Tag Archives: disney

Movie Review – John Carter

If there’s one thing Disney knows, it’s how to make a movie with a princess.  The focus this time, is not so much on the princess but on her savior, John Carter.

I admit, I’m not a fan of this genre.  The quick rundown on the plot is this:

Civil war soldier finds himself transported to Mars, hooks up with a race of martians that eventually wants to kill him, and on the road back to Earth, he meets a princess, falls in love, and realizes there may be room for one more on the red planet.

I do not recognize any of the actors in the movie – this may or may not be a good thing.  I did, however, keep looking at the John Carter (actor Taylor Kitsch) and thinking he was Johnny Depp in the days before he met Tim Burton.

This is action packed.  John seems to piss off a lot of people in this film, and he goes from one battle to the next.  He nearly gets eaten by blind white apes (for those that think I’m referencing my husband, shame on you – but funny!), almost killed by a ticked off time traveling Holy man, and narrowly escapes execution by the martian creatures that remind me a little like something I’ve seen in Star Wars.

The movie is entertaining.  But it’s not without it’s problems.  John Carter himself is completely flat.  We learn through flashbacks that he’s lost his wife and daughter, but he buries them with as much emotion as you have flushing a carnival goldfish down the toilet. We know that he was in the civil war, and at some point he wanted out, but there’s no story here that we’re really interested in.  And I don’t really buy him as a civil war soldier.  He doesn’t seem all that impressed by the things he discovers on Mars – like he just saw those same things on TV while watching Stargate or something the week before.  We know he falls in love with the princess, not so much because he expresses it but because he won’t go the hell home, even after he knows he has the power to do so.

The characters all look like characters you’ve seen in other movies.  After you get beyond John Carter resembling Johnny Depp, you think he looks a lot like Hercules in some scenes, Braveheart in others, and maybe even Tarzan in a few.  Princess Dejah, who can’t be called flat because of her rather prominent, ummm, hair is a main character, but I have to say, she’s so uninteresting that I’m surprised I remembered her name without looking her up.  And at the end of the movie, the characters I favored most were the supporting characters of Sola and Tars.

If I was rating the movie on a five star scale, I’d probably give it three.  Do I think it was a complete waste of time and money?  No.  Would I buy the DVD?  No.  It was a nice way to spend an afternoon, but this is definitely not a movie you’ll walk away from blown away.

Heather Taska and her amazing musical talent

Heather Traska – A One Woman Disney Magical Musical Moment

We are, in case you hadn’t already noticed, a Disney family.  The one very annoying but endearing habit my husband has is that he likes to learn the lyrics to all of the songs in a Disney movie before we go, then he likes to sing out loud in the theater when the songs he knows pop up.  And yes, we do still take him to the movies.

While browsing YouTube recently, perusing the Disney music videos, my husband came across this absolutely amazing video of a young girl, covering all of our favorite Disney songs from all of our favorite Disney movies.  I got goosebumps watching the video, and just knew I wanted to contact the maker of this magical musical moment!

And now that I know her and how wonderful she is, I wanted to introduce her to all of you.  She is talented, engaging, a huge Disney fan, talented, beautiful, and oh, did I mention how talented she is?  AND she reads the Walt Disney World Moms Panel!  AND this PHENOMENAL young woman is only 18 years old!!

Heather was kind enough to allow me to ask her a few questions so you could get to know her a little bit better.

Q. What is your favorite Disney movie?

Heather:  My favorite Disney movie (this is EXTREMELY difficult) is Mulan. I grew up watching it almost every week.  I love the characters. I love the story. I love the songs. It’s beautiful.  

Q. Have you had formal makeup training?  Your makeup changes are amazing!

Heather:  I haven’t had any makeup training. It’s just something I’ve always had “a knack for,” if you will. People used to make fun of me in middle school for taking risks with makeup, but I liked doing it. Eventually I started a YouTube channel and unleashed all of the looks that I had always been to shy to wear in real life.  

Q. Did you do the video yourself?  Have you considered a career in video production?  It’s amazing!

Yes, I did do the video myself. Believe it or not, it was shot with a basic digital camera. I was sitting on the floor for all of the filming too. It sounds strange, but it works. I record in my bedroom, so I make do with what I have. I’ve definitely considered making a career of it, but singing is my first love.  

Fun fact: I had no idea that I would learn how to edit video whatsoever when I first created my channel. I intended to do one-take, basic videos forever, and then one day I bought Final Cut Express (software) and found an unexpected passion for editing. Editing, for me, is like painting, but with screens. I like using colors and effects to enhance the video visually and emotionally. Perhaps that sounds silly, but that’s how I think. 

Q. Do you ever find yourself singing aloud in the movie theater during Disney movies?  (UGH, I do, and I don’t have a fraction of your talent!)


In all seriousness though, I went to see Beauty & The Beast: 3D a few weeks ago, and sang along the whole time. Thankfully there weren’t too many people in the theatre, but I couldn’t help myself. 

Q. Have you ever entered the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?  How about the real American Idol?  You’re very talented!

I have! I performed at the American Idol Experience last year and sang “Reflection” from Mulan. I had an unbelievable time, and ended up winning the finale show that day! The stage itself was breath-taking. 

As far as the real show goes, I auditioned two years ago, and was rejected the very first round. It was discouraging, but a great experience, and I learned a lot!  (WHAT?  What the heck was wrong with those people??)

Q. Who is your favorite Disney character? 

I was torn a bit with the first question, but this one is just brutal! I guess I would have to pick Rapunzel from Tangled. She is sassy, but can also be extremely caring. She can fend for herself, regardless to what she had been told all her life. Most importantly, she had a dream and wouldn’t let anyone or anything stop her until she got it. 

Q. What is your favorite Disney song?

My favorite Disney song? Why is this so difficult?! Well, all of my favorites are in my Disney medley, so that’s my top 20(ish), but my favorite has to be “Reflection.” The first time I heard it, I couldn’t stop singing it for weeks. There was something in the lyrics that I instantly connected to emotionally. I still sing it regularly. 

I cannot thank Heather enough for doing this with me!  To subscribe to Heather’s YouTube channel, you can click http://www.youtube.com/user/heathertraska - which I promise you, you’ll want to do RIGHT NOW!  She offers tutorials on how to do the amazing makeup she’s done in her video, and you can enjoy her incredible voice in some of her other music videos (her Whitney Houston tribute is a MUST SEE!).  


2011 – What I Learned This Year

I could sum up my year in one word.  School.  I feel like the entire year was consumed by my educational aspirations.  But aside from all the -ologies I studied in 2011, I’ve learned quite a few other things.  With a year that saw me recovering from last fall’s bout with MRSA and then a stay in ICU battling kidney failure, I had lots of time to reflect on things – the good, the bad, and what was more important.

So here goes:

I learned that it’s perfectly okay to be sad about the things I’ve lost.  My sister, who died way too young; my dad, who fought for the last ten years of his life to make sure he snatched every bit of joy and happiness he could in the time he had left; the five babies I never got to hold or cuddle or sniff the tops of their tiny heads.  I know now that it’s okay to still find myself in a puddle of my own tears over not having those things.  But it’s even more important to celebrate and appreciate the things that I haven’t lost.  I have three amazing daughters, who can melt my heart with their beautiful smiles and warm me on my coldest days with their giggles.  I have a husband who loves me – cherishes me – and through all of his own battles, always manages to make me feel like his number one priority.  I am blessed with an awesome sister, terrific parents and step-parents, and extended family and friends that I adore.

I learned that it really does take the worst to make you truly understand and appreciate the best.  The worst snowstorms help you appreciate the warmest days.  A bad grade on a test makes you truly grateful when you get an A.  A bad eye day for Jim makes a good eye day such a gift.  Laying in bed in intensive care helps you to remember to find gratitude when “it’s only a cold” or “it’s a small cut”.  I’m going to bitch way less about how sore my nose is when I get a head cold and be happy instead that they discovered Puffs with Lotion!

I have finally figured out what a “good” doctor is.  I’ve had the same primary care doctor for almost 30 years.  While I’ve appreciated everything he’s done for me, I never really appreciated what a good doctor he is.  He’s funny.  I don’t mind going to see him, because I feel I will surely be entertained, but this year, when we needed balls to the wall, he stepped up to the plate.  And you already know that I truly believe I found God’s gift to medicine when I found Dr. Veitia.  So if you’re in the area, and need a primary care doctor, it’s Dr. Gary Heck.  Looking for a phenomenal surgeon?  Dr. Nestor Veitia.  And you’ll love them as much as I do when you meet some of the other doctors that are out there.

I”d like to say that in 2011, I figured out the meaning of life.  Well, at least my life.  I haven’t.  But I have made huge strides in figuring out what was important.  Family, friends, health, education, and Mickey Mouse.  If you discover the joy in all of that, you don’t really need to know the meaning of life – you just need to enjoy it.

Alternative to Microsoft Streets and Trips?

I can’t handle being called an anti-Microsoft person — that would be like being called a Universal Mom over a Walt Disney World Mom. But with Jim retired from Microsoft due to his disability, I have been given lots of new found freedoms over the past two years. We all have iPhones for one.  I cannot begin to tell you how horrible it was 12 years ago to be forced to use early adopter alpha beta gamma whatever they call it – I called it junk – Windows smartphones. The only thing they did good was let me play Bubble Burst.

On our last two cross country trips we used a laptop and Microsoft Streets and Trips. It lets you plan a trip from A to B, but “budget” in hours of sleep or rest and add stops to your itinerary. It had its problems — the biggest being no one goes on vacation on DAY ONE. We need to be somewhere by June 25th, 2012 – not DAY FOUR. I don’t know if they have fixed that bug from previous versions yet – fingers crossed.

But back to the original question — before I spend money on the 2011 or 2012 version of Microsoft Streets and Trips – is there an alternative?  Are you guys using anything I should look into?

North to Alaska – and Whatever Else We Can See In Between!

I always have these grand intentions of building fabulous trip reports, and every time we take an awesome vacation, I go into it saying “I think I can; I think I can; I think I can” – and then I don’t.

Let’s approach this from a different angle – let’s start talking about it now, and maybe by June, when I actually take the trip, I’ll be more motivated to finish the conversation!  So let’s get started – come plan this trip with me!

Here are the basics:

We have to be onboard the Disney Wonder on June 25, 2012 – that’s only 252 days away!  Thank God we’re going to Alaska – I’ll never get into a bikini by then!!  We board in Seattle, WA.

We’ve chosen second seating because it gives us time to eat breakfast, second breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, second lunch, afternoon tea, and an evening snack before dinner.  We’d miss at least the evening snack if we did main seating dining!  Actually, we prefer second seating for a number of reasons.  We never feel we have to rush to get ready after a day of excursions, and if a kid comes back needing a nap, there’s time before dinner to do that.  We’re also more inclined to get to the shows if we go to them before dinner, as after dinner, you are so full and tired from a big day of adventure, you might decide just to turn in.  I also like that on some of our Disney cruises, the kids will get picked up by the kids’ club staff at second seating, and they will be escorted to their club for evening activities.  This gives Mom and Dad a chance to eat dinner with the kids, but also have some time to themselves to linger over a cup of tea and dessert.

Our itinerary:

Day One: Seattle, Washington

Day Two: At Sea

Day Three: Tracy Arm, Alaska

Day Four: Skagway, Alaska

Day Five: Juneau, Alaska

Day Six: Ketchikan, Alaska

Day Seven: Victoria, British Columbia

Day Eight: Seattle, Washington

Now to get there.  The plan at the moment is to drive.  From Jersey.  With three kids.  In one car.  Oh, and did I mention that at least one kid is in school until June 20th?  Unless we get no snow days, and then she might be done a couple of days sooner.  Should I start taking Valium NOW?

If Google Maps is accurate, we eliminate all pee breaks, we don’t eat anything not already in the car (I’m thinking by hour four, Granuaile is gonna look mighty tasty with some honey mustard), we don’t stop for gas, and we skip any side trips to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine and the World’s Biggest Rocking Chair, we can be there in just under two days (1 day, 22 hours).  My fear is, just adding in pee breaks is going to cause us to miss the boat.  Somehow, I have to balance potty stops, eating, and a tiny bit of sightseeing with getting there in four days – which puts us at a Seattle hotel the day before the cruise.  Oh, and did I mention that I wish to arrive somewhat sane?

And we’re off, faithful readers!  Watch over the next few posts how I try to lay out the trip TO Seattle.  Then we’ll talk shore excursion possibilities.  And finally, we’ll talk about how we get back in time to make my sister’s wedding on July 21st.  Dressed.  In North Carolina.

Oh – and who wants to watch my dogs for three weeks?  They’re great fun to have around!


Summer What?

I laugh in the face of you summer vacationing people.  HaHa!  While you are lounging comfortably on your beaches, basking in the mountain sunshine, cruising the seven seas, and trekking across Europe, I am learning the ins and outs (although mostly ins) of the human body.  Ha….ha?


I have virtually vanished from the blogosphere as I crack down on the whole process of reading, writing, and wracking my brain to try and make sure that when I actually DO become a nurse, I don’t kill anyone.  Needlessly.  And damn, it’s tough!

Remember the song “The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone” – you know it, we all sang it as children.  Yeah, well, don’t try to sing it in an effort to pass the bone practical in Anatomy and Physiology I – your instructor will not be amused.  And you Disney peeps – heading in humming the Hannah Montana bone song won’t get you very far either :-(

So, the only basking I’m doing so far this summer is in the glory of the A on my transcript from A&P I.  And I’m hoping A&P II goes equally as well.

No go, you, get back to your summer, ummm, yeah, what’s that thing called again?  Oh yeah – VACATION!  You have to have fun for the both of us!

Doing Disney For Father’s Day – Making Dad’s Day Special

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here at all, but my family and I love Disney World.  Yeah, I have mentioned it, haven’t I?  We’ve spent every holiday at Disney World at least once or twice (or twelve times), and we’ve celebrated many occasions at Walt Disney World.  But the one holiday/occasion that often gets overlooked when we think of what to celebrate at Disney, it’s Father’s Day.  It’s at an odd spot on the calendar – usually right before or right after the end of school.  It’s hard to take kids out of school in the last week to get Dad to Disney, no matter how much he begs!  But let’s see how you can give your Dad a Disney Day – whether you can be at the park or not!

These tips below are for Dads lucky enough to be headed to Walt Disney World for their special day:

Let Dad Choose the Attractions

No matter how embarrassing he might be, this is your Dad, and it’s his day to celebrate.  If he wants to do the Laugh Floor, hoping to be THAT Guy, where he gets up, dances some Elaine from Seinfeld spastic and somewhat inappropriate dance, ya gotta let him.  My daughters and I have all vowed to never see the Laugh Floor show again with Jim in tow.  Even we’d have to make an exception for Father’s Day.

Let Dad Choose a Meal

Honestly, I choose the meal virtually every night of the week anyway, so it’s nice to give Dad a chance to choose something he’d like to eat!  There are restaurants at Walt Disney World for every Dad palate, so offer to make an Advanced Dining Reservation somewhere you know he’ll love.  Is Dad a big steak guy?  How about Le Cellier in Canada at EPCOT or the Yachtsman Steakhouse?  Perhaps your Papa likes pasta!  Check out Tutto Italia in Italy at EPCOT or Mama Melrose’s at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Your sports loving Dad might want to grab a bite at the ESPN Club, or maybe he’d like something a bit more adventurous like Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  From Seafood to Swahili – your Dad will eat like a king at Walt Disney World on Father’s Day!

And Now For Something Completely Different

If your Dad is anything like the one I have for my kids, he doesn’t ask to do much for himself when we go to Disney World.  He likes to let the kids and I choose events or activities, and as a result, we’ve done tea at the Grand Floridian (which our Dad loves, by the way); Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique; and princess breakfasts.  But there are some special things your Dad can do that you might not know about!

How about a chance to dive at EPCOT?  Or maybe your Dad is a train buff and would enjoy the Magic Behind the Steam Trains tour at the Magic Kingdom.  Had Dad always wanted to try a Segway?  They’ve got tours for that!

If your Dad likes to be front and center as opposed to behind the scenes, take him over to the Pirates League at the Magic Kingdom, where he can get made over as a scary pirate!

And if pirates are his thing, celebrate his evening with a Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage!  Dad will enjoy snacks at the Contemporary Resort, then a front row, lagoon view seat for the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom!  What a way to end an awesome Father’s Day!

There really is something special for every Dad at Walt Disney World.  Whether it’s a round of golf, water sports, a massage, or taking in a ball game at Wide World of Sports, your Dad will love Walt Disney World for Father’s Day!  Make this the year he gets that treat!