Saturday, August 28, 2010

Disneyland, bay-beeee!

I talked before about how my family goes to California to visit my sister Laura's family every other year and that this was our year. We always go do something "touristy" like Sea World (my favorite!) or the Midway Museum (Grandpa Carter's favorite), but we've never been to Disneyland. My sister had yearly passes for her family that expired on the 23rd of August, so even though Marty was ADAMANTLY opposed to going across the deserts of Nevada and Eastern California in August, we decided we'd better bite the bullet and do it when we could go with my sister's fam - since that's the real reason we trek to CA in the first place.

We could have opted to go later in the year when the desert wouldn't be as hot and the park wouldn't be so crowded and go by ourselves, but besides wanting to spend time there with our cousins, we wanted to take advantage of my sister's rockin' Disneyland guiding skills. Seriously, this girl could hire herself out as a professional DL guide! She's super organized anyway, but she's also been to Disney a lot and has really figured out how to minimize line time and where to go when.

I didn't want to take my big new camera into the park, for one thing it's worth more than my car. I also didn't want to lug it around. So I took in my new little waterproof point and shoot - a Fuji Z33 that I got for a killer deal. I was expecting the photos to be pretty poor quality, but I figured they'd be better than nothing. I was actually pleasantly surprised, they were better than I'd expected them to be.

I didn't do a super great job of documenting everything I should have - looking back at the pictures I took, I'm kind of surprised by what I did and didn't capture. I guess I was a little bit overwhelmed by the whole Disney experience myself, and kind of lost my d*@n mind. (In the words of one of my good friends. :0)

So here they are, such as they are - - our day in the happiest place on earth:

(And for some reason, because these are from my point and shoot, I felt no need whatsoever to edit them - so here they are in their uncut, undedited glory.)

My sister is a pro at working the fast passes - - she sends her 16 year old with everyone's ticket stubs to the ride we want fast passes for. In the meantime, the rest of the herd goes and gets in line for "Pirates" or one of the other rides that she knows doesn't have much of a line.

Since the last time I went to DL, in about '95, they've added Johnny Depp to the ride - in three different places. He completely belongs there - Captain Jack Sparrow was the most brilliant pirate ever!

I had no idea how my kids would handle the rides, they've never been on any kind of roller coasters before. They all liked "Pirates", but only two out of the three were very impressed with the Big Thunder Mountain.

(Marty w/ his Cat hat - of course - checking to see if Jaxon was alright.)

Jaxon didn't end up liking the roller coasters much at all, but Luke thought they were "AWESOME".

My brother in law, Craig:

his primary objective in all the craziness was: Keep track of the little boys. He also wouldn't let them ride the roller coasters together, they always had to have an adult in the seat next to them. He was afraid their lightweight little hieneys would just fly right out if there weren't a big person there to hold them down.

Byrnn liked the roller coasters too, but cried all the way through the Indiana Jones ride - - TWICE. (I tried to talk her out of going the second time around, but she insisted on doing it anyway - maybe she thought it would be different somehow.) Jaxon loved "Indie", he thought the special effects were AWESOME, we ended up going that second time just for him.

Luke also loved the "Indie" ride and he was just barely tall enough to make it in. But we knew he would be tall enough because he and Laura's Nate are exactly the same height and Nate had already been 3 times in the last year. That was another reason we decided to go this year - thanks to his cousin Nate, we knew he'd made the cut.

There were a couple of attractions that weren't on my sister's approved DL agenda, but we did them anyway because our kids are newbies and they are Disneyland institutions: Small World (I know, the song just popped into your head) and the Teacups.

Small World was one of the only rides we stood in line for for any length of time - they don't offer fast passes for that one. It was also one of the only rides that moved slowly (translate: boring) enough for me to take very many pictures of.

We had a big enough group that we usually took up a whole car, or boat, or whathaveyou.

Front left: my sister Sharon - to her right: Craig's sister Marin, who just happened to be in DL with her friends that day - behind Marin: my sister Laura, and behind Laura: her oldest, Justin.

I was fascinated by the cool sculpted shrubbery in front of the Small World, and I had to get a shot of this horse, of course.

The little people from all nations inside of the Small World were quite precious - I'd forgotten just how precious:

And on the Teacups: Justin's girlfriend, Haley who rode the commuter train and caught up with us at the park, Marin, and Madison (Laura's 12 year old daughter).

And Laura with her two youngest: Nathan and Allyson.

We ate lunch ($48.00 worth) in the Pizza Port in Tomorrowland. We also went on Spacemountain twice, which is my favorite. Luke and Brynn also loved Spacemountain, but Jaxon wouldn't even try it. Which is kind of interesting because he's so into Star Wars, but the Big Thunder really put him off on roller coasters so he wasn't game to try another one.

We also went to the revival of Michael Jackson's Captain Eo, also located in Tomorrowland, but to me it felt very nostalgic like it should have been in Yesterdayland. Or Eightiesland.

The kids dug the 3-D glasses - only kids can pull these off.

We also hung out for a bit in the Innoventions building. We got to see a picture of how we'd look in 20 years. Yippy, good times.

It also struck me as funny how we came all the way to Disneyland and my boys, instead of enjoying all the miraculous wonders, got sucked into a video game. Anybody else recognize this look?

Yeah. Nice.

We really didn't buy anything in the way of souvenirs, I'm kind of a mean mom that way. But Madi used her own money to get this personalized bracelet, and I actually thought it was really cute.

Laura knows, that when the day is getting long and we're a few hours past lunch, it's time to go into the Golden Horseshoe Theatre and have a little treat:

and rest in the air conditioning and watch the show. The show was one of my favorite parts of the day, I thought it was brilliant and hillarious. I was too far from the stage and it was to dark to get decent video, but I took some anyway.

I missed some of the funniest stuff - it was hard to tell when it was coming.

Craig and Ally - I just love me a good Daddy. Laura's and my kids are soooo lucky in their dads. And they'll probably never truly appreciate what exceptionally good dads they have.

The longest line we stood in the whole day was for Autopia - another ride with no fastpass.

Jaxon really liked it for some reason and ended up doing it twice. I only did it once, thank goodness. Not my favorite at all. It was getting quite dark by the time we did it the second time.

And then as we were leaving, I got this shot of Walt and Mickey together. What is it about this place that makes it so special? I don't exactly know, but there's not doubt that it is.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Sandcrabs Do

... and what little boys do with them.

Poor sandcrabs. We did release them soon after this.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Day at the Beach

My sister, Laura, lives in Southern California and every other year we go to visit them. We've never been to Disneyland with our kids, so we decided to go this year. And of course, a big highlight of going to California is getting to go to the beach. We went twice while we were there - the first time it was quite overcast and everyone was saying how sorry they were that the sun wasn't out, but not me. Overcast skies make for soft, diffused light and beautiful photos and I had a heyday with my new camera.

So here is a very small percentage of the photos I took that first day at the beach.

The water was VERY, very cold, and it caused a little bit of fear and trepidation among some of the children. Can you tell which of these kids is from California?

Yes, she embraced the cold water, reveled in it even!

Have you ever seen a sandcrab? Interesting little creatures - they sure can burrow. The kids spent half their time hunting for them and playing with them. I think the sandcrabs were pretty relieved when we went home that day.

Laura has a lovely 16 year old boy:

I wish I'd gotten a better picture of him, this was the only one I was able to grab.

Then, she has a 12 year old girl who is 4 months older than my Jaxon. She had a little nap on the sand:

Then, she had a girl 7 weeks after my Brynn and they are quite a pair - two fun little girlie-girl cousins who have a ball together.

And then my sister gave birth to a boy 2 days before my Luke was born. And they're also quite the little pair - they're like peas and carrots. They're the vanilla and chocolate version of the same kid, practically. They're the same exact same height and too much fun together.

Jaxon was kind enough to let them bury him.

But then he was stuck in the sand when the waves came in:

And my Marty..... I'm sure he was the only guy on the entire California coastline with a Caterpillar T-shirt on.

The kids were kind enough to humor me for this final photo - I love it, all these little sandy feet
represent all of my parent's grandchildren.

We had such a great time. It's a good thing we don't live in California because I'd spend all my time at the beach.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Story of Bo

Horse lovers are born, not made. I'm convinced this is true. I was wild about horses from before I could talk, or so my mother tells me. When I was a kid, and begging to have my own horse, my dad told me, "Forget about it, you will NEVER have a horse."

Well, thanks to my perseverance, and a lot of help from my Grandpa, I did own my own horse - which of course, turned into horses. Not only that, but I've made my living with horses since I was 18. I don't blog about my horses very much, as it seems more important to record the goings on of my family while my kids are little, but the horses are such a big part of our lives that I really ought to mention them more.

Not only was I born a horse lover, but my daughter was also. She is obsessed, just like I was (and still am). She draws horses, reads about them, bought a horse Wii game w/ her birthday money and wants to ride all the time.

Her first horse was Penny, who was truly the perfect first horse for a little kid. We lost Penny last spring and were devastated. My good friend Linda, and fellow trainer at the Sanctuary, let us borrow her horse, Bo, last summer for Brynn to ride. Bo is a really good boy and Brynn trail rode him all summer and had a great time on him at our local youth county fair horse show:

She hit it off really well with Bo and was sad when it was time to send him back to Linda. But this spring, Linda decided that she wanted to give Bo to Brynn. We kept it a surprise and when the day came, our friend Molly, who is a staff photographer at the Sanctuary and a fellow horse lover, came with her camera (and a length or red tinsel by way of gift wrapping) to take pictures of the event.

We had him tinseled up and standing in the yard when Brynn got home from school:

(Thanks, Molly, for the great pictures!)

So now Bo is a part of our family and we feel very blessed and lucky to have him - THANK YOU LINDA!

Brynn plays with him and rides him every chance she gets. She also had another great county fair horse show this year, even though her feet still don't reach the stirrups.

(In't he purty?!)

A girl and her horse - it's a beautiful thing.