Thursday, January 28, 2016

Disneyland 2016

A few weeks ago we were talking with Tabby and came up with a plan for a little last minute trip to Disneyland.  As luck would have it, my mom and Jessica were able to join us for a quick trip, which was so much fun.  The girls did great in the hotel and just loved exploring.  The drive down isn't bad - only 5 1/2 hours - and the girls did great.  And we made it just in time to scoot into Anaheim before traffic got bad.

On Friday morning, we met Tabby and her brother Ted at the entrance to Disneyland.  Ted is a Disney photographer and was super generous to get us all in.  We got to spend a little more time with him in the evening after his shift and Rose even gave him a surprise kiss on the cheek that was so darling.

Before we even had a chance to head into the park, Ariel came out front with no one around her and Clara was able to walk right over and start talking with her idol.  It was really a magical moment and Clara's face was one of rapture as she chatted with Ariel about her favorite color (purple, to which Ariel responded "like my seashells!" and Clara nodded enthusiastically).  Rose went over to say hi as well and Ariel admired her curls.  I'm sure I have said it before on here but honestly the people who play the Disney characters in the parks are angels and they do just the best job of being caring and engaging and staying in character.  I never thought I would care about this much, but it turns out that this has been a big part of our Disney experiences for a few years now and some of my best memories are of seeing our girls interact with these people.

And speaking of magical moments with Disney characters, this walk through Fantasyland with Mary Poppings and Burt was another one.  We spotted them sauntering along all by themselves near the Dumbo ride and they gestured for the girls to walk with them.  The girls each took a hand and walked all around Fantasyland like it was this totally normal thing to do.  It was darling.

I don't have a lot of photos from the rest of the day because I left my camera put away most of the time.  But we rode all the big rides and had a blast.  Clara did Matterhorn for the first time and rode it twice in a row because there was no line.  She also specifically requested Pirates, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Peter Pan.  I overdid things a bit by taking her on Tower of Terror, which definitely terrorized her (she didn't cry but was close and while we were going up and down she was yelling "I don't want to go on this ever again!").  But she loved, loved, loved the Ariel ride in California Adventure and went on that twice, back-to-back.  And of course the girls loved the parade.

Before going to Disneyland, I had showed Clara video of the Jedi Training Academy show and talked with her about learning to be a Jedi.  She has actually watched the 3 original movies with Paul and seemed semi-enthusiastic about this so we went and signed her up for a spot in the 3:30 session.  She got her jedi robe and lightsaber, but after getting through the first couple of moves in their training, she got overwhelmed at the idea that Darth Vader was coming (which I had told her about in advance) and a Jedi master talked to her for a bit while Clara's bottom lip started trembling.  I think seeing me wave encouragingly actually made things worse for her because then she just wanted to turn in her robe and lightsaber and just come sit with me, but at least she tried.

After a delicious dinner of Monte Cristo sandwiches at Cafe Orleans, we said goodbye to Tabby and Ted and then Jessica and I helped my mom get the girls in the van and then she took them to the hotel and put them to bed (she said they were asleep before they even left the parking lot) while Jessica and I stayed almost until closing time riding Space Mountain (it is Star Wars themed now and SO awesome - it should always have been like that!) and Splash Mountain.  It was a fast trip and weekend, but so much fun.

Day in the Life - January 27, 2016

Paul asked me last night when I was going to post another blog post.  I'm behind again, but thought I would start with a little photo project I attempted yesterday after seeing my friend Christina's post.  I tried to take a picture each hour of the day, all day long.  It wasn't always exactly on the hour, but more or less and it gives a decent feel for what a normal day is like around here.

6:00 a.m. - scripture study before the girls wake up.

7:00 a.m. - girls have been awake for half an hour and it's time to eat breakfast.

8:00 a.m. - folding laundry while the girls play in their room (right after breakfast is usually their best independent play period of the day so I try to get stuff done like cleaning or getting ready for the day).

9:00 a.m. - swimming lessons.

10:00 a.m. - at the dance store to pick out ballet shoes and a new leotard for Clara's new jazz/ballet combo class.  It's her second time trying a dance class and we are hoping it goes better than her first experience when she was 3 and hated it.  So far, so good - she has been twice and doing it out of a friend of a friend's house with some girls she knows from church/preschool last year instead of a formal studio seems to be a better fit.

11:00 a.m. - my visiting teachers came over with their kids and the girls had fun playing with them in the toy room while the moms visited out front.  So grateful that the girls are sharing a room now and we have a dedicated play space.

12:00 p.m. - lunch is over and Rose didn't finish everything on her plate.  But she did lick all the guacamole off the other uneaten half of black bean quesadilla and peeled her own banana.  That girl and guacamole.  It's her favorite food.

1:00 p.m. - chopping dark chocolate to prep for tempering, something I'm learning for an upcoming Relief Society activity.

2:00 p.m. - Rose still napping - this was a super risky photo to take since she is such a light sleeper.

3:00 p.m. - chocolate covered strawberries - the result of a successful nap on Rose's part and successful tempering on my part (next up - learn to temper milk and white chocolate, both of which are supposed to be more tempermental than dark chocolate).  The girls enjoyed them as a treat and I divvied the rest out to a couple of friends (you know, after eating more than my own fair share and setting some aside for Paul when he got home).

4:00 p.m. - at the park.  We met up with a friend who needed to return my Whole30 book since she bought her own after deciding she wanted to attempt one in February and chatted for a bit while the kids played on the swings and slides.

5;00 p.m. - Costco run since we were out of fruit, vegetables and milk.  And since it was dinnertime, we just picked up a combo pizza to take home with us.  Rose was feeling particularly amorous and kept hugging me and Clara while we were doing our shopping.  Clara got a little fed up with it.

6:00 p.m. - unloading groceries.  This is one of the girls' favorite chores and it is cute to see them run back and forth, unloading the back of the van for me.  Clara has even gotten so that she will heft the box with 2 gallons of milk and lug it in, grunting under the weight, but proud that she can manage.  I always try to grab the berries and eggs to avoid any disastrous spills.

7:30-ish p.m. - Paul is finally home and it is time for bed (we had time to sneak in a quick game of Crazy 8's with Clara first - she was mad that she lost and we are supposed to have a rematch tonight).  Clara loves this nightgown and is constantly pulling the sheer outer skirt into a tail like this, sometimes securing it with a hair elastic.  I'm not sure why she does it.

I forgot about taking any more pictures after the girls were asleep but the rest of the evening mostly consisted of doing dishes, tidying, watching television, and surfing the internet.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Last of the Christmas Season

I'm trying to get all caught up (a week into January) so here is the last "dump" post of Christmas happenings.  The girls loved their "official" meeting with Santa Claus.  We actually met him 4 different times (ward christmas party, train, for portraits, and in San Francisco), which, yes, was overkill, but I just HAD to take them in their dresses to get portraits done because I love having these every year!  Rose was totally over her Santa fear by this point and was waving and beaming at Santa (who waved back and winked) while we were standing in line.  When it was our turn, she ran straight to him and climbed right up to babble at him.  She was very serious about the whole thing and wouldn't smile for a photo at all, but she was pleased as punch about meeting Santa this time.  And he was such a nice, jolly old man.  I honestly love that there are so many kind old men out there who keep these beards that I would think would be awful and perform this role year after year.  They truly ARE saints, even if they aren't THE Saint Nick.  

Christmas jammies from Grandma Cece.  The girls loved them but were being so silly when we asked to take a picture.

Christmas lights going up in the girls' bedroom.  They loved it.  

I got invited to my first ever Ugly Sweater Christmas Cookie & White Elephant Gift Exchange and it was so much fun!  We each brought 2 dozen cookies, then swapped and this is the tray I ended up with.  I brought Double Lemon Cookies (second from top right).  I loved the snickerdoodles with caramel or something inside (bottom right) and the hot cocoa cookies (second from top left), although honestly everything was delicious!  And I came home home with one of those coloring books for adults, which has been kind of a fun and interesting thing to try out.

Clara came home from preschool every single day with some new Christmas craft.  This angel ornament with her picture was my very favorite.  

Clara's preschool Christmas party was cute.  I am the room mom which means I get to go to all the parties and help, which is cool because parents aren't invited to the Christmas or Valentine's Day parties.  We had a little feast with sandwiches and bags of fruit and juice and cookies and then the kids took turns being Santa and delivering a present to another child and practicing how to say Merry Christmas to each other as a polite holiday greeting.  Then they all opened the presents which were stools/crates that the parents had decorated back in November.

Our ward was split shortly before we moved into it so there are still a lot of strong connections between the two wards.  One of the things that happens for at least Halloween and Christmas is that some of the moms put on these elaborate craft parties.  We missed the Halloween one, but the Christmas one was very cool with a cookie decorating station (the girls went insane over all the sprinkles and I just let them dump as much as they wanted for once in their lives), a cake walk where they could win mini candy canes (Clara won twice, which amazes me because I never have luck with that kind of stuff - better take her to Vegas!), a "snowball fight" with a ridiculous amount of cottonballs, some kind of dance thing (not sure what was happening as I was chatting with some other moms during this one), and a Christmas movie screening (Disney's Prep & Landing).  It was fun and a great way to spend an afternoon chatting with friends and getting to know new people who are in the other ward.

And that's pretty much it for what our December was like this last year.  No wonder I felt exhausted all last month!

Christmas Morning

A few days before Christmas Paul came home from work and mentioned that he had read an article on CNN about how Best Buy was doing a special "trade in your old iphone and get a new 6s for $1" promotion thing.  And since I needed a new phone it made perfect sense.  So I had my brand new phone for about 5 days, which included Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and I used it to snap pictures of moments that were happening instead of using the DSLR, which we just set on a tripod with a timer function set to go off at intervals so that we might end up with maybe a few photos of all of us just enjoying Christmas morning.  

And then 2 days after Christmas my new phone slipped out of my pocket at the park while I was chasing after Rose who was refusing to come to me when it was time to go and the screen shattered.  And then I forgot to back it up before it got wiped and replaced with a new one because I completely spaced that it had Christmas videos on it.  Sooo, we lost the videos of the girls opening the aprons that my mom made for them (which they loved) and of Clara jumping up and down shouting "Santa brought a TRAIN!" or the girls dancing with the stuffed Santa doll on Christmas Eve (so hilarious and something they did most every night leading up to Christmas where Paul would puppeteer Santa into leading the girls in a dance routine full of head banging and booty shaking and they would be practically falling on the ground, helpless with laughter).  

So frustrating and upsetting.  But it was totally my fault for forgetting to back it up again.  

Anyway, so the only images I have from Christmas morning are from the tripod and they are all basically the same except we were moving around the room, etc.  There aren't any good details or faces or what was given or received, but it is better than nothing, I guess.  

We had a wonderful Christmas.  On Christmas Eve we went and had sushi (such a genius idea and might become a tradition for us - it was delicious) and then the Hambys and Ambroses came over and we played bells, ate dessert and more appetizer type food, and chatted.  The girls went right to bed around 9:00 when everybody left and Paul and I got to work putting out presents, wrapping, and assembling.  It took way longer than we had anticipated and we didn't make it to bed until around 1:00 a.m. but the train set that took forever to set up and the ice cream stand were both huge hits.  

We woke up around 6:30-ish, I think, and headed out to the living room around 6:45.  The girls loved the train and it is something we will be able to bring out every year and have around the tree in the weeks leading up to Santa's arrival.  And Rose spent practically all of Christmas day behind the ice cream stand, serving up popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cones and sorbet to her family and her dolls.  Clara enjoyed it too, but it is Rose that was over the moon about that particular gift and so far her interest in it is still going strong.  

The girls both got dolls and doll beds (that Paul made for them no less!) and are very happy about them.  Rose just loves her baby doll to death and puts her to sleep so sweetly with kisses and tucking her in under her blanket and singing her "twinkle, twinkle, little star".  Clara loves both her American Girl doll that looks like her, who we named Emily, and her plush Mulan doll from the Disney store that we had to get because she got really specific with Santa about wanting a MULAN doll because she is her "other favorite" (Ariel still reigns almost supreme although Mulan has really shot up there in the ranks for Clara, who tells me on a regular basis that she wishes her eyes were slanty like Mulan's and why aren't they?!).  

The girls received other beautiful presents from grandparents and aunts, like cute new outfits (Clara was especially happy to have outfits to match Emily), a table and chair set for the dolls to sit at, a high chair for "baby" (Rose's doll), and fun new books and games (especially the Sock Monkey game).  

We took our time and finished opening gifts around 10 or so (but that's because we spent a lot of time just playing with things and not opening in between) and then had amazing Belgian Waffles for breakfast using the new belgian waffle maker that Paul and the girls gave me.  If you come to our house to visit anytime soon, there is a good chance this is what you will be eating because man, they are delicious.

Here are the few pictures that we have from Christmas morning.  

Such a good little mama:

Reading a new book, "The Book Who Spoke to the Earth" by Chris Burkard.  It is amazing and maybe my new favorite children's book.  It is about a boy who wanted to find happiness and asked Earth who sent him to all her most beautiful places.  But he only saw shells at the beach or trees in the forests, etc. and has illustrations of each thing.  So then he asked the earth again and she said that he saw but did he really look?  And then he goes back and there are these full, two-page amazing illustrations of the most beautiful scenes where he had been but hadn't stopped to take it all in and appreciate it as a whole.  It is just a great message and beautifully done.  The author is an LDS photographer who travels all over the world taking incredible mag

The umbrellas were such a huge hit.  What kid doesn't love an umbrella?

Every year I make a desk calendar for Paul and our moms with pictures of the girls, so it is never really a surprise, but Paul sure acts like he loves this gift.

Rose manned her ice cream stand vigilantly all morning long.

That orb in Paul's hand is a Perplexus Epic ball.  It is a puzzle game where you have to get a marble around crazy ramps and obstacles (125 of them) and it is impossible.  But so much fun.

The girls both wanted to sit in the little teal chairs that came with the doll table but were too big.  So they pulled over the doll beds and used those as chairs instead.

Both girls loved the aprons my mom made for them.  Rose opened hers first and Clara immediately said that she hoped she got one too and was thrilled when we found her package with her own apron (and a matching one for Emily) a few minutes later.  She has found a reason to wear it almost every day since.

After unwrapping all the gifts and having breakfast, we skyped with family, then spent the day in pajamas and cleaning up and enjoying the new toys and books.  In the evening we went over to Rich & Claudia's house (Paul's aunt and uncle who live just a mile away from us) for Christmas dinner.  It was a beautiful, relaxing, low-key Christmas day.

And here are a few more "before Christmas" things that happened around our house.  Paul spent a few nights in our chilly garage making the doll beds for the girls from some plans he found on the internet.  They turned out so well that I think he is seriously contemplating making actual beds for in our home.  Rose is currently in a toddler bed and will need a twin bed eventually and we have talked for years about getting a new bed, except they are so expensive.  But he has a lot of other projects on his list (finishing caulking the trim and finish work inside the house, build a paneled mirror for me based on one I saw at Pottery Barn that I love but is outrageously priced, etc.).  We'll see what happens, but I do think he enjoyed woodworking.