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This blog post is my unveiling. It’s my confession to the world that I am unabashedly addicted to anything Disney: Walt Disney World, the Disney Store, Disney movies, Disney soundtracks, Disney lunch boxes, even Disney themed Chex Mix. If a retailer slaps a Disney logo on it, I’m buying it. I’m renting it. I going there.

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Now hold on a minute. I’m not quite that lady with her selfie profile picture in front of the castle. (Not yet at least.) She’s the one with the Mouse ears on and a sugar-high grin plastered on her face. She’s the lady back here in Oklahoma that has the Mouseketeer stick-family decal displayed on her minivan. I’ve heard all about her engagement at Walt Disney World in 2001. Well, I already have a mini van you guys! If my Prince of a husband can figure out how to make this happen retroactively, I’m only one Cinderella Castle engagement away from all out Disney hysteria!

If you haven’t been sprinkled by that golden pixie dust, one visit to Disney will do the trick. One deep breath on Main Street, U.S.A. that smells so sweet. One breeze past the line with your FastPass at Toy Story Mania! One hug from Mickey himself. I promise you will be feeling the magic. (Below, my then two-year old was not feeling the magic so much in this photo but he still speaks to me. I am now an expert on thrill levels for preschoolers.)

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First, the Disney Magic is about having fun and staying positive. At home I have some real Wicked Queen moments as a mother. (Check out my cute shirt below.) At this particular moment at Walt Disney World this fall, I wanted to take a photo and this little pirate wanted to dock the ship for a temper tantrum. All I remember is that my mother and I became hysterical with delight. Who knows what storm was ‘a brewing right there in front of Thunder Mountain Railroad? All I know is that this Wicked Queen remembers something hilarious.

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The Disney Magic is also believing in kindness. I’m not just talking about the kindness I showed these little worn-out faces when I finally let them take a break.

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I’m talking about the “Beauty to the Beast” type of kindness. If my boys are asked as adults, “Sum up what your parents taught you into one phrase- one phrase that you see your parents holding up on a sign for you to read from the playing field of life.” I hope and I pray that my banner from the bleachers would read, “BE KIND!” Be kind. I have to show them that in a world where there are so many people different from us, so many people who are in need, that kindness and love can make a difference. While the connection between Belle and the Beast and kindness is probably lost on them at this age, I think Disney’s brand embraces this value and I’m glad to let my kids be a part of it.

Here we are on another trip being kind to each other for almost a whole day! He was really into roaring like Sully.

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I also want my children to dream. This means more than having an active imagination. I want them to dream about a world free of terrorism and to dream about being President of the United States! After all, dreams aren’t just the fantasies of childhood that end when we grow up. One kid dreamed and invented computers, another dreamed the “I Have a Dream” speech, and hopefully soon, another kid will dream up the cure to cancer. Kids have to believe that dreams can come true. So I want them to experience a little of the Disney Magic that does just that.

Here is my little Padawan meeting Mike and Sully for the first time after playing with these monsters for two years in our playroom. It was a dream come true.

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Here is our family magically not being late to our White Rabbit photo opportunity. We were not late. Dreams do come true people!

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Lastly, I love that Disney allows me to gently introduce my kids to the villains. I think that a knowledge of good and evil is important even in childhood. Because sometimes there is a Wicked Queen and a poisoned apple out there. I want my kids to be able to recognize it, guard against it, and be the good in this world. I also want them to know the difference between the people who make a few mistakes and people who make mischief and mayhem their calling card. A good example is knowing the difference between a true villain and a mother (prone to motion sickness) who literally loses it after the fifth tea cup spin. Forgiveness is something we have to practice daily. There are a lot of life lessons happening in Fantasyland!

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These days I’m living a pretty great life planning our next Disney trip and hoping for a Mickey emoji with every iPhone update. My only worry in life is figuring out how I’m going to talk my boys into a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Now, where can I order one of those Mouseketeer stick families? And would DS4LIF be too much for a personalized license plate?

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Valentine’s Day rolls around and my Man takes me to a movie– because movies and my Man are what I LOVE. Loving this man, I decided to forego the romantic comedy and choose something that we might both enjoy. So, I’m a science fiction, fantasy, Harry Potter-loving lady: I chose Deadpool. An X-Men flavored film topped off with hilarity. I thought it was going to be great!

I knew that the writers, all men, were writing a genre-breaking, self-aware, antihero movie. And Jimmy Fallon said that the movie was great. That’s all I needed; I’d give it a try! He failed to mention how raunchy, gratuitously violent, and sexually explicit the movie was. And he also failed to mention (or did he fail to notice or be bothered by?) how the women were depicted in the film.

And then, I was embarrassed and scared, as a woman, to be sitting in that theatre.

  1. Vanessa- Our anithero, Wade Wilson/Deadpool’s main squeeze. She is apparently the perfect woman. First, she’s a “hooker with a heart of gold.”(Not exactly your Vivian from Pretty Woman)  She is ok with Wade’s dark (and very sexually explicit) sense of humor and bonus! She is just as dirty as he is and she can keep up. She is HOT. She has a ton of sex. She is HOT. She likes having a ton of sex. Perfect woman! Oh, and she works at a strip club. She’s so open minded.
  2. Angel Dust- The villain, Ajax’s love interest and partner. Who is she as a woman? HOT. Strong. Speaks very little. Likes everything Ajax likes. Does his bidding. Perfect.
  3. Megasonic Teenage Warhead- A moody, teenage X-men character. She is also very-near mute. Not meant to be sexually attractive. Right- because women with emotions, thoughts, and short short hair are obviously terrible. Men should avoid them until they grow out of this phase and become sexy.
  4. Blind Al- Deadpool’s blind (female) roommate. She is old and blind. She provides Deadpool with a place to live, does his laundry, “pays his bills,” and takes his blatant verbal abuse. Basically, she is totally disrespected, but she deserves it because she is old and blind.

I can’t wait for my boys to see this movie and laugh and laugh and learn about women! I can’t wait for them to learn that they should fall in love with women who are sexy. Women who are primarily sexual and care only about sexual things. Women who don’t talk much. Women who do everything men want them to do and don’t ask questions or have a conscious. Women who don’t challenge men, or talk about anything “boring.” Women who provide for men. Women who are young and hot.

I can’t wait for my boys to understand how to treat women!  Men should have a woman to have sex with. She shouldn’t care that her man is physically disfigured, but she must be hot. It’s totally ok to be terrible to women who don’t fit this sexy mold. In fact! It’s ok for men to use the moody teenager, the disabled elderly. They deserve it for not being sexy.

I’m done.

It is time for EVERYONE, men and women to say that this is not ok. This “boys will be boys” mentality makes me sick. It’s time to teach our boys (who are only years away from being men) that the value of women is NOT in their sexual appearance or abilities. Heck! Let’s teach our daughters this.

I won’t let my three and five-year old sons see this movie, but someday, I won’t stop them. They will make their own choices. They will be bombarded with pornography, violence against women in the media, and a million messages that this is just part of the deal being a “man.” I just want them to know what to really value in a woman. And I want them to reject these ideas about women that Deadpool celebrates.

So, I’m fired up. And maybe I just don’t get some type of symbolism or over-the-top, absurd portrayal of women in this film that was meant to say “this depiction of women is absurd!” Maybe I didn’t get it. Or maybe the way I perceived the movie is the way the writers intended for the audience to understand it. Call me dumb. But my hunch is this: the 13 year-old boy that was in that movie theatre with me the other day was loving every minute of that film. He loved the boobs, the sex, and the women. And he was told over and over again what type of women are good and what type of women are worthless. I just hope that my boys will scratch their heads, blush, or be totally uncomfortable in a movie like this. And maybe, just maybe, choose to skip the Deadpools of the future.

 

 

I drive a minivan. And it’s true: Minivans Get No Respect. Within weeks of purchasing Odessa the Odyssey (I just decided to name her) I was rear-ended. Twice. I’ve since thought that it’s because there is actually some sort of Star Wars “force” surrounding a minivan that makes us invisible to other drivers. Whatever the reason, I’m telling you, to drive a minivan, I had to get over myself, my right-of-way, my lane, my turn, and learn to drive defensively.

Speaking of getting over myself, I’ve been in my minivan for a year and ten months and I’m finally ready to admit publicly that I actually own one. I’m finally ready to sing the praises of this amazing vehicle, and it’s not for the reasons you might think. The double-sliding, remote-controlled doors are nice, yes. The remote-controlled start that cools or heats the van is also a perk, yes. But the main thing that this car has brought to my life is the freedom to be who I really am.

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That’s a Hogwarts t-shirt.

 

I am a Harry Potter fan, I love to wear dorky hats, I am not crafty, creative, or a DIY person. I believe in Jesus Christ and He is the only reason I have to boast about anything. I’d pick Disney as my #1 vacation spot and I love that my kid loves his Fart Gun. That’s me. Honda Odyssey and all.

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Literally having the time of my magical life.

I’ve taken a long break from writing any blog posts because I was too sensitive to others’ comments and criticisms. But a good friend encouraged me to write again, and even if it’s not perfect, or hilarious, or moving, one thing is for sure: I enjoy it. I make myself laugh and it really is a chronicle of my life.

As I re-read a lot of my posts from the past six years, I realized that I’ve learned a lot since 2008. In fact, GOD HAS CHANGED ME. In that time, I faced a two-year battle with infertility, worked in a job that I was NOT suited for, got a degree, had two children, lost my dog, and went on a Carnival Cruise. Although all of these things have obviously changed my life, my circumstances, and my measure of sympathy for others going through a round of toddler diarrhea, this blog has helped me to see that I am different.

This last year has been a hard one for me. I’ve made huge mistakes mainly because of my Pride and my Tongue. Mistakes that have humbled me and brought about a bit of “suffering”  that has been good for my soul. I know now, for certain, that God allows those of us in Christ to suffer in order to get our attention, to reveal to us our sin, and ultimately to bring us closer to him. This life is not about being happy, or going on a fun vacation, it’s about being reformed to be more like Christ. And that is what will bring us joy, and peace.

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Mommyhood has reformed me. I used to think that to be successful, I needed to be interviewed by Oprah and appear on the Today Show for whatever monumentous thing it was that I had done. But just lately, I’ve come to a place where I am learning that God’s measure of success has nothing to do with Oprah, entrepreneurship, or creativity. Instead, success has everything to do with being who God created you to be, doing what God created you to do, and giving him all the glory. I have a “Don’t DIY, Buy It Instead” board on Pinterest. I have never started, nor will I ever start, a business. And Oprah will never know my name. Who cares?! God made me this way on purpose!

My kid's Valentines. Who cares? He loved it.

My kid’s Valentines. He loved it.

So I’m praying about what God wants me to do with this uniqueness that is Leanne. I believe He has already planned out good works for me to complete and I need to get to it. “IT” doesn’t have to be big, flashy, or even noticed by a single person. Please pray for me that I would find the “it” that I’m supposed to be doing. I am humbly searching for more. And search I will, in my minivan.

photo-15Special thanks to Matt for your patience and unconditional love, Jean for your guidance, Stacy for your encouragement, Mom and Dad for your example and faith, Jennie Allen for your book, Restless, and cross body purses- for allowing me to forego the fanny pack.

 

 

 

Foot. In. Mouth.

It’s a syndrome, and oh boy, do I have a bad case of it.

Over the years, I have made a complete a$$ of myself on many-an-occasion. And it’s not because I’m a mean-spirited person; it’s because, sometimes, I just say stupid things.

I don’t think this necessarily makes me a terrible person. In fact, I think it just makes my life more interesting- and definitely more humbling. I guess it’s because I have a policy that my life is an open book. Maybe that’s why I feel free to ask others any question that comes to mind, make any comment that seems relevant, or naively state the obvious, when others choose to remain quiet. Here are a few examples of my greatness:

1. I once asked a person suffering from rosacea where she had gone on her vacation and if she usually sunburned so easily. (Let’s be honest, not just a person, a doctor to whom I was trying to sell something.)

2. I told my high school chemistry teacher (Ms. Katula) that I was surprised she only received a faculty award for being at P.A. (my high school) for five years. I thought she had been there much much longer than that.

3. I laughed and laughed at a joke I made about how old my friend’s husband was. And no one else laughed.  At all.

4. I asked a friend of mine when she planned on having children. (This one is not funny. She had just miscarried. I was young, had not gone through my own two-year process of infertility, and now know better.)

5. (You may have to read this one twice to understand it.) I once congratulated the mother-of-the bride’s DATE on his granddaughter’s upcoming nuptials. (Well this didn’t really happen, but it almost did. Thank the Lord, my husband gently squeezed my hand when I said, “Congratulations! Are you [the bride’s] -hand squeeze- um, part of [the bride’s] family?” He knew. And my face was red enough to confirm it.

6. Last year- yes, last year- I congratulated one of my friends on her lesbian-love child. Her response, “I’m not having a baby and I’m not a lesbian.” I can’t even begin to explain, and yes, this one really happened. She’s definitely the bigger person because she still speaks to me.

And those are just the ones I can share. There are a few family members who have been on the receiving end of my awkward signature move. Not to mention that I finally HAD to turn off group texts because I am just as prone to foot in mouth via technology.

But here is what I’ve got to say about all of this. I’m learning every day, and I really have learned to laugh at myself over the past few years. And although I’m trying so hard to be a “think before you speak” type of person, it may never be so. Please just know that I didn’t mean it.

My 2013 motto: accept your flaws, try to be better, and laugh a lot.

Now, who have I offended? LOL.

I just finished reading a fun and light book by Sophie Kinsella, Can You Keep a Secret? The heroine, Emma Corrigan, is reminiscent of one of my favorite characters of all times, Bridgett Jones, and spills all of her “secrets” to a complete stranger during a bumpy airplane ride. These “secrets” aren’t really serious, mainly things like- what kind of underwear she prefers to wear and that she really doesn’t love her boyfriend, etc. Like I said, it’s a fun and light read!

So it got me thinking- what might my secrets be? And while I wasn’t able to come up with any “secrets” per se, I do have a number of “wishes” that are always on my mind that I’d like to share.

1. I wish I could tell Oprah how sorry I am for everything I’ve said about her.

2. I wish I could really sing. Not so that I could go on tour- I love my life now and don’t need the headache of an international sell-out. But, I’d love to be able to really perform 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton at the office Christmas Party. I would act like it wasn’t going to be any big deal, I’d be a little shy, and then it would be AWESOME. People would talk about it for years to come.

3. I wish I always had a pair of scissors with me when I saw those “balls” hanging from a truck’s (or Mazda’s- you know who you are in Little Rock) trailer hitch. I’d just do a little snip-snip.

4. I wish I could be featured on the Today Show– but not because of a tragedy, or some sorry story. I’d like to be called as an expert of something I love like the movies. Maybe I could have my own segment, joke with Al Roker, and be awkward with Anne Curry.

5. I wish I had my own stylist. He or she, preferably someone like Cinna from the Hunger Games, wouldn’t have to work for me full-time, they could just pick out my wardrobe and dress me for special events like Supper Club and Bible Study.

6. I wish all of my friends lived next door to me. We could share a backyard like sister-wives, but not husbands. I’d have the adult hang-out in my backyard, one friend would have a pool, another a trampoline, and so on. And we’d never get tired of each other or get in a fight.

7. I wish I could time travel. This is so cliché but it truly is one of my wishes. I would just observe and try not to drink the water. My top three, time destinations: Cleopatra’s era, JFK assassination, and an early Elvis concert.

8. I wish that I could pay off Sarah McLachlan (and the Humane Society) to stop playing those Angel commercials. Every time I see one I wish that I was rich and could make it worth their while to pull all those spots, immediately.

9. I wish everyone had a dog like Greta and a lifetime supply of Diet Dr. Pepper.

10. I wish I had ten wishes to make it an even number, but nine really sums it up.

OMG-JCP!

I have not been this fired up about a rebranding since Showbiz changed to Chuck E. Cheese and they made that gorilla purple. But unlike the Showbiz massacre, when I was supremely disappointed, this time, I can hardly hold back my excitement– and my American Express.

Let’s be honest, JC Penney’s has been struggling these last few years. 100%, in the past I would have rather gone to the gynecologist than shop at Penney’s.  And if you were honest, you’d say the same thing.

But these last few days, I’ve been seeing these awesome commercials-

I can totally relate.

And then, I got this direct mail piece in the mail that made me pee my pants a little bit.

Go to your mailbox right now and look for it. It’s like they read my mind, put it in a catalogue, and I now magically want to shop at Jaques Penne’s again.

So, here is what all the “experts” say about the new branding efforts: Brand Channel article. Skip it if you want a synopsis: they are poo-pooing the rebranding efforts. But these “experts” must not be JC’s target market. I am.

And here’s what I had to say in response to all the nay sayers: (Literally, I got so fired up, I commented on the previously mentioned post. Here’s what I had to say.)

“How is everyone SO MISSING this AMAZING new transformation? It’s not about the actual logo or what people will call the store- it’s about what all of this means to the actual shopping experience. The branding is just supposed to reflect the actual changes that are taking place! All of the previous comment-makers just don’t get it!

I am 32 years old, married, a mother of one and plan to grow my family. My family has a household income that probably puts us right in the bullseye for JC Penney executives– let’s just say I can’t buy Prada, but we make enough that Penny’s wants me as a customer. I own a home, I have a college degree, and I’m a savvy shopper. I’m in a book club, I get my hair hight-lighted, and most of all, I want STYLE– style that I can afford.

Target has given me a shopper’s equivalent of a “style hit” every now and then, but it’s just not enough. Xhilaration, really!?, that’s all there is to choose from after all those cool commercials?

Kohl’s has made me dis-believe in “sale prices.” I knowing that those shirts never cost that much in the first place. I’m not that stupid.

And Toys R Us- You infuriate me! Don’t make me wait and wait on these stupid coupons that I can’t use until tomorrow!

Bravo JC Penney– you are bringing style, affordability, and straight-forward pricing that I really appreciate.

Thank you for the new imaging that makes me believe that you can bring me style again. Before I thought you were just Worthington, but after this awesome direct mail piece that almost made me cry in excitement, I have a renewed hope! Thank you for cutting out the stupid “sale” prices that are intended to trick me into believing I’m getting a deal. I’m not that stupid and I appreciate you recognizing that. Thank you for another place to shop.

I have just one request- PLEASE HURRY. Bring this in-store remodel to my store before I lose all this excitement.

Oh, and I’d work for your marketing team any day. They have done a great job.”

Tiger Lilies all around! Two dozen to new CEO Ron Johnson (formerly of Apple), and heck, another two dozen to new President Michael Francis (formerly of Target). I hope you guys can deliver the goods.

I love to be entertained. I’d say it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I love a good book, a well-written television show, and everything about going to the movies. Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Mad Men are my most recent loves. I couldn’t wait for the next book, that next episode, the next film. But each has come to an end and this last year I found myself a little depressed.

I’ve tried all sorts of replacements: DivergentHunger Games reworked; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo– shock value;  and the worst yet- ABC’s Once Upon a Time– the Lost writers trying to fit the Lost blueprint into the popular fantasy genre, not to mention the horrendous special effects. I had almost given up.

Then a ray of light, hope in the midst of my despair! Downton Abbey.

I happened upon this little historical fiction on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre right before New Year’s Day. Because I was highly disappointed by the BBC’s The Hour last year, I didn’t expect much from Downton. I thought I’d try a few episodes while my husband watched the 10,000 bowl games that I care nothing about.

Well, right off the bat- The Titanic sinks and the Earl of Grantham is left with no heir to his title, his money, and Downton Abby, a fictional estate in Britain’s North Yorkshire. The story follows the Earl, his three daughters, his American millionairess wife, and his meddling mother played by Maggie Smith. As the aristocrats grapple with the antiquated world around them- dealing with issues of inheritance, different classes in a changing society, and love and marriage, a parallel but very separate society in the servants’ quarters tackles the same issues.

The things I loved about Season 1:

The writing is superb– Each storyline is well developed and relevant. Each character is intriguing and vital to the plot. Mary is selfish yet endearing. I feel sorry for Edith and hate her all at the same time. I am appalled by O’Brian and equally repelled by Thomas. I cheer as the love develops between Mr. Bates and Anna, and hope that Matthew can figure it all out before the War begins. There are many characters, many story lines, and no lack of action. This show never slows down.

The art direction is fantastic– Highclere Castle in Hampshire is used  as a setting and could not be a more perfect and beautiful backdrop as the drama unfolds. The costumes are equally as stunning, bringing to mind the 1998 film, The Titanic, (sans early/cheesy computer generated special effects) and giving Mad Men a little competition in the television period-drama category.

The Season Finale puts both the writing and the art direction together beautifully. The excessive and dated aristocratic society come face to face with its absurdity as World War I is announced- announced during the most beautiful and lavish garden party- complete with linen-clad guests, white roses and a mint julep.  It’s a story for the eyes as well as the heart.

The things I hope for Season 2:

Better character development- Season 1 left me disliking Thomas so much that I couldn’t believe in him. He was too evil, too mean, and too selfish. The writers even managed to weave in a thread of humanity for O’Brian but left Thomas as terrible as ever. What bothered me the most about Thomas’s characterization was that he is the only homosexual character. I was troubled that the only gay character was the only completely horrible character- and I long to see him made real. To my relief, the beginning of Season 2 provided Thomas some depth, and the beginning of a back story which might prove to help.

The unrequited love story lines- I’m so over the unrequited love story lines and so tired of all the whining. I just get so Twilighted out and wish people would just say how they really feel! The relationship between Mr. Bates and Anna begins to take a very intelligent and intriguing turn in the Season 2 premiere that I applaud. On the other hand, the Matthew and Mary love story that is based upon the “I love you but I just can’t say so” mentality wears on me. My hope is that the writers are developing Mary’s character- maturing her and allowing her to show some empathy for Matthew’s fiance- instead of just creating the inevitable drawn out love affair that we expected for Season 2.

All in all, I can’t wait for Sunday nights. Thank you PBS for a wonderful surprise. How did I miss this one for so long?

I dare say that all of The Tiger Lilies readers will enjoy Downton Abbey too- you will not be sorry- at least until the episodes end.

Also, if you dig what I dig, check out this blog, YABookBridges.com. There is a post about Vixen, a book series set in 1920’s Chicago. I know I’m going to check it out.

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