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Most people in my life know 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’m going there. I’m even helping other people go there. All the time.

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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 minivan 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 monster 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. In fact, I’d be just as excited to get up at 7:00 Eastern time to book your reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Be warned, if we talk Disney, my enthusiasm is contagious and it does usually result in a trip for your own family. You’ll thank me later!

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Am I just getting older or have I always been “un-cool?” It recently dawned on me that there are a few things that I just don’t care for that many people love. Similarly, the things that I am obsessed with are often not as main-stream as I think they should be. So I’m putting it out there- I’m embracing my inner un-coolness and I’m proud of it. Stay tuned for my “Un-Cool Confessions.”

#1. I’m NOT into cool music.

For the last few weeks I’ve been traveling to see family and friends before I have little baby Whit in December. My first trip was to Houston to see my cousin who writes the blog, Combined Average, and my brother and his wife, who collectively write the blog, Something Clever. Both blogs are very entertaining and currently have posts up about music.

Everyone in Houston. Mrs. "Un-Cool" second from the right.

I would love to say that I have a deep appreciation for “cool” music but I just don’t. Unless it’s a billboard top 40, and re-digitized to make the singer’s voice sound like Max Headroom, I probably don’t like it. To my brother’s chagrin, I always disappoint him with my non-musical taste and general lack of musical knowledge. This weekend I got Rage Against the Machine mixed up with Radio Head, which he thought was hilarious.  He is a drummer, self-made sound engineer and really cool music person in general that is always asking me if I’ve heard of “so-and-so.” When I say, “no,” “but have you heard the latest song from Taylor Swift?” He drops his head and gives me a disapproving sigh.

Sorry Jay. I just like Elvis, Billy Joel/Elton John, anything on K-LOVE and the top 40. Oh, and did I mention I’m obsessed with the TV show Glee?

#2. I don’t care for any of these popular cooking shows. Or gourmet food in general.

Iron Chef, Barefoot Contessa, Paula Dean, Rachel Ray, Man vs. Food, etc. etc. etc. and ad nauseum. I don’t like to cook, (gasp!) and I don’t like to watch other people cooking. I especially don’t like to watch that guy on Man vs. Food make himself sick and I don’t want to watch any chef-wanna-be’s compete to be the next top chef.

This lack of appreciation also flows over into my  uncultured and unappreciative pallet. On my most recent trip to visit one of my best friends in Atlanta we attended a football get together to watch all of the SEC/Big 12 games we could possibly digest in one day. I was so excited. I thought we’d eat cheese dip, chips and burgers until I swore off food for life– but instead, we were greeted with a spread of three funny smelling cheeses, meat balls, cabbage salad and risotto. Let me tell you, everyone raved about the food. And I could tell it was really “good.” Damn you Giada de Laurentiis. I just wanted a Cool Ranch Dorito.

Here we are cheering on the Hogs, sans brownies

#3. And last, but certainly not least. I am so SICK of Betty White.

I love love love Saturday Night Live. If you haven’t seen Zach Galifianakas’s digital short, Zach Drops By the Set, please go watch it right now. It is hilarious. But I blame Saturday Night Live for America’s obsession with Betty White. Why did they have to let her host? She’s so over-done that I can’t bear to hear her little old voice one more time. I might even boycott any television shows that allow her to make a guest appearance.

Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than old people making sexual jokes. Give Betty some better material. Write her something intelligent. Stop with the booty-spanking of John Hamm (Emmy’s), nasty dancing with Sandra Bullock  (MTV Teen-Choice Awards), and Schwetty Balls references in Delicious Dish (SNL). I hope this trend ends right away. I don’t know if I can stand it much longer.

Instead, I’ll enjoy my Glee episodes, listen to the Elton John channel of Pandora, and heat up my Lean Cuisine’s in perfect bliss. I am who I am. And don’t get me started on organic baby food…

With my brother and his wife. Trying to maintain a little coolness.

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A Rare Re-Post in Honor of the Late Sallinger.

About two weeks ago, Matt and I went on a much-needed vacation to Mexico. I was looking forward to eating too much at our all-inclusive resort and basking in the hot Cancun sun while washing away the swine flu with every hand-wash. And as part of my normal vacation ritual, I brought along a couple of books to read. (I am on this kick where I’m trying to read classics.) So as I was browsing the “required summer reading” shelves at Barnes and Noble, I ran across The Catcher in the Rye.

This particular edition of the “American Classic” didn’t have a synopsis printed on the back or on the inside cover and I decided to take a gamble. I had no idea what the book was about, but I knew it was a classic and the first page caught my attention:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father.”

The story opens with a depressed and angry 16-year old named Holden Caulfield, who has just been kicked out of his third or fourth prep school. The remaining 100 or so pages follow his trip home to face his parents who Holden expects will be very disappointed with him, yet again. The more the story continued to do nothing but follow this kid, the more engrossed I became. I empathized with this “screw up” who was terribly whiny and foul-mouthed. And as he described every adult he saw as a “phoney,” I began to adopt his cynical views and became a little unhappy– even on vacation. If I hadn’t picked up Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons before we left, I might be in therapy right now.

The more I tried to figure out why The Catcher in the Rye was such an American Classic, the more baffled I became. And now, after two weeks of reflection, I have decided that this story of a young man’s angst must have been cutting-edge in the 1950’s. I’m sure this book was banned not only for the language and the mention of “feeling sexy” around a prostitute, but also because no one in America would have wanted little Johnny to adopt such a negative outlook on life.

All in all, I quite prefer Ferris Bueller’s teen-angst to Holden Caulfield’s. While I can relate with both characters, Ferris provides a more playful and hopeful view of what comes next in life, where Holden just depresses the hell out of you.

In response to all of this, I have begun trying to really focus on the “glass-half-full” approach to life. That, and Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons has really brought me out this loathing for all mankind and I’m starting to recover. Tiger Lily to Salinger’s teen angst; it has caused me to focus on being happy.

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Contrary to what you might think, I am actually a native Texan and not originally from Arkansas. I was born near Amarillo, Texas, later lived in the Houston area and then moved to Arkansas when I was 10 years old. After being raised in the Natural State, I gladly left home for the University of Oklahoma and later married a wonderful guy from Edmond—hoping that he would take me back there someday. And as crazy as it sounds, we still live in Little Rock and actually like it.
But as we have been traveling a lot lately, and I’ve begun to think twice about the land-that-I-love. After going to Texas two weekends ago for a wedding and then to Oklahoma City last week for a friend’s 30th birthday, I began to wonder what it was about Arkansas that we liked so much. For instance, if Arkansas faced-off with Texas or Oklahoma, which state would prevail?
1. Let’s start with the obvious: Sports.
What kills me is that people in Arkansas hate OU and the University of Texas. Arkansans even tell Aggie jokes which strikes me as completely ironic because the state is well-known for Tyson foods, Hogs and soybeans. But back to sports, who would ever question the dominance of OU and UT over Arkansas? Hell, as much as I hate to say it, OSU could even stomp the Hogs. I know Arkansas will occasionally win a hard-fought battle against these arch enemies who aren’t even in the SEC, but overall—if I’m being honest, this is a point for Oklahoma and Texas.
2. Targets/Shopping.
With a state as large as Texas, it is inevitable that the shopping is going to be better than Arkansas. So let’s just throw Texas out on this one, and focus on the shopping debate between Arkansas and Oklahoma. First, I think it is important to say that I’m not talking about designer shopping, because I’m really only concerned with essential purchases. And I could argue that most essential shopping can be done at a Target store. Except not in Arkansas. In the land of Wal-Mart, (Wal-Mart was founded in Bentonville, Arkansas) there isn’t even a single, solitary, Super Target. If I want to buy the creations of Mossimo along with an ear of corn, I’m out of luck. Even on the shampoo aisle in Edmond, Oklahoma’s Target I started to get depressed. Who knew there were more than five choices of shampoo and conditioner? Point to Oklahoma and Texas.
3. News coverage.
While in Texas two weekends ago, my husband and I learned of the conflict in Iran, and thank goodness. If we’d been in Arkansas, watching the local news, who knows what local grass-fire would have eclipsed this international crisis? To be fair, in Arkansas, local stations do cover national and international stories, but honestly, one station actually brags about only covering the local news, as if we aren’t insulated enough from the rest of the world. Yes, we have the Internet and wear shoes most of the time, but after watching a night full of Channel 4, you have to laugh as we perpetuate our own stereotypes. Point to Oklahoma and Texas.
4. Accents.
Most people who have never been to Arkansas would think that we have beautiful Southern accents. Designing Women and Gone with the Wind’s Tara come to mind. And then you hear an Arkansan talk. It’s this “Arkansas” accent that hits you right between the eyes and the terms, “hillbilly” and “hick” come to mind. Now, some people can’t help it. They’ve been raised here and while they might be well educated and very non-Hillbilly, the accent is just as unavoidable as it is distinct. Case-and-point: (And I am not making this up.) When traveling in Europe one summer during college, my travel companion and I were literally standing in the middle of the Forum in Rome. When suddenly, I was frozen in my Chacos, listening to the distinct and somewhat jarring sounds of an Arkansan speaking. I immediately told my travel-mate that I was sure those people were from Arkansas, and to make things even more hilarious and small-town, I knew them. It was my preacher, his wife and daughter. We had a nice chat with Mrs. Anne and went on our way.
To contrast, let’s examine the Texas and Oklahoma accents. Texas: I had a pledge sister in college from Panhandle, Texas. She had a beautiful drawl that everyone loved. It endeared us to her. The accent of this cattle-rancher’s daughter didn’t cause us to wince, we actually thought it was sweet. Oklahoma: Most people from Oklahoma are accent-neutral. In fact, it’s such an ambiguous accent that when my husband first went to training with his company in New Jersey, people couldn’t guess where he was from. Now, eight years of Arkansas later, his teammates are making fun of what he has accidentally absorbed. I said it was unavoidable. Point to Texas and Oklahoma.
5. Fun things to do.
Little Rock is the capital city of Arkansas and one of the largest cities in the state. We don’t have a professional sports team, or even a Cheesecake Factory, but we do have the Skatium. The one skating rink in the city is so hopping on Sunday nights that the police are called out to manage all of the pre-teens who take to the street. Some wander their way up to Wal-Mart to get a coke while others hangout at the snow-cone hut and make it a perfect weekend.
In Oklahoma City, they have an area called Bricktown which is quickly becoming Oklahoma’s version of the San Antonio Riverwalk. The Oklahoma City Thunder shoots baskets at the Ford Center and Billy Joel and Elton John actually had a sold-out concert in Tulsa. Snow cones on Sunday begin to pale in comparison to these Oklahoma and Texas attractions. Point to Oklahoma and Texas.
I could go on.
But as I write all of this, I begin to feel like a horrible person. After all, I defend Arkansas all over the U. S. when people make fun of Bill Clinton’s home state. Although Texas and Oklahoma are clearly the winners here, I’ll continue to pay that high Arkansas-state income tax with a smile on my face; I’ll faithfully save for my future-children’s private-high school education; and I’ll cheer for the doomed Hogs as they willingly enter into an eight year football contract with Texas A & M. It’s a pride for Arkansas that is unexplainable. Tiger Lily to Arkansas.

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A Rare Re-Post in Honor of the Late Sallinger.

About two weeks ago, Matt and I went on a much-needed vacation to Mexico. I was looking forward to eating too much at our all-inclusive resort and basking in the hot Cancun sun while washing away the swine flu with every hand-wash. And as part of my normal vacation ritual, I brought along a couple of books to read. (I am on this kick where I’m trying to read classics.) So as I was browsing the “required summer reading” shelves at Barnes and Noble, I ran across The Catcher in the Rye.

This particular edition of the “American Classic” didn’t have a synopsis printed on the back or on the inside cover and I decided to take a gamble. I had no idea what the book was about, but I knew it was a classic and the first page caught my attention:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father.”

The story opens with a depressed and angry 16-year old named Holden Caulfield, who has just been kicked out of his third or fourth prep school. The remaining 100 or so pages follow his trip home to face his parents who Holden expects will be very disappointed with him, yet again. The more the story continued to do nothing but follow this kid, the more engrossed I became. I empathized with this “screw up” who was terribly whiny and foul-mouthed. And as he described every adult he saw as a “phoney,” I began to adopt his cynical views and became a little unhappy– even on vacation. If I hadn’t picked up Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons before we left, I might be in therapy right now.

The more I tried to figure out why The Catcher in the Rye was such an American Classic, the more baffled I became. And now, after two weeks of reflection, I have decided that this story of a young man’s angst must have been cutting-edge in the 1950’s. I’m sure this book was banned not only for the language and the mention of “feeling sexy” around a prostitute, but also because no one in America would have wanted little Johnny to adopt such a negative outlook on life.

All in all, I quite prefer Ferris Bueller’s teen-angst to Holden Caulfield’s. While I can relate with both characters, Ferris provides a more playful and hopeful view of what comes next in life, where Holden just depresses the hell out of you.

In response to all of this, I have begun trying to really focus on the “glass-half-full” approach to life. That, and Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons has really brought me out this loathing for all mankind and I’m starting to recover. Tiger Lily to Salinger’s teen angst; it has caused me to focus on being happy.

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On Saturday April 11th, I lost my Roller-Derby virginity in Tallahassee, Florida. (Please be warned, if you are going to be offended by sexual references, than this is not the post for you. And if you are easily offended but read on anyway- you can join me in accepting this particular Tiger Lily. I am awarding this one to myself.)

Matt and I went to visit my sister and her family over Easter weekend. My niece, five years old, spent much of the weekend playing with her Hannah Montana guitar. She serenaded us with The Best of Both Worlds all weekend which, ironically, is the best way to describe our visit. In the first world, we celebrated the holiest weekend in the entire Christian calendar. We shared jellybeans from the kids’ Easter baskets, and even went to the Circus. In the second world, we went to the Roller Derby.

Let’s back up. A few days before we flew down to Tallahassee, my sister called me to make sure that Matt and I would like to go to the Roller Derby before she purchased tickets. Obviously I was confused, because at first, I was under the impression that I would have to strap on some roller-blades and join in. My sister quickly assured me that I was not Roller Derby material and that we would be spectators only. Well, as you might have guessed, I was relieved and told her that we would love to go.

Now fast forward to Saturday night. Southern Discomfort (the name of the tournament we attended) started at 5:30 p.m. The actual match didn’t actually start until 7:00, but the doors opened at 5:30 for us to claim our seats. We put our lawn chairs as close to the ensuing blood-shed as possible and went back outside the gates. I had on my new GAP t-shirt, matching bracelet with a cute little star charm and a preppy little white hoodie in case I got cold. I encouraged Matt to wear his khaki t-shirt with the pink piping, also from the GAP. He told me that he was worried he might look a little feminine and I assured him that he looked great. Obviously, I had no idea.

Back outside the gates, everyone enjoyed a few home-brought beers. I decided to hold out until I could get back inside, hoping they might be serving white wine, or at the least, margaritas, since I don’t really drink beer. But as our tailgating came to an end, and we lined up to go back inside, I began to get the feeling that I didn’t really have a good idea of what was about to happen– and that I probably wouldn’t be getting that glass of wine. I also began to notice that many of the soon-to-be spectators were wearing a lot of black, sporting some pretty cool tattoos and piercings and many had on “The Cure” t-shirts.

And then I saw them. The Roller Derby Girls. We had just rounded the corner where we could see the inside of Fairgrounds Building 2 where they had set up the make-shift roller-rink. Bitchie Cunningham skated right past me. She is the co-captain of “Capital Punishment,” the name of the Tallahassee Roller Derby team. Her co-captain, The Great Wall of Gina, was close behind joking with Robin Cradles. They were dressed in fish-net hose, panties, helmets and knee pads. They looked pretty tough. Feeling a little GAPish, I pulled my hoodie a little closer.

We took our seats directly behind the Jacksonville Roller Girl’s bench. Quite a seat, because I was close enough to read Anita HardOne’s helmet sticker that said, “I Love Porn” and got to see Jenna Talls ice her butt after a bad spill. This was a treat because, like most of the Roller Girls, Jenna just had panties on over her fish-nets and let me tell you– she has a great butt.

It only took me watching the girls skate one or two times around the rink before I understood the game. Each team has one Jammer and it is her job to score. They score by getting in front of the other team’s Jammer. The “pack” of Blockers and Pivots take off a few seconds before the two Jammers to make scoring a little harder. The Blockers slam you into the wall and I still don’t know what the Pivots do. But what I do know is this: Roller Derby girls are hard-core and I wouldn’t want to make one of them mad. For instance, one Blocker, I think her name was Tackle Boxxx, had a little skirt on that said, “Talk Shit. Get Hit.” She meant it. And I was hooked.

Capital Punishment beat the Jacksonville Roller Girls after three (or was it four?) periods of hard-fought jamming. I was having so much fun that I almost joined in with the crowd as they began yelling for one of the skaters, “Go Fat Ass Bitch!” In fact, I would have had the time of my life if only the toilets at the fairgrounds had been flushing. When I realized that my drink choices were beer or jack-and-coke, I went for a few of the latter and quickly needed more than one restroom break. Let’s just say, the no-flushing was just a little outside of my comfort zone and I decided to hold it.

Thanks to my naivety, needing to pee really bad most of the night and the GAP outfits I dressed us in, I award myself a Tiger Lily for my inaugural Roller Derby. I’m on the hunt for the next Little Rock Roller Derby where I will mentally award a Tiger Lily to the “me” in the crowd. She will be so easy to pick out.

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(Just because I needed a picture and I just love Mad Men.)

In the last few weeks, I have really been evaluating my plans for 2009. I’ve been thinking a lot about my family, my career and even what television shows will be on the horizon and subsequently on our DVR. Being a planner, I don’t wait until late December, it’s just too late to map out a course, and I’ve never been one to procrastinate.
What dawned on me this week is that “planning” and “the plan” don’t really go hand-in-hand. Instead, things are really out of your control. Honestly, for all of my planning, how could I have possibly planned for my 2008?:
  • First, I changed jobs. I now work at an advertising agency, leaving a sales career behind.
  • I attended my 10-year high school reunion.
  • I changed my email address. This is huge for me, and so, it makes the list. Abandoning RLSooner and moving forward with a more grown-up, name/last name email address was my official inauguration into adult-career-hood.
  • I’ve gone back to school part-time.
  • I’ve traveled to New Orleans, Atlanta, Tallahassee, Chicago, Napa Valley, Kansas City, and Hawaii.
  • I put my foot in my mouth a number of times.
  • I watched and became enamored with the first two seasons of Mad Men.
  • I joined facebook, started a blog, and became addicted to a blackberry.
So my new plan (because once a planner, always a planner) is to try and be organized, have a purpose that is bigger than all of this, and see what happens.
Tiger Lily to planning, because it’s just an exercise in organization that has nothing to do with the actual “plan.” I’m pretty sure that Someone Else has things securely under control.

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