Saturday, April 19, 2014

California Debriefing next

I know, I know - you all are finding it difficult to move on with you own lives because you are wondering how our California vacation went.  Well, worry no longer.  I am finally here to at least starting telling you!  Now I just hope I remember correctly!  Maybe John will jump in if I am totally off base.

We left on a Wednesday, after the kids got home from school  Our direct flight didn't leave until 7:40 so we had plenty of time to grab a bite to eat and get through security.  Katie and I were seat buddies on this flight and Will and John were right ahead of us. 

We got into CA around 10:45 (their time).  There was an issue with baggage claim because it took FOREVER for anyone's bags to show up - we waited probably 30-45 minutes I bet.  Then we took a shuttle to the car rental place which was another long wait.  Not sure what the guy's problem was but he was certainly not very quick.  We got our car finally - and headed to our hotel near Disneyland which was a good 30 miles away yet.  On a positive note - the freeways were relatively clear at midnight.  Got the kids to bed so that we could do Disney the next morning!

The hotel offered a breakfast buffet - kids ate free with adults.  We ate and then walked to Disneyland because the entrance was only about two blocks away.  I must admit - I'm not a Disney fanatic, but I was fairly excited to be going to Disneyland.  It's easy to get excited because everyone around you is excited as well.    The guidebooks say to get there about 30 minutes before the park that's what we did.  Then we waited til 9 am for the park to open.

Waiting.....but it was a nice day!

First celebrity siting - Minnie!  We also saw Goofy and Daisy Duck.  We were making the most of our time in the park so we didn't get in lines for pictures.  The kids were well aware that it was just people dressed in costumes anyway. 

Sleeping Beauty's castle.
Thanks to Netflix and a DVD about Disneyland - we knew to walk through the castle and look for a steel nail driven into the walkway, which marked the exact center of Disneyland Park.
Before the trip, I had gone back and forth trying to decide between planning the day out, carefully picking which rides we should do at what time or just letting the day take us and do things as we came across them.  I read a few guidebooks from the library and both STRONGLY advised against the latter approach.  They said your wait time would - on average - for the entire day would be about 3-4 hours longer in total.  Well, that decided it for me.  So, I worked out a vague plan of what we should do that morning while the park had fewer people in it.  Then, later in the day, doing rides that we happen across or that we notice have shorter wait times. 
Along with the guide book, we used an app on my phone that updated people about wait times at certain rides.  We also took advantage of the FastPass option certain rides have.  You go to the ride, scan everyone's tickets and then they issue you a window of time to return later in the day to ride, at which time you won't have to wait in the regular line.  It isn't available on all rides, and there only a limited number for the day so it's best to get them early. 
Here's a list of rides we were able to go on -
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Snow White's Scary Adventure
- Star Tours (A Star Wars virtual ride...which was awesome!!!)
- Space Mountain (used FastPass)
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Autopia (The kids got to drive cars along a real road course while John and I were passengers.  It was terrifying!)
- The Haunted Mansion
- Disney Railroad
- Mark Twain Riverboat
- Big Thunder Mountain (used FastPass)
- Gadget's Go Coaster
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Pirate's of the Caribbean
I think that's it!  It's a Small World and the Indiana Jones Adventure ride were being refurbished so we couldn't do those.  We also skipped Splash Mountain because we didn't want to get soaked.  We tried to do The Matterhorn, (bobsled ride) but the wait time was too long and they weren't doing FastPasses for that. 
Space Mountain scored really high on our list of favorites as did Star Tours.  But it's REALLY hard to pick a favorite.  They were really awesome.  And yes, the wait times were long.  Snow White's Scary Adventures was the shortest wait - at about 5 minutes.....but we did stand in line up to around 50 minutes.  BUT Disney has kind of thought of everything and most of the time they do make waiting in line a part of experience.  So they have stuff to watch, and see while you move along in line.  They also weave you back and forth and in and out of areas so that the length of the line is very deceiving.  Sometimes you think you are SO CLOSE, but then realized there's an entire section of the line you haven't been through yet.  But I do have to say the kids (and John) were total troopers about waiting.  They didn't complain or whine while we had to wait - it made it much more tolerable!
C3PO spoke to the crowd at we waited in line for Star Tours.

R2D2 was there too!

Mark Twain Riverboat

Riverboat ride around the lagoon.
Splash Mountain action shot.
Will and I making our way down Main Street USA.

The kids wouldn't cooperate, but "I" wanted my picture in front of the castle!

Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster!  This one was wild and lots of fun -
Funny story....I got a FastPass for this one around noon that said return between 5:30 and 6:30 to ride.  So we went back to hotel around midday - went swimming, relaxed, snacked, etc. and then came back to the park to do some more rides that evening. The wait time in the regular line was WAY over an hour.  We walked past HUNDREDS of people while we were in the FastPass line and got right on!  It was great!

Every night there is a parade.  They suggest lining up for a spot an hour before it starts.  Well, you've seen one parade, you've seen them all.  We did sneak some peeks, but it was also a VERY slow we waited til we saw Mickey and then took off to do more rides.  If you squint you can see him too. :)
They didn't have fireworks that evening.  Oh well! 

Katie and Will had a giant pool almost all to themselves.  That's Katie back floating in the middle there.  We had taken along their life jackets - I just thought they might need them, not knowing how deep the pools would be, etc.  We never even unzipped them!  (
Note to me: Next time we'll leave them at home!)

Not even 15 minutes after we returned to hotel for the evening........

.....they were both out like a light.
Up next: Day 2!  We hit the beach and head to the desert!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Warmer weather

Time for a new post - gotta get that blond mess in the picture farther down! 

It was warmer here Monday and Tuesday and then yesterday it got cooler again - cooler today too....although it says 29 degrees so we should be happy enough with that.  It's sunny.

Our garage door broke yesterday.  It wouldn't close.  When I hit the button to close it, it would hit something and then go back up.  Sometimes this happens in colder weather and it just needs help going down.  So I got out and was helping it go down, but still not working.  Of course this was occurring as we were heading out the door to school and had about 2 minutes to spare.  So I detached the door from the automatic garage opener and was going to close it that way - which is a pain, but always the past.  Even that wouldn't close all the way.  One side seemed to go down, but then that threw the other side off alignment.  Who knows. 

I called John to tell him about it and that he'd have to go in the front door when he came home, instead of the garage.  When he got home he noticed that the cables on one side had snapped.  He called some "garage door" people and they said it sounded like we would need a new one. 

So the guy came this morning to look at it and confirmed that we would need a new one - so they are coming back at noon to install it.  It should be all taken care of today!   I like those quick fixes....of course you have to pay for them....but I still like them.  Oh, and they are also going to install a new entry keypad as well!  It will be nice to have a new one of those.  I have to remember to tell them to install it about a foot lower so that the kids can reach it if they need to. 

I better run - I have a reading group at school to meet at 10:30.  This week has been utterly crazy - it was book fair for 3 days and I am co-chairing it with another mom. But THAT is over and now it's on to taxes.  I'd LOVE to get them mostly done before we go on vacation!  We'll see.....

Monday, March 3, 2014

All over....

The kids and I have wrapped up another musical. We had 4 Shrek performances this weekend and it was quite exhausting - as it always is. A week of late night dress rehearsals followed by a weekend of late and all day performances will have that effect. Friday was opening night and it was exciting as ever. Will told me later that he was a bit nervous, but you wouldn't have been able to tell. He was nervous onstage because one of the other dwarves accidentally knocked his hat off, but he recovered. I accidentally dropped my walking stick during my dance - actually one of the other blind mice did too. So we reluctantly changed the dance a bit to exclude that part. Katie also missed part of one scene due to a miscount of kids, but no worries - it was on to Saturday! Saturday we had a 2:00 show and a 7:00 show so we were there all day. Volunteers made supper for us between shows and it was so delicious - turkey, baked corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, pasta salads, rolls, etc. It was ridiculously good. Katie's teacher came to the afternoon show which made Katie very proud! And John came to the Saturday night show, which - I think - was the best one, at least from what I have gathered. Sunday's show was a bittersweet ending to 2 months of preparations, but we were also glad to close the book on Shrek for a while. Pictures keep coming in, but here's some that I thought I would share.....
Getting Will's make-up on.  He let me do his, but Katie preferred the work of others. :)
Will having fun during his song.

Katie leading out the Farquad dancers.

Me and my mice (I'm in the middle....)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dopey the Dwarf

Will has his big number with Farquad who reveals that his Daddy was "Grumpy". 

Will is "Dopey" - the one in the middle in green.  He is excited because he's the only dwarf with "buttons" sewn on his costume AND he's the only one who doesn't have to wear a beard.  (The other dwarfs don't have their beards on here either - they are trying to save them so that they don't fall apart before the shows this weekend.)

Here are the words to the song in case you'd like to follow along.

Ballad of Farquad

My daddy was a miner
So he wasn't much around
Foraging for diamonds
A life spent underground

Daddy didn't talk much
He barely said hello
He'd simply mutter "heigh ho"
And off to work he'd go

Daddy was grumpy...

My momma was a princess
Who left her crown behind
Daddy was her true love, so
Momma didn't mind

I never knew my momma
But she could've been a queen
She married way beneath her...
Beneath her knee, i mean

Ohhh, daddy's bed was lumpy
So mommy couldn't sleep
Daddy built a new one
So tall and so steep

Twenty-five mattresses she slept upon
One night she rolled over...
And momma was gone

So daddy was grumpy...

Me and my old man  (Video starts here)
A tale as old as dirt
A bitter distant father
In a tiny undershirt

Daddy up and left me
Left me good as dead
Now he lives in squalor
Sleeping seven to a bed

You abandoned me in those woods, daddy.
Well i crawled out! And up! Oh, if only you could see me now, daddy...
I'd invite you to the wedding but you have to be
This tall to get in! Hahahahahaha!

My bride-to-be is gorgeous
Her wedding dress, designer
The guest list will be major
Without a minor miner

La la la la la la la la la la la la la

Packs of royal lackeys
Playing violin

Strings of royal underlings

Farquaad & (guards)
Who will not let you in!
Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha!
Tricked out carriage!
(tricked out carriage)
Twenty stallions!
(twenty stallions)
With a coachman named raoul
(with a coachman named raoul)
Big reception!
(big reception)
With a boy band!
(with a boy band)
And a royal deejay by the pool...

Yes! I can see my future
And so it shall be done
It's total domination
With some torture just for fun, hee hee!

'Cause i will have my wedding and i will have a queen!
And once i get that crown on
You will get the guillotine

And i'll punish you daddy
'Cause i'm all grown up and bigger than you'll ever know!

You're gonna pay daddy!
It's any day daddy!
I'm off to work
Heigh ho!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sneek Peek

Shrek dress rehearsals have started and so I have a few pictures to share!

Here are the Duloc know the song, "Welcome to Duloc".....
"Please keep off of the grass, shine your shoes, wipe your.....face.  Duloc is a perfect place."
Yeah, Katie likes that a lot!  That's her on the very far right.

I'll be getting a better picture of Will tonight, but "Dopey" is the green dwarf sitting on the stage.

My turn - that's me, the blind mouse on the right....

....and again here on the right.  Shrek told me that blondes have more fun. 

Katie is also a "rat dancer" - it's her favorite costume....that's her WAYYYY over on the right towards the back of the photo.  Again, I'll work on my pictures tonight!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

5 days!

That's right - 5 days.  We have had 5 days of school called off for the cold weather.  It may not seem like much to some from the rural areas - where the school year is typically filled with late starts, early dismissals and snow-days....but up here it's something unusual.  I think in the last 6 years that we have been involved in the school system the most we have ever had is one a year.  The teachers are really freaking out that they are so far behind and the superintendent just announced that we will not have President's Day off.  We also lose our 2 late-start mornings.  They are erring on the side of caution because we still have a lot of winter left.

The kids were off school Monday and Tuesday this week.  Luckily, we pretty much saw it coming and by Sunday afternoon they had officially canceled school.  I was scheduled to drive down to Rochester on Monday for our annual audit at work.  It's the first time we have ever had to arrange schedules to accommodate a no-school day!  So John worked from home that day and I headed south. 

I cannot even begin to tell you how weird that whole day was.  It was so surreal to be back in that same environment like 10 1/2 years hadn't passed.  Thankfully they were in a new building - otherwise I think my head may have exploded.  I've had dreams over the last 4-5 years of being back at work - at the same job.  Those dreams revolved around me forgetting that I had left the kids at home by themselves or not ever being able to leave work.  And now I was really there.  (Without having to worry about the kids.)  It was a really fun day - stressful at times, but overall it was a nice step back into who I was pre-kids.  I found out she's still hanging around.

And then on Tuesday I stayed and worked in my PJ's 'til 3.  That was pretty darn nice too.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Not too cold

Hans and I finally were able to go for a walk this morning - it had been a while.  It's in the 20's here which made it seem so nice out!  Even though there is no sun and everything is cloudy, it was so much warmer.  So when we got back to the house I was even able to pick up the dog poop in the front yard.  I know, I know - it's a glamorous life I lead.

The kids had a short week this week - only 3 days.  It seemed harder to go to school on Wednesday after being off those two days than it did last week when we went back after the holiday break!  They have a full week next week and then are off a day the following week.  It's kind of nice to have a few shorter weeks in there for them because February is usually a long month (oddly enough).

I get to go to school today to do "Book Nook."  I read 5-6 books that I bring from home to the kids before lunch.  It's always fun to see them enjoy books that we read ALL the time at home and are our favorites or see them get so excited because they have the same book at home. 

Katie started choir at school yesterday morning.  She decided to join the optional 4th/5th grade choir at school.  They get to do fun things throughout the rest of the year like touring other schools to sing or sing the National Anthem at basketball games. Her rehearsals are at 7:45 which means we have to get up a little earlier than usual, but I'm sure we'll get used to it. 

Work has been going well - it's getting a little easier to communicate back and forth with my boss.  It certainly helps if I can get away to run on the treadmill for a half hour or so.  It's not a daily routine, but I'm trying to squeeze it in 2-3 times a week.  I have this whiney voice in my head that gets going every once in a while and all it says over and over again is "I'm so busy......I'm too busy.....I'm so tired......." etc.  Do we all have a voice like that?  Looking for excuses?  Some people's voice isn't just in their head and instead this stuff spews out of their mouth.

Then my much louder voice shouts back "Too bad!  It's tough all over!  Deal with it!  Just do it, then it'll be done!"  That usually works really well. 

What's that?  You want a Friday Funny?  Ok.  Quit whining.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Happy 2014. 

I'm one that likes even numbered years, so I'm looking forward to 2014 for no other reason than that. 
We had our family Christmas here the weekend before Christmas and then spent Christmas week down in IA.  We came back up here and John took off New Year's Eve to do fun family stuff.  So today is actually our first "back to normal" day.  Almost 2 weeks of being off schedule sure makes it hard to climb back on the wagon.  By 1:00 today I was ready to call it a day.  How can there be so much stuff to catch up on already?!

We went down to IA on Christmas Eve.  My side got together that evening.  We played cards, dice and some of the younger ones opened a few gifts.  It was pretty low key and it seems everyone had a good time.  My brother had been going through some health stuff recently and so it was good to talk with him.  He seemed to be doing very well. 

Wednesday we went out to the farm and had a partial Christmas there, which included tubing down a hill.  The kids had a great time.  Will really liked his mini pool table and Katie had a good time experimenting with her new microscope.  We finished up Christmas at the farm on Thursday evening when John's aunt could join us.  Again, the kids got quite the haul and there was even an authentic Mexican piƱata. 

I had to leave a bit early that evening because I got word that my brother was being taken to the ER after suffering (what we thought) was a seizure like episode.  He spent the night there, with no real answers.  We decided to stay in town a bit longer so that my older sister, my niece and I could take him to the big city hospital the next day for an MRI.  Long story short - we still don't know what's going on.  His headaches, tremors and shakes that he was having have seemed to improve, but the MRI was all clear.  He was diagnosed with Lyme's disease years ago and struggle with that for a very long time.  They are exploring whether these episodes and symptoms have anything to do with that. 

We, as a family, have been keeping it pretty quiet - especially since there is nothing to tell, no answers to why these things are happening.  But, I shared on here because I felt like it.  So there. :)

By New Year's Eve the kids were pretty tired.  They didn't even ask to stay up late.  We went roller skating that was awesome.  John has a great video of Will skating that I must share - and will -  as soon as I get it from him.  John and I stayed up - like we usually do and watched TV.  Now that the expanded cable is gone, we were stuck with what the networks were showing and I must say, most of it sucked.  Today everyone was a bit slow getting up and out the door, but it's a short week and I think we can do it.  Play practice starts this weekend - we'll see how that goes!