the kids were singing…?” “Yeah,” I said, “That was interesting.” Matt nodded and said, “I felt like the Flanders. I’ve got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart!” Where?!” “Exactly.” We both busted up laughing. “Yup,” I said, “We are the Flanders without the religion.”

(As I type this, both kids are singing a Muppets song. All singing, all the time. That’s us.)

Jonas the Soothsayer

Thought I’d try something different. Hope it worked:



What the what?

Three years ago, I bought a laptop. Her name is Stella and I love her. Except. Oh, except. She’s very hot and I don’t mean in a sexy way, though she is rather sleek. She runs very hot and I’ve bought three fans for her. Also she started going “grey screen” on me whenever I ran itunes and did something else. Or tried transferring files off of her after she went all “vertical blue/green corduroy lines” screen on me. All of these little quirks have made it very hard to love her.

The vertical lines screen is what pushed me from, “ok, I’m probably going to need a new laptop within the year” to “SHIT! I need one NOW because I don’t know when this thing’s going to blow and if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m going to school ONLINE I’d just let it go for a while.” And sure, some may argue that I could just use Matt’s computer downstairs but those people can shut up because it’s cold in that basement and Matt usually plays on his computer when I’m doing school work. Mostly the cold thing.

That previous paragraph is the very definition of “First World Problems.”

So I researched and researched and researched some more and decided on a Dell because I’ve heard great things about them and they’re reasonably priced. Then somehow Matt and I started discussing buying a desktop for me instead and the research for that took place. Then last week I ran into a completely asinine problem on Sharepoint and I threw up my hands and said, “That’s it! I’m going Mac!”

However, I couldn’t just go buy a mac. Those things are expensive and we’re planning a trip to Disney World and we ain’t exactly doing laps in a money bin for a fun Saturday Night. Last year Matt’s grandmother passed away. She really was a neat lady and I wish I’d known her during her younger years because I heard some great stories about her at the funeral. She left her children and grandchildren a nice chunk of change. Matt and I put some of it aside on the off-chance we needed to pay taxes on it this year. Last Saturday we finally got the tax form for that account and Matt ran off to do our taxes. Good news! Big tax return and we don’t have to pay taxes on the inheritance!

Sunday we dropped the kids off at my mom’s* and went shopping. God forbid we just sit on the money for a while.

First we went to Guitar Center for what Matt swore would be a short trip because he knew exactly what he wanted and only wanted to look at one other thing.

Word of advice: going to Guitar Center with a musician is NEVER a short trip. To be fair, this wasn’t entirely Matt’s fault because what he wanted had been discontinued and the newest and prettiest model wasn’t available in stores so he had to order it but then there was this thing involving a coupon and the store’s computer and…looking back I’m thinking we should’ve just had Matt order it from home except for the coupon which was for $100 if we spent so much before taxes. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, really, and there wasn’t anything we could do but I did tweet this at one point:

“Guitar Center needs a ‘significant other’ area where we can sit and drink coffee and access free wi-fi.”

But we ended up saving $100 so I can’t complain too much.

Off to Best Buy! Matt found an ad in the paper for a 3TB external hard drive for $199. WELL, we found a different one for $149! But then we found Lego Star Wars for the PS3 and a Blue Ray/DVD/Digital Copy of To Kill a Mockingbird so we didn’t end up really saving anything but whatever.

Off to the Apple Store!

It’s so shiny in there and everyone was so nice and helpful. We barely had time to even look at the iMac we were directed to before Justin the Helpful Sales Rep greeted us and answered the two or three questions we still had after all the research we’d done. I decided on the 21.5 inch 2.5GHz model and traded in the 4GB RAM for 8GB (let me tell you, I felt so awesome and smart when I told him I wanted to do that and then he said that’s what he would’ve recommended we do.) and Matt ordered his new ipod (his died a long time ago and he’s been so good about not rushing out and buying a new one right away, especially considering what a music nut he is and how much time he spends on the bus now). The whole “sale” took about 15 minutes. Justin told us it would be about 30 minutes to install the new memory so we could just hang out or go get some coffee or whatever and they’d call us when it was done.

“Sweet!” we said smiling and nodding. “What a painless transaction this is!” I stupidly thought.

Justin totaled up everything (including my student discount which saved us about $100), showed me the total cost, I fought the urge to faint and handed him my bank card. He ran it and…

It was declined.

“Say what now?”

“Yeah, it didn’t go through.” Justin said, still being super friendly and being an absolute angel about not embarrassing us. “But here’s why: your bank has a daily spending limit and I’m guessing this isn’t your first stop today.”

“No, we went to Guitar Center earlier…” Matt mumbled.

“Dang it!” I was just plain angry and embarrassed. “The money’s there! I just put it there this morning!”

“I saw it!” Matt agreed (because our word would be enough to magically make the card work, right?)

I muttered some more and said, “Matt told me to call the bank before we left to let them know but I was all, who’s going to be open on a Sunday?”

“The bank,” Matt and Justin said in unison. Justin handed me my card back and told me to just call the number on the back and they’ll take care of it. So I did. Except my stupid phone didn’t want to place the stupid call. So I used Matt’s phone and Matt and Justin bashed T-Mobile for a while.

After I finally go through to a person, she explained that she can certainly increase the daily spending limit. I told her how much I needed and she said that she needed to increase the limit to $Z and there was only $Y in the account. And I said, “But I only need $X.” “Yes, but you need $Z in order to increase the limit.” Getting more furious by the minute, I asked if I could get a Direct Deposit Advance (THAT I DIDN’T NEED MAY I JUST POINT OUT AGAIN???? I had plenty in the account even after the Apple Store purchase just not the necessary $Z). She processed it and said it should be good to go. I asked her to stay on the line while Justin ran it again.

And again.

Three times. Not accepted.

Bank lady put me on hold for a good 10-15 minutes (possibly more, time lost all meaning at this point.)

Meanwhile, Justin and Matt were talking about Garage Band and other small talk while I silently fumed to the sound of smooth jazz piano playing over the phone. Bank Lady comes back on and passed me off to Bank Dude. I explained to Bank Dude the whole thing about the limit increase and the direct deposit advance to get it to the magical $Z amount I needed. “OK, good, I think I see the problem. Just give me a couple minutes and I’ll get it straightened out for you.”

Two minutes later, I hear:

“Ok! I—“

I look at the phone. I put it back to my ear. “Hello? HELLO??”

Matt: “What’s wrong?”

Me: “EFFING PHONE!! It dropped the call!”

Matt: “Are you freaking kidding me?”

Me: “No! But he did say “ok” like whatever needed to be done was done.”

Justin: “Shall I try it again?”

Me: “Yeah, go for it.”

Justin swiped the card while Matt and I held our breath.

“It went through!”

“Oh, thank god. I was about to lose it,” I say.

Justin hands me back my card and says, “I’m glad it went through because I saw a four-letter expletive on both of your mouths.”

“Oh, it was ready to fly!” I laugh, relieved and still so unbelievably embarrassed. We both thanked Justin for being so patient and he was still so awesome about the whole thing. And two minutes later, up walked the service guy with my shiny new computer with its 8GB of RAM.

That evening, Matt plugged in the computer and turned it on. Jaden’s head popped up and said, “Hey! That’s the sound Wall-e makes when he wakes up!”

“Oh yeah, it is, huh! Hey! Should we call it Wall-e? Or maybe Eve because it’s so sleek and shiny?” I asked.

Jaden thought about it and said, “No, I think its name is Wall-e.”

And Wall-e it is.

Epilogue: I have no idea how to use Wall-e. If anyone has any suggestions for converting my brain from PC to Mac, I’d greatly appreciate it.

*Upon arriving at my mom’s to pick the kids up again, Jonas announced that he “was so much good today!” Apparently, he used up all of his good because by the time we got home he was throwing a fit that we were going home, not to a restaurant, and that he didn’t like us. Later he threw his bowl of soup on the floor because he was playing with it instead of eating it. Oh, Three. You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you?