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Words I Just Finished Reading

The Kitchen House
The Atomic Weight of Love
We're All Damaged
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Wishful Drinking
News of the World
The Forgotten Garden
Out of My Mind
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love
My Not So Perfect Life
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency
The Lost Wife
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Anna and the French Kiss
Little Bee

Julie's favorite books »


Disney Magic

When asked about having a newborn, my wise friend Emily Robinson puts it perfectly: it’s the best and worst time of your life.  This, my friends, is not too far removed from my feelings about Disneyland.  Our trip was fun but exhausting.  The rides are exhilarating but the lines are long.  Your children are both their happiest and their most miserable selves.  It’s Disneyland, but it’s in Anaheim; it’s expensive, but worth it.  Nolan shared his own ambivalence when my mom and dad made the big reveal. 

Mimi and Papa (excited): “Nolan, do you want to meet us at Disneyland next week?”

Nolan (unimpressed): “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

We really did have a great time.  No, really.  We did.  For a first pass it was perfect.  The kids are young enough to love the magic but not quite old enough to move very quickly (which is why the rented strollers were worth every stinkin’ penny).  Mando and I can be taskmasters.  At Disneyland, this tendency manifests itself in a deep need to hustle through every available ride AS SOON AS POSSIBLE before the lines get insanely long.  Which is why, as I bolted through the park to get our ticket that was inadvertently left at the front gate, the security guard shouted at me, “No running, please!”  I wanted to stop and explain to him that I was merely dealing with a Disney staff member’s mistake (because taking correction is not one of my strengths), but I had to get the tickets to my mom and sister, whom I had mercilessly abandoned in the Radiator Springs Fast Pass line.  (We left them there and then went on the Toy Story ride.)  Plus, at that point I was Working the Itinerary.  I endured a fair amount of hassling over the itinerary I sent out to my family members; I only typed it up after I realized we weren’t renting a car, we had three separate flight itineraries, and people seemed to be confused about our hotel location.  And maybe I included the stroller rental information (with a map) and the list of FastPass rides; that’s just good planning, people. 

Fine.  So maybe I was the teensiest bit manic.  Like when we walked by an empty roller coaster line, hastily shoved Nolan and Eli into my mom’s arms, and ran through the snaking walkway shouting over our shoulders, “Guys, you’re too short; we’ll be right back!”  And when our car pulled around before the first incline my mom was standing on the boardwalk overlooking the track with – you guessed it – two crying children.  “Why are you on that roller coaster?  Mommy?  Daddy?”  If I were a mother of one, I’d be questioning my decision and wondering about whether I had scarred my child for life (read: abandonment issues).  But as a mother of two, I thought, “They’re fine.  Might as well enjoy myself!” 

I was merely taking a break from shouldering the cosmic burden of one of my namesakes: cruise director Julie from The Love Boat.  But then I cracked under the pressure.  We were walking back to the Radiator Springs ride (which is the ride at California Adventure: two hour plus waits virtually all day long).  So I hand my sister our FastPasses that she had so unselfishly procured; I had been checking my purse to rub the tickets like a rabbit’s foot periodically throughout the morning.  We’re walking up for our 12:05 to 1:05pm time slot (right on time, thankyouverymuch) and Amy turns to me and says, “Julie, these are for 11:05 to 12:05pm.”  I almost vomited.  Then I realized she was messing with me, and I called her an exceedingly nasty name.  It just flew out.  She cried laughing, high-fived everyone, and I had to spend the rest of the day contemplating the fact that, inside, I am a terrible person with a cold, black heart.    

We also made the questionable decision to take Nolan on The Hollywood Tower of Terror, which is a free-fall ride.  It’s great.  But it’s super creepy, with a lead-up video about people disappearing into The Twilight Zone.  And if you’ve ever met my children (who suffer from a distinct anxiety regarding smoke detectors), you’ll know that we overshot the mark.  Eli cried his way through Star Tours (with me hissing to Mando, “just tell him to close his eyes”); Nolan had his hands in the air the entire time like a proper Disney-crazed child.  Success!  But then he cried on Space Mountain (which, in my defense, was nothing like the one at Disney World).  Fail.  They’re both fine now.  Really. 

But there were perfectly magical moments.  Watching my children at the character breakfast, marveling at all the work God has done in their hearts.  Seeing them wave enthusiastically to every character in the parade, hug Mr. Incredible, and pose with Frozone.  My mom, fulfilling a childhood dream to ride the Matterhorn (twice)!  My mom and sister and dad with us: the joy multiplying, multiplying.  Dad sharing his Disney memories and Amy being the lovely aunt she is.  Mom and Nolan discussing (ad infinitum) how they both hated the Tower of Terror.  And everyone committed to grace and ease, even when it meant Papa didn’t get to ride the train and Eli was forced to ride the Finding Nemo ride and Nolan ate all of Mimi’s popcorn.

Watching them believe as only children can: more than worth the price of admission.


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