Tag:

Orlando

mass shooting, gun control, LGBTQ, Orlando, Florida, Pulse, Shooting, Gay Community, Pride, Omar Mateen, Eddie Justice, Mina Justice

My heart has been breaking since learning about the mass shooting that took place at “Orlando’s Premier Gay club”, Pulse, early Sunday morning leaving 49 victims dead and 53 wounded. I’m saddened and sickened for so many reasons. I could write about ISIS, terrorism, bigotry, racism and hate but what saddens me the most is that 49 mothers and fathers lost their child last night because a lunatic with a gun decided he wanted it to be so.

49 unsuspecting people thought it was just another Saturday night. Actually, it was a pretty special night, it was the eve of Pride Day. If ever there was a night to celebrate as a LGBTQ person (or a human being for that matter) it is the night when we all feel like there is a little less hate and lot more love and acceptance in the world. A day when we feel closer to a world of human equality and further from separation.Today the entire world feels vulnerable and helpless; victimized and terrified. We are angry that this was allowed to happen again but don’t let the anger turn to hate. Hate is what got us here to this moment of childless mothers and fathers, in the first place.

That’s what I was feeling yesterday, as I rode the 15-hour drive home from Boston and saw all the smiling, celebratory faces of my friends, celebrating at Pride Parades and block parties. I felt the pride all last week while I was in Boston and glorious rainbows adorned all of the buildings and landmarks around the city. I could feel the acceptance in the air, it was palpable.

But last night, the ugliness of hatred and stupidity reared up its head and stole the lives of 49 children from their parents. No, they were not small children like the victims of Sandy Hook but anyone who has a child knows that our children are always “our children” no matter how old or how big they get. It is our most primal instinct to protect them and love them as fiercely as our hearts will allow; to give our lives in place of theirs without hesitation or thought.

When I read the story of Mina Justice and the texts that she received from her terrified son, Eddie Justice, while he hid in the bathroom from a gun wielding bigot, afraid for his life, my heart shattered into a million pieces. It’s horrid that any one person had to die so senselessly in such a brutal way for no reason at all other than for being who they were meant to be and loving who they were born to love. But to see his own words in the texts to his mother; to know his fear was almost too much to bare. I can only imagine what his mother must have been feeling.

As a mother, I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and die. I wanted to run to this mother and hold her and tell her that it was all going to be alright. That her son was fine. Like this was some primetime drama and at the end, everybody would walk away just fine and the bad man would be apprehended but that’s not how it happens in real life.

In real life, bad things happen to good people. Terrible unthinkable things happen to unsuspecting people who’ve done nothing more than live their lives, openly and freely. Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, lose their loved ones because bad people with no scruples are allowed to obtain guns because, apparently, the right to bear arms trumps the right to live in our United States.

We are becoming desensitized to the point where when we see shootings on the news, it’s no longer shocking unless it’s a mass shooting.

People are outraged, screaming that terrorists are targeting and murdering the LGBTQ community and I agree with their outrage but for me, it’s much simpler. Someone murdered 49 children, his name was Omar Mateen.  He was an American-born man, a domestic terrorist, who called 911 before carrying out this ghastly task and pledged his allegiance to ISIS, while referencing the Boston Marathon bombers. He then chose to gun down 50 innocent people. This is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11.

Mateen somehow managed to carry an assault rifle and a pistol into a packed club around 2 a.m. Sunday morning and started shooting, he murdered 49 people and wounded at least 53. After a three-hour standoff, while 350 people were trapped inside the club desperately calling and messaging friends and relatives, police crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and stun grenades and killed Mateen.

Omar Mateen was 29-years-old, lived in Fort Pierce, Florida and had been interviewed not once but twice, in 2013 and again in 2014, by the FBI but was found both times to not be a threat. They were wrong. In the past two weeks Mateen legally purchased a Glock pistol and a long gun, ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Trevor Velinor told reporters.

Authorities spoke with Mateen’s father and ex-wife and both said that Omar Mateen was not particularly religious but his father said that recently, Omar saw two men kissing in Miami and it offended him. His ex-wife says that she thinks he was bipolar but was never formally diagnosed. Sounds to me like he was a bigot with a gun; a bully.

49 moms and dads are beside themselves trying to figure out how to live without their children alive to love. 49 childless mothers are sobbing primally because their world has been destroyed. 49 childless fathers are looking at the door expecting their child to return, knowing they never will; feeling a void that is so massive that it feels as if their heart will crush beneath the weight of it.

Today the entire world feels vulnerable and helpless; victimized and terrified. We are angry that this was allowed to happen again but don’t let the anger turn to hate. Hate is what got us here to this moment of childless mothers and fathers, in the first place.

Channel your hatred, anger, helplessness and vulnerability into change. Donate blood. Be kind to strangers. Treat people as humans. Don’t judge people for who they love, the color of their skin or the God they worship. Be a voice for the mothers and fathers who cannot speak or barely breathe, those who lost everything because one evil man was able to possess a gun and with that gun he chose to murder people just because he could.

We have to say no more, stand up for those who need protection and be the change we want to see in the world. The time for  expecting others to make things happen has passed. We have to vote, risk and force the change. Next time, it could be one of our children.

What would you be willing to risk in order to prevent another mass shooting?

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travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting

When my family and I traveled to Orlando, Florida recently, we had the pleasure of attending Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Disney World. We love taking our girls to the theater and letting them enjoy cultural events while they are still young enough to really enjoy the magic because of the infinite possibilities of their imaginations and let them develop a love for the arts naturally.We’ve been taking them to the ballet and the Chicago Shakespeare theater for years; next stop, Broadway. La Nouba tells the fascinating story of the boundless and festive journey of the imagination. The Big Guy and I first saw La Nouba on our honeymoon in 1999. Since then, the Cirque du Soleil and, more specifically, La Nouba have held a special place in our heart. So, imagine how excited we were to share it with our daughters?

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

In case you are unfamiliar with Cirque du Soleil, it is a version of the circus that is humane, uses no animals and captivates the audience, young and old alike, with acrobatic feats that defy the imagination and music that makes your feel like the whole thing is a wonderful, magical dream. Dazzling costumes, dramatic lighting, bizarre choreography and ethereal operatic music set the stage for clownish observations, a human puppet and a host of amazing acrobats that all bend and weave together to create one of the most exciting and engaging shows under the soleil.

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

A door opens and the two worlds collide. Enter the attic of make-believe, where the mundane meets the marvelous. Dreams and nightmares intertwine. La Nouba which calls on both individual and collective memory, is an unforgettable journey into a world at once threatening and exhilarating, frightening and familiar. La Nouba beckons to us, challenges us to uncover passions we thought we had lost long ago; to frolic in our childhood dreams and enter a place where the extraordinary transforms and overcomes the ordinary.

 

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

We took our daughters, ages 6 and 9 at the time, and they both were enthralled with the performers. My 6-year-old LOVED the Titan, especially when he performed on the trampolines and the little girls doing the Diabolos act. In fact, she made me buy her her very own set and plays with them almost daily. My 9-year-old was smitten with the Green Bird and the dancers. The Big Guy finds the power track/ trampoline act to be the big show stopper. Me, I must confess, I am mesmerized by the aerial ballet in silk. The show definitely has something for everyone and I could go on for days talking about La Nouba but as a picture is worth a 1000 words, a production like La Nouba leaves me speechless. La Nouba is something that has to be experienced to be believed and to fully enjoy it.

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

Next time you are at Disney World, and I know you will be if you have kids, if you are on the fence on whether or not to take your children to see La Nouba, I am here to tell you that it will be something they will never forget.

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting

Have you been to a Cirque du Soleil production? What was your favorite act or character?

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

If you’ve seen La Nouba, what was your favorite part of the show?

Photo Cirque du Soleil

Disclosure: I was provided 2 tickets for review purposes, but all opinions and thoughts are my own. I’ve been in love with La Nouba since the first time I saw it on my honeymoon in 1999.

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Disney, Magic Kingdom, Orlando Florida, Walt Disney World

Disney, Magic Kingdom, Orlando Florida, Walt Disney World

The Most Magical part of the Magic Kingdom

We’re starting the Orlando tips with my favorite place, Disney Magic Kingdom. Earlier this month my family visited the Walt Disney World Resort and I promised you all that I would give you some reviews and tips of some of the places we went. Today, I’ll be sharing tips with you on how to maximize your experience at the Magic Kingdom, by far every kids favorite place on earth. The Big Guy and I have been to Walt Disney World many times before having our girls, including on our honeymoon. However, it was our first visit to Disney World with our girls. It was their very first trip to the happiest place on earth and it needed to be extra magical.

If you’ve already been to the Magic Kingdom, you may know some of these tips already but if you’ve never been with kids you may want to take some notes on things to do. Believe me it’s a completely different magical experience with children.

  • If you have children under the age of 8, pay the $15 for a single or $31 for a double stroller if you have more than one kid. They will get overwhelmed and exhausted and you will be carrying children. Save your back, rent a stroller.
  • If you have girls, you must take them to the Bibbidi Bobbidi boutique. It was by far one of my daughters’ most cherished memories and ours, as well.
  • Grab a map of the park and the list of times for meet and greets and where the meet and greets will be held. Believe me, if your kid has no interest in meeting Daisy Duck and you get stuck in that traffic, you will not be in a good mood. I suggest finding out who your child’s must meet characters are and then planning your time in the park around those meet and greet opportunities. Believe me if your daughter sees Rapunzel walking around and you didn’t get her autograph, overtired children will mutiny on your ass, right in the middle of the happiest fucking place on earth.True Story.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that stay on, can get wet and don’t pose a trip and fall hazard.
  • Be sure to buy your autograph book before you get to the Magic Kingdom for the simple fact that you won’t want to waste the time in line at the shop when you should be in line for meet and greets. And when you walk up to the characters, have the book already open to the page your child wants them to sign on. Then date the autograph, so you can remember the trip properly.
  • Fast pass is your friend. Get fast passes for everything that they offer fast passes for including shows and popular rides with the children. This also includes the meet and greet with the princesses and Mickey and Minnie, if not expect to waste 45-70 minutes waiting to meet your children’s heroes. I am NOT exaggerating. There are not enough hours in the day to meet and greet all the characters. You must prioritize or have the entire week to devote just to the Magic Kingdom.
  • Make sure to take a little time and plan your day. There is so much to do and so little time to fit it all in. Prioritize what your family will not want to miss, then be sure to know when and where all the parades are and then make reservations for lunch and above all else, make sure that you have rain ponchos. It’s Florida and it rains all the time. I suggest wearing a bathing suit under your shorts, less chance of chafing and faster dry time.
  • Remember why you are there. You’ve taken your kids to the happiest place on earth. Let them enjoy it and turn off your phones and unplug. They are only this age once, be in the moment. Soak it all in and let yourself see the magic of the Magic Kingdom.
  • Take a break when you are tired. Soldiering on is not going to make it magical for anyone. Depending on the ages of your children, going on without breaks or naps could be disastrous and ruin the entire trip. This is supposed to be fun, not miserable.
  • Last but not least, allow for spontaneity. The best things happen when you least expect them, you only have to be open to allowing then the opportunity to happen and that won’t happen if you are too busy rushing to the next ride. Magic happens all around us, you need to be looking in order to see it.

It was our first trip to Disney World and the Magic Kingdom and we will definitely be going back.

What was your child’s favorite  attraction at the Magic Kingdom?

 

Disclaimer: I was provided passes to Disney World/ Magic Kingdom for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

 

 

 

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