Shaking with Excitement

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Lagoon was an annual family outing. Since I was a baby my family had been going to Lagoon once a year with my dad’s company. I don’t ever remember being scared of anything. Well, at least not scared enough to stay off the ride.

I was plenty scared of a lot of those rides. The Log Flume was my worst nightmare. The whole family fit in a log shaped canoe. We would lazily float along a winding path. Just long enough for my blood pressure to get up to dangerous levels. Then the log clicked onto a track. The track went up slowly, clicking the whole way. My heart would be racing and I wondered how I would ever survive the impending drop. Eventually we reached the top. The log precariously tipped for a moment before freefalling along with my heart. The log crashed into the water splashing all occupants and the ride was over. I had a love/hate relationship with that ride!

My dad would always take me on the roller coasters. The white wooden roller coaster was terrifying. I was always grateful for the sticky bar I could hold onto with a death grip. I used to believe the sticky rubber was the only thing that held me in my seat when I was a tiny little girl. It felt like that roller coaster was a tradition for years before a new roller coaster joined Lagoon. But I was 7 years old the first time my dad took me on Colossus. Memories get muddled over time.

I do remember the first time my dad took me on Colossus. If I could have had a stroke I would have just to get out of line. It went upside down. Twice. Oh I was positive I would die!

We got in and the lap bar came down. I grabbed on with all my might. The train slowly crept up the first hill. My heart rate was mounting. Suddenly gravity took over and the train was rushing through the course. It’s possible my eyes were shut so tight I didn’t even notice going upside down. I don’t remember if it was on my first ride or some number down the line. I do remember the first time I realized I was upside down. The whole landscape turned and I saw the trees upside down. That was the only way I knew it had happened.

Of the two roller coasters, I preferred Colossus. It was a smoother ride. But my dad took me on the terrifying white roller coaster every single year. I always wanted to say no but I never did. He would ask and my brain would lose connectivity with my mouth. My mouth always said okay. As we stood in line my short life flashed before my eyes. And somehow I always managed to live through the thrilling experience.

My uncle Dale came with us to Lagoon a lot. He would ride with us kids on the Haunted House rides. He would say the funniest things which had us giggling through the whole thing. I felt nervous and some parts of those rides were scary, but as long as Dale was there cracking jokes I was fine. 

Those trips to Lagoon were so much fun. It was something we looked forward to every year. We would go from open to close, without fail, every single year. It was the best. I hope to take my kids someday.

For now we go to Disneyland every other year. The boys are becoming a little more brave. Parker and I had grand plans of going on California Screaming together. We were the only ones willing to go. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. Well, we both hemmed and hawed until it was too late and raining.

Parker also wanted to go on the Tower of Terror. I told him I refused to go with him. I hate those rides where all you do is freefall while sitting behind a huge harness of bars. I’ve done those rides before and I hate them. Heath didn’t want to go either but he was a good dad and said he would. Parker changed his mind about going. So we were all safe!

The boys had a lot of fun on the roller coasters at Legoland. Gwen hated the Test Track roller coaster. I did too. It’s one of those jerky roller coasters. Those aren’t fun. They give me whiplash. She refused to go on it again. We were fine with that because the rule was everyone had to try a ride at least once. We kept convincing her to go on The Dragon. She always loved it at the end but her nervous bladder always raged while we stood in line.

Any time she felt scared or nervous she suddenly needed to go. Even if she just went. I tried to be positive about it by saying things like, “Is your nervous bladder back because this is such a fun ride and you are so excited?” If it was a ride she liked then the words helped. Otherwise she got more uncomfortable. It was really hard on the rest of us. We wanted to have fun together but Gwen was determined to be afraid of everything.

Gwen is the same age I was when I went on Colossus for the first time. I really thought we could push her limits and she would enjoy it. I think we pushed too hard and our efforts backfired. It’s hard to make peace with the fact that everyone is different. Despite how we feel, Gwen doesn’t like thrilling rides. No matter what we do or say, or how much we force her to do these things, she still hates it. I could recount my childhood Lagoon memories until I was blue in the face and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference to that girl. She likes what she likes.

A friend of mine talked about her youngest child. She said that most people tend to baby the youngest. That was not how her family did it. Gracie was born and everyone expected her to catch up. That’s how I parent too. My kids are all close in age, which could be one reason why they think they can do what the older kids do. Gwen is no exception. If her boys were doing it, she figured she could too. Playgrounds were a nightmare when that girl was little.

As much as we do everything together as a family, this vacation created a divide in us. Gwen was every bit her own young age. No more wishing to grow up. We tried to drag her along. “Keep up, youngest!” And it bit us every time. It was really hard.

Heath insisted we all go on Splash Mountain. While I had never been on the ride before, I knew it was one of the more intense Disneyland rides. Gwen was about to lose her mind and pee her pants at the same time. It was a long line too. The people around us were nice enough to not stare. They knew Gwen was freaking out and we were desperately trying to change her mind. They never made us feel stupid. I am so grateful for that. Because part of me was thinking we were the worst parents in the world for forcing our terrified 7 year old daughter to go on a super scary ride.

The closer we got to our turn the more warnings there were that it was an intense ride with a 50 foot drop. At least five signs had that 50 foot drop warning in large bold print. How Gwen missed it I will never know. A 50 foot drop! What kind of parents were we?

Heath put Gwen in front of him and behind me. We told her she would be safe between the two of us. Gavin was in the very front seat. That boy is a champ to do some of the things he does without complaining. I would have major incontinence if I had to sit in the front of a ride that puts Lagoon’s Log Flume to shame. He just gritted his teeth and enjoyed the rest.

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Gwen looks like she stopped breathing. I am screaming my head off because let’s face it, this part of the ride is freaking scary! The picture was taken just before my hat blew off the back of my head. I was sure I had lost it forever. It had dropped right in Gwen’s lap and Heath grabbed it for me. A ponytail is not enough insurance to keep a hat on for these rides.

The boys loved Splash Mountain. Gwen’s reaction to the ride was interesting. She didn’t think the drop was that big. Whatever. She was shaking like a leaf through the whole ride and didn’t stop shaking for quite some time afterwards. She said she hated it and would never do it again. The kids pressed pennies with a Splash Mountain theme. They would always remember how they conquered Splash Mountain.

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Mickey’s Toon Town was the turning point of our trip. I hate Toon Town. It’s an overpopulated playground. The parents are completely obnoxious there. I had suggested we go there because I had never been on the one and only ride there. It’s a kiddie roller coaster. My thought process was that if we went to a more juvenile part of the park, Gwen would feel more comfortable. And maybe a kiddie roller coaster would get her over her own fears. It was a nice thought.

We pushed and shoved while being pushed and shoved through Minnie’s house. She wasn’t even there to sign autographs. That was the other idea of going to Toon Town. But all the characters were on break when we got close enough. We made our way over to the roller coaster and Heath gave us his blessing. He was not going to have any part of it. I was having second thoughts about the whole idea because Gwen was so upset. I went forward with the original plan.

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And instantly regretted it.

Oh the tears, the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth! Not to mention the judging stares of every single person in that line. I kid you not! The boys went between arguing with Gwen to encouraging her and back again. Frankly all I wanted was to get through the dang ride and take a break from her for a minute.

Could you hear Gwen screaming? The ride was tamer than The Dragon at Legoland. The Dragon was Legoland’s biggest roller coaster too! Gwen insisted she hated the Toon Town roller coaster. We had all snapped in our own ways.

Heath took the boys on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and picked up a rider switch ticket. This brilliant idea had never occurred to us sooner. The boys got the best end of the deal because they were able to ride everything twice. Once with Heath and once with me.

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We did that for Space Mountain. Parker was nervous his first time this year. He was really chatty and kept getting in Gavin’s face. It’s funny how we learned everyone’s anxious body language. Gavin agreed to ride alone so I could sit with Parker. When the ride was over Parker was loud and proud. He was so excited and loved every minute of the ride. He could not wait to go with his dad. This picture of us is on the boys third ride. Parker insisted on sitting alone. You can tell he could not be happier about it. We all had so much fun (despite the terrible picture) and we were all really glad Gwen wasn’t involved. She was too.

We did make Gwen go on Star Tours twice. Once because we hadn’t thought of rider switch tickets yet. And once because it was raining and there really wasn’t anything else to do. Only the indoor rides were open. She claims she hated Star Tours both times. She did laugh at the end of the second ride when the alien crashed through the windshield. 

The rider split tickets were wonderful. We didn’t do it all that often now that I think about it. When we did it made the ride much more fun. No more worrying about Gwen or what other people were thinking about us.

I think Gwen is still trying to process everything. Hopefully that means she can change her mind about rides. Her toys go on roller coasters or Splash Mountain. She draw pictures of roller coasters. Heath took the boys to the Haunted Mansion while I took Gwen on Winnie the Pooh. While we stood in line her fingers were on a roller coaster with lots of drops.

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She liked Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. And she loved the Snow White and Pinocchio rides. She is still convinced that the evil queen in Snow White likes to eat pink and that she (Gwen) is lucky the queen didn’t see her pink that night! I wasn’t sure what to think when the ride operator tried to scare Gwen by saying all that as our car was slowly heading toward the darkness of the ride experience. Gwen believed every word but wasn’t scared in the ride. She loved it. Who knew!

I hope that one day she realizes how fun other rides can be. Until then we just need to be patient with her. Her idea of fun is not the same as our idea of fun. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. No one has the right to tell someone how to feel. Or invalidate their feelings. Maybe next time she will appreciate shaking with excitement.

In Memory of the Future

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It’s a cool 69 degrees today with a stiff Arctic breeze. The sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds bringing with it a promise of summer. Summer is all I can think of. I can’t wait for summer.

I can’t wait for
pool parties
tan lines
sweating
the spicy smell of sunscreen
making soda for the kids with the Soda Stream
sleeping in
grilling
lounging in my sanctuary (gazebo)

Last summer I did nothing. Every summer I do nothing but last summer it was a defense mechanism. This summer I want to do nothing and finally enjoy it.

Memorial Day kicks off summer. Heath and Gavin cleaned the grill yesterday and we had our first tri tip of the season. It was so good. So very tangy and tender and yum yum yum. The cheese bread was fantastic and the corn on the cob was juicy good.

As a kid Memorial Day was the first barbecue of the season. We swam at a pool in Midway, Utah. Some years it was quite chilly and we only played inside. No matter what we always met back at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for an extended family barbecue. Lots of people, lots of food, lots of fun.

We never really talked about Veterans or past generations. It was a day off from school tailored for family fun.

A Primary Presidency member mentioned the holiday to the children in Primary on Sunday. She said when she was a kid they also remembered family members who had passed in addition to remembering Veterans. I loved how she said it must have been a Utah tradition! No, it was just her family tradition. Everyone celebrates differently.

Now that I have lost close family members, the day does bring up memories. Not in a I-have-to-do-the-holiday-justice sort of way. The memories just come. I have been reminded of my dad every single day for nearly a year now. The signs of summer alone remind me that my kids missed the last week of school when he passed. They had an extra week of summer and learned about a man I had never really talked about.

I think about that and I think about how different family barbecues must be now that my grandpa is gone. I think about the family I have rediscovered. I wonder why I never knew my other grandpa served in the Navy. I never knew until he passed last fall. We didn’t spend Memorial Day with that side of the family. It was always with my mom’s side. Thoughts of family swirled in and out of my mind all day yesterday.

Still true to tradition, the promise of summer and warmer days blows on every breeze. Memorial Day means school is almost out. The countdown is on. Summer is just around the corner.

If summer is as fun as this weekend has been with my own little family, it will be a wonderful season indeed. I look forward to guilt free late nights with my kids. I look forward to hanging out with them every day. Reading, writing, drawing, scrapbooking, floating. I always get so excited with so many plans for summer. This year I think my only goal is to be present. I lived in a fog last summer.

Memorial Day this year served as a reminder. A reminder of the past and also a reminder that things can change. The future is paved with sunshine and life is good.

Mother of a Day

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Every camping trip included Sunday clothes – dresses, shirts, ties, dress shoes, nylons, black socks, makeup, and hairspray. This is what my family did. I never thought to question it. If we were camping over the weekend and were gone over a Sunday, we went to church. It didn’t matter where on earth we were either. We always planned ahead by looking up ward houses or simply looking for steeples as we drove to our campsite. By Sunday we knew where we were going.

Sunday mornings started out early with a spit bath in the campground restroom. We washed our hair in the sinks until we finally bought one of those camping showers. It’s not easy to navigate dust and dirt while trying to stay clean for church. I always hated putting on real clothes over my sunburns. This is what we did though. Church was never optional.

Just last Sunday a youth speaker talked about her Sunday experience during a soccer conference in Las Vegas. She said she was trying to figure out how to use the hotel room iron while her friends were running around trying to find their lucky scrunchies. She asked a great question.

“Why do we stick out like this? Because of our faith. We have faith that there is a purpose for doing so.”

It wasn’t until I was married that I started hearing friends say that vacations over Sunday meant a vacation from church. That idea was so foreign to me. Especially since getting ready for church in a hotel room is infinitely easier and convenient than getting ready at a campsite. Although it’s worth noting that the Legoland Hotel does not have irons. True story. I’m so glad Heath brought some wrinkle guard spray he found at the store. It wasn’t perfect but it helped.

Our Legoland and Disneyland trip included a Sunday. We chose that day for our transition day. That would be the day we moved from Legoland to Disneyland because we knew we didn’t want to go into the park on the Sabbath. Normally we try to avoid travelling on Sunday but sometimes it happens.

We got up extra early on Sunday. Since it was Mother’s Day the wait staff at the Bricks Family Restaurant gave each mother a yellow carnation. The waitress that showed us to our table snuck a flower from a bucket near the entrance. She gave it to Gwen to give to me when we got to the table. I thought that was sweet. She also told us that the other Mother’s Day perk was a free mimosa. I thanked her for the offer and told her I don’t drink.

After breakfast we rushed back to our room to get dressed for church. Heath had found a nearby ward building that had a 9:00 am Sacrament Meeting. We wanted to stay all three hours of church but given our check out schedule at the Legoland Hotel we could only stay for Sacrament Meeting.

It was a wonderful meeting. We sat behind a very friendly family that welcomed us. She even invited the kids to sing with the rest of the Primary kids. Gwen thought about it but they all were happy to be uninvolved visitors.

All the speakers gave very inspiring messages. The second speaker was my favorite. The stories he told about his mother and wife made me want to cry. I wanted to know these amazing women whose faith was so inspirational. He told some very personal stories about the struggle he and his wife endured with bringing children to this earth. The first two boys came quickly and easily. Then they had years of infertility and miscarriages.

At one point a pregnancy finally took and they were overjoyed to be expecting another little boy. Unfortunately it was discovered late in pregnancy that that child was ill and probably wouldn’t live long. He lived for three hours. The stories were heartbreaking. His wife suffered so much emotionally yet still served others around her. The way she clung to hope and faith was the point of his message. I was so grateful to have been able to hear it.

Like all Mormon wards, the women aged 18 years and older were asked to stand at the end of the meeting to receive their Mother’s Day gift. We decided to take that opportunity to slip out. Heath was leading us ducklings as quickly and efficiently as he could. Suddenly I remembered my purse was still sitting on the floor in the chapel where I had left it. I had Gwen’s hand so I drug her with me to retrieve my purse.

The man sitting in front of us asked if I wanted a Mother’s Day gift. I asked what it was thinking if it was flowers I was out of there. He said he thought it was a chocolate bar. I wasn’t going to go out of my way to get this gift. I was mad at myself for botching our great escape. As we stepped away from the pew a young man asked if I wanted a gift. I think he was one of the sons of the family we sat behind. I accepted a dark chocolate and almond candy bar that came with a quote from President Faust about women. It was a very nicely put together gift.

Finally with all our belongings, we headed back to the hotel to check out. Heath and the boys changed into more comfortable clothes while Gwen and I stayed in our dresses. My dress is pretty casual and Gwen loves skirts. I felt so overdressed in the hotel next to all the families ready to spend Mother’s Day in the Legoland park.

I felt less conspicuous when we went to Café Rio for lunch. Nearly every woman in that restaurant was dressed in their Sunday best. Even some of the men were dressed up too. I imagined they were religious families who celebrate the Sabbath Day, particularly holidays, by going out for lunch after church.

Earlier that day we had asked the kids why we made such a big deal out of going to church. They answered that going to church was a commandment. Gavin suggested we did it to ask for forgiveness for breaking the Sabbath the rest of the day! He knew the rest of the day included going out to eat and paying to watch a movie. Both things we don’t do on Sundays.

We explained that normally we would stay all three hours. Given the time restraints we could only make it to Sacrament Meeting which is the most important meeting. That’s where we renew our baptismal covenants by taking the Sacrament.

I did enjoy my Café Rio for lunch. Café Rio and I go way back. A college roommate introduced me when the restaurant was only in St. George, Utah. Now it’s spread. The story is they open a restaurant in heavily populated Mormon areas. So glad we could support them by getting lunch on Sunday!

Our afternoon plans were to watch Cinderella at the Downtown Disney theater. It would give us something to do while we waited for our hotel room to be ready. Traffic was heavy in several places and I was worried this plan wouldn’t work out. By sheer luck or maybe Disney magic, we parked the car and speed walked to the theater. We were five minutes late but hadn’t even missed all the previews yet.

The movie was spectacular. I think the Cinderella fairy tale is my favorite. I have enjoyed many variations of this story. This one was my absolute favorite. I loved all of it. It followed closely the Disney cartoon version. The new Cinderella was all live action. She talked to animals but they didn’t talk back. It was very realistic.

I loved how the prince’s character was developed. Normally he’s just this hunk of a guy that disappoints every girl by marrying Cinderella. This time he was a real person with his own worries. The stepmother’s character was developed as well. You could see why she made the choices she did, mean spirited as they were. My favorite part was that Cinderella thought for herself. She wasn’t this insipid yes-girl. She also had moments where her circumstances nearly overwhelmed her. But after giving herself a timeout she would come back ready to be kind and have hope again. I loved this movie! It is by far my favorite telling of this classic story that I have always had a place in my heart for.

I still can’t believe the timing for the movie worked out. It shouldn’t have worked out. The clock was not in our favor. It was nothing short of magic to have been able to watch that movie exactly as we planned. It seems strange that Disneyland has its own movie theater. Who takes time to watch a movie when they’re at Disneyland? I’m glad we had the option for our situation.

After the movie our room was ready. It was so peaceful compared to the overstimulating Legoland room. We rested for a bit and then walked back to Downtown Disney for our dinner reservations at Tortilla Joe’s. Dinner was good but it was loud and crowded. I was happy to be back in our serene room.

It was a wonderful Mother’s Day. Heath surprised me with yet another gift when we got home from our trip. He paid for a Pandora subscription. Now I don’t have to hear any ads when I listen to my music. I can skip or thumbs down as many songs as I like. Heath spoils me.

The kids made cute art projects at school. The Primary Presidency took pictures of all the families of Primary kids for their mothers. They had the kids hold signs about moms. The first counselor said the picture of my kids didn’t turn out so well. She didn’t like the lighting. So she retook the picture. I love it. I had curled Gwen’s hair that morning. Something that turned out so well but she didn’t have the patience for it so never again! Parker was all cheesy with his pose which just made the picture that much better. Those are my babies and I love them! I was able to get my framed picture early since we were gone for Mother’s Day. It was a very memorable Mother’s Day this year.

Family builds character

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The wall has finally been updated with new pictures. This time we used frames so I think this collage will last longer than the last one.

I loved the pictures of our babies along the stairs, but when the photos started peeling off the foam core board it was time to do something else. The caricatures look great together. We also found a place for the picture of Heath and me way back in the day before we had kids.

Heath came up with the idea to put Legoland California in vinyl on the glass. I think it almost looks like we bought it that way. The next step is to Cricut some vinyl letters for the wall to say a fun phrase. We’re thinking “family builds character.”

This was our fun project for the day. Other projects included mowing the lawn and buying a book for Edward. After dinner I put everyone to work on cleaning the house. We got it done in less than an hour. With the exception of Gwen’s room (she thinks we don’t know she never put her toys away), our whole house is sparkly clean. That is a great feeling. Bring on Sunday. Maybe I’ll even get around to posting the last couple stories of our trip.

Just a Bunch of Characters

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What were we going to do about autographs since Tinkerbell fell down on the job? She texted us her apologies and said she would pick up some official autograph books in Disneyland. She would fly them up to our room later.

In the end I’m glad that the original books were accidentally left behind. They were just Disney themed notebooks with some fun pens. Tinkerbell picked out some really cool official autograph books with fancy pens. Gwen’s pen was pink with princesses all over it and a gold crown at the top. The boys pens were blue and black and said they were official autograph pens! There were black Mickey ears at the top.

The kids were so excited about the books Monday morning. We told them we would stop for autographs as often as we could during our adventures. While we were standing in line at Pixie Hollow we saw Captain Hook and Peter Pan walking around together. People had stopped them for pictures and stuff. When we finished meeting the fairies we got in line to see Captain Hook and Peter Pan, who were just outside Pixie Hollow. Of course once we got in line they decided to walk away. We never did see them again.

At Pixie Hollow we met Silvermist, the water fairy, and Tinkerbell. Silvermist was so funny. She asked the guy behind us in line if he was holding a water bottle. When he said yes she said, “I did that. You’re welcome.” She was full of funny one liners like that. I really liked her. Heath asked her what she was doing about the drought. She just said she needs to get on that. But at least she’s filling water bottles for people and is quite proud of herself for it!

Silvermist also told the kids to touch their dimples as they smiled for pictures. She was adorable. Tinkerbell had a really cute conversation with Gwen where she kept calling Gwen Olaf. It was funny. Tinkerbell is one of Gwen’s favorite characters. I still remember when Gwen was 2 and met Tink for the first time. She was so awestruck. I love Pixie Hollow. It’s my favorite character greeting spot.

We saw Mary Poppins once but she was far from where we were. She was walking through the crowd so it probably would have been another Captain Hook and Peter Pan situation.

My favorite chance meeting of characters was when we were in line for Star Tours. We were inside where it’s always very dark and the line snakes around in neat lines several times. Suddenly some side doors burst open and two or three Storm Troopers came out, guns in hand ready for action. I have to admit it was quite surprising and a little terrifying at first. They didn’t say a word obviously. They just marched around getting in people’s faces or surprising them from behind.

Some people were laughing some people were visibly nervous. I was doing a little bit of both. The line moved enough that we were standing next to a wall. The Storm Troopers came by and a cast member was nearby. Heath asked if we could get their autographs. The cast member said no because Darth Vader forbids it. So Heath gave one a fist bump as he disappeared behind a door opposite of where they had stormed the room.

The boys didn’t want to have any princesses sign their books at Ariel’s Grotto. They were good sports and stood in the pictures. Sometimes they smiled. Sometimes Gavin had huge wads of bread in his cheek. Just before we went to Ariel’s Grotto we waited in line to see Donald Duck. It took a while because he had to stop and make a phone call. Ten minutes later he returned and picked up with the line where he had left off. It turns out the call was to Daisy who had been spending all his money!

At one point Minnie Mouse had to leave for a minute to check on a cheesecake she had in the oven. She came back quickly and was very sweet kissing her autograph before giving the book back.

We didn’t take any of our own pictures of Donald Duck. We still need to buy the Photo Pass pictures, which were all there by the way! Not like Legoland where we were completely gypped. Donald seemed to have a hard time with Gwen’s pen. He used the boys pens for everyone’s books. The cast member with Donald scribbled Gwen’s pen on her shoe. I thought that was weird.

Too bad they didn’t say anything more to us about the pen. We went to Ariel’s Grotto to meet all the princesses. All the princesses were barely able to scratch their autographs. By the time Cinderella came around the pen would not even pretend to work. Cinderella signed Gwen’s book with a blue crayon. She asked if we got the pen at Disneyland. We told her that Tinkerbell did. Cinderella said maybe Tink didn’t put enough Pixie dust on it. Then she told us to take the pen to any store in the park and tell them it wasn’t working. They would replace it for free. I love that rule about Disneyland.

Besides not getting any of our own pictures with Donald Duck, we didn’t get any pictures of Gwen with Ariel. Ariel is the only princess that doesn’t come around to the tables to meet the families at her grotto. Normally a cast member will take pictures. During the meal a whole picture package is brought out to the tables for purchase.

The guy came around and apologized to every family that they didn’t have any packages to show. If we wanted our pictures we had to go get them from some place we had never heard of and therefore didn’t know where it was. We completely forgot to even try to get them later. I’m a little bummed because Ariel is Gwen’s favorite princess. At least that was the only Disney photo snafu. I’m still mad at Legoland. What a scam they are running! I still haven’t heard back from anyone. It’s been almost a week since I complained on their site.

A very memorable part of Ariel’s Grotto was when the page came out to introduce the princesses. He started to sing a song. We were sitting very close to him and he looked up at Gwen. I don’t know why but he started laughing while he sang to her. It wasn’t like she had something embarrassing on her face. He thought she was cute. It made her day to know he sang to her for a little bit and she had him so flustered he laughed and almost forgot the words.

That was awesome. So was Gwen’s Ursula dog. It was a hot dog cut up to look like an octopus sitting on top of macaroni and cheese. Heath got a Mickey shaped dessert in addition to all the dessert they brought to all of us anyway. I ate my crème brulet because I have never tried any before. It was delicious. Gwen wanted my S’more sandwich and was too stuffed to even try it. I like the food at Ariel’s Grotto. I really like that when we book with Costco we get a free character dining experience. So Ariel’s Grotto and the prices was free.

As we were wandering through California Adventure we saw a line to meet Olaf. The boys were even excited about this one. A cast member stood at the line entrance and told us we had to have a Fast Pass specifically for meeting Olaf and they had “sold out” that morning. That was disappointing. But we got Fast Passes for other Frozen shows and to meet Anna and Elsa.

The nice part about autographs is the lines are long but the characters make it worth the wait. They are so very personable and have fun with the kids. We have stood in line to meet characters before. It’s a lot of fun but this is the first time we had autograph books. It was a really fun way to experience Disneyland.

The kids are enjoying the forgotten autograph notebooks. They were exactly where we had left them. Tinkerbell did tell us to let the kids know she packed them on our way home. If they got all their homework done they could have them. It works out well that way. I don’t want Gwen playing with her autograph book. The girl loves paper so having a whole new notebook is perfect. Now I need to print copies of pictures for Gwen’s autograph book.

Hit the (Lego) Bricks!

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The kids had their yellow slap bracelets on. Supposedly the bracelets were for the magic morning at Legoland. Nobody checked the bracelets or took them from us. They now sit in a bag with other memorabilia from the trip.

The morning had been a lot of fun. We had enjoyed a few rides and attractions already. There was a bit of a line for the Sky Cruiser. We thought it would be fun to try it. Heath had taken Gavin on that ride years ago. There was only 20 minutes left of our magic morning hour. I hoped if the line moved fast enough we could do the Sky Cruiser and maybe one more ride before the general public was welcomed to the park.

As we stood in line the toddlers in front of us curled their bracelets around the railing. Starting at the top they gave the bracelets a slap and watched it spin all the way down the iron bar. Giggle giggle giggle. The parents behind us pulled their daughter out of the play area next to the line. I couldn’t understand what her offense was but they were adamant she stand in line with them. Closer and closer to the ride operators we slowly crept.

Gavin got in the car by himself. He would pedal the Lego contraption on his own while the rest of us teamed up in two separate cars.

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This was the scenery we enjoyed as we followed the squiggly track.

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Parker and I were enjoying our ride together. I looked behind me and saw Heath and Gwen pedaling along the curve we just passed through. Heath had his camera out and snapped our picture.

*Crunch*

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It looks like Heath captured the exact moment our car violently jolted to a stop. Between the sound and my stomach being slammed into the tight seatbelt while my body lurched forward, I couldn’t help but remember the car accident we were in. That’s exactly what it felt and sounded like.

There was no rhyme or reason for the sudden stop. Our car simply refused to go. Were we pedaling too fast or too slow? Who knows? I doubt the pedaling even affects the ride. All I knew was we had stopped.

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Heath and Gwen bumped into us from behind along with at least eight more cars. One by one the cars came around the bend and stopped at the end of the growing line. How could the operators not notice that they kept sending people out but cars weren’t returning?

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We waited
and waited
and waited
and waited some more.

We waited quite a while before we could hear the announcement that the ride was experiencing technical difficulties. Then we waited even longer before anyone even bothered to check on us. Parker was getting discouraged. Gwen was really mad. I was just embarrassed. All eyes were on Parker and me as if we were somehow responsible for the ride stopping.

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I was relieved to see Gavin wandering around looking for us. We yelled his name and motioned for him to come to the fence. I was so grateful we stopped where he could see us. There are a lot of parts to that track where he would have never been able to see us.

Since we couldn’t do anything, we couldn’t even unbuckle ourselves, we told Gavin to go on another ride while he waited. Heath said we could call him when we were finally rescued. Unfortunately Gavin had left his phone in the room so he stood by the fence to wait for us.

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This whole debacle lasted forever. I kept looking at the walking path next to the track. If only we could unbuckle and walk out. Why wasn’t anyone coming to get us? Parker kept saying he could see ride operators staring at us. I was more aware of the people taking pictures of us. Who knows, maybe we were Facebook or Twitter celebrities!

I thought I would laugh later and I do a little bit. But it was a very different experience for Parker and me being the lead car – the car that unexpectedly locked up the ride. I still feel weird when I think of how many phones feature me and my son in pictures and video.

Finally a couple ride operators came to our rescue. They used a long pole to pry open the seatbelt safety lock. We unbuckled and climbed out of the car onto the emergency track. We experienced the rest of the ride on foot and were told to wait at the exit for paperwork and questions.

It sounded much scarier than it actually was. The girl had everyone record their names in a logbook and then she gave us all exit passes. The exit passes were good for skipping the line on one ride. “So use them wisely!” At least we got some sort of compensation for the inconvenience. By the time we were finished it was nearly 10:20. We got in line at 9:40. Ugh! So much for one more ride before the magic hour was over.

The park wasn’t very crowded. We hardly had to wait at all to get onto any rides. Heath held onto the exit pass for that perfect opportunity to use it.

As we walked away from the Sky Stopper, Heath told me he had more bad news. He whispered that Tinkerbell forgot to pack the autograph books and pens we found on Amazon. I thought I held it together rather well as I essentially sat in a zoo, otherwise known as a broken down ride. This new turn of events threatened to push me over the edge.

Heath: Let’s go into this shop and look around for a minute.
Me: Good because I’m going to need a Diet Coke!

While Heath herded the kids around the Lego displays I fished out a $5 bill for a non-refillable cup. I could have paid more for a souvenir cup that held more soda and would only cost a dollar to refill all day. In my moment of desperation for happy juice I decided I didn’t want to carry around a souvenir cup all day. I needed Diet Coke and I needed it now. I could deal with later, later. I sucked down my $5 drink in record time, took a deep breath, and we went on with our day.

We zipped through lines all day. Our favorite ride was The Dragon. We conquered The Dragon countless times. At one point I went with Gwen back to the jousting horses so she could ride. I made her stand in line by herself. She has to ride it by herself and it seemed like a good idea. She was fine but I felt weird about it seeing all the other parents waiting in line with their kids. Gwen is Gwen and made friends left and right in line.

While she was having the time of her life riding a mechanical horse around a track, her boys were riding The Dragon over and over. There wasn’t much line to speak of. When we all met up again, Heath said we should go on the dragon together. The end of the line was inside the building. Heath decided to take a shortcut by crawling under a chain. We all followed him. He turned around and moved his hand off his shorts to reveal the huge rip.

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The funny part was that the rip was down the center front of his right leg. A seam didn’t split. His powerful legs must have flexed just right in his squat for the shorts to weaken under pressure and give up. We stayed in line and conquered The Dragon again.

Afterwards Heath walked back to the room. First he took my jacket out of Gavin’s backpack and strategically draped it over his right arm so it covered the hole in his shorts.

I walked halfway around the park the wrong way trying to meet up with Heath. I can’t read maps. Well I can I just didn’t know where I was in the map. Lots of Fitbit steps that day!

The last ride we went on was an Indiana Jones themed ride. They can’t use the name though because they don’t own the rights. Anyway, the line was pretty long so we used our exit pass. It was great. We got right on from the exit and had fun shooting targets Astro Blasters style.

To end our bizarre day we bought our park photos. They give everyone a Photo Pass card like at Disneyland. You can buy the pictures individually or you can do their deal and buy everything on the card for $40. At the end of just about every ride you can see your picture on a computer. If you like it then they can scan your card. At the end of the day you can buy them all. We were scanning that card like crazy.

On of the perks of booking through Costco was we had a coupon for a free Shutterfly book. Sweet! I would let Shutterfly scrapbook our Legoland trip. Some of the people couldn’t scan our card. The equipment wasn’t working or something. So in addition to our Photo Pass card we had a bunch of cards with handwritten photo numbers on them. The plan was to turn it all in at the end of the day for the $40 deal.

Heath said it was a guy in training who helped him. He had to constantly ask questions of a manager. That should have been our first clue. When we got home we put in our code to view the pictures we purchased. There should have been around 50 pictures or more. We had more like 10-15. Most of which were of other families!

The website is set up in such a way that it looks like you can try to find your lost photos but you really can’t. They also don’t claim any responsibility for basically robbing us. It’s awesome. That’s why I say that one hour the first day was the best. We had so much fun. Nothing went wrong. Life was good. The next day was a different story. Still fun but there were a lot of weird problems.

Awards Banquet

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Today is the last day of Track. The kids will turn in their uniforms of hot pants and tank tops, then party hard.

The Awards Banquet was last night. I was really excited about it when I first got the email announcing it. Then we went away for a week and it’s been hard to accept how busy life is at home. The idea of dressing up for the dinner no longer sounded as fun as it once did.

Parker had his last Den meeting yesterday and was only home for a short while before we had to leave for Gavin’s special night. Parker was not impressed we made him dress up as well. It’s ok, he showed his Idaho roots by wearing white ankle socks with his black slacks and black dress shoes. I couldn’t be more proud.

I felt completely overdressed in a sweater, skirt, and the highest heels I own. The shoes made all the difference. I tend to feel underdressed at church because I wear ballet flats each week. Comfort trumps style with as much walking as I need to do for my job. One of the coaches sent a couple different emails reminding everyone to dress up for the banquet. I couldn’t tell how dressed up we needed to be. But I had the perfect opportunity to dress like a lady. So I did. Luckily I didn’t fall on my head in those cute but uncomfortable heels.

Most dads were in business casual. Some moms were in summer dresses with cardigans. Quite a lot were in slacks and blouses. One mom dressed up her skinny jeans with high heeled boots. My shoes may kill my feet but dang if they don’t look good!

As soon as we walked through the doors to the multipurpose room, Gavin disappeared. He hung out with his friends all evening. It was a little strange. Gavin has never been a very social guy. I have seen some of the best changes in him since he joined the Track team.

Part of me still feels a little blindsided by the fact that he wanted to run at all. That desire seemed to come out of nowhere. Well until I was scrapbooking old school projects for him and saw something. It was his New Year’s Resolutions from second grade. He had set a goal to be a better runner by running every recess. What? I had no idea. This love of running has been increasing over the years and I didn’t even know it.

Coach Erika talked to us at the banquet. She asked if Gavin was going to run Cross Country. We told her that we certainly hoped he would. There was a signup sheet on one of the tables for the kids who wanted to do Cross Country in the fall. Heath found Gavin at one point and asked if he had signed the paper. Gavin looked at him and said, “I was wondering if you would let me.” Yes! Of course! He signed up and I look forward to the season.

With a team as large as this Track team, I was impressed to hear Gavin’s name as often as I did. I was also impressed to see how many times his picture showed up in the slide show. Heath and I stayed up late one night right before our trip to find some good pictures to send to the dad putting together the slide show. We only included one picture of Gavin because we didn’t want to be those parents. Other parents also contributed pictures and they must have caught a few shots of him running.

Gwen and Parker loved seeing Gavin show up in the slide show. They would get really excited. I loved hearing his name read over the microphone a few different times. His nickname is All Good. I love it. He received special recognition for a PR award. PR stands for personal record. Recognition was given to kids who had beat their own personal records during the season. Gavin said he beat his mile goal three times. Nice work!

The award was a choice between a Jamba Juice gift card or a tote bag. Gavin chose the Jamba Juice card. One of the coaches said she was surprised. We weren’t. He loves Jamba Juice and the tote bags looked exactly like the little backpacks we bought the boys for our trip. We figured he was sick of carrying something like that around all day. He told us later he would get more use out of a Jamba Juice card. I love that boy!

Coach Tony was a brand new coach but he was amazing. Apparently the team only received three awards in the championship race last season. This year they received ten. This guy loved those kids and helped them realize their dreams. My favorite story was when Coach Tony was talking about a girl who earned the PR award.

“It was a cold and gray day. It was just a practice, not a meet day. She ran through the dirt as if everything depended on her. Guts on the track, she ran full force and beat her personal record.”

Tell me I didn’t have tears in my eyes listening to that. They gave a couple awards for the most inspirational athletes on the team. I’m sure it was hard to choose just one or two per grade level. So many of those kids are inspirations.

I am so inspired by Gavin. He found something he was passionate about and he went for it. I didn’t think he would quit but I wasn’t sure how he would do in this sport. He took our advice. He was a part of a team as well as improving himself individually. I love that he has so many friends and that he never talked to us last night. I love that he still loves running.

With anything in life, be it a love of sports, art, singing, or whatever, put your heart and soul into it. Leave your guts on the track so to speak and just do it.

Is it weird that I feel emotional after that awards banquet? The coaches were sad to say goodbye to the 8th graders they have loved since they were 6th graders. I feel sad to see them go too. I also feel so blessed to have been a witness to this season and see what it did for these kids, particularly my own.

“Hey James Bond!” Evidence that Gwen shouldn’t drive

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So many lines from Clueless went through my mind while I watched Gwen drive.

Josh: Hey James Bond! In America we drive on the other side of the road.
Cher: You try driving in platforms!

Cher: Hello! That was a stop sign.
Dionne: What, I like totally paused.

Oh dear! Watching Gwen drive was the funniest thing ever. Also the scariest. Did you see her move over right in front of that other girl? After the ride was finished the kids were all given drivers licenses on the way out. For real!

Luckily Legoland is not the final say on driving privileges. I would say in the state of California but I believe many drivers here probably found a way to turn that business card piece of cardstock from Legoland into a real form of I.D. When you hear that California drivers are the worst, believe it. When Gwen is given a bus pass for her 16th birthday, remember this video.

The Best Hour Ever

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It has been nearly eight years since we have been to Legoland. We only went the first time because we found coupons with our Burger King meal when we happened to be in San Diego for Heath’s business trip. I really wish I could find the video I made from that first trip and repost it. It’s on some backup drive stored somewhere not in our computer anymore.

All these years later we decided to go back to Legoland. I was a little concerned about it since friends have blogged that their kids don’t like it anymore. They have gotten too old. These kids are the same age as my kids. Oh well, we would go anyway.

Yes, Legoland has an expiration date. Gavin was too old and Parker was on the fence of being too old. Gwen was the perfect age. Gavin was a good sport and he had fun. Parker couldn’t be happier to be alive! The boys went on several rides just the two of them which was really fun for them. Gwen was brave and went on rides she didn’t want to do. She was happiest on the very young rides like the jousting horses.

We made it to Legoland just in time. We weren’t sure if waiting at baggage claim then getting a rental car, then navigating LA traffic would get us to Legoland too late. We checked into our room and raced to the park. It was 4:00 and the park closes at 5:00. The guy who gave us our tickets thought we were weird for wanting to play for only an hour. We told him we had two days for the price of one and we were going to make the best of our one hour.

It was the best hour ever. There were no lines for one thing. Apparently it had rained pretty hard that day which cleared out a lot of people. We ran from ride to ride and had the best time ever. All of us had perma-grins. It was so much fun.

The next day had some ups and downs but we still had a lot of fun. I’m glad the kids had fun because we will never go back. Everything about the park was very juvenile in nature. It’s definitely meant for a younger crowd. It’s a little weird because Lego is not a toddler toy. Some of those bigger sets have age suggestions starting in the teens. But the rides and the park in general have a young vibe. If you have kids younger than 10 you should go. After that your kids are probably too old. That’s what I love about Disneyland. It’s fun for everyone and no one ever ages out of the park.

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Here are some examples of Lego art in our hotel room. The Legoland Hotel has three different themed rooms to choose from. We didn’t say what we wanted so it was a surprise when we were put in an adventure room. We learned that the rooms are themed based on what floor they’re on. First floor was the castle themed rooms (what Gwen and I secretly wanted), second floor was for the pirate themed rooms, and the adventure rooms were on the third floor.

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The whole floor followed the theme. There were snakes and pits on the carpet in the hallways. Every kid would jump as they walked down the hall to avoid stuff on the floor! The special carpet continued into the rooms.

 

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An adventurer that looked a lot like Indiana Jones stood across the hall from the elevators. Speaking of elevators, the Legoland Hotel elevators played fun music as soon as the doors shut. It was a dance party every time we went somewhere. That’s why you could see us dancing like goons in the video.

Every room was set up so there was a kid section and an adult section. The kids part was in the front of our room. There were bunkbeds with a trundle bed tucked underneath. It was perfect for our three kids. Parker slept on top because he could! Gwen wanted the trundle bed. The kids had a TV on the wall across from the beds.

Between the two sections was the bathroom. It was the smallest hotel bathroom ever with a lot of wasted space. The flow was terrible in that room. I was happy to move on from it. But the Lego art continued on the bathroom walls and the shower curtain was also adventure themed.

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You can see they spared no details. The headboard on the parents bed was even carved with hieroglyphics. The door to the room had two peepholes. One regular peephole and a lower one for the kids to look through.

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The best part of the room was the treasure chest. The front desk gave us papers and pencils for a mini scavenger hunt. The kids had to walk around the hotel to find the answers to the questions. The answers were the combination to the treasure chest. The first day the kids each got a mini figure and the next day they each got a package of Mixels.

The hotel had a lot of fun things for the kids to do. There were large pits in the lobby full of Lego bricks the kids could build anything with. There was also a huge castle the kids could run through and imagine in. It was a pretty fun hotel (for younger kids). Also next to the elevators in the lobby there was a whoopie cushion on the floor. When the kids stood on it it would make noise and say things like, “Oh you stinky thing!” It was funny the first several times.

There were two restaurants. The Bricks Family Restaurant was a buffet. We had breakfast there every morning. I think that was included with the price of the room and we only paid separate for the one dinner we had there. The other dinner was at the Skyline Café across the hall. The food was crazy expensive but it was quite tasty. I had some noodly Alfredo thing. They made the sauce with gouda which made the sauce addicting. It was so tangy and creamy and oh so delicious. Heath made an Alfredo sauce with gouda on Sunday. It was yummy.

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My favorite part about the Legoland Hotel was how they painted the outside. It looks like it’s made out of Lego! They had a fun pool area but we didn’t ever play in the pool. It was too cold on Friday and we planned on going on Saturday. After we posed for a family caricature portrait and did our shopping it was too late in the day. The sun wasn’t as warm and the winds had picked up.

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I love this picture! We are Lego mini figures. Parker does not have earrings. That’s his hands popping his head off. I love that the artist captured our smiles so well in such a short amount of time. Did you notice my perfectly straight teeth? No braces necessary. Just posing for a caricature portrait!

Saturday was a full day at Legoland. We were there for the Magic Hour where the park is open to hotel guests one hour earlier than the general public. And we stayed until the park closed. It was fun but I have to say that one hour on Friday was better than all of Saturday. It was the best hour ever.

Weather or Not

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Legoland-and-Disneyland-132If you have to turn 40 you may as well do it at the happiest place on earth. That was our excuse for the trip anyway.

Two years ago we celebrated Heath’s birthday in Disneyland. We went the week of his actual birthday. He was given a button to wear announcing it was his birthday. The travel agent knew it was his birthday and probably made a note of it for our lunch and dinner reservations. Yet he got free dessert three days in a row! All in celebration of his birthday. Maybe the button had something to do with that. It wasn’t a bad deal and I thought it was a great way to celebrate his 40th birthday. It was either Disneyland or black balloons reminding him that it’s all downhill from here.

One thing we didn’t like about our last trip to Disneyland was all the high school students, particularly the seniors. While the park was crowded the wait for rides didn’t feel too long. But the vibe in the park was totally different with all those kids. I’m not against teenagers. I am against all the unnecessary swearing and scantily clad girls who look like they are applying for jobs as pole dancers.

This time we carefully planned our trip an entire week earlier in May. The kids would most likely still be done with standardized testing and the weather is to die for in May.

What actually happened was Parker was finished with testing. Gavin missed most of his to vacation instead. I kind of don’t care. The testing is not for him. It’s for the schools and frankly I think I will take my friend’s advice (our carpet cleaning friend). He told me that next time I should take the hit and not worry about the school. So what if they don’t get their money for my kids that week? So what if I get a nasty letter telling me what a rotten parent I am for taking my kids out of school? The peace of mind from no homework has to be worth it. I’m kind of starting to feel that way!

The other thing that happened was another Grad Night. High school seniors from the ends of the earth swarmed the park all day Wednesday. We were going to watch The World of Color on Wednesday. When we realized there was a special World of Color event for them that night we changed our plans.

Two friends of mine took a road trip to Disneyland for the weekend. They arrived last Thursday and left Saturday. They stayed in Abigail’s parents time share at the Paradise Pier. It was an unpleasant experience as they heard not one, but two different showings of the World of Color. Apparently there was another Grad Night. The music, partying, and revelry lasted until the wee hours of the morning!

So May wasn’t exactly the lightest month in the crowd index. The weather is nice in May. Except this year. It was gray, cold, and sprinkly the day before we left for our vacation. Occasionally Northern California has some unseasonably cold spring days. No worries, we would just fly to Southern California where the skies are blue and the sun shines beautifully.

The closer we got to our trip the more the weather app kept changing its mind. Temperatures seemed to fall in the 10 day forecast almost daily. There was even a 40% chance of rain. We vacillated on jackets and in the end decided to bring them just in case.

I got sunburned on Saturday because even though Legoland barely hit 70 degrees as a high, the sun was warm enough I took off my jacket. I planned on wearing it all day so my skin was not protected! My pink arms and chest turned a golden brown the next day so it wasn’t a big deal.

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This happened Thursday afternoon. The skies were cloudy all morning and breezes would blow through occasionally. Tiny sprinkles fell slowly until suddenly it was a full on rainstorm. I couldn’t help but think didn’t we already do rain in Disneyland a couple years ago? I tried to remember that even though it was raining that December we still had a lot of fun.

We had taken Gwen on the Indiana Jones ride. She has hated it in the past but was really excited to go on it when we watched a Mythbusters episode about The Temple of Doom. She was brave enough to go but still hated it. I guess Heath had promised her we would go on The Jungle Cruise as a reward. Rides with Gwen is a whole post on its own. We did a lot of tame rides after fun rides that she decided she hated.

I didn’t know about The Jungle Cruise reward until the ride broke down. We patiently waited in line despite all the announcements that the ride wasn’t working and they had no idea when it would be working again. We just kept our arms inside our ponchos and smiled in line. Then they announced that the ride was officially shut down and everyone had to leave. Gwen was super bummed. So we went to a store that sold huge lollipops. That was enough to bring a smile back to her face. She had been asking for a lollipop. She loves that kind of candy.

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Rain and a lollipop waiting to board a train. Gwen was in heaven!

She chose a lollipop with Elsa and Anna on the wrapper. Parker chose one with Olaf on the wrapper. Gavin decided he was too old for such frivolity. He really wanted popcorn. The wrappers were some sort of clear steel titanium. It was really hard to get the wrapper to tear even a little bit.

Once we freed the lollipops of their clear prison the kids started licking away. Gwen, however, barely touched her tongue to the sucker when it split in half vertically. One half stayed on the stick while the other side shattered on the ground. Gwen’s chin started to quiver and her eyes filled with tears. A wail was about to burst out of her. At the exact same moment in time Heath’s face got angry. He looked like he was ready to lecture Gwen or at least say “I told you so!” He had just said that once the lollipop hit the ground it was garbage.

My mouth started quickly doing damage control. Without thinking the words just spilled out. “It’s ok! It’s ok!” Then to Heath, “It’s not her fault! The thing just broke right in half!” He grabbed her hand and marched her back in the store. I grabbed an intact lollipop. Disneyland’s rule is that if something doesn’t work they fix it for free. She was able to exchange her lollipop no problem. It happened so fast it was almost as if the tragedy never occurred. We walked over to the train station to wait for a train to Tomorrowland. Trains are still Gwen’s favorite.

Thursday’s forecast kept showing a chance of rain. It was a fairly small chance but even then we wanted to be prepared. We needed to go back to Target for a couple things. We hoped to find ponchos there. After a full lap around the entire store we gave up. It’s not like May is a rainy month in California. Maybe regular retailers don’t sell typical spring gear in California. They should have summer stuff by now anyway.

Gavin-and-ParkerRight across from the registers, in front of the girls clothing department, was a display of Disney rain ponchos. They were only $5 each which was much cheaper than what the park would be selling them for. We grabbed five. Four adults in screaming yellow with Mickey Mouse on the front and one youth in saturated magenta with Anna and Elsa on the front. There were no other choices for adults. I looked. All the cute ones were in girls youth sizes.

There was a lot of rain on Thursday. Luckily it wasn’t a cold rain. I was in flip flops and none of us had jackets on. We were so glad we had bought the ponchos. People were jealous of our cool ponchos. Disneyland only sells transparent white ponchos. Everyone looks like ghosts floating around the park. It was easy for us to stay together. We just followed the line of yellow.

I took the boys on Space Mountain while Heath took Gwen home via the Monorail. We were all ready to be done for the day and just get ready for our dinner reservations at The Storyteller’s Café. The rain didn’t come back that night but we decided just to shop in Downtown Disney.

The next morning was our last. Soaring Over California had been closed for renovations. It was scheduled to open Friday morning. We went early for another Magic Morning to maximize our final hours and to get on the ride before it was open to the general public. It is cool to think we were among the first 100 people to ride the new Soaring Over California!

We were soaked by the time we even got to the ride. There was a half inch of rain puddled on the ground everywhere. The rain came down in the biggest, fattest drops that splashed up from the ground. We were in our ponchos and all had hats on. The brim of my hat and Gwen’s hat were so wet they were almost dripping. Gavin’s hat is a wide circle so he couldn’t wear the hood on the poncho. His hat could almost be wrung out after less than an hour and three rides in the rain that morning. The hat finally dried out late Saturday night. I’m not kidding.

The ponchos only protected so much. They didn’t have any closures on the side. The wind was blowing pretty well that morning and would blow our ponchos open. Our jacket sleeves were wet no matter how much we tried to keep our arms inside the plastic. I was wearing cropped pants so everything from just above my knees down was soaked. It was such a wet rain! My feet were really cold in my flip flops. My toes probably looked prunish from wading in cold rain water.

We enjoyed Soaring Over California then went on Midway Mania. We decided that if the line to the Ariel ride was long then we were done for the day. The line was almost non existent and we got right on. But when that ride was over we were so ready to head back to the room to dry out before flying home.

The next time we do this we will be going in March or April. We picked May because the weather is nice and more stable. Forget that! Apparently it doesn’t matter. The rain simply follows us. In fact, if you would like to help end California’s drought you can fund us to take more trips to Disneyland! At least in March or April the crowd index is low. May comes with Grad Days and Proms. We saw kids dressed up for prom this time and two years ago.

Not only did we wade through stunning rain (1.5 inches in 24 hours in some SoCal cities), we came home to cold, gray weather. Highs made it to 62 degrees today. The whole week is like that. There is the hope for rain this week but I will believe it when I see it. Almost all of the rain gets caught on the mountains and never reaches where my family lives.

Two years from this December I will turn 40. I’m just not sure I want to play in the rain anymore. Disney Cruise anyone?

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