Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Paula Deen and the "Horrible Lies"

I've got some thoughts on this whole Paula Deen debacle.

I've read the deposition.

Random impressions and thoughts.

When she tells the occassion of the bank robber and her use of the n word... in the deposition, it comes across like she's trying to joke about it, make light of it.

Most of what I read in that deposition is that her brother, Bubba, is a jerk and is the main cause of all these problems.  He is the one that is accused of making inappropriate jokes, comments, and bringing porn into the workplace.  He is the one accused of physically grabbing and shaking a long time employee.  He stole money from the restaurant.

Paula's biggest grievance is that she ignored the evidence all along... she was told about concerns and has turned a blind eye to it all.

She claims a lot of ignorance in that disposition.  I don't buy it.

I believe things were said to her many times, both in passing and in more serious meetings, and she most likely just brushed it off.  You can see that attitude in her deposition.  She makes light of men telling jokes about race, about women, about Jewish people... it's expected, it's normal, her husband does it, etc.  So when Karl Schumacher, Paula Deen's accountant and then manager of Paula Deen Enterprises, came to her and told her about the complaints coming in regarding Bubba's behavior... I can see where she would have brushed it off as "Bubba just being Bubba."

Paula makes it clear in the deposition that she believes that Karl and Lisa Jackson are out to sabotage, are jealous, are out to get them.  Karl - the same man that she has referred to as "the most moral man I know" and who she tries to throw under the bus in the deposition by flinging her own accusations against him.

When asked about the consulting firm that was brought in to advise on the restaurant... and about that consulting firm telling her of serious issues that could be filed with the EEOC... in the deposition, Paula has conveniently forgotten if the consulting firm told her that or not.

So Bubba was carrying out the sins.  But Paula was turning a blind eye.  And with Paula being the public figure, she is the one who will be the focus of the blame.

There is a quote I've heard a few times lately... "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for a good man to do nothing."  And the Bible has many verses and proverbs about confronting evil in our lives - like Proverbs 22:3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

Paula Deen tried to be simple.  She tried to stay focused on her own course and ignore the sins of her brother.  She wasn't the one saying or doing those things, right?

And I know that is up for debate.  I can't speak to whether or not Paula is running around saying racist things or telling racist jokes.  This is really just about that deposition.  The media has a death grip on Paula's story about the bank robber and her use of the "n word" and there is a lot of talk about this "plantation wedding/restaurant" idea.

But as attention grabbing as those things are... I think we miss the bigger picture and the actual mistake when we focus on those things.

Paula's biggest sin was silently supporting her brother's evil choices.  And continuing to ignore when it was brought to her directly.  Choosing to ignore when she experienced it in person.  Choosing to ignore her husband and his inappropriate jokes.

And she is continuing to try and ignore the evil.  I think that's why her apologies don't wash.  She isn't apologizing for her mistakes.  She isn't apologizing for disregarding the wrongs that were happening in a family business that she had active ownership of.  She isn't apologizing for the things Bubba said and did (and has admitted to saying and doing).  She isn't apologizing at all.  She is tearfully begging people to not label her a racist.  She is watching her world fall apart and desperately trying to stop it - and I empathize and understand.

But she doesn't see what she did wrong.  She isn't yet able to look at the events of the past few years and see the mistake she made.  If she can't see the mistake, there is no way for her to sincerely apologize.

And what I hope many people will come to understand - this is exactly why racism and sexism and other isms remain alive and well.  Paula's entire attitude is the attitude that so many carry.  First part is acceptance - "boys will be boys" and "men just make those kinds of jokes" and "that's the Southern way."  Second part is choosing to put on blinders - "I'm not the one saying/doing it" and "I find that hard to believe."

Knowing that your brother has grabbed a long time and "cherished" member of your staff by the arm and violently shaken him and screamed at him in front of witnesses... and doing nothing...

Ignoring memos and reports and brushing off conversations brought to you about your brother's behavior and words... doing nothing...

Doing nothing is exactly what allows racism and sexism and ignorance to keep on breathing.

I don't have anything personally against Paula Deen.  I don't know her.  I've enjoyed her cooking shows, her goofiness, her charm.

But this would be a very different news story if her deposition had been filled with her accounts of meetings with her staff, conversations with her brother, attempts to right the wrongs, acknowledging the bad situation and demonstrating what she did to try and amend it.

I just see this as an example of the undercurrent of our country, our society.  We want to make light of jokes that hurt, we want to cover up bad behavior, we don't want to bear responsibility for the choices of our friends and family, we don't want their bad light to shine on us, we don't want to get involved when we see wrong.

We want to put on blinders, plug up our ears, cover our mouths and hide under the blankets.

Except that doesn't work.

We've taken "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" too literally.
The lesson I've learned from Paula... is that I have to be brave enough to acknowledge when I've been wrong and I have to seek forgiveness where it matters (the media is not that place) and I have to be strong enough to stand up and fight when I hear or see evil.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Preview: @IndyStateFair

On a whim... or maybe in the midst of some daydreaming... I decided to jump online and see if the program was available for this year's Indiana State Fair.

And it was!!!

Anyone who has read my blog in August knows that I'm a Big Fan of the Fair.  If I could be there everyday, I would.  If I lived or worked closer, I'd make a point to swing by once a day.  I love the events, the atmosphere, the food, the fun - all of it.  I also find that I love spending a day taking pictures at the Fair - so much to see and do and take in and capture.

I've started a list of the things I am most excited about for the upcoming Indiana State Fair (Aug 2- Aug 18)...

  • It's the Year of Popcorn!  Indiana is the nation's second largest producer of popcorn.  IN the program, I've already learned that it's a special kind of corn that is grown to make popcorn and that most corn fields you see are growing corn to feed livestock, not sweet corn or popcorn.
  • Get Animated! in the Grand Hall on Main Street.  We loved our animation experiences at Disney and I am eager for this 8,000 sq ft exhibit to come to our Fair! 
  • A new Kiddie Land Midway!  My kids had a blast discovering the Midway last year and I limited them to the kid size rides.  Now, it looks like the kid size rides will be in a separate area completely- which should help with avoiding the bigger, scarier rides.
  • An outdoor ice show??  Rosstyn Ice Shows.  Outdoors, in August, on ice.  
  • Sinbad High Dive Show.  No, not that Sinbad.  It's a slapstick group that does a high dive show.  I can't wait!
  • World's Largest Popcorn Ball.  What else can I say?
  • $2 Tuesdays.  This was a new idea just a few years ago and it caught on!  Midway rides are $2, certain vendors will offer $2 portions of food, and you can get in to the Fair for $2 with a voucher from Turkey Hill!
  • There is also Foodie Friday - which I think might be new this year - on Fri, Aug 16.  All concessionaires will be offering an item at half price!
  • And all my old regulars - visiting the Dairy Bar for chocolate milk and grilled cheese, walking the Expo Hall and shopping and searching out freebies, enjoying the "local art museum" of the Home & Family Arts Building, catching a cooking demo and shopping in the general store in the DuPont Food Pavilion, hearing some bluegrass in Pioneer Village, watching local clogging groups on the Dance Stage (new location this year - up by Gate 12 instead of Gate 6), observing the fish in the DNR building, feeding the goats at Goat Mountain, and so much more!!
I'm thinking of at least 3 visits this year - the Monday before school starts with the kids, a Tuesday so I can hit $2 Tuesday, and maybe Foodie Friday.  If I could - I would seriously take 3 days off in a row for the Fair but I don't think I can make it work.  But Monday the 12th for Kids Day on the Midway ($15 wristbands), $2 Tuesday the 13th and Farmers Day with the Indiana Farm Bureau FFA Pancake breakfast on the 14th (the first day of school for my kids - a BIG day).... those would be my ideal day to go!!

What are you excited for this year with the State Fair?  What about the Fair or a similar event where you live?


Friday, June 21, 2013

Looking Good in Photos

I'm not generally one to be camera shy.

I also think I don't know how to have my picture taken.  I'm just... me.  Which is fine.

But a few things have stood out to me lately.

Someone met me in person after only knowing me online and remarked that I'm prettier in person.

I went to Disney and used Photopass so we had many posed family pics taken.

I went to Disney and discovered that a certain Belle knew how to hold her face so you could really "see" her in the photo.

And between those 2 things, I was very intrigued.

When we were at Disney, we loved our experience at Belle's Enchancted Tales.  At the end of the story, all the kids are invited to parade around the room and then get a one on one picture taken with Belle.  As the Photopass photographer was clicking away, I noticed that the woman playing Belle would always have her princess face on but would strike a specific face pose when the camera was going to click.  I pointed it out to Jeff - the fixed smile and this head tilt/eye pop thing.

I happened to see someone else's picture of Belle from their own trip - a different actress portraying her.  And the difference was stunning.  The head tilt, smile, eye pop thing... while forced and staged... totally works.  Especially for a real person portraying an animated character.

The Belle we experienced.

The other Belle
See?  The Other Belle is very pretty.  Wonderful smile.  But you can't see her eyes.

I looked at some of our family photos from Disney - where I just stood still and tried to smile.  (Forgive the quality - these are just preview shots)

I lose my eyes, my smile is forced, that extra chin shows up.

Anyway - it got me to thinking.  How do some people know how to hold their face to look good in pictures?

I remember a few years back when Tyra Banks had a talk show and did a show about having a good picture taken.  But I couldn't remember the substance of the episode.

So off to Google I went.

And I found this article from Reader's Digest.  So I decided to play around a bit with some of the tips.  I picked 1,2, and 7 since I think I can most easily remember and practice these steps.

So now I have this perfect opportunity to take a bunch of selfies!  I've certainly taken many selfies over the past few years...

So what would happen if I started utilizing these new steps?

I tilted my head forward and lowered my chin and put my tongue behind my teeth and angled my body and stared just above the lens and...

And then I laughed at myself.

And when I looked at the pic I snapped while laughing at myself... I saw my uneven eyes and my extra chin and a lot of gums.  So I tried again.

Not bad, eh?

Now, my standard will still be that I far prefer natural moments simply captured with a camera.  It's how I take pictures - I rarely ask people to stand still and smile and say cheese.  But when the opportunities come up where I need to stand still, smile, and say cheese... I have some techniques in my back pocket to use and have a picture turn up that might look more like myself.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Child of God

Being a child of God has been a bit of a theme in my life lately - I seem to be hearing the phrase quite often.

It was in my pastor's sermon on Father's Day - with the message being that any child you know deserves to be given the message that they are a child of God.

On the radio when the message was given that I am a unique and loved and valued child of God.

And it got me thinking...

I've talked about and written about and even preached about the importance of seeing yourself as a miracle, lvoing yourself and being kind to yourself.

I've talked and written about loving others and how that needs to be all encompassing.

But this child of God thing seems to suddenly cover all of that in a new way.

It struck me...

I am a valued and loved and cherished and adored child of God.

And I need to let others know that they are also a valued, loved, cherished and adored child of God.

Even if they don't believe in God.

That doesn't mean I need to go to my Muslim friends, my atheist friends, my Buddhist friends and tell them and preach at them and try to convert them.  That part might come later - that part is really between them and God.

But how I live my life, how I regard myself, how I raise my children, and how I treat others is the primary way that I can show God to people around me.

If my mindset is correct... I should be regarding every person around me as a valued, loved, cherished, and adored child of God.  Not once they live by the rules I think are right.  Not when I determine they are only committing the "right" sins.  Not once they come to my church.  Not after they are baptized in MY faith.

Right now.  All the time.

That guy on the corner of the off ramp that I see every day?  He's dirty and scraggly and holding a cardboard sign asking for money.  Some people tell me that he's probably an alcoholic or drug addict, that he's getting this free money and then driving home in his Cadillac.  But God tells me... "I love him."  He is cherished.  All I need to see when I come across this man is that he is God's child - even if he doesn't know it or understand it.

The woman at work who lives a life of complaining and negative attitude and bitching and yelling.  She's always angry, always on the verge of tears, always at an emotional 10.  Some people tell me that I need to avoid her, that she makes anyone who talks to her look bad, that she is spewing hateful things about me behind my back.  But God tells me... "I love her."  She is adored.  All I need to see when I encounter this woman is that she is God's child - even if she is broken and hurting and can't feel His love in her life.

My online friend who is of a different faith- Muslim or atheist or Buddhist or agnostic.  Some people tell me that I need to convert that person, I need to preach at that person, I need to witness to that person, I need to thump my Bible at that person.  God does the saving, I do the living and I witness with my life.  Some people say that these friends, who don't claim Christianity as their way of living, as their way to God, won't be saved, won't go to heaven, won't have everlasting life.  But God tells me... "I love them."  All I need to see when I am chatting with these friends is that they are all children of God - no matter what their belief system and no matter how God is working to bring them into His fold.

My real life friend who is trying to love all people but still holds judgements on the poor, the hungry, the immigrant, the gay person, the sinner.  The friend who wants to love everyone and recognizes that this is what Jesus taught and maybe doesn't see that intentions and actions don't mesh.  Some say this person is a bad example of Christianity, this person is a hypocrite, isn't a "real" Christ Follower.  But God tells me... "I love them."  All I need to see when I am talking to these people is that they are children of our Heavenly Father - even as they struggle and fight and seek.

There is a theme here.  One that I hope I am already living consistently.  One that I know I've talked about.

There's another buzz word here.


No matter what society tells me about others, no matter what my "religion" tries to tell me about others, no matter what the media tries to tell me about others...

Only one truth remains.

All people are children of God.  Even if they don't see it, feel it, or believe it.  And my response to any person should be to regard them with the love and respect that I know is their right as a child of God.  Not pity.  Not judgement.  Not pious.  Not shaming, blaming.  Not being "better than."

And maybe someday an opportunity will come up where I can share with someone... about my faith, about my relationship with God, and knowing that they are already a valued, loved, cherished, and adored child of God.  Maybe someday, someone else will have that opportunity.  Maybe God will work in other ways, through other religions, through other spiritual journeys to reach these people... That's God's job, not mine.

Even if you believe that a person doesn't become a child of God until they claim Christ... we can still choose to see each and every person as a potential child of God... and why would any of us want to squash that potential by being hateful, cruel, judgemental towards that potential, towards that creation?

So what is my job, my role, my purpose, my witnessing?

It is through my life.  Through my words and writing.  Through the love I hope I am sharing.  Through the choices I make each day that other people see or are touched by.

It's when I live a life where I truly seek to encounter every person in my day as valued, loved, cherished and adored... that's when I'm truly doing God's work.

It isn't easy.  What is easy is seeing other people's choices and deciding that what they are doing is obviously going to be wrong, going to be harmful, going to fail.  What's easy is standing on the outside, looking in, and judging.  What's easy is pitying and looking down.  Because then I feel more secure in my own rightness.  My own value.

But my value comes from a higher source.  And once I realize that and accept that and live that... it becomes easier to overlook the bad choices, the anger, the hardships, the attitudes of others and focus on seeing them the way God sees them.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Reading

Teagan has become quite the reader.

If she is at home, you will rarely find her without a book in her hand or within reach.

She is currently a big fan of the Geronimo Stilton series, the Cam Jansen series, and books about puppies.  She's also eager to get her hands on more of the Absolutely Lucy series.

We signed up for the library's summer reading program and are logging the books she reads.  She's also signed up for her school's participation in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge and we will be logging minutes read.

She wakes up at 5:30 in the morning, shuts her door, turns on her lamp, and reads for 30-45 minute or more each morning.

She comes home and grabs a book.  She reads before going to bed.  She brings a book in the car.  Sometimes, we let her read while out to dinner.

Reading is also one of the best tools for getting her to snap out of a bad attitude.

My daughter is a reader - and proving to be a rather voracious one, at that.

Our last trip to the library meant a 15 book haul for my girl.  We go to the library weekly and I'm curious to see how many books she will have devoured.  Most impressive, to me, is that she retains and comprehends. I can ask her about the books she's read (and reread) and she can tell me about the plot and characters and favorite parts.

I also spent the last few weeks reading the first Harry Potter book to both kids and they really enjoyed it.  Now the book will be handed over to Teagan so she can reread it at her leisure.

I'd love your suggestions for an 8-9 year old girl who is really getting into reading!  Here is a list I've started. The starred items are books I want to read first or read with her - either because of more serious subject matter or because of my own recollections of reading that book!

Babymouse: Queen of the World
Babysitters Club
Cinderella Smith
Hotel for Dogs
Glory Be *
Wonder *
Because of Winn Dixie *
Bunnicula *
Freckle Juice *
How To Train Your Dragon *
Harriet the Spy *
Pippi Longstocking *
The Borrowers *

Zach is on on the summer reading, too.  We are picking up picture books for him on our weekly journeys to the library and he is participating in the library's summer reading program, too.  He isn't reading on his own yet but between Teagan reading to him from her Geronimo Stilton books and story books we find for her to read to him, the books I pick out to read to him, and the kid version comics that he and Daddy read, he is well on his way to being a reader like the rest of his family.

And the total silver lining is that I am finding that I'm getting back to reading!  Over the couple weeks, I've  already finished up 4 books - the last 2 books in the Sookie Stackhouse series and a book called "Saving Max" and "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children."  I have 3 more books sitting at home from the library.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Disney: Journal and Notes

We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside in a Royal Room (kids loved the fireworks headboards). Future visit, I'd like to be closer to a park (Caribbean Beach Resort, for example).

First night, we did Chef Mickey's. Won't do that again. It was too much to have a day of travel and then hit the ground running and deal with transportation and everything. Next visit- check into the hotel and then just chill, hit the pool, etc.  It was fun to meet characters - but the dinner was late, the kids were tired and it was the one time we had a less-than-friendly server.  Add to it the frustration of a long wait for a bus back to our room and it was just a really long and late night for a quick and so-so dinner.
We did 1 park per day and would do Park Hopper next time. We were up and at 'em for Epcot on Weds and it would have been better to take that morning to ease into the day. Maybe hit Animal Kingdom first since it's more shows and entertainment and a zoo like feel - less new and overwhelming.  Animal Kingdom also closes earlier and doesn't have the late night entertainment - we were done with the park well before it closed.  So I think it's ideal for a first park or less-than-full-day option.
Day 1 was EPCOT.  We didn't start having actual fun as a family until the evening at Epcot - after a midday rest. Table service at Coral Reef for dinner helped set the tone for a good evening.  But the morning was rough.  The kids were overwhelmed and tired.  They had their own expectations for what Disney is supposed to be... and who knows if it met their expectations or not.  I didn't stick to my plan and that was also a problem.  Instead of going for Fastpasses right away, we went to the Seas area.  It was a great area to start out in but with each kid taking turns having snit fits and such... it wasn't as awesome as it could have been.  We liked the Nemo ride.  We loved Turtle Talk with Crush.  Zach and I loved the aquarium area - Teagan was less impressed and busy having a mini-meltdown with Dad.

Zach had a meltdown at our snack stop at Seasons.  A fly landed nearby.  And he fell apart.  Big crocodile tears.  it was the beginning of what felt like the end.  Disappointment abounded as we tried to do Captain EO (both kids had to be removed from the theatre) and then tried to do Journey into Imagination with Figment but it broke down.  We headed toward World Showcase, picking up the Agent P mission along the way - which was not a hit with the kids.  However, the 3 Caballeros ride in the Mexico pavilion was a huge hit.  We grabbed lunch in China.  We enjoyed some fun in Italy with Sergio.

Then a quick ride on a Friendship Boat and back to the resort for a desperately needed rest time.  Back to Epcot for dinner at Coral Reef.

You can see that some of us were NOT having a good time...

But we got over it and ended up enjoying Epcot after a lovely dinner.  Unfortunately, we learned (too late) that many of the rides close at 7:00 so I missed my chance to ride Soar'n or Living with the Land.  However, Teagan became a big fan of Spaceship Earth (the ride inside the big ball).

Day 2 was Magic Kingdom and it was great all around. Midday rest again. Got there early (before park opened at 8 for Extra Magic Hours). Hit Mommy's plan exactly so we got to do the major things right away and utilized Fastpass for things. We really learned how to make Fastpass work for us! No table service this day - just did counter service at the park for lunch (Cosmic Ray's) and at the resort for a late dinner (came home before dark, though).

Teagan was chosen to play Belle's father, Maurice, in the telling of the story of how Belle and Beast met.

Tilting at windmills in It's A Small World

My Prince Charming!

One of the best snack credits we spent!

Loved riding the train around Magic Kingdom!

Zach especially loved the Country Bear Jamboree!

Day 3 was Hollywood Studios and Star Wars Weekend. Fun to see the characters around but didn't feel like there was much super special about the Star Wars thing. Didn't feel like there was a lot for us to do at HS - maybe when the kids are older. Missed the backlot tour and the lights, motor show and Beauty and the Beast show and want to do those next time. Had our awesome magic moment when the kids got picked to be Junior Directors and kick off the Indiana Jones Stunt Show! Left before the Hyper Space Hoopla and missed out on Fantasmic. Dinner was Sci Fi Drive In Theater - enjoyed it.
We did, however, love Toy Story Mania.  We also really loved the Magic of Animation area.  Jeff would have spent the day in the Animation Academy.  His drawing of Mickey Mouse was awesome!  This was also a great place to meet characters - Mickey, Mr. Incredible, Wreck It Ralph and Venelope, and Pluto!  Teagan and Dad enjoyed the Muppets 3D experience (Zach was overwhelmed by it so we had to leave).  
I felt most lost in Hollywood Studios.  It seemed like it was hard to know where to go and how to get around.  Plus, it was VERY crowded (due to Star Wars Weekend).  We tried to play in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground and couldn't hardly move through the space so bailed on it quickly.
However, the most important lesson I learned came from Hollywood Studios so that alone was worth it.  
Stitch stole Zach's hat!

Day 4 was Resort Day. Slept in, went to Downtown Disney on a boat, bought souvenirs, came back to hit the pool and thunderstoms rolled in so we hit the arcade instead. Lunch at Portobello's Downtown. Dinner at the resort.
Day 5 was Animal Kingdom. Tusker House for breakfast/lunch. Liked the animals (like our Zoo experiences better - safari was fun but you zip through. We like to stay still and watch the animals and feel like Indy and Cincy and Louisville Zoo all get you way closer to the animals). Loved the shows (Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical) and the parade.

That's me in the red shirt and the hat - dancing to the african drums!

Jeff - checking out Goofy's bum

Teagan participating in Goofy's little parade around Tusker House

Yup - we're the family that snuck a pic of Rafiki's blue bum and totally laughed about it!

She was pretending to be scared - this lizard really enjoyed getting attention up by the glass!

Parade - Zach was excited to see Donald and give commentary on Donald's float.  Had we known how much he'd love the parade, we would have hit the parades in each park!

Day 6 we did breakfast at 1900 Park Fare and then flew home.  Love this character meal - Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland (who talks 90 mph and did a great bit at our table about not eating the biscuits because they make you grow).
Next time, I'd most likely add some days so we had more rest and recovery time. Fly in, quiet evening, easy morning, hit a park for dinner and fireworks. Now I know about the dinner and Fantasmic packages at Hollywood Studios, for example. Would totally do that next time.
Favorite restaurants - Coral Reef and Portobello and Sci Fi and Tusker House. Really liked all of those. Not sure I'd repeat any of them - just because I would want to have different experiences next time.
Favorite attractions - loved the shows at Animal Kingdom. Loved Enchanted Tales with Belle and loved watching Zach fall in love with Country Bear Jamboree and It's A Small World. Loved that Teagan was eager to be brave. Loved that Zach used glow sticks and bracelets to combat fear of dark rides. Loved that Teagan fell in love with the classics like Carousel of Progress and Spaceship Earth. Loved that Zach "won" on the Buzz Lightyear ride (highest score in our family). Loved watching Jeff crack up in the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. Loved that Teagan and Jeff did Haunted Mansion together and that Teagan had been so excited for it and fell in love with it.
I don't have any particular favorite rides - I skipped over the things I would have loved like Space Mountain and the coasters and the more thrilling rides. I am the only one in my family that would go for that. I wish we could have enjoyed Epcot more - we missed Soar'n and Living with the Land and Jeff wanted to do Mission:Space. We also missed Journey into Imagination because it broke down - boo! I wanted to see Figment!
Totally loved the movie at Hollywood Studios about Walt Disney's life. Kids loved it, too. We wanted to go back and watch it again but ran out of time and energy. I had to miss out on the Muppets experience because we learned that Zach cannot handle anything 3D without a freak out.
The main way we kept the kids happy - dry feet, distraction, and feeding them regularly.
Future character meal - Crystal Palace (all the Pooh friends), Akershus (princesses), Garnde Grill (Chip and Dale and Mickey and Pluto).
Future restaurant plans - dinner and a show combos for Fantasmic and for IllumiNations. Also, had to cancel our Ohana reservation because it was WAY too late. Killed me to cancel it - it was one of my top things I wanted to do. So it's top of the list for next time.

Jeff's observation was that he felt like we were overly scheduled for being on vacation.  So planning more down time would be good.  He understood that to eat at certain places, a reservation was really necessary.  But it felt like the reservations drove us on too much of a schedule.

So that's it - a basic run down of our trip and our observations!  Jeff and I would love to go back on a "just us" trip - the kids totally cramped our style.  And a future family trip might happen in a few years - when both kids are more adventurous!