First, I want to apologize in not posting in months. Emily, our 3 year old somehow loaded a virus on the computer. Whenever we would try to use it boxes of Russian text would show up and screw with everything. Damn you Russians! And they keep insisting there wasn't any collusion... my ruined computer begs to differ. Thank you Jared Kushner. When Chuck reformatted it my bookmark to my blog was gone. Me being me, I did not remember how to log in. It has taken me a few months to figure out my password and the email I used when I set it up years ago. But here we are back at it.
We recently returned from an extended vacation in Florida and it did not disappoint. I had you, my faithful readers in mind the whole time. Now that I have upgraded to a smart phone I was able to type in phrases/notes along the way of things I wanted to blog about. So grab a snack, buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Disclaimer--if you are one of those dyed in the wool Disney fans you may want to stop reading now. This blog may be a trigger for you. If you chose to continue reading and are offended that is on you.
So one night I come home from work and the girls are super excited to see me. They are squealing, "guess where we are going" so I guess West End (a local ice-cream shop)? Nope. The Dollar Tree? I mean I would be squealing if we were headed to the Promised Land. Nope again. "DISNEY!!!!" "We are going to Disney!!!!". Turns out they spent my 8 hour shift planning a trip to Disney. Note to self; maybe rethink this whole work outside the home thing--they majority of the family is home while I am at work and they tend to make major family decisions while I am toiling away. Long time blog readers will remember that is how we ended up getting a dog! The contract was made while I was at work and man do I love Mary Alice but sometimes I wouldn't mind being part of the discussion. But I digress. Back to Disney. I am the first to admit I am not a perfect parent. There is negotiating, there is yelling, there are bribes and at times there are lies. Yes, I have been known to lie to my children. One doozie I perpetuated was that the law says everyone in your family needs to be 5 to go to Disney. Why do you think I popped out another kiddo when Anna was teetering on the edge of 5? Somehow my offspring found out there really wasn't a law supporting an age requirement for Disney. I have my suspicions on who may have leaked the truth... Anyway, the trip was booked for the day after they were to get out of school. We live in New England and it snows. So in the end they not only got a trip to Disney they also got to miss the last 2 days of school.
So we pack up the family truckster and head out at 5 a.m. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention We. Were. Driving! So I hate the heat. Chuck hates driving with the kids for longer than a 3 hour stretch and he hates people. So here's an idea; let's drive 1,500 miles to Disney in the summer. I half thought of printing Divorce Papers off of Legal Zoom and have them at the ready in the glove compartment. I also thought it might be a good idea for all of us to make a list of what we love about each other. That way when we are 3 states in and we are all bickering we can read from the list and remind ourselves that deep down we do care about one another. In the end I did neither.
Everyone is excited and we pull out of the driveway without a hitch. We make it to all the way to the Jersey Turnpike and we stop for breakfast. Let me just say, our first stop did not disappoint! I was waiting in line for my egg sandwich when two guys come running in yelling to the staff that there is a lady passed out in her car with a needle still in her arm. Oh great, an overdose at 9 in the morning. To add to the ambiance of the beautiful food court there are dirty disease infested birds walking all around on the tables. I take the girls to the bathroom and Emily walks in, immediately announces it smells gross in there, gags and pukes. Good times! Now, if you have never been on the Jersey Turnpike before then you have not experienced that glorious smell. There really are no words in the English Language to describe it fully. Anna and I have a good working theory on where the smell comes from; So the rest area on the Jersey Turnpike is usually the first stop for New Englanders when they are on a road trip. Anna and I believe everyone is being polite on the first leg of the trip and holding their farts in. Once they step out of the car into the parking lot they let em all rip. Think about it, the nearby traffic is so loud no one can hear them. It is the perfect solution.
The first day we make it to North Carolina. Not bad. We only made 3 stops that day, breakfast in Jersey, lunch in Virginia and dinner/hotel in North Carolina. Not bad. Truth be told I didn't have coffee and significantly limited my liquid intake. I did not want to be the reason we needed to stop--didn't want Chuck to get upset and start channeling his inner Clark Griswold. It was great looking at the beautiful scenery along the way. Oh wait, the only thing we saw on 95 were signs for Cracker Barrels, Adult Super Stores and Jesus. What the hell would an alien think of our society if their mother ship landed in America's South Eastern corridor? Perhaps they would think we are all overweight, sexual deviants in need of salvation? Keeping it classy Murica! I did have a revelation along the way one that may cause me to change careers late in the game; the people who come up with road names in this country have the easiest job in the world. A few examples; Dry Bread Road, Virginia. So was the namer sitting around eating a sandwich when he realized he was up against a hard deadline and just types the first thing he sees. His boss sends an email back asking for more details...kind of like when you would get a composition back from your teacher and it was all marked up with a red pen. More details, huh? So the road namer decides to throw in Dry to it? Perfect! Thank God he wasn't on the crapper when he was pressed to come up with something. Then I sh*t you not we saw Blue Balls Road. I am not even going to venture a guess with how that name came to be. Though Chuck and I had some fun coming up with scenarios on that one. After all I am a 12 year old boy at heart.
So the next day we make it to Florida. How did we know we were there? Simple, the number of walkers and Hurry-canes by the pool outnumbered pool noodles and floaties a good 10 to 1. We settle in and have a good couple of beach days before we head over to, duh, duh dunn...Disney.
Before we get to Disney lets talk about the beach for a minute. Way different than our New England beaches. For one you can drive on them. A concept I love, you don't have to drag all your crap through parking lots and across miles of beach. You pull up, park and that is it. Lovely. The ice-cream man drives his truck right to you! AMAZING! That is until you try and get out. Now as the title of my blog suggests, we have a mini-van. We saw other mini vans on the beach with Florida plates so they must be fine, right? Wrong. We had successfully parked and exited a few times. But on one of our trips we got stuck in the sand. Being drive-on beach novices we didn't have a tow rope, board or shovels. We had a teeny, tiny plastic toy shovel smaller than my flip flop. We are all in the car, I am pushing the gas and Emmie is yelling for Chuck to push harder and the rest of us are laughing and laughing. Chuck wasn't quite as amused as the rest of us. But we did finally get out. Needless to say we parked at a parking lot the next time we went to the beach. Oh about the beach; so we are sitting on the beach and I am looking out into the water and no word of a lie I see a fin glide by. Has to be a dolphin right? So I am thinking about it and I swear it was a shark fin, it seemed too angular to be a dolphin fin. I get on my new smart phone and google "are there sharks at Ormond Beach?" Oh yeah there are! Turns out the county we are staying in, Volusia County, is the Shark Bite Capital of America. Turns out there was a shark attack on the very beach I was sitting on just two months earlier. I made Chuck stay in the water with the girls after that. For the record I never told the girls what I saw and I intend on keeping that a secret in case we go to that beach again. I figure if they ever find out I knew it will give them something to talk to their future therapists about. I mean can you imagine that is a therapists dream, a patient telling them their mom allowed them to swim in shark infested waters.
We make it to Disney, check into our hotel and hit the pool. It was really, really crowded in the pool. All the people in there skeeved me out. It was like human soup. Warm, hairy human soup. It was the one and only time I went into the pool. We head to dinner the first night and Emily sleeps through it. Missed the whole thing from appetizers to dessert. Sound asleep in Chuck's arms. Little did we know that was a start of a trend for Emily. Emily slept her way through Florida, this is a kiddo who gave up her naps 2 years ago and here she was sleeping a good 18 hours a day. We took lots of pictures to prove she was, in fact on vacation with us. She is a lot like me with the heat. We hate it. It isn't that I just hate being hot and sweaty, I got really hot on the inside. I truly feel like my blood is boiling through my veins. I think we have had this conversation before, that I whole heartedly believe that at some point I will become a victim of spontaneous human combustion. Emily turns into a furnace in the heat as well. The poor bugga was so flippin hot. I was giving her Motrin in case she had a fever brewing but I am pretty sure she was just reacting to the heat. Had I taken her to Urgent Care and had blood work done I am pretty confident she was straddling the fence between consciousness and unconsciousness. The two of us spent a lot of time hanging out in our hotel room. With all the heat and oppressive humidity I broke out like I flippin teenager. So not only was I hot and sweaty you had Zitty McGee over here giving myself NICU baths with baby wipes every hour on the hour...NICU ladies you know the one...clean to dirty!
The next day we finally enter The Magic Kingdom! The kids are excited, Chuck and I are excited to finally take our children to the happiest place on earth!! Fast forward to 10 minutes in and we were biting each others heads off. I swear to all that is Holy I heard every 3rd parent go by muttering "Happiest Place on earth my ass" under their breath. I had to laugh at the hypocrisy of parents yelling at their kids to 'smile for the damn picture'. I do have an ingenious idea for some of my retired and soon to be retired ED nurses; retire to Disney and charge $10 for every nurse maids elbow you need to reduce from parents pulling on their kids arms as the kids try to run away. You would live a luxurious retirement from one week's pay! Fast Pass that Disney! No, seriously Disney, put a fast pass on your app to go to the Medical Tent and get your kid's elbow put back in its socket. It would be such a value added feature.
In the 4 days we spent in the Disney Parks I have come to realize good old Walt was a sadist. Why for the love of God would you build an outdoor theme park in a tropical swamp? It was hotter than an old man's balls in a steam room! I saw a wild bunny and the poor thing was so skinny and pathetic looking. He was just casually walking along, no hopping, no spring in that poor beasts steps. Though the heat did lend itself quite nicely to the Disney diet--in a nutshell it is too f@cking hot to eat. OK so on second thought, maybe Walt was ahead of his time and predicted Americas obesity problem. He was being proactive. He saw a problem coming down the pipeline and he came up with a solution--make overweight Americans walk for miles in this God awful heat, they will be too overheated to eat and they will sweat away the pounds. I am a people watcher and one thing I noticed was that there were a ton of fat moms with wicked in shape dads. I am not judging...Chuck and I are one such pair. Why is that? Why are the moms of this country heavier than the dads. Is it because the moms are focused on everyone else in the family and they always come last? Is it because they are making the crappy food for the kids all day and it is easier to just eat mac and cheese with them instead of making a separate meal? I have nothing funny to say about this or any answers, it was just a curious observation.
Oh, here is another observation I made. There was a disproportionate number of people using electric scooters at Disney. I know many people need them to improve their mobility. However, I am going to go out on a limb and say the multiple groups of teens I saw all piled onto a single scooter, think 5 teens to a scooter, didn't really need them for improving their mobility, at least not medically anyway. Or the scores of inebriated looking twenty something's racing each other through the park. Again, I am not in a position to medically assess them, but I don't believe every single scooter rider was legit. As sure as the day is long, I can absolutely, 100% guarantee the rest of us poor schleps don't think it as funny as you do when you slam into our ankles because you don't know how to stop your scooter. For whatever reason you find yourself on a hover-round in Disney for Christ's sake do not make your maiden voyage in Disney! Do society a solid and take a test run in a Wal-Mart, preferably one in Florida. I had the pleasure (and when I say "pleasure" it is of the sadomasochistic kind of way--you know when pain in some sort of twisted way causes pleasure, yeah, that kind of way) of visiting Wal-Mart a few times while on vacation in Florida. A Floridian Wal-Mart is a beast unto itself and also a blog unto itself....Apropos of nothing, but I got 3 Amber Alerts on my phone while in Florida.
So back to Disney. Disney is a freakin cult. There, I said it. It is a cult. Walt Disney is like the David Koresh and the millions of middle class Americans that make a pilgrimage to Mecca, uh-uhm, I mean Disney World every year are his followers. They all dress alike with the mouse ears, pay a hefty portion of their income to the Church of Mickey, not much different than Scientologists. They walk through the park blankly staring at their phones or so I thought. They aren't blankly staring at their phones, they are frantically trying to secure their next fast pass. Turns out you need to have a fast pass for the rides if you have any expectation of actually getting on a ride. If not you will spend literal hours waiting in line for a ride. One ride had a wait time of over 3 hours and no fast passes. 3 hours! And people were waiting in line for it. It was a ride from the movie Avatar so I guess the people waiting for 3 hours really had nothing else to do with their time. Nerds of the World Unite!! So instead of parents watching their children's reactions to the happiest place on earth they are staring at their phone looking for fast passes then screaming at their kids to haul ass to the other side of the park--they just scored a pass for the Mine Train and they aren't going to miss their time slot God Damn It! I saw a crap ton of couples with Bride and Groom mouse ears on. So this lead me to conclude they either A.) had their wedding at Disney or 2.) are honeymooning there. I can assure you sure as shit, if somewhere in the proposal/wedding planning my betrothed floated the idea of a wedding or honeymoon at Disney that wedding would be called off so fast it would literally make dear old Walt D. spin in his grave. There is nothing as unromantic as Disney. The crowds, the smells, the sweat, the kids, ugh! The one good thing I guess is a honeymoon at Disney may be good for population control. What better birth control than seeing 4,000 screaming kids having tantrums because you won't let them get a $56 Lilo and Stitch stuffed animal. Minnie Mouse sure, Dumbo, perhaps, but Stitch? No F-ing way kid.
The best part of being at Disney was the E.P.I.C people watching I was able to do! So there is someone I will call "Tattoo Lady" at Epcot. Now, I don't want all the tattoo folks to get in a tizzy. I like tattoos and I even have one myself. That being said, I believe tattoo artists should have some type of magical, crystal ball customers are obligated to look in before getting inked. That way they can see if this body modification will stand the test of time. Case in point, Tattoo Lady. She had Cinderella's Castle tramp stamped above her ass crack. How do I know? She had a tank top on that had an open back. Above the Castle she had Tinkerbelle and other princesses floating around. There was also a quote higher up on her back. Something about life is tragic/life is magic. I didn't get a perfect look because the shirt, though open in the back had flaps on it. I tried discreetly to blow it open with my menopause fan. Yes, I brought my menopause fan and proudly wore it around my neck. I also wanted to take a picture but I am not that savvy with my phone so there was no way I could take it without asking Tattoo Lady to pose for it. I wasn't in the mood to get beat up so I made a note of it in my phone instead. So maybe when she was in her teens she thought this would be a good look for her, but it looks like she may have put some weight on after having her kids, hey, it happens to the best of us. The castle now looked as if it could house the entire cast of Disney characters and not just Cindy-relly. Next to her was another lady with a gem of a tat. This woman had a portrait tattoo on her shoulder. It was of a man. Based on her age and the age of the guy in the portrait I am guessing it is her dad. It had birth/death dates on it. I am all for memorial tattoos. I have one I have wanted for about 5 years now and I will get it at some point. However, this is where her and I digress. I have put a TON of thought into where I am getting mine. Hers may not have been as well thought out. This tattoo was very realistic. It looked like a crystal clear photograph. It was beautiful. But stick with me here, you know I have the sense of humor of an adolescent boy, right? Well, and I sh*t you not, this is exactly what I was thinking while strolling through Disney with my beautiful, sweet little girls; what the f*ck must her husband be thinking when he is doing her from behind? Instead of lingerie does he buy her flannel housecoats? Does he purposely place his hand over dear old dad's face? I was fascinated with the mechanics of all of this. So as a general rule, if you are out with me and I have a far-away look on my face, do not, I repeat, DO NOT ask me what I am thinking about! Do I feel bad about mocking these ladies life choices? No, why you ask? Because when you go out to see the world, the world sees you too!
Then there was someone I like to call the "Good Morning Lady" from Epcot. I hated her at first but then I realized her and I could be best friends! So I am walking into Epcot and wanted to know where the stroller rental was. I see a lady in Epcot, we make eye contact and she says "good morning". I say "Hi". I then ask her where the stroller rental was. She repeats "good morning". I say hi again and ask where the stroller rental is. I get another "good morning" back. Oh, I get it now...Epcot hires people from around the world to work there. I try again but much slower, making sure I annunciate Ev-er-ee worrrr-duh. I get another mother f-ing "good morning" back in my face. Then it hits me. She is playing with me. She is just as miserable in this heat, probably not too happy with how her life is going at the moment, throw in some daddy issue and this is how she has her fun. She is going to get me to say good morning even if it is her last act on earth. She is not going to tell me where that stroller rental is until I give her a cheery ole good morning back. For a spilt second I hated her for playing me but then I had mad respect for her. She is a girl after my own heart! I gave her the biggest God damned Good Morning I could muster and she gave me the keys to the kingdom and told me where I could rent a stroller. You do you girl!
Another gripe I have about Disney is how everyone that works there calls everyone prince or princess. Here is my take on it; call me princess one more time so help me God...I am not a princess. We all know at this point in the trip I am looking less than regal. Again, he heat has made my face break out like a teenager. So here I am, all sweaty and gross and but for me coloring my gray hairs before we left I would be a dead ringer for Ursula from Little Mermaid. Oh and I have photographic proof that I am, in fact not royal looking. After getting admonished from one of my children for actually having fun and interacting on the Buzz Lightyear ride, which you are encouraged to do, I sat with my arms folded all while contemplating where and how my parenting skills went so horribly wrong and at that exact moment the ride took my picture. It. Was. Priceless. When I came off the ride and saw the puss on my face I almost peed my pants laughing. My Disney experience was captured and frozen in time forever! If I had a nickel for every time I said "for f*cks sake" in my head, wait I take that back, if I had a half-pence for every time I said, for f*cks sake in my head I could buy Disney World, Disney Land, Euro Disney the Disney Cruise line and hell even Disney Asia and still have money left over for a souvenir!
So I got to thinking, Is Disney really magical or is it like Kale? People say they love it but really just suffer through because it is what society dictates. Give me an old fashioned Himalayan or tilt a whirl at the Marshfield Fair, some toothless carnies, a book of paper tickets, Journey on a boom box and I am good.
Over 2,800 miles, 14 days of togetherness, ridiculous humidity, a preteen and her attitude a 3 year old going on 93 with the amount of napping she did and I only yelled once. ONCE! I deserve the Nobel Frickin Peace Prize, don't cha think?