Saturday, December 22, 2012

Disneyland Holiday Weekend - Day 2

I've had the dickens of a time getting my photos resized on Photobucket. Think it's time to shop for a new place for photos & annoyed that this has taken me weeks to get through what I should have been able to do in an hour.

After dinner at the Storyteller's Cafe, we went back to the hotel to relax. It felt late because it had already been dark for hours, but it was really only about 7:30pm!

I'd never stayed in the Frontier Tower of the Disneyland Hotel before. It has a miniature replica of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride in the lobby.


Danny took the older kids down to the hotel spa for an hour for a warm soaking while I put the baby to bed. He is such a good sleeper! He was out quickly and slept in the Pack & Play at the foot of our bed all night.

We decided to just sleep until we woke which was nice and everyone felt well rested in the morning. Danny packed up the room and I took the kids into the park once we were all dressed.

We stopped in the lobby by this beautiful rustic Christmas tree and along the way on our walk through Downtown Disney.




Candied apples
And then of course, there was the tree on Main Street too...

Aren't these just the sweetest smiles?!

I'd planned on taking the train all around Disneyland while we waited for Danny to get in the park but when we walked in, so many of the characters were on Main Street that we decided to do the meet n' greet instead.

Baby D is crazy for the characters, as you can tell by the expressions on his face. He wants to grab their cheeks and plant a big wet kiss on each and every one of them!

First up was Pluto! The baby was delighted...

Goofy, decked out in his winter-wear!

The Mad Hatter, who sounded just perfect!

Minnie was kissing his hand...he just wanted her nose!

His giggles are infectious, everyone around us was laughing in turn at his joy. I suppose it's fun to see a baby so entralled with meeting the big fuzzy characters rather than crying or running the opposite direction!


We were able to catch Danny as he came into the park (and get a picture with the mischevious Pinocchio before he ran away again!).

The decor in New Orleans Square is always so wonderful!

In front of the icing-coated Sleeping Beauty's castle.


Driving the Autopia cars.


After a few rides, the kids were starting to get a bit cranky, which indicates to me...hunger! We had planned on eating at the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ so after a quick 15 minute wait we were seated at a picnic table near the stage. The rustic Christmas decor in this area was fantastic!

See these crabby faces? Hungry!

The waiter brought out metal buckets of cole slaw (a bit wet but nice and tangy), barbeque beans (which were wonderful), corn bread (crumbly but great with butter), ribs and chicken (all delicious). This is an all-you-care-to-eat place so when the first bucket was empty another was quickly brought. I'm not usually a big ribs and beans gal but this was so good I had plenty to eat.

And talking about plenty to eat, this kid ate his weight in beans & corn bread...


And the birthday boy ate more than his weight in everything!


2 pieces of chicken, cole slaw, beans and bread and get this...12 ribs!! I think he enjoyed it! They had singers on the stage who walked through the crowd and said happy birthday to diners, The Boy included.


The kids were reenergized after their big meal and ready for more fun!


We went into Toontown where the kids rode a few things and Baby D met up with Pluto again!




We ended the day in Carsland. Don't you love all the auto-inspired Christmas decorations, from the filter garlands to the hubcap studded tree?



What do you do when the line to take a picture with the Snowman Car is a mile long? Improvise and pose her so that she covers up the line of people!

219 We certainly had a wonderful trip and as always, are looking forward to the next time!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Disneyland Holiday Weekend -Day 1

Saturday was finally the big day! We'd been concealing the surprise for five weeks and finally the day had come. I'd been building up to it, letting the kids know that we'd be doing something fun for The Boy's birthday. They'd been trying to guess but I wouldn't give it up.

Saturday morning they got up at their usual weekend hour of 6am, ate breakfast and we had them get ready. We piled our luggage in the truck and took off. About 30 minutes down the freeway, The Boy finally said, "So WHERE are we going?!" I handed him a birthday card from his grandparents that held a card that said, "Happy Birthday and enjoy your day at DISNEYLAND!".


I told them about how I'd won the Grand Prize from a radio station's website and they were thrilled to hear the story. The Boy was over the moon excited, I was so happy to see! We arrived at the hotel and checked in. It was wonderful not to have to hand over the credit card! She gave me a packet with our hotel keys and the four tickets, good for two days and "Park Hopping", so we could go between Disneyland and California Adventure on the same day.


We started off at California Adventure. The lady at the front desk had given The Boy his birthday button and he wore it proudly the entire weekend. I would bet that he received over a hundred "Happy Birthday" greetings from cast members through the park! He loved it.


We picked up our Guest Assistance Card for The Girl and headed straight into Elias & Co. to see Santa. The Girl was not pleased.


She wasn't up for riding anything fast this trip so Tower of Terror and California Screamin' was out of the question for her. The bumper "bugs" in Bugs Land are always a fav, though.


And Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, another fun one she loved.


And despite a brief fast section, she still loved the Radiator Springs Racers.


The guys rode the fast rides multiple times over the weekend though, they both love the fast rides.


The Girl and I did a lot of patient waiting for our guys while Baby D napped.


It wasn't too long before we were hungry for lunch. We'd decided to go all-out with the meals this time around since the trip had been paid for. We had money on our Disney Visa Redemption card so we used that for all of our meals the entire weekend. In all, we spent less than a hundred dollars (including filling up the gas in the truck) which was a great price for a weekend trip! We ate at three restaurants that we'd never eaten at before.

First meal - Wine Country Trattoria

Danny ordered the sea bass served with fingerling potatoes and tomatoes. He was in heaven, he said it was wonderful. And this is from someone who A.) Doesn't like to eat in restaurants, B.) Doesn't like to spend money on food and C.) Is a fisherman who knows fish and is picky about quality.


I ordered the lasagna which was also very tasty. The kids ordered off their menu (spaghetti & meatballs for The Boy, grilled chicken and broccolini for The Girl). And of course, lots of beautiful rosemary rolls with olive oil and cracked black pepper on the table. I also ordered a glass of wine, which I never do! I got something called a Snapdragon, nice and fruity...just how I like it.


This tree in the Paradise Pier area was amazing! Covered in gold and red ornaments, all in a seaside theme (see the shell tree topper?). Did you know that Disney frequently uses "forced perspective" in their parks? They use ornaments at the bottom that are very large and the same design of ornaments at the top of the tree that are smaller so they look really far away...clever, huh?

And under the tree was Donald Duck, taking photos!


The baby's favorite ride? Toy Story Mania! The funny yellow glasses helped, I'm sure!


Around 5pm we headed over to Disneyland with the intention of staying there for a few hours but the crowds...oh, the crowds! They were preparing for the Candlelight Processional and were diverting (cattle prodding?) the crowds through the busy Main Street. We walked to the back side of the park towards It's a Small World. I loved Daniel's reaction when he saw the ride lit up with a million tiny rainbow-colored lights. He gasped with the surprise of it! I didn't get a photo of it because I was terrified to let go of the kids' hands for fear of losing them in the mob.

That was the only ride we went on that night. We took the Monorail out of the park (instead of braving the Candlelight crowds on Main Street again), exited at Downtown Disney and walked to the Grand Californian. We had reserved seating for dinner at the Storyteller's Cafe at 7:45, a time we would normally be headed to bed!

Gingerbread house in the restaurant

Second Meal - Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel

Dinner offered us the ability to order either of a set menu or choose the buffet. Danny and I ordered the buffet and the kids just shared a plate of nuggets and fries. The yummy bread basket was constantly full so they filled up on bread and butter too.

The buffet choices were simple but quality. I had a salad (there were no fixings, just plain lettuce and two dressing choices), corn chowder (which was so delicious I had two bowls!), strip loin, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and two mini-desserts (the cheesecake had a tiny white chocolate square with an impression of Santa). My husband loved the salmon, he had quite a few filets. I don't think I ate enough food to make up the cost of the buffet but I liked the quality of the food and the atmosphere of the restaurant was pleasant at the end of a long day.

Next up, day two and our adventure at the Big Ranch Barbeque!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Birthday to my boy

Nine years ago this sweet face entered my world.


And now, he's a big nine year old boy, a little less than a foot shorter than me, able to eat 12 barbeque ribs in one sitting, detailed make me laugh every day and I love you all the more for it!


I love you and your big brown eyes, my sweet boy! Happy Birthday! Photobucket

We surprised the kids with a weekend at Disneyland. I'll be posting about the trip as soon as I go through the million and one pictures I took over the last two days!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's up?

So, what's up?

In a word?


First up, we found a house. I'm keeping mum for the most part, almost like if I go around and shout it from the rooftop then something is going to happen and escrow will fall through. So instead, I whisper, "We found a house. We're in escrow".

Can't wait to cook my first meal in here!

We have about 25 days until everything is done and then we get the keys and I have a feeling this will be the longest...month...ever!! Still have the home inspection and the appraisals so our work has just begun.

Room for a garden, a soccer ball and a barbeque, what more do you need?

Keep us in your thoughts that everything goes smoothly with the process and that we'll be moving in early January!

Baby D is one. I can't believe it, honestly it was just yesterday that I was bringing him home from the hospital. That tiny thing curled up in my arms.

Just born

Christmas, 2011

My big guy, one year old!

He's such a lug now that I pinched a nerve in my neck this week holding him. He's not like a baby monkey at all, you know, one of those babies that holds tight to you and curls their legs around you? Nope, he just rests loosely on my hip and requires me to actually do all the hard work of holding up his 24 lb body!

He's walking quite a bit now, 10 steps across the room at times. Still really wobbly but oh-so proud of himself!

Kids are in school for the next two weeks before their school vacations. Fortunately they both have the same scheduled breaks this year. They are excited about the upcoming holidays and the functions planned at their respective schools.

Our tree, 2011

We've not done one stitch of holiday decorating and unfortunately it's likely that we won't do any this year. I'll need to pull out stockings and maybe the tree skirt so that Santa will have a landing place for presents, but we aren't planning on getting a tree or decorating the house this year. It would be very difficult with the packing we need to get done to be pulling out Christmas decor and then having that to put away as well, better to just leave it all in the box (that's right, I said "box" as in a single box for all my Christmas can be sure that when I have a full two-car garage and attic space, I'll be able to expand my ornament collection just a tad!).

The Boy decorated last year, while I nursed the baby

I don't even want to think about packing up this area yet

Also, I don't think we could keep the monster baby away from the Christmas tree. We've nicknamed him Indiana Jones because he's a little adventurer, trying to figure out how to escape his surroundings and explore the house on his own!

Oh and that's right, one more thing... we have the big SECRET VACATION planned!

We'll be BACK!!

It's The Boy's 9th (9th? 9th!!) birthday this weekend and he knows that we're going to do something special. Generally we do a little at-home get together with cake and ice cream, his favorite food (usually a homemade soup of some sort) and we give him a gift.

Remember when I told you about how I won a radio contest? The prize is a weekend at the Disneyland Hotel and four 2-Day Park Hopper tickets. So this year we're using the get-away weekend as part of his birthday celebration and surprising the kids! All they know is that we're going to "do something fun" for the weekend.


The Girl has been trying to pry it out of me for days. She'll say, "I think it's Boomers. It's Boomers, right?". "Maybe it's Funbelievable. That's where you are taking us, huh?".

The Boy thinks we're going to the lake to go fishing for the day. And actually, he'd be perfectly content if we were going to the lake. But he's going to be extra happy that we're doing Disney!

Can't wait to surprise you, my big nine year old boy!

I've been so busy that I've not really had any time to plan anything for the trip. I still have to do laundry and pack (somehow I have to do this without them noticing the luggage, hmmmm...). I need to prep all the clothes, snacks, baby stuff, etc. With three kids there is no such thing as a "quick get-away", I'm going to have to do some major cramming on Friday night after they go to bed.

Eeek, I can't wait to share the surprise with them!