Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Birth of a New Year AND a Birthday Party

I am sitting in complete and total silence. Not the kind of silence that comes when everyone is in bed, but the kind of silence that comes when everyone is GONE. It will be short lived, that is for sure, but right now it feels great.

This week has totally blown by in the blink of an eye. I totally think that statement is "the" statement of 2009. I. Can. Not. Keep. Up. I was so hoping that there would be a week this year where I would get so bored that I could hardly wait for the next week to get here.

It never happened.

I had high hopes for this last week of 2009. It has been great, but boring would not sum it up. Next year, I will be praying for comfort, peace, and contentment in this busy season of life. Enjoying every moment, and not finding myself longing for something different. Content to be where I am. Content in the busy, content in the crazy, content in the chaos, and if it just so happens, content in the quiet and peaceful.

I never intended on writing about any sort of New Year's resolution, but there. I guess that would be it.

Actually, I wanted to write about the crazy that has been this week. This week we decided to throw The Girl's birthday party. If that sounds like we just came upon that idea at the last minute, its because we did. Earlier in the month, I discussed with The Girl some birthday party options. She has been obsessed with sleepovers this past year. When can she have one, when can she go to one, and so and so always has sleepovers. I, myself, am not to keen on the idea. I think she is still a little too young. Sleepovers with grandmas sound like the perfect place to me for right now.

As the Holiday season grew nearer and nearer and with that The Girl's 7th birthday, I was starting to get a little agitated about the idea of throwing a birthday party together in the middle of all the chaos. So, I came up with a little plan. I proposed that The Girl had two choices. She could either have a big birthday party, like in years past, with all her friends from school and church, or she could have a small sleepover with cousins and a best friend.

Of course she picked the sleepover.

This meant no planning weeks ahead of time during the busy Christmas time. Just a few days ahead of time, I called up the moms of the girls that she was inviting over and arranged a date and a time. That was it.

Oh, I did spend some time organizing a craft for them to work on and take home.

Other than that. I was done.

The Girl had a GREAT time.

Here are some pics to prove it:

Here she is on the way to meet her friends at the movie theater. The flick for the evening was Disney's Princess and the Frog. Super cute.


The girls out at dinner after the flick. The restaurant of choice by the birthday girl was fine dining at Chile's:


After spending TWO HOURS working on their craft (a craft that takes that engages kids for that long is PERFECTION in my world), here the girls are showing off the fruits of their labor:


All snuggled up for bed:

HA! I wish. They were in bed, but actually did not got to sleep until the wee hours of the morn. That is what sleepovers are all about, right?

Of course, the next morning, there was a pillow fight:


I was shocked at how smoothly it all went. The girls all got along (for some reason I was freaking out about the girls being mean to one another. I must watch too many "tween" shows and movies.), and before I knew it, parents were here to pick up their girls.

I have to admit, although the whole point of having a small sleepover was to avoid the hassle of planning/organizing/paying for a large birthday party, I somehow feel like we are missing something when I think about the fact that the 7th birthday party is done and over with. It feels weird to be done. To be off the hook so easy. I almost feel like I cheated The Girl out of a birthday party, out of all the birthday fun.

But then I think back to how exhausted I was the next day, and I am back to feeling OK with it.

That quiet time I had at the beginning of this post? It has come to a screeching halt.

Just in the nick of time.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wrapping Up Christmas

Yes, that put was intended.

I wish I could say that we are all put back together from our Christmas celebration, but that would be a big fat lie. So in the spirit of being honest, I will admit, our house still resembles the aftermath of a bomb explosion. Instead of spending some time cleaning today, I ran, ran errands, and sat under my new Snuggie for the rest of the night. I have a feeling that the Snuggie could be responsible for many a lazy nights around here.

Although, I guess the sleeves might allow me to get some work done.

Nah.

I have to admit, I am sad to see Christmas gone already. It seems like it went so fast! I mean one minute we were eating a Turkey dinner at Thanksgiving, and then the next Santa had arrived and we were tearing into gifts and stuffing our faces again. Thankfully, I did have some time in between to finally get into the Christmas Season, and what it is really about.

I thought a TON about Mary this year. I don't know why, I just couldn't get her off my mind. Maybe because I am a mom too? What would it have been like to be her? Why did God choose her? Was she scared out of her mind? What was it like for her to know that she was the mother of the Son of God? These were the questions that I couldn't stop thinking about.

God was gracious to me by showing me so many attributes of Mary, a woman that had "Found favor with God" (Luke 1:30). He showed me that she was obedient, humble, and thankful woman who fully relied on God in all circumstances.

I thought about what I do when God asks me to do things I think are too hard, too big, or not within my own capacity. Do I say, "I am the Lord's servant", and "May it be to me as you have said"? (Luke 1:38). Not only that, but do I say it THE FIRST TIME he asks? Or do I operate out of fear because I feel as though the things He asks me to do I must do with my own strength, and all alone? Maybe I am not even a tiny bit afraid. Instead I am just too selfish to obey.

Of course, God did not ask Mary to be the mother of Jesus not knowing what she would say. He didn't go into it with a list of alternative choices just in case she said no. He asked her because He knew she would say "I am the Lord's servant". Why did he know this (aside from, you know, being God)? He knew this because this was who she was BEFORE she was called.

Sometimes I hear other people talk about how God has used them in a mighty way. I get so inspired and I think to myself, "I would like God to use me in a mighty way!" Then I wonder, "Why hasn't God used me in a mighty way?" Who have I been up to this point in time? Am I "May it be as you have said" type of a girl, or have I been the "Other Girl"?

She had to be scared out of her mind. Not just in the beginning when Gabriel first appeared to her and told her what was to happen, but through out the entire pregnancy, the labor and delivery, the child rearing days, all of it. It all had to be completely terrifying. She was pregnant before she was married, and not only had to break the news to her family, but to Joseph who was to be her husband. This type of thing wasn't just frowned upon, women DIED because of this sin. Follow that up with the fact that she was responsible for raising and protecting God's only son. Need I say more? Although she must have been terrified, she fully commits herself to God. Relying on Him only for her strength, comfort, and protection.

Where do I go when I am scared? Who do I turn to when I think I might not be strong enough? What to I depend on when I feel like I need a little more protection?

Then I think about what it must have been like when Jesus was born. All the shepherds that came along with the Magi. These people who came and didn't just say, "Oh my. What a cute little guy you have there!" These were people she had never met, some of these people where of very high standing. They didn't comment on how cute her new baby was. No, they fell to their knees and worshiped him. When Mary heard and saw these things she "Treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19). She wasn't boastful. She didn't take the credit. She didn't gush and gush over it. She took it all in and humbly treasured it in her heart.

What is it like in my life when God does something fantastic and beautiful for me or through me? Do I wrongfully take the credit? Do I boast about what I think are my own strengths? Worse yet, do I just brush them aside like its no big deal? Or do I treasure them in my heart?

Mary knew that she was being used powerfully by God and that she was His servant. Not only did she obey Him, remain humble, and completely rely on Him in her times of weakness, but she was full of praise and thanksgiving. While visiting her Aunt Elizabeth, who was currently pregnant with John the Baptist, Elizabeth's baby "leaped in her womb" upon Elizabeth hearing Mary's voice (Luke 1:40). After learning of this Mary sings a song to the Lord of thanksgiving: "46And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers." (Luke 46:55)

Do I show thankfulness and praise to God? Do I say it out loud? When He works mightily in my life or hears/answers even the smallest of prayers, am I thankful? Do I call these things "Praiseworthy"? Or to I have a greedy heart, forget the thank you's and the praise, and just skip right on down my "Want List"? When was the last time I ran down the list of answered prayers with a song of praise? A prayer full of thankfulness and praise.

I am so thankful for the time I had to spend thinking about Mary. God showed me so much about myself. Although the timing is perfect for New Year's Resolutions, I won't wait that long.

Merry Christmas!

Oh! As if this post wasn't long enough, to go along with this, here is my favorite Christmas song this year. Enjoy!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Little Man Nuttiness

Just a few facts I don't want to forget about The Little Man this Christmas season:

1. While building gingerbread houses with his class before Christmas break, I realized that The Little Man still cannot say "Candy canes" or "Pretzels". Instead he says "Candy cakes" and "Kretzels".

I love it.

I will not correct it.

In fact, I have been offering him "Candy cakes" and "Kretzels" as snacks from time to time.

2. Somehow, he has decided that he would like a roller coaster for Christmas.

Yes, a full size roller coaster.

When I asked him where we would put such a gift he said we should just set it up in the back yard.

So, I let him in on a little secret: We live in the 'burbs, therefore, our whole cul-de-sac isn't large enough to house a roller coaster.

Oh. Small details.

Thankfully he changed his mind. Instead he would like bumper cars.

Apparently his trip to Disney has forever changed his reality.

3. We've recently had a fierce resurgence of "Baboo". I won't lie. I am kind of helping this along. We've created a little song that we sing to him at nap and bedtime. Baboo has also been known to tell me that he loves me.

Hubs is not impressed at all. He wants to know if I am going to break out his old paci soon.

I am trying to convince him that it's just a short lived sweet phase, and I will be totally guilty of soaking up every last drop of it.

Besides, it's hard to think that he's reverting back into babyhood when he is always saying (in a deep voice I might add) "Ah ya, baby!" and "Do you want a piece of me?" followed with a "Saweeet".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Which I Return all Christmas Gifts and Save a Ton of Cash

I have been noticing this for a while, but nothing has made it more loud and clear than recent events. I realize that this isn't a news flash for many of you, and it really isn't to me either, but again, sometimes you just need things to be spelled out for you in order to really get the message, especially this time of year.

OK, here it is:

KIDS DON'T NEED YOU TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON GIFTS FOR THEM TO BE HAPPY.

Sure gifts make them happy, but so do lots of other things. It's like that phenomenon that happens quite often when a child opens the gift, is thrilled to bits to have a gift to open, loves the gift, but then twenty minutes later is found having a blast with the box it the gift came in, while the toy lay in and amongst all the other stuff they have.

Not that this is the box the toy came in, but these new treasures were relatively free:


Here's a closer view:


The Girl's new treasure:


The Hubs gave the kids his old beat up Crackberry's that he had laying around his office that no longer work. Instead of pitching them, he gave one to The Girl, and one WITH a holster type carrying case to The Little Man. The happiness that the kids have with their new phones is more than I would have ever imagined. They have played with these things for HOURS.

People, THEY DON'T EVEN WORK. THEY ARE BUT A BLANK SCREEN.

Yet, every morning, they pick them up off their night stand and bring them with them to breakfast. The Little Man clips his to his jammies (which, practically fall off with the weight), and The Girl carries hers down with her as well. When it's time to get dressed, they have those things transferred right on over to the new outfit. I do make them leave them at home when we go out of the house, but upon returning the other night, The Little Man squealed with excitement as he was reunited with his Blackberry, crying out, "Ohhhhhh! My Blackberry! I am so happy to see you!"

I am so close to returning all the gifts we bought this year, pocketing the cash, and then dig around some more in our "junk" piles to see what other kinds of happiness we can conjure up.

Meanwhile, I got this this morning:


The Little Man did this all by himself. The little smarty pants! He knows too, sometimes free equals precious!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Age Santa

Well, I caved a bit. I don't normally push the whole Santa gig on the kids (The Hubs totally takes care of that). We don't visit him at the mall and I don't threaten them with "Santa can see you being naughty!" I try really hard to balance on the fine line of keeping Christ central to Christmas and the whole reason for the season, but also keeping Christmas magical. I always thought that it would be a relief when the kids found out the truth about the big guy.

Then, The Girl told me a boy in her class was telling her the truth about Santa. Now, it's non-stop with the questions. Somehow, we've weaseled around them very delicately without lying to her. I just want to know why she has to ask these questions in front of her brother? NEVER has she asked while we were just alone. I have to say, I am bit sad knowing that part of the magic of Christmas will be gone for her soon.

Then!

Then, I found the Portable North Pole. All you do is fill out the info, and they will have Santa himself email your child a video message. When she saw her email, I am telling you, it was like some kind of happy I have never seen! The excitement was like that of the Disney surprise...except it was free!

I wish I could share them here on the blog, but they contain some very private and personal info on the kids (which is why she totally freaked out).

Go ahead, try it out for yourself or a kid you care for...

You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

You all know I could go on and on about our current weather. HELLO! Temperatures that fall below zero should be illegal! Yesterday, the carpool for The Girl's school was canceled because it was too cold.

I thought that should mean that they were going to keep the kids overnight.

No such luck.

It just meant that I had to get out of my warm car and go into the school and get The Girl. Then I had to return to the cold to get back into the car.

They said it was to protect the kids.

Hmmmmm. I think not. The kids still had to go outside. The only people that didn't have to go outside were the teachers who usually run carpool.

Then this morning, school was on a delay because of the subzero temps. You know I am ALL OVER missing school and late starts, but starting school an hour later didn't improve the temperature at all. Maybe it helped the buses? Who knows.

Besides the crazy weather, you know Christmas is quickly approaching because the kids had Christmas concerts at school. I love watching Christmas concerts (or if you are at The Girl's school it's called a "Holiday Concert"). The only problem is, this past year, I have been plagued with not getting very good seats for taking pictures. It happened in Disney, and it happened at both The Girl and The Little Man's concerts this year. Even with my zoom lens on my camera, I was painfully far from the action. I still got pictures, don't worry! I just got pictures of everyone else's kid too.

They were all just darling.

So here's a pic of the Little Man after his concert eagerly awaiting some serious cooking eating:

Here's The Girl and a few fellow classmates:

(this pic here, is actually a very small crop of the original...)

Here we have some video of both concerts:

video


video

I know, it's difficult to hear what they are singing.

I still have no clue what The Little Man sang.

Maybe next year, I'll be more prepared?

Probably not.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Happy Heart

I know in years past, I have been rather grumpy about Christmas cards and mailing labels, but this year, the Lord has been merciful to me. I was not only able to pull up last years labels, but I was also able to make adjustments AND print them out without one single glitch.

This Christmas season is already starting off with small wonders and miracles, and I am full of joy.

It's the little things.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cold Busted

In the colder months I have an article of clothing that is a must. OK, there are a couple of "musts". They all fall under the category of "Cozies", aka clothing that is warm, comfortable, and quite frankly could possibly be slept in. And, if I am going to be totally honest with you, it does get slept in.

Usually, when I come home from being out in the cold, I will immediately go to my room and change into my cozies. Some warm fleece pants, and my favorite, a v-neck fleece shirt to go over the top of whatever shirt I am currently wearing for the day. This way, if I need to go back out, I just put my pants back on and take the fleece shirt off, and it kind of feels like I didn't have to get all the way dressed again because I didn't really get all the way undressed. See? It sounds crazy, but hey, that's the way it is in my brain. Crazy.

So, I have a few v-neck fleece shirts. I usually get a new one each year because they get worn so much that they can look a little tattered. Plus, have you ever worn new fleece? It is the definition of cozy. So soft, so warm, and just plain snuggly.

Somehow, this year, I have allowed myself to come to the belief that if the fleece shirt is newer, it can totally be worn out in public, and not just as cozy jammies at home. This new belief came about because there have been days when I just can't part with the cozy. There are days that I just have to take it with me.

So here we were, on one of those days. It was just too cold to change out of the fleece cozy shirt, but we were headed out to grab some quick dinner. Mind you, it wasn't a nice restaurant. Not even close. So, I decided that it wouldn't be necessary to change out of my cozy jammy shirt. As I sat down to eat, I slipped off my coat. It was then that The Little Man decided he would take note of my outfit.

"Mommy! Mommy! Oh goodness, Mommy! You forgot to take off your jammies before we left the house!" he proclaims loudly enough for the four or so other booths around us to hear.

As I tried to hush him, and convince him that the shirt was not my jammies, but just a shirt, he corrected me with the same volume of voice he made his first announcement with.

"No, Mommy! Those are your jammies! You came to the restaurant in your jammies, Mommy! Why would you go to a restaurant with your jammies on, Mom?"

At this point there really was no point in arguing. The whole section of the restaurant was very clear on the fact that I did indeed show up to the restaurant in my jammies. I just calmly asked him to use more of an indoor voice for the rest of dinner.

Hubby just laughed. Sweet.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Halls are Decked

Here's the deal: I am having a very difficult time wrapping my brain around the fact that Christmas will be here in 25 short days. TWENTY FIVE DAYS! Doesn't it seem like just yesterday I was complaining about how could the summer was?

Oh wait, that probably was yesterday.

Anywho!

With a couple of significant snow storms under our belts already this year, and 95% of my Christmas shopping DONE (since SEPTEMBER, can I get a woot woot!), I still can't believe that Christmas is upon us. The worst part is I really can't figure out why.

I have been listening to Christmas music all weekend, have my house totally decorated (which, hello, takes me usually a full week, and I had it done in three days!), and my kids have watched The Grinch, Elf, and Polar Express so many times it's nuts.

(Not that they can watch the same movie over and over, but that they have been allowed to watch that much tube since Friday.)

Usually, our annual Polar Express Night kicks me right into the Holiday Spirit. This year, I fell asleep before the movie ended. Oh, the movie ended at eight. So, if you are doing the math, I was asleep BEFORE EIGHT.

Actually, now that I think about it, THAT might be the problem. I think I have been too busy to really feel my days. I mean I feel them in the sense that I am dog tired at the end of them, but I mean I am not really living my days.

I hate that.

The worst part, is I think I have been doing this all year.

Try as hard as I might, I, my friends, am a task oriented type of a gal. Unfortunately, what that looks like is I jump from one chaos filled project to the next without taking the time to soak in the ride along the way. I am sincerely hoping this will change somehow, someway because guess what? Tomorrow is the first day of DECEMBER of 2009. I feel like I am still stuck in 2008 somewhere.

This past weekend, we didn't have huge Thanksgiving day plans. I didn' schedule any shoots, or any programs. There were no activities, or play dates, or get-togethers of any sort. I got totally caught up with work (because my Hubby RAWKS hard core), and then I took a deep long breath.

It felt good.

So good, I want to take another.

And another.

This month's focus: Breathing deeply, loving fully, living in the present, and soaking in the life that is around me.

Next month's focus: Rinse and repeat.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Did This To Myself, You Know.

Last year, I wanted to do something really special for my Mom and Mother-in-Law for Christmas. Knowing how much they love my blog, and wanting to please probably the only audience I have, I decided to turn my blog into a book. You know, just in case they wanted to jump into imperfection and total chaos at any given moment.

Well, they LOVED them. It made my heart so happy to see them so happy about this gift.

Also, I felt a bit relieved because, hello, how humiliating would it be if they would have opened the gift, and then said, "Hmmm, well isn't this interesting?"

Turning the blog into a book, though? My, oh my! It was a chore indeed! I can't say I particularly enjoyed it. I think I may have said a few times, "If they don't LOVE this book, I am taking it RIGHT BACK!"

Ya, because it is so returnable.

Anywho, I posted a little something about the freedom I felt when the whole thing was over, here.

So, to say I never want to do that again, is a huge understatement.

However.

However, my Mom and my Mother-in-Law LOVED them. Heck, after all that work, I ordered one for myself, and I LOVED it. The thought of my kids pouring over the pages in that book one day as they feed/soothe/rock/parent their young children brings tears to my eyes.

(Hello, children! If you are currently doing what I just said in the above paragraph, just know that I am bawling my eyes out with joy somewhere.)

This past weekend, I knew I had to get this task done. Considering it took my almost TWO FULL WEEKS to do it last year, I was actually almost running a bit behind. Thankfully, our Thanksgiving weekend this year was so mellow, so calm, so lovely I felt like I could tackle this task with somewhat on somewhat of an even keel.

Well, I can no longer bash Blurb or Blogger. They have completely redeemed themselves from the problems that plagued them at this time last year. What took me TWO FULL WEEKS to do last year, only took me FIVE HOURS. Half a day, really. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE MY JOY.

The happiness is so big, it is difficult to contain. That is why, I had to share this here.

If say, perhaps, someone other than my mother or mother-in-law are reading this blog, and lets just say, they have a blog too. Can I urge you to do the same thing? It is super easy. It makes a great gift, not only to whom you are giving it to this year, but to who will be reading it in years to come.

I love having this blog. I love reviewing it from time to time. I know I think that this life is so happy, so fun, so hard, so crazy, so messy that I will never forget it, but low and behold, I do.

Thankfully, now, I can pull a snip-it of my life off the shelf whenever I want.

P.S. Mom and Mother-in-Law, sorry if post ruined your Christmas day surprise, but I figured that you probably knew anyway. Also, the same terms that applied last year, apply this year. Just because it only took a fraction of the time to put this together, does not mean you will not find spelling, grammar, punctuation errors. In general, there could be spots in the books where it is messy and totally imperfect. The good news: The book, and all it's mess, is true to life.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

For Goodness Sakes, Don't be Boring!

Recently, The Girl and I were delivering a meal to a friend who had lost a loved one. She had to leave her hubby behind with two of their children, and we thought that her hubby and children would benefit from a meal.

Honestly, I volunteered to bring over the meal, and then kind of spaced it out (sorry, friend!).

If you could get a small glimpse into my life (and some of you already do), you would understand that this behavior is totally typical of me these days.

The day that I had signed up to bring a meal on came, and THANKFULLY I remembered.

However.

However, it was kind of late in the day, and I wasn't sure what I could whip up in time to get it there by dinner. All my meats were still frozen, and because I had to go to the grocery store for myself, I didn't want to make two different trips to pick something up fresh and then return back later.

Self-focus can be a serious issue for me.

I thought about just picking up some sort of take and bake pizza or a prepared meal from Costco (sorry, friend.). Then! Then I remembered that I had some yummy potato chowder in our freezer that I had made when we harvested a bunch of veggies from our garden and from a field trip that The Girl had gone on to a farm where we could load up on fresh veggies. I thought, "Hey! I can bring this soup, buy a fresh salad, and some yummy fresh bread, and bibbity boppity boo, you have diner!" It wasn't much, but it would totally work.

OK, so I didn't really say bibbity boppity boo, but you get the picture.

I took The Girl along with me to go grocery shopping, drop off the meal, and then run a quick errand. She was getting frustrated with how long everything was taking and just wanted to get home already. That's when I decided to take the time to teach The Girl a small little lesson.

I told her about how Jesus was talking to his disciples, and He was telling them to go out and help others who are in need. I told her the reason why we help others who are in need is because God's Word says, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." I further explained what that means for us today.

She thought about it for about ten seconds and then promptly exclaimed, "Well then, let's not be boring!"

"What?" I asked because I wasn't sure what she was getting at, or if she even understood what I was trying to explain to her.

"Well, if by serving others we serve Jesus, I definitely don't want to do something boring."

Yes, she got it, and as I pondered the boring-ness of my potato chowder that I threw together at the last minute because of a little self-absorption, I wondered who was teaching who.

Thank you, Lord, for this little girl.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Bet You Thought We'd Never Get Here...The Beach!

The last day of our trip was a day to be spent relaxing. The Hubs and I always try to fit in at least one down day per trip (sometimes more). It helps the trip feel like, well, like a vacation. I hate coming home exhausted from a vacation. It's just not how I enjoy traveling.

Trust me, having kids and bringing them on vacation with us, made me completely re-think the word "Vacation".

I pretty much haven't been on a "Vacation" since they were born.

Oh wait, there was that Girl Trip I went on a year and a half ago. Delightful.

OK, back to business. So, the last day of our trip we spent relaxing. This included a trip to IKEA because, hello, we don't have those here, and surprisingly, The Hubs was just as intrigued as I was about this place, a trip to the beach, and some lunch out while driving around exploring the area. We also came back to our hotel for naps. Ahhhhh. Then it was early dinner and bedtimes.

I was determined to get some great photos of the day. Especially at the beach. However, the first part of the day, I spent feeling a bit ill. I had that left over motion sickness feeling from the day before. THANKFULLY I was able to move past those feelings while at the beach.

(Can I just tell you, although we were at the beach which totally equals "happy" for me, it was a mere 65 degrees. Yes, something about it being NOVEMBER made it a bit chilly. Thankfully, besides the tummy/headache and the briskness of the weather, I was still able to find some "happy".)

So, here we are at the beach, and I am determined to get some great photos of the kids, maybe even some "Christmas Card Worthy" photos. So, I find the perfect spot, and start working:



Then I realized, I don't want to work. I want to have fun. I want my kids to have fun. I want my kids to play. I want to make memories, not portraits. So, after that picture, we did just that.

One of my favorite memories of the whole trip was The Little Man's realization that waves keep coming. They don't stop. He had the biggest belly laughs playing in those waves. One would come and he would squeal, then it would go back out. Of course, he would chase it back out only to find out that another would come. The laughter and squeals are something I hope I don't forget.

This picture here is so imperfect that it's pure perfection to me. I just may have this blown up big for my home. I love that when I look at it, I can still hear them laughing. I think my walls would like some laughter. I think my walls might be tired of perfect pictures. I think my walls would like to live a little.


More belly laughs:




Waiting for the next wave:




Again imperfection becoming perfect. I feel like if I inhaled deeply enough, I could be there again smelling all the freshness of that day:


It didn't take long before The Girl was doing what she is passionate about: Playing in the mud. This child is like a moth to a flame when it comes to dirt or mud. She absolutely cannot control herself. When I heard some happy giggles coming from behind where I was standing, I had a feeling I would be seeing this when I turned around:

When she tells me that she wants to grow up and be a paleontologist, I don't doubt it. It would be perfect for her to get paid to dig in the dirt and mud.

Meanwhile, back at the shoreline, we have some more belly laughs:

Have I mentioned that The Little Man laughed all day?

After spending time on the beach, we decided to head up to the pier. Then I saw how disgustingly dirty it was, so it was a short stay. The kids did get to look out over it and see schools of fish swimming around:


And watch some surfers nearby:




And, of course, have their picture taken:


It wasn't a long stay at the beach, but it was fun. We topped it off with a little lunch and then some rest. We also spent some time driving around the area exploring a bit. It got a little scary at times, so we called it good and grabbed some dinner.

That night, after we had hit the hay early, I heard some loud booms outside of our hotel. The Hubs quickly ran over to the window to see what it was. It was the Disneyland firework show.

We didn't miss it after all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Long Awaited (And Winded)...Day Two!

My heavens. I thought I would never get to day two. Life is crazy after a vacation.

Also, I don't really look forward to time spent uploading images to Blogger.

Sorry.

Day two was spent at:

California Adventure!

I was bummed big time about not bringing my wider angle lens on the trip. It's a pricier lens so I thought it would be best not to drag it all over Disney, but that picture above? It would have been so much better if you could have seen all of California instead of just the "liforni". Oh well. This picture is sweet too:


I am a total sucker for the Mickey hats. I wanted some so badly on day one, but we were so busy that the day got away from us. Before we knew it, it was time to find dinner, and who really wants to wear their Mickey Ears at a restaurant outside of Disney?

Oh wait. My kids do!

So we waited until the next day when we would have maximum time allotted to wearing the Mickey Ears since we would be in the parks until at least 10:00 in the evening.


First we strolled down the back lot and took in the sites of different sets. The kids didn't really get it, but I thought it was so fun. Look here, the real sky almost matches the fake sky:

(Yes, The Little Man has on another pair of Mickey Ears in baseball hat style. The sunglasses came with this particular hat, so it was a sure pick for The Little Man.)

Since The Little Man had two options for ears that day, we let The Girl have two choices as well...We are such suckers!

Seriously, though! How cute are those?

In the back lot, we got to meet Sully:

Since Monsters Inc. is currently one of The Little Man's favs right now, this was a big deal. I am just so thrilled about being at the parks when there were such low crowds. In addition to being able to ride whatever we wanted whenever, and however many times we wanted to, we also could walk right up to all the characters and have photos taken. We have had trips in the past where we have waited up to two hours to meet characters, so this was a super big treat.

Speaking of Monsters Inc., here we are stuck on the Monsters Inc. ride. Yup, we got stuck on the ride and had to be escorted out of the ride. While we waited for our escort, we got this snap:

Thankfully, we were almost done with the ride anyways, and truth be told, it wasn't a real must see, so we walked out, and walked on.

Next up: The Tower of Terror!

Oh yes we did! Some people might say that age four isn't ideal for the Tower, but we did it twice! I can't say that the kids absolutely loved it, but they did like it...once they knew what to expect. That meant the first time around, it was a bit scary.

(By the way, the scary part to them was not the stuff surrounding the ride ie the story, the spooky ghost stuff, etc. it was the dropping feeling of the ride itself)

So, if you could look into this picture a bit more closely, you would see some pretty scared faces. I couldn't find the picture from the second time around when the kids actually enjoyed the ride, and I think The Little Man even put his hands up a few times!


Here they are, survivors of the Tower, and they were tear free...see I'm not so bad.


Right around the corner waited this guy:

The Little Man was pumped about getting to meet Mr Incredible.

Next we went to ride Soarin'. Our family loves this ride like no other. However, we stopped here for a pic on the way to the ride. If you know my Hubby, you know why we had to get this shot:


Also over by our favorite ride, were these guys:

Both kids were happy to see McQueen and Mater. I was sad again about my not so wide angle lens. Bummer.

The sadness did not last long! I am happy again in line waiting to go Soarin' over California for the second time in a row:

(Don't you love that the Mickey Ears fit me just as well as they fit the kids! Honestly, I think the hat fit a bit snugger on The Little Man than it did on me...I am a peanut head.)

After getting our fill of Soarin', we had to get our fill of lunch.

Oh boy! Park food!

Next we headed over to Paradise Pier. There are all sorts of fun rides there. Our favorite was Toy Story Mania. Too bad they didn't have a fast pass for this ride because it was the longest line that we had to stand in the entire trip at 40 minutes. I realize that isn't very long, but we'd been spoiled. Unfortunately, we only rode it once. We did get to ride Mulholland Madness, Jumping Jellyfish, California Screamin' (for The Hubs and the Father-in-Law because the kids were too short), and Mickey's Fun Wheel. At this point, I started suffering from some sort of weird motion sickness type feeling, and thought it would be best for me to skip the big Ferris wheel type ride that had gondolas that moved along the wheel as it turned. The kids really liked this ride, and I really liked that their daddy could take them and I could just watch.

Here's The Little Man looking very little:


Next up was the Aladdin show. This was a great time for my nauseated body to take a rest and sit back to enjoy a little production. I was nervous about how the kids would react to having to forgo the rides for a bit and sit still, but they were captivated by the show, as it was totally wonderful, and a completely reasonable length of time.

Sadly, I still remember all of the words to all of the songs, however, do not ask me what I did yesterday.

While we were waiting for show time to start, the kids played with Grandma and Grandpa in line. I loved this shot:


This one too. Trying to grab a bit of rest from the busy day:


Here we are waiting for the show to start:


After the show, was another show. The Pixar parade! I was determined to have us watch the parade. It would have all of The Little Man's favorite characters. Of course, right before the parade started, The Little Man had to go potty. The Hubs ran him to the closest potty, but we didn't get to see each other again until AFTER the parade. I got to see none of his reactions. I was told they were good and he really liked it. The Girl enjoyed herself too. I am trying to forget that we watched this parade apart.

Parade goodness:






Then we had a chance to head back to Disneyland for the night time festivities they had. I was interested in a light show and the fireworks. We also had time to squeeze in a few more rides that we missed and enjoyed from the day before and wanted to do again. Top on The Little Man's to do list: Space Mountain and The Buzz Lightyear ride. Top on The Girl's list: The Matterhorn (sadly we didn't get to this one), Top on my list: The Pirates of the Caribbean. We also squeezed in The Jungle Cruise.

People, The Jungle Cruise is pretty cheesy during the daytime hours, but let me tell you, at night, it takes on a whole new level of cheese. Even the kids were making comments when we got off.

Oh yeah, we also had to eat dinner in the park that night. Although lunch was OK, dinner that night...was so wrong. I could get the shivers just thinking about it. What made it even worse, was the price. Heavens to Betsy, that should be illegal.

After dinner was the light show called Fantasmic. It was good, but people were finding spots to watch the show HOURS before it even started. We opted to ride Pirates of the Caribbean instead as well as some other stuff.

In line, having fun at Pirates of the Caribbean:

(Wow! That's one great pic! I had to have a pic of me with both sets of Mickey Ears on otherwise it just wouldn't have been fair. No worries, I just wore the ears for the pics. Can't you tell from that look on my face, "Take the picture already!")

When we came back it was difficult to find a spot with premium views. I am sure the show would have been really good had we been able to see it from a great spot, but what we did see was great too.


After Fantasmic, we decided to stay in the same spot for the fireworks that started promptly after.

That was an even worse viewing spot. We tried moving, only to make things even worse. I am a little sad that we missed the fireworks, but it was such a fun and full day, it was hard to care too much. I mean check out The Little Man as he got carried into the hotel that night:

I think the last time he was able to be carried while still sleeping was somewhere around age one.


Oh, and finally, The Hubs wanted me to post this pic of his high score on the Buzz Lightyear ride:

Congrats, Honey! You beat the socks off of a four year old...

Tomorrow (or next week, whenever) we get to have some downtime on the beach.

Ahhh, the beach.