Friday, November 30, 2012

Disneyland: Coming Home

After a week of vacation, the only thing left to do was come home. We had planned to spread the drive across two days, spending the night in St. George. The Bawdens were more brave, however, and decided to drive straight home.

In no hurry, we got up, ate our breakfast, and packed up our stuff. As we started driving, we noticed something surprising. The kids were being totally good. With each passing hour, we gave greater consideration to actually skipping the St. George stop and going right home. But it was hard to really convince ourselves.

Should we do it? Well, that would save us another day of unpacking and repacking the car.

But what's the hurry to get home?

If we don't stop, we won't have to deal with Tate continually jumping off the bed.

But what if we don't stop and the kids start freaking out right after we pass St. George?

In the end, we decided to be brave. We kept driving.

Despite the last hour-and-a-half being filled with Tate's incessant "Mom, mom, mommmmmmmm!" we made it painlessly straight through in about 10 hours.

By the end of the trip we still liked our kids, we still liked each the Bawdens, we still liked each other. We couldn't have asked for anything more.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Disneyland: The Last Day

Our last day at Disneyland was remarkable because of its unremarkable-ness. No tempter tantrums, no lost children, no anything. Just a very nice day.

Paige officially became a roller coaster girl. She went on Space Mountain again (and gave me this tip: "Dad, when you see the lights turning on, the ride's almost over") and couldn't get enough of Big Thunder Mountain. It's pretty fun to go on big kid rides with her. I'm looking forward to when she's old enough to go to Six Flags with me.

Everyone knows Lunchable hams make great binoculars
Curtis was happy about going on Buzz Lightyear another hundred times and Tate would ride the teacups all day long, if his parents' stomachs could handle it.

We finished up the day watching the holiday parade (with front row seats, thanks to Janeen not letting anyone mess with our space) and the nightly fireworks show.

We headed back to the hotel tired and happy. How did we get so lucky?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Disneyland: At the Beach

It's funny how many millions of dollars you have to spend to go to Disneyland and stand in lines all day long, when you can have the entire beach to yourself for free.

After two days at Disney, we headed to Newport Beach (searching, of course, for the Bluth's Banana Stand.  There's always money in the Banana Stand). Sunny. 80 degrees. Perfect.

All of the kids loved it. But for Tate, it was a dream come true. After being cooped up in car seat for two days, and then in a stroller for another two, being able to run around on the beach was sweet freedom. He loved putting his feet in the water and really loved all of the digging and dumping sand on himself.

Brett kept the rest of the kids busy with his castle building initiative (comprised of a modest castle and very extensive sewer system--the most important part, he said) and Traci and Janeen were able to just sit and relax.

It was probably pretty easy to tell that we were tourists 1) because, other than the bums, we were the only people on the beach on Wednesday morning in November 2) we were no match for the seagulls mercilessly attacking our lunch and 3) even after showering off, we were still covered in dirt (that's what happens when you dry yourself off with towels that are also covered in dirt). Oh, and the collection of pasty white skin may also have given us away.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Disneyland: Best Day Ever?

Spoiled? Probably.

In her short life, Paige has already been to Disneyland three times. And all of them on her birthday. Age seven was no exception. This year, she got to celebrate by having the fanciest of all fancy lunches--at Ariel's Grotto, with all of the Disney princesses. Best. Birthday. Ever.

But it wasn't just a good day for the girls. The boys loved California Adventure--thanks in no small part to the new Cars Land. Curtis and Tate both loved Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (pretty fun) and Luigi's Flying Tires (lame for adults). And while the girls (and Brett) were in having their fabulous princess lunch, Curtis, (sleeping) Tate, and I were able to take in Phineas and Ferb's Mobile Dance party.

I was actually pretty daring during the lunch hour. I took Curtis and Tate on that giant Mickey ferris wheel all by myself. I thought Curtis would be scared, but he liked it pretty well. Tate, who I thought would love it, had a major meltdown. Halfway through the ride he was climbing on the gondola fencing and pulling on the door. Only slightly (okay, deathly) nerve racking.

We finished up the day with the surprisingly-worth-the-wait Radiator Springs Racers, which Curtis loved. ("Let's ride it again!" Uh, sorry buddy, we had to pick up our fast passes for this thing like eight hours ago.)

All in all, a pretty great day. On the way out of the park, Traci and I were even able to sneak in on the night's last run of Grizzly River Rapids. Traci enjoyed a pretty dry ride, on account of all of the water in the entire river finding its way down my pants. Fantastic.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Disneyland: Finally Made It

Disney Day One. I don't know if I could have asked for a more perfect picture to sum up our family. (A huge thank you to Brett for taking all of the pictures on the trip. You're the best.) Traci, Paige, and I are all pretty happy to be at the Happiest Place on Earth. Tate is trying to escape his stroller. And Curtis is refusing to be in the picture. 

Despite how it looked, we were pleasantly surprised by how good our kids were. 

Curtis refused to go on any ride that was either in the dark (Star Tours) or required you to walk through a dark room to get to the ride (just about every other ride). But he was pretty excited about the tea cups and the Astro Orbiter. I had to drag him onto the Buzz Lightyear ride, but once he saw that we got to shoot guns, he was hooked. The line was always short, so we went on it about 10 times. 

Paige was happy with pretty much everything that we did. Of course she loved meeting Minnie Mouse and Merida from Brave. But I was surprised that she liked Star Tours so much and that she was willing to go on Space Mountain with Traci. She even sat through all of Jedi Training. (I wish I could have coerced my kids to go on stage.)

Tate was my real worry. For months I'd had visions of him screaming through every line or thrusting himself out of the dumbo car. But he did really well. He'd get a little inpatient with all of the time in the stroller, but he loved being on the rides. While I was busy trying not to throw up on the teacups, Tate was saying, "Wee, wee, weeeee!" He'd get mad every time a ride ended and we unstrapped his seat belt. 

And the best part was that he'd just crash in his stroller at nap time. 

We even made it to Captain EO, where Paige gave my favorite quote of the day. Right after Michael Jackson made his debut, she leaned over to Traci and asked, "Mom, is that a boy or a girl?"

One day down. No disasters, meltdowns, or freakouts. Whew. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Disneyland: Almost There

After the eight hour drive to Primm, the three-and-a-half hours to Anaheim was no problem at all. Likewise, after the crap-tastic stay at Whiskey Pete's, we couldn't have been more pleased with the Park Vue Inn. It was right across the street from the entrance to Disneyland, the people were nice, and the room was clean.

The girls are happy to be in the hotel and out of the car
The kids were really excited to see that, just like at home, the room had a bunk bed. We were excited, too, because it meant they wouldn't be fighting with each other in the bed, and no one would be sneaking into our bed. (Now if we only had a place with a separate room for Tate, to keep him from poking his little head out of the pack-n-play at 3:00 a.m. and smiling at us...)

The magic of the bunk bed wore off quickly, however. We'd been in the room about two seconds when Curtis and Paige were both trying to clamor up the ladder and Curtis fell off.

From the way he was screaming and holding his arm (and not letting anyone touch it), we were worried that he had broken it--before the trip even started. Fabulous.

Curtis, safely on the lower bunk, pre-fall
Though Curtis' injury prevented him from making it to the pool, he was back in action in time to go to Downtown Disney. And it's a good thing, too. He got to see his favorite Avenger, the Hulk (or Hul-luck as Curtis pronounces it) in Lego form.

How could Disneyland get any better?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Disneyland: The Drive

At the top of my list of concerns about the trip to Disneyland was the car ride. I had prepared myself for hours and hours of Tate's screaming, but I wasn't ready for the elements. We woke up to several inches of snow in Salt Lake, with more coming down. But we soldiered on.

Fortunately, the snow slowed down once we hit Utah County. The roads were clear and the kids were being good (even Tate). How could be so lucky?

And then the snow came back.

In between Fillmore and Beaver, things got really bad. We crawled along the unplowed roads, just trying to stay in the tracks of the semi in front of us. Though it was slow going, we made it through. Unlike some of the trucks on the other side of the freeway.

We made a pitstop in Beaver before heading to Mesquite and then on to Primm, Nevada where we had a room reserved at the luxurious Whiskey Pete's Hotel and Casino.

The casino was smokey and dirty, the service was bad, and the room was gross, but we had no reason to complain. The kids did better in the car than we ever could have hoped.

We celebrated by taking the monorail from Whiskey Pete's to the McDonald's at the Buffalo Bill's across the street. They of, course, thought that was awesome.

Disneyland, here we come.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Going to Disneyland...Again?

It was nine months in the making. Back in February, we were having a casual dinner with our friends the Bawdens. The ladies were reminiscing about our respective trips to Disneyland and then next thing I knew, schedules were being checked, dates verified, and plans made. By the time we paid the check, we were going to Disneyland with the Bawdens. What just happened here?

While Traci was basking in the warm glow of Disney memories, I was remembering the realities of our trip 15 months earlier: Curtis, throwing a fit on the flight to Anaheim. Curtis, up all night in the hotel, throwing bottles of chocolate milk at us. Curtis, throwing fits in the park. Curtis, crying the entire flight home, chucking canisters of Pringles at me as he bawled.

The thought of repeating that experience--with the addition of an 18-month-old who also likes to cry and throw stuff and plans to drive instead of fly, made me wary to say to the least.

What were we getting ourselves into?