The Winding Down of Summer (Long, Multimedia)

I can’t believe how fast the summer went. My mom was here for a week; that sped by. I can’t believe I’ve already been home from Disney World for a week. Life’s too short, babe, time is flying….

My mom was here and that was cool. She made us fried chicken and meatloaf, and she bought me a new doll. (I am up to 11 dolls now–and just when I think I have enough, I find out that a bunch of new ones are coming out next week. Aye yi yi.). Here is my mom, Aidan, and me at McDonald’s for lunch one day:

Isn’t my mommy pretty? :)

And here are a bunch of pictures from the week she was here. She had her first Chicago hot dog, she spent lots of time with Aidan, and even went to American Girl Place with me. We also went to Naperville, where I love to go to get away from the city and shop at the indie stores, especially Anderson’s Bookshops.

DSC02094 Buzz Mommy! Mommy at Hot Doug's Cuddle Wuddle


Goofy Family Portrait

Riverwalk Crime Scene

Sonali Matthews
New doll, Sonali

After my mom left, it was time to throw ourselves into preparing for Disney World. That meant last minute trips to Target for stuff, laundry, and packing. And then, the night before, the neighbors behind us had a guest who was drunk and yelling from 7pm until 5am, when I had to get up. I got NO sleep. I’m pretty sure they were still yelling when we left at 6am for the airport. I thought, foolishly, that I’d get to sleep on the plane. Nope. I mean hello, a flight to Orlando, where Disney World is? Kids and babies. Babies hate flying. Babies were screaming the whole time. My iPod Skullcandy ear buds were pretty good but I still didn’t sleep well. Fortunately, I had enough adrenaline running that I was able to hit the parks at about 2:15pm and I kept going until 1am, when the awesome Extra Magic Hours ended. Woohoo.

Family Photo
We really are having fun. It’s just that the sun is all up in our faces. :D

A few highlights that we didn’t get video of pix of. On our first night, we were eating at Liberty Tree Tavern. There were LOADS of people celebrating birthdays. There was a birthday in our room. After everyone sang Happy Birthday and applauded, Aidan yelled out the biggest YAY I’d ever heard. My first instinct was to be kind of mortified, but then the entire room burst out laughing. Another thing happened at LTT. Aidan had asked for a root beer and was given a Coke. I told him to ask the server nicely for a root beer instead, which Aidan did. Not only did the server replace Aidan’s Coke with a root beer, he gave it to him in one of the $7 souvenir cups with a light-up Lightning McQueen!

Aidan's Bonus!

Watching Aidan during the parades was SUCH a treat. I remember how I felt the first time I saw a parade, but it was nothing compared to watching Aidan see Celebrate a Dream Come True and Spectromagic.

Aidan also got to help the, well, I call them Magic Makers. They’re the guys with fancy brooms that paint Disney characters on the ground with water.

Magical Characters

Aidan was so enthusiastic during the shows that he got singled out at Crush’s Turtle Talk, and it was hilarious. He was next to the man who got picked on during Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor so he was on the big screen quite a bit. During two parades/parties, he was pulled out into the street by characters and performers to dance, and at the end of the Toy Story Block Party Bash, he got a little Nerf ball that says “Block Party Bash” on it. He was terrified of Soarin’, but when we got off, he said he loved it and said “Can we do that again???”

Garden Grill, as usual, was a pleasure. The characters there are TOP NOTCH, you get to see them tons of times, and the food is outstanding, especially the blueberry buckle. YUMMMM. 1900 Park Fare’s characters were hilarious. And autographs are fun.

I watched the High School Musical 3 show, and we got to meet the $heriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood and Marie from The Aristocats. And THE FAIRY GODMOTHER!

Fairy Godmother

But you don’t want to read my jabber. You want to see MORE pictures, right? Here goes!

Southwest FTW! Adam and Aidan

On the Magical Express

Daisy Duck Aidan and Goofy Me and Lilo

Us With the Mouse

Aidan and Dale Aidan, Adam and Mickey

Aidan and Stitch Aidan and the Gang

Aidan and Spaceship Earth Love! Aidan and Buzz

Here’s a slide show of the whole trip, minus the Photopass pictures, which are not here yet:


And if you’re still reading, I encourage you to check out this video of highlights I made of the trip (if you haven’t seen it already).

About halfway through the trip, Adam said “We’re coming back next year.” :) Wheeee! He mentioned trying out Chef Mickey’s, and I sure do wish we could stay at the Polynesian, but hey, I’ll be happy with Pop Century again if it means having more money to spend in the parks. Shopping for Disney stuff is FUN (especially during the parades when the stores are pretty empty)!

Aidan went back to Ohio on Sunday. :( Fortunately, he didn’t cry at the airport. When he cries, I cry. Or at least a lot worse than normal. But when he doesn’t cry, I feel OK. It’s been so quiet here, though. I miss kissing his little cheeks, and I keep watching videos of him over and over just to hear his voice. He started first grade yesterday. Apparently, he’s popular. Kids leaping out of their seats because they were so excited to see him! How fun is that? Today, he rode the school bus to school. I can’t believe my baby’s a first grader now. First grade is like REAL school, you know? Next summer should be fun, with all the reading he’ll be able to do.

OK, I guess this entry is long enough. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go and continue recovering from a busy August. I’ve been hit with a cold or mini-flu or something and I’m been drained. Hope you enjoyed my recap and my Disney memories! :)

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What a Week! (Pictures, Long)

Lots have gone on since I’ve last updated. I’ll try to make it simple for simplicity’s sake. This post is long! :)

· Riley has a friend! I went online looking at AG dolls just to see what was out there, and to decide which one I would eventually purchase. Well, last Sunday, I was Googling QVC and American Girl and came up with a random lucky link. Ruthie, one of the dolls I was considering, was being sold with her accessories, a book, a hair brush, and an extra pair of pajamas for $76. Whoa? The doll and paperback book is $95 when purchased through regular channels. All that extra stuff with the doll? You’re looking at about $160 right there. Factoring in shipping and tax, she came to $86. I couldn’t pass her up. (I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to stumble upon this link–it is not searchable at QVC.com.)

She arrived yesterday (4 days before she was scheduled to!) and she and Riley took to each other right away!

Ruthie & Riley

· This morning, my friend Kari, who I’ve known online for years now, flew into Chicago to visit with some old college chums. This morning, we all met up for brunch at Le Peep. I had the Belgian Waffle Combo like I always do when I go. :)

Of course, Kari and I took some pix!

Brunch with Kari!

Brunch with Kari!

· Earlier this week, Joey and Rory were at my work singing for us and chatting with us. Joey’s voice is so amazing and unbelievably beautiful. She makes it sound easy and effortless. They’re both very nice and I wish them the best tomorrow at the ACM Awards!! :)

· Today, I got to see RENT!!! They’re in Chicago until April 12, and Adam and I popped into a matinee. We were in the orchestra seats, row W, which was pretty good. Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal were amazing as Mark and Roger, and Justin Johnson was absolutely STUNNING as Angel. Lexi Lawson was amazing as Mimi. Actually, they all did a wonderful job and this production was OFF THE HOOK. I was smiling and clapping while tears were streaming down my cheeks.

Afterward, Adam and I met up with one of the stage hands and we waited in line while a few of the cast members came out. I got my picture with John Watson, who plays Mr. Jefferson and other roles, and Adam Haplin, who plays Gordon other little roles.

RENT in ChicagoRENT in Chicago

After all of THAT excitement, I got to pretend I was Mimi when the theatre was almost empty:

Ouuttt Tonighttt!

What a rush, let me tell you! I’m no Lexi Lawson or Rosario Dawson or Daphne Rubin-Vega, but it was fun anyway.

· I booked another Disney trip!!! Disney is offering Free Dining starting in August, and it took me about 20 minutes to decide to think about SERIOUSLY taking Aidan. He’s at the perfect age and I really want to do this for him. I got a quote from Mouse Fan Travel instead of going directly through the Disney site this time. Why have I never done this before? My agent, Suzy, is awesome. This place allowed me to hold a spot for three days while I waited to hear back about getting the time off work. Then once I put down the deposit, she told me the day my ADR window will open, and said she’ll make them for me! If a special deal comes up, this agency will apply the savings proactively. No fees, so hidden little leprechauns to catch me by unpleasant surprise. So, Aidan, Adam and I are going in August for a few days. We’re staying at Pop Century. I like the theming at the place. So cool. It won’t be a terribly long trip, and it’ll be crowded and hot, but the food will be free and we’ll make the best of it. We’ll be at DISNEY WORLD! :D

Naturally I am very excited. Aidan doesn’t know yet. I’d been debating on how and when to tell him. Some people tell me to wait until just a few weeks or days before. Others tell me not to tell him until we get there–but Aidan is way too bright to fall for that one. Someone else asked me why not tell him when he’s here in a few days? That way he can help me plan! We’ll do some sort of countdown, some activities, and just get ourselves totally worked up. So, I think I’ll tell him when he is here… but I’m not sure how yet. He’s really into guessing games lately, so I think I’m going to go that route. Should be awesome.

OK, I think that’s all from this week. My first week of April has been crazy! But crazy in an amazing, I am very grateful and extremely blessed way. ♥ I am truly happy, and so excited for Thursday evening!!!!

Until next time!

Now playing: Perry Farrell – Going All the Way (Into the Twilight)
via FoxyTunes

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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California Here We Come (Pictures)

I have to admit, visiting Los Angeles in the winter is the way to go. Well actually, it’s sort of bittersweet. Adam and I were there during an unseasonably warm weekend, and that made coming back to Chicago and its VERY COLD TEMPERATURES that much harder. But getting away from the cold was very nice.

We got into town Thursday night and apparently, while we were on the FlyAway Shuttle to Van Nuys, a 5.0 earthquake hit. Because we were on the bus, we didn’t feel it one bit. There were a lot of accidents, so the 30 minute trip from LAX to the drop off actually took 90. I was pretty hungry, but Melissa and Eli, who met us at the shuttle drop off, took us to In N Out Burger which made everything worth it. After dinner, we went to Amy’s place and stayed up pretty late talking. She’s awesome, just so you know. :)

Amy and Me!
Amy and me!

Friday morning, Amy went off to work, and Adam and I got ready to spend the day with Melissa. She took us sight seeing on Mulholland (there was smog, so the pics are just OK), and then we walked near the WB Studio lots. We had to get a picture of the Animaniacs water tower for Aidan, who LOVES that cartoon!

Where the Animaniacs Live!

The highlight, though, was touring the Disney Studios lot.

Disney Water Tower
Disney Lot Water Tower

Me & The PartnersWalt Shows Us Something! Roy, Minnie, Adam & MeDisney Archives SignStreet Sign

Besides the obvious photo ops, there is so much to see and do on the lot. So much Disney history.

We ate lunch in the commissary and then toured the lot a bit more. I bought some stuff in the store that was only available at the theme parks which made me happy. I had a blast on the Disney Studios lot and would LOVE to work in such a place. Immersed in Disney culture, how wonderful, right?

After that, we went to the Griffith Observatory which was out of this world. It was free, which was amazing to me. They had so much cool stuff to look at. All sorts of neat instruments and exhibits (I found out that on Jupiter, I’d weigh 300 pounds), models and a giant telescope. It was extremely impressive.

Griffith Observatory
The entrance is not an entrance, huh? Adam is confused.

Griffith Observatory
Infrared Me.

Griffith Observatory
Einstein checks out my sunglasses.

We ate dessert at a place called Porto’s, which was inexpensive and delicious. Check out these pastries:

Food at Porto's

I had the strawberry shortcake. :) OK, I had THREE over the course of the weekend, but seriously, look at it. How could I resist?

Friday night, we had dinner with some friends of Melissa and Eli, and they were cool people. After dinner, we headed back to Amy’s, where Amy and I were hyper and stayed up talking forever. Adam kept telling me to go to sleep so I wouldn’t be tired the next day because we were going to DISNEYLAND!!!

Well, seeing as I’m a Disney nut, the adrenaline kept me going pretty well all day. I only had one crash in the afternoon, but once I got some food in me, I was good to go again. We got there before the park opened (the first time I’ve ever gone to a Disney park at opening), and it was good times from then on.

Brothers & Sisters
Adam, me, Melissa, and Eli

YAY!Adam, Me, and Goofy!Dare Me To Do It?Watch This!!Meeting Conductor Mickey!Princess Fantasy FaireTwo Thumbs Up!

Disneyland kicked butt. In a nutshell, we rode tons of rides, the weather was beautiful, the crowd level was low, and even though the character count was nothing like at Disney World, I GOT TO MEET PRINCESS MINNIE who I didn’t even know existed in the US parks! Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean WIN at Disneyland, and Indiana Jones is unlike anything I’ve ever ridden. Tower of Terror is just as nerve wracking and fun, but it IS different from the one at Disney World. I got to ride California Screamin’ this time around, and even though I enjoyed it, I would have liked it more if I hadn’t been getting a sick headache. (Fortunately, a cookie and some bread took care of that later). We watched the Pixar Play Parade, and later, Melissa and Eli treated Adam and me to dinner at the Blue Bayou which was yummy. We stayed until closing. I’d never stayed at a park from open until close before, but I will do it more often (because OH YES, I do plan to go back someday!). It was a great time.

Sunday, Melissa and I hopped on the Metro and went to Roscoe’s to meet Tasha for lunch. Tasha is sooo awesome. I’ve known her through the online world for nearly a decade now, and we finally got to meet in person. She’s fun to talk to and very, very cute. I had a great time with her–the time we spent was not long enough at all! I can’t wait to see her again soon!

Tasha and Me!
Tasha and me!

The food was good, too. Mmm, chicken and waffles.

After lunch, Melissa and I walked around Hollywood Blvd., and we popped into the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store. That store was cool because it had some exclusive merchandise and the VAULT. Disney freaks surely know all about that blasted vault where our beloved animated features go after a certain amount of time.

The Vault!

It might not be the ACTUAL vault, but still.

Melissa got a picture of me in front of the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars are held. I’m trying to look “fierce.” I don’t think I pulled it off, though.

A-List Ronni

That evening, Dave and Angie came over to Melissa and Eli’s and we had pizza and hung out. That was fun. It’s always good to see Dave and Angie. :)

Angie & Dave

It was a great, great trip. If I ever got rich, I’d like to have a 2nd home in L.A. A place to escape during the winter, a place where I have plenty of friends and family. A place where I can get In N Out Burger all the time. And of course… Disneyland!

Want to see more pictures? You know you do! Just click here.

‘Til next time….

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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Disney Survey! :)

01. Favorite Magic Kingdom Ride?
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

02. Favorite Disney Villain?
Maleficent. She is just SO FREAKIN’ cool looking. Coming up closely behind: Scar

03. Favorite Disney Classic Movie?
Beauty and the Beast

04. Favorite Mickey Mouse Movie?
Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

05. Favorite Princess?

06. Favorite Disney Sidekick?

07. Favorite Epcot Ride?
Test Track or Soarin’

08. Favorite Disney MGM Studios Ride?
Tower of Terror

09. Favorite Animal Kingdom Ride?
I’ve only ridden the safari. I don’t go to Animal Kingdom much.

10. Favorite Disney Food?
Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar

11. Favorite Disney Parade?

12. Favorite overall Walt Disney World Attraction?
Mickey’s Philharmagic

13. Favorite Non-Animated Disney Movie?
The Parent Trap (the original)

14. Favorite Disney Shop?
World of Disney or Emporium

15. Favorite Disney Character to take a pic with?
Mickey and the princesses, and also anyone who I rarely see.  OK, ALL of them.  :)

16. Favorite Walt Disney World Show?
Beauty and the Beast. It made me cry!

17. Favorite Disney Hotel?
Pop Century and the Grand Floridian. Guess which one I’ve stayed at. LOL.

18. Where do you want to work if you could have any job at Disney?
I’d dance in the parades.

19. What’s your favorite park?
Magic Kingdom

20. Which mountain is your favorite?
Big Thunder

21. Favorite fireworks/night show?

22. Favorite WDW restaurant?
Garden Grill. Yummmmm.

23. Ever been to the other Disney parks (Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong)?
I’ve been to Disneyland in California.

24. Ever been on a Disney Cruise?
Not yet.

25. How many trips to WDW or DL resort have you made?
One to DL, three to WDW.

26. How old were you on your first Disney trip?

27. Have you done a character meal?
Heck yes!

28. Would you rather have character pictures or autographs?
Pictures. Lots and LOTS of pictures.

29. Splash Mountain or Space Mountain?
There’s nothing like Space Mountain!

30. Favorite Disney Character?
Mickey Mouse

I tag Rosa for this one, and any other Disney freaks out there.

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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