The Sound of Music ~ It was worth it!

"It was worth it." A phrase that talks about the positive results of some sort of effort outweighing the negative aspects of the work that went into it. It can apply to many very different things. It can be small or little, but most of us would probably agree that there are a few events in our mind that stand out. The ones where the words, "It was worth it," don't even begin to cover the sense of satisfaction and perhaps even joy for the moment. There's usually a lot of time involved in preparation for a short time of acknowledgment or celebration. Some of my moments include graduation, several sports moments and accomplishments, my wedding, giving birth (twice), and many parental moments of pride, joy, and laughter. And less than two weeks ago, I experienced one that I am sure will become one of those memories tucked away to draw on when a happy moment is needed or wanted.

A few months ago, my family began a journey of practice, practice, PRACTICE that ended in a musical that all who were involved with could be proud of. A local community theater group that we recently became involved with performed "The Sound of Music" the weekend before Thanksgiving. For us, it began with auditions for Hannah (see my entry a couple posts ago for details), her landing the part of Louisa, and a phone call to my husband. Due to circumstances and time restrictions, he was not planning to be involved with this musical much at all, but for reasons that would qualify as rattling if I were to explain here, he accepted the cry for help to play the role of Uncle Max.

Practices began somewhat slowly, but they steadily increased in both time and quantity. The last week involved every single cast member and all members of the stage crew from 6 PM until 10 PM. The kids still had school, and the adults still had jobs, but while I saw a lot of exhausted people, I did not see a lot of crabby tempers or Broadway "wanna-be's." Everyone had something to contribute, and everyone else knew that, from the lead roles to the ensembles to the backstage worker bees. It is still a bit fascinating to me all the activity that happens continuously backstage during a performance, and of course this was no exception. But there was almost as much laughter as there was frenzy, and as is normal for me, I was usually nearby with a camera trying to capture it all. Andrew had the opportunity to help back stage through the final week of practice, so it was truly a family affair.

Saturday's show was my opportunity to sit in the audience and watch it all from beginning to end. I sat with family and friends, and when the final curtain came down, I wondered if they could visibly see my chest swell with pride. I heard friends (and family) who love music and my brother who doesn't, all rave about both of my stars as well as the whole production. Although Dave was the lead in last year's production (Beauty & the Beast) and Hannah was in that as well, that couldn't even begin to compare with how much more talent, consistency, and professionalism we saw in this show.

There was much of a family atmosphere among most of the cast which means that while there were moments of dysfunction, tension, and even irritation, they were much further and fewer between than those of laughter, kindness, and encouragement. All weekend, Hannah kept saying that she didn't want it to be over. Hours and hours of practice for one weekend, and it was all over. And cast party or not, there's no gentle way to say goodbye to it all. Much like Christmas or a wedding, it doesn't seem fair to have it all go away after just a day or two. I think the key is to remember that part of the fun, part of the joy is to enjoy the journey not just the destination. And when you do arrive at the destination, enjoy every minute.

I am happy to have some time with my family back. We have a life again. But I thoroughly enjoyed this trip...both the journey and the destination. And the memories will be tucked away in my mind to cherish, revel, and enjoy as much as possible.

"Trust Me"

There's an email going around that talks about how people enter our lives for seasons. Some are here forever, but many are not. They come when needed and leave when no longer needed. Of course, this can bring some hurt, pain, disappointment, especially if the break or fade-away is not mutual. This is when God says, "trust me."

"Trust me." Simple concept. Difficult in practice. I wish I could say that I trust my savior completely during these lonely seasons.

Radio stations are already playing Christmas music. I love the songs that talk about children bringing what they feel are inadequate gifts to the manger only to find out that all He truly wants is ourselves. Our hearts in complete surrender. I found myself in meltdown the other unusual for me (okay, those of you who know me, just keep quiet...!). I could so relate to the child in the song I had just heard. Feelings of complete inadequacy washed over waves actually.

The tears are beginning again as I write this. What do I have to offer? My life is half over, and I heavenly crown will be easy to give back to Jesus because it will be so light.

I want to rest in the palm of His hand, but I'm not even sure what that feels like. It seems like life is one struggle after another, and keeping my head above water is the best I can hope for. So many times I hear about how Jesus wants so much more for us...the abundant life, walking in victory because He has won not only the battle but the war for us. But how do I do that? I fall, I get back up, I begin the walk again...even start to run, only to miss that big stick stretched across my path and go flying face-first in the dirt once again.

I have touched lives, but not for the better. I want to talk...but to whom?

I have heard it said that when you are at the end of your rope...let go. That's when God catches you and carries you. What does that look like in the day-to-day life? I wish I knew....

The Sound of Music ~ Tryouts and triumphs

Walking into the room, I felt like I was looking at an anthill that had just been raided by a few drops of water: ants scurrying everywhere with no real goal or organization...yet. But you had the feeling that given time, everyone would have a job, and organization would begin to unfold. Everyone looked busy and the room was alive with chatter and anticipation. Kids were getting measured, parents filling out forms, chairs scraping and screeching, and the director trying to get everyone's attention. I was stunned with the numbers. Standing room only. There had to be 40 or more kids; add in their parents, and that was a lot of bodies in a small room! It was obvious that the numbers exceeded expectations. My heart sank a little because while I know Hannah is good, I didn't know how she would stand up under this kind of competition. I looked around the room parts. Seven parts and HOW MANY kids again? Yikes.

Hannah had been taking voice lessons, and her music teacher who doesn't throw compliments around easily, said she was so excited with and proud of her progress. Hannah LOVES to sing, especially in a musical. She was in "Beauty and the Beast" last year and had a ball. "The Sound of Music" is one of her all-time favorites, and it was a very real dream of hers to one day earn a lead for that musical. When the same local theater group that put on B&B decided to do "The Sound of Music" this year, we supported her going for it. Now, looking around the room, I had my doubts. Was disappointment around the corner? God has taught us some very real lessons through disappointment, so I immediately began praying that whatever His will, that He be glorified and honored. If disappointment was to be the destiny, then this over-sensitive parent and drama-queen preteen were going to need lots of help! Of course I added, "At least a call-back would be nice, Lord."

Round 1 wasn't so bad. Groups of kids were asked to sing together, and when it was Hannah's turn, I could hear her bold, clear voice come through nicely. I felt certain she would get called back, but perhaps I was a bit biased? We would soon find out. The phone call came two days later, and Hannah was invited to call-backs the next day. I breathed a sigh of relief and thought I could relax. She had made it this far; whether she got the part or not, she could have confidence in the fact that she had talent and with continued practice, she would get her chance to show off that talent. Relax? What was I thinking?

When we walked in this time, I was surprised with the numbers still there. The room was almost as full as it had been two nights before...there had to be about 25 kids...this was pared down? Turns out that the second night of round 1 tryouts had almost as many kids as the first night, so between the two nights, there were 70 or more kids. 70+ kids, 7 parts. I guess 25 or so WAS pared down. And the room was now oozing with talent. All these kids were good, most were excellent. I was so glad I wasn't the director! Once again, my prayer was that whether she won or lost the part, God would somehow get the glory through this...specifically through Hannah's efforts.

A long evening ensued. The kids had to learn harmony parts quickly and try to blend and sing together with other kids. They had to read through a few scenes, stand together for height and "family resemblance," and stay quiet when it wasn't their turn. Eventually, round 2 ended, and about half the kids were sent home. Hannah (and I) stayed. I was so thrilled for her, and while I was positively antsy with nervous anticipation, I was also giddy with pride that she had made it this far. We both felt that win or lose, it was truly an honor to be considered "cream of the crop" enough to continue to be called back.

The third and final round was even more nerve-racking than the previous as the final selection for 3 parts was made, but 4 of the roles, including the one Hannah was trying for, were still undecided. So we had to leave without knowing, and since we were leaving for the weekend the next day, we wondered if we would find out before we left.

The call came the next morning...Hannah had been chosen for the part of Louisa! She was out with her aunt, and while I wanted to see her face when I told her, I couldn't wait! So of course I called. The timing was perfect as they had just stopped at my mom's, so her aunt her gramma, and she all got to hear the news together. I heard a lot of joyful shouts, jumping, and laughing that almost made up for not seeing her face. What a joyful highlight to tuck away in my parental heart!

Now we are in the throes of rehearsals and preparations, and I have to say I am proud of how Hannah is handling it all. She is maintaining her schoolwork, helping at church, and she's playing volleyball, too! We are usually pretty strict with one activity at a time, but we made an exception for these circumstances with the agreement that she keep up with her grades and other commitments, and no matter what the musical is next fall, she will not be a part of it if she continues with her other activities and commitments. Her school does a musical every spring when she doesn't have anything else going on, so she'll get her opportunity then to be a part of a musical each year if she chooses, and will be able to do so without all these other things going on.

Needless to say, we are practically counting the days until the performance! And you can be sure I'll be posting pics and chattering on and on about it when it does happen. Can you hear my heart swell from here?

Reports of my death....

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated...!" Mark Twain penned that quote originally, but now, Andrew can apply it to himself when he tells his story of this past weekend:

Seneca Hills is a Christian campground near us, and it has come to mean a lot to us over the years. There is a family camp every Memorial Day and Labor Day that we attend, and our kids go there for a week each summer for the kids' summer camp.

This past weekend, we were there as usual over Labor Day. Yesterday (Sunday), just before supper, Andrew and several other kids took off on their bikes on a trail near the creek when Andrew took a pretty nasty wipe-out and found himself at the bottom of a rocky hill near the creek pretty banged up and more than a little scared. His walkie-talkie took a beating too, so he could not get a hold of us, so he sent one of the younger kids back to get help. Being a typical 7-year-old, this child wasn't clear with what had happened, but we finally got the message that Andrew was hurt and we needed to go check it out. So Dave and Homer (our friend) headed out to find Andrew.

Although we are in a modern world of technology and communication, the story still got mangled pretty badly, and between kids trying to help, walkie-talkies, and parents who fear the worst, Andrew was in a ravine with a twisted elbow and a broken leg with a bone protruding through the flesh by the time I got the message. I held it together long enough to run and get help and then proceeded to go into a 10-minute meltdown while I could, since I was away from both kids. I knew I would get it together for them when I needed to...but right then, it hit me pretty hard, and I had visions of my child in agony with mangled body parts. I did calm down, and within about ten minutes, I finally got the accurate message that not only was it not as bad as I thought, but Andrew was up and walking and moving around pretty good, and we probably wouldn't even have to go to the hospital. He had banged up his elbow, knee, and back, but no broken bones, major twists or even any major bruises.

Unfortunately, my meltdown happened near the dining hall in the middle of supper, and while I am forever grateful for the people who showed concern and rallied around me, it didn't help the rumor mill any. Small camp...everyone knows travels fast...too fast. Andrew was probably close to death by the time some people heard anything, so we've been calling it his "near-death experience." In fact, later than evening, a friend was riding by on his bike and saw Andrew--and with a wry grin said, "I heard you died...!"

As you can see in the picture, his parents were probably much more worse-for-the-wear than he was, especially mentally. He had more dirt than scrapes, and he'll probably have a nasty bruise on his back to show off, but that's it. We decided not to go to the hospital--too much hassle when my motherly instinct was telling me he'd be just fine (where was that instinct when I first got the message that he'd been hurt pretty badly??). Sure enough, he was chasing bottles from a bottle-rocket launcher (that another camper had made and brought) less than half an hour after eating some supper.

We did tell Andrew that he and Seneca don't seem to be getting along lately. Many of you may remember the huge goose egg he got over Memorial Day when his head collided with a tennis racket moving at full speed. He came home from his week during the summer with a sore throat that turned out to be strep. And now this...! We're starting to think we better leave him home next year. :::chuckle:::

I praise God that He chose this particular ending to this incident, and it is definitely something we can laugh at now. I actually look forward to scrapbooking these moments as they show such a unique but real part of life.

I will say that even in the middle of when I thought I would be spending the next weeks dealing with a badly and painfully injured child, I knew...I truly KNEW...God would be there with me through it all. I knew my friends would be there, and I knew my savior would be closer than ever. What a blessing in the midst of chaos, confusion, and the agony of the unknown!

If any of you have followed any of the interviews Steven Curtis Chapman has been giving lately, you know some of the events that day. The things that have touched me the most have revolved around the family's incredible love and support of Will Franklin, the son who was driving the vehicle that killed little Maria. One of the events that day involved Will's older brother Caleb holding him down, hugging him, and praying for him. In the midst of all of that, Caleb admits to crying out in his own heart, "Why? Why is this happening? God, why are You allowing this?" But he also realized that although he was hurting, confused, and even angry, the fact that he was reaching out to God proved the existance and very real presence of his heavenly Father.

I have a few experiences in my life where on a MUCH smaller scale, I understand what Caleb meant. In the midst of pain and confusion, I find myself crying out to God right away. I don't understand what's going on, and I'm scared, hurt, and maybe even angry, but my God is big enough to handle all that. Not only is He big enough, but He holds me close and carries me through it. He's there. It's that simple.

My 10-minute meltdown was actually almost freeing because it gave me a chance to bring myself before my God and say, "Help! I can't do this...please help." And I knew he would. Whatever lay ahead, I knew He would.

The past couple of weeks have been weird. I suppose most would say that's when you should write the most. I'm not so sure. My thoughts have been so scattered. I'm sure my writing would be like trying to create a beautiful spider web, and since I'm not a spider, I don't have the right instruments, instincts, or tools, so the end result would be one giant mess.

Let's see...what are some of the thoughts and feelings I've had lately?

Disconnected. Left out. Anger. Hurt. Frustration.

These kind of feelings usually force one to take a hard look within. Soul searching. It's never been a favorite pastime of mine. In twelve-step programs they call it a searching and fearless moral inventory. When's the last time you took a fearless look in the mirror? The good, the bad, and the ugly. Who wants to deal with that?

Self esteem. Self confidence. Self respect. Where does it come from? Where SHOULD it come from? Not from feelings, that's for sure. But how many of us can truly say that our emotions, especially if they stretch out over a period of time, don't affect how we feel about ourselves.

My self worth comes from facts that are not altered by feelings. God created me, and He did so on purpose. He is at work in my heart and life. Because of Jesus' work on the cross, I am His child. These are all facts. Truth. Not opinions. Not feelings. And not what other people say about me. It's all in black and white in God's Word.

I gotta admit, though, that there are times that those feelings and a friend's spoken as well as UNspoken words seem more real than the truth of God's promises. It's a struggle. But truth is based on facts not feelings. I'm gonna go read some truth (God's Word) right now. And then again tomorrow and the next day. And hopefully I'll start placing my self confidence on the Rock (Jesus) and His promises and not on the sinking sand of this world and the people in it.


Rejection. Such an ugly word. Such an ugly concept. Yet in one form or another, we've all had to deal with it. Most of us in multiple ways. Rejection of ideas, rejection of style, rejection of gifts, rejection of help, you name it. And it's hard not to take it personally. Of course, sometimes it is personal. But most of the time, it's not, and it's often when dealing with it that character is built.

Lately, it seems I've had a good bit of rejection come my way. I know that often--maybe even most of the time--success comes from a ton of rejection first, but it doesn't make it much easier. I wish I had some magic formula to make the sting go away. The normal platitudes along with examples of all the success stories that come with the price of much rejection first just don't work. At least not at first.

So what does work? When you get that rejection letter, or maybe no letter at all (not sure which one is worse), what do you tell yourself that keeps you positive, that makes you want to try again? Or perhaps someone else has given you a piece of advice or something to think about that has "snapped you out of it." What works for you? Tell me! Use the comments section here and tell me (and everyone else reading this) what is the best way to "pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again?"

For the past two weeks, Hannah has blessed the life of another family...her best friend's family.

Hannah and Becky have known each other since kindergarten. Their friendship over the years has been something to watch. I read about, see, and hear about friendships that touch the deep inner spirits of those involved. Soul mates. Anne of Green Gables called it having a "bosom friend." Friendship that transcends all circumstances including time and location. I'm often envious. I've had friends through the years, from aquaintances to close friends, but I don't know that I've found a true soul mate or bosom buddy.

Hannah found hers in Becky. When they get together, you can almost hear the "click" like a magnet onto metal . Salt and pepper. Peas and carrots (Forrest Gump). Although I know they had their disagreements, I was never witness to it...not once. They love each other, and they love being together.

Two years ago, when Becky's family announced they were moving, I felt almost physically ill at the loss for Hannah. Hannah took it better than I thought she would, better than I did, but maybe that's because she knew they would be okay. Their friendship was bigger than this move. And she had the child-like faith and understanding that they were gonna be best friends, no matter what.

And so, Becky blessed our home last summer for a couple of weeks, and this year it was Hannah's turn to bless theirs. I talked to her on the phone today for the first time in a few days, and hearing her cheery voice chatter away about what all they've done this week was better for my spirit than anything else I could possibly think of. I am grateful that she had this opportunity. I love to be able to share her...for others to see and know what a richness she adds just by being there. I am grateful to Becky's family for helping to get her there and home again, for welcoming her into their home, and for treating her like family (because these girls are even closer than sisters sometimes!).

She comes home less than 14 hours to be exact. I pick her up at the airport, and I'm sure my ears will be ringing by the time we get home hearing about this wonderful vacation....I can't wait!


Although five years old, these pics are still some of my all-time favorite pool pics. Some Father's Day events around the pool brought on the following thoughts....

Gather a group of families together, and you’ll find a bunch of kids running around, and a group of adults sitting around gabbing. Sometimes it even becomes gender specific as the women navigate toward the kitchen table wanting to learn the latest gossip, and the men gather around the TV with “talk” that usually consists of grunts or catcalls to the tube.

In the summer, it happens outside, but the basics are still the same. The men gather around the grill while the women stay at the picnic table watching the kids who are usually playing or swimming. Throw in a swimming pool, and the transformation in the men is amazing…they not only get in touch with their inner child, but they pull him out to full exposure for all to see and delight in. The water makes it possible to throw their own child across the equivalent of a room, and this is not only acceptable but encouraged! A roaring mountain man will emerge from the water followed by squeals, gales of laughter and much splashing!

WAIT! Someone is missing. Where are all the moms? Here we are—sitting by the pool, laughing at the spectacle, yelling good-naturedly at the kid who just splashed us, and trying to remind the men that they aren’t 20 years old anymore. Why aren’t we in the water? I look down at myself, and the answer’s pretty simple. The thought of squishing this white bulging body into a swimsuit brings on burning cheeks and a sigh of shame. I love the water; I used to be pretty lithe in the water. Health issues along with a lot of extra weight make me feel I’m nothing more than a beached whale, and the thought of joining the kids in the water is almost horrifying.

But those thoughts are wreaking havoc with my priorities! The attention is on ME, what others think of me, and what I think of me. It focuses on what I LOOK like, not who I am. It negates the positive and emphasizes the negative, focusing on what I can’t do rather than what I can. The days slip by one after another and kids grow up. I am missing out on precious time with them, time that they beg for and WANT…all because of my narrow-minded fear of the shallow things in life.

Okay, God, I get it. And I hope you as the reader do, too. Now, go read someone else’s blog. I’m going swimming with my kids… CANNONBALL!

Dancing water & summer, a special medly of music and nature

Ecclesiasties says there's a time for everything including a time to dance. And it's clear in these pics that it is definitely time to DANCE! The last day of school...was there ever any other day in your childhood history that was so much fun?! It was official...summer had arrived!

What comes to mind when you think of summer? WATER: A steady stream of drops falls from the sky after the sprinkler shoots it up into the air. Ice cold at first, the water gave us goose bumps while we squealed and giggled and skipped around the sprinkler. Not wanting to totally avoid the cool wetness, we weren't ready to abandon the hot sunshine yet either. Once saturated, we would stand still and let it drench us even more as we would find the best angle to watch the rainbow in the water.

Blue water in the pool. There is something magical, almost mezmorizing about the dance of light on the pool. The water winks at us, much like a Christmas tree does in the winter, begging us to get in. Going down the stairs, one by one...that was too easy. No points for being a chicken. High points for jumping in even before testing the water temp. CANNONBALL!! Screeches, laughter, and a disgusted lifeguard...was it worth it?? OH YEAH!

Water making a path down the creek, dancing, gurgling, flowing, laughing. Lift up the stones, stir up the mud, and watch it disappear in a matter of seconds. There goes a crayfish...! Icy water over the feet keeps us cool. Out of nowhere, one of us takes a running leap into the water. A splash, a screech, and running feet tell them they hit the bullseye!
Water speeding down a waterslide slings bodies unapologetically down the track at breakneck speed. The fear, the rush of adrenaline, the final fling into the pool....WOOSH! Into and under the water, rush to the top and gulp that air before grinning ear to ear. Then the mad dash to the ladder to do it all over again.
Rain. Thunder. Lightening. Torrents and torrents of water rushing down the window. The cloud cover mixed with the oxygenated air give an eerie glow to the green grass. Although we hate being stuck inside, it is a wonderful reminder of how blessed we are to be warm, dry, and safe.
Whether you live in the desert or the rain forest, water is the biggest part of summer. And it's a great reason to be dancing!

A Trip Down Memory Lane

For my daughter's sixth grade graduation, I started working on a scrapbook for her, a scrapbook of school days that began in preschool. Nostalgia took over for a little while each day as I worked on the pages. Where did my little girl go? You know her...she's the one with blonde curls, dark brown sparkling eyes, chipmunk cheeks, and a contagious giggle. She can rock in a chair--one that's not even a rocking chair--for hours and suck on her two fingers with a contentment I almost envy. She knows her ABCs...wait, I blinked...she knows how to read...oops, I blinked again...she has disappeared with a good book...hold it! I blinked one more time, and she's racing her friends to read a whole series of books first.

She's loyal to her friends, almost to a fault, and has a passion for Jesus. She loves to learn and loves all of her teachers. In fourth grade, she became a full-blown drama queen, and she still loves to make people laugh.

A tough couple of years followed. Like sandpaper smoothing out wood, it is often through difficulty that character is developed. It wasn't always graceful, but she perservered with determination and dignity. Her reward was a maturity and sense of leadership that made her teachers and even her principal stand up and take notice. She was also rewarded with a fantastic sixth grade year that brought more chatter, smiles, and happy days than she will possibly be able to fit in her memory brain box.

She's still a drama queen who hasn't fully learned the art of when it's time to quit. She has crushes, but thinks kissing too long is gross. She is on the edge of girlhood ready to leap into teen-hood but still a little uncertain. She could never give up her Webkinz or any other stuffed animal she owns, but she also loves Hannah Montana and wants her own cell phone. She watches American Idol faithfully while flipping back to Zack and Cody on the Disney channel.

She heads off to junior high this fall with excitement, anticipation, and nervousness. I miss my little girl terribly, but oh, how I love this blossoming young lady!

Winter fun

You've heard the phrase, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Well, if you can't make the snow go away, I guess it's good to have fun in it. My kids actually enjoy the snow a lot and love it when we get a pile of it. Out come the sleds, and if it's good packing snow, you can bet a snowman or a snow fort will appear. And much of the sledding happens at night, which seems to add to the ambiance...cold air, falling snow that is so white and such a contrast to the darkness. Or if it's not snowing, there is usually a full moon or bright stars. We have a hill at our house which is great, so the kids can throw on some snow clothes and head out on a whim, come back in and get warm, and then head out again. That happens often. The hill is really nothing wouldn't even qualify for the bunny hill at the slopes, but it's enough that with some imagination (add a ramp, see how far you can get standing up, etc.), it is still a lot of fun.

Dave likes the snow, too, and will often join the kids in the fun. Me, I don't do cold too well, so I usually go out long enough to watch for a while, snap some pics, and then come in and get some hot cocoa ready for everyone. This particular snow creature started out as a polar bear. Except for the feet, it didn't look much like a bear, so we'll just say it is whatever you want it to be. After building the snow creature, they got into a snowball battle that even the dog enjoyed. She made us laugh as she tried to catch the snowballs and couldn't figure out why they kept falling apart.

My daughter took these pictures. She actually took several of the bird, and most of them turned out just as good. This is another picture that I printed and used as a postcard. Then the bird flew away suddenly and took Hannah off-guard, and she took the picture anyway. "Here's the bird, now it's gone." I got so tickled when she showed the pictures to me, so I kept it, and now I'm sharing it.

Florida Sunsets

Aren't these pics great? Those are my kids in the top picture. In the one with the sailboat, that is just a fisherman. We had a fabulous time in Florida! We saw the beach, did some Disney World, had Christmas with the family, and relaxed a lot. I cannot wait to scrap the pictures I have. Over the ten days we were there, I took over 350 pictures!! I deleted quite a few, but I still have over 200 to sort and scrap. Whew!

I was proud of these ones, though. Some of my sunset pictures were breathtaking. I'm a pretty decent photo bug, but I give most of the credit to a good camera and great timing. My daughter also took some great pics of me and my husband and also some neat ones of this bird sitting on a fence. I actually printed and sent some pics as postcards.

As far as Disney World goes, I wouldn't recommend MGM. Fortunately we did Animal Kingdom the next day and had a great time there.
I obviously am just a little behind in my entries, but I'll try to get on the ball more and post more over the next weeks. Enjoy.