Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Disney Disaster



We just got back from the Mouse's House.

THE MOUSE.

The M-I-C-K-E-Y  M-O-U-S-E

Where dreams come true and there's no place happier on the earth.

Well, maybe for some.

You see, this picture here tells only part of our magical story. 

I mean, I hate to complain. It's Disney. It's a dream vacation for some. However, it wasn't for us this time. So when people ask me, "Did you have a great time?!" I have to be honest, ya'll. It was a hot mess of a trip sprinkled throughout with fun.  And while there were lots of fun times, lots to be grateful for, and the kids had a blast (because yay for not having to adult), this is the not so good account because, seriously, you can't make this stuff up. 

And you just have to laugh.


Our story started with Hurricane Irma. It looked like Irma and I both thought September 10th would be a fun time to visit Florida. Apparently the "low" crowds at Disney also appealed to her. So, I did what any reasonable person would do, I called to reschedule. Who wants to wait in line for Peter Pan, with Irma? Based on the wait time over the phone, NOBODY did.

But, it's okay. I'm patient. I will listen to the Disney hold music. I know in the big scheme of life, this is no major deal. People's homes and lives were at stake and I'm just trying to reschedule our trip for the following week. I'll hold. 

3 hours and LOTS of Disney music later, BAM! DONE! We were to leave the following week. Easy Peasy. 

Until...

the following Tuesday, the night before we boarded the plane to the "Happiest Place on Earth," I got a call.

"Mrs. Harman, due to the hurricane, Fort Wilderness Cabins will not be open, please call us back to get a refund or see if we can move you to a different resort."

It's NEVER good to miss a call from Disney. NEVER.
(trust me, this wasn't the last time I missed their call)

Because, if you miss that call, you will have to wait, again, in an invisible "line" of other people who are listening to that same music, who are hoping for the same thing, for that music to stop and for that magical voice to speak.

Well, don't hold your breath. I beat my last record of three hours, by one more hour.

Nailed It.

That's when I met Stanley. Our conversation started well. We talked about the weather, literally. He was eager to help me. He informed me we could easily switch to the Art of Animation (one of his favs he told me).

Except....

he then informed me we could only stay there until Saturday (our plane didn't leave until Monday).

There was no other room available in ALL OF DISNEY for us to go. 

That was the word on the street.

Homeless.

Fast fast forward another hour and lots of pleas to help us find a place to stay, Stanley came through.

Art of Animation for three nights, Fort Wilderness Cabins, the last two nights.

We'll take it. Thank you Stanley.

We were Disney Bound the next morning.

While, presently, our lodging issues were solved, another issue emerged. My eye. I woke up with what had to be a scratched cornea. It was a red, watery mess that cowered in the presence of any light. Hoping by the next day, our first day at the parks, it would be better, I sported my ten year old crooked red glasses to the airport (I explained to the kind lady who sat next to me on the plane that I DIDN'T have pink eye just to ease her likely uneasy mind). Even cooler, I managed to wear my sunglasses OVER my glasses to stand a fighting chance against the light that flooded into the Magical Express Bus that picked us up at the airport to take us to the Art of Animation.

I'm glad my kids aren't too cool yet to be embarrassed by their mom wearing glasses AND sunglasses at the same time.

While I couldn't see well out of my one I, I still managed to notice a sea of emergency vehicles and workers upon our arrival at the Art of Animation with my good eye. While others whispered what could be going on, I immediately returned to my conversation with Stanley the night before who had informed me the reason there was "no vacancy" in all of Disney(I still don't believe it) was because of the doctors and nurses they were housing to help with the hurricane. I assumed they must have been housing EMT workers too and policemen. 

Amateurs, I have the inside scoop thanks to Stanley, I thought.

A quick message from a friend outside the Disney bubble informed me otherwise when she sent me an article about our very resort at that very moment we arrived and asked if everything was okay.

The building next to ours had been evacuated because it appeared a meth lab was being run out of it. 

One man was arrested.

Awesome.

Thankfully though, we were oblivious at the time and enjoyed perhaps the most heart stopping ride of our whole trip on the Disney Bus to Disney Springs for dinner. If the driver's goal was to prepare us for Test Track the next day, job well done. We managed to arrive in one piece (I'm not going to lie, I said a prayer for safety) at Disney Springs and did not have the same driver on a much more calm ride back.

My hopes that the next day would bring a healed eye weren't fulfilled. I woke up to my eye almost swollen shut. Determined to have the most magical day EVER, I did a few eye exercises, slipped a contact in it, and donned my sunglasses and kept my head low (thankfully the meth maker was already arrested because if not, I definitely would have looked suspicious). I occasionally took the glasses off only to wipe the water that seemed to gush out....and to take a picture with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. I looked awful and vowed to keep them on, whether inside or outside. 

"I Wear My Sunglasses at Night" carried a whole new meaning.

Thankfully, the next morning my eye was holding its own and I could walk without Hannah leading me by the hand. This was especially good since Friday would be our worst Disney day.

It started out great. I didn't have to wear my sunglasses indoors, it was our visit to The Magic Kingdom (my favorite), there were no complaints.

Then, while taking a joyful ride through The Haunted Mansion (figures I should get THE CALL while in here), my phone rings. The "Lake Buena Vista" under the number gave it away that it indeed was Disney. I knew right away this was not good but couldn't pick up because the noise on the ride was too loud. I should have done it anyways.

The message left resembled the one I received Tuesday. Fort Wilderness Cabins was still not opened and we would need to get a refund or they would try to place us at another resort. 

Homeless again.

She said she'd call me back in two hours (she never did) or I could call Guest Services but it would be a LONG wait.

So, there, at the Magic Kingdom, we began our third time on hold with Disney. I wasn't feeling so patient this time. The music was just out right annoying and the smiling faces walking by left me bitter. So much for a happy heart.  We found a place to eat where we could plug in our phone....and wait. And wait we did. After 30 minutes, the music stopped. Someone was ready to talk to me. I was elated. However, after explaining our situation AGAIN the gal informed me it didn't look like there was any place for us to go. But if ANYONE could help, it would be Guest Services but I would be on hold for awhile. 

So, we waited, again.

John and I switched phone holding duties while the other took the kids on a ride. We did this for three hours. 

We walked all over The Magic Kingdom listening to that same music, praying someone would JUST.PICK.UP.

And someone finally did. 

"I can't help you with that," she told me. I was almost in tears. Because we were already on property this had to be handled by the resort, she had explained. I resorted to begging, explaining that the lady told us to remain on hold because they COULD help us.

"Please let me talk to someone who can help us," I begged.

She told me there was no one and that we had to go back to the resort for help.

"Have a Magical Day."

Yeah.

Thankfully, in the midst of this, John found two WONDERFUL ladies who COULD and WANTED to help us at the Magic Kingdom Guest Services. I think my almost tearful face while holding the phone to my ear and the three kids looking cute with their Disney hats, helped. 

The kids and I headed to Hollywood Studios without John while he waited for a conclusion to the madness.

"It's fixed," he texted me a short bit later.

Just.Like.That. 

We get to stay at the meth lab, I mean, Art of Animation.

The cast member who helped us gave us tickets to the Halloween party and a gift card for our troubles. Bright spot.

And so, our day ended on a good note.

3 different reservation numbers though and multiple changes on the computer managed to leave lingering consequences...

We received free dining with the vacation package we bought six months ago. We got a certain number of meal credits for our stay. However, with the multiple switching of reservations, we lost them (along with our bus reservation to take us back to the airport, we got that fixed finally too). We found out the hard way the following day as we went to scan those magical bands and hear "Oh you don't have any more meal credits." Thankfully the kind lady who helped us the day before was a text away and after we paid full price she credited our account and reimbursed us. 

She's the true hero of our story.

As we continued to recover from the fog of the day before, John realized he needed to recover from motion sickness of the present day. Not as spry as he used to be, John fell victim to the sudden jerks, twists, and turns of many of the thrill rides from the day. 

We head back to the resort for a bit of rest and some fun at the pool.

"Make sure you wear shoes," I tell them all as we prepare to head to the pool.

No one heeds my advice.

John pays dearly for it.

The bottom of his feet were burned. 

Using what we had, we rubbed Chapstick over the forming blisters in hopes, maybe, just maybe, it would help ease the discomfort just enough so he could go with us to the Animal Kingdom.

Well, I'll go ahead and tell you, Chapstick won't do the trick.

So, the non thrill seeking mom, heads to The Animal Kingdom to ride Expedition Everest, again, with my thrill seeking kids (well Hannah is a semi thrill seeker) along with the other rides. 
I told them as we inched up the incline AGAIN that they should never doubt my love for them. 

John had remained laid out on the bed hoping tomorrow would be different. Thankfully, it was.

Sunday, our last day, was our most non eventful day. But we were tired. All of us. But we pressed on because tonight was The Halloween Party. And while we were thankful for the free tickets (they aren't cheap) it was so crowded and the lines were so long for candy and to meet characters that we decided, after everyone had half a bag full of candy, and we rode Space Mountain AGAIN to end our Disney vacation with a Dole Whip. It was on our list to do since we had never had one.

The Dole Whip was a great way to go out. It was delicious. It may have been one of my favorite things about Disney.

The Dole Whip.

It was redeeming.

That cold, sweet, MAGICAL, goodness.

It was good to us. 

It was like a long refreshing hug, whereafter we breathed a long sigh of relief

because

Disney was Done. 






















Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Letter to Molly


Dear Molly,

Happy birthday. Three years under the Harman Hood is something quite colossal to celebrate, considering what all we've been through.

Like this,



Just six short months into your life and BAM! you're wearing a cone, purple tail "cast" and sentenced to six weeks behind bars, crate bars that is, with little hope beyond that.

But you didn't realize who had your back...well pelvis more specifically. Thanks to Grant who said, "we'll pray for her everyday," in response to your bleak prognosis, your ominous future turned promising. While the x rays showed no healing, your behavior did.


And while we laugh and call you the "Miracle Dog," perhaps you are. Because while we were so thankful for your recovery, our answered prayer, it hasn't quite been a cake walk since then and yet, here you STILL are.

Here you are after multiple escapades through the neighborhood, with four of us in hot pursuit.

 You're stubborn Molly, really stubborn.

Because even with cajoling with treat laden hands or simply the perseverance of the four of us who refuse to leave you all alone in unknown territory, you remain faithful to whatever has caught your eye, or nose, while remaining oblivious to our calculated strategies. 

In fact, you've caused me to resort to embarrassing techniques that I'd be ashamed to confess to the Dog Whisperer. Techniques that include growling deeply while saying your name in hopes to transform me into the Alpha. Or sprinting toward you hoping to scare you into surrender. I've unsuccessfully tried to corner you but, well, that pelvis healed just fine because your moves are NFL worthy.

Mine are apparently not.

For certain, the neighborhood has seen me at my worst when tracking you. Not only is my temper being tested and put on public display, so is my fashion. You see, it appears you like to run off early in the morning, leaving me with no choice but to follow in my pajamas, with no makeup, and wearing boots so that I might have a fighting chance against all those briars you weave through and the mud you always seem to find.

So, there I am, three kids following me, growling, uncombed hair, pajamas, sometimes a coat, and rain boots, that sometime turn into track shoes when I must resort to the ole sprinting technique. It's really not helping our homeschool image.

And yet, to you, it's all fun and games, like that time you hid under our neighbor's hot tub deck for, maybe hours. All the while, I'm trying to corral you out not realizing at the same time Kate is being devoured (okay not really DEVOURED) by fire ants leading me to "pants" poor Kate, thus making an already awkward situation MORE awkward. 

But, you're our miracle dog.

You've run off a couple of times that we did give up on you, well I did, and maybe Kate and Grant. I left your fate up to Facebook. But as Hannah waited patiently (and tearfully) on our back patio, I assured her you'd be back. And back you came. I mean, you survived being smashed by a car with a slim chance of living and yet, you survived. You were covered in so many prayers I think you'll be around for a long, LONG time.

Yes Molly, it's really just amazing I haven't given up on you. I know I've said some hurtful things to you, like, I'm ready to get rid of you, among other more severe words.

I may have muttered these words after that time you threw up on our stairs and then somehow managed to do the same on Hannah's head.

Or it could have been after one of the multiple times you've found a way to relieve yourself in the house.

Or those many, many times you randomly throw up.

I'll try not to ruminate on the time you ate MY. WHOLE. CHICK FIL A. SANDWICH. when I left a few brief moments to answer the door.

Really Molly?

And don't get me started on the late nights after I take you out and you come back in only to sprint up the stairs and jump into Kate's bed. Like I wouldn't notice Molly. You ruined your chance to sleep with the kids after peeing in Kate's bed. She promises it was drool but you and I both know NOTHING drools THAT much.

And taking you on a walk, well, that's sheer torture, literally. If you're not yanking my arm off, my hand is subject to leash burn because of the tight grip I must keep in order to practice the "Cesar Milan Control." I think it's all a farce.

Listen, all of this makes your drinking out of the toilet and trying to lick the dirty dishes in the dishwasher child's play and not even noteworthy.

Yes Molly, you've miraculously made it three years, and by miraculously I don't mean simply because you survived being run over. You survived ME. Be thankful the kids love you. Be thankful you're cute. And be thankful that like all of us, you mellow with age. I think I will truly call you man's best friend after about six more years pass..as long as you still maintain control over your bladder.

Here's to many more adventurous years, Molly and then, many, MANY unadventurous years.

Love,
Jessica








Thursday, September 24, 2015

9 Years Old





Hannah:
Hebrew name meaning favor, grace

The Lord has shown us favor and grace through you, Hannah, over the past 9 years.

Here's what else I know about you:

H elper: you are always willing to help and usually do so                    without hesitating. What a blessing!
A rtistic: you love to create and design. You're growing in                    drawing skills and full of new ideas!

N eighborly: you are kind to new faces and thoughtful to 
                    their feelings. 

N ature-loving: you love to be outdoors, whether it's 
                         building a fort in the woods or playing 
                         kick ball with your friends. You enjoy 
                         nature and its beauty.
A musing: you have quite the sense of humor and enjoy to laugh
                and make other people laugh!

H appy: you are so happy and I'm thankful for that. You often 
             have a smile on your face and enjoy life.

Oh sweet Hannah, we are so thankful for you. May the Lord continue to cultivate in you a love for Him and His Word. What a privilege it is to do life with you. You've taught me so much and continue to do so. I love you more than any words could express.

Happy 9th Birthday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Happy 7th Birthday Grant!

Today we celebrated another year of Grant. 
I am so thankful for another year the Lord has given us with our beautiful son.
I often take for granted the lives the Lord has given us and as I went back through pictures to post on here, I was overwhelmed by His goodness in giving us these children.

With each year our children become more defined. Strengths become clearer, as do weaknesses. And with each year, I realize, I must proceed with humility. Humility, because I realize these little people are so far beyond myself. They are far more than accessories to my life. I believe the Lord has designed them specifically and for a purpose and I often realize that the unraveling that I often write about isn't quite how I thought it would go or how it would look.

Sweet Grant. 

This past year it has become much clearer that you have a knack for learning. And while you often won't come out and say it, there is no denying it. You have a sharp mind for math. And a strong comprehension of material read to you. And you've surpassed me in the memory work required for Classical Conversations. 

Your love for games only increases each year. You love to play any kind of game, a card game, a board game, an outdoor game, and especially video games. And you're good at them. You especially like to share these games with me. I'm sorry I don't play them more with you. I know that is a special way I can show love to you. I think our bond deepens over a game of Pac Man.

I still think you are an introvert, especially when I see how you form extremely close bonds with just a few. You have Micah, and ya'll are TIGHT. And I think Hannah may  be your other closest friend. You enjoy her company and even miss sharing a room with her, often leading you back into the girls' room for "sleepovers" where your new fun is having her read to you (that is when you aren't making trouble). You are even willing to sleep on the floor with only a pillow if it means you can be in there.

That temper, that temper is still there. It manifests itself differently these days than in the past. I'm afraid between me and Daddy, we didn't set you up too well for avoiding this one. Kate tests your temper lately the most. I am always praying for wisdom in how exactly to help in those situations. I've thought before, how can I help stifle this now before he becomes a grown man? I pray the Lord would be gracious in leading you to repentance.

You're our most shy one, and that probably goes hand in hand with introversion. But I don't want that to define you. I often pray for boldness for you, and for all of us. Daddy has helped you come out of your shell in ways like making you order your food at a restaurant or going up to the Chick fil a counter to ask for icecream. I hope we will continue to take small steps like that to help you not fear man.

You continue to be tender. I'm SO THANKFUL that at 7, you still want to hold my hand. And that you ask to sit in my lap and let me carry you to bed. I know your tenderness won't always manifest itself in this sweet way (it would be weird, right?) so I try to remind myself to soak it up. I'm sorry for the times I have not. I know that,too, communicates love to you. 

You love to talk. I get that. You don't talk much in public but when you are familiar with someone and it's in a quaint setting, there's no stopping you. You have a lot to say. Some of it is just crazy, like potty humor, while other topics are very insightful. 

You, my dear son, are unique. The Lord knew you BEFORE creation. And now, I have a front row seat of seeing you, in all your beauty and all your mess, coming to be. My prayer, as always, is that you would know the Lord. And that you would put to use all these qualities the Lord knit in you while you were inside of me for His glory. Repent. Trust in Him. Be bold, my son. Fear not, for the Lord is with you. Go and do mighty things for Him.





















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Monday, May 18, 2015

Awards Day: Homeschool Style





It's that time of year....

AWARDS

So here are a few awarded to my three students at The Harman Hood for the 2014/2015 school year...

This year, Kate has shown an uncanny ability to fall asleep in the midst of even the most noisy environments. And not only that, but many times she manages to do so in style. And so, I'd like to award Kate with the "Stylish Sleeper" Award.






Next, I'd like to recognize Hannah. While we could award her with the "I'd Rather Be Anywhere But Doing Schoolwork" award, we'll call it the "Ingenuity Award." Ingenuity because well, not only does she have obscure ideas like creating a pulley system on a tree (with which she planned to hoist Kate high into its branches on the plasma car) or making a double riding plasma car with only duct tape, but she manages to incorporate her big ideas to distract from the monotonous book work indoors. We may also award her with "The Most Influential" award because she manages to convince her brother and sister that her ideas are well worth pursuing and investing in, even it means plummeting from a vertical hanging plasma car or spinning out of control on a wild ride.



 I'd like to award Grant with the "Good Sport" award. Whether it was the time he stood at the bottom of our hill screaming after face planting on the asphalt from a bad scooter fall and I, not noticing the blood oozing from his face, casually told him it was okay. Or it was that time I waved at him from the bottom of the Butterfly Garden at Callaway Gardens and took his picture, only later to discover his head was actually stuck between the two rails and was NOT posing for a photo op. And yet, both times, he was patient with his clueless mom in the midst of a traumatic situation.



(stuck...and he even humored clueless mom with a smile)

Kate also is the recipient of the "Most Distracting" award. While Hannah, Grant,and I were hitting the books hard, she often lightened the mood with her wild ensembles and crazy quarks. This also invited  frustrated comments like, "Mom, make Kate leave," and "I can't think with Kate in here," thus making Kate the front runner for this award. Well done, Kate, well done.




This year we have a first. Thanks to a daring rescue of an injured dove, Crystal, I'd like to award Hannah with the first ever, "Humanitarian Award." Hannah exhibited compassion, concern, and executed a well thought plan to help Crystal survive. We were relieved to discover upon returning to Hannah's makeshift "flower pot" shelter, Crystal was no longer present. We like to think she's flying freely in the open breeze and those skeleton bones later found belong to some other unfortunate animal.


And in addition to the "Good Sport" award, Grant also received the "Best Comeback" award. After a year long stint away from his bike, he decided to get back on it and try again. It definitely helped that his younger sister recently learned how to pedal without training wheels. Now, Grant's leading the pack when it comes to burning rubber on the pavement. Way to go Bud!


And lastly, for a special award, we give Kate the "Meerkat Award" because, as Hannah said, "She really does look like a meerkat here." Bravo, Kate, for making the impossible seem possible. 



And that, folks, concludes our Harman Hood Awards Day. What a year we've had and what talent we are honing.