Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

This post is a month late but I figure I will just backdate it so it posts in order.  Probably nobody will see it but no big deal.  Halloween was a lot of fun.  The night before Paul and I carved pumpkins with Clara after getting her hair in rollers.  We took a little video of her because I thought that she might react badly to the pumpkin guts but she thought the "goop" was pretty neat and had no problem helping to clean out the inside of the pumpkins.
Downtown Willow Glen always does trick or treating on Halloween morning for the toddler/preschool crowd and there is an organization that gives away brand new donated books - really nice hardbound books too - instead of candy so this was our second year going.  Last year Clara got a beautifully illustrated copy of "The Owl and the Pussy Cat" and this year she got a book called "Toy Boat".  Liesel, Silas and Christine joined us.  Clara did great for the first half and then had a full on melt-down when I refused to let her eat a third sucker.  I ended up carrying a wailing Rosie the Riveter through the throngs back to our car and we drove home where she promptly crashed in her bed for a much needed nap.  While it lasted though, she did really well and got lots of compliments on her costume.
We took the traditional Halloween night picture in front of the fireplace just before going out trick-or-treating, then joined up with a group of friends from church. 
Unfortunately, Clara was feeling overwhelmed and only made through four of five houses before having another massive meltdown.  We bailed on our group and were just going to head home but decided to try a different street on our own so Clara could go up to doors by herself and that did the trick.  So we did one whole street and she got a decent haul before the late hour and the sugar and the dark started to get the better of her and I had to pick her up and carry her home.

She was pretty hesistant about walking up to the door where a giant Chewbacca cutout was waiting.  It took quite a bit of encouragement on our part and baby steps on her part but she did it.

When we got home she dumped out her loot and we let her choose one piece of candy before bathtime and a thorough brushing of her teeth. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Two Stories

Story #1

Last week Paul and I went out for date night, which we try to do on a regular basis.  He wanted to see the movie "Captain Phillips".  I suggested haunted mini-golfing but somehow forgot to use my birthday month trump card to get out of the movie because I found myself getting more and more seasick in the theater while watching Somali pirates (they were Somali, right?) trying to take over a huge freighter ship.  I left and went to the lobby thinking maybe a few minutes away from the jerking screen would ease my stomach but when I went back in one of the pirates had stepped on glass set down by the crew to sabotage the takeover effort and guns were being drawn and I just couldn't stomache it.  So I told Paul I was going to go hang out in Target (thank heavens we were at the theater attached to the mall with an attached Target!). 

He was totally all, "okay! have fun!" and I huffed off (he didn't notice the huffing, which is too bad because I was at least hoping he might feel a tinge guilty that he was staying for the rest of the movie without me).  Because he should have followed me out, right?  I mean, I totally didn't explain that 1. the movie was the worst, 2, I was feeling motion sick, and 3. we were ON A DATE and that usually doesn't mean he gets to watch a movie while I sit on the floor of the book section in Target catching up on new cookbook releases and magazines waiting for the movie to get out. 

Really the whole situation cracked me up, and we laughed about it on the way home (you know, after we got past me accusing him of being unchivalrous) - how I was all annoyed and how he was all oblivious.  But it was REALLY hilarious when he came home from work the next day with a story about how his buddy Matt had gone to the movies with his wife the previous week and the EXACT SAME THING had happened to them (except she went to Starbucks because there was no nearby Target) and had the same conversation afterwards about how he should have followed her out and how we (the wives) don't have to spell it out that they (the husbands) have to leave the theater too.  Poor Paul and Matt were still a little flummoxed about it all so I have resolved to be more direct next time.

Story #2

For the past three years that we have been in our house, we have narrowly avoided frostbite in the wintertime by dealing with a barely functional heating system that has hobbled along while we have channeled our resources into the projects that were more important to us at the time (kitchen & living room remodel, bedroom remodel, landscaping projects, etc.).  We're lucky that it never actually gets cold enough for frostbite here. 

Seriously though, our entire house (including all 4 bedrooms and the main living spaces) were heated through only TWO vents.  Which is straight up nuts.  There was basically no ductwork in the house and we would have been freezing already, but on top of that, the furnace was 30 years old and only worked when you manually plugged it in to get rid of the worst of the chill, then unplugged it from the wall because otherwise it just ran and ran and ran.  Plus, it was in a little utility closet in the hallway and essentially sounded like a slightly muffled freight train whenever it was on.  We had to choose between being able to have a conversation without shouting over it or freeze our fannies off and huddle around space heaters during the winter.  (I exaggerate, but still...)

Anyway, we decided we were not going to deal with one more winter like the past ones and we contacted, like, six different heating guys to get bids.  After two days with three guys working up in our attic and around the house, we have a brand new heating system.  (And none too soon because yesterday was in the 50's and Clara and I were bundled up and keeping each other cozy reading books all afternoon waiting for them to FINALLY be finished so we could crank it up to 80 and defrost our poor toesies!)

Paul posted the following picture on Instagram but didn't really explain:

His picture was really a joke because there is a company that makes a device called The Nest which essentially reads your mind and keeps your entire house at the perfect temperature always while saving the maximum amount of energy possible, etc. 

The Nest is practically Artificial Intelligence and was invented by a bunch of people who left Apple (so while not an Apple product, it is sort of an Apple product).  Paul actually sent the photo to our buddy Jason who is 1. really into tech stuff as a former Apple guy, 2. the guy who subscribed Paul to Handyman magazine so they could geek out each month over the articles about various remodel/household projects to do, and 3. hilarious in his own right.  Jason, of course, got the joke and they proceeded to have a nerdy conversation about various efficiency related stuff, etc. afterwards.  Jason's wife, Ginny, can totally back me up on this, but let it be known that we both love that our husbands are so handy and think it is adorable that they get all enthused about this kind of stuff because ultimately we benefit from it. 

Anyway, those are my two stories about Paul lately.  I swear I have had like four or five others that I have meant to post but I can't even remember them now which is a bummer.  Is it just me or have I been super bad about blogging about this kind of random stuff like I used to or what? 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Monster Mash & Birthday Bash at the House of Nash IV

I have a quick follow up to our last post.  A friend and former Contracts TA from law school posted a comment about our Halloween costumes on Facebook to say that her grandma was one of the original Rosie the Riveters and her grandpa was in the Navy during WWII.  She had sent her grandma the link to our pictures and her grandma sent the following message back through Erin for me (which I am reposting here with permission): 
"Your friend is very talented...and I loved the sepia photography..brought back many memories....I tried to reply to her message but it did't if you can please tell her I was there on VJ day and was kissed by hundreds of happy servicemen..went home with bloody lips but no complaint...also tell her I was proud to help build the B25 bomber and belonged to the U.S.O and gave up silk stockings for leg paint!"
Amazing, right?  Also, Carrie asked for a picture of our costumes in color, so I am posting one here (which is cute but doesn't show off the costumes as well as the vintage photos do, I think). 
Anyway, last weekend (how has it already been a week?!  This was the fastest week in history, I think, because I have no idea where time went the past 7 days) we threw our 4th annual Monster Mash & Birthday Bash at the House of Nash (our nerdy birthday slash Halloween party) for about 40 friends (well, that included all the kiddos).  It was our biggest group yet but we LOVED having such a big party and thought it was our best one yet.  No more intimate gatherings for us - apparently we are all about throwing ragers over here.  It helped that the weather was PERFECT.  The very first year we did this it was rainy and freezing and we never could have pulled off such a large group but with the gorgeous weather and newly landscaped backyard (including all the yard lighting that Paul has installed) it was no big deal hanging out outside even when it started getting dark. 
We set up Clara's picnic table (seriously the best present ever mom - we have used this thing like crazy and the kids love it) with benches and extra chairs from Clara's play table and the kids crowded around and ate together really well which was so nice for the adults who were able to visit with each other while monitoring the kids. 

This year we served Barbecue Beef Brisket (same recipe I served at the Ward Christmas Party last year), mac & cheese (from Costco because it was easy and I didn't feel like experimenting with a new baked mac & cheese recipe since I am still searching for the perfect one and clearly, in my opinion, Costco has already found it), vegetables with dip, fruit with a caramel cream cheese type dip of my own invention (ask me for it and I will send you the link to my tastebook page with the recipe because it really is my favorite fruit dip ever), baked brie with crackers as an appetizer as people were getting there (oh my heavens this was divine.  DIVINE I tell you.  I am a huge fan baked brie and apparently so are a lot of our friends because this got rave reviews), and black forest cake, sugar cookies, and gingerbread skeletons for dessert.  We were really happy with how the menu turned out because it was easier to prepare and serve than past menus.  We just love the party planning aspect of coming up with the right food to serve and then executing our plan - Paul and I do it together and make lots of lists and divvy up tasks and we are always so giddy about pulling it all together.

Yes, here are some pictures of some of the food.  First up, the brie, which was my favorite thing of the night.  I particularly loved it with the thinly sliced, slightly crisp, red D'anjou pears.  Here is the entire recipe - 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed, 1 wheel of brie with the rind on, and 1/3 cup apricot preserves.  Place the brie on the puff pastry, top with the apricot preserves, then wrap the pastry around it and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Be still my heart.  Has anybody out there tried baked brie with cranberries and walnuts or with sweet jalapeno jelly?  Because those were the other two brie options I was debating before going with apricot.  (Disclaimer:  Paul, unfortunately, does not understand my brie obsession.  I am working with him to correct the deficiency in his palate.) 

The fruit dip.  We had lots and lots and lots of fruit, which is always a good idea.  You can never go wrong with tons of fresh fruit at a party.  It is always eaten.

The brisket.  If you want the recipe, it is at the bottom of this post.  Whenever I make it (including at this party) I get multiple requests for the recipe and it is so embarrassingly easy that I am happy to hand it out.  If you haven't had it yet, you should totally try it.  My mom serves it with baked potatoes but I prefer mac & cheese as my side with brisket. 

But the best part about the party was seeing all our friends, some of whom we just don't get to hang out with enough.  Like my law school friend Adam and his family who only live 30 minutes away but who we haven't seen in forever!  (Don't worry - we are planning to remedy this by hanging out again soon since Adam's wife Diana is totally a bosom buddy who shares my obsession with quilting and good food - I basically want to repin everything she pins on Pinterest which is the new standard for bosom buddies I think.)  Adam was a rocker, his little guy Joseph was Spiderman, and Madeline was a lalaloopsy doll (I think?  maybe not? I'm not up to speed on cartoons/toys for kids in her age bracket).

And Diana was a princess (in her prom dress from high school no less! I told you she was awesome.)  Rebekah (their babe) was a cupcake even though she was not in costume while eating.

We had a vampire, referee, and karate kid...

...and a scarecrow and a princess (actually, multiple princesses)...

...pirate, cowgirl, black-eyed peas, black cat...

...a guy from India, Supergirl, and Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach (they won the costume contest for best family theme - so awesome, right?!)...

...and some Newsies (including a newborn in a "newspaper" wrap - haha) and a Witch.  There were probably more costumes that I missed, but I got most of them I think. 

I asked each of the adults to send me pics of them in Halloween costumes as kids, which I printed out and posted so that everybody could try to guess the mystery trick-or-treater.  It was actually really tricky and fun and was a great ice-breaker game, especially since we were mixing some groups of friends.   The funny thing is that of the 11 pictures we posted, there were 3 clowns and 3 witches.  Here is a picture of people gathering around to try to figure out the pictures:

We also had everybody vote on best family theme, most creative, and most traditional costume, then Paul tallied the votes and we awarded prizes (we are apparently really into prizes these days). 

This is Paul's buddy Matt, from work, and his wife Monica (also a lawyer).  We really like these guys a lot and were so glad they came to party with us.  Paul is always cracking me up with stories about his and Matt's conversations.

And Ryan & Nikki came with Piper (the cutest koala baby in the WORLD).  Have I mentioned on here before that Paul and Ryan have been friends since 2nd grade and that Paul set Ryan and Nikki up in high school and now they are married and have a kiddo?  Paul was a groomsman at their wedding. 

Since it is also a birthday party, I always make everybody sing to me always sings to me.  This year my friend and visiting teacher Joyce came and it was her birthday too (she actually came to our party on her actual birthday because she said they were celebrating both the day before and after for her with her family - my kind of girl - so we got to share a birthday song!). 

Clara was a big ham, like usual.  She actually really enjoys having tons of people over and having lots of friends to play with, especially the bigger girls.  I had a total "bad mom" moment with her though (nobody freak out - I'm about to explain) later in the evening when I was taking her potty and three princesses ran down the hallway beside us.  Clara looked at me and seriously explained, "mine not a princess mommy.  Mine Rosie a Riveter."  I felt SO BAD.  She so clearly has cottoned on to the princess thing despite my not emphasizing it (she won't even watch Cinderella which is the only princess movie we own) and realized all the other girls were in fancy sparkly dresses and she was in a denim jumpsuit.  As adults, of course we all realize how totally adorable Clara is in her costume, but as a kid she felt different from the others.  Which she was and which, frankly, is what I go for in our costumes.  Maybe 20 minutes later the little black cat stripped off her black and purple sparkly tulle skirt and discarded it, which Clara promptly found and pulled on over her jumpsuit before proudly prancing over to me while holding out the sides of the skirt with each hand and gushing "look mommy!  mine a princess now!!!" with an utterly beatific smile. 

Here she is in the purloined skirt going through her treat bag that we made for each of the kids who came (a small thing of Halloween playdough, glowstick bracelets, stickers, bubbles and two pieces of candy to get them pumped and primed for trick-or-treating). 

We are already looking forward to next year's party since each year they get better and better as we figure out how this party throwing thing works.  One of these years I am going to fulfill a bucket list wish and host a murder mystery party too... 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Costumes 2013

Guys, I was digging through an old box I found stashed in the attic and found these awesome WWII era vintage photos that I thought should go on the blog.  I'm pretty sure this is the original Rosie the Riveter.
And I always thought this photo of a nurse and a sailor kissing on V-J Day happened in Times Square in New York, but apparently it was downtown San Jose.  Who knew? 
Oh wait, it's just us.  Silly me.  It's the House of Nash Halloween time again!  For previous years, see our first Halloween with Clara here (as the characters from Little Red Riding Hood) and Halloween last year here (as a bad melodrama).

We had so much fun taking Halloween photos this year.  Paul's costume is a vintage uniform from the 1940's that was worn on the U.S.S. Hamner (which didn't actually serve in WWII - I did the research - but the uniform itself is from the right era at least).  I was ecstatic when I found it on eBay for a reasonable price compared to all the other vintage uniforms I had looked at and that it was a good fit for Paul.  I made Clara's costume using a pattern for a little boy's race car driver jumpsuit and using fabric I picked up for free a year ago by a woman from church who was giving away her fabric stash (it was an insanely huge stash - I got maybe 1% of what she had and still walked away with two huge bags of fabric, elastic, felt, etc., including this lightweight denim).  My costume was from a vintage pattern that I found on etsy which has been out of print for years.  I was lucky to find it because I looked for a long time for a uniform/nurse pattern that wasn't "sexy".  (Incidentally - I loathe all of the sexified versions of every girl costume ever.)  This year's costumes were SO much easier to sew than last year's costumes! 

The location for the photo shoot with the airplane is nearby Vasona Park, which is actually also the place where we filmed the train sequence from the movie we made last year.  The plane is an actual WWII airplane that was used to train pilots and has been set up as a play structure for kids to climb on.  Except that a few months back there was a bunch of yellow "caution" tape put up around it, so nobody plays on it anymore.  We just climbed over the tape though and took our pictures in front of the plane anyway.  Paul's dad was our photographer and he did a great job!  I did the developing to make them look like they were taken during the war.

Seriously, Clara is the cutest as Rosie the Riveter.  I die.  I put her hair in rollers the night before and she slept in them (surprisingly well, actually - she was pretty proud to have her hair in curlers).  If you ask her if she is Rosie, she will correct you by saying, "no, Rosie the RIVETER!".  What. A. Beauty.


I have tried teaching Clara how to make "muscles" so that we could do a picture like the recruiting poster of the original Rosie the Riveter and this was her best effort.  She did a great job holding a little wrench and "working" on the plane for the photos though.  And she leaves the little bandana on, much to my relief, because the costume just wouldn't be the same without it. 

I can't help it - I know I have already posted plenty of photos of us in our costumes but I just love all of them too much!  So here are some more favorites.  Please forgive my vanity.


You had better believe I want to raise Clara to be a strong, independent, feminine, and courageous woman just like the icon (and thousands of actual women of the era) that she dressed as for her third Halloween.  We have had a heart-to-heart about it.

One of the insignia patches on Paul's authentic Navy uniform.  Incidentally, both Paul and I each have a grandpa who served in the Navy during WWII which made these costumes just that much more special to us.  It was kind of cool putting on these clothes and thinking what life was like for that generation.  I sort of loved that about this Halloween.

We recreated the "kiss" picture on First Street in downtown San Jose because it was as urban as we could get to at least sort of bring a tiny bit of the feel of Times Square to our picture.

I like the original "kiss" picture, but this one is my true favorite.  Happy Halloween!!


A friend and former Contracts TA from law school posted a comment about our Halloween costumes on Facebook to say that her grandma was one of the original Rosie the Riveters and her grandpa was in the Navy during WWII.  She had sent her grandma the link to our pictures and her grandma sent the following message back through Erin for me (which I am reposting here with permission): 
"Your friend is very talented...and I loved the sepia photography..brought back many memories....I tried to reply to her message but it did't if you can please tell her I was there on VJ day and was kissed by hundreds of happy servicemen..went home with bloody lips but no complaint...also tell her I was proud to help build the B25 bomber and belonged to the U.S.O and gave up silk stockings for leg paint!"
Amazing, right?  I love Halloween.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Winners! And Disney Recap with Pics!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes this week you guys!  And thanks for making it an extra fun birthday week by participating in our little Disney challenge.  Paul and I liked talking about who guessed what each day and which pictures were the hardest to guess and I have to admit I am sad that it is ending because I have loved getting your emails every day and reveling in the birthday wishes.  I honestly woke up this morning and thought "it's my birthday!" then "oh wait, that was yesterday" but then I cheered up knowing I still have the rest of birthday month (including our Halloween party on Saturday, Kayli coming to visit, the ward Trunk-or-Treat, and Halloween itself) to look forward to.  October really is the best. 
But without further ado...  This morning I tallied the final late night entries and per Carrie's request, here are some statistics: 
  • Total number of points possible over all five days - 58
  • The two photos with the most incorrect guesses were both of the Matterhorn pictures (from Day 2 and Day 5 - loads of people guess Grizzly Rapids for the Yeti footprint on Day 5) so next time you all go to the picture you had better pay attention to that ride!  :) 
  • The high score was 51/58 and the low score was 4/58 (but not everybody participated everyday).  The second lowest score was 28/58 and she happens to be one of the prize winners!!  (I will announce in just a second so be patient.  Or just scroll on down a little more...) 
  • First and second place were only ONE point apart.
  • There were 13 people who participated, not counting Paul who acted aghast last night when I told him that I hadn't been keeping a tally of his guesses.  But he took a few of the pictures so there is no way he could win and have this be a fair competition.
  • There were 497 total entries from correct guesses.  That was a lot of little slips of paper with in initials on them that I had to cut up.  Fortunately Clara was there to help fold them all in half. 
  • There wasn't a single photo that stumped everybody, so the pictures were definitely guessable, even the ones that were super hard.
Here is my tally page along with the pot of entries (Clara's mickey ears weren't big enough) and the four fabulous prizes:
And with all that out of the way, the winners of the drawing and the prizes they won are:
Erin G. - Sour Cherry Balls (my top favorite candy from Disneyland aside from the Disney toffee which I didn't think would ship too well)
Whitney B. - Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs cookbook (have you had the Blue Bayou Monte Cristo sandwich?  Because that recipe is in here and it is my favorite food from Disneyland.  We just made those sandwiches for dinner earlier this week and they were divine.)
Deborah N. - Mickey Mouse measuring cups!  They are just too, too cute and Clara keeps wanting to play with them.  I have three sets of measuring cups because somehow I go through them like crazy and I guess I just love having lots of measuring cup options (it's a totally weird thing, I know).
And the high score winner is...Sara Y.!  We saw these crazy cute and useful clip magnets in mickey shapes (his pants, gloves, shoes and ears).  You can stick them on your fridge and clip things to them, etc.  I hope you love them!
Now on to a barrage of photos from our trip.  First stop, the obligatory photo at the entrance of the park in front of the train station.

We totally planned on starting out with the Peter Pan ride the first day but we were 10 minutes late getting to the park and the line was already 40 minutes long so we opted for Dumbo instead and saved Peter Pan for Day 2.  Dumbo was a huge favorite with Clara and she asked for it often.  When we took her on Haunted Mansion she got really freaked out and as soon as we got off the ride she sniffed, "mine so brave.  Go on Dumbo now."  bahaha. 

There was a lot of climbing while we stood in line.  Unfortunately we had more lines this day in the park than I have experienced in a long time.  Even at that, we never waited longer than 30 minutes for a ride though so it wasn't awful. 

Clara is a big fan of putting her hands up in the air while on rides.  Seriously, she would tell me "hands up, mommy!" if I let mine drop.

Bob and I braved the Teacups with Clara while Paul and Donna watched from the side.  I actually went on it with her both days because there was NO line either time and we walked right on and my stomach handled it just fine.  Clara really loved this ride and squealed and helped turn the wheel by walking her hands around the edges.

I have this photography trick for getting a more natural smile out of Clara like in the picture below:  instead of telling her to say "cheese" I tell her to give me a little laugh.  She does a fake (but totally hilarious) little laugh and it results (often, at least if we are lucky) in a pretty natural smile that is better than a forced "cheese" face.  Grandpa and Grandma Nash were dying every time she did her fake laugh for a picture because it is the funniest thing you have ever heard.  I have got to get it on video before she changes it.

We went on the Finding Nemo ride with Clara thinking she might like it since that is one of the Disney movies that she will watch (Cars is the only other one.  She is afraid of Lucifer in Cinderella and Captain Hook in Peter Pan which are the only other movies we have tried.)  But she was terrified on the submarines!  It was loud and dark and cramped and smelled awful in there and she clutched at me and Paul the entire time.  We won't be doing that ride again I think.

The Autopia was another big hit for Clara though.  And we are so glad that you can use fast passes on this ride because the line is always so long!

We have been so lucky in that we have always had grandparents go to Disneyland with us when we have taken Clara.  It has been nice to be able to go on every ride we wanted and then do the stroller swap with them, and Clara has loved having the one-on-one time with her grandparents.

It's a Small World was another big hit with Clara.

Really, it was only that first room in the Haunted Mansion that caused problems for Clara.  She didn't like being packed in with all the other people in the dark and this was the only time both days that she was truly frightened.  But once the doors opened and we walked through to where the "doom buggies" were waiting and got in our own car she actually settled right down and seemed interested, if guarded, in the rest of the ride.  I actually adored this version of the Haunted Mansion ride.  It was so different from the regular ride and I could not stop grinning, especially in the room where the ghosts dance around because there was a huge gingerbread structure and obviously gingerbread scent was pumped into the room.  But also, I loved going into the room where the huge cemetery is and seeing a snow and jack-o-lantern covered peak from Nightmare Before Christmas.  It was just so oddly beautiful and strange and spooky - I wanted to go again but didn't want to put Clara through it another time so once had to be enough.

Easily Clara's favorite ride is Mater's Junkyard Jamboree in Cars Land.  We hadn't been on it before but oh my goodness, it is a blast.  Possibly my new favorite ride too.  Paul waited outside while I rode this with Clara the first time because he thought it would make him sick and that he wouldn't like it, but the line was only 10 minutes long and Bob and Donna were on Radiator Springs Racers so I just decided to try this with her.  She laughed and laughed and laughed as we were whipped and twirled around a "dance floor" by the little tractors.  And she kept telling me "mine hear Mater!" because he talks and sings during the line and the ride even though you don't actually see him.  As soon as we got off, we dragged Paul back in line with us to ride it again, then when Bob and Donna got there we did it one more time.  Except we got separated because the ride attendants overfilled the line and so we didn't get to do it at the same time, so Bob and Donna were given a card to do it again, which we held onto for the next day, which turned out to be smart since there was a 40 minute wait on Day 2 that we walked right past.

One of my favorite things about this ride was the lighting - I think it is totally a ride to do in the evening, rather than during the daytime when the sun is blazing overhead because there is no shade but at night there are twinkly lights strung overhead that make it truly magical.

I know Clara is clutching to Paul like she is afraid but she totally wasn't.  She just knew that they were about to be spun around and she was bracing against him waiting for the ride to start.  She giggled like a little maniac during the whole thing every time we went on it.

I got the high score on the Toy Story Midway Mania ride.  Paul was impressed until I told him that my strategy was to take out all of his high point value targets first.  I'm sneaky like that.

Oh, it also helped that Bob and Donna took Clara on the ride with them so that I could really focus on the targets in order to beat Paul.  :)  A little healthy competition is good every now and then, even in marriage, I think. 

Day 2 - First up, Peter Pan. 

Then Dumbo again, this time with Grandpa and Grandma.

Clara's very favorite movie is "Cars" and she was thrilled to meet Mater.  I was wearing a birthday button (it was close enough to my birthday that I felt justified) and Mater even wished me a happy birthday.

We went to the Halloween Carnival where Billy Hill and the Hillbillies play.  Clara and I danced at the hoe down which is why she was smiling so big here with her eyes closed. 

There were tons of characters here in costume if you could chase them down.  They were constantly moving around, I think because the point of this area is to interact with them, not necessarily get them to pose for photo ops.  Last year when my sister went with her girls at Halloween time my niece Emma got to color at a table with Minnie which was a highlight for her.  Clara colored but only Chip was near the coloring tables and he was swamped by other kids.

Paul got a candy corn cotton candy that was literally the size of Clara's torso.  I felt like a terrible parent letting her have this but she didn't eat too much and I brushed her teeth for like 10 minutes that night.  And you are only a kid once, right?

The last thing we did at the park was use the pass to go on Mater's Junkyard Jamboree one time, then we took a picture with Lightning McQueen, which was pretty special for Clara.  It was the perfect way to end our trip.

Maybe we will squeeze in one more trip before Clara turns 3 and we have to pay for her?  For anybody thinking of going any time soon, I have to recommend doing your own contest of pictures or trivia or something because it totally made us more alert this visit and was so much fun.  And because I want to participate.  :)