It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Legos & Cookies

Adventures with Legos and cookies today. My awesome staff gave me the Disneyland Main Street Station at the conclusion of our Wood Badge course in September and I finally opened up the packaging to begin this afternoon. I got the engine built for the train today and will build the rest over the next week. I also got the second batch of my favorite Norwegian Christmas cookies made today (the last kind of several types I make). I've been making them for 28 years now since my grandmother died, and have been excited to see Matthew learn how to make a couple of the different varieties this year. Traditions can be cool, especially when they get passed on to the next generation.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Candlelight at Disneyland

December 21, 1958 – Disneyland – Anaheim, CA

Disneyland presents the very first  Candlelight Processional Parade. Hosted by actor Dennis Morgan, it is performed on Main Street, U.S.A. and in Town Square. The event was conceived by Dr. Charles Hirt of the University of Southern California School of Music and features a large choir from schools invited from around Southern California to proceed down Main Street while singing Christmas carols prior to the re-telling of the birth of Jesus in front of the Train Station in Town Square.  (This event will become a Christmas-season tradition at the park, and later be copied at Walt Disney World in 1971, where it would also become a Christmas-season tradition).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday Trivia - it's a small world holiday

Since 1997, Disneyland has been delighting guests with the super popular seasonal transformation of the quintessential Disney theme park attraction, it's a small world with it's a small world holiday.  The overlay isn't just to the exterior as seen above however - but is completed on the inside as well, including a specially modified soundtrack incorporating "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls" into the traditional it's a small world melody.  Now into it's 16th season, this park tradition is a more than just a fan-favorite, it's definitely a reason to visit the park!  Below enjoy some fun facts and a video that were originally shared & published on the Disney Parks Blog last year on December 7, 2011. 

it's a small world holiday fun facts, 
as originally published and shared on the Disney Parks Blog, Dec. 7, 2011

  • “it’s a small world” Holiday – The holiday version of this Disneyland classic debuted in 1997. The original attraction was inspired by Mary Blair’s storyline: a group of housebound kids on a rainy day create an international art project using all their dolls, toys and decorations.
  • All That Glitters – Each holiday season, an estimated 50,000 Christmas lights are installed on the façade. The breathtaking and intricate lighting design calls for six brilliant colors that interplay with clear twinkling lights. The nighttime splendor comes aglow with more than 300,000 watts of light.
  • Yuletide Treats & Merry Surprises – As you float along the canals of Europe, the scent of freshly cut pine lingers near a 20-foot Christmas tree in a scene that pays homage to “The Nutcracker.” The sweet smell of candy canes will tantalize as you pass by Italy’s hanging candies. (Both are enhanced aromas, added to the attraction.) Merry bubbles float down as you voyage through the South Seas, where a plate of fish has been left out “for Santa” (by Ariel and the mermaids).
  • A Sparkling Seasonal Wish – Wishing you “Happy Holidays” in the attraction’s final scene is a 14-foot sparkling snowman, dressed in his wintery best with a gold top hat, golden scarf, and hundreds of twinkling lights. A frosty snowflake mobile twirls over his head, flickering with an icy translucent glow. The snowman’s “Happy Holidays” sign is a jolly sight, too. It’s sculpted out of ice that changes color.
  • Storage Space – 100 percent of the holiday overlay props and scenic elements used are actually stored inside the attraction all year ‘round!
  • Up On The Housetop – Santa’s reindeer can fly to the top, but the elves that make holiday magic at “it’s a small world” Holiday use four high-reaching lifts, including one that stretches to 80 feet into the air. Riggers repel off the back wall using special safety rope access.
  • Secret Elf Society – It takes 12 Technical Services cast members 5 nights a week for 7 weeks (35 days!) to install the glittering yuletide façade. Inside the attraction it takes more than 20 Technical Services cast members 18 days in a row to decorate the holiday attraction’s dazzling interior!
  • “Fa La La La La” – The attraction’s soundtrack is a merry mix of “Jingle Bells” and “Deck The Halls” in counterpoint with the classic “it’s a small world” tune. Children’s voices sing along in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Scandinavian languages. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the South Seas Mermaids singing their own holiday carol: “Jingle Shells.” Holiday greetings in many other languages – French Canadian, Dutch, Chinese, Asante (of Ghana) and Hawaiian to name a few – can be discovered on banners and signs throughout the entire attraction.
as reprinted from the Disney Parks Blog © Disney

Friday, December 14, 2012

Featured Foto Friday - It's a Small World Holiday

It's a Small World Holiday at Disneyland.  This seasonal overlay has been delighting guests for 16 years, with hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights and a specially customized revised soundtrack to the Sherman brothers classic song, It's a Small World After All, updated with Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time to Reflect

The Christmas season is definitely upon us.  From all of the in-store decorations that have been in many places since before Halloween, to the radio stations interspersing holiday tunes between their regular playlists, and the sights and smells around town.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and my favorite season of all.  It also reminds me that I’ve now been in business for myself for well over a full year.  While it has been a year filled with challenges, it has been a very rewarding year; a transformative year; a fun year. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve sighed a lot (often at my own dumb mistakes), and I’ve drawn a great deal on skills and experiences culled from more than 20 years working within corporate America – often in roles that I held more than a dozen years ago.

As a sales guy the past year and a half, I’ve had to take a different view of the various seasons of the year than I ever did before when I worked in an office simply crunching numbers for the various commercial loan packages that I put together for years.  It’s been a fun ride getting to know what to “push” and what not to push, learning the ins and outs and realizing that oftentimes what might be a “sure thing” doesn’t always prove to be so.  My opinion of a sure thing doesn’t really matter, as I’m working to provide a broader base of appeal.  What really floats one person’s boat might fall flat with someone else.  That is really one of the main reasons why I expanded beyond just offering Disney products and services last fall.  While I still personally LOVE the Disney brand and all of its parks and resorts – the reality is – despite there being such a huge market for Disney vacations, Disney does not comprise the largest share of my business.  It was a sad realization for a Disneyphile like me, that while my personal sphere of influence includes a great number of fellow Disneyphiles… my market share for Disney products is relatively small compared to the other travel products that I can sell.  So while I maintain my Disney Specialist hat, ready to talk to anyone who’ll listen about Disney parks and resorts, I have to provide opportunities to a much broader spectrum. 

So with that in mind, I’d love to invite you back to my website.  I’ve expanded & revamped it once again recently, and have a wide array of products and services that just might appeal to you and your individual travel needs.  Whether you’re looking for Group Travel for your crafting group, church or other social group that you belong to – a golf getaway – a skiing vacation – sporting event travel – faith-based travel – Destination Weddings or Honeymoons – and so much more… I can help.  Through my relationship as a franchisee of Cruise Planners, I have affiliations and relationships with properties and destinations around the globe, for just about any experience you’re looking for.  I’d love to help you plan your next vacation, and help you create memories that will last a lifetime. 
Use this link:

And finally, not to be without a little plug for some cool, limited time offers… Here’s a present that’s hard to resist – Norwegian’s 12 Days of Holiday Savings with different deals every day for 12 days.  I’ve got different deals every day for 12 days.  Be sure to check them out each day.  As I tell people so many times – you never know what deal will appeal to you and your needs. 

Until next time... Happy December!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Featured Foto Friday - Grand Californian Christmas Tree

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa  at the Disneyland Resort celebrates the Christmas / holiday season in grand style.  The soaring Christmas tree fills the center of the lobby each year, and is filled with beautiful decorations, themed with decorations celebrating the arts and crafts movement just as the hotel is designed in.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Thanksgiving to Christmas Transition and Family Time

Thanksgiving has now come and gone, and our attentions have been turned over to Christmas decorating and preparations.  The outside lights were installed a week or so ago, and finally turned on for the first time Thanksgiving night.  The inside decorations are being completed this weekend - we traditionally start Thanksgiving night by “un-decorating” all of the fall / Thanksgiving decorations, and pulling out the assorted boxes of Christmas decorations.  Some of the Christmas things start to appear that night, while most remain in boxes until Friday and Saturday.  As of last night, each of the boxes had effectively belched out their contents, and our dining table, which just 2 short days ago held a beautiful feast for the family to enjoy – now held a vast array of decorations, books, Christmas towels and pot holders to be moved around the house and placed into their respective spots for the next 5-6 weeks. 

The Christmas CD’s have been moved into a place of prominence too, as the sounds of the season fill our home daily.  And the various recipes that are traditionally only used at Christmas-time have started to come out for their annual incorporation into our cooking and baking regimen… soon the smells of Christmas will permeate our home as well. 
I love the Christmas season.  I always have.  Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  It’s always been a time to spend with family and loved ones.  A time to enjoy one another, and put aside many of the junk that goes on during the year. 

As a young person, my Christmases were always divided between both sides of the family.  We always spent Christmas Eve with my mother’s side of the family – my grandparents, great aunt & uncles and assorted cousins, and sometimes my aunt & uncle (my mom’s sister) and their girls. We would rotate between our house, my grandmother’s house and my great-aunt’s house (grandmother’s sister), as we all lived within just a few miles of each other.   Christmas Day was at home, and my grandparents (the same ones as Christmas Eve) would show up at our house around lunch time for the afternoon.   

We would also celebrate Christmas with my dad’s side of the family, but it was always either before or after Christmas, depending on my aunt & uncle’s (dad’s sister-in-law & brother) family schedule.  There we would see my aunt & uncle, and their boys, as well as my grandparents, and assorted great aunts & uncles.  Those gatherings are fond memories today as many of those beloved relatives are all long gone, not to mention the fact that 14 years ago my lovely bride and I moved out of California for the first time, leaving those types of family gatherings behind.  It’s just not possible to gather like that any longer when you live 2200+ miles away from the assorted family members. 

These days our family gatherings take place when family comes to us, or if we are able to transport ourselves back to California for a visit, which is typically not done at the holidays.  As my own family grew, my bride and I decided we wanted to be at home each year for Christmas, and in the 14 years of being in the Midwest, we’ve done just that for 13 of those years.  Only one time did we venture somewhere else, and that was in 2010 when we traveled back to California to spend Christmas there with her dad, who essentially dying of cancer (it was protracted, but did happen before Christmas rolled around again in 2011, so we were all glad we went).  Even our kids have determined the same thing – they all want to be home for Christmas.  Even their love of all parks Disney won’t sway them, and you won’t find us in a Disney theme park for Christmas.  We’re just homebodies that way, I guess.  But it’s a good thing.  We’ve created traditions, and the kids don’t want to forgo them.  I can definitely appreciate that, as I didn’t want to forgo the traditions I knew as a kid either.  There was a nice sense of stability and security in knowing that even though some things might modify each year, the holidays were going to be the same. 

This year marked the second year in a row that my folks have been with us for Thanksgiving.  It’s been a great visit, and we’ve had a lot of fun together, just hanging out and enjoying family time.  Last night we spent a couple of hours just playing UNO together.  The laughter around the table was contagious.  The smiles were genuine, and the memories being created were priceless.  I remember times just like that when I was a kid, sitting around the table playing UNO and other games with my grandparents.   I want my children to fondly remember their grandparents in the future when they have families of their own.  And I cherish every opportunity that we get. 

This year also marked a milestone for my kids and their grandparents, well – at least for my middle son – who has now surpassed his grandmother in height.  Yes, my son is now taller than my mother, and he is beaming about it.  He’s on his way to surpassing his own mother, but hasn’t made it just yet, but wow was he excited when he realized he was taller than his “Pama.”  Another rite of passage that I know he’ll remember for a long time. 

My daughter learned – or rather re-learned how to knit with this visit as well.  My mother taught her last year on their visit, but she quickly forgot after their departure home.  But this time she’s picked it up quickly and has been doing a great job with her Christmas present of a scarf for her American Girl doll.  She’s already started another project now, and thinks she won’t forget how as quickly this time around;  only time will tell, but it’s been fun to watch her emulate her grandmother so much in the creative arts.  My mother has sewn, knitted and crocheted all her life, spending her working years as a professional tailor.  Seeing my daughter take after her grandmother in some of those areas is pretty neat. 

My daughter has also been the featured "model" for my lovely bride's new Etsy shop, where she and my mother have teamed up to sell some of my mother's hand-crafted wares.  They offer a number of items for American Girl dolls and their mommies - or - little girls and their favorite dolls.  This really wasn't meant to be a pitch for their site, but the photography throughout the past week, and a couple of trips to the store so that mother could purchase more yarn for the projects she's been working on this week alone, and the new tubs filled with hats, sweaters and more taking up space in my house have all been part of my Thanksgiving weekend.  So with that said, if you have a little girl in your life who likes American Girl dolls, and you'd like to get something for her that is unique and not going to be found on the A.G. website, I invite you to take a moment and check out the shop here.

I love the holidays and have shared a few of my favorite things about them… what do you love about the holidays, and why?

Until next time,


Friday, November 4, 2011

Finally It's Friday!

The past year has been a big trial for my family and me - but even though several trials continue - I am so happy to say that it's FRIDAY!  I don't mean that in the typical, "thank God it's Friday" kind of way that so many in the workforce utter each and every week - but I am very pleased about this particular Friday.

Last year in August, my father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. As a lifelong non-smoker, the diagnosis took us all a bit by surprise. Never once did he even consider a cigarette or cigar. Yet he was afflicted with a form of cancer that typically afflicts smokers. When he was diagnosed, he was also told that his cancer was already Stage IV, which surprised us all as well.  WOW. 

In September my lovely bride flew west to spend 10 days with her dad - to be a helper, not really knowing what she might face while there since the original prognosis was that he had about 6 months or less to live.  But during that time, he seemed to get a bit better.  Upon her return, we started to plan and figure out how or when we might be able to get the family out there to see him before it was "too late."  We determined that Christmas break would be the time, and so we started to plan for a Christmas vacation in sunny Southern California.  While there we would be sure to visit my aunt in central California who has struggled with lymphoma for the past several years.  We loving dubbed the visit our California Cancer Tour. 

While in Southern California, celebrating Christmas, we went to the Disneyland Resort.  We stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel in a beautiful 2 BR villa, overlooking the Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure.  My father-in-law, the trooper that he was, came along and stayed with us for one night.  He didn't want to go down to the park to watch the then-still new World of Color show, but he was able to see it from the window of our villa, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. The next day - he went with us into Disneyland!  It was a crazy, crazy day for certain.  That particular day turned out to be the busiest day in park history.  A friend of mine who works there, visited with us at lunchtime while we ate (at Redd Rocket's Pizza Port) and told us that they were all afraid they would run out of food that day!  The ticket booths stopped selling tickets at 10am... the earliest they'd ever done that.  Crazy.  And we were there.  We didn't get on much that day due to the very, very long lines.  Even using the wheelchair entrance for Pirates, we had to wait over an hour (the regular line was between 2 & 3 hours) - and then we got stuck down in the jail scene of the attraction as it had broken down.  YO HO, YO HO kept playing for a good 20 minutes before finally they turned off the soundtrack, turned on the work lights, and started to evacuate everyone.  By the time we were out we'd been down there for 30 minutes.  All through it my father-in-law was such a trooper.

The months continued to pass, and his condition seemed to take a couple steps forward and then one backward.  My wife went out to Southern California again to spend another 10 days with him this past June.  While she was there - my grandmother, my final living grandparent, came very close to death.  We thought that Julie would be going to a funeral while visiting her dad.  While that didn't happen, my grandmother did die soon thereafter and I went out for a memorial service in mid-July.  I stayed with my father-in-law while out west, and his condition had markedly decreased since I'd last seen him in December. 

He kept telling us that he wanted to come out for a visit, but of course, that wasn't going to be possible.  We determined to get out there and spend some time with him - at least Julie and the kids.  I had a business trip for work scheduled for mid-October, so hopefully, we would be able to make it all come together and each of us is able to see him again.  Then in early September, another shoe in our crazy year dropped - I was now unemployed. Just a week before Julie and 2 of the kids were scheduled to fly west to spend time with her dad. 

We worked out the details, and by the end of September, my older son and I were on a plane heading west to spend some time with Esau.  My son only had 5 days excused from school, but he enjoyed the time with his grandpa. (We also took a day to go to Disneyland while there... it was fun).  My son had to return home, and I stayed on in California a few more days - when the younger kids and I all flew home.  The day that we flew home, my wife and her brother took Esau to the doctor for a check-up visit.  Upon their return home from the doctor, she told me that the doctor felt he had about 2 weeks or less to live.  That prognosis turned out to be true, as he left this life 8 days after my kids and I returned to Indiana.  Suddenly we were planning to go back to California for a funeral, which took place last weekend - a week ago tomorrow.

So why am I so happy it's FRIDAY?  I'm thrilled, because after 7 weeks away - my lovely bride is finally returning home to me, and to our kids. It was such a blessing to be able to "give her back" to her dad for a time when he really needed her... but it will be such a blessing to have her home once more.  I have spent 5 of the past weeks running the house as a "single dad" - all while seeking replacement income for what was lost in September - and it makes me appreciate her so much more than ever before.  She really does an awful lot, that as a homeschooling mom, goes entirely unpaid. She works just as hard, if not harder than most moms who work outside the home.  I feel for all of those single parents who have to "do it all" each and every day.  Especially when you throw in all of the taxi driving that we do for our VERY active teenager, our active pre-teen, and our just starting to get active, elementary student.  WOW.  It's not easy running here there and everywhere - making sure to keep those hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the vehicle (of life) at all times! 

I'm thrilled that it's Friday... my bride is currently on a plane heading east. I get to pick her up in a few hours, and all will be right at home once more.