September 11

A Day I’ll Never Forget – September 11

September 11

Image ©

It was a wonderful fall day in Raleigh.  I was staying home while Cindy was working.  Sophie was days shy of being three months old, and was still an itty-bitty little baby.  I was sitting in Cindy’s rocking chair, feeding Sophie, when Cindy called and told me about the crash and had me turn on the TV.

I’ll never forget that for as long as I live.  I remember watching, mesmerized, as I saw the planes crash into the Towers.  I remember hearing of other hijackings of other planes.  I remember hearing of the heroic efforts by the passengers of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania — they knew they were going to die, but they also knew that this was an attack, and they weren’t going to sit by and wait for it to happen again.

I remember hearing how the airlines were all grounded — every single plane — and jumping ahead a bit, I remember being at Lowes several days later when I first saw a plane in the sky again.  It was so odd to see after so long of not seeing any aircraft.

Back to September 11.  I remember that Sophie and I were supposed to have lunch with our friend Lisa, and when I called Lisa, we both wondered if it was safe to go and still have lunch.  In the end, we decided that yes, we would have lunch, that there were far more important places than Raleigh to attack, and that we shouldn’t let this stop us from doing what we would normally do.  We shouldn’t let the Terrorists win like that.

I remember holding Cindy when she got home from work that day.  I remember the three of us hugging it out, locking our doors, we were afraid.  I’ll never forget Cindy telling me that she wanted Sophie to sleep between us that night.  She wanted to make absolutely certain that her baby was safe from the world.

Cindy’s cousin Jeannie lives in New York.  She worked at the World Trade Center.  She was supposed to be there that morning — but something went “wrong” at home, so she decided to work from home that day.  Never has something so “wrong” been so right.

My prayers are still with all of those that lost loved ones.  My prayers are still with all of the countries affected.  There were so many innocent lives lost that day because of a bunch of crazy people that are burning in Hell right now.  My prayers are still with our leaders, our country, all of us.

September 11, 2001 is a day when the world became a much more dangerous place.  Gone were the days of playing outside during the summer vacation.  Gone were the days when you could not lock your door.  Gone was the innocence of our children.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?  What do you remember about that day?

May God have Mercy on all of us, and on all of those that lost their lives that day.

Magical Blogorail – Ways Disney helps deal with Grief


Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Green. Enjoy our therapeutic ride as we share ways that Disney has helped us through times of grief and sorrow.

Over the past year, a lot of my friends have had loved ones pass away — and in way too many cases, it was young children that were called home.  In this week’s Magical Blogorail post, we are talking about ways that Walt Disney World (or the other Disney parks) have played a role in helping us deal with our grief and sorrow.

My Grandpa died just over three years ago at the young age of 98.  While my Grandpa wasn’t as big a Disney fanatic as I am, my Grandma and Grandpa were the ones that first took me (and my sister and Mom) to the Magic Kingdom, way back in 1979.  When I was in my pre-teen and teenage years, my summers were spent visiting Grandma and Grandpa (primarily Grandpa) during the summer vacation, and he and I spent many a day having fun and doing cool things together.  It may be hard to imagine, but as you can see by this picture, my Grandpa was cool.

My Grandpa sporting my Safari Mickey hat!

My Grandpa sporting my Safari Mickey hat!

Now that I am a dad and husband, I have played a similar role to the role that my Grandpa played — I introduced Walt Disney World to my wife Cindy in 2000, and together we introduced our daughter Sophie to Walt Disney World in 2005.  One day in the future, I can’t wait until the day when Cindy and I introduce our grandchild to Walt Disney World.  Only God knows when that will be, but if He is willing, it will happen.

In some ways, I always thought that my Grandpa and Walt Disney had a lot in common, and now in my family, I am doing some of the same things that those two great men have done.  My daughter Sophie and I are training for our first 5K together — the Princess 5K to be held February 19-22 of next year.  While we aren’t running for any specific person or for any cause or in honor of a loved one that passed away, we are forming a stronger bond because this is something that only we are doing.  My wife Cindy is involved, but she’s choosing to cheer us on at the finish.  She knows that the days are coming when Sophie will not want to spend much time with us, and she is giving Sophie and I this event, the 5K, as a way for us to continue our Daddy/Daughter relationship for a bit longer.  In my minds eye, I picture it as similar to what Walt did by taking his girls to Griffith Park to ride the carousel.

Of course, there are other 5K events — you don’t need to travel to Walt Disney World just to run in a 5K.  In fact, we are going to be doing the Walk for Hope in Raleigh on October 12th — and that’s a 10K walk (we’ll run some too).  That event benefits mental illness research and treatment, so if you would like to donate to it, you can do so by clicking on this donate link.  But the point I’m making is that we’re continuing our bonding by participating in an event at Walt Disney World — and in my opinion, Disney is the mechanism for us to keep our relationship close, even though she is a teenager.  While I haven’t relied on Disney as a truly therapeutic way to deal with the loss of a loved one in a physical sense, like my friend Beth did when she lost her nephew, or my dear friend Dawn did when she lost her father, or my friend Kuleen did when her friends lost their child, I have used my connection and love for Walt Disney World — and my daughter’s love for Disney, too — as a way to keep us close when so many families see their daughter or son drift apart from them.  Regardless of the setting, whether it is Disney or the beach or the mountains or whatever, use those memories and experiences as the means to keep your loved ones close, or to remember their memory if they have passed on.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is In the Mouse House.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney – How Disney Helped My Grief
2nd Stop ~ In the Mouse House – Running in Honor of My Brother
3rd Stop ~ Heidi’s Head – How Disney helped with my illness
4th Stop ~ Saving Up for Disney – How Disney Helped after I lost my Father
Final Stop ~ Journeys from a Follower – How Disney Helped me through my own life challenge

Happy Anniversary

They lived happily ever after!

Happy Anniversary

Special thanks to my friend Sheila for taking this photo!

14 years ago today, my wife Cindy and I were saying our vows on our wedding day.  This is our story.

In June of 1999, we had a new employee start — her name was Cindy.  She worked in our Development department, and on her very first day I was given the opportunity to meet her because she was having a problem with her computer.  When I showed up to meet her, she said “I’ve tried this and this and this and this (listing all of the troubleshooting steps she had taken) and nothing worked, so I called you.”  I was impressed because most people don’t get past the first step!  I was able to fix her issue, and over the months we became friends.

Cindy has a background in payroll, but the job she had here was that of a Volunteer Coordinator.  She was really good at it, as she is at everything she attempts, but she just wasn’t satisfied with her position, and one day she told me that she was going to be leaving her job.  A going away party was organized, and I was invited at a local restaurant/arcade type place (kind of like a Dave & Busters).

Since I would be driving right by her house on my way to the party, I offered to pick her up and give her a ride to the restaurant.  I was politely declined because she was having dinner with her neighbor, who would also be at the party.  When her neighbor found out that I had offered, she made plans of her own (unbeknownst to any of us).  I’ll get to that in a moment.

Anyway, I get to the party with all of her other friends, and we are celebrating Cindy and the job she had done.  As the party progressed, her neighbor was talking with Cindy and I, and then she said “Cindy, Mike is going to give you a ride home from the party.”  Of course, this kind of surprised Cindy, but since we were friends, she agreed to it.  It seemed like very quickly after that, everyone cleared out, and Cindy and I were just sitting, talking, and drinking Diet Coke.  The next thing we knew, the bartender is calling last call!

As I was taking Cindy to her town home, we noticed a big light going on.  When I asked was it was, Cindy told me that our Museum of Natural Sciences had done a remodel of the museum, and the grand re-opening was going on, and they were open for 24 hours straight.  So, at 2AM, we decided to check out the museum.

All in all, it was a great time, and it was the start of a wonderful relationship, the most important relationship in my life.

Three months later I was taking Cindy to Florida to meet my grandparents, introducing her to Walt Disney World (we had a great time visiting the Magic Kingdom and Epcot on July 3 & 4, 2000 — and the crowds weren’t that bad at all!), and on August 11, 2000, at 4:20PM, we were saying our vows and getting married.

After all the trials, all the successes, after seeing our child Sophie born and raise her in a loving, Christian environment for her 13+ years, after all the laughs, the tears, the sorrow at losing loved ones, and the happiness at gaining new loved ones,  after all of that, 14 years later and counting, I think I can safely say that “They lived happily ever after.”

I love you, Cindy.  Happy Anniversary my friend, my love, my soul-mate.


Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar

2 Days: Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar

Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar

The smile on River’s face speaks volumes about how incredible this treat is! Image courtesy my friend Neal!

Today we are taking a look at my wife Cindy’s favorite Disney treat — the Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar!  Shown here with our friend River, this delicious treat has been known to put a smile on even the grumpiest dwarf!

The bar is a technological marvel in it’s simplicity.  Vanilla ice cream, dipped in chocolate syrup, frozen, and with a stick for easy holding!  As you probably already know, everything tastes better if it’s on a stick! :)

You can get them at almost any vendor spot in any park, but perhaps the best place to enjoy them is as a dessert at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ!  They had a freezer filled up with them, you could have eaten as many as you wanted!  Not that I would do something like that, mind you — but you could have!

What do you think of this treat?  Where does it rank in your list of favorites?  Do you like the Dole Whip better than this, or how about my favorite, a freshly popped bag of popcorn?  Let me know in the comments, please, and thanks for stopping by!


Our Favorite Disney Memories 2013

Our trip to Walt Disney World in July 2013 was a trip of firsts!

Our trip to Walt Disney World in July 2013 was a trip of firsts!

Hello everyone, and welcome to our Disney Memories 2013 post!  This trip was truly a trip of firsts for all of us.  For starters, it was the first time I’ve ever stayed at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and we did so because we went with some of our Pixie friends and were able to get a great rate for our stay!  It was a dream come true for Cindy and I because we always planned — and still do, as far as I’m concerned — on staying there, but figured it wouldn’t be until our 25th Wedding anniversary.  Well, we beat that by 12 years, so that’s pretty good!

In addition to our first stay at the Grand Floridian, this trip included a lot of other firsts, so let’s take a look at them in pictures!  I hope you enjoy, and that you come up with ideas for your own “first” memories that you want to experience at Walt Disney World!

It was the first time we ever saw Illuminations with the Dessert Party!

It was the first time we ever saw Illuminations with the Dessert Party!

We were able to experience and enjoy the Illuminations Dessert Party.  This special add-on is a group thing, so you can’t just go online and book it.  It has to be done through group sales I believe.  I was able to get some great shots of the fireworks, like the one above!

It was also the first time that we ate breakfast at the Prop Shop!

It was also the first time that we ate breakfast at the Prop Shop!

That was a lot of fun and good food, too!  The Prop Shop was a special breakfast and then afterwards we got FastPasses to Toy Story Mania!

It was the first time we ever had our picture with Phineas and Ferb!

It was the first time we ever had our picture with Phineas and Ferb!

I think it was a great picture, too!

It was the first time we ever road the Dueling Dumbos!

It was the first time we ever road the Dueling Dumbos!

Lastly, and perhaps most memorable, it was the first time I ever danced with Sophie at Biergarten.

Lastly, and perhaps most memorable, it was the first time I ever danced with Sophie at Biergarten.

The last picture is perhaps my most cherished memory from this trip — the picture that Cindy took of Sophie and I dancing to the music of the Biergarten band after our dinner.  It was a magical moment that I will never forget, and Sophie really enjoyed dancing with her Daddy that night.  It’s a precursor of things to come when she gets married one day.  Oh boy do I feel old now.

Thank you all for stopping by to see my favorite Disney Memories 2013.  This series has been a lot of fun for me, for really, it’s the memories that keep me coming back to Disney year after year, and it’s the memories that led me to start this blog.  Do you have an absolute favorite Disney Memory you want to share with us?  I’d love to hear it and experience it through your telling of it!  Just leave it as a comment and thanks!

The last post we’ll have in this series will be next week, when we take a look at some of the potential memories we have for our next trip!