The letter Z.

Ah, the letter Z. I thought I’d never see the day.

It’s the last day of April. It’s the last day of the 26-day A to Z Writing challenge. This challenge forced me to constrain each post within a letter. I wrote each post around 9 pm at night, not knowing exactly what I would write about until my fingers hit the keyboard.

There are some posts that make me cringe re-reading them, such as the letter L and the letter G. I could have written them funnier if I had more time to think.

Some posts did statistically well. The letter R is the most popular. My personal favorite is the letter M.

Before I get to Z, let’s recap.

The letter A – Awe.

The letter B – Baby Got Back.

The letter C – Chocolate.

The letter D – Drag queen.

The letter E – Emma.

The letter F – Fifth grade.

The letter G – Grocery stores.

The letter H – Hairy butts.

The letter I – Ice cream.

The letter J – Jockstrap.

The letter K – Kate.

The letter L – Lead foot driving.

The letter M – Motherfucker.

The letter N – Nice.

The letter O – Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

The letter P – Parenting.

The letter Q – Questions.

The letter R – Revenge.

The letter S – Scott.

The letter T – Thank you.

The letter U – Underwear.

The letter V – Vodka in Preschool.

The letter W – Wife.

The letter X – “You are here” X.

The letter Y – Yellowstone National Park.

The letter Z.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.

You may think of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah as an expression of happiness. Or due to its sappy usage by Disney you may think of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah as an expression of happiness in a sarcastic way.

When, in fact, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah is a song from Disney’s 1946 movie, Song of the South. It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Speaking of Mickey Mouse – I got a story for you. I always have a story. I hoard stories until it’s the perfect time to tell you I got hit on by Mickey Mouse. 

Yes. You heard me.

My family is a “Disney Family.” From 2nd grade to college, I went to Disney World every other November. It’s the only vacation destination I knew growing up – Orlando, Florida. I’m not complaining. I was one of few kids in my school that went to Disney World every other year.

And then I wasn’t a kid anymore and Mickey Mouse hit on me.

I was an awkward early teenager eating dinner with my parents, three younger siblings, and my aunt Mary at a Disney World restaurant. It was one of those restaurants where the characters stop by your table to sign autographs and smile for pictures. All communication is through hand gestures and body language.

Goofy stopped by and posed with my brother’s Goofy hat. Pluto stopped by and pinched my baby sister’s cheeks. And then Mickey Mouse walked up.

Mickey stopped dead in his tracks and stared at me. He held his heart and got down on one knee.

Oh my God, my dad is right here, you pervert behind the mask.

Mickey got up and walked up next to my seat. He rested his Mouse arms on the table and cupped his Mouse chin in his white gloves and stared at me. I ignored all fake-eye contact. I picked at my chicken as the family laughed. Mickey took a piece of my chicken and held it up like he was going to feed me.

Oh, hell no, Mickey. You’re not feeding me.

I took the piece of chicken from Mickey’s hand and fed myself. My dad clapped. Mickey held his heart again.

“Mickey’s in love with Julie!”

I glared at my brother. Mickey pet my hand.

You sick pervert.

By this time the rest of the restaurant was watching because Mickey is the star when you’re at Disney World. Mickey wouldn’t even look at my siblings or my parents. Kids yelled for him. He ignored the kids. Mickey stood up. He knew every person in the that restaurant had their eyes on him.

He put his hand out, making it clear he wanted me to stand too.

“Do it! Do it for Mickey Mouse!”

“Mickey’s in love!”

“Shut up, JON! Mom, help me!”

My mom and my aunt laughed.

I stood up.

GODDAMNIT. 

Mickey pointed at his nose.

I shook my head. I didn’t understand what he was doing. The wait staff gathered around.

Great.

Mickey pointed at his nose again.

“I don’t get it.”

One of the wait staff said they think Mickey wants a kiss.

“WHAT!! NO! WHO’S UNDER THIS MASK?! DAD, STOP LAUGHING. YOU DON’T KNOW WHO IS UNDER THIS MASK. SINCE WHEN DOES MICKEY ASK FOR KISSES? DAD, HELP ME!”

My dad had tears in his eyes from laughing so hard. He couldn’t even talk.

“Give Mickey Mouse a kiss!”

“Mickey Mouse is hitting on Julie!”

“Do it! Do it!”

I hate my life.

I kissed Mickey Mouse on the nose.

Pervert.

Mickey’s nose wiggled up and down and side-to-side. Mickey started clapping. He held his heart again and walked off.

Finally.

“That wasn’t even funny. Is everyone done? Let’s go.”

We finished up our dinner. I stood up, getting ready to go.

Fucking Minnie Mouse showed up out of nowhere. She stomped over to my family’s table. Her hands were on her hips. The restaurant fell silent.

OH. MY. GOD.

My eyes got huge.

My siblings’ mouths dropped.

“MINNIE MOUSE! UH-OH! THIS IS GUNNA GET GOOD!”

“SHUT UP! UGH! THIS IS SO ANNOYING!”

Minnie pushed her nose in my face.

“I didn’t….I didn’t do anything.”

Minnie threw her hands up in frustration. My family got up and we left the restaurant.

I let my family have it.

“Oh yeah, real cute. Dad, why are cheering on some pervert under the mask? Why didn’t anyone say anything? This is Disney World! Since when does Mickey hit on teenagers?! This is so embarrassing. I can never come back here.”

“Yeah, because Minnie is here ready to kick your ass.”

“UGH!”

One by one, we filed on to the escalator that took us down to the pavilion level. My mom yelled.

“LOOK! Look at Mickey!! He’s coming outside of the restaurant!”

Everyone turned around and looked up. Mickey stood at the top of the escalator and blew his nose with a napkin. His head hung down and he cried. He took the napkin and waved a sad little wave.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. to the man behind the mask. 

___________

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Z.jpg

Mary.

I don’t know how to write about my aunt Mary passing away. The only way I can speak of her without ruining my keyboard from tears is telling the stories that make me laugh. Out of all of Mary’s qualities, one of my favorites was her ability to laugh at herself. She also always laughed at my humor. She had a contagious laugh. The kind of laugh that instantly made you laugh with her.

She called me a few weeks ago to see how her “baby Kate” and “baby Emma” were doing. When I answered the phone she said, “what are you doing?” I answered, “pooping. What are you doing?” She giggled and said “Bug!”. Then I’m sure she called my mom to gossip afterwards, telling her I said I was pooping when she called.

Mary would always accompany us on family vacations. She traveled everywhere we went. She visited us in Charleston, South Carolina. She went with us to Vegas to celebrate 21st birthdays. We visited Seattle a few years ago for her 60th birthday to see her brother/my uncle.

One of the places she has taken many vacations with us is Disney World. We went every other year when I was growing up. Mary was the biggest chicken when it comes to roller coasters or anything remotely scary. “It’s a Small World” was her type of ride. Just this past year I had to console both her and Emma that the Haunted Mansion was not a “scary” ride. She made me sit in the middle of our cart. Emma had one of my hands, Mary had the other.

I’m actually surprised we got Mary to ride the Tea Cups with flat Jenna.

The funniest story I can remember of Mary was when we were in Orlando when I was 18 or 19 years old. We were at the new theme park by Universal Studios, called “Islands of Adventure”. My family did not know what the rides were like because we have not visited it before.

At Islands of Adventure, I read somewhere that the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride had a drop at the end. My dad said not to say anything to Mary and let’s put on her on. We got in line for the ride. Everyone put on their biggest acting faces and told Mary it was just a boat ride, like you’re going through Jurassic Park. She believed us. We all rode together in a boat. Jenna sat front row with Mary. We travel through the ride, dinosaurs roaring and jumping out at us. Mary would occasionally scream, telling us she didn’t like the ride. My dad and I were snickering in the back the whole time, waiting for the big drop. Our boat started to travel upwards. My dad starts to laugh uncontrollably, slapping his knee. My abs were hurting from laughing so hard at my dad laughing. Mary knew something was going on. She screamed “WHAT?! What’s going on??? Is this a trick? Is there a drop?” Jenna says to her, “hold on, Mary. I’m serious. This is no joke. HOLD ON.”

WHAT?!!! GET ME OFF THIS THING!! AHHHHHHH!!!!  I WANT OFF NOW!! TOM!!!!! GET ME OFF!!! GET ME OFF! EMPLOYEES!!

Our whole boat was laughing. Jenna was trying to reassure Mary it would be ok but she really needed to stop screaming at us and hold on. It was too late for her to get off the ride.

Our boat tips forward. I shut my eyes and held on. All I remember going down was a high pitched scream from Mary. My dad stopped laughing and yelled “wooooooo!!!!” the whole way down.

At the bottom, our boat started to travel back to the loading/unloading dock. Our boat waved at my mom and other family members watching from the dry land. Mary was screaming. She never trusted us on rides again. Every trip to Disney World after that episode she would ask employees if it was “scary”. I personally think Mary secretly liked the ride. I have to do a little digging, but there is a picture my mom took of Mary in the boat after the big drop. Mary has the biggest smile on her face. She may have said she hated it but the picture shows for that split second she couldn’t have been happier.

I’ll miss you so much, Mary. You were the greatest aunt ever. I will never forget your smile or laugh.

I hope they serve Coronas on Cinco de Mayo for you in heaven. Or maybe a margarita with a crazy amount of tequila. It’s how you always liked it. You little Mexican.

Please, watch over your “baby Kate” and “baby Emma” for me.

I took this picture around the time they took Mary off life support. Emma later reasoned that heaven is where Mary became Tinkerbell with sparkly green wings to watch over us. I title this picture, “To Neverland”

Summer goal.

Coming back from Disney World (more specifically Hollywood Studios – I still call it MGM) , I decided to set a goal: I need to watch more movies. At the very least, the movies most people have seen.

I guess I could use the classic excuse of  “since having kids, I don’t get to go to the movies anymore”.

But that’s not entirely true. I really didn’t go before having kids anyway.

A list of movies I have not seen (just off the top of my head):

  • The Princess Bride
  • Goonies
  • Breakfast Club
  • 16 Candles
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Grease
  • Alien
  • Terminator
  • Star Wars
  • The Godfather
  • Avatar
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Harry Potter
  • Toy Story
  • Jaws
  • The Passion

There have been a handful of movies I’ve started to watch but lost interest or just got distracted:

  • Top Gun (This is Scott’s favorite movie. I hope he’s not reading this b/c he will tie me down to the couch and make me watch it.)
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean II, and III.
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Fight Club
  • Tangled
  • The Princess and the Frog

I’m not against watching any of these movies. I just never got around to it, I guess? I do rent movies occasionally. My que is always filled with romantic comedies. Or I’ll get on an old black and white movie kick – love ’40s and ’50s movies. (It’s where I got Emma and Kate’s middle names from. Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn) I’m a total girl when it comes to movie selections.

So I’m on a mission to rent movies that I probably should have seen by now. I’m going to (try to) go to the movies with Scott and be more agreeable with “his” movie choice.

My summer of late night entertainment will be starting tomorrow night.

First up: Raiders of the Lost Ark and sequels…there are sequels, right?

We’re back!

With 3 clicks of our ruby red slippers, we are back to Kansas.
I had to insert the Wizard of Oz reference there. My brother was sending me tornado touchdown updates. The hot topic on Facebook was the storms and tornados. When we landed in KC, we walked out the airport to a downpour, a 30 degree temperature drop, and tornado sirens. Uh, should our pilot have landed our plane in that?! I’m glad everyone we know is safe.

So Disney World…what to say….

Overall, it was fun. Emma loved it. She loved meeting characters, watching shows and mostly, riding rides. She rode them all–with the exception of a few due to her height. Kate…ehhh…she was ok with the rides. I don’t think she cared either way.

Here are tips:

– There is a reason “under 3” is free to get in the parks. Kate is a little too young to “get it”. Characters scared her. The whole place was overwhelming.  I had to hold her the majority of the time at the parks. It was very annoying. She seemed to have the most entertaining time at the rental house in the pool. But on the bright side, I got an awesome workout because of it. My shorts were literally falling off me by the last day.

– May is too hot. It may be spring in Kansas, but it is definitely summer in Florida. Now I know why my parents took us in November every year. If we go back, it will be in November (ish). It was mid 90s the whole time. Not one drop of rain. Water and Gatorade were liquid gold. It was brutal. I would not recommend going in summer. The hot, miserable sun takes a lot of the fun out of the experience.

– Renting a house is cheaper than staying at the parks. And you have a huge house to relax in than a single room. I would do it again mostly just to have the space for the kids. And we saved a ton of money eating “at home” for breakfast, dinner.

– We didn’t hop parks as much as we thought we would. We generally stayed at one park a day. The girls could not go all day like adults can. We let the girls sleep in every day. A few times, we even let Kate take a nap before we left in the afternoon. So our days were cut short. We mostly spent afternoons and nights at the parks. It was really preferred by everyone to skip mornings, early afternoon because of the unbearable heat.

– If there is a sit down meal with characters, do it. Cinderella’s Royal Table was fun (but also the most expensive). The food was never ending. It’s air conditioned. And Emma didn’t have to wait in line to see any of the princesses. Each princess came to our table and chatted with Emma and Kate.

– We got Emma a “princess makeover” at the Bippiti Bobbiti Boutique. This would probably be skippable next time. I could tell Emma hated her hair being pulled back tight. For some reason (randomly selected?), Emma got picked to sit in the front window of the store. The other little girls were in a salon-style area in the back. Emma got VIP treatment. She had passerbys waving, little girls pointing, the “Fairy Godmother’s helpers” giving attention to the window Emma was in. Her stylist cleared a way for Emma to walk to the front and back of store by yelling, “excuse me! A princess is coming! Make room for Princess Emma!” It was very cool. Emma could tell she was more special than the other girls. I liked that she got this awesome experience. We probably wouldn’t want to do it again if she were put in the salon like the other girls. The hair only lasted a few hours before she wanted it out.

– Epcot is skippable for kids under 6. Not much for them to do. Half days worth, at most.

– Be prepared that every time you “get a snack” in the parks, you will walk away spending $20 every time, guaranteed.

– Stay late at least one night at Magic Kingdom to see the fireworks show. It is awesome.

– Use the FastPass system to skip lines! Put your ticket into a machine in front of the ride. It will spit out a piece of paper telling you what time to come back to get in front of the line. Only a few rides had horribly long waits. It really wasn’t too bad for us. Probably because most of the country’s kids are still in school so it’s Disney’s “off season”.

– If anyone in your party is scared of roller coasters, do everything to get them to ride and record them with your video on your phone. Hilarious. My husband and my sister’s husband are terrified of the big rides. I couldn’t stop laughing at what they were yelling during the ride. Then we got to listen to it all over again on video. (My Scott did come out actually enjoying the Aerosmith ride. He’s glad we put him on.)

– “Flat Jenna” was a huge hit. Random people would point and laugh. Many told me it was a great idea. One girl asked why I put my head on a stick! I’m glad we brought flat Jenna, the pictures are funnier with her.

– Do what you can to get non-stop flight. You are guaranteed other screaming kids on the plane so you won’t feel as bad when your kid is one of them (Kate). And you won’t get stuck traveling for 24 hours because of weather related problems in St. Louis (Jessica and Scott) – including lost luggage (which is still lost two days later.)

That’s all I got for those of you who asked for tips with small children at Disney World…..

 

I have Fall Freaks.

Uh oh.

Anyone that knows me well will know my favorite time of year is fall. The reds, yellows and oranges on the trees. Pumpkin, cinnamon, hot chocolate. The smell of burning firewood. Football. Cool mornings and evenings. Crunchy leaves at your feet. Ghost stories. Halloween. Pumpkin Patch. Corn mazes.

I decorate my house with fall decorations in August.

So here we are in Spring. May. The furthest you can be from fall or Halloween. Fall isn’t even on my radar. I’m enjoying the warm up from the long winter.

But the girls have been on a fall/halloween frenzy. It’s all they talk about. Emma sings her halloween songs she learned in preschool all the time. She sings them so much, Kate has learned the words and will randomly bust out in song too.

They draw pumpkins, ghosts, scary monsters. I don’t know how many times Emma has asked me to draw a skeleton for her.

Whenever Kate sees me at the computer, she insists on watching our old Jib Jab Halloween videos.  Video no. 1 and Video no. 2. She will sit on my lap and beg. “JIB JAB! JIB JAB!” She’s been doing this since Halloween and won’t give it up. I was forced to bookmark them.

Emma has started thinking about halloween costumes. She wants to be something scary this year. She wants to be a witch, a scary one.

Emma asks how many days there are until the Pumpkin Patch. For her birthday, she asked for a Chiefs ticket. She wants to tailgate and go to a Chiefs game with my dad.

I have showed Emma youtube rides at Disney World to get her excited. She is excited about seeing the Haunted Mansion.

The Haunted Mansion! What 5 year old looks forward to a ride like that?

Scott does not think this is shocking at all considering how I am. My kids have now passed me up. They are bigger fall freaks than I am.

Girls: Get EXCITED!

Disney World!!! Ahhh!! I’m so excited for Disney World!!! I’m counting down the minutes until we get on that non-stop plane to Orlando, Florida!

I’m especially excited for the WARM humid Florida weather (high 80s)! May weather in the midwest has not been kind this year.

I have been watching youtube videos of other people’s kids meeting the Princesses. I’ve been watching promotional videos from DW. I gave the girls little pedicures with Mickey symbols on their big toes. I have been reading up on Disney Mom websites. Got 3 Disney World books. iPad apps downloaded. Got the Cinderella’s Castle breakfast booked. Got Emma’s Princess up-do booked. Asked everyone that has been to DW with children for any advice or tips. I want to see all the new additions since I’ve been. I want to ride all the classics. I want to have the girls reenact the same pictures I have with my siblings.

I’m even excited for “It’s a Small World”.

The girls are PACKED. I’m packing my stuff tonight. I’m sure Scott will wait last minute.

My excitement is quickly muffled by Emma. UGHHH!! It’s so frustrating to be excited around her. Emma knows she’s going to Disney World. But she doesn’t get it. She’s more excited for FedEx to arrive tomorrow for birthday week (from Scott’s dad. He sends the girls a package a day for their birthday week). I shake and yell at Emma every day: Who cares about FedEx and a freaking toy!!! AHHHHH!!! Count down to Disney World!!! You have no idea!!!!

She really has no idea. I try and tell her how magical the castle is. It’s like a real castle. It’s like as high as 100 of our houses stacked up. And the Princesses are so beautiful. And Mickey is so nice, he can wiggle his nose if you kiss it. And you can get an autograph book and Ariel will sign your book like she signs the scroll from Ursula! And you can ride a Flying carpet! And you can ride a Pirates of the Caribbean ride!! ARG! And you can fly in a boat to Never Never Land! And you can go inside a haunted mansion!! Ooooo…scary!!

Emma! WAKE. UP!! Stop obsessing about FedEx!!

When Emma gets back home I’m going to remind her that she was more excited about FedEx than Disney World. She will look at me like I’m crazy, much like I’m looking at her now.

 

Meanest mom of the year award.

Right here!  I get the meanest mom award.  I was on Disney Channel’s website a few months ago with Emma, and I somehow clicked my way to the Walt Disney World website.  I found that you can sign up to get a free DVD in the mail about planning a trip to Disney World.

I got to thinking about how many times I’ve been there growing up.  And it would be fun to take Emma and Kate sometime when Kate gets a little older.  I haven’t been there since 2000 so I wanted to know what is “new”.

Well, the DVD comes and I ask Emma if she wants to watch it.  Of course she does.  She wants to see the princesses.  So we watch this DVD.  Disney sure does know how to pump up a child for Disney World.  Emma was completely awed by the castle.  And the little girls hugging Cinderella.  She asks me with a huge smile on her face, “Will you take me to see Cinderella’s castle? And meet her?”  Her face looked so cute.  I admit it, it brought tears to my eyes seeing how happy she got just looking at castle.
I told her we would go when Kate gets a little bigger.  She looks at Kate, pulls her arms like she is stretching her, and says “Hurry up and grow, Kate!”  I couldn’t help but bust out laughing.

Now that is all Emma asks for: to see Cinderella’s castle.  I told Scott what I did.  And I started to feel really bad.  Poor Emma.  Why did I show her that DVD? Why did I order it?  We really don’t have any immediate plans for Disney World.  We have never really talked about it other than “we should take Emma there one day”.  Luckily, Scott said he was thinking about taking a vacation next year sometime after Kate turns 1.  He said Disney World would be a good place that the girls will like.  We’ll have to start saving…hopefully everything financially will work out.  That made me feel a little better but for now, I’m still kicking myself for being the meanest mom ever.