Archive of ‘Chasing Happiness’ category

A Visit to the “Happiest Place on Earth”

Ahhhh, Disney World. A world full of magic. Where smiles are constant, families are relaxed, and stress is nowhere to be found.

Wait. What?

I’ve just come back from there, and I wouldn’t describe it as pure magic. I would describe it as often magical, frequently stressful, and, every once in a while, temper tantrum-inducing.

Oh. And I was the one throwing most of the tantrums.

First, the magical bits

Seeing Tori’s reaction as she met her favorite princesses was amazing. Seriously. My heart nearly burst out of my chest when I saw the joy on  her face.

Tori meet Cinderella

You see, to her, they’re still real. Princesses are real. Minnie and Mickey are real. The Be Our Guest restaurant really is the Beast’s castle. The reason Rapunzel’s blonde is because her hair grew back. And Belle? Really does go back in time every time Enchanted Tales with Belle begins again.

belle and tori

Every little girl should get to go to Disney while she’s still young enough to believe.

There were other magical moments, too, of course. Riding with her on The Barnstormer (a mini roller coaster). Having giraffes walk by while we ate dinner (Sanaa). Watching her daddy spin her around the floor as they danced at the Biergarten. Seeing the fireworks at Cinderella’s castle.

All amazing.

And, of course, I super puffy heart love the world showcase at Epcot. The buildings are gorgeous. The food is terrific. And hello? There are margarita stands (not that I ever got one).

us at epcot

 Now for the stressful bits

A Disney vacation requires more planning than a military invasion (or at least that’s the way it felt).  You have to make your dinner reservations (ADRs for short), months in advance. Get your Fast Passes (i.e. ride reservations) weeks ahead of time.  And then you have to make it to all of those places. On time.

That meant there was no room for carefree, let’s-see-what’s-around-this-bend adventures. I had a watch, an app, and a determination to “do it right.”

I don’t operate very well in that mode. In fact, I tend to turn into a bit of a bitch.  And when buses are late, or children are dragging their feet, or husbands are spending too much time in the bathroom, my claws come out.

And just so you know, buses are frequently late. And it takes waaaay longer to get places than you think it should. And it’s not nearly as easy to figure out where you’re going as you’d hope it would be.

And kids? Just want to go to the pool. Or at least mine did…when she wasn’t meeting princesses.

the shirts bri made

See those yellow shirts? My husband made them. Tori had one. She knew how hard her daddy worked on them. But guess what? She refused to wear hers.

So, would you do it again?

Still, all in all, I am super glad we did it.  And I would go back. Especially if I could get my room upgraded to a courtyard view at the Wilderness Lodge again.

the wilderness lodge at night

I have had lots of vacations. And I will go on lots more. But Tori will never again be this young, or believe in magic this much. It was the perfect time to take her to Disney World.

But next time we head out of town? We’re going to the beach.





Thursday Night Magic.

It was Thursday. Dance class night. Unfortunately, dance class was cancelled, because, well, these Hoosiers, they’re pretty afraid of winter weather. And word on the street was we were in for a doozy of a storm  (even though all we’d seen up to that point was a little slushy rain).

So, in an attempt to cheer her up, I told her we’d go to Kohls (second only to Target in her book).

We spent a good hour in that commercial Christmas wonderland, buying a few things we needed and a bunch we didn’t. We had fun, but we were both getting a little tired and cranky. I rushed out the doors, wanting nothing more than to get home.

Then we stepped outside into a swirling, twirling wonderland of white.

A snowy night scene by khazeth:

“Look, Tori, snow!” I crowed.

She took a good look, and when she realized what was falling around her? Well, the look on her face was pure magic. She literally glowed with happiness.

She put her arms out  and did a little spin, giggling madly.

“It’s snowing, mommy! Snow!”

“I know! It’s pretty, isn’t it?”

She couldn’t stop laughing. Sticking out her tongue, she said, “it tastes like cold!”

So I stuck mine out too.

And it did. It tasted cold.

Before I knew it, I was laughing just as hard as she was.

We twirled and giggled on our way across the empty parking lot, feasting on the sight of the magical sky glitter gleaming in the spotlights.  By the time we finally made it to our car, it too was covered in a light dusting of snow.

“Look, mommy, the car’s wearing a sparkly dress!” she crowed.

“It sure is. Maybe if we get inside, it’ll take us to Cinderella’s castle.”

“Do you really think so?”

I smiled. “Nope. But you are about to turn into a pumpkin. It’s past your bedtime. Let’s get you home, snow princess.”

“Awwww, mom,” she groaned.

“Aw nothing,” I said. “You’ve got to get a good sleep if you want to go outside and build snowmen tomorrow.”

“We can build a snowman?”

“Several. Unless you turn into a pumpkin first.”

“Yay, let’s go home,” she said, clapping her hands.

So I bundled her into her car seat and snuggled a blanket around her. But before I could pull away, she grabbed my face with her chilly little hands and looked earnestly into my eyes.


“Yeah, sweetie?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, honey.”

“And Mommy?”


“I love snow, too.”

“It is pretty great,” I answered, giving her a kiss on the forehead. “But you know what?”


“I love you the most,” I said, and shut her door.

While walking around to my car door, I sent a silent thank you out to the universe for sending me my Tori.

Magic is all around us.  But as grown ups, we forget how to see it. It takes a child to remind us how.

I think they’re a little bit magic too.

Fifteen Years.

Fifteen years ago today, I put on a poofy white dress, click clacked down the aisle in my sassy white sandals, and married the love of my life.

Standing there in the light-filled altar, with joy bubbling up through every cell of my body, I was sure I could never be more in love with the man standing next to me than I was at that moment.

I was wrong.

It grows every time he pushes me out into the air, encouraging me to fly when I’m not sure I can.

And every time he holds me close, soothing my hurts and chasing away whatever’s troubling me.

It grows each time we work together to solve a problem that seems to have no solution.

And every time we spend an evening weaving dreams and inventing possibilities.

It grows when he gives all of himself to our daughter, teaching and playing and shaping the person she will become.

And when he withdraws into himself, brain clicking as he creates, invents, and tinkers (even as I roll my eyes).

It grows in ways both small and big, through choices both conscious and instinctive.

It never stops. It never falters. It is the one thing I can depend on even when the ground is shaking under my feet.

It’s been 15 years  since we declared our love in front of God, our friends and family, and everyone else who cared to listen.

And I’m quite sure our hearts will still be declaring their love, silently, but with every beat, through all the days of our lives.

Happy Anniversary to you, my love.


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