"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday....Pinterest Pictures

I have no idea what happens on Pinterest, so I'm posting castle pics. Be sure to check out Focused On the Magic's Wordless Wednesday Page for more from people who have a clue :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday.... Disney Time

Be sure to save TIME for all the other picture posts over at Focused on the Magic :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Run, Kelly! Run!

Almost exactly three years ago, our lives were enriched by the addition of a new friend. Kelly Gottsman walked into our house one night in early January of 2010 on the arm of my best pal Micheal Howard. We ate chocolate fondue and talked for a few hours, just the five of us, and when Michael and Kelly left, my wife and I turned to each other and made bets on when the wedding would be. You'd have had to know Michael at the time to know how outlandish the idea had been hours before, but we'd witnessed the magic of two people meant for each other that night, and as holders of that torch ourselves, we recognized it. Eight months later, the Doctors Howard were married and living Happily Ever After. They totally beat both our guesses.

Kelly is the one without the top hat :)
I was going to say Kelly is larger than life, but she'd probably take that as a joke about her height. Instead I'll say she is one of the most completely ALIVE people I've ever met. She IS tall, taller than me and I'm over six feet. It was hard to tell at first because Kelly is fond of heels, but one night standing next to her, both at the kitchen counter chopping veggies, both barefoot, I saw she had me by a good half inch. Yes, within weeks we were at the barefoot in their house helping cook dinner without being asked stage of friendship. That's the kind of person Kelly is. She is also drop dead gorgeous. The boys in our little social group, all around 10 at the time, had goo goo eyes. She also has the most awesome sense of humor EVER. Maybe I say that because it is often rooted in the meanest sarcasm ever, much like my own, but I love it that way. She is also one of the smartest people I've ever run across. I have some very smart friends and relatives and had some genius professors in college, and I'd put Kelly's mind up against any of them. She pulls up facts and data like a computer and that thing YOU think to say a day after the argument has ended comes to HER right then. It isn't fair, really, but isn't her fault, she's just that way. She uses her powers for good, usually, and helped save my sanity and that of my sister and family just a couple months after meeting me. She didn't know these people, yet she was there with expertise and advise and comfort and while I won't go into the details, I'll say I won't ever forget it and can't ever repay her for it. And that's just what she is to me and my family. She worked a miracle on Michael and his son. You ever want to meet the real life Mary Poppins, I'll introduce you. But Kelly is really much better than Mary Poppins. For one she is real, as real as you can get. And what's best, she didn't leave when she had worked her magic. She may not have a talking umbrella, but she has magic just the same.

Last year was a tough one for Kelly. The problem with being a real life Mary Poppins is that sometimes real life comes up and bites ya in the ass. She had some health problems that didn't look like they'd ever leave, and then she lost her father to cancer, actually a form of leukemia. Earl Gottsman was awesome. He is the source of Kelly's height, and from what I knew of him and have found out since his death also her kindness and love and generosity and good humor. He was a college professor and sometimes administrator. Even into retirement, he was an adult league softball star. He was friendly and accepting and threw himself into Kelly's new family (which happily includes us) with vigor and enthusiasm and love. He adored Kelly and was incredibly proud of her and he was her Daddy and he was too young to die, yet he did. Devastating.

Kelly was sad. You'd have to know happy Kelly to understand how heartbreaking that is. But Kelly, amongst everything else, is a fighter. She proudly claims to "never half-ass" and she lives up to that better than anyone I know. Kelly has decided to honor her dad by raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by running the Disney World Half Marathon this weekend. Kelly was a runner in high school and maybe college, and she was fast. She says she wants to get her fast back. Hell yeah, Kelly! She has raised $3800 so far and if you'd like to add to that total, there is still time. Her fundraising page has a blog that is funny and inspiring and also features a link to easily donate by credit card. It's on the right hand side. The big button that says "DONATE NOW". Hee hee :)

Kelly hopes to finish in under two hours, which is good time, I understand. She explains it this way, in perfect Kelly fashion,

When I ran this race 10 years ago, my finish time was 2 hours and 39 minutes. Provided the course hasn't changed to include running up Space Mountain, I'm confident that my 32 year old self could dust my 22 year old self by a solid 40 minutes.

Anyone looking down the barrel of getting older has got to admire that. She's awesome, see?

I'm looking forward to Saturday morning. I'm going to wake up at 5:30 am to "be there" in spirit at least for the start. Kelly thinks she can work out a way for me to track her progress through the race online, and I hope she does. I'll do it. I'll be her cheering section back home. Michael is going to be a "ChEAR" person on site. That term is too cute. So too cute it even makes a dedicated Disney Geek want to hurl, but that's what they call it. He'll get to see the start at Epcot, then get on a monorail for the Magic Kingdom where he will get to see her run through the Cinderella Castle, the half-way point of the race, before heading back to Epcot to see the finish. It all sounds so cool. I'm so happy for and proud of both of them. I'm beyond thrilled that this is all happening at DISNEY!!!! All I needed was further proof the place is really magic, right?

Via con Dios, Doctors Howard. Have a great time, be proud and be safe. I love you both.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

One Year of Pooh Sticks

One year ago this week I began this blog. I have to say, with all humility, that it really has become exactly what I wanted it to be. From the very first post--

Disney, for those of us who love it, can truly make all the stress and bad and worries of the real world go totally away. It's a haven, a sanctuary, one of the last truly magical places left. I was thinking how great it would be to carry at least a bit of that feeling with us even when we were stuck here in the real world. So that, too, is what I plan to write about, living a happy and magic-filled life no matter where we are and what is happening around us.

I think that's happened. Writing this blog has helped me to concentrate on the good, to seek out the happy for celebration and sharing with whoever wants to visit. One thing that has surprised me is that people do want to visit. I had expected to write this mostly for my own amusement. I knew the lovely and talented Lisa would read it because she's my biggest fan and most steadfast supporter. She also pushes me to write, which I appreciate more than I say.  I thought my friend Jen would read it both because she's a good friend and because she's a huge Disney Geek herself. Beyond that, I didn't expect much. As it turns out, this little blog now gets about 500 "hits" per month. I don't really promote it beyond links on Facebook, so most of them are strangers led to my ramblings by the magic of Google.

I admit to being probably a little over-fascinated by the whole google search finding my blog thing. I love looking at the search terms used. Some make perfect sense, like "Fort Wilderness," some are silly, like "Goofy's Head," and one scared me into changing the way I write. I get found by people looking for poutine recipes, by people interested in the sinking of the Bounty and by people looking for pictures of Uriah Heep. None of these things have anything obviously to do with Disney, much less Winnie the Pooh's favorite game, yet these paths lead to me just the same. I think that's kind of cool.

I looked, out of curiosity, to see which posts got the most hits over this last year, and I was very impressed by the list. It's pretty much the posts I'd WANT the most people to see.  So, here are the ten most popular Pooh Sticks posts, just in case anyone else is as dorky about this stuff as I am.

#10-- Remembering Fort Wilderness---Fort Wilderness posts made the list twice. The place has a loyal following and I posted pictures, which tends to draw lots of hits. My mom will be particularly thrilled this got attention as it features a picture of her 20-something self in a bikini ;)

#9-- Relaxing At Disney---I really don't know what drew people to this. Usually there are key words or subjects that I can tell will garner a lot of searching, but nothing in here sticks out. I'm attributing it to magic, because this is a post about my favorite day EVER in a Disney park.

#8-- Dickens Diary 4...Being Uriah Heep---This one gets hit by people searching for pictures of Uriah Heep. I suppose these are English majors or high school students doing research. I'm glad it made the list because it represents my entrance into the world of theater in 2012.

#7-- C Is For.....Cinderella Castle---Ahh, the ill-fated alphabet blogging attempt. This gets attention because people search the words "Cinderella Castle" a lot and because there are pictures associated. I'm happy to see it because it was one of the posts that was Lisa's idea. She inspires me in ways large and small and sometimes has no idea she's doing it, so it's perfect that this post ended up here.

#6-- Mickey's Toontown Fair Memories (and pictures)---Mickey's Toontown Fair was destroyed this year to be replaced by Storybook Circus, and that put the words in the news. By the way, Jen, I'm still waiting for those dozens of pictures you said in the comments you'd email me....... ;)

#5-- Goodbye HMS Bounty-- This was a late post to get so many hits. It's from very late October and still made the top 5. I used the names of the sailors killed and that generated a lot of hits, and also I just think this story affected people like it did me, which is nice to see.

#4-- F Is For....Fort Wilderness--- It's the bikini picture again. Sorry mom ;)

#3-- Pin Codes and Disney Visa and Free Dining...Oh MY!!!!--- I have to admit, part of me was trying to see how many hits using those three terms in the title would generate. "Pin Codes," "Disney Visa" and "Free Dining" are discussed ad naseum among the Disney blog community. But as an added bonus, in rereading this post last night, I remembered one more reason Jen helped to make our 2012 magical, she alerted me to the discount that made our best vacation ever possible. Thanks, you ;)

#2-- A (Almost) Teen In The Kingdom---Here's another I can't figure out. I'm hoping the word "teen" isn't drawing pervs. I'm again going to credit Disney Magic making my post about having the best son in the world my second most viewed. I wish all the world would read this. John deserves the recognition.

#1-- Disney Is Hiring Heroes---This deserves this spot, it deserves more than a view a day, it SHOULD be read by lots of people. I believe and feel every word of this that much. And it also includes in the comments some of the kindest words from a friend. I'm sure she doesn't remember saying it, and God only knows if she'd say it now, but it made me happy. And still does.

That's a great note to leave 2012 and enter 2013.

SEMPER FIDELIS, Dad, and to anyone else reading, thank you :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday....January Calendar Shot

Here is my January Calendar Shot. Could it be any other?

Be sure to check out all the other ways to begin a Magical year over at Focused On The Magic

Win Some Disney Time

Disney is giving away a trip a day each day in January. It's a 5 day/4 nighter, I believe and offers a choice of fun extras. Head over to the contest website and check it out! I know I'll be faithfully entering each and every day :)