Sunday, March 24, 2013

An Easter Bedtime Story

I've been telling my kids bedtime stories lately. Normally they're fine with me reading a story or just reciting one from memory, but no more. They now demand exciting new tales featuring all kinds of different characters doing daring deeds, and they want to be in the mix as well.

When I asked Annie what story she wanted tonight, she grabbed her Peter Pan and Tinkerbell dolls. And when I asked my son Peter what story he wanted tonight, he grabbed his Easter Mickey and Spiderman dolls, as well as his lightsaber toy... and said he wanted Captain Hook in the mix as well.

My kids are imaginative. And they sleep with way too many toys.

Anyway, I liked the story so much that I wanted to make sure to write it down so that I can expand on it in the future.

The Search for the Missing Easter Eggs

One Easter Sunday, Easter Mickey was hopping along the woods in Neverland, hiding Easter eggs. He couldn't wait for all the Lost Boys, mermaids, Indians and fairies to try to find them. "Hot dog!" he exclaimed, as he hid an Easter egg in a hole in a tree trunk. "This is going to be fun!"

Peter Pan and Tinkerbell had flown to Annie and Peter's house, sprinkled them with pixie dust and flew them to Neverland for the Easter egg hunt. It was going to be epic! Peter told them that whoever found the Golden Egg would win a special treasure.

But when they arrived at the start of the Easter egg hunt, everyone was sad. "Why so gloomy?" Peter Pan asked. But nobody would look him in the eye. A few Lost Boys hung their heads, moved slightly out of the way so Peter Pan could see the field in front of them, and waved their hands towards the field as if to say, "See for yourself."

The Easter Eggs were gone!

"My eggs!" Easter Mickey cried. "My beautiful eggs! Where could they have gone?"

Just then they heard a cackling from afar. Captain Hook was sailing the Jolly Roger in Mermaid Lagoon, and in the back of the Jolly Roger could be seen a giant pile of Easter eggs! "Looking for something? I've got your treeeaaasuuuure!" he taunted.

"That mean ol' pirate!" Peter Pan yelled. "I'll show him!" And off he flew towards Captain Hook, but several cannonballs kept him at bay. "I can't get to him... he's got those eggs covered tight! We need to call for backup!" He played a few notes on his pipe, and then the bushes shook, the ground rumbled, and out came...


Spiderman slung his webs into the trees to launch him high up in the air. Then, in midair, he shot both arms' webs out until they attached to the crow's nest of the Jolly Roger. Spiderman seemed to ski on Mermaid Lagoon as he dipped closer to the ship, until he shot up like a cannon and kicked Captain Hook clean off the deck.

Mr. Smee went to help Captain Hook as the other pirates descended onto Spiderman. Spiderman used his spider-sense to miss getting chopped to bits by the big, mean pirates, and used his web-slinging ability to launch himself at the Easter eggs. When he had trapped all the pirates in a big web and secured the big pile of eggs using his spider silk, he swung back towards where Mr. Smee was pulling Captain Hook up by a rope.

That's when Spiderman took out his lightsaber. With one deft stroke, he chopped the rope in half, and down went Captain Hook into the water again - this time with the crocodile waiting for him. Tick, tock, tick, tock!

With the pirates tied up, Peter Pan and the fairies had no trouble getting to the Jolly Roger. Peter steered the ship back to shore, and Spiderman handed Easter Mickey all the eggs. Easter Mickey hid the eggs again, and Annie and Peter found the Golden Egg at the same time, and so had to share the treasure. They opened it at the same time to reveal bright, golden pixie dust, and used it to fly all around Neverland before it was time to go back home and go to bed.

Back at their home, Annie and Peter snuggled into their beds and curled up next to their toys - Annie with Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, and Peter with Easter Mickey and Spiderman. And of course, Peter also had his lightsaber handy, in case Captain Hook decided to come around and see what happened to all those Easter Eggs.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lightsabers and Toddlers vs Dads

My kids got lightsabers while we were in Disney, and we have two rules for using them:

1. No hitting anything else except other lightsabers; and

2. You must make the lightsaber sound when swinging your lightsabers!

My son Peter is really into Star Wars right now. The kids briefly watched it with me once about 8 months ago when Betty was away for a few hours, and Peter has never stopped loving Darth Vader since. Peter even got Star Wars bath toys while in Disney. He calls himself a "bad guy" (in a deep voice) because thinks all the bad guys are really good guys. I mean, Darth Vader is super cool, so how could being a bad guy really be so bad? Does not compute!

Anyway, back to the rules of lightsaber duels. The first rule (don't hit anything) doesn't really apply with my son, because he's two. It's a given that he's going to at least accidentally hit something around him (usually me) when he's playing with his sword. Heck, I even want to smash stuff with it when I fence with him, except I'm old enough that those thoughts get squashed the millisecond my brain conjures them. But my son, well, he's taken to that old adage, "It's better to ask forgiveness than permission." Except he doesn't ask for forgiveness. Nor should he, since he's usually in the character of Lord Vader.

We have a routine when we duel with our magic swords of light. First we square off, staring each other down. Then we flick our wrists to expand our lightsabers (all the while making the "brrrzzz" sound, of course). Then he attacks, running towards me and swinging his sword while I go on the defense, until he ultimately cuts off my arm - which just goes into my shirt sleeve - and my lightsaber falls to the floor.

At this point my son shows that he might really be on the light side of the force by helping me to regrow my arm and take back my lightsaber. But maybe he's got a more heinous intent, as he promptly faux-chops my arm back off again.

The only time my son ever really gets in trouble when he's playing with his lightsaber is when he's not making the sound when he swings it. This is non-negotiable. He either makes the sound, or it goes bye-bye.

What, you didn't think I was going to raise a Trekkie, did you? Gotta teach your kids the right way to do things!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Almost Famous!

Betty and I were interviewed for a blog post about Cajun Code Fest over at Health 2.0 News! You can check out the article here:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Creating Disney Magic

Betty and I took the family to Disney World last week. It was not only us, but also my parents as well as Betty's parents. We had a blast! It was a combination vacation, plus birthday presents for my mom, Betty's mom and Betty (who had her birthday in Disney), and lastly it was a celebration of my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. Whew, that's a lot of celebrating!

We were fortunate enough to have not one but two sets of grandparents with us. Well, we did have two sets of grandparents, until Betty's dad Pops got eaten by Bruce, the shark from Finding Nemo.

[Picture: Bruce finds a tasty snack]

We all stayed at the Art of Animation resort on Disney grounds, which is one of the newest resorts and has four hotel themes: Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid, Cars and Lion King. We stayed with Betty's parents in a Finding Nemo suite while my parents' original room was in the Little Mermaid section. (They ended up moving to the Lion King section.) Each area had its own decor both inside and out.

For example, the Lion King area had large statues of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa, Rafiki, Scar, the hyenas... it even had an elephant graveyard. These all had "No Climbing" signs next to them, which were ignored by every child in the resort as well as most of the parents. Movies were screened outside at night for anyone to enjoy. We really liked walking through the Lion King section, although Annie always fussed at me because I'd start singing Circle of Life every time we walked through there. (OK, I was dancing as well. So sue me!)

[Picture: Rafiki with the Golden Child!]

We were located in the Finding Nemo area, which had a large pool with a spray park. Surrounding the pool were statues of fish, anemones and jellyfish, as well as large statues of some of our favorite characters like Crush (the totally radical sea turtle) and Ray (Nemo's teacher).

[Picture: The entourage!]

The pool looked really nice, but we only attempted to go into it twice because the temperature was usually in the upper-60's or low-70's the whole week. I kept thinking of the Seinfeld episode where George yells, "I was in the pool!"

[Picture: Shrinkage!]

Since it was a little on the cold side while we were there, our kids preferred to scale the large coral reef play area right outside our door. This immediately made me think that there should be a theme park just for adults to do kid-like stuff, like climb Coral Reef play areas, because I would definitely go there.

[Picture: Daddy was a nervous wreck]

The Little Mermaid section was the furthest from everything else, being what seemed about a mile from the main cafeteria / shopping area / bus stop. It ended up being too far for both us to walk to see my parents, and also too far for my parents to walk to see us. That bummed everyone out, so my parents complained and got an upgrade into the Lion King suites. But the Little Mermaid area was really beautiful...

[Picture: Look at this stuff, isn't it neat!]

And just look at all this treasure we found! It was almost enough to pay for one day at Disney!

[Picture: Treasure!]

So like I said before, we were celebrating a lot of birthdays and anniversaries. If it's your birthday in Disney, you get a big pin that says, "Happy birthday!" with your name on it. My mom, Betty's mom and Betty all got a pin, and my parents got pins that said, "Happy Anniversary! 40 Y'ears!" Any time we passed by a Disney "cast member" they would great us with "Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Oh my, look how many birthdays!"

[Picture: Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary!]

[Picture: Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Oh my!]

Even during the parades (which were fantastic), the characters would bow to our parents or blow them kisses. I think my mom especially loved the attention.

OK, let's do a lightning round of highlights from our trip:

We went to the new Fantasyland area in Magic Kingdom and got to meet the real Ariel. My daughter Annie was so excited, but when Ariel asked my son Peter if he liked the Little Mermaid too, he said, "No, I like Cars." It was rather matter-of-factly, and he nodded after he said it as if he were confirming it to himself. It was pretty hilarious! Ariel handled it well, but we laughed about it all week.

[Picture: Ariel!]

We ended up getting a free meal plan while we were there, so we ate everything in sight and never paid a dime (except for tips). We had a meal with the characters every day, but the first day's character meal was at dinner, and Annie was so tired by that point that she passed out and missed Eeyore.

[Picture: Zzzzzz...]

If I had to caption this next picture, it would be something like, "Good evening to you, if it is a good evening, which I doubt. Thanks for staying up to see me... oh wait, nevermind. Figures." Gloomy old Eeyore!

[Picture: Good evening... if it is a good evening, which I doubt.]

We ended up leaving before Tigger got to our table, which was good because he would have probably remembered the time when I was four and he snuck up on me from behind and scared me, and I turned around and punched him in the balls. I've already apologized to him, but you just never know with Tigger.

The kids got face tattoos at Animal Kingdom. Annie originally wanted Tinkerbell but made a last minute decision to get a Princess Kitty...

[Picture: Princess Kitty!]

While my son wanted a snake, of all things. I do have to admit that it was pretty awesome, if a little terrifying.

[Picture: Snake!]

While in Epcot we saw Push the Talking Trashcan, who was hilarious as always. He remembered Annie the second time we saw him, pointed out her Hello Kitty socks, and chased birds with her after she got momentarily distracted and ran off after some pigeons. The looks on Annie and Peter's faces were priceless! My favorite line from Push was, "Burp! Excuse me... must have been that baby diaper I ate earlier."

[Picture: Push the Talking Trashcan!]

Here's the last highlight that I'll mention for now. Snow White loved Annie, but she was taken with Peter. After a few minutes of Peter telling her that he loved Cars, monsters, Darth Vader and fire, she took his head in both of her hands, turned his head softly, and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. We left the big red kiss on his cheek for the rest of the day.

[Picture: Snow White and two dwarves!]

[Picture: Lady-killah!]

Thanks to my parents and Betty's parents for coming to Disney with us and for helping out so much with the kids. I don't know how my parents were able to take me and my two siblings when we were kids, with no help! And thanks to Betty for planning our trip, organizing our character meals, and making sure that everybody got to do their favorite things in Disney. She really helped make a magical place even more magical!

I'll be ready to go back to Disney in about three years, which is when I'll finally be recuperated from this trip.