Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Team AllEars 2012...How to Help!!!

Okay, folks, here we are for year 2 of my fundraising efforts for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  For those who don't quite know what I'm doing, I'm part of a fantastic group of people who A) have signed up to take part in a race during Walt Disney World's Marathon Weekend; and B) have dedicated to raise a minimum of $500 for Breast Cancer Research/Awareness/Prevention.  We are Team AllEars - Running with Purpose!

One of our members, Dave Aulen, made a great video of who we are and what we do:

While the 2012 team is now at capacity, that video catches our determination, our community, and our friendship.  My story from last year's team can be viewed here.  For 2012, I am again signed up for the half-marathon in the hopes of reducing my time by nearly 30 minutes.

Last year, I finished with around $870, and I am absolutely grateful for all of the support and generosity!!!  For a recap of last 9ear's donations, please visit this page.

Please consider donating to our cause..even if it's a single dollar (imagine how much could be raised if all the online Disney freaks donated just $1).    If you would like to donate online, go to the Avon Walk  (yes, that's a link) donation page and fill it out.  All of us on Team AllEars has agreed to raise a minimum of $500 to go towards Deb Wills' fundraising goal this year is to break the $1,000 level!!!  To have your money count towards our goals, please add (after your name) the following in the "How would you like your name to appear" line: Team AllEars (name of runner).  Example for those who want to have your donation go towards my'd enter: John Smith, Team AllEars Chris Mushrush.  You can even make it an anonymous donation if you prefer - just leave out your name and put in "Team AllEars (runner's name)".  If you do a donation online, please make sure the runner you're donating in the name of knows about what you've done.

If you would rather donate without doing it online (and want it to count for my goal), you can send me a check (payable to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer) to:

Chris Mushrush
P.O. Box 55
Downs, IL 61736

There is one other way you can help raise money for our cause if you live in Central Illinois: participating in a dining event that gives a percent of qualifying sales to us.  While I'm still working on getting a couple more set up, here's what is currently on the calendar:

  • Wednesday, September 14th - Avanti's Bloomington and Normal Restaurants - Dine-in, Carry-out, and Delivery...$161.81 raised!!!
  • October 1-31 - Chili's Restaurant in Bloomington/Normal - 10% of all qualifying pre-tax sales that come with a specific Pepper Partners Voucher (which you can print out at are donated...$30 raised!!!
  • Tuesday, October 25th, Pizza Palace in Gilman will be donating 15% of all dine-in and carry-out orders..$65 raised!!!
  • Monday, November 7th - Monical's Pizza in Bloomington/Normal (all Blo/No restaurants) - Guests dining in with a flyer had 20% of qualifying pre-tax purchases donated...$15.28 raised!!!

Thanks to all participating restaurants for offering to host these events - it truly is appreciated!!


Avanti's Dine to Donate Program......................$162
Jim and Karen Guglielmo....................................139
Dan and Jen Metsch...........................................100 
Pizza Palace Fundraiser, Gilman...........................65
The Melton Family...............................................50
Silicon Labs Matching Donation (Melton)...............50
Robert and Cindy Miller........................................50
Chili's Restaurant, Normal, IL...............................30
Bob and Barb Gilhaus...........................................25
Christa Ryan.......................................................25
Thia Stevens-Wagner..........................................25
TonyNJ and Chris.................................................25
Vicki Killus..........................................................25
Cathy McConnell.................................................20
Patrick and Julie Miller.........................................20
Monical's Pizza...................................................15
Gloria Caruso.....................................................15
IWMS Staff.........................................................14
Rich Buchanan...................................................10
Sandra Perkins...................................................10

TOTAL: $1,000


Mushfam Disney Family Vacation Vacation, June 2010; Day 4, Part 4: Let's Just Say It Wasn't a Good Day

Part 3 can be viewed HERE
 We leave POTC and make a beeline for the tiki birds.
Remember…this was the summer of 2010…before Iago blew up.  This baby was sorely in need of a refurb.  Around 75% of the drummers up on top had some sort of malfunction, several lights were inoperable, one or more of the wooden tiki heads in the columns had their mouth stuck open, etc.
Of all the days…I really need some magic here, and the magic seems to have flown out the window.
I feel like we’re nearing rock bottom, so I’m willing to try anything right now.  I haven’t done the Jungle Cruise since the very first time I was at WDW back in 2001 when I was clueless.  The boys haven’t experienced it yet, so, what the heck…let’s try it!  It was only a 5 minute wait, and we’re off:

Much better than I remember – I needed the low-level humor.  This attraction helped a little, due entirely to the exuberance of the CM we had – if any Disney Execs  are reading this, please watch the video and give our driver, Tammy, a raise or an “attagirl” in her performance file.
The Tree house is next – another one those that Sheri likes and I tolerate.  We head up, look around, and head down.
Okay…it’s still pretty neat, and Aaron is at the age where he’s trying to figure out how everything works, so we’ll put this in the “win” column.
Okay…things are no longer at rock-bottom stage.  Let’s head over to Tomorrowland and see what’s going on over there.  We cut across Main Street, which is getting crowded because the Main Street Electrical Parade is slated to start in about 35 minutes.  We decide to forego it to see it a little later on in the trip.  Upon arriving in Tomorrowland, we head over towards Space Mountain to see what the wait time was (50 minutes) (crap!).  Space is jammed, so we look at each other and come with another plan when I see MILF…I haven’t done MILF for a couple of years, so I start heading that way.  Now, before I get a phone call and angry comments from my parents and members from our congregation, let me mention that MILF is what the Disney Freaks call the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor.  Get your minds out of the gutters!  Sheri’s not looking forward to this one.  We get seated in the nice air-conditioned room, and the show starts.
They boys nearly fell on the floor laughing at the jokes!!! 
This was a huge help…though Sheri is now concerned that the boys have my sense of humor.
Both Sheri and I love Wishes, as does Aaron; Eric, however, is not a fan of fireworks, so we make the tough decision to forego Wishes.  I was looking forward to seeing the Main Street Electrical Parade, but (I think) we put it to the boys, who said “nah”.   Well, then, my vote is to head out before the throngs overwhelm the bus stops.
You know, it always seems like the other three are always teaming up against me. I got outvoted, and we stay in the park.
We head over to the TTA and hop aboard – it’s our first time doing the attraction with the new spiel.  While I’m a traditionalist (is it possible to be a traditionalist when I’ve only been going to the parks since 2005?), the new spiel isn’t bad.  As we loop around over Tomorrowland, I’m able to catch a glimpse of MSEP for a few seconds.  We look over at the wait time for Space Mountain and see that it’s not going down at all, so we enjoy the rest of the Peoplemover (for you non-Disney freaks, the TTA was originally called the Peoplemover, and they’ve actually added that back to the name of the attraction after a significant length of time).  As we hop off, we notice that the wait for Buzz is fairly low, so we hop in line.  I get Aaron as my riding partner, and I’m feeling a little competitive, mostly because Sheri and I are fairly evenly-matched, and she rubs it in on the occasional event when she beats me.  Too bad Aaron was interested in spinning around and around and around and….”WAIT THERE’S A 100,000 point target….STOP SPINNING!!!!!!”

Yeah…Sheri was gloating again after this one.

After Buzz, we decide it’s now or never with regard to beating the crowd out of the park.  We’re on the correct side of the park so we can avoid the traffic jam of people on Main Street by sneaking through the shops and making it out of Town Square (if there’s a parade going on, you can’t get out on the Emporium side because of the parade start/end gate).  The Tomorrowland Bridge and hub area is getting packed with people staking out viewing locations for Wishes, so we cut through the Terrace area and are past the hub.  As we near the ice cream store, a CM with a wand asks us if we’re heading out.  We say “Yep!”, and she directs us to a path to the left.  I never knew there was a path here, but I’m going with it, mainly because the rest of the family has already taken it.  I’m assuming that it takes us into the shops.
After about 20 feet, I realize that they took us off-stage…OFF-STAGE!!!!!
We’re in a roped-off area behind the shops on East Main Street…the music is gone…there are cars…backs of buildings...etc.
You have absolutely got to be kidding me!  If any Disney-employed folks read this, I beg of you to quit doing this!  The magic is completely gone, and I mean completely.  It’s all too real-world, and I’m willing to bet a lot of people would agree with me that they would prefer a packed Main Street to going off-stage in order to exit the park.  With everything else that has gone on today, I was honestly near tears.  Those who know me know that I speak very highly of Walt Disney World at least 95% of the time.  Pecos Bills today?  It biggie.  Pirates…things break down occasionally (and the park can’t control all the visitors who ignore the “no flash photography” recordings).  Aloha Isle…after dealing with the people in front of me, most anyone would be flustered.  Tiki Birds…more than just a single event…this one needed a refurb (yes, a lot of capital is going toward the Fantasyland expansion, so I’m a little lenient on this one).  Crystal Palace…this one hurt as there was a significant change with multiple issues.  This last item where we are directed by CMs backstage, however…this is a huge mistake.
If there are any readers who are thinking of going down to WDW for their first trips (as many questions as I have been fielding over the past few months, I’m guessing there are quite a few of you out there reading this), if you are near Main Street by the ice cream parlor at night and trying to leave, just go down Main Street unless there is an emergency that requires you to get out of the park as quickly as possible.
The rope barrier directs to the gate near Tony’s Town Square – the only possible saving point of this is that I get to see a bit of the half-marathon route.  We go back on stage, under the train station, and out to the AKL/Kidani bus line (I look over at the Pop Century line – wow, that’s quite a bit farther away).  The line doesn’t seem too terribly bad and, wouldn’t you know it, our adopted family ends up getting in line about 15 people behind us (meaning we can talk to them on the switchbacks).  The bus arrives, and we’re at the sit/stand division point.  Sheri and Eric sit (in the back of the bus), and Aaron and I stand next to them.  As the bus continues to load, wifey nudges me and points to the person standing in front of me.  I look and, not noticing anything, I ignore her.  She then kicks me and mouths “his hat”.  As I rub my calf from her kick, I look up and see this:

 (image Copyright of the Normal Pro Baseball Organization)
WOW!!!!  That’s the logo for the Normal Cornbelters, and they’ve only been in existence for about 2 months!  This guy has to be from around us.  I holler out “CORNBELTERS”, and the guy immediately turns around.  We strike up a conversation with him (he also teaches at Heartland).  The Belters just started playing their first year of baseball a few weeks earlier, and he was trying to get the first picture of Mickey with the Cornbelters hat.  As we talk, we discover that the entire back of the bus was from the mid-west.  The people sitting next to where we were standing were from Kankakee.  The other side of the bus had Minnesota, Indiana, and southern Illinois.  This made the trip back to Kidani much nicer…at least for Aaron and me.  Sheri got to enjoy the experience of a balloon in her face the whole bus ride, thanks to a sleeping girl curled up next to her.  When we get to Kidani, sleeping beauty also gets off the bus (cutting in front of Sheri and Eric in the process…obviously they were more important than us).  Very quietly, Sheri says to me in a higher-pitched voice, “Daddy’s Little Princess is going to love it when they put her balloon in storage.”
I nearly fall on the floor laughing.  That had to be the quote of the entire trip!!
For those who don’t get it, AKL and Kidani don’t allow balloons at the resort for the safety of the animals on the savanna.
Our legs are now getting accustomed to the distance, so the walk back to our room didn’t seem as bad (we talked with our adopted family for a brief moment during the walk).  We throw the boys in the showers, toss them in bed (they crash in no time), grab showers ourselves, and crawl in bed to bring this day mercifully to an end.
 Head on over to Day 5 HERE

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mushfam Disney Family Vacation Vacation, June 2010; Day 4, Part 3: Let's Just Say It Wasn't a Good Day

Here's part 2 from the day
We checked out the times for Splash Mountain and BTMRR.  Big Thunder looked like a walk-on, so we grabbed FPs for Splash and hopped in the BTMRR queue.  It was AFAYCW (as fast as you can walk), and, within minutes, I was yelling “GOAT GOAT GOAT”.  Seeing the boys smile all throughout the ride was a welcome relief.  After that, we started to backtrack and make our way back to Fantasyland for Lou Mongello’s scheduled meet of the month outside Pinocchio’s Village Haus.  We arrived about 5 minutes after it was slated to start, and we found nobody there.
The boys are starting to wonder what’s going on (we had this as another surprise as they consider Lou an uncle with all the times they listen to him), so we divert and hit the bathroom.  We stall in the stalls for a few minutes and then head back out to still find nobody there.  I take a chance and peer into one of the windows and find out that they did indeed move the meet indoors – this was a very smart move as the temperature outside was approaching surface-of-the-sun hot (it blew past Animal-Kingdom hot an hour ago).  We all go inside and get into our longest queue of the day thus far: meeting Lou.  The boys are wondering just what the heck we are doing (they couldn’t see the front of the line yet).

I love Eric's whiplash to see him once he figured out who we were going to talk to.

As I looked around to see if I recognized anyone, I spotted someone who I thought might be from the online world – I was fairly confident that it was Stacy, a grad student who is well-known by many of us Disney Freaks on Twitter and Facebook .  I didn’t know her well enough, though, to stop and ask; partially because the day was totally sucking and because either A) it wouldn’t be her and I'd make a fool of myself; B) it would be her and I’d have to spend the rest of the day explaining to my wife why I was talking to a beautiful woman 15 years younger than me; or C) it wouldn’t be her, I’d make a fool of myself, and I’d still have to deal with the issues in option B.  If that was you, Stacy, sorry for not introducing myself and the rest of the Mushfam to you.
We meet Lou and talk for just a minute.  As he was the last time I met him, he’s just as nice a guy as he sounds on the shows.  He was great with the boys.  We all got pins, and he offered to give us a free copy of his Adventureland audio guide (we’ve since bought most of the rest...if you haven’t bought them yet, they’re awesome pieces of audio that Disney Freaks would absolutely love)! 
This little respite definitely helped…Thanks for planning and putting on the MOTM, Lou.
From Fantasyland, we headed out towards Liberty Square and on to Frontierland for our FP returns at Splash Mountain.  The heat was becoming unbearable, and the people in the standby line were really shooting daggers at us in the FP return line (more so than normally).  It was a really short wait before our log awaited us.  I’ve only ridden this one a couple of times, so it’s still a fairly new attraction for me.  It did not disappoint!  All the Animatronics seemed to be working, there didn’t seem to be any backup at all, and we got just wet enough to get cooled off without worrying about crotch rot.  It ended up being one of the best attractions of the day for us.  We ended up buying the on-ride pic (no, I didn’t flash the camera down the hill).  While we were ordering the pic, we talked with the CM at the register – she was on the Disney College program. 
After Splash, we started to make our way over towards Adventureland to see what the wait time was for Pirates.  Before we get there, though, I hear something I was hoping to hear that I had not heard before.  Wow…that sounded a lot like something Captain Jack Sparrow would say in his typical convoluted way.  Speaking of Jack, we came upon the Pirate Tutorial (groan…terrible segue).  I’ve always wanted to see this but never seemed to time it right.  It’s probably around ¼ of the way through it, but we decide to stop and watch it for a while.  As it nears the end, Jack comes around and starts pulling up several children to become honorary pirates, and he selects both Aaron and Eric to take part:


Definitely a cute show!
The point of spontaneous combustion is rapidly approaching, so Sheri and I give nonverbal cues to each other that we need to start making our way to the only remedy for impending spontaneous combustion: DOLE WHIP!!!  On our way to Aloha Isle, we stop by the tikis to let the boys have a bit of wet fun:


The boys stay with Sheri and find a place to sit while I hop in line to order.  The line at Aloha Isle is tolerable, except for the fact that the person in front of me completely confused the people working there to the point where I think they ended up getting not paying for one of the ones they received (and I almost wonder if they planned it that way).  I get up there and order two Dole Whip soft serves and to orange vanilla twist soft serves (Orange whip?  Orange whip? the movie!)  They work on the order and take away 4 well-used snack credits  from the dining plan.  Nothing like this awesome pineapple delight to take my mind off of what has happened toda….waaaaaaaaiiiiiittttttt a minute.  This Dole whip is a pineapple vanilla twist!
So is Sheri’s.
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…in their defense, they just got completely frazzled by the people in front of me, and there were 2 in my order that were supposed to be twists – (Orange whip?).  Having worked in foodservice, I can understand that it was an easy mistake.  The twist was good – just not what my heart was set on.  I’ll chalk it up to the way the day is going.  It’s starting to remind me of one of Gary Larson’s funniest Far Side comics, where a guy is looking out a window with a large bird perched upon it.  The caption reads, “The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression.”
I look at Sheri, who is staring down at her vanilla dole whip twist with a forlorn look – a look that is similar to how she looks at me most of the time.  She looks up from her snack, and we both mouth to each other at the same time, “Ready to go?”  After a couple of spills by Eric, we clean them up as best as we can and start to make our way towards the hub.  Before we hit Main Street, though, I make an executive decision to stop by the first aid station to see if they might have any ideas for my still-throbbing thumb.  They didn’t, though I think they were both fascinated and grossed out at what my thumb looked like.
Mercifully we head out the exit for the ride back to Kidani.  At the bus stop, we met a woman with a daughter a little younger than the boys.  We struck up a conversation with her while we waited for the bus and found out she was from Belleville, IL (near St. Louis).  We talked the entire ride back to the resort (I think we were the only folks on the bus).  Aaron gets a girlfriend on the bus because he kept her daughter entertained the entire ride.  We get to Kidani and with the Mom/girl best wishes.  We savor the air conditioning, look at the gift shop, and simultaneously decide that we are more than deserving of a drink.  We run in and grab a beer and a bottled margarita.  We also let the boys get a couple of vinylmation figures and something to drink (not beer or margarita).  We gather our strength and trek back to the room, where Mr. Giraffe is waiting for us.

We catch mousekeeping and do a linen exchange – they noticed we used up all the towels/washcloths, so they give us some extras without even asking (THANK YOU!!!!).  They boys don’t fight us for long when we tell them that they need some rest.  3.5 hours later, they arouse from their slumber and basically pull us out of the room towards the buses.  We oblige and make our way back out for the return to MK.  As we get to the bus queue, the Bellville Mom/daughter (now with another daughter closer to the boys’ ages) is also waiting for the bus.  We talk with them while waiting.  When the bus arrives, we get on and let the boys mingle with the girls for the trip.  The bus then gets quieter as Miss June 2010 steps on the bus.  As we get going, Sheri is able to distract me from the beauty long enough for me to hand over my phone so she can call her father to talk about what transpired today.
That was fun.  Not.
We arrive at MK for the evening and head through the turnstiles.  Since we didn’t get a floral pic this morning, we hop in the short line and grab a shot.

It’s then time for the next ritual that we usually do the first evening of MK…dinner at Pecos Bill’s!  We make our way over towards Frontierland and hop in the shortest line we see.  It’s one of the self-order kiosks, so we decide to give it a try.  No prob at all…we get the order in and are paid in no time.  About 3 minutes later, our order is up, but I notice that they were missing my fries and Sheri’s apples.  They look over the ticket (they were on there) and tell us the fries will be up in a minute.  Sheri takes the rest of the food and the boys and grabs a table.  I stick around for the fries and apples.
7 minutes later, I catch someone’s attention (not the one who was helping me earlier) and explain what’s going on.  Having worked in the food industry (I was a server at a higher class steakhouse in college), I understand how easy it is to have something like this happen, so I’m patient and don’t get mad at them.  I get the stuff and find Sheri and the boys…yeah, my burger’s cold, but I’m expecting it.  0 for 3 on the food today, which is simply an anomaly.  That has never happened before… I’m chalking it up to the karma of the day.   This puts me in a funk that is going to take a lot to get me out of.  I need something to really get me back on track.  That can only mean one thing.
Before that, though, we grab another pic:

Okay...on to POTC.  It’s about a 10 minute wait...

...and we’re on…and we’re off for our voyage!!
…and there’s no Davy Jones mist effect.
And, of course, the woman in the bench behind me is using flash photography.
 *****start message*****
Dear Karma,
Please find someone else for a while.  Please.  I hate you.
*****end message*****

Post-Pirates Pic:

Continue on HERE for the conclusion of this really rough day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mushfam Disney Family Vacation Vacation, June 2010; Day 4, Part 2: Let's Just Say It Wasn't a Good Day

Part I of the day can be found HERE.

It’s still a bit early, so we take the opportunity to grab a few hub/castle pics with nobody around:

As expected, the rope is up by the entrance to Cinderella’s Royal Table. We are at the front and take a few minutes to look around at the empty Fantasyland.  Several families exit CRT and start pushing their way up to the rope.  I overlook this…the kids are excited…I’ll scoot over a bit and get behind the boys.

Then the Fairy Godmother comes out and starts talking to the people at the rope.

I could have sworn that it was Justin Bieber with the rush of girls that pushed us aside.  It was a move I had not yet seen – a lateral movement of a stroller by the parent and almost perfectly timed jump by 2 girls to take the space formerly occupied by me.  I utter a couple of choice words sort of under my breath, and wifey tells me to chill out.

The music starts up, which is the queue to let us in.  The rope is being held by a CM, who is waiting for the precise/proper moment to walk it away for us to enter.  He hears the audio he was waiting for, and people start ducking under the rope and making a dead sprint to Tinkerbell’s Treasure.  The 4 of us spread out a bit to block the crowds for a moment while the CM does what needs to be done, and we start walking to our first attraction.  For those of you who follow us, listen to WDW Today, and/or know TouringPlans, you know that Dumbo is the first stop.  As I shoot condescending glances at a couple running past us with a stroller to make sure they were ahead of as many as possible, we enter the queue line.  A few seconds later, I notice a father/daughter also in line, with the girl holding a clipboard.  I wonder if touringplans was collecting data today.  We’re all in the first ride of Dumbo.

We start our way up, and I have the video camera ready to see what’s going on behind the walls with the Fantasyland refurbishment.

For those who know this attraction, you probably noticed that all the elephants moved to the high point, which is what happens just before the ride ends.  Sure enough, after only 2-3 revolutions, you can hear the hiss of the hydraulics lowering everyone.  We’re back down, and we come to a stop.

Hmmmmmmmm….something’s up.

We wait for about 90 seconds as the ride resets, and then we’re off for the actual ride. 

Well, that was interesting.

We head off and make a beeline to Peter Pan.  I notice that the girl with the clipboard and her dad were about 5-6 ships ahead of us.  It then dawned on me that they might be attempting to do the Ultimate Touring Plan.  After this attraction, I’ll ask them to see if that’s what they’re doing.  Pan is a walk-on, and we happily don’t have the attraction break down.  We get off, and clipboard girl is nowhere to be found.  After hopping off, I make the mistake of checking my phone, and the feeling of dread creeps back in.

Okay, let’s cut across the walkway and hit it’s a small world, which is also a walk-on.

Yeah…check out that last pic…the boats are backed up to the BEGINNING of the white room.
We run away from that attraction and look towards Philharmagic before heading over towards Toon Town for a last goodbye.  We all let out a collective “aahhhhhhh” as we entered the air conditioning.  As always, we get the requisite opera glasses pic:

We only have to wait a couple of minutes before Minnie starts giving us the directions for the show.  We’re in, and I end up sitting next to an older couple (I mean ‘70s’ older and not ‘50s’ older) who have never seen it before.  This bodes well because I love seeing people experience this show for the first time.  Sure enough, the show does not disappoint, and the pure laughter and joy I hear next to me really helped me reclaim a little of the magic.  I actually was smiling as I talked to them on the way out of the show.

The happiness was short-lived, however, because the tea cups were next, and Wifey and I always argue about this one.  You see, I’m the kind, caring, compassionate parent who wants his kids to have as much fun as possible.  Sheri, on the other hand, is the evil, mean, uncaring parent who wants to suck out as much fun from any experience as possible. As we approach the cups, Sheri looks at me and says that we’re not spinning (ignoring the melodious chorus of “Spin us spin us spin us” from our lovely children).  I tell her that we have to spin some or it wouldn’t be the tea cups.  The songbirds that usually were hovering around wifey pooped on her and flew over to me. We only wait for one rotation before we hop in a teacup.  The boys increase their “SPIN US SPIN US SPIN US” chant before we start.  Wifey takes one look at me, and the songbirds fly away. 

A tumbleweed blows across the teacup.

A CM starts whistling the theme to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

The attraction starts.



I start to spin.

Wifey hates me.

I stop.

The boys hate me.

I can’t win.

With the teacups done, we head over towards Toon Town when I see the father/daughter/clipboard again.  As they run by, I yell out to them, “You trying the ultimate touring plan?”

Big smile from her


“Good luck!!”

We tour around Toon Town a bit, but I’m just going through the motions now.  Every couple of minutes, I’m checking the phone to make sure I haven’t missed a call.  We see Mickey and Minnie and look around at the houses one last time before they get demolished.  After this, we head back through Fantasyland and over to Liberty Square for a spin on Haunted Mansion.  Both boys flock to Mommy to ride with her.  I grab Eric by the scruff of the neck and force him to get in the doom buggy with me.

Holy cow…not sure what they did, but it was a TON darker in there – it really gave it the ambience that it needed.  The séance scene was perfect with the darkness!

We kick out the hitchhiking ghosts and make our way out.  As we approach the exit, I get a vibration, telling me that the phone’s ringing.  It was Sheri’s Father, and I just missed the call.  Not waiting for the voicemail, I immediately call back.  As I look around, I cannot help but notice that we are right by the pet cemetery.  The boys don’t know why we’ve stopped walking, but they wait patiently.
I’ll spare the details, but, as I put on my Facebook status, “I don't think that giving the order to put one of our cats to sleep over the phone while we're in the Magic Kingdom is quite what Walt Disney had in mind.”  Thanks to all the words of sympathy over was definitely appreciated by all of us.  Again, we decided quickly not to tell the boys – we didn’t want the boys to associate this with WDW.
Now what…
We need to get our minds away from the real world for a while now.  We start to walk to Frontierland, and I make the mistake of looking over at Sheri, whose eyes, despite being behind sunglasses, are filled with tears.  I let the boys go ahead a few feet, grab Sheri’s hand, and give it a squeeze before trying a failed attempt at a joke to make them laugh as though nothing is wrong.  We make the right turn near the parade entry/exit and find Frontierland Donald. 

That helped quite a bit.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mushfam Disney Family Vacation Vacation, June 2010; Day 4, Part 1: Let's Just Say It Wasn't a Good Day

When we last left the Mushfam oh so long ago, it was only Day 3, which you can read here.  It has been several months since I updated the report, and I apologize for that if you were following it.  As you will find out when you read it, this was one that I really didn't want to recap as it was one of the rougher days we've had; not just in the parks, but as a family.  Still, it was part of a memorable trip, so I buckled down and got this written.  With that....on with the next installment of the trip report!
 Day 4, Part 1 (link to the index of the entire report can be found HERE)

Yeah, you could imagine that we didn’t sleep too well at all that night.  I was fully expecting the worst – to hear that our cat didn’t make it through the night…alone…without us there.  I woke up every 25-30 minutes in a fit of restless sleep. I could tell Sheri wasn’t doing a whole lot better. 

The alarm goes off, but I’m already out of bed and on the computer working on stuff for the online class I’m teaching.  The boys are oblivious, which is a good thing…it helps seeing them jumping around and enjoying life.  We get dressed (it’s MK day, so that means Sheri has matching outfits for us…our Chicago Disney shirts!), contemplate cutting across the savanna for the 8th time (and chickening out yet again) and make our way to the bus stops – we know we’ll likely have to catch the bus at the right time as we have 8:05 ADRs for the Crystal Palace.  If we miss the first one, we don’t know if there will be a second one that will get us there in time.  

As luck would have it, a bus pulls up just as we arrive at the stop.  A woman with an exasperated look on her face looked at us as though we had some sort of magic bus-conjuring ability as she complains that she had waited 45 minutes for an MK bus to get here (which meant she was out there around 6:20).  It’s a quiet ride over to MK…normally I’m like a little kid, excited to pass the toll booths and trying to catch my first glimpse of the castle spires, going under the water bridge past the Contemporary, hearing that all-too-familiar fanfare that the buses play as it makes the turn into the MK bus stops. 

Instead, I’m holding my phone, waiting for our neighbor to call.  The boys are a little tired this morning…Sheri and I both strain some humor as we pass the toll plaza…

Despite being tired, they’ve been here enough to know when to start looking for the castle.  They crane their necks to see who could find it first (I think it was Eric this time, which led to a well-timed elbow by Aaron).  We pull in, and they drop us off.  As we all pile out, the majority of those on the bus head up the monorail ramp for Chef Mickey’s. We head into the park along with a couple of other families.  We’re a little early (it’s about 7:45), so we let the boys explore a bit…

I pull out the video camera for the train station shot:

The people behind us in line got a kick about the sarcastic enthusiasm.

Around 7:50-7:55, they let us in, and we finally get to see the castle.  I try to get excited, but it’s just not working at the moment.  Still, we put the smiles on our faces and showed the boys that we’re HERE at the most magical place on earth.

I get in line to check in at the Crystal Palace, while Sheri and the boys do their routine here (pics of the castle and greenery).

We didn’t have to wait too long at all as we’re one of the first names called.  We head in and get seated.  Our server gets our drink order and asks if we’ve been here before.  We all shake our heads in the affirmative, and she then proceeds to drop a bombshell on me.

The menu has changed a little, and breakfast lasagna is no longer offered.

OH COME ON!!!!!!!!!  

This was one of the main reasons I chose to eat here!!!  Sheri loves the orange juice, and I love the breakfast lasagna.  Well, at least Sheri gets her orange jui…wha?  It doesn’t taste like it normally does, hun?  I taste it and agree that it seems to have lost its “freshly-squeezed” taste that it always had in the past.  As we go up to get in line for the food, our fears are confirmed as we actually saw the Minute Maid cartons through an open door to the kitchen.

Okay…eggs, biscuits and gravy, and bacon (to make Piglet all the more uncomfortable when he comes to visit our table).  I check the phone for the 87th time this morning, hoping I didn’t miss a call.  We sit down and grab a sip of the coffee that was waiting for us.

My hair nearly curled at how strong it was.
I’m thinking that I’m just in a funk and am hoping that I’m just seeing things from a bad perspective.  Sheri nearly falls out her chair at her first sip.

We settle in and start eating.  Piglet comes in, followed by Tigger and Pooh.  The boys get pics…

Hey...they turned out pretty well!!

Okay…things are calming down a bit.  Maybe I’m just doing what I always do and assume the worst-case scenario.  Maybe things are improving and that the vet can figure out what to do to get Mac back on the path of healin…


So much for that momentary lapse of reason.

It’s our neighbor….as we get the update, I can hear his constant meowing in the background – I won’t soon forget that.  I’ll leave out the specifics, but I tell our neighbor that he’s being picked up to be taken to the vet.  They apologize again for all that’s going on, and I immediately apologize back for them being the ones to deal with it.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this…he seemed to be doing better before we left.  As I heard his calls in the background, I pretty much knew what the vet was going to tell us, but I still held out a little hope.  I tried to sugar coat it a bit for Sheri, but my eyes were welling up just a bit, and she immediately knew it was bad.

Okay…don’t delve on this…we’re at the Magic Kingdom, and we need the diversion to keep our minds off of everything for the day.

It seems that something has changed at the Crystal Palace since the last time we dined here.  I’m not sure if it’s a changeover in management or an attempt at cutting costs a little, but Sheri and I were both disappointed at how the place has changed.  This is saying something because we have had nothing but great things to say about breakfast the other 3 or so times we have eaten here.  I hate saying this, but the Crystal Palace has moved from a “definitely recommend” to a “use extreme caution when recommending” status.  We pay and get out of there rather quickly.

Part 2 can be found HERE.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hi there - I'm Mush, and it's nice to meet you! has been over 3 months since I last posted.  To the handful of you who actually read this (thanks, Mom and Dad), sorry!  This thing they call real life has floored me.  On a good note, I finished my first year serving the role as advisor, and I think I only ruined a couple of students' lives in the process.  On an even better note, I've made a lot of progress on that albatross around my neck known as the dissertation.  No, I'm not done yet, but I foresee the proposal hearing in the next 2 months, and I've even completed the tests needed for the 4th Chapter.

Another year of leading a Den for Cub Scouts has ended, with nearly all of the Den getting their Wolf badges.  The Bear is up next for them.  The time commitment for this seemed to be quite a bit more than last year, though I didn't hold as many meetings.  I think the most taxing part of this was trying to coordinate everyone to try to get them set up for the badges - if they missed a meeting where we did several achievements, well, it put them back that much farther, and I had to find a way to catch them up in subsequent meetings.  Aaron did really well - got the Wolf as well as 4 arrow point badges - they look pretty cool on his uniform.  Eric is up next for scouts.  While I'll continue on as Den Leader for Aaron, my assistant Den Leader will be taking on the Den Leader role for the incoming Tiger Cubs, and Eric will likely be with her.

As Cub Scouts has wrapped up, baseball has taken over.  I'm head coach for Eric's instructional league and, while not officially one of the coaches for Aaron's team, I help them out where I can (keeping the books, helping at practice, etc).  It's definitely time-consuming, but it's something I love doing with the boys.

As many of you know, I suffered a minor back injury in early April that had me laid up for a while.  Luckily, nothing was found in an MRI, so our best guess is that it was muscular that ultimately pinched a set of nerves.  I'm back to myself, though I still feel the slightest twinge every once in a while, just to remind me that it's there.  The pain is gone, at least.

Unfortunately, the podcast updates have fallen dramatically in the priority list.  I simply didn't have time and wasn't going to kill myself trying to do sub-par reviews.  Shawn has continued to do admirably in keeping the community updated with his Dis_Pod_Review updates over on Twitter, so the Disney Freaks have still been able to read what's going on with the shows.  I do plan on getting back into the reviewing in the coming weeks...hopefully once the dissertation proposal is defended and the last part is in on track to be completed, I'll start listening/writing up shows.  It pains me that I haven't even listened to a show for nearly 2 months - I used to listen to over 40 a week.  I want to get back on this with a vengeance!

Also in abysmal shape is my progress on the June 2011 WDW Trip Report.  I was able to get the first several days out with no problem; the next day in the chronology was a really tough one to write, however...if you've been reading the TR, you probably know what happens that day.  I've got it written and will start posting it again once I get the videos/pictures uploaded for inclusion.  I know there were quite a few who were reading every updated post on that report - sorry for leaving you hanging!

On a good note, I've kept up my running after the WDW Half marathon last January and have signed up to run the 2012 half.  Oh, and, yes, I have rejoined Team AllEars this year, so you can expect to see a number of posts on my fundraising efforts.  I'm going to be a little more aggressive this year as I missed the $1,000 mark last year by a mere $130.  You'll see a post about this in the coming days as I kick off my 2011 fundraising campaign for the Avon Walk. there's the update.  You can expect to see some more regular updates really soon with the podcasts, baseball, trip reports, a new trip (yes, folks, we're heading out to California to visit Disneyland this July!), and training/fundraising updates.

See ya (reading this) real soon!