Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Spooky Dinner

We had our annual spooky dinner the week before Halloween while grandma was still here. (I miss when Isaac used to call it "pooky pooky dinner.") On the menu--cobwebs and batwings (pasta), monster toes (wrapped lil smokies), bones and blood (breadsticks and marinara), monster eyes (deviled eggs.)
And of course, we had witches brew.
The kids look forward to our spooky dinner all year long, and lets face it, I do too. It is a lot of fun planning! This year for dessert, we had eyeballs on forks. These were donut holes dipped in white chocolate with red frosting and a chocolate chip.
I love the crazy poses these kids are making!

Monday, November 14, 2011

State Fair

Sareny and I made gingerbread houses to enter in the State Fair, and we had so much fun! I was totally impressed with how good Sareny's house turned out--she worked really hard on it and came up with all of the design elements herself.
Her completed house from the front.
Her house from the back.
My favorites were the little snowmen she made out of marshmallow fondant, and I thougth the shovel turned out pretty cute as well.
I made a farmhouse for my entry.
I've never completely covered the gingerbread with icing before; I thought it turned out pretty cool.
This view shows the chimney on the side of the house.
The storefront. I particularly love how the little apple baskets turned out. I had to snip the ends off of hot tamales to make them. I made the pumpkins with marshmallow fondant. We named the farm Green Bluff Farm after the farm Keith's dad owns. Their family farm is named Strawberry Hills Farm, but since this was more of an apple orchard than strawberry farm, I named it after the region of Mead, Washington that they live in, which is the Green Bluff area.
I thought the little porch light turned out really cute too. It is a lemon drop outlined with black royal icing.
I cut the flagstone patio out of gumpaste that I colored gray. You can also see the light's bracket better in this picture.
Sideview featuring the pumpkin cart and apple trees, complete with ladder.
We went to the fair as a family the first day it was opened to see how our projects did. We picked Grandma Nancy up at the airport that day, had lunch with Keith, and then later met him at the fair. I must admit, it was a lot more exciting going to the fair when you are looking for your projects that you worked so hard on and wondering how they did. I was particularly hoping that Sareny's house would win a ribbon--I knew it would mean a lot to her. Here she is by her house, and we were shocked and thrilled that she won not only a 1st place ribbon, but also a purple Best of Show Rosette ribbon. How exciting!
I was so proud of her, and I know she is excited to get a check in the mail for $5, the amount they give first place entries. My friend Tia is the superintendent over the baked goods area, and she told me that the judges were super impressed with Sareny's entry. When I went to pick our houses up after the fair was over, she said she had lots of people very impressed with Sareny's house and asking if Tia knew how old the little girl was. They all couldn't believe it that she is only 7! So way to go Sareny!
I have to admit, I was probably just as thrilled as Sareny was when I saw that my house won first place and Best of Show also! How cool is that? It was kind of fun to see people at the fair crowding around my house and taking pictures of it.
I thought it was pretty awesome that we both took home top honors. We were even contacted by someone who wanted to feature us, the mother/daughter fair winners, on a local TV show, but sadly, we were in Disneyland the day they could film us. You can imagine Sareny's disapointment!
I am really glad the Young Women (I'm the secretary) decided to enter the fair, because that is what prompted us both to enter. It was a great experience, and Sareny can't wait to enter again!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Angry Mommy

I took the two younger kids to Ross on Monday with my friend Monica and her son, and it was such a horrible experience, I have no desire to take them out shopping any time soon. The children ran amok throughout the store, threw kicking and screaming temper tantrums when I tried to reel them in, (at least Finley did) and it was one of those trips where I was pretty sure everybody in the store was just happy to see the backside of us as we left. That evening, Finley drew a picture and told me, "That's you in the store. You are mad!" What I can't believe is how she managed to make such a good angry face. But that very well may have been just how I looked.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Farewell to Disneyland

Despite the massive crowds on Saturday, we had a great last day at Disneyland. We revisited some of our favorite attractions and also checked out some of the off the beaten path things we rarely take the time to do. Keith is always up for Jungle Cruise.
This how Finley spent a lot of her time--snuggled on her Daddy.
I was surprised today--she told me she liked the monster ride when she said, "Don't get me, monster!" She was referring to Matterhorn.
I was the only one in our group who had ever seen Captain EO, and although I did warn them that as far as I could remember, it was pretty bizarre and cheesy, we decided to go see it.
It was every bit as bizarre and cheesy as I remembered it, and the plot still didn't really make sense to me. But it was still kind of fun, and I enjoyed the nostalgia of seeing it again.
We used one of our readmission passes to jump the always huge line for Storybookland Canal Boats. I do really like this ride, but the line is always so bad! The kids had been looking forward to being swallowed by a whale.
The other side of the boat.
Keith and the girls during the ride.
We stopped to have our picture taken on our way to Tom Sawyer's Island.
We spent a bit of time on Tom Sawyer's Island, which I haven't been to in years. Possibly it is now called Pirate's Lair, and not Tom Sawyer Island, but it seemed odd that they just nailed up a board saying "Pirates Lair," that only partially covered the Tom Sawyer Island sign. Kind of weird for Disneyland. The kids really had a lot of fun running around.
The kids all climbed up the wall of bones. This one kid climbed on the outside of the bones (you can see him in the picture,) which I'm sure was not allowed since he was hanging right over the water, which then prompted other kids to follow suit. Was it bad that part of me really wanted him to fall in?
There were a few interactive things for the kids to do, as well as caves, treehouses, and bridges to explore.
We found the pirate's treasure.
The rest of the day featured several other rarely done things, like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Turtle Talk with Crush (which I highly reccomend), Disney Junior Stage Show, and a Dance Off show. The shows were all really good and a welcome relief from standing in huge lines all day. We did squeeze in a few rides as well. Right before the fireworks, we rode the Carousel again, because Finley had been asking to do that one all day. Earlier when I had gotten her out of the stroller, she said, "You are taking me to ride the merry go round?" How could you resist taking her? At the end of the day, we watched the fireworks and then hurried over to New Orleans Square where Fantasmic was underway. As soon as it cleared out, we joined the throngs pushing and shoving to get good seats for the next show. Keith was off riding Indiana Jones with Sareny as her last ride of the trip, and I managed to score us some front row seats for Fantasmic.
I asked Keith if he knew how I managed to get such good seats, and he said, "Pushing and a shoving?" And I said, "yep." Once we secured the seats, I rushed off with Isaac to do Splash Mountain, which he had been asking to do all day long. He was so excited, and I think this may be my favorite memory of the trip.  So each kid got to do one of their favorite rides as the last one of the trip. Finley fell asleep right after the Carousel. I tried to rouse her for Fantasmic, but she was out.
Then, she woke up on her own right when the villains take over Mickey's dream and Fantasmic gets a little scary. She seemed fine though, and got to see the big ending. Once the show was over, everyone headed back to the hotel except for me and Sareny. She wanted to pick out a christmas ornament from a store on Main Street for her souveneir, so we did a little shopping together. It was kind of nice to have some time together, even if we were both pretty wiped out.
I polled the kids about their favorites from the trip, and this is what I got:
Sareny--Big Thunder, Indiana Jones, Ariel, Peter Pan, and Goofy's Flight School
Isaac--Splash Mountain was his total favorite, but he also liked Grizzly River Run and Big Thunder
Finley--the Carousel, and the Soundsational Parade. Later she added Matterhorn.
The next morning we walked over to the Grand Californian for a character breakfast at Storyteller's Cafe. It was surprisingly affordable and relaxing, possibly because we went after the parks were open so the rush was gone. The kid's meals were only $6.99, which I still have sticker shock over but in a good way. Character meals usually run over $30 per person, including children. Here are some of the characters that came to our table.
Finally, at the tail end of our trip, Finley had relaxed about the characters.
This guy from Pocohantas
This guy from Tarzan.
They also led the kids in some parade thing through the restaurant.
And then we headed home.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Disneyland Day 2

We started our second day at Disneyland off bright and early on Main Street, ready to dash off to Peter Pan. Because of the age of our kids, the fact that we had already ridden most of the other rides that we wanted to, and that there was no magic morning on Friday, we decided to go for Peter Pan first off, and we were able to walk right on. And may I just say that our group seemed to appreciate the bright yellow shirt I was wearing--it made it easy to spot me in a crowd. Keith rode with Finley.
Grandma rode with Isaac.
Which means that I rode with Sareny, but there was nobody to take our picture. :) After Peter Pan Keith, Sareny, Isaac, and I rode Big Thunder Mountain.
This was a huge favorite of both Sareny and Isaac, so we decided to ride it again while the lines were non existent. I stayed off with Finley. Then we found out the ride broke down while they were on it, so I took a few pictures of Finley while we waited. It was perfect, because the Mark Twain Riverboat was just coming around the bend.
Then it blew it's horn right as I took a picture.
And one more cute/silly little smile. The background is so perfect, it almost looks fake.
Then I took a picture of both of us.

And then they got off the ride, and we headed over to ride Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain. On the way there, we stopped for a family picture in front of the Rivers of America.
 Then we did Haunted Mansion, which the kids found much less scary in the daytime. I love how they have the house all decked out for Halloween, but we all liked the regular attraction better than the Nightmare Before Christmas Holiday version.
For Splash Mountain, we pack everybody a pair of flipflops and a cheap dollar store poncho. Because I like this ride quite a bit, but there is very little that is worse than walking around soaking wet and in squishy socks and shoes. We may look a little silly, but I heard more than one person ask a ride attendent where we got the ponchos at. Isaac totally loved Splash Mountain and wanted to ride again, while Sareny didn't so much and Finley was asking to ride the "merry go round." So I took the girls to the Carousel while Keith, Nancy, and Isaac rode again. This time Finley got to ride Jingles.
This picture is from inside Fantasyland showing the back of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Although if you know your Disneyland trivia, you'll know that this was originally designed to be the front of the castle, but someone had placed it backwards on the model, and Walt liked it better that way.
We went to ToonTown and did some things we had missed the day before. The kids all quite liked Gadget's Go Coaster. I remember being supremely unimpressed with this ride the first time I rode it, but I was a teenager, so it was pretty lame. For small children, it is perfect. Exciting, but not too scary, and the whole ride is visible. We took some pictures just playing around.
On Donald's boat.
Then we toured Mickey's House.
We haven't waited in line to see Mickey in years, but the line was almost nonexistant, so we stopped by to see him in his movie barn. I wanted a picture of the kids, but once again, Finley wasn't having any of it.
So we did a family picture instead.
We went back to the hotel to nap for a few hours, and it was an extremely dissatisfying and frustrating experience. Isaac quietly watched shows, Sareny watched shows for a while, and then went to sleep, and Finley walked around the room talking, getting into stuff, and being a bit of a nuisance, making it so Keith and I weren't really able to sleep either. She finally fell asleep about 20 minutes before we were heading back to the park. She didn't really even stay alseep for long in the stroller. The rest of the group headed off to ride something she wasn't tall enough for, and I took her to Snow White's Grotto to make a wish and to do the Castle walk-through diarama. I noticed that while at the hotel, she had taken out her cute little piggies and Minnie ears, but oh well.
Disneyland closed early because of a separate admission Halloween party, but California Adventures was open late. We spent the rest of the evening over there.We rode the new Little Mermaid ride, which was pretty cute. You can sort of see Mickey's SunWheel in the background between Keith and Nancy.
We rode the SunWheel as well. I guess I was so busy focusing on the two cute little munchkins, I forgot about the adults and chopped their heads off.
We rode in the seats that swing and slide on a track. It made it rather exciting.
Sareny and Isaac wanted to do the Silly Symphony Swings. Which I found interesting, since we coudn't convince Sareny to go on them last time we went. At any rate, I thought the swings at the AZ State Fair were better--they went quite a bit higher.
We had tickets to see World of Color, which was a pretty good show. But I don't particularly want to see it again any time soon because you had to stand in one place for an hour before the show started, and stand for the whole show. The kids were able to stand on the stroller to see, thank goodness, because there is no way I could have held a child up for that long so they could see the show. I also had an extremely tall man standing directly in front of me, so I had to contort my body around to try to see. So anyway, the show was reasonably good, but my legs were just too tired to enjoy it much.
After the show, we rode Goofy's Sky School, which is really just Mousetrap re-themed. Sareny really liked it though, and I did actually think the re-theming helped the ride a bit. Then Grandma took Finley back to the hotel, who fell asleep on the way. She woke up just enough to say, "Boo" to Grandma when she changed her diaper. The rest of us rode Grizzly River Run, again utilizing ponchos and flipflops. The kids loved this one, and we rode it twice in a row. I did not love this one--the continual spinning was making me feel rather sick, so I was pretty happy to get off of it or we probably would have ridden it three times. Anway, we had a really fun second day at the park.