Universal Orlando

Spin Cycle

Sometimes E and I can’t believe we lived through our children’s baby and toddler years.  We see younger yet much more frazzled adults than we are everywhere and we pity those poor, sleep deprived bastards.  Without fail, we look at each other with looks of mixed sympathy, relief that we are no longer being bossed around by a 28 pound tiny human, and unadulterated panic at the thought that we could, technically, still be able to produce one of those needy, demanding 28 pound tiny humans.  I won’t lie.  I’ve thought about manually ripping out my own uterus numerous times, mostly in Wal-Mart.

I know, I know.  Your little angel is the light of your life.  You pity me and my boring, sleep filled existence.  Alone time to poop and shower?  Overrated.  You like the company anyway.  Sex with your significant other more than once a year?  Way overrated and that’s what got you into this, damn it.  Meal times where no one shits themselves or pukes (under normal circumstances)?  Where’s the excitement in that?  8 continuous hours of sleep?  That’s for pussies plus you’ll sleep when you’re dead.  We smug little shits sitting at the next table, eating a quiet meal with our teens and actually having a real conversation with them, are who you really pity.  I understand.  Been there, done that twice.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids are my greatest blessings.  We had fertility issues with both of them, life threatening medical issues after birth with both of them.  I did things I know I couldn’t do today, all in the name of having my own child.  I overcame extreme panic and claustrophobia to ride, unmedicated and strapped down, in a medivac helicopter to Dallas, Texas, to give birth to Gracie.  I’ve been told by a Doctor that Gracie probably wouldn’t live through the weekend and I somehow managed to not crawl into a corner and die myself.  I’ve watched Landon get other people’s blood pumped into him dozens, if not a hundred, times.  I changed his colostomy bags and E gave him his twice a week shots until he was almost 1 year old.  During all that, there was nowhere, NOWHERE, we wanted to be more, except for maybe trade places with the parents who took their children’s health for granted.

Some of you may be struggling today.  Maybe you’re buying dry shampoo by the case because you don’t have 90 seconds to take the world’s fastest shower.  Maybe you’re in a hospital room, answering the exact same questions for the 100th time for medical students who don’t look old enough to be your kid’s babysitter.  Maybe you’re about to lose your shit if you have to yell with your toddler one more fucking time because that little clepto Swiper is sneaking up on Dora’s ass once again.  When the hell will that bitch learn?

I’m here to tell you to keep your shit together.  Keep it together, sister, for all this will pass, and when it does, being a parent is glorious.  Yes, glorious!  You will one day be able to take hot showers for as long as your hot water heater can last.  You may even be able to simultaneously have sex AND a hot shower because you will enjoy sex again.  It’s not a myth!  Your husband may even have to invoke the 72 Hour Rule.  The 72 Hour Rule was created by E about 8 years ago and is the mandatory fluid recovery period required after 4 days of being at my sexual disposal so that he could possibly live to see the next week.

But none of that tops what I have experienced this week.  Brace yourselves.  Are you sitting down?  Sit down.  You can put lanolin on your nipples later.  Hell, do it and keep reading this.  It won’t be the first time a reader has rubbed their nipples while reading one of my blog posts but the restraining order and my therapist say it’s still too soon to talk about that.

But I digress, yet again.

We’re going to Universal Orlando next week on vacation.  Gracie came to me last week, panicked over the fact that she has not been saving her money to spend in the gift shops at the parks.  She asked if there were additional chores she could take on so she could earn more money than usual.  It was then that I had the most brilliant idea I’ve ever had.  I taught her how to do laundry.  Go ahead and hate, hater.  I’ll gladly take it.

I’ve been working out at night then I come home and take a shower.  A few nights ago, I almost sobbed with joy when I reached in the towel basket after an exceptionally long, hot shower (I know, now I’m just bragging) and saw clean towels not washed, dried, and folded by my own hands.  When I picked said towel up and it was STILL WARM, I did sob.  Like a marathon runner finally reaching the finish line.  True, this finish line took me 13 years to cross but it was worth every damned second of it when I was enfolded and caressed by clean, warm cotton.

Gracie and I have negotiated a rate of $3 per dried, folded load she brings upstairs from the basement.  I should be arrested for violating child labor laws, I’m so grossly underpaying her for this service, in my newly formed opinion.  But don’t tell her that.

I hope this post has encouraged you to keep your shit together today.  Don’t let that little fucker Swiper get the best of you because in 13 years you will be checking Google like I did this morning to see if he’s still even on television doing hood rat shit and paying your little angel an inordinately low amount of money to do your chores.  You’re welcome.

To ensure that I’m universally hated by unshowered Moms currently drinking cold coffee and rubbing lanolin on their nipples while reading this, I’m also paying Gracie 50 cents for each cup of coffee she reheats for me.  Between the reheated coffee and laundry, she just informed me that I owe her $37.

Best $37 I have ever spent.  Without a doubt.

This Is Halloween, The Finale

We made it to the end!  Well, maybe.  I can’t know for sure if you’re going to read the whole post but I’ll give you the benefit of doubt.  If you read till the end, there will be prizes and confetti and strippers.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I’m sorry.

Welcome to the last installment of This is Halloween.  This series has covered each year we have spent Halloween Week in Orlando.  Here’s the recap of 2013.  This was the 4th year we went to Universal and Disney World for all the Halloween festivities.

The following video of Halloween Horror Nights 2013 only covers the scare zones, not the houses.  And of course, I don’t expect you to watch a 10 minute video but you can fast forward through it to get a good feel of the theme for 2013.  If you’re a Walking Dead fan, you’ll love it.  2013 scare zones were all Walking Dead, all the time.  I don’t watch the show but I did recognize most of the iconic backdrops.

I did not go through any houses that year, something I really regret now.  At the time, though, I felt like shit.  I would find out the next day at the emergency clinic that I had bronchitis.  Not fun.

If I had it to do over again, I would go through two houses that year – American Werewolf In London and Cabin In The Woods.

I remember as a teenager thinking that American Werewolf was the best horror movie of all time and the special effects for 1981 were mind blowing.  Cabin In The Woods is my favorite modern horror movie.  One of my favorite movies of all time from any genre is Army of Darkness.  AoD bridged the distance between horror and comedy in a way I had never seen before.  Cabin wasn’t that campy but it had just enough humor to make you almost forget it was a pretty gnarly horror movie and in that way, it reminded me a lot of AoD.

There aren’t a lot of pictures from that night, as E and Landon split off to do the houses.  Gracie and I did our best to hide from the zombies on the streets and were mostly successful.  I mainly spent my time feeling up Lard Lad while Gracie took pictures.  That’s the kind of Mom I am.

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For Mickey’s Not So Haunted Halloween Party, we decided to tackle all new Harry Potter characters, except for Harry Potter, of course.  Landon was The Chosen One himself, Gracie made an awesome Luna Lovegood and could even talk exactly like her, E was Mad-Eye Moody, and I was Bellatrix Lestrange.  Again, not many pictures were taken because I had bronchitis and the antibiotics hadn’t kicked in yet.  It was still a great night.  E was the most popular character this time around and was stopped a few times by people asking to get a  picture with him.

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Did I mention I had bronchitis?  Because I did.  I’m a trooper like that.

Thank you for sharing these memories with me!  I will upload a picture of us in costume sometime in the late afternoon/early evening hours right here on the blog on October 30th so check back often that day.  Get your finger limbered up for the refresh button.  If you want to save your finger from refresh button fatigue, follow me and you’ll get an email message every time I post a blog.  Or, if you prefer, I can post my blog link to your Facebook wall every hour on the hour.  Your choice.  Personally, I’d just hit the damn little blue “Follow” button somewhere on this page and be done with it.

We’ve had a few snags this week in the costume prep department but I think it will still all come together in spectacular fashion.  Have a great weekend, y’all, and Happy Halloween Week!  Be safe out there.

This Is Halloween, Part One

My family loves Halloween.

This is usually exactly when the person I’m talking to or chatting with on Facebook says/writes “Oh, we do, too!”

No.  You don’t understand the level of our Halloween craziness.  Your $50 worth of 100% real juice fruit snacks for the neighborhood rug munchers (I once called toddlers that and my friend Lucinda immediately started laughing and informed me that I was using the wrong term but I’m sticking with “rug munchers”, damn it) and traditional delightful kitty cat costume isn’t really the same thing.  Bless your heart.

We used to live in a gated community in Texas where lots of young families lived.  Halloween was fun and festive and busy.  We’d answer our door and give the little rug munchers candy (not that fruit shit, damn it, it’s Halloween, people!) for about an hour, then we’d leave the huge bowl of future diabetes and death on our porch and the Honor System would reign while we took our kids around the neighborhood for their turn at the chocolate.  Or fruit snacks.  Bastards.

When we moved to Alabama, we chose an older home in an older neighborhood.  Newsflash:  80 year olds don’t like to trick or treat.  Our first Halloween here sucked.  It sucked so bad I think I would’ve taken those fruit snacks.

As the next Halloween was barreling down on us, I looked into going out of town, specifically to Disney World for their annual Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  This after hours, ticketed event happens during select nights in September and October and families are encouraged to dress up in costume.

I also discovered during that time that Universal Orlando was celebrating the 20th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights.  It is also an after hours, ticketed event held on select nights in September and October.  Costumes are not allowed due to their Scare Actors, haunted houses, etc.

Our first year at Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) couldn’t have been better due to the 20th anniversary.  They brought several of the marquee “bad guys” back from previous years in celebration and it was mind blowing.  We had found our people.

Here are some pictures from our first HHN.  We really didn’t take that many because we were so overwhelmed by the event.

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Our first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) was also quite the event but much more family friendly.  We decided it would be more fun to go in themed costumes so with the popularity of Alice In Wonderland that year, we went with it.

Landon initially refused to be the Mad Hatter so we called a family conference.  I talked to Gracie beforehand and told her that we were going to offer him $20 to go as the Mad Hatter.  She was all in.  He rejected our $20 bribe and Gracie immediately slapped her hand on the coffee table and said “Okay, 50 bucks”! without consulting us.  He agreed to the $50, E and I noted that Gracie was a really shitty negotiator and have since elected not to include her in any costume bribery.

Landon turned out to be the hit of the night.  There were a few other Mad Hatters but none better than he was.  He stole the show from all of us (and that wasn’t the last time he “stole” our Disney thunder but more on that in Part 2) and he enjoyed every single minute of it.  Here are a few pics from that night.

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We have returned for both events ever since.  This will be our fifth year of celebrating Halloween week in Orlando and we are just as excited for it as we were the first time.

This year’s costumes are a secret and there have already been a few incorrect guesses from friends on Facebook.  I will reveal the costumes, with us in them, on October 30th, the night we attend the MNSSHP.

This will be our most epic year ever for costumes but before I get too far ahead of myself, I will be doing blog posts on each year we’ve attended the events and also include pictures of all our past costumes.

Stay tuned!  And return those 100% real juice fruit snacks to Walmart.  I mean it.

Amusement Park Rides: You’re Doing It Wrong!

My family goes to Universal Studios Orlando and Disney World every Halloween because we can combine two of our favorite things, amusement parks and Halloween.  We also visited Universal Orlando this past Memorial Day because we had season passes but Halloween is definitely our favorite time to go.

I would like to think we’re amusement park veterans by now but I am deeply saddened.  It has come to my attention recently that I am doing this whole amusement park thing wrong, especially when it comes to those keepsake ride photos.

This is our last souvenir photo from our May trip.  We were riding the Forbidden Journey at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We had talked about it beforehand and after a couple misfires, we thought we had our shit together.  We were all going to make funny faces, whatever felt right at the moment.  And quit looking at my chunky legs.  I’ve lost almost 13 pounds since then, damn it.

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E has the thumbs up thing down along with the crazed Jack Nicholson look.  Gracie looks like she’s deep into the weed.  All that’s missing is a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.  Landon almost got the thumbs up right but we’ll settle for side thumbs.  I knew this picture was coming up, we’ve been on this ride dozens of times.  It’s one of our favorite rides in the park yet I can’t even manage to look at the camera.  I’m the slow one in the family.  Please use small words and refrain from sudden movements around me.

There is hope for our Halloween trip and time to improve our keepsake photo game.  Check out these inspirations and my new heroes, from the Disney Splash Mountain ride photos.  Old people with bad eyesight (I’m looking at you, E), you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Oh dear God, the humanity!!!

Where the hell is my horoscope?

Where the hell is my horoscope?

Checkmate, mother fucker.

Checkmate, mother fucker.

Same guys from the chess picture, a different year.  They are either too epic to be true or really need girlfriends.

Hey, chess game.  Connect Four and Jenga kicked your highbrow, uppity ass!

Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking Disney ride!

Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking Disney ride!

Proving that beer pong can be played anywhere.  Also, they may need a 12 Step Program.

Proving that beer pong can be played anywhere. Also, they may need a 12 Step Program.

Oh, I smell what you got cookin', Rock.

Oh, I smell what you got cookin’, Rock.

One group of friends, three different years.  Someone find them now.  They are my new BFFs.

One group of friends, three different years.  They need girlfriends.  Like yesterday.  Someone find these dudes because they are my new BFFs.

And my absolute favorite:

Clockwise and harder, Brad!

Clockwise and harder, Brad!  Harder, damn it!

Up your amusement park photo games, people!  I expect pictures.  Hope you’re having a great week and thanks for stopping by.