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.

They call it training, we call it FUN!

WDW Mom's training 182
Originally uploaded by mefries23
They call it training-really more fun


Sunday December 7, 2008
So after quite a bit of pampering the first day and a half, it was time to get to work. We had a working breakfast this morning and were joined this morning by a few members of various online Disney groups who were starting to gather in preparation for Mousefest later that week. We got to meet Deb from was great!

They rotated around the table and joined us to discuss the panel. We all survived our first press encounter and I haven’t seen any pictures yet of us with food in our teeth-so that is good. After breakfast, we moved into the adjoining room for our first look at the site.
Michael walked us thru how to log in and move around the site. Having visited the site many many times-it was cool to see the "back side" of it and how we would receive our questions and answer them. We were very "rudely" interrupted about an hour into training by some strange man looking for a family reunion. Michael tried very hard to convince him he was in the wrong place but he would not listen. LOL—it was Guitar Dan from AK and he had wrote a very catchy little tune to welcome us. We had previously been asked to email Laura with some unknown trivia about ourselves and guess what it was used for..yep...catchy lyrics to the song. We all had a great laugh-learned some new tidbits about each other and gave him a standing ovation for his hard work.
Next we had some discussions about media and paper-work issues and then grabbed some lunch. Lunch was a working endeavor, and of course delicious, as we were joined by the heads of the Disney transportation department. This was a very informative discussion explaining the transportation around WDW and testing our knowledge-I think we did great. We also had a chance to ask questions and this was a huge help to make sure we had our "facts" straight.

After lunch we headed back to our computers for a look at the upcoming "What Will You Celebrate" promotion. After a long day in "the classroom" we were ready for our first real test of our PR legs. We gathered on our bus and headed over to Epcot for a filming of a video. We all did really well-minus quite a few re-takes to avoid plane noise or the occasional screaming tourist. The funniest part was all the people that kept gathering to take our pictures even though you could tell they had no idea who we were.
Video taped and producer happy we were on our own again for a little while. Dinner was at Jiko tonight and we had about three hours to either go back to CSR or play on our own....give you one guess what we did. Epcot was again calling, so the majority of us stayed. We split into groups to do some shopping and riding and I spent my time having a blast with Diane C, Doug, Jackie and Jodi hitting some rides. Time flew by and we had to grab a Disney bus to head over to AKL. We met up with the rest of the gang at Jiko. It was incredible and the chef came out and described each course. We were joined at dinner by the heads of the food departments and they spent the evening walking around meeting us and letting us ask questions. Duncan was able to join us again and altho the dinner was "work" we had way to much fun to classify it as anything other than a great time with a lot of really amazing new friends.

Tonight was the night that Cathy (the panelist that was selected to spend the night in the Cinderella suite) was headed over to MK. She had pulled five other panelists names out of a hat to join her (six can stay in suite) so they were picked up in front of AKL for their adventure. The rest of us-fully stuffed-rolled our way back onto the bus for our ride back to CSR. Because the night was still young, (not really-think it was now near midnight) a few of us headed to the lounge for a nightcap. As exhaustion set in we finally said good-night and headed back to our rooms. The magic was not over though as tonight we were greeted by a beautiful Mickey basket filled with Mom’s panel items. Another fantastic end to our day.


WDW Mom's training 193

WDW Mom's training 193
Originally uploaded by mefries23
Saturday morning our schedule began with a breakfast buffet at 7:30, or so I thought. I jumped out of bed when Stitch called to wake me and was ready to go by 7. I just happened to peak at my schedule at saw we did not need to be there until 8:30..oh well time to explore. I took a slow walk around the CSR grounds and enjoyed the morning sites. I love Disney in the morning when the day is just starting-I was all ready to eat and headed to our meeting room by 8:15.

Our buffet was so yummy and we got to meet Duncan, who had been a part of the interview process and like Leanne, it was so great to finally get to meet him. We had a great laugh with all of his adventures and again it just felt like we were talking to an old friend instead of a big cheese for Mr. Mickey Mouse.

After breakfast we headed out to our bus and met up with Angel, who was going to take us on a private tour of multiple resorts at WDW. AFter our fun and informative tour, we said good bye to Angel and headed over to lunch at The Wave. We were led back to a nice private room-which would be perfect for a large magical gathering party and had a yummy lunch. We shared some lettuce wraps-delicious and a little spicy- and I had the chicken sandwich. The desserts here were yummy and came as trio sampler. I had the sorbets and they were light and fruity. I was told by the choco-holics that the chocolate sampler was delicious.

After lunch we had a little free time. The plan was to take the bus back to CSR and relax before heading out to DHS-however we were at WDW and rides were a callin so the 16 of us decided rest would come later and we all jumped on the monorail to head over to Epcot. We all ventured over to Test Track and got in line with these really cool media fast passes they had given us. After that we did a little shopping and then it was time to grab a Disney bus (gasp-we have to take a regular bus-don't you know we are VIPs-LOL-) back to CSR.

On a side note-the 16 panelists had decided to give a few gift baskets to Leanne, Laura and our other fearless leaders. We had all brought items that were known to be from our home cities or states and were gathering in one of the rooms to put together our goodies. It was so cool to see all the neat ideas and items we had come up with and the baskets turned out awesome.

After some secret agent basket assembly-we grabbed the shuttle over to DHS. Using our back door entry method we were magically whisked to the starting spot for the Osbourne lights and arrived with about three minutes to the lighting. What perfect timing. I love the lights at DHS as I too am a Christmas light junkie-but it was really great to be there woth many of the panelists who had never seen the show before. We attempted to venture down the street to have a group picture taken but it was soooooo crowded-so we skipped the picture and headed over to TSMM-using our fastpasses that Laura magically made appear-we rode together for some shootin fun. (Love this ride by the way). After fighting out who had the best score we ventured over to the front of the new American Idol attraction where we finally found our photographer and had some group shots taken then we had about 30 minutes to dinner-so what is a goup to do but run as fast as we can to ToT. After narrowly escaping from the doomed Hollywood Hotel we scurried to HBD for dinner-only a minute or two late.

Now there had been a huge debate going on as our schedule listed dinner with a special guest. Since the taping of the Christmas parade had been going on that day we had all sorts of wild ideas of who was joining us...names like Miley Cyrus to Regis and Kelly were being thought. So we waited anxiously for our special guest..and we waited and we waited and uh-oh whispering that the guest is here...there goes Leanne to escort him or her and drumroll please it is no other than ....Gary. Ummm excuse me Gary? Who is that? Thought you said this was a special guest. someone imporatnt-maybe someone we would know? Who is this person?

Well Gary handles most of the PR events for Disney. For example he had spent the day with Miley and Billy Ray handling the taping and press stuff for her for the Christmas parade taping. Now you might think we were disappointed that this guest was not who we were expecting...I must tell you Gary was one of the funniest, most entertaining and interesting persons I have ever met. He had us in stitches with his jokes and stories and we were having so much fun that we did not notice had late it had become. At one point in the evening a cake suddenly appeared as it happened to be Gary's birthday-or was it? and what was his name again...for some reason half the table thought it was Jerry. So funny that here we sat with a Disney Cast Member hanging on his every word and yet we weren't sure of his name or even what his exact title was for Disney.

The restaraunt had long since closed while we sat enjoying our time with Gary or Jerry. When we finally got booted out of Brown Derby and headed back into DHS, we got another surprise. Gary was one of the leads on the opening of the American Idol project and we had been given the green light to sneak into.... uh I mean go into the American Idol stage. No pictures were allowed but we spent a long time walking thru the stage, the back rooms and Gary explained the process to us (with a lot of stories and laughter thrown in for fun). The weekend had so many highlights but the time spent with Gary was truly at the top of that list. Disney is very lucky to have someone like him as a Cast Member. He quickly became one of my, if not all of the Moms Panel's, favorites and we hoped that we would see him again very soon.

We were way past closing time and our faithful bus driver Vinnie had been waiting for hours for us (blame our lateness on Gary) so we said our good-byes and headed back to CSR very late. We tied up some loose ends on the bus, said our good-nights and headed back for some much needed rest or so we thought. I was greeted when I opened my room door by an amazing in room celebration and my own giant Mickey Mouse.

What an amazing day-we learned some great info about the resorts and updates being made, my first time dining at the Wave, a fantastic dinner with one of the coolest guys I have ever met (Hey Gary), a sneak peak at American Idol and Mickey waiting for me in my room AND we still have two days left.

I'm back...

Ok so here we go again. I really do want to blog, but can never seem to find the time. I LOVE to read all of the numerous blogs I follow, maybe this is one of the reasons I have no time, so here is my New Year's resolution four months late...I will update at least twice a week. So in my return I want to finish telling the story of my fantastic Disney Mom's Panel Training weekend back in Decemeber. When I last left off I was gearing up for the start of my weekend with my fellow panelists and our leaders, the wonderful Disney Cast Member....

Our schedule begins:
So I anxiously walked over to the Rix, it was so exciting to finally be there and be seconds away from our first "official" 2009 Mom's Panel event. I ran into fellow mom Jennifer in the lobby and we strolled over to the Rix. Suddenly coming thru the door was Leanne, for those who do not know- Leanne was the head CM that oversaw last year's Panel-there has been some re-organizing and Leanne has moved to a new title/position but is still working with us and actually handing the Mom's Panel reigns over to Laura-who was a 2008 Panelist that is now a new CM for WDW.
Leanne needed a big hug hello from all of us. It is so hard to explain how great it was to finally meet her. We were welcomed into a private room at the Rix where we were greeted at the door by glasses of wine and champagne and a really nice spread of munchies. We were also greeted by our first site of our faithful camera crew that would be with us most of the weekend. There were so many CMs there to meet us as well as reps from Disney's PR group. They were all so friendly and were as excited to meet us as we were to meet them.-lots of names to remember but luckily they were with us most of the weekend and were like old friends by the time we parted ways. A few of the current panelists were joining us for the weekend and we finally go to meet them. (Hello to Kim, Beth, Heather, Bri and Michelle) We spent about an hour chatting and mingling while the drinks and munchies flowed. After settling in and breaking the ice it was time to move on. We were led out to our shuttle bus for our first road trip to Magic Kingdom. A huge excitement for all of us as we were on our way to see Cinderella's suite. So our ride was filled with laughter and plenty of conversation and we were led to the back entrance of Magic Kingdom where we were met by some MK CM's and escorted into the back entrance. We were quickly spoiled this trip and joked we could never go back to our usual visits as we were led in and out of the parks thru the back doors. We were led to the Castle and split into two groups for our tour. No one had to ask twice, I quickly volunteered to go in group A and suddenly we were thru a special door and then an elevator for our tour. The suite was gorgeous and there was such detailing in every nook and cranny. There were so many things to look at and touch of course.

All to quickly it was time to leave so the other half of our group come come up. We hung around outside and were able to see the lighting of the Castle-how awesome-then it was on to dinner at Crystal Palace. I love this place and what a fun enviroment for our first meal together. The characters were happy to join us and we had a great time. Fully stuffed we were off to our next stop...a private viewing spot above the train station for MVMCP. Upstairs there were chairs and, because we were oh so hungry, more munchies....warm cookies, and lots of bevreage choices. It was so great to watch the parade from that angle with our new friends. Then came a huge surprise, one of us would be selected to spend a night inthe suite on Sunday. Names thrown into the hat and drumroll please...Cathy's name was pulled out. awesome Cathy. We watched the fireworks from there and then broke up into groups to spend a little free time at MK before our bus left. Most of us scrambled over to BTMR for the wildest ride in the wilderness. Time was running short and the line for HM was not so IASW was next on our list.
After the ride we were out of time as our coach was about to leave without us. We gathered at our back door secret location and were whisked away...we didn't even have to wait in line for a Disney resort bus...what star treatment

We were dropped off at our resort around 11:30pm amd were exhausted. Many of us had been traveling since early morning and were ready to hit the hay. It was amazing that so many fun and exciting things had already happened and we still had three full days to come. I headed back to the room, checked in at home and was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Whew! That is a long one so I will stop here-well on my way to up and running again!