Catching up

This blog has sat here, fairly unattended for longer than I’d meant it to sit. I only come here to write things when the spirit moves me, and when I have time. Those two things haven’t happened concurrently in quite a while. Work has been terribly busy, yet exciting, in spite of my working exclusively as a teleworker since March of 2020 when the pandemic sent us all to our home offices.

I believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for a return to the office, but I don’t know what the “after” will look like. Many of my coworkers are happy and productive working from home, myself included. But we are torn because we miss one another, the camaraderie, the friendships, the time between meetings when we got to discuss the latest shows we were watching or upcoming concerts we couldn’t wait to see, or even the latest political games being played on the national stage.

My husband and I both work at the same place in the same field on the same projects so we’ve attended many of the same meetings from his office (the basement) or mine (our first floor spare bedroom). Our home is farther than most from our place of work, making it nice to skip that drive. He uses it to sleep in and I have used it to work early and late in order to catch up on all of the things I need to do. I’ve been working two jobs for quite some time, and can never fit it all within a 40 hour work week.

Our oldest is off at college now, and I have yet to adjust. I suspect that I never will. Our youngest is in her junior year, so we’ve begun her search for college as well. These years, that I knew would go by too quickly for my likings, have flown by even faster than expected. I am painfully not ready for our children to leave the nest, yet also proud of their accomplishments and their maturation into the people they have and are becoming. I may be biased, but I happen to think that our kids are two of the most amazing people in the entire world.

I hope that the last year and a half has treated you all as well as can be expected and that you and your family have been able to take advantage of unexpected time together. While I will never be happy that a pandemic raged across the world, I have been blessed with more time with my children ahead of their departures for college and beyond, as we all hunkered down at home doing remote learning and teleworking. For that, I will always be grateful.

I wish you well and will try to check in more often.


Its been a long time…

I’ve been thinking about restarting this blog. Well, not so much restarting as just writing things in it again. With the introspection brought about by this pandemic, I’ve started to write in my personal journal again after about a year of just not finding the time. It feels like time to do so here.

Blogs have long been replaced with the quicker feedback destinations like Facebook and Instagram (or even Snapchat) but I still love reading them. I still read the blogs of the people I’ve followed over the years when a notification comes through my email inbox that they’ve published something.  A few of the folks I do follow have taken to posting their articles on Facebook rather than a personal blog space. I will read those but I miss personal blogs.

Since my last posts, so much has gone on that I’ve thought about writing about. The Star Wars sequel trilogy came to an end. The Mandalorian season 1 aired on Disney Plus. I’ve read a few books. Fell in love with Hamilton. Oh, yes, and a Pandemic came through the world and shut everything down. My children are in high school and while they were home for the last quarter of their school year from March to May, they are both back in school for a blended in person/remote approach. We are knee deep into the college searching/application experience with our oldest. My husband and I have been working from home full time since March. and we miss Disney World.

In the time since I last wrote something, my country seems to be topsy turvy. The anger is front and center, and our press seems to relish in stirring the pot. I miss the days where people shared the good.  Focus on the good. 

In the words of one of my favorite Disney podcasters, now more than ever is it important to Choose the Good.

Hopefully more posts to come.




Learning lessons about myself as I teach my son to drive

My son has his temporary driving license, and for the past several months, he and I have been spending hours of time driving per the requirements to get his official license.  He dragged his feet in the beginning and wasn’t really interested in getting his license, but after a lot of practice, I think he’s developing into a really good and confident driver.

I expected to enjoy my time teaching him how to drive. The two of us spend a lot of time together in the car as I drive him to and from the 45+ minutes from our house to his school.  What I didn’t expect is to learn about myself and who I am through his observations of my teaching.

One such insightful comment came from him last week and it made me feel so good about myself that I wanted to compose a little post about it on my long neglected blog.

As we drive along, I give him a running commentary from the passenger seat about how fast to go, or where to turn at the next light or stop sign, or that he’s either too close on one side or should slow down or go a bit faster, etc.  It’s not that I am constantly talking. He often asks for the above information as he’s driving along. We’ve had a great time together, and I’ve enjoyed teaching him how to drive. 

Being an engineer, I don’t just tell him, this is a 25 mile and hour zone, or this area is reduced speed, I give him the whole reason why different roads are marked how they are, etc.  I’ve never just taught him in an “I said so” sort of way. I have always told him and his sister the “why” about things.

Earlier this week, as we were going through a residential area, he made a comment about my running commentary. He thought it was so very like me to tell him what I did. I was telling him to make sure he drove 25 mph in the residential area  because there might be people around and we don’t want to accidentally hurt someone, rather than telling him that he might get a ticket if he exceeded the speed limit especially in a residential area. He loved that my reasoning involved making the world a better place, rather than just trying not to get into trouble.

And with this observation my son gave me perhaps one of the greatest gifts he could give me. He summed up for me that he saw in me who I hoped I actually was. I have always tried to do the right thing because it was the right thing, not because I would get into trouble if I didn’t. I try to live each day trying to make the world better for my having been there, rather than just trying to stay out of trouble.  My son let me know that I am living what I hope to be. I am modeling the person I am trying to be.  It says a great deal about him, as well. He observes people and really sees them as they are.

I will miss these driving lesson days.

Of Fathers and Sons: Phil Collins “Not Dead Yet” tour

Last night, the night before a significant birthday of mine that will not be named, I went to see what proved to be a really fantastic and unexpectedly emotional concert. Phil Collins in his Cleveland, Ohio appearance of his “Not Dead Yet” tour. One of the first concerts I ever went to back when I was in college, was the Genesis “Invisible Touch” tour back in 1987. I went with some of my very best friends in college and had the absolute best time. Phil was an amazing drummer and I loved the album and enjoyed the whole show.

Fast forward many years (and how the heck did *that* happen) and some friends at work wanted to know if my husband and I would like to see Phil as he did one more tour that, thankfully, took him through Cleveland. My husband, being a drummer, and knowing I loved Genesis, said yes! So last night, the night before my birthday, and a school night, we went downtown to enjoy dinner and some music.

You can read several wonderful reviews of the concert here and here so I won’t go into depth about the sets and Phil’s performance. What I will say is that it was surprisingly emotional . When the show opened, Mr. Collins walked out to center stage with the help of a cane. Apparently he’s recently had surgery and his foot isn’t in very good shape, so he would not be playing the drums. Instead he sat on a stool and sang every song from the front of the stage. His voice was sometimes soft, and at times, timid, but it was still the same Phil Collins voice I remembered from college. As he continued through the set, he became stronger in song and presence. His band and backup singers were delightful and it was obvious to the audience that there was love and admiration all around.

That wasn’t nearly the emotional part. No, that came when Phil introduced his band. He started with the horn section, because no Phil Collins or Genesis song is complete without horns. Then moved to the guitars, percussions, backup singers and keyboards. He skipped over the drums and the audience was on the edge of their seats waiting to find out who the young man was on the drums.

Turns out that the young man in question was Phil’s 17 year old son, Nicholas Collins. When introduced. the audience could not have beeb more loud. Yes, I cried. That was it for me the entire night. If Phil couldn’t play the drums, his son was there to carry on for the next generation. Maybe it was because I was about to turn a milestone birthday or maybe it’s because my own children are starting to mature and grown into teenagers who are their own people but I was deeply touched.

Here’s a little youtube video I found of the father/son duo during this tour.

If you can see Phil Collins on this tour, whether or not you’re a fan, it was definitely a wonderful time. Last night’s show was sold out, but I suspect there might have been one or two tickets still remaining here or there. I’d recommend it without hesitation.

Thank you again, Mr. Phil Collins, for your music, for your gift and for sharing both with the world.


The Baby Tigers are Here!


Sohni, the Sumatran female tiger at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, relaxes on the Maharaja Jungle Trek

Yesterday, on the Disney Parks blog, Disney announced the birth of two little adorably cute baby Sumatran Tigers at their Animal Kingdom resort. Sohni, their Sumatran Tiger female, gave birth sometime this month to two really cute little tiger cubs. They don’t have names yet, and it wasn’t announced whether each of them were male or female, only that they are here.

(In looking through my photos from our last trip to Disney World, it turns out I did have a photo of Momma Tiger, Sohni. My previous blog post featured a photo of Malosi, the proud father.)

They put up a short video of Mom and babies in their nursery. The images are shot with a black and white camera, positioned over above them, and you can see the two little sweeties rolling around as they try to learn how to crawl their way to their mom. If you need a little smile in your day, definitely watch this beautiful video.

These species of Tiger are endangered in the wild, and thanks to the hard work of the conservationists at Disney and the other Zoos around the world, we now have two more little tigers in the world. I wish them health and long lives and hope that they are only the first in a long line of more new tigers so we can eventually repair the damage and repopulate Tigers in the wild.

In the meantime, I cannot wait to get down to Disney World to meet these little angels!



Rogue One: My initial reactions

rogueone_onesheeta_1000_309ed8f6I saw Rogue One this past Saturday, during opening weekend. As I reflected on that, it occurred to me that Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie to come out since I have been an adult, that I did not see on opening night. In fact, even though I wasn’t old enough to drive yet, my parents indulged me and took me to see Return of the Jedi on it’s opening night way back in 1983.  Up until a week ago, I wasn’t even sure I was going to go see it at all, let alone during opening weekend. I’ve lost much of my interest in the new Disney Star Wars movies after they undid everything Luke, Han, and Leia accomplished with The Force Awakens. These new stories just don’t feel like my Star Wars.

Happily, my initial impressions were very positive. Perhaps it’s because I went in really expecting not to like it at all. Or that this one was set during my favorite part of the Star Wars story: the rebellion. Or that I also went in anticipating the fates of the main characters. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it here, but suffice to say that I was correct in what happened to each of them and found I didn’t really get attached to any of them. It felt, sounded and looked like the Star Wars universe. The call outs to the original trilogy and to the current cartoon show on Disney XD Star Wars: Rebels were wonderful. I found myself laughing in delight and pointing at the screen several times.

I left the theater pronouncing that I really enjoyed and even liked this one. That it made up for my disappointment and dislike of The Force Awakens and all of its depressing storytelling choices. I thought the story of Rogue One was good, and the characters interesting. The special effects were, for the most part, wonderful. The last act was action and triumph and space battles. I even posted to my Facebook wall to let my friends know that this time I wasn’t let down by Disney.

Then I lived with the movie for a few days and now I am conflicted.

Rogue One’ story follows in the tradition of the great hollywood westerns or Shakespeare, but  I am one of those ‘not really grown up, grown ups’ who wishes that Star Wars would stay the gee-wiz happy story of my youth. (I know that it probably won’t given the story telling styles and interests of audiences of today.) Had I seen Rogue One as my first introduction to the Star Wars saga, I doubt I’d be the fan I am today. It was the sense of hope and triumph over bad guys in A New Hope (then just Star Wars) that so enchanted me when I was 8 years old in ’77. So, as much as I loved each and every shout out to the original trilogy and was overjoyed at the easter eggs for Star Wars: Rebels (my favorite of the new Star Wars offerings), I was still bummed at the ending. I saw it coming, but I wished I was wrong. If I could change anything, that’s what I’d change, but only for me. I realize that most of the audience loved it and would probably revolt if it were the way I would like it.  I also realize that changing it would change the gravity of the story and take away from what occurred.

(now I am reading that when the movie was originally pitched, the ending might have been closer to what I’d have rather seen).

As for some of the special effects, I will use initials here so I don’t spoil anyone. They shouldn’t be hard to crack, and those who can crack them probably have already seen the movie by now. I agree with a number of bloggers that the GMT CGI was a bit much. It stuck out as fake to me every time he was on screen. The reflections in the glass, or some holographic images would have been a better use of the technology. LO was better because she was used sparingly. These two instances are probably the only special effects I’d change, but it was an interesting attempt, so I can forgive it being a technology that’s just not quite there yet.

As I think about the movie and all of the things I love about it, I find that they had nothing to do with this new story or these new characters. All of the things I loved had to do with the easter eggs to A New Hope, and the original universe that George set up for us.  Aside from the wonderful K-2SO and Donny Yen‘s character, Chirrut, I didn’t find I cared at all about the new heroes. What I loved about Rogue One was the Star Wars goodness that came from George, not the new stuff from this new director. It was a good movie, even and enjoyable movie. I liked this one but not for the reasons I should.

Slowly, I am starting to accept that no matter where Disney takes the Star Wars universe from here on out, it won’t have “That Thing” that George infused into it (a Forbes writer sort of agrees with me here). It might be good but it won’t really be Star Wars. At least not for me. Maybe that’s ok. I haven’t decided yet.

Taking Your Children out of School for a Walt Disney World Family Vacation

I am trying to write a blog post about my thoughts on taking my children out of school for a family trip to Walt Disney World. My thoughts and feelings about it have shifted around as my children have grown and continued through school. Basically, I take them out as long as I feel they can make up the work. This is getting harder as they get further along in school.
I started with the following bulleted list of pros and cons. I thought I’d post those here to my blog as a sneak peek into my thoughts and also to ask for inputs from anyone who might read this.
  • Able to pick times with Lower crowds (potentially)
  • Able to pick times with potentially cooler temperatures
  • Might help to coordinate multi-family trips
  • Hard ticket special events: MNSSHP, MVMCP, WDW’s anniversary (Oct 1st), Walt’s birthday (Dec 5)
  • Educational opportunity
  • Missing class time, especially the first time teacher goes over something
  • Having to make up homework, classwork
  • No perfect attendance
  • Too much work to make up upon return (higher grades especially)
How to mitigate issues
  • Plan long in advance
  • Don’t pick the beginning of the school year when your child and the teachers are just getting into things
  • Let the teachers, school know long in advance of the trip and work with them to make up homework/classwork
  • Pick out dates that are best in terms of testing, homework, projects
  • know your child, Can they make up the work or will they fall behind
What are your thoughts? Send me comments and I will add to what I’ve captured above.

Day one of our Multiple Family Disney World Vacation

Port Orleans Riverside dockDisney World trip report time. I promised I’d start going through the Multiple Family Walt Disney World trip that my family and I went on this month (December 2013). In all, five families, myself, my three siblings and our parents, traveled down to spend a week together at Walt Disney World. Not surprisingly, we weren’t all able to arrive at the same time. Based on everyone’s work schedule, and the number of days they wanted to stay at disney, everyone arrived in more of a phased approach.

Because my Mom and I were the ringleaders of this magical trip, and because we’re Disney nerds, we were there first, staying from Saturday to the following Sunday. Eight days. Arriving first gave us a chance to set up everything, and make sure things were ready for the two families arriving the next day and the third family arriving two days later still.

It is a very good thing that we did.

When we booked this trip, through the lovely Disney specialist travel agency Mousefan travel, our agent made sure to code things with Disney as “travel with” to make sure they kept all five of our hotel rooms as close together as possible. When Mom and I (and my family) arrived, we found that four of the five families were together in the same building, and the fifth family was half way across the resort.

This was not good.

My Mom freaked out just a little bit. (It was all internal, but I could tell).

This was also not good.

As it turns out someone on the Disney side of the resort booking messed up . I verified with my travel agent, that she had made sure we were all “travel with.” She had even called earlier that week to make sure the reservation was all set and we’d end up together. So, it was entirely on the part of the Port Orleans Riverside folks.

We had specifically chosen the Port Orleans Riverside because we had a couple of families with five, and didn’t want to go up to either the Art of Animation or a Vacation club resort based on price. The trouble was that two of our five families have three children, making for a family of five but only one of them was seen as an “actual” family of five. The second family of five had a two year old as the fifth. At Disney,under three only counts as half a person in resorts and free at park entry. So, the family with three kids over three was placed in Alligator Bayou somewhere, and the rest of us were in the Magnolia bend section.

This was not at all acceptable to my Mom.

Thankfully, there were two lovely cast members working the check in at the resort, and they worked with the back office (I don’t know what to call reservations, but they had to do a lot of calling to some folks off site) to get us all together.

They offered an option (and I think at this point, it was our only option) where my family and my Mom (my step dad was joining us later because he couldn’t get the whole week off of work) had to rooms in one section of the resort (the Magnolia Bend) that first night, then we would move our stuff over to Alligator Bayou the next night, where we’d be joined by the rest of the families as they arrived. They didn’t have rooms all together until the next night.

That is what we ended up doing. It was hassle for us, because we had to wait for our bags to be picked up in the morning before heading to the parks, then wait for them to be redelivered when we returned from the parks. But in the end, bell services saved the day and managed to get everything where it needed to be.

For the rest of my siblings, they arrived and checked in, then found us in the Alligator Bayou section, never knowing anything had been amiss. In fact, we were all together on the same floor of the same building. The cousins spent every morning, running from room to room as they all woke up. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Everyone enjoyed the resort, and loved the theming over in the bayou section.

Hitch one successfully handled. Much love and thanks to the kind cast members at Port Orleans check in who helped me to keep my Mom from having a very bad day and managing to get her kids and grandkids all together.

Day one down.

Stay tuned for more Disney magic.

My Multiple Family Disney World Vacation was a success.


As I’ve posted here, I have been planning a DIsney World trip for multiple families as a gift to my Mom for the past couple of years.  It’s been her dream for some time to take all of her kids and grandkids down to Disney. We totaled five families in all (myself, my three siblings, my Mom and Step Dad).

It’s been a couple of weeks now, and it is hard to believe but that trip is now in the past. We went the second week of December; all 19 of us aged 2 to 70 something.   It was a most awesome time.

We made it there and back again, with nary a meltdown (well not a complete meltdown anyway). It was a most magical vacation. Everyone had a better time than I could have possibly hoped for.  There were some rough patches at the beginning, but it all worked out by the time all of the families were in attendance.
I caution anyone who ever plans a multiple family trip to Disney World, that you set the appropriate expectations. Not everything will go perfectly. It’s impossible to do that, even with the best of circumstances.  But roll with the little things, and work with Disney. They will do what they can to fix things. If they don’t, keep talking to a new cast member until you get someone who can.
I need to go through our trip and summarize the things that went great, not so great and what I learned.
All in all, I hope that we actually do this again in a few years when the youngest ones are a little older, and the baby that didn’t end up coming (and his Mom) have a chance to enjoy the magic.
Stay tuned for the trip report installments!

Continuing my Multi-Family Disney World trip planning – Part 3 – What to bring into the parks

As I am going through the planning for a multi-family Disney World trip for my family, I thought I’d continue my series of posts about what things to do, have, think about for Disney World traveling. This one will be on what to carry with you in the parks based on what I bring when I go.

Walt Disney World has a Security bag check at all gates of all four parks in this post 9/11 world. Naturally, there are things you cannot bring into the parks. Luckily, the list of things you can’t bring is pretty reasonable for families with young children.

I bring a backpack when we travel, and my husband usually carries anything from no bag at all, to a backpack, to his camera bag depending on whether he’s carrying around his good camera to take awesome photos.

Bringing a bag means you have to go through the bag check when entering the parks. It’s not a big deal, just another line to stand in where very nice guards will look through your bag down to the bottom to make sure all is well.

Here’s what I typically have in my backpack organized in categories. No particular order

Small first aid kit
(in case my kids either get paper cuts, fall down and scrape a knee, need first aid cream or bandaids).
Small Medicine bag
(allergy medicine or an inhaler, children’s Motrin, or Motrin for Mom/Dad)
Antibacterial lotion

Snacks – You can bring your own food in to the Disney parks!
Mints or other hard candies (not chocolates or things that will melt)
Bottles of water

I usually bring small tupperware containers filled with cheerios, cheetos, goldfish crackers, etc. for the kids. The containers keep things from getting crushed like they would in zip lock bags while in my backpack. I also carry sippy cups in a small crushable cooler bag with a cooler brick. Helps to keep the water or juice cold for my kids.

Zip lock bags – large, quart, and sandwich sized.
Since it rains in Disney often (afternoon showers are a regular occurrence) it helps to have these bags to keep electronics and other things that you don’t want to get wet, dry and safe.
Wallet (I typically only bring credit card, room key, Annual Pass, money) – the New Magic Band might replace some of these.

Camera, with extra camera SD card, and camera batteries all charged up the night before.
iPhone (I’m an Apple girl)
Extra charger bricks for the iPhone
(we have a Mophie Powerstation, which can be used by any phone, not just iPhones).
Of course, some android phones can swap out batteries, so you might do that.

Pencils and Pens
Paper for drawing, coloring book, activity worksheets (word search, maizes, etc)
Plastic folder to hold completed artwork.
Autograph Book + pen

I found that when the kids have to wait for anything: at dinner, or for a ride, or whatever, having paper and pens/pencils/crayons was the best thing I could have for them to play with.

We check the weather every morning, and if there’s a side of rain. then my husband brings a backpack to carry our fold-up rain coats (Lands’ End or LLBean make nice rain coats that fold up into a pouch), or sweatshirts if it looks like it’s going to get chilly at night and we might not make it back to the room to get them.

There are probably other ideas or things that you might need for your little ones, but this is what’s been working for me the last few years. I no longer have to carry diapers, and changes of clothes. 🙂

Enjoy your trip if you plan one to WDW. Let me know if you’ve got any other things you typically carry with you in the parks.