M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E

While our family went on vacation every year, my childhood remained somewhat unfulfilled because we never went to Disneyland. To be fair, Disneyland wasn’t anything more than a little spark in Walt Disney’s imagination until the early 1950s, and it didn’t open for business until July 1955. Since I wasn’t born until December of 1953, and using the theory that you shouldn’t take kids to Disneyland at too young an age because they won’t remember it anyway, I’ll give my mom and dad a pass. I’ll blame my personality shortcomings on a terrifying horseback ride when I was 10 instead of a lack of opportunity for a youthful bonding with Mickey.

I did, however, love to watch the Mickey Mouse Show, featuring Annette Funicello (who made boys pant and girls jealous) and Bobby Burgess (who later went on to breaking hearts on the Lawrence Welk Show. In more recent years, most of my grandkids and great nieces and nephews got hooked on a newer, updated Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and the gang. The theme song of the new version was stuck in my head many a night, but watching “Mi Mow” was a great way to distract Cole when he was 2.

In fact, I didn’t visit the Magic Kingdom until Court and I went to visit my girlfriend who at that time lived in Orlando. Court was probably about 5, and we went to Disney World. I guess it’s safe to say that I was hooked from the get-go.

Back in those days, Disney World offered the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Period. That was plenty, however. You had your joyful fun and adventures at the Magic Kingdom, and then you had your stab at something a bit more educational at Epcot. I will never forget the first time we visited the World Showcase, giving guests a feeling of traveling around the world. Food-wise, we never really got past Germany, because Bratwurst. But hearing the mariachi band in Mexico and seeing the red phone booths in the UK made me feel positively worldly.

Since that time, I have visited Disneyland maybe two or three times, and Disney World maybe another couple of times. I had the good sense to marry someone who — much to everyone’s surprise — loves Disneyland too. And I have clearly passed on my love for All Things Disney to Court, as he has visited both Disneyland and Disney World a number of times, even as an adult. In fact, when he graduated from high school, as part of his graduation gift, I told him I would take him anywhere in the continental United States – along with his cousin B.J. Anywhere. San Francisco. New York City. Los Angeles or Dallas or Atlanta. He chose Disney World. That’s my boy. He has taken his three kids to Disneyland twice, and yesterday, they left for Disney World.

I drove with them to the airport at – quite literally – the crack of dawn, so that I could drive their car back to their house. The three kids were quietly excited. Five days of sunny Florida weather (except for occasional rainstorms), visits with Mickey and Minnie and (my personal favorite) Figment, a long-standard at Epcot, swimming and water slides, fireworks, and parades.

Fingers crossed that they don’t run into an alligator. And I’m not kidding.

At the same time the Zierks are heading east, my McLain grands are driving (with their parents) west towards Alaska. And what with my two boys living in Vermont, I am – for the first time in a very long time – grandchildless in Denver. I don’t quite know what to do with myself.

Maybe I’ll watch Beauty and the Beast or Mary Poppins. It’s the least I can do…..

 

I Scream, You Scream

I’m not a screamer. Oh, get your mind out of the gutter, I’m not talking about sex. It’s just that while I am admittedly afraid of almost everything, I don’t scream.

Nope. I’m not a screamer. I am more of a suck-in-my-breath-loudly-and-clutch-my-breast-and-let-out-a-sharp-yelper.

In horror movies, despite the fact that there is a serial murderer on the loose who wears long metal claws on his hands with which he tears out women’s throats before killing them, the young women go downstairs to check out a strange noise in the basement without turning on the lights. What’s up with that? Is their electric bill too high? And when they encounter the above-mentioned serial murderer, they stand completely frozen to the spot and SCREAM. And then they get their throats cut.

Not me. I would suck in my breath loudly and clutch my breast and let out a sharp yelp. Plus I would have turned on the light. Plus I would run like hell.

I don’t even scream on the rare occurrence when I lose my sanity and agree to go on a roller coaster. That has happened exactly twice in my life if I don’t count Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, both of which are relatively tame (though Space Mountain does have the added disadvantage of being dark so you can’t see when you are about to plummet). California Adventure – part of Disneyland – has a roller coaster called California Screamin’. It’s called that because purportedly that’s what you do when you ride it – scream.

Fake photo with smiles photoshopped onto their faces. It has to be.

A couple of years ago when Bill and I went to Disneyland, he somehow convinced me to go on California Screamin’. I can’t imagine why I said yes, but it had something to do with the fact that he had gone on Small World with me. Not only is it a serious roller coaster, but it has one of those loopty loops. I still can’t believe I agreed to ride. Anyway, the ride begins with a recorded voice that says, five, four, three, two, one……scureeeeeeeeeeeeeem! And then the coaster takes off about a thousand miles an hour and stays at that speed for what feels like three hours. I was terrified. My eyes were tightly closed. But I didn’t scream – not one single time. Instead, I spent the entire ride with my eyes shut and praying the Hail Mary prayer over and over out loud, interspersed with an occasional Oh My God.

The other day, Bill and I were walking home from the neighborhood grocery store. Since I tell stories almost daily that involve walking home from the grocery store, you must think I spend my days at the local market. And you would be nearly right. I go at least once a day. But on this day, we stepped off the sidewalk to walk across the street to our neighborhood. I was looking for oncoming cars and not looking down. Just as I set my feet down on the street, Bill said, “SNAKE!”

I sucked in my breath loudly and clutched my breast and let out a sharp yelp. And jumped into the air about three feet.

“Well, it’s a dead snake,” Bill said somewhat sheepishly, understanding immediately that I might have had a heart attack.

And it was dead. And flat from being run over. But it was still a snake, a rattlesnake to boot. And to be fair to Bill, I’m not sure I would have reacted any differently if he had yelled out, “DEAD SNAKE!” A snake is a snake, my friends.

When I went back later after calming down, intending to take a photo of the snake to show my sister Jen just how close to deadly wildlife our house is, the snake was gone. As it had been as flat as a tortilla, there is no chance it slithered away on its own. My money is on a high school kid picking it up, and my heart goes out to the poor kid with the locker next to his who opened his locker door the next day to find a snake hanging from the top of the locker.

I’ll bet he screamed.

This post linked to Grammy’s Grid.

Saturday Smile: Beach Bums

All of my grandkids enjoy the water. Well, Mylee might be a bit more like her nana in being a bit reserved about swimming. Still, she’s learning and I’m happy about that.

Addie, Alastair, Dagny, and Maggie Faith are big, BIG fans of swimming. I accompanied them to Disneyland five or six years ago (Maggie was still in a stroller). While they certainly enjoyed Magic Kingdom, they probably enjoyed the swimming pool at the hotel as much, if not more. They are happy to just swim and swim and swim.

Almost every year around Christmas, they, along with Jll’s sister Julie and her mom, spend a week or so in Mexico. They rent a house, and always have such fun. It makes me happy that they enjoy their time there so much.

This year they went to Cabo San Lucas,  and here are a couple of photos that make me smile….

The ladies of the group pose beautifully for a picture. Jll's mom Lynne, her sister Julie, and Jll herself are the grown ups. Addie, Dagny and Magnolia complete the group.

The ladies of the group pose beautifully for a picture. Jll’s mom Lynne, her sister Julie, and Jll herself are the grown ups. Addie, Dagny and Magnolia complete the group.

McLains on the beach

And here we have McLains at the Beach!

Have a great weekend.

I Blinked My Eyes….

Man, didn’t 2015 just FLY by? While it’s not literally true, it sure seems like time goes by faster as I age. It was just January 2015 and now I’m looking 2016 square in the eyes!

One of the nice things about writing a blog is that, just like when I was 12 years old and kept a diary, I have a record of a lot of what was going on this past year. It was fun to look back and see what my family and I have been up to for the past 12 months….

January
kaiya-mylee-austinThe highlight in January was a surprise visit to Arizona from Court and his family. While they didn’t arrive on my doorstep without notice, they really did only give me a couple of days to anticipate what I expected would be — and turned out to be — a wonderful visit. Time with family, a visit to the Phoenix Zoo, a chance to show them the house in Arizona that we love so much. Read about our visit here.

Februarygrands-gathered
Despite their visit, I was homesick for the grandkids; enough so as to warrant a quick trip home to get kisses (and, to be fair, check and make sure things were fine at the house). Our homecoming welcome is documented here.

March
11082470_10202721282511673_515102186345354589_nOn March 28, I gave my niece Jessie the opportunity to present her case as to why my blogs on Fridays should be devoted to pizzas rather than books. While she didn’t persuade me, her argument was amusing if not compelling. What do you think?

Bec and I also made a visit in March to a fascinating and wonderful Asian market called Lee Lee’s International Foods in west Mesa. Read about our experience here.

Aprilkris-at-bar
I experienced extremes in April, with a visit to the hospital for an obstructed small bowel mid-April, followed shortly thereafter by a trip to the happiest place on earth — Disneyland. Bill completed his weeks-long project of building an outdoor kitchen at our home in Arizona. Nanas Whimsies hit the benchmark of my 500th post.

May
We left on May 1 to head back to Denver for the summer and fall. We no sooner arrived and our youngest grandchild turned 1! We celebrated his day, and the next day I awoke with no voice. I had laryngitis that lasted a couple of days. Read about all of these activities here.

June
bubba-gumpsIn June we had a wonderful visit from my brother David and his wife Sami. It had been a couple of years since they had the chance to come to Arizona, and this time they were by themselves — no kids or grandkids. We had a wonderful visit, including an exceptionally nice night at Bubba Gump’s Restaurant in downtown Denver. There was also a very funny incident that occurred during which Dagny and Maggie were horrified at their Papa’s cradle robbing…..

July
We had awesome visits in July. Early in the month, the daughter of one of my childhood friends spent a night with us. I hadn’t seen her for many years, and we enjoyed the visit immensely. Our daughter Heather and her family from Vermont visited a bit later in the month, and we enjoyed seeing our two Vermont boys, Joseph and Micah. Unfortunately, the month was tainted by another visit to the hospital.

Augustplayhouse-1
Late in the month, school started for the grands and football was finally back. But the highlight of our month was a trip to Montpelier, Vermont, to visit our family. We enjoyed our small town experience very much. Bill also completed his summer project of the kids’ playhouse, and we had the chance to celebrate our stepmother Shirley’s 80th birthday with her.

September
Bec visited us in Colorado, and the three sisters took a trip to Estes Park where we listened to the elk bugle and spent such nice time together. It was a wonderful weekend. Jen celebrated her birthday midmonth and I cooked her a French dinner that we enjoyed together.

October
Much of October was spent moving furniture, as we received our delivery of Wilma’s beautiful living room furniture and the bedroom set that had been Bill’s as a child. The furniture came to us as a result of Wilma moving to smaller quarters. Bill celebrated his birthday with all of his Denver family. Late in October we headed to Arizona to open up the house.

November
joseph-micah-merlinMid-November, we returned to Denver to celebrate the holidays with our family. Heather and Lauren and the boys drove all the way from Vermont to spend Thanksgiving with us. A week later they drove all the way home, stopping at the end to pick up Merlin the Dog.

December
We celebrated Christmas with our kids over a period of a couple of days just before leaving on Christmas day to fly back to Arizona, where we will spend the winter. We took time out of our busy month to celebrate my birthday.

Looking back, 2015 was an action-packed year, full of full, family, laughter, love, and joy!

Amazing Arizona Activities

Last year when we were leaving Arizona to return to Denver, I wrote a blog post about the things that I would miss. You can read my thoughts in 2014 in this link, because I will miss those very same things in 2015.

This time I am going to give you what I consider to be the highlights of our winter stay in Arizona these past few months.  So, in no particular order…..

Outdoor Kitchen

Kris at barYou might have heard a rumor that Bill built an outdoor kitchen this year. He wants me to start calling it a barbecue island, but I’m not quite there yet. Anyway, it is something I have wanted in at least one of my houses for a long time. Though it took him longer than either one of us anticipated to complete, the finished product is perfect. I have used it a number of times already, and it will get great use every winter.

NASCAR

Bill will undoubtedly proclaim his two NASCAR races were a highlight for him.

Alastair enjoys a beer and a cigar while Dad's away for a bit! Of course he didn't really, but Bill and Allen couldn't help but tease a bit.

Alastair enjoys a beer and a cigar while Dad’s away for a bit! Of course he didn’t really, but Bill and Allen couldn’t help but tease a bit.

In November, both of his sons, our grandson Alastair, and my brother David spent the entire weekend at the race living in Bill’s son Dave’s RV. It was a dream come true for Bill. He and my brother Dave also went to the March NASCAR race, and though they didn’t spend the weekend, they apparently had a great time. Both are enjoying spending Jeff Gordon’s last season with him.

Family Gatherings

As usual, we had our share of family celebrations. It seems even when we don’t have a particular thing to celebrate, the Gloor clan still manages to gather. I was able to see a great deal of many of my Arizona nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and, of course, my siblings. Our family gatherings are full of joy, and I have mentioned before that nothing makes me happier than seeing the little cousins together. It would have made my mom and dad so happy to see their great grandchildren playing with one another. My mom, in particular, believed in the importance of family.

Visit from Zierks

kaiya mylee austinThis year Bill and I had January visitors, namely, our son Court and his family. We had so much fun showing them around this area that we love so much. It also made me very happy that Kaiya and Mylee got a chance to play with many of their Arizona cousins. Mylee and Austin bonded over Ninja turtles, and Kaiya got in some winter swimming!

bormans-kaiya-mylee-2015

Travel

We vowed this year we were going to do some traveling – day trips as well as several-day-trips. While we didn’t do as many as we’d hoped, we did make a very fun day trip to Globe and of course, we took our spectacular trip to Disneyland.

kris bill mater 2015

Nothing more really needs to be said.

 

Glorious Weather

Finally, I must tell you that I think our weather this winter has been particularly beautiful. Last winter might have been a bit warmer, but this year was pretty darn good. We had temperatures creep up into the 90s on several occasions, but for the most part, we haven’t had to run the air conditioner much at all. And the only time I turned on the heat was several mornings in January. It’s such a luxury to experience nice weather here, and then go home to Denver to more nice weather. I hope.

Wish us luck on our travels!

Put a Fork in It

Day 2: Operation Disneyland
Outcome: My legs are tired

We spent two full days at the happiest place on earth, and if we’d only spent one-and-three-quarter days, my legs wouldn’t be so tired. Between Monday and Tuesday, we walked a full 21 miles.

Admittedly, it was 21 miles of pure, unadulterated fun. The closest I came to a roller coaster yesterday was Goofy’s Sky School, which was, well, goofy. But fun-goofy. Bill did the Tower of Terror by himself first thing in the morning while I went to pick up a couple of my must-haves – Matterhorn Macaroons.

kris macaroon disneyworld

It was during my trip from California Adventure (where the Tower of Terror is located) to Magic Kingdom (where the Matterhorn Macaroons live) that I saw my strange-person-of-the-day. Another grandmother like myself, but wearing a green shirt, green shorts, and fairy wings. All over her gray hair she had 30 or 40 flower barrettes. That’s all I’ll say about Grandma Tinker Bell. But, FAIRY WINGS.

The first time I ever went to a Disney park was Disney World as an adult. My family of origin didn’t go to Disneyland; we went to Colorado. That’s how the Gloors rolled. But it was love at first sight. And I passed that love on to my son, who loves it as much as his mother. From my first visit, my favorite ride has always been Pirates of the Caribbean. The Haunted Mansion is second runner up. That has never changed.

Until now.

Cars "race" at the Radiator Springs Road Rally

Cars “race” at the Radiator Springs Road Rally

It is with great trepidation that I admit that I am leaving Jack Sparrow for another man. Lightning McQueen. I decided after my second round on Radiator Springs Racers that it is my favorite ride. But Pirates is still a close second.

One final remark about Disneyland.  I have no idea how the company treats their employees (though I would suspect well). But as far as running a great organization, I don’t think they can be beat. If I had a question, it didn’t matter who I asked. They knew the answer and they were cheerfully helpful. Disney’s attention to detail cannot be matched. We had dinner at the Blue Bayou which is the restaurant adjoining Pirates of the Caribbean. As we sat at the table, we watched the boats float by. There was an old shack by the water, and fireflies flickered on and off. You would have sworn you were outside sitting by the bayou. You could almost hear the crickets. I noticed a cloud in the “sky” and, as we ate, the cloud slowly changed its shape – just like clouds do in real life. I finally asked our waiter how in the world that was possible. He explained that the cloud was really just light projected onto the wall. And the “fireflies” were really just tiny lights at the end of a long stick that were being blown around by a big fan.

After two days, strategic use of Fast Passes and Park Hopper tickets, planning ahead, and very many trips back and forth from Magic Kingdom to California Adventure, here’s what we were able to ride during our time at Disneyland…

Magic Kingdom
Star Tours
Space Mountain
Roger Rabbit
Small World
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Splash Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain
Haunted Mansion (twice)
Pirates of the Caribbean (twice)
Boat ride to Tom Sawyer’s Island
Tarzan’s Tree House

California Adventure
California Screamin’
Radiator Springs Racers (twice)
Hollywood Hotel Tower of Terror (Bill by himself)
Goofy’s Sky School

After two days of Disney, our legs are tired and we’re ready to go home. But it was great fun indeed.

We elbowed our way past a few children to get our picture taken with Mater. Oh don't be horrified. I'm just kidding.

We elbowed our way past a few children to get our picture taken with Mater. Oh don’t be horrified. I’m just kidding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill enjoys an adult beverage in Downtown Disney.

Bill enjoys an adult beverage in Downtown Disney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After what our trip cost us, we'll have to hitchhike home!

After what our trip cost us, we’ll have to hitchhike home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screamin’

Day 1: Operation Disneyland
Outcome: it really is the happiest place on earth
california adventureWe got to the park by 8:30, and were thrilled — thrilled, I tell you — when they told us they were going to open the gates to California Adventure a half hour early. Our plan was to make a beeline to the Radiator Springs Road Rally fast pass line to get an early fast pass for the most popular ride in the park.

But the Disney folks played a big fat trick on us. I will, however, forgive Mickey because how can you remain mad at such a lovable fellow? While we did get inside the gates, they stopped us before we could actually get into the park. We had to wait until 9 for that. What they did is give us an extra half hour to shop. That mouse thinks of all of the marketing angles.

Anyhow, no harm, no foul, because 35 minutes later we held our fast passes in our hot little hands. And we had some time to kill.

Now, what I’m about to tell you will shock many who know me and know how

California Screamin'. I, for one, was too scared to even scream.

California Screamin’. I, for one, was too scared to even scream.

terrified I am of roller coasters. Looming ahead of us, you see, was a ride called California Screamin’, and Bill wanted to go.

“Please?” he asked me. “It won’t be bad at all.”

He didn’t fool me. I have eyes and I could see it was going to be bad. But I VERY reluctantly agreed for two reasons. One, I knew I was going to ask my husband that very day to go on

It's A Small World. What can I say?

It’s A Small World. What can I say?

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Small World, and Pirates of the Caribbean, and furthermore, I knew he would ride them because I asked. That’s how he rolls. The least I could do….

And two, I could hear my sister Bec’s final words to me before we left AZ: “I double dawg dare you to ride California Screamin’.” Double Dawg Dare.

As we stood in line, I was literally shaking with fright. We had gotten past the point of no return when I saw that the ride included one of those circles in which riders go upside down.

Sweet Jesus.

Well, as you can see, I lived, but I assure you it was not even close to being fun. My eyes were closed the ENTIRE time, and I said seven or eight Hail Marys throughout the ride. I texted Bec as soon as I stopped shaking, and she responded, “It was fun, right?” Nope, I said.

We had a wonderful Day One, and I noticed a couple of things. One, there were

I was so happy to find the Mickey Mouse ice cream bars!

I was so happy to find the Mickey Mouse ice cream bars!

many little girls in princess dresses, and easily 7/8th of them were either Elsa or Anna. Have any other princesses ever been so popular?

Two, something happens to people when they go to Disneyland. They spend money on and wear things they will never wear again. I saw a man who absolutely HAD to be an NFL player wearing Mickey ears, and he was only one of very many. I don’t see them wearing them into work next week. But perhaps the oddest thing I saw was a woman of about my age wearing a princess gown. And yes, it was Elsa.

Speaking of funny things, I noticed an unusually large number of people wearing Star Wars paraphernalia, dressed as Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Han Solo. I wondered about this, because while there is a Star Wars ride at Disneyland (Star Tours), it’s certainly not the focus of the park. I learned there is a Star Wars convention in town. Seriously. Do these people have jobs?

I love the topiary all around the park.

I love the topiary all around the park.

Finally, before I return for Day 2 to the happiest place on earth (which today will NOT include any roller coasters) I will leave you with my nicest-person-in-the-park story. We were waiting in line for Splash Mountain (which, while I don’t love it, only has one drop, and Bill sat through Small World) and the wait was a long one. Suddenly a stranger came up to us in line, asked if it was just the two of us, and when we said yes, proceeded to give us his two fast pass tickets. It was awesome (except for the near riot it caused by those standing near us. Hey! Sometimes it’s good to be a cute old couple.)

It’s a small world after all.

And we walked 28,000 steps yesterday!

Do you think I'll ever learn to take a selfie?

Do you think I’ll ever learn to take a selfie?

Here's how we started our day. Beignets!

Here’s how we started our day. Beignets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here's how we ended it...fried chicken at The Plaza right outside Tomorrowland.

And here’s how we ended it…fried chicken at The Plaza right outside Tomorrowland.