Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving, Part 2: DiSnEY!

I am a perfect example of why Disney makes so much money.

I am pretty sure that when the bigwigs at Disney sit around their boardroom table (shaped like Mickey Mouse, of course) and muse over how they can manipulate more money out of Disney-holics, diehard fans, and your average-everyday-sap,
they have my picture
on a slideshow presentation
with a big red arrow
proclaiming: "TARGET AUDIENCE."

More than 99.9% sure, guys.

Because, unfortunately, it is all too true.
I would pay a lot for a moment of Disney Magic.

I got a little teary during the World of Color.
I got goosebumps during the fireworks.
I had a big, idiot grin on my face through the entire parade.

I wait in 90 minute-long lines for a 5 minute Peter Pan ride.
I am more excited to see the characters around the park than most children are.
I fly elephants and spend 15 minutes listening to "It's a Small World" because that's just what you do at Disneyland.
I giggled all the way through the Jungle Cruise guide's puns.

I believe in the Disney Spirit.
That means no being grouchy or cynical while at The Happiest Place on Earth.

I love the giant, swirly, colored lollipops (that you don't ever really eat, because 1: they're not always that tasty & 2: how could you possibly find all the time required to down those suckers??)

If I had my way, I'd buy every Disney character hot chocolate mug.
I'd watch the fireworks every single night.
I'd eat about a billion churros everyday.
A million Mickey Mouse-shaped pretzels.

And I would most definitely buy several balloon-within-a-balloon balloons every day.

In other words?
Best. Thanksgiving. Ever.

Thanksgiving break.
In Disneyland.
With my family.
And my mom's sister's family.

It was the first time The Littles (after the gap siblings) had ever been to Disneyland.
It was the first time any of my cousins had ever been to Disneyland.

It was so fun to watch them all experience it for the first time.

I don't care who you are, your first visit to Disneyland, especially as a kid, is magical.

(I did warn you.)

I'm amazed by those kids sometimes.
I watched my 5 year old brother and 7 year old sister ride not only things like Space Mountain, but also things like the Tower of Terror

And the roller coaster, California Screamin'
Yeah. It goes really fast. And loops.

Not only did they brave these terrors that I never would have dreamed of attempting until I was at least 15, they LIKED them. A lot.
Their favorite ride of the whole trip?
California Screamin'.
I'm tellin' ya, this next generation.....

A few highlights of the trip?
The opening of Pirates of the Caribbean on Thanksgiving Day--it had been closed since Labor Day for remodeling. THANKSGIVING PRESENT, anyone? :)
The ride attendant who asked us if we wanted to ride Matterhorn twice IN A ROW for absolutely no reason.
NOT having anyone throw up after the Teacups.
Actually hearing the kids' minds explode continually.
The Toy Story Mania ride in California Adventure.
So. Fun.
Probably one of the best rides we did.

Do you know one of the best ways to add a little more magic to Disneyland?

Add a little Christmas :)

I have never experienced Disney during the holiday season, but taking into account how big of a sap I am, is it any surprise how much I love it??

Everything was decorated...
The characters were all dressed in their holiday best..
Christmas songs were playing over the speakers..

Taken just after the fireworks.
I don't know. I love this picture. There's just something about big crowds and Christmas lights...

They had some pretty awesome T-Shirts

And of course, when in Disneyland, trying on hats is an absolute must.



"I'm a Wizard-Pirate!!"


I'm all about the sentimental.


I like thrill rides.
I'll ride haunted elevators.
I'll scream my way through space.
I'll adventure with Indy,
and yell at yetis.

But I love the sentimental stuff even more.
That's what Disneyland is about for me.

It's about flying Dumbo
and walking through the castle.
It's meeting Mickey and posing with princesses.
'Finding Nemo' and 'Winnie the Pooh'

It's the "World of Color"

And fireworks

And the best parts of the parade:

But, hands-down, my absolute favorite place in the whole Disneyland/California Adventure complex is here

If you're looking for it,
in the Hollywood section of California Adventure,
you can find the the Animation Studios building.

The main room is huge, with lowered lights,
and movie screens of different sizes stretched from wall to wall,
playing clips from all the best Disney movies.

But don't be sucked in-- for too long ;) --because if you find your way downstairs,
and pass through the Sorcerer's Workshop,
you can find this

The Beast's Library.

It's a small room.
Too many people in there, and it can feel kind of crowded.

But it can also feel...

(Do I even need to give SAP ALERTs anymore?
I mean,
we're on the same page

There are big, open book-screens where you can find your true Disney persona.
A fireplace, with the rose and the painting above it.
And the music, that changes from sad and lonely

to Happily Ever After-y

And with the music changes the lights, rose, and portrait.

It's all about sentimentality, people.
The Disney Spirit.

Because, honestly?
If you lose the Disney Spirit, you start remembering that you've been up since 7am.
After spending 16 hours in the park the day before.
And going to bed around 2am.

That you're standing in a 50 minute line for a 7 minute ride.
That you just got shoved into a sweaty park-goer by another sweaty Disney-enthusiast.

You start wishing you could go back to the numb-feet phase,
cuz right now they hurt so bad you'd give ol' Mickey himself a good knuckle-sandwich
just for a shady spot of sidewalk to collapse on.

The Disney Spirit, y'all.
It works miracles.

Cuz if you fully immerse yourself in it,
you can run 16-hour days,
trekking hundreds of miles around a packed theme park.

You can forget your feet for a while.
(that's a blessing sometimes, trust me)

You can trick your migraine-warped brain into having fun by watching a bunch of young Jedis defeat Darth Vader AND Darth Maul.

You can even have fun while standing in a 50-minute line.

Up your dose of Spirit just a bit, and you can find magic and sentimental goosebumps all over.
In the post-firework snow that smells like pumpkin pie.
In the belly of a submarine as you explore Nemo's world.
As you stroll the California Adventure "boardwalk" after dark.
When seeing Mickey and the Gang in REAL LIFE!!!

Three days spent in the Happiest Place on Earth.
Three days of laughing
and screaming;
some crying,
a few stumbles,
a couple of headaches,
bruised feet,
and smiles.

How was your Thanksgiving? :)

I think I actually depleted my sap-supply.
Better go watch Beauty & the Beast, quick!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Beginning and End of Harry Potter

On 11/11/11, the final Harry Potter film was released on DVD.

The amount of Harry Potter nerd-ery that followed was almost unbelievable, though expected.

I am not a huge Harry Potter nerd.
Don't get me wrong, I love the books, and like the movies.

When I say "huge Harry Potter nerd" I'm mostly referring to people like my roommate's fiance.
Who has every single book nearly memorized.
Who knows everything about each character;
And the actors that portray them.
Who will pull random, nearly obscure facts from the books, or the companion books, or "Wizarding Guides."

That is what I mean by "huge Harry Potter nerd."

Though to be honest, for a while I regarded the movies with a certain amount of...distrust.
Because I'm not someone who would dress up in a black robe and paint a scar on my face for a movie premiere.

But also because, as my mom reminded me this last weekend, I have much different memories of the beginning of one H.J. Potter.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published in the US in 1998, when I was 7 years old.

Back then, J.K. Rowling was just another children's-fantasy novelist.
No one knew much about her.
There was no "Potter-mania," no Hogwarts-themed parks, and no one had any idea who Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, or Rupert Grint were.

But my mom--probably not the only, but definitely the biggest reason my siblings and I love and devour books--had a hunch.
She's good with stuff like that.

I remember her offering the book as a potential bedtime story one night. Saying she'd heard it was good and thought we'd try it.
We were 4 & 7. Agreeable, easily excited. And a book about magic and adventure will hook just about any little kid.

I remember reading that book, one chapter--sometimes three if we were in a really good part of the story--a night.
I remember falling in love with the characters.
I remember coming to know them as "Hay-grid" and "Hermy-own."
I remember almost dying in anticipation, waiting for the next book to come out.
I remember pre-orders on, and haaaating that mom made us wait to finish the books together as a family.

I remember that even when we were older, she always made sure we read at least the first chapter or two together.

As she put it the other night, it was "magical."
I know, I know: it sounds like a corny pun, but it's absolutely true.
There was something so wondrous and beautiful about reading a new series for the first time.
About sketching the characters out in your head and feeling like they were your best friends, too.
About seeing Hogwarts as you thought it would be.

There was something about being young and believing in a world where magic was real.
Where unicorns existed and paintings spoke.
Where best friends were loyal and witty,
and darkness was always, in time, destroyed by light.

I am absolutely a book-first, movie-later girl.
(again, blame--or thank--my mother)

As I said, I like the movies.
They, for the most part, do a very nice job of portraying the magic Rowling painted on the page.


I am so grateful to my mom for discovering the book and for introducing it to us the way she did.
I will always have good memories about Harry Potter.
In a certain way, it was really like magic, reading the books before any movies came out.

You can guarantee that my children will read the books before they watch the movies,

so they can experience a bit of magic themselves.

November 15

Music that seems to resonate with your very core.
That gets inside you.
That makes your heart want to sing
or cry
or laugh.

Music that makes you ache.
That heals you when you didn't know you were hurting.
That surrounds that corner of your soul you didn't know was lonely
or alone
or afraid.

Music that gives you strength.
That inspires you forward.
That makes you want to fly
or try
or leap.

Music that would be warm honey
or fuzzy socks;
thick caramel
or heavy quilts;
if it were tangible.

Music that enfolds you in its layers.
That leaves you curious
or content
or restless.

That is what I am grateful for today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

To Salt Lake and Back

I spent 8+ hours (there and back) in a car with two of my best friends.
I slept on an air mattress and laughed so hard I was wheezing.
I played a $750,000 cello with an $18,000 bow.
I ate chicken heart.
I saw Beethoven's 7th Symphony performed live.

How was your weekend? :)

There are some things that are just guaranteed to lighten your soul and brighten your outlook on life; the friends, the music, the price tags... ..

I've been looking forward to this weekend since....well, since we planned it around the first day of school. I mean, any chance to hear Beethoven's 7th played live you've got to take, right??

We ended up driving down Friday night, right in time to get caught up in a swirling vortex of snow. It was like being in warpspeed, Mr. Spock!
But we did make it finally--and safely, Thanks Kellen!!--and landed at Naomi and Colin's apartment.

Okay, slight detour here.
I know I've already posted this, but I've just gotta do it again.
I am so blessed to have these two in my life!
Their home is always open to me, they take care of me, they crack me up, and they are good examples of many things I want in my future marriage!

We made our plans for the next day--okay, I forced people to solidify our plans--and crashed out.
Crashed out hard. We didn't wake up until about 930ish the next morning.
Thanks to a lucky--or not so lucky, depending on what room you were in at the time (shout out to Colin and Kellen who showered in the dark...)--power outage in the apartment complex, we went out to breakfast at the Village Inn a few blocks away.
It's one of the mugs from Beauty and the Beast!!

After breakfast, Naomi, Kellen, and I set out for Peter Prier's...

...And fell in love.

If you're not a music nerd like we are, it's kind of hard to explain why we were in the shop for over 2 hours...

It's also hard to articulate why we could've stayed there for much, much longer longer.
There is something so beautiful about that little shop.
It's old and filled with books of scores and wood and rosin and violins, violas, and cellos of every color and size...

little metal string quartets (I want.)

plus a few dozen paintings I want to have in my own home.

Especially this. Just like this. Too epic for words.

I have never played a more beautiful sounding cello. Everything you did was easy and smooth and gorgeous --well, as long as you knew the notes.
We honestly could have spent the whole weekend there.
It was hard to leave.
Kellen actually cried.
Okay, that's not quite true, but it's not an egregious over-exaggeration, either...

The trip was productive as well as soul-boosting--well...besides the whole "leaving with the distinct knowledge that we would never in a million years have an instrument that magnificent in our own possession" thing--; Naomi found a couple of bows she really loved.

After our little trip down the musician's version of the rabbit hole, we went to the Gateway Mall and met up with Colin and Kellen's brother, Devin, at Tucano's.

You. Guys.
I ate a chicken heart.
It was okay until our two resident Brazilians started reminding me just where that squishy little piece of meat came from.

Oh okay barf. I just made myself a little sick.

But the rest of the meat was AMAZING and the pineapple was fantastic.
The servers were awesome--Tyson!!--and I absolutely love every person that sat around that table with me (minus the chicken heart historians, thanks very much, guys).

...However, the other people in the restaurant? Just as entertaining but in a very different way...

Only in Utah, guys. Only in Utah.

So. Powerful.

I mean, what more can you say? It is one thing to listen to a recording of this incredible piece...'s another to hear it performed live.

Few times have I seen an entire audience get to their feet as quickly or as synchronized-ly as they did Saturday night.
There are just no words to explain it.

Obligatory picture with The Seaweed.

The Seaweed.

There's just something about being able to spend a weekend with people you love doing things that you  and will remember forever.

Because, yeah, it's the friends, and the music and the price tags..

....but it's also driving in silence because you know you don't have to talk.
.......aaand driving in absolute chaos because you can't breathe you're laughing so hard.
It's being with others who think a lot like you do and love you no matter how many shadow puppets you make on the car window.
It's sitting next to someone who is crying during the 2nd movement of Beethoven just like you are.
It's taking pictures next to The Seaweed thing.
It's having absolute faith in someone to get you through Snow Vortexes and irritating Utah drivers, no matter how many times you might feel like you're gonna die.
It's Sunday afternoon naps and late night chips 'n' salsa.
It's observing a couple of married folks you absolutely love, and feeling equal parts jealousy and hope.
It's singing Disney songs, loudly, during a long drive.
It's listening to Shostakovich, Bach, Lalo, and Mendelssohn played on cellos of epic nature.
It's Riesens and Tootsie Rolls, hot chocolate and lemonade.
It's sharing in joys and triumphs that aren't your own.
It's talking baby-name philosophies, and planning out being a part of each others' lives forever.
It's jumping to your feet in perfect unison at the end of a Beethoven symphony.
It's chicken hearts and grilled pineapple and awkward dark bathroom stories.
It's parking garages and escalators.  
It's looking out for others and knowing they're doing the same for you.
It's swirly Mac & Cheese and doing dishes and epic Star Trek synopses.
It's discussing marriage, the lack thereof, and old people phobias.
It's 3 month old twins that giggle and smile--or scowl and plot--at you.
It's saying things at the exact same time without meaning to.
A lot.
It's inside jokes and iPad apps.
It's air mattresses and power outages.
It's laughter that ends in wheezes, takes a while to get warmed up, or is punctuated by screaming.

In a way, it's realizing that things aren't always going to be this way.
And not taking a moment of it for granted.

Suffice it to say that I had a very enjoyable, soul-feeding, heart-lightening weekend.

The cellos worth more than a small house were an added bonus ;)


I'm pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to Idaho's capital. Counting occasions and not separate...