Happy Anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa!

Grandma and Sophie, 2006
Grandma and Sophie, 2006
Grandpa, 2006
Grandpa, 2006

In a slight diversion from what we normally post on My Dreams of Disney, today I’d like to take a moment and tell you that today is my Grandma and Grandpa’s 74th Wedding Anniversary.  While they are both now in Heaven, I still count the anniversaries, because they are both still alive in my heart, as well as the hearts of all of my family.

The next pictures are just ones that mean a lot to me — thank you for indulging me by looking at them!  I hope you feel all of the warmth and love in them that I do.  Thanks for stopping by!

Grandma and I enjoying one of her favorite past times -- playing card games!
Grandma and I enjoying one of her favorite past times — playing card games!
Grandpa enjoying one of HIS favorite past times -- taking a nap!
Grandpa enjoying one of HIS favorite past times — taking a nap!
My Mom with her Daddy, after Grandma passed away in 2007.
My Mom with her Daddy, after Grandma passed away in 2007.
Dad, Uncle Roger, Stephanie, Aunt Sadie, Grandpa, Mom, Uncle Bob, Aunt Bette -- one of the last pictures I took of Grandma and Grandpa's house.
Dad, Uncle Roger, Stephanie, Aunt Sadie, Grandpa, Mom, Uncle Bob, Aunt Bette — one of the last pictures I took of Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Thank you for taking a trip down memory lane with me.  I remember every moment of those pictures, which was why I started My Dreams of Disney — to take note and remember the trips I’ve had over the years.  Thanks for stopping by, I hope it brought a smile to your face like it did mine.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

While I wasn’t planning on having this be a Friendship Friday post, it does fit the criteria I believe.  As a result, please feel free to click on the button below and see who my friend Heidi is featuring today on her Friendship Friday series!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friendship Friday – My Blogorail Friends

MB Banner 2012

Hello everyone, and welcome to a special Friendship Friday post.  I have been entirely too remiss in talking about the friends that I have, and what they mean to me, so for today, I plan to rectify that!

Today isn’t a post about one specific friend — today I’m writing about as great a group of people as you will ever meet — even if I’ve never met them — and to tell them all what I think of them and the support that we all give one another.

The Magical Blogorail is the brainchild of Beth from Pursuing the Magic, who started it along with Kristen from Cooking With Mickey, Chad from Days in the Park, Bryan and Crystal from The CanaDisney Blog, Natalie from Meet the Magic, and Jenn from Disney Babies Blog.  The concept is simple: come up with a topic for discussion, and have a loop that takes you from one blog to the next, on and on down the list, until you get to the end.  Each person writes their own take on the topic, and each person links to the next in the chain.  The brilliance is in the simplicity of it all.  They came up with the Magical Blogorail as a tribute to that awesome, incredible Monorail that we all know and love, and they chose the blue color for their line, so they are the Magical Blogorail Blue line.

I have had the honor of being part of the second line that Beth got going, and this past February was the second anniversary of that line!  Month in and month out, the Magical Blogorail provides useful and helpful tips, tricks, and planning information to help you have an incredible Disney vacation!  The Blogorail is now up to eight lines, so there is a lot of Disney information for everyone to share!

But you know what?  As incredible as it is to be a part of the Magical Blogorail, what really sets the Blogorail apart from every other group I’m a part of is the people.  There have been times when we’ve all needed a group hug, or someone (usually me) just had to tell a corny joke, or something, just to break up the tension that the world sometimes brings into our group, despite our best efforts to keep it at bay.

I think that, without a doubt, the members that we have in our group would tell you that there are times when the best thing they have going is knowing that, no matter what the issue is, there are a group of people that all share the same love for Disney that they can go to, share what is going on in their lives, get a virtual hug, a laugh, or share a cry with, and know that it will be okay.

I know that not a day goes by when I’m not laughing at something dumb that Dave or Bryan say, or cringing at some stupid comment that I make and hit enter without taking a moment to read my comment first.

All in all, though, my friends in the Magical Blogorail are incredible — and I love each and every one of them for different reasons.  We’ve all got a special connection, our love of Disney; and a passion to share that love with as many fans as we can.  It has led us to great heights, to feats that we never would have imagined possible; and in many ways, our blogs would not be the same if we did not have the Magical Blogorail as a group connection.

So I thank you all, my friends, for your support, patience, understanding, and help (especially help!) as I have taken this itty bitty blog to heights that continues to astound me.  As always, I’m here for you, so if you need anything, all you need do is ask.

As for my readers, as always, I thank you for stopping by, and making my little blog one of your stops on your daily Disney fix.  The site is only as good as my readers, and I appreciate each and every one of you more then you will ever know.

If you would like to learn more about the Magical Blogorail and it’s members, please click on the link and check out all of the blogs you find listed there!  But make sure you’ve got some time on your hands, you could be there a while!

The Friendship Friday series is the brainchild of my good friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head.  Heidi is one of the members of the Magical Blogorail Orange Line, and is just one example of the great people that you can meet.  Please check out her blog and see who she is featuring today on her blog!  If you would like to be considered for inclusion in the Magical Blogorail team, please send me an email (mickey@mydreamsofdisney.com) and I will forward your information on to Beth!

Friendship Friday – Happy Birthday Leslie

Leslie

Today is Friendship Friday, and in honor of my niece Leslie’s 25th birthday, she is the person that I am writing about today! In my sister’s clan, I have honored Leslie’s Dad Jim, Mom Robin, and sister Stephanie, and now it’s Leslie’s turn! Don’t worry Brett, I’ll get to you too!

Leslie is the middle child of my brother-in-law Jim and his wife (my sister) Robin.  That has it’s share of benefits and pitfalls, but all in all, I think Leslie has been a great older sister to her baby sister Stephanie, and she’s tough enough to take (and dish out, too!) the nonsense that her big brother Brett tries to dish out (or used to in days gone by).

Leslie is, in many ways, similar to me in that it took me a while to really settle down and figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  It really wasn’t until I got the job down here in North Carolina that I felt like my career was going in a positive direction!

Leslie has always had an outdoor flair about her, and a love of animals that continues on to this day.  She has had cats, dogs, fish, horses, and boyfriends to fall under the category of “animals” (just kidding Leslie about the boyfriends!) and her compassion towards them really knows no bounds.

As part of her post high school years, Leslie actually did join the U.S. Army to be an MP, and made it through basic training, but she had an injury that she was unable to overcome, and as a result she has had a medical discharge.  However, that hasn’t stopped her, and she is working on getting a degree at school in some sort of law enforcement avenue — perhaps criminology or something along those lines?  I’m not 100% certain of that.  Her goal is to become a police officer, and while that can be a dangerous line of work, I take great pride in knowing that part of Leslie’s makeup is to help those that are less fortunate

Image courtesy and ©Joe Ellis
Image courtesy and ©Joe Ellis

During her teenage years, Leslie was fortunate to be able to own and take care of a horse.  This picture was from when Leslie was 15, and I remember all of the time she would spend with her horse taking care of it and making sure it was well looked after.  I expect that nurturing spirit is something she gets from both her Mom and Dad, and it is something that will serve her well later on as she settles down and gets married.

Throughout all of the years I’ve seen Jim and Robin’s family develop and grow up, the one thing that I’m left with is that, beyond the brother-sister-sister drama that kids like to heap on one another, there is a bond among all of them that will stand the test of time.  When Stephanie was married last November, who was there wishing them well with tears in her eyes and in her voice — Leslie.  And who was there crying like a baby when his baby sister was married — Brett.  The bravado and all of that gets in the way sometimes, but at the end, what it comes down to is this: Robin and Jim are blessed beyond measure — and if they ever doubt that, all they need to do look at their kids, grown ups now but still babies to them, and they can rest knowing that they have done their job, and done it well.

As you all know by now, I learned of Friendship Friday from my great friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head!  Please click on the image below and see who she is honoring today, and thanks for stopping by!

Friendship Friday — Mrs. Keech, Principal

Mrs. Keech Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s Friendship Friday post!  Today, we are talking about Sophie’s BFF at school — the person we all know and love as Mrs. Keech!

Take a moment and picture this in your mind’s eye:

It is August, 2006, and the day has arrived for two wide eyed — and slightly nervous — parents to take their daughter to Kindergarten Orientation.  This orientation, truth be told, is for the parents, not the children, but while we are being taught the ins and outs of kindergarten, our children — or in our case, Sophie — would leave the multi-purpose center and go to one of the kindergarten classrooms to see what life in the classroom was like.

We knew that Sophie would be going to this classroom, but we also knew that she was nervous — and she did NOT want to go.  However, we explained that it would be okay, that she would have fun, and she grudgingly was the last one down the aisle to head to the front to head out to the classroom.  I could tell that she was stressed — her shoulders were scrunched up, the tension was just radiating off of her, and I didn’t think it was going to be a good time for her.

But then, as she approached Mrs. Keech, who was waiting for her to leave so she could continue, she saw her — and you could SEE the tension just slip away.  I literally saw her take a deep breath, her shoulders relaxed, and she walked right up to Mrs. Keech and said “Hi, my name is Sophie.”  Mrs. Keech, being the saint that she is, proceeded to say “Hi, Sophie, my name is Mrs. Keech.  Can I take you over here so you can go play in the classroom?”  From that moment on, Sophie and Mrs. Keech were best buds.

Halfway through Kindergarten, Sophie — who carpools to school — got out of the car, gave Mrs. Keech the big hug she always gets, and told Cindy “Mrs. Keech is my BFF!”  Of course, Cindy wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing — was Mrs. Keech the BFF because Sophie was in trouble a lot and always in the office?  Or was the fact that Mrs. Keech was Sophie’s BFF a good thing because she would keep an eye out for her?  Turns out the latter was the case here.

Mrs. Keech was Sophie’s Principal from K-4th grade (well about halfway through 4th grade) — but then the unthinkable happened — Mrs. Keech got a promotion to be the principal of a middle school, and Sophie would have a new principal for the first time in her school career.

5th Grade was a challenge a little bit, because things were done to prep the kids for 6th grade and middle school, but overall, it was a good year, and Sophie passed her end of grade tests with flying colors.  The school that we were looking at going to was an all-girls leadership academy, and while we did get on the waitlist for the school, it wasn’t meant to be, so we picked a different school.  This particular school has a STEM focus, which means that it focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, which is four areas that Sophie excels at, so we applied for that school, and got accepted.  Perhaps the best news of all about that school — the principal was Mrs. Keech!

We went to 6th grade orientation in August of this past year, and Sophie was so excited!  We would get to see her new school, get her schedule, meet her teachers, see her classrooms, and so forth.  But the best thing of all — Sophie would get to see Mrs. Keech again!  When they saw one another, it was like nothing had ever changed — Sophie ran over to Mrs. Keech and gave her a huge hug, and I could see that Mrs. Keech — well, she had a tear in her eye at seeing her Sophie (Mrs. Keech only has boys at home, so there’s a bond between her and Sophie!)

The BFFs were reunited once again!

You know, we tried really hard to get Sophie into the girls leadership academy, but it wasn’t in God’s plan for Sophie.  God knows all, of course, and He KNEW that Sophie was meant to have Mrs. Keech there for her to lean on as needed.  Certainly, at a middle school, the principal has a different set of duties, and Sophie doesn’t interact with her as much — but as a parent, it is very reassuring to know that there is someone at school that has the best interests of your child at heart, and while we know that Mrs. Keech does that for all of her kids, as she calls them, we also know that the number of people that knew her when she was the principal of Sophie’s elementary school is a very short list — and Sophie is at the top of that list.

6th Grade hasn’t been as smooth a transition as we would have liked, but I can guarantee if we didn’t have Mrs. Keech there, it would have been a lot harder for us — and especially for Sophie.

So today, I give thanks to God for Mrs. Keech, who has to have the tough demeanor of a middle school principle, but inside, has the heart and soul of an angel.

As you all know, Friendship Friday is the brainchild of my dear friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head!  To see who she is highlighting today, go ahead and click on the image below, and thanks for stopping by!

friendship-friday

Friendship Friday: My Pixie Friends!

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Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Friendship Friday!  While I normally use this post as an opportunity to highlight a special friendship that I have with a friend or family member, today I am using my forum to shout out a group of friends and professionals in the Disney travel industry — my friends at Pixie Vacations!

The picture that you see above was taken for the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, on October 1, 2011, which Cindy, Sophie, my niece Stephanie, and I had the honor to be able to attend.  On that day, we were able to meet up with some incredible people — some that I already knew through the blog, some that I knew through Chip and Company, and some that I only knew through the incredible MouseChat.net podcast.

Looking at the left you see my wife Cindy and daughter Sophie, Lisa, one of the owners of Pixie Vacations, with one of her daughters; my Sister-In-Christ Brenda, me, my buddy Bob, one of the characters on the MouseChat.net Podcast and a Pixie Vacations Travel Agent, my friend Chris, another of the Pixie Vacations Travel Agents, and also on the MouseChat.net Podcast, my friend Natalie, another of the Pixie Vacations Travel Agents, my niece Stephanie, and Steve, who is married to Lisa and is the other owner of Pixie Vacations.

I chose today to highlight this special group of people because I have a big announcement to make — at least, it is big to me, and Cindy and Sophie like it too — I have recently signed on to be a travel agent with Pixie Vacations!  Let me tell you, since I started this, I have had an incredible amount of fun — and by the way, I started it on my birthday, February 6th, 2013 — but on top of that, I have met online even more incredible people then those that I’ve featured here today!  When I was talking about this with Lisa, one of the biggest things I learned from her was that her agents are family to her, ‘Ohana, if you will, and that no matter what happened in the course of daily business, she expected her family to remember that, and to treat each other with the respect that we all deserve.

At Pixie Vacations, we strive to help you have the most magical vacation you can — whether that be at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or any of the other magical Disney destinations — or on a more traditional vacation path, also.  We are here to help you; all of us at Pixie were people that planned our vacations for our families, and we loved it so much that it made sense to branch out and help other people plan their vacations also.

So, what can I do for you today?  If you would like my advice, help, and support in planning a Disney vacation, please feel free to reach out to me; you can get started by calling the number on the image below, or shooting me an email to Mike@PixieVacations.com.  Thanks for stopping by, and reading about my friends at Pixie Vacations!

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Friendship Friday, as you all probably know by now, is the brainchild of my dear Disney friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head!  Please click on the image below to learn who she has featured for today on her Friendship Friday post, and thanks for stopping by!