Friday, March 30, 2012

Disneyland! Part 2

Day 3

Tuesday was our Magic Morning at Disneyland Park. Magic Morning is where you go inside the park an hour earlier than the regular park opening. I woke at 5:30 and woke Kurt at 6:00. We had Mickey Mouse call Carter at 6:15 and we were all ready to have breakfast at 6:30. Our breakfast was finished and we were at the park shortly after 7am. Ouch, so early! (Keep in mind Daylight Savings was just a few days before!)

 Kurt is ready for fun!

Carter and Harrison were trying hard to be ready for fun at the park, but it was hard!

During breakfast we picked up a Disneyland map and the boys chose which rides they would like to enjoy first. We planned our morning rides, and then decided that we would catch the first Jedi Training session of the day at 10:30. We started with Carter's request for the flying rockets, and then proceeded to Harrison's request for the Finding Nemo submarine ride. After that Kurt and the boys decided to try Space Mountain. However, once the approached the ride, Carter asked to please go back- it was too frightening. Kurt understood and they all left the line. I do not have pictures of the kids on every ride. This was a difficult day and my morning sickness was getting the better of me, so I focused on my family rather than taking pictures.

 When did he get big enough to ride alone?! They grow so quickly!

I was not feeling well enough to ride this one, so Kurt took my place. He doesn't like rides that spin in a circle, but he was a trooper and did it for Harrison!

I did manage to snap some pictures of us on the Alice in Wonderland and Mad Hatter Tea-Cup rides, as well as the Its a Small World ride (Kurt *HATED* it!)!

 We all loved the Alice in Wonderland ride!

 Kurt's stomach refused to allow him on the tea cups. I did not think I would be okay with them, but the kids really wanted to go so I agreed. I am thrilled to report there is not as much spin to them as I originally thought- so they weren't too difficult =)

 Carter and Harrison didn't mind the Small World!

Kurt and I being silly- pretending to be scared of the dolls. I say we pretended... but he might have actually been scared of them. He requested we never *ever* ride that ride again. I think the song got to him... but that could be because the kids and I sang the song for the rest of the day, lol!

Then it was on to Toad's Wild Ride! We did not have to wait long, but while we were on the ride it broke!!! I snapped a picture of the cast member getting Kurt and Carter- it sort of looks like they were kicked off the ride, lol!

 Harrison and I act really silly while we wait for them to lead us off of the ride.

Love this picture, it looks like they were removed from the ride! The cast member was really nice and very apologetic for the technical difficulties the ride was having and offered us to wait and go first when it started again- but we had bigger plans!

Now that we had experienced rides and fun it was time for (drum roll please...) Jedi Training!!! We arrived at the pavilion early, in fact, our children were the third group to sit down. Kurt and I sat at a table in the cafe that backs up to the crowd (we were only about 10 feet from the children, who were directly in front of us), and we ordered snacks while we waited. We were there 40 minutes before the training was supposed to start, and the boys took their seats on the front line 25 minutes to show time. The kids didn't understand what they were waiting for, but Kurt assured them that their patience would be rewarded. We hoped that our children would be chosen for Jedi Training, but as hundreds of people started to gather our hopes started to dwindle. There were children in full Jedi gear, others in Star Wars apparel, and some families had taken the time to create elaborate banners saying things like, "Pick me!!!" or "The Force is strong with this one!!!" Kurt and I looked around, looked down at our meek and rather mild mannered children (especially compared to the other kids!) and we felt pained. Kurt went down to them, and explained that when the time came it would be okay for them to stand up, cheer, and shout. They both nodded and the event started, Kurt took his place next to me, and we held hands and hoped they would be chosen!

Then... the Jedi Masters and the Padawan came onto the stage. Our children couldn't help but jump up and shout!

That tall set of raised arms are Carter's, and the smaller set to his left are Harrison's. The main Jedi master is on stage. The main Jedi master was a bald African-American, so Carter screamed out, "YEAH! MACE WINDU!!! HOORAY!" The Disney cast didn't seem to mind, thankfully! It made sense to Carter that if people were dressed as Stormtroopers then this man must be trying to be Mace Windu (who is Carter's favorite Star Wars character).

The Jedi master scanned the crowd. He slowly started choosing children. Kurt and I became instantly hopeful when we realized the two children first chosen had been from the first two groups that had sat down before we did- 40 minutes before. With any luck they were picking children who had been waiting the longest!!! We held our breath and then- BOTH of our children were selected together! Kurt and I joined in the crowd of cheers and screams- we were so thrilled! Families around us patted our backs and congratulated us- it was astounding!!!

Bashful little Harrison waves to the crowd!

Carter gets ready! He didn't look at us through the entire Jedi training- he was too absorbed with what was going on.

The boys learned some different Jedi lightsaber techniques and then... out of the blue... STORMTROOPERS ARRIVED!!!! Then something started to come out of the ground!!!

AH! Darth Vader!!!!


The boys finished their Jedi training, received their honorary padawan certificates, and we headed to Disney's California Adventure park. We rode a few rides and went to see the Aladdin play- where we had a ticket for priority seating. We were loving the play and disappointed when the special effects computers broke down- so the play had to stop 1/3 of the way in. The next time we are at Disney we will make a bigger effort to see that neat play!

We decided to break for lunch and grab a fastpass to Soaring over California. We were all pretty tired and irritable, so after we rode Soaring we decided to break and go for a swim. We walked back to the Disneyland Hotel, and we spent hours at the pool. We had so much fun we realized that we were going to miss our dinner reservation, but rather than rush ourselves back into the park, we knew we needed the night off, so we swam some more. We all decided to have dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, as it was pretty close to the hotel, and we were all tired of moving around. We loved our dinner!

After dinner it was after 7pm, so we went back to the hotel. We went to the club and gathered some desserts and picked out a movie. We went to our room, got the kids ready for bed, and before you could say "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" the children were sound asleep. Kurt and I stayed up to watch Adventures in Babysitting.

By this time, as you can guess, we knew we had pushed ourselves pretty far. So we decided to "sleep in" until 8:30 and start the next day at Disney's California Adventure park. Good move, and we all slept really well!

Disneyland! Part 1

Journal Day 1:

Our family has not taken a vacation, with just the four of us, in years! This year- we wanted to get away before the baby was born and celebrate our little family =) We decided to spend our happy time at (where else?) the "Happiest Place on Earth!" I am so excited to report that the drive went smoothly, the kids were well behaved, and when we pulled up to the Disneyland Hotel the cast members went above and beyond to make our experience amazing! (The kids loved being able to watch movies on the duel portable DVD player my brother let us borrow! I do not normally allow the kids to ever watch movies in the car, so it made the road trip *very* special and quiet- especially when we attached headphones to the DVD player so they didn't have to hear us chit chat, and we didn't have to hear kid movies! Kurt enjoyed driving while I played DJ. We did have to make stops, but the whole thing was around 9 hours- which would have matched the time spent in airports due to layover and baggage. I still felt pretty awful, but Kurt had the foresight to bring our bucket, and he made stops when necessary and without complaint.)

The hotel upgraded our room to their second highest floor, and our view was beautiful! When we booked our trip last month, we added their concierge service and we were nothing short of astounded at how well they cared for us- from the bell service to the special club room, we were overwhelmed with kind service. I kid you not, it felt like we were their only guests, even though we could *see* there were other guests- we felt so well taken care of! The details in the hotel design were so beautiful and magical- the kids enjoyed looking for finely hidden Mickey Mouse shapes hidden within our room- from the fine sheen of the sheets (hidden Mickey!) to the soft engraving of our tiled bath (more hidden Mickey!) to the lamps (are those Mickey hands holding pouter lights???) it was so fun! One of the neatest features of our room was the magical headboard- it sang "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and beautiful little twinkling stars and fireworks above the carved Disney castle would glimmer. LOVE!

When we arrived the staff took care of our car and our luggage and we were able to go to our room. We settled in a bit and then went to the concierge club for snacks, desserts, and drinks. The boys asked to swim- so while Kurt took an hour to relax alone I went swimming with the boys in the heated pool. We had such a great time! While we were swimming the Disneyland fireworks started- and we could see fireworks peeking over the trees- what a neat experience!!!!

After everyone took turns enjoying a nice relaxing hot shower (I am a freak and couldn't stand the smell of chlorine), we all settled into pj's and snuggled into our beds. We were so thankful to be there!

Carter and Harrison enjoy hearing the singing headboard- ready for bed!

Journal Day 2

The boys had no idea of what to expect when we arrived at the park. We had brought them to Disney some years ago- but despite their amazing sharp memories, they literally remember nothing, so this whole experience is new. They happily tell everyone they have never been here, and were presented with "1st Visit" buttons.

I started the day at 5:30. Not kidding. Yeah, I had some morning sickness, but really I was too excited to sleep much more than that. I got up and got ready, then slowly roused Kurt, and then the kiddos. At 6:30 I went to the concierge "Club" and grabbed a few breakfast items to entice the children to get up. Seeing that trying to wake them was proving difficult I requested a wake up call from Mickey Mouse, to help motivate the boys. It worked. Harrison got to answer the phone our first morning and his shocked little squeals of, "MOM!!!! IT'S MICKEY MOUSE ON THE PHONE!" brought delight to us all. He even shared the phone with Carter so Carter could hear a few words from Mickey! They were up, sunblocked, and dressed, and I brought them to the Club for a proper breakfast. We finished breakfast by 7:45 and were at the park for opening time.

Disney, in the morning, is amazing. It is so quiet! There are no lines, there are no crowds. I am *so* thankful that I inherited my father's knack for vacation planning- it made things go so much more smoothly. If I had only ONE piece of "must to" advice- it would be to get your family to bed early in order to be at the park at opening- the lack of lines is worth it- but with every passing hour changes dramatically. The park at 8 is *vastly* different than the park at 10.

Before we came to Disneyland I showed the boys the Disneyland website. We looked at the different rides, and we even watched a video about Disney on Netflix. The kids had a vague idea of what to expect and knew that there was a Star Wars ride, and Harrison requested to do that first. So, our first day in the park started with Star Tours.

Star Tours has changed. A lot. There are now something like 54 different encounters that a rider may experience. The look and feel of the ride changed, and they request that expecting mothers not ride (I wanted to, and almost did, but my conscience got the better of me and the staff happily showed me to a sitting area outside of the ride. There are only something like 6 rides at Disneyland that expecting mothers should not ride, I can handle taking one for the team, lol). The kids rode with Kurt and they *loved* it! (I apologize for the less-than-great pictures of R2, and C3PO- the kids begged me to snap photos, but since there was no line I had to shoot while walking)

Harrison is thrilled about the ride, Carter is doubtful that it will end up being cool. Carter is 6 going on 82. By the end of the ride, they both realized the magic of Disney. They drank the Disney kool-aid and were shocked by how "real" everything was.

After the Star Tours we headed straight for Indiana Jones, which had been Carter's request to ride. Harrison was not tall enough to ride so he sat with me. There was a five minute line, and when Kurt and Carter emerged Carter raced over and couldn't stop talking about how scary the ride was- and how it is now his favorite thing in the world, lol.

We then rode Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion, and then took the kids to Splash Mountain (yet another ride Carter requested). Kurt and the kids piled into a log, and in under five minutes were on the ride in their very own log!

Hard to see, but this is Kurt waving back at me =)


This picture makes me laugh- I love Carter's face!

After the excitement of Splash Mountain we headed to the Jungle Cruise. I admit, I screamed when the piranha popped out of the water- they scared me!

We grabbed a fastpass to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, took a restroom break, listened to some live music played by a visiting high school band (I say listened, but Harrison and I were dancing while Kurt and Carter sat quietly to enjoy the music), and then had lunch. Disney has a large selection of foods, and we decided on a smaller Mexican restaurant. We were there at the restaurant's opening, so it was very quiet. We did not demand the boys eat much of anything- we knew that we would offer snacks often and they would eat when they got hungry, and Kurt knew not to try and push food on me at all. We did, however, force them to drink a great deal. I do not want kids dehydrated at the parks! It worked out, they needed restroom breaks as often as I did, lol!

The boys rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Carter *loved* it- "It is a train roller coaster!!!!!!!!!" We then were lucky to walk by just as they were loading one of the local boats- the boys loved that it resembled a pirate ship!!! (The kids have played Pirates of the Caribbean Lego Wii, have seen Pirates of the Caribbean Lego sets, and at this point experienced the Pirates of the Caribbean ride- they have never seen the movie- but they still seem to get the point.)

After the boat ride was finished we went back to Tomorrowland and the kids were shocked to find *real* Stormtroopers walking amongst the crowd! Carter was a bit leery and stayed back, but Harrison rushed up and tried to hug them. The Stormtroopers, being evil and such, did not have time to sit and take pictures with little children. Instead they would randomly snatch and analyze maps and papers, step in front of people in line, and otherwise annoy the general public (in-character). That did not stop our determined little Harrison from pushing through and being near them, and dragging Carter along with him.

 See that little boy who refuses to let go of the Stormtrooper's hand? Oh yeah, that would be Harrison. The Stormtroopers were not stopping for photos. As I said, they stayed in character and acted annoyed at the public in general, so I took what pictures I was able.

Kurt stands back as the boys cannot get over the "real" Stormtroopers.

Time for the Buzz Lightyear ride!

 Harrison was too excited to see Buzz Lightyear- he didn't want to look at the camera!

 This is as good a picture as I could manage- Harrison was too thrilled about being surrounded by Buzz decor!

We decided to take a break from the parks, go to the hotel, and have a rest. On our way there we saw a really neat bird from the Rainforest Cafe! Carter asked to stop and take a picture with the bird- he is such an animal lover!

We enjoyed a little snack, then we went down to swim. We all (every one of us!) went on the biggest water slide! Little Harrison's thoughts, "OH MY GOSH! I HATED THAT! I AM NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN!" There were three water slides and Harrison enjoyed the small and medium sized slides, but avoided the largest one for the rest of the trip. We played for hours!

After swimming we went to Downtown Disney, where we held reservations for dinner at The ESPN Zone restaurant. We originally planned on having dinner and playing there, but Harrison fell asleep right at the table! We took our time with dinner, and let the little guy sleep a bit. When he woke he ate a little, but was reluctant to be very active. We agreed to get him a stroller at the park, so he agreed not to be whiny.

 All absorbed with sports screens. Such men!

His yellow crayon is still in his hand!

We took the Monorail back into the park and arrived just in time to grab front row seats to the parade!

We then rode a ride or two and headed to Fantasmic! What an amazing show! It was really neat because we actually had a good view without waiting too long, and managed to see and hear another angle of the firework show too! It was magical and the children loved it! Kurt braved the dark and grabbed a few snacks (our kids did not eat a lot at dinner, which we expected. When the boys are excited they tend to desire to graze rather than sit and eat a big meal, and with all of the rides and action we didn't mind at all) and we all watched the fireworks and Fantasmic together =) Fantasmic is about 20 minutes long, and it is a water, fire, pyrotechnic, character, and special effects show. It was so amazing- the kids saw Mickey battle a dragon, and then watched all their favorite characters come to life and dance on boats! The boys favorite take-away were the "hut-huts" (green army men) from Toy Story dancing around on a boat!

We were all pretty tired, so at 9:30pm we found ourselves shuffling back to our beds. The kids fell asleep almost instantly. It was really nice to go back to freshly turned-down beds, little Mickey chocolates near the pillows, curtains closed, headboard lights on, and clean towels. I am not generally the type that needs turn-down service, but after destroying the room at our midday rest it was really nice to come back to order and have everything ready for bed. Kurt and I enjoyed some hot cocoa and soon slipped off to sleep.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Our new addition!

HA! You thought this would be a baby post! IT'S NOT! We did, however, add to our family. Kurt bought us a new vehicle! I *love* this thing. It was created for us. It has a lot of room and we already cannot imagine how we managed without it. We traded in our Saturn Ion and now own a GMC Acadia!

Our interior is a bit different- we did not want leather, my camera is in the rearview mirror, and the navigation system is within the sterio face. Other than that- this is what the inside looks like. Carter enjoys sitting in the very back, Harrison enjoys the passenger side middle bucket. Our new little one will be behind the driver come September!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Skate Night!

We had Sean overnight on Thursday, and we wanted to have some fun. We were discussing options in the car when Sean asked if we had ever been roller skating. Our kids had actually never gone, so we decided it would be really fun!!!

When Kurt got off of work we all went to the rink. What a great time! When we arrived, Sean believed he couldn't skate on his own. He soon realized that holding onto Kurt wasn't an option, as Carter and Harrison were *very* new to skating and needed help, and he didn't want to hold my hand because I wasn't skating. Sean was brave and went alone, and to his shock he could skate really well!!! 

Our kids fell a great deal, but they got up every time and they LOVED skating!!! Kurt was an excellent skater (of course... is there anything he *can't* do???) and helped the kids, but by the end of the evening our boys' independent personalities came out to shine, and they wanted to skate alone. What big brave kids!!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Amelie!

I haven't celebrated my kitty's birthday since she turned two, but since I was feeling pretty good after feeling so icky for so long, I felt like it was a great time to take advantage and throw a mini-birthday party! We picked up some gluten free cupcakes, a few party hats, and we were ready to go! The kids got a *huge* kick out of the party, and we were so excited that Sean got to join us!!!

Happy ninth birthday, Amelie!!!