JeniLynn Knopp (234 Posts)

JeniLynn was born and raised in South Florida. Being so close to Walt Disney World, she grew up regularly visiting the Mouse and developed a fascination with the creativity of Disney Parks. Noticing that her happiest moments seemed to always take place in Walt Disney World, JeniLynn began trying to recreate the magic of Disney in her everyday life beginning in her pre-teen years. Adulthood, sixteen years of marriage, and three children later, JeniLynn continues to lead a Disney Driven Life and diligently works to pass her love for Disney on to her husband and children. She has blogged for Touring Plans and been a contributing writer for The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and she currently co-hosts Orlando Attractions Magazine: The Show; however, her primary focus has always been with the community that has grown around her own site, The Disney Driven Life. Through these venues JeniLynn strives to help other Disney fans stay connected to the brand that has served as a keystone in her family’s life.

“Did you see what’s in the bag?” Traci asks me excitedly as soon as I rejoin my fellow NDMs and children in the refreshment half of the Hospitality Suite.  “No,” I confess, “I just got mine.”  Jackie gushes, “Oh my gosh! Just wait until you see what is inside.  It is unbelievable!” Jen agrees that the contents are amazing, and she begins to talk at an accelerated pace.

I’m all a flutter. Just like the urges of a little kid on Christmas morning, I want to immediately tear into my swag bag.  But one NDK is telling me he has to go to the bathroom.  Another is clinging to my leg while I’m trying to act as a barrier between my third and the tempting refreshments she is forbidden to have due to special dietary needs.  This is not the time nor place to delve into my tote full of goodies.  I must find a place of comfort . . . a place of quiet . . . a place where I can give my new treasures the attention of which they are worthy.

“We must go to the kids’ center in the lobby,” I announce.  It isn’t quiet nor is it given to meditative moments, but it is comfortable.  I figure that meeting one of the three conditions isn’t bad.  No one objects, and so our traveling entourage marches down the pineapple path toward the destination of choice.

Once there, I quickly seat my little Lilos and Stitch at a table stocked with Disney coloring sheets and crayons.  They are peacefully filling in the lines with beautiful hues, and I see my chance to finally have a focused moment.  I make myself comfy on a nearby setee and smack my lips as I begin to pull out contents.  Traci, Jackie, and Jen gather around in excitement, anxious to see what my reaction will be.

“Pixie wings!” I exclaim. “It’s adorable!”  I pull out a long sleeve Mickey t-shirt featuring the fantastic Mouse splattering paint colors everywhere.  “Can I have it?” a little voice asks.  I peer from behind the cotton tee that I am proudly holding up to find Elle’s beaming smile and begging eyes.  “Why aren’t you coloring?” I ask.  She logically replies, “Because I wanted to see the presents.  Can I have it?”

As a mom, the boundary line between what belongs to me and what my rodents are welcome to share is often blurred.  Most times I relinquish my possessions (even my food) in order to satisfy their longings, but this time I feel myself becoming territorial.  This is MY swag . . . . MINE! MINE! MINE!  “Honey,” I rationalize, “this is way too big for you to wear.”  Elle reasons, “I can wear it as a night shirt.”  She is, indeed, correct.  It could serve that purpose.  “Alright,” I agree reluctantly, “You can borrow it sometimes.”  She erupts in a victory cry which attracts the attention of my other two looters.

I pull out a heavy box from the magical tote next.  Margeaux inquires, “Can that be for me?”  “You don’t even know what it is yet,” I remark.  “That’s OK,” she expresses.  “I still want it.”  I open the box to discover a very luxurious travel game set with the Social Media Moms logo on the cover. It’s gorgeous, and the inside is packed with pieces to backgammon, chess, checkers, dominoes and cards.  Margeaux’s eyes light up with travel game lust.  I can see that I will not be able to claim the travel game set either.  “I suppose we can all share this since they are family games,” I state in resignation.

I pull out a colorful looking picnic blanket next.  It quickly gets claimed by Miller who has a talent for sprawling out almost anywhere and falling asleep.  My hopes are fading that I will retain anything in my swag bag.

“Oh! I want to see her open this,” Jen laughs.  I am holding a little nylon blue pocket showcasing the designated logo once again with something stuffed inside.  I begin to pull it out when it suddenly explodes into a flying disc.  I let out a high-pitched yelp as my heart briefly stops because of shock.  My fellow NDMs burst out in laughter.  Traci chuckles, “That’s what I did too.”

My little people “ooooh” and “aaaah” over the shape-shifting nylon circle.  “What is it?” they want to know.  I explain that it is a collapsible frisbee.  There is nothing left to be said. The item is confiscated by my munchkins who become giddy at the thought of throwing this fanciful gizmo.

A sophisticated box with the standard logo and multi-colored post-it notes is the next thing to be snatched from me. “Hang on, now!” I protest. “This is getting out of hand. Ya’ll don’t need post-its.”  Margeaux observes, “The colors on the paper are so pretty. I will use these.”  “No you won’t,” I curtly declare.  Something inside me has snapped.  I cannot part with one more atom of swag.  I take my post-it box back, tuck it safely under my backside, and blush as I look upon the faces of my NDM pals, wondering if my stern act has been judged as shameful.  With love in their eyes, my companions communicate that they sympathize with my plight.

The next item to be pulled out is a black laptop bag with a red Mickey stitched on the front.  It is cuter than a stuttering Piglet, and I squeal.  The NDKs look as if they are about to pounce on me and my newly acquired accessory, but a squinty-eyed glare from their NDM stops them cold.  A line has been drawn in the sand.  The boundary is now unblurred.  What’s mine is mine, and from this point on I’m putting my dukes up.

The kiddos back down and find a safe haven at the lei-making table.  I am now free to pull out the remaining two items of my sack in peace.  “She is going to freak out when she opens this one,” Jackie says.  Traci and Jen giggle in agreement and stare as I curiously open a Disney branded aluminum tin.  What lays inside shocks me–a watch.  It is an actual Mickey Mouse watch that is so precious. With wide-eyes I look at my friends and say in disbelief, “Oh, no.”  They nod their heads and say, “Oh, yes.”

As I look over the large wrist ornament, I recall how I felt the pinch of my $350 registration fee for this conference.   But my more frugal sensibilities are put at ease when I acknowledge that in this one bag alone I probably recuperated at least a third of that in merchandise.  “There is one more thing,” Jen reminds.

A simple rectangular box is uncapped.  I gasp.  Inside a white banded wrist-watch lies delicately upon cotton padding.  The watch looks almost identical to what I know the Disney Moms Panel watches to be.  The sole difference is that the face of the watch displays the Disney Social Media Moms logo rather than the Moms Panel one.  While it is not an actual coveted Moms Panel trophy watch, I acknowledge that it is a consolation prize worthy of the tear I shed.

Not one to linger when the Disney parks call, Traci cuts off my moment of sentimentality, “Shall we go to the Magic Kingdom now?”  Our chorus of NDMs agrees that the time has come to test out our fancy Media FastPasses.  “Come little NDKs,” I call.  “It is time to go find Mickey Mouse.”  “Yay!” they cry out. Elle sweetly asks, “Mommy, can I wear that shirt now?”

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