Thursday, July 23, 2009

I am very new to the blogging world. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have read them for years but they are all so good. There are so many of you out there that have such an amazing talent and you make me laugh and cry so easily. I am not worthy of your talents, but like a baby learns to walk, I am hoping to learn to blog. I am hoping that tonight was the beginning of a great weekend adventure that will take me further into my blogging skills, see I am attending BlogHer '09.

Funny story of how I got there: Many months ago I received an email from one of my fellow Disney World Moms, Heather of Hopelesslyflawed asking me if I was going to blogher? Huh??? My response was am I going to blog who? After I am sure she laughed out loud at my ignorance, she was kind enough to send back a reply with the website for this great event going on in my own backyard. Then to make things even better I found out that Disney Mom Jodi of Multitaskingmommy was going to be there so I was sold. I bought a ticket for Saturday's events, since I had to work Friday, and went on my merry way.

Then strange things in the universe kept pulling me back to the blogging world. Little things i would read in an article, reports on the expanding world of social media, twitter, facebook and blogs, I was invited to come to Disney World as a representative of the Moms Panel for a Mommy Blogger event they were hosting (I promise to recap that weekend soon). I was reading more and more blogs and even better meeting amazing mommy bloggers who had such great stories to tell. I was thrilled that this opportunity to go to BlogHer fell into my lap.

Then the days started to creep closer and my anxiety level began to skyrocket. After all I know so few of the moms and there would be so many. Most of which blog to thousands if not hundred of thousands daily. Seriously? Who was I to think I even deserved to be within ten blocks of them. I pushed through my fears and self-doubt, if for no other reason then to visit with the moms I met at Disney (aka MagicalMoms) and of course JODI!

At 3:45 today I strolled the few blocks from my office downtown to the Hyatt where the first gathering was scheduled. SocialLuxe was hosting the kick-off party. I was so happy to immediately run into Emily from Momminitup and Andrea from Mommysnacks and there cheery hellos and big hugs were enough to make me push on. I found Jodi and clung to her in fear, poor Jodi. Everyone was so friendly and nice and the party was incredible. Everything from the decorations to the food to the entertainment was classy and beautiful and it is easy to see why all of these ladies have been pulled into this network. It is a great place to learn, complain, laugh and turn to for advice and an acknowledgement that our work as moms is the most important thing in the world.

I hated when it was time to go. there were still so many people I had yet to meet and the evening was just starting, but I needed to head home to my three boys. I will be back tomorrow after work for some more great parties, including one hosted by my FAVORITE place Disney!!! Then of course Saturday, I will be attending the sessions and speakers and can't wait.

Stay tuned.......

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Looking Back

Ok so a quick whirlwind tour of where my time on the Disney Mom's Panel has taken me. A lot of amazing things have happened so this may take a few posts but I will attempt to go in order.

American Idol Experience Opening:

So I knew there was a reason or two that I married my husband. Turns out this year the reason is because of when he was born. Disney World's big promotion this year is "What Will You Celebrate" and as part of this promotion, guests can get into one Disney park free on his/her birthday. Mark's birthday is February 11th and he has family in the Orlando area, so as a birthday treat, we decided that we would hop off to Disney World for a few days just him and I. Well as luck would have it, the American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios, was opening that same week. A few of the Disney Moms were going to be in town to attend the medai events that week and I could not wait to see them again.

The American Idol event was amazing. The afternoon started with a motorcar parade featuring numerous Idol winners and runner-ups. Following the parade, those of us with media credentials were able to attend a special American Idol preview show. All of the Idols in Disney were in attendance as well as Paula Abdul and Ryan Secrest. David Cook and Carrie Underwood preformed and the seven previous Idol winners received a special trophy. This attraction is going to be amazing and I love the energy in the room and the special effects and detailing Disney has put in.

Following the show, we were led into a now empty Hollywood Studios for a private reception party with glowing blue drinks, amazing food, blue carpet and flashing lights. The Moms quickly caught up with some of our Disney social media faves like Laura, Leanne and Brewer. We got a huge kick out of sitting at a table next to Meg Crofton. We looked everywhere for our Disney BFF Gary but he was hard at work, or maybe hiding from us???

After dinner we started spotting some of the Idols roaming the party so of course we had to do what any middle-aged, calm and collected mom would do....ran screaming and pushing people out of the way. Ok maybe no screaming but some running and pushing. We got to meet and chat with a number of Idols like Bo Bice, Sanjaya and Ruben Stoddard. Disney had left Rock 'n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror open so we had to take a few spins on the attractions. Diane C and I headed over to Tower of Terror at one point and walked into a loading area that had only the Cast Member, the two of us, the MC from Idol and Sanjaya. Was so funny as he had never rode before and was a little freaked out.

All in all it was an amazing evening hanging with my Mom BFFs Jackie, Diane C., Jennifer and Karen, our Disney Cast Member friends and the American Idols.

Thank you Disney for a perfect night, and thank you Mark for a properly scheduled birthday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Where does time go?

Back in late 2008 an amazing thing happened, I was selected to serve as one of sixteen panelists with the 2009 Disney World Moms Panel. Prior to being selected, I would have to say I was comfortable on the computer. I was able to type, upload files and pictures, email and save documents-funny how little I really knew.

One of my new Disney BFFs suggested after our selection to the panel that we blog. It is a great way to journal what is going on and look back at our adventures. I thought that was a fantastic idea and so this blog was born. I went to Borders and spent almost one hundred dollars on Blogging for dummy books, rushed home and read all of two pages. I was now an expert for sure right? I mean come on...I read blogs before I get it. Well it is amazing how simplistic my thoughts are compared to the real world of blogging. I have been blessed to meet and befriend a number of amazing bloggers thru my work with the Disney World Moms Panel, and these new friends have taught me a number of things-most importantly, how much I still have to learn. I would also think at the top of what I need to learn is that I need to blog more than once every three months.

I wonder if there is a statute of limitations on blog posts? If so I am so busted. I have in the last six months met the most amazing people, had once in a lifetime trips to Disney, met American Idol stars, cruised Chicago sight-seeing with my new BFFs, shot videos and so much more. Most importantly I have had the most unbelievable and unforgetable time! I need to recap-to attempt to put in words how great this experience has been and so I will...not tonight but I promise before three months is up for sure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Creepy Bunny

Ok so as my ability to stay on track has once again been side-tracked, I am still catching up here. If you missed it, Easter just recently passed us. Ok so I am sure you did not miss it, but I missed sharing a funny story....

I am almost positive that all three of my boys are past truly believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. My soon to be thirteen year old informed me a few years ago that he was "in on the secret" but was more than willing to play along for his younger brothers, and of course for his goodies.

Given that they have an older brother, and friends of that older brother are always around, I imagine the other two have also been in on the secret for a year or two, but they refuse to say anything (most likely out of fear that the goodies will also disappear) and I refuse to acknowledge the fact that my babies are growing up-so we all play along, until this year.

It was Easter Sunday, in the evening, dinner was finished, eggs found, baskets ripped open and chocolate bunny ears eaten away, when my youngest sat down next to me. He asked if he could talk to me-then proceeded to tell me that he "gets Santa". I mean he has a sleigh to get around, elves to help and makes toys to share with all the good boys and girls. He also "gets the Tooth Fairy". She is a fairy and can fly and although it is a little weird that she is willing to trade money for old teeth, he has no problem with her habit. Here is where the problem comes in...

He asks-what is up with the Easter Bunny. Why is there a giant oversized bunny that hops around the world delivering eggs and chocolate. How does he get from one place to another. He can't drive or fly and does not even speak but wants to deliver colored eggs and baskets to our house. Matthew informed me that was just creepy!

I have to agree Matt-that is a little creepy now that I think of it. How terrifying to young children to think of a giant six foot tall bunny creeping into your house with chocolate and eggs. Could we have not thought up a better Easter symbol then an over-sized bunny?

Matt was quick to point out though that he will be expecting the fairy to continue her rounds when his next tooth falls out-any day now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Put me in coach

So it is that time season has officially begun. I love baseball, everything about it. I love the warm weather (ok I live in Chicago so the warm weather we have to wait on), the hot dogs, the singing of the National Anthem, keeping score, a long day of watching the game with the sun shining and so much more. It truly is a perfect place to spend a afternoon with the family. I am not sure where my love of the sport came family is not sports fans, however from an early age I was hooked. I could sit for hours and watch game after game, of course I preferred those games be the Cubs, but I was a junkie, I would watch them all.

Maybe God knew I needed someone to help feed my baseball obsession as he blessed me with three boys. Now three boys that have yet to love the sport as much as me but hey I am working on it. We spend week nights and weekends at little league games, with me as the manager (yes I know I'm a girl) and we finish in time to race home and throw on the Cubs game. Now you would think that I would have learned my lesson as a Cub fan-they have broke my heart so many times.

As I sat at the playoff game last fall and watched this dominant team fall apart, i swore I was finished. I was not going to get sucked back in to watching, following, obsessing and believing. Ummm that lasted all of 48 hours until the first announcement of a newly traded player and I was hooked again. Days were counted and here we are again....a new year, new hope. Two games in and counting and yes maybe I do believe this is the year finally. If you know otherwise, please don't tell me. Go Cubs Go.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

More catching up

I am trying hard to catch up on all the amazing things that has happened to me since being selected to the Disney World Mom's Panel. The 2009 Panelists launched of course on January 5th and since then we have all been hard at work answering planning questions. The questions are fun and imaginative and every once in a while a little differnt but it has been a blast.

The Panel has also led to my three seconds of fame- I was lucky enough to be asked to visit one of our local tv stations for an on-air interview about Disney and the panel. I joined my two favorite anchors, Larry and Robin, on the WGN morning news. I should have been scared to death, but they were so friendly and funny that I felt very comfortable talking to them and since I watch them every morning it is like I know them. Of course we were talking about one of my favorite things, Disney World, so that always helps calm the nerves. In all I did well, no fainting or vomiting, so I would say it was a success.

I was also recently interviewed by the Chicago Tribune about my role with the Panel. I hope the article makes it to the newstands and not the recycle pile soon. Stay tuned for a date.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

One last day together

WDW Mom's training 229
Originally uploaded by mefries23
Monday December 8th


The alarm went off extra early today as we had an early start but I needed some extra primping time as today was the day of our big photo shoot. We were headed to Epcot to do our head shots for the site as well as film our video biographies that would all go on the site. We had a nice surprise before we started out and that was a chance to meet WDW President Meg Crofton. She was so awesome and so nice to all of us. She told us how excited she was to meet us...can you imagine....we were so thrilled to meet her and here she was excited to meet us. She thanked us for everything we were doing to spread some Disney magic. The meeting was all to brief, as you can imagine she is a busy person so for her to take the time to come to us was amazing.

After Meg left, we were off to Epcot for our video shoot. The camera crew was all set up and waiting but first another visitor
The boss man himself, Mickey, stopped by to wish us luck. We also had a return visit from Gary. Remember our special guest Gary from the night before. It was AWESOME to see him again. Have I told you how much I LOVE Gary--he is the best. He posed for a few pictures and had us laughing our heads off, which is just what we needed considering how nervous we all were.

They lined us up in two groups and we went one at a time to do our head shots. They wer ethen looking for volunteers to start the video taping. I think we were all trying to play it cool and they kept telling us to relax but I know I was a bundle of nerves. The shoot was suppose to be very natural and we each had an interviewer asking us questions about our families and Disney experience etc. Then we had to do a little unrehearsed talk about us...that was the hard part. I agreed to go in the first group of four and was relieved when it was over.

Once finished, the first four of us had a good deal of free time to go play in Epcot (or so we thought) so we took off for Soarin. We were just getting in line with my cell rang. It was Laura with some bad news ....our videos needed to be re-shot due to some background noise. WHAT the four of us started all over again. We were finished quite quickly. Lunch was quickly approaching so there was no time for rides. We headed over to Japan for another quick taping (no talking this time just smiling)

Then it was time for lunch at Teppan Edo--there was no shortage of great food on this trip and lunch was incredible After lunch we were running a little late so we quickly jumped on our bus and hurried over to MK. We met up with a CM who was going to lead us on a Guestology tour-which is a brief tour with a combo of info you would get as a new CM and a guest taking the KTTK tour.

After the tour we had about two hours before dinner. Some headed back to CSR on the shuttle to start packing but a few of us stayed being one as I had a very important task that had to be completed...a Dole Whip!

Mmmm, its just not a WDW trip without one of these. OK so craving fulfilled Jackie, Jennifer, Whitney and I grabbed the monorail towards Epcot. We had some issues getting in...ok Jackie and I didn't.
We thought about leaving them behind but we were good panelists and we waited. We hurried over to Bistro de Paris and made it just as they were seating us. Dinner was amazing and our waiters were gorgeous( will need to find that photo-but trust me they were HOT). The wine was flowing and the food was delicious, but there was a somber feeling in the air as this was our last night together. We were all a little homesick to see our families but we hated to see the weekend end.

After dinner we headed over to our VIP seats for the Candlelight Processional. Virgina Madsen was the guest for the night and she was so moving. It was a beautiful show. this show brings me to tears every time and if you have not seen it add it to your must do list.
The show ended about fifteen minutes before Illuminations so we headed over to our private viewing area for the fireworks and a yummy dessert receptionAFter Illuminations it wa stime for our first good byes. Leanne was headed home tonight. It was such a flurry of activity that it was hard to believe the weekend was over. Leanne was amazing and had done so much for all of us, it was impossible to express our gratitude.

We took the bus back to the resort and stood in the convention center lobby trying to hold back the tears and say good bye. Many of us ventured over to the Rix lounge for a nightcap and more importantly a last few precious minutes togther. I slowly walked back to my room around 1am with Karen. I was exhausted and overwhelmed and amazed at how incredible the whole experience had been.

In grand Disney style, we had one last surprise waiting for us, cookies and milk. I was way to full to eat but wrapped them up for my ever hungry boys. I finished packing up and hit the pillow around 2am.