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The Sunday Somethings, 16nov14

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Crafty days with Paula and Michelle! Yesterday, I got started on our Disney scrapbook and did some sewing.

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking about Christmas!

Something I’m hoping: I hope the weather cooperates for our trip to Ohio and Kentucky coming up.

Something happening around the house: Gabe fixed the dishwasher!!! He thought of one more thing, and it worked. Hooray!

Something I’m reading: I finished Goldfinch, which I found to be a bit tedious. I enjoyed the first half better than the second. I read The One & Only, the newest by Emily Giffin. I was disappointed in that one! I also finished The Lavender Garden, which I liked better than the other two. It would have been a decent book club read, but it didn’t blow my socks off or anything. I’m now reading Kiss and Spell, the 7th book in the Enchanted, Inc. series. It’s light, fluffy, and enjoyable. Just what I needed.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Red Seas Under Red Skies. Since the last post, he’s also read The Republic of Thieves, Prince of Fools, Annihilation, and Lock In. He’s now reading City of Stairs.

Something I’m watching: We’ve been enjoying The Walking Dead and The Amazing Race. Gabe is keeping up with a few other shows, but we aren’t watching too much at the moment. Our family went to see Big Hero 6, and we LOVED it! I also saw Gone Girl with book club peeps. It was interesting to see that movie after reading the book and knowing a bit about what was going to happen. The movie was pretty true to the book, for the most part.

Something I’m playing: Gabe has started playing games regularly on Monday nights. So far, they have played Caverna, Terra Mystica, Snowdonia, Concordia, Bruges, Glass Roads, Ra: The Dice Game. We have had a couple of dinner and games sessions with friends and played Quixx, Linko, and Walnut Grove. We had a games night, and I played Snowdonia, Splendor, Linko, Hey! That’s my fish! and Telestrations. Gabe started over playing Zelda: The Skyward Sword. We realized we didn’t get too far in that one!

Something I’m creating: I’ve been creating all kinds of things! Since the last post, I finished the WWDC book (and several of my coworkers also wanted to order a copy). I finished the Key West book from the girls trip in May. Audrey and Melisa ordered their copies! I started the Disney Cruise book from our trip back in February. I’m glad to finally start on that one, even if it is a bit daunting. I’m worried I’m not going to be able to fit it all in one book! I created our holiday cards, and I’m hoping to send them out just after Thanksgiving…but we’ll see if that happens. I did some sewing yesterday, again. I made pillowcases out of fabric that Maddie picked out for both kids. I also made a few surprises.

Something about the grownups: I love my crafty days with Paula and Michelle! We just had one yesterday, and I felt like I accomplished quite a bit. Gabe has been enjoying his board gaming nights. He’s getting to play some quality games. They are meeting about every other week. We had fun with the block party, especially the after party at the fire pit. We also had a great time with neighbors on Halloween. We enjoyed that it fell on a Friday this year, and the neighbors had another fire going as well as some fireworks. Good times. Gabe and I celebrated our 8th anniversary, and we had a great dinner at Maximillians. We went to a “romantic” movie and saw John Wick (haha). I had fun finally building the Lego Haunted House that I’ve had for 2 years, and Gabe put together the Ghostbusters car…an awesome combination. For the past several weeks, some of my coworkers and I have started having a shorter lunch and taking a long walk. The weather has been beautiful, and the trails around our campus are awesome. I’ve been walking 2-3 miles during lunch every day. I’ve also been tracking my foods and calories with myfitnesspal. I needed a little bit of a healthy reboot.

Something about both kiddos: After Maddie and I participated in the Chocolate 5k, we had a pile of Ghirardelli chocolates in different flavors. Our family held a taste test challenge with eleven varieties of chocolate. Cullen’s favorite was Intense Dark, Maddie’s was Dark Chocolate Truffle, Gabe’s was Toffee Crunch, and mine was Dark Chocolate Mint. Gabe’s least favorite was Hazelnut, mine was Sea Salt Caramel, and Maddie and Cullen both hated Dark Chocolate Mint. My favorite moment was when Cullen tasted that one and exclaimed, “That tastes like toothpaste!!!” He was horrified. I’m glad to know that Dark Chocolate Mint is safe from predators in my household (Gabe hates it, too.). The kids had fun with Halloween! We went to more houses this year, but we still covered a very small fraction of our neighborhood. Considering that they trade most of their candy to the Halloween witch, they don’t really need to gather all that much. Each kid picked out ten pieces of candy to keep, and the witch took the rest of it in trade for small Lego sets. The kids designed their own jack-o-lanterns again this year. Maddie’s was a simple smiley face, and Cullen’s was a simple frowny face. Their imperfect designs crack me up.

Something Maddie is doing (6.5 years old): Maddie had a marathon challenge at school where we had to complete 26 miles over the course of a month and a half or so. The kids could walk or run the 26 miles, and Maddie completed it! It was a challenge mostly for us to find the time to get in some mileage. Maddie and I did a local Chocolate 5k, and I was so impressed that she ran the entire way. I couldn’t believe it! The day before, she participated in Walk to School day, and she almost didn’t make it less than a mile…so I was worried about how well she’d do over 3 miles. She was so proud of herself, so maybe we’ll be doing some more 5ks in the future. Maddie was a beautiful Elsa, and somehow I was able to bobby pin her blonde wig enough so that it would stay on during trick or treating. We weren’t sure how that was going to work! She will get another chance to wear the Elsa dress when I take her to see Disney on Ice later this year. It’s Frozen themed, and she doesn’t know that she will be going yet. Maddie’s class had “Pumpkin Day” on Halloween, and I volunteered. This was a combination event with the other first grade classes, and they rotated to different stations in the different classrooms. I helped with a station where the kids brainstormed descriptive words for pumpkins. They then had to complete a worksheet with some of these descriptive words and measure a pumpkin in different ways (height, circumference). I thought it was a pretty smart move for the teachers to do something different on Halloween since the kids were going to be too excited to pay attention to regular instruction! They aren’t allowed to do anything specific for Halloween. Maddie had been wiggling a loose tooth for over a month, and it FINALLY fell out on November 3rd. Well, more accurately, I gave it a final yank. She was so excited to lose her first tooth! The tooth fairy came and gave her a whole dollar (yeah, our tooth fairy is cheap). She didn’t much like having the tooth yanked, but it was so loose that night at bedtime that I was seriously afraid that she might swallow it in her sleep. She lost one of the front ones on the bottom, and the one next to it is loose now. I imagine it will take some weeks before she loses it, though. It feels like her top front teeth are starting to get a little loose as well. I volunteered for Literacy Lunch and read some books to Maddie and three classmates. Gabe volunteered for Literacy Lunch once as well. He also volunteered for Otter Time, which is at the end of the day and involves helping kids with various academic areas and enrichment. Maddie is doing pretty well with piano, but it is hard to motivate her to practice at home. You’d think I was torturing her when I sit down with her at the piano. She does seem to enjoy it, so hopefully the practice will become less torturous. She’s doing fantastic with swimming. We are hoping that she will be moving up to the next level and new challenges soon, but she’s still benefitting from the current level. She continues to improve, and we haven’t seen her stagnate in this class yet. Twice a week has really helped her, and she seems to love it. Maddie is tracked out and she went to her favorite art camp this week where they did Inuit art. She is going to the same art camp next week and will also be going to a new Lego and Technology camp during this track out.

Something Cullen is doing (4.5 years old): Cullen still often wakes up before the rest of the family. These days, he doesn’t tend to sneak too many snacks as he has in the past. Sometimes, he does get his “breakfast toast” (which is what he calls his organic breakfast pastries). Frequently, he plays the iPad. He will play his usual games, and he’s also figured out how to access his list on Netflix. One morning, I came out and he was playing the iPad. He had been banned from the iPad for a few days, so I said, “Cullen, you know you’re not supposed to be playing the iPad.” Then, I noticed a couple of men walk through the backyard. “Gabe, there are men in the yard, and I don’t know what they are doing.” Cullen says, “They told me what they are doing!” Um, what? Yep, that’s right. Around 6:30am, the guys tasked with aerating our lawn knocked on the door and he answered it. By himself. When they asked where his parents were, he told them that his parents were sleeping. Within a couple of days, we had installed a double cylinder lock and keep the key out of reach. Cullen was an awesome superman for Halloween. He especially loved running to make his cape fly behind him (I didn’t break it to him that the cape didn’t really fly like he was envisioning). He ran out of steam before Maddie with trick or treating and was ready to return home. His class had a Halloween parade that morning…our last preschool fall parade! The parade was with all of the Children’s House classrooms, and Gabe counted at least 12 Elsas and 19 superheroes. Our kids didn’t exactly pick unique costumes this year. Cullen was sent home with a fever two days before Halloween, but thankfully he recovered quickly and didn’t have to miss all the fun! Cullen had two other opportunities to wear his Halloween costume. His Kindermusik class wore costumes on their class before Halloween, and he went to a costume party for one of his best buddies in preschool to celebrate his birthday. I love when the kids can get more wear out of their costumes! The fake muscles cracked me up. When he put on his costume the first time, he had trouble with the stiff upper part with the muscles. He said, “I need someone to help me with my bras!” Um, not exactly son. Cullen went with me to vote. He was excited to accompany me, and I explained the process to him. When we left, he said, “That’s it? That wasn’t very fun? Why did we do that?” And then after I explained how important it is and our civic duty and all that, he asked, “Did we win?” Cullen had several more Lego classes, and they finished up the session. Cullen went to another birthday party where he played mini golf and rode in a go-kart. Cullen loves music class, and he has a talent for it as well. They are learning all about different percussion instruments and rhythms. He’s doing pretty well with swimming and has a lot to learn. I’m curious to see how he does when we go to Great Wolf Lodge (soon!).

Something I am struggling with: You know, the usual. Writing these posts. It gets tedious when I neglect it for a month!

Something I’m looking forward to: In the next month or so…we have more swimming and music lessons. Thanksgiving. Great Wolf Lodge in Ohio and a trip to Kentucky. Dinners and lunches with friends. Book club. Doctor’s and dental appointments. Art camp and Lego technology camp for Maddie. Our annual holiday poker tournament. Putting up our Christmas tree and decorations! Sending our holiday cards! Annual Christmas date with Audrey. Disney on Ice for Maddie and me. Rudolph play for the family.

Something captured: Elsa and Superman

The Sunday Somethings, 12oct14

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Fall! We didn’t have the best weather, but we did one of my favorite fall activities with the kids today – the pumpkin patch. I’m thinking about doing another pumpkin patch this year to make up for our not-so-great weather today.

Something I’m thinking: Gabe and I are thinking about where to eat for our 8th anniversary coming up soon. That’s another reason to love the fall.

Something I’m hoping: I hope to get the motivation to finally finish my 2014 WWDC book. I worked on it this weekend with the crafty day with Michelle and Paula.

Something happening around the house: Our dishwasher is still broken.

Something I’m reading: I read Attachments, Fly Away (book 2 of Firefly Lane), Necessary Lies (for October book club), and When You Reach Me (also for book club). I’m now reading Goldfinch.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Ghost Brigades, and he is now reading Red Seas Under Red Skies.

Something I’m watching: Fall TV is starting up! We have been watching Amazing Race. Gabe has watched Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and Arrow and I pay some attention to those. The Walking Dead starts tonight! I also watched a marathon of Gilmore Girls (season 2) during our crafty day.

Something I’m playing: Gabe is starting to play with some friends in a regular games night a couple nights a month. He played Caverna the first time, and they are playing Terra Mystica next time. We had a games night recently, and I played Splendor, Lords of Waterdeep and Russian Railroads. Gabe played Splendor, Concordia, and Castles of Burgundy that night.

Something I’m creating: I’m working on the 2014 WWDC photobook. It’s much longer than last year’s. We had quite a few photos, and the bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge takes up about half the book!

Something tasty: Funnel cakes and ribbon fries from the farm fun today. Ooh, and pumpkin pancakes on Gabe’s birthday at our favorite breakfast place.

Something about the grownups: We got our flu shots. I barely felt the shot, but my arm was sore for the rest of the day. Fingers crossed that it keeps us healthy this year! The flu was no joke when I had it last winter. Gabe and I have both enjoyed volunteering some in Maddie’s classroom, and we watched Cullen at bike day at his school. I had my September book club meeting. Gabe started a regular board gaming group. We are quite excited that we are planning a bonus trip to DISNEY! We are trying to decide when to tell the kids or whether we just want to surprise them on the day that we leave. Melissa, Jason, and my parents are joining us. It went from a vague idea to a planned trip within a week. Now that we have it planned, I’m so glad that we’re not waiting another 2 years to go to Disney (as we had originally planned). It has been 2 years since our last trip. The kids are going to love it! We celebrated Gabe’s birthday on the 5th, and the kids and I surprised him with a tiger striped Bengals cake. Unfortunately, it didn’t help the Bengals win their game on that day.

Something about both kiddos: Both kids are doing swimming and music lessons. Maddie continues with swimming twice a week and piano. Cullen is doing swimming once a week and loves his Kindermusik classes. I’m excited about both kids doing music classes, and they both seem to love it. Both kids went to their friend Elizabeth’s birthday party where they had a great time playing in their awesome backyard. The highlight of the party was the confetti eggs (who says these are just for Easter?). Today, we went to the pumpkin patch! As I said, the weather wasn’t great. It was misty and cool, but we still had fun. The kids played in the colorful maze, the hay bale maze, the cornbox, the giant slide (well, Maddie), the hay jump, bounce houses, and hay ride. We all watched the hilarious pig races. We each picked out a pumpkin. Maddie and Cullen also recently got their flu shots, and neither of them cried a bit. The nurse said they were her easiest patients of the day.

Something Maddie is doing (6.5 years old): I volunteered to read as part of the Outstanding Otter Literacy program where we read about a character trait. I read about loyalty last year as well, and both times some kids thought that we were going to be talking about “royalty.” I’m always impressed by what some of the kids can express (and have greater respect for the teachers every time I visit the classroom!). Gabe read to a smaller group in Maddie’s classroom for Literacy Lunch. That program is weekly, so we will probably both be reading for that here and there. I also volunteered for Apple Day, which was a fun time in Maddie’s class. I was able to run the science experiment station where the kids predicted which liquid would slow browning of the apple slices. We were all surprised that milk worked better than lemon juice (though I’m not sure how that would taste!). Maddie loves having us come to her classroom! She’s very into getting her hair put into a ponytail lately. She requests that almost every day. Today she asked for “Anna braids” and continues to grow her hair so that one day she can have an “Elsa braid.” We haven’t gotten into a good routine with piano practice, but Maddie does seem to enjoy her lessons. We don’t want to push her too hard this young as we want her to enjoy it. Her class has been working on “how to” writing, and Maddie wrote about how to be a grandparent: “First, you have to be old. Next, you have to have kids. Last, you have to have a name.” My parents thought that was amusing! We had our first quarter conference with Maddie’s teacher, and she seems to be doing well. She’s been doing some pull out enrichment/AG classes for math. I was surprised that they weren’t doing the same thing for reading, but they don’t have any kids in the class at a high enough reading level. She is doing well with her reading and still has been enjoying the Arthur chapter books. Her spelling has been improving, and she does well on her weekly spelling tests. Maddie’s favorite thing to do outside at our house right now is to climb one of the trees in the front yard. The other day, Maddie very sternly pointed at herself in the mirror and said, “Hey! You’re a copycat!” Maddie still loves her Daddy, but she has shown some preferences towards me again lately. I think she’s evening out her parent preferences a bit. Both kids fight over who gets Mommy at bedtime these days.

Something Cullen is doing (4.5 years old): Cullen had bike day, and we realized that we really need to get him a bigger bike. He did great at bike day and loved having us cheer him on. Cullen is doing very well with his music lessons. He is demonstrating good rhythm and demonstrates his singing voice well. I’m so proud of him. He has always been very musical, so I’ve been excited to see where this adventure takes him. I hope that he enjoys music for a long time! Recently at school, Cullen said to one of his teachers, “I smell chicken nuggets.” The teacher said that they weren’t having chicken nuggets, but they were having a different type of nuggets. Cullen said, “Fish nuggets?” The teacher said, “yes, what kind?” Cullen replied, “Dead fish.” Cullen is doing a Lego class during the preschool day once a week, and he had his first one this week. He said that it was fun, and they learned about camels and made a little camel. A few days after a fire drill at school, Cullen woke up in the morning and said, “Last night, I dreamed that there was a fire on the playground at school. That was NOT a good dream. That is a dream that I think I’ll delete.” Cullen has been very sweet and loving with me lately. He also wants to be very tightly tucked into his bed where he looks like a mummy. Cullen is now able to operate the Wii U on his own, as we discovered one morning. He had taken out Gabe’s game and put in his own. He was playing on the game pad without the TV. He’s getting better and better at video games.

Something I’m looking forward to: For the rest of the month, we have…more swim lessons and music lessons, Gabe’s game night, a movie night with my book club friends, Cullen’s Lego class, our neighborhood block party, a chocolate 5k for Maddie and me, our 8th anniversary, some kid birthday parties, my book club, Halloween, pumpkin day at Maddie’s class, the fall parade at Cullen’s class.

Something captured: They really do love each other.

Happy 6th Birthday to Maddie!

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

A bit more delay getting this one out, but at less than a month after her birthday (and a cruise right after), I’ll take it. Here’s the latest letter to Maddie. (more…)

Happy 4th birthday, sweet boy!

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

It’s time for another letter to Cullen, just a tad late this time. Happy 4th birthday to my sweet, sweet boy! (more…)

Happy (belated) 5th Birthday, Maddie!

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Wow, Maddie is 5 years old. Five seems like a big deal to me. Why does it seem SO much more than 4? I guess I’m thinking about how she will be starting kindergarten and gaining more and more independence. It’s hard to believe. So, here is Maddie’s letter…most of it written 3 months ago. Better late than never. (more…)

Happy 3rd Birthday, Cullen!

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Somehow, I’ve managed to finish Cullen’s letter the same week as his birthday. Woohoo! (more…)

Disney: Day 6, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (post-parade)

Monday, November 26th, 2012

After the parade, we were at a little bit of a loss as to what to do before the fireworks started. We didn’t have enough time to head over and ride anything, but we didn’t want to just stand and wait for the fireworks. We decided to go over to the Haunted Mansion to see if we could find the ghostly magic shots.

We knew that the ghost driver magic shot would be at the creepy carriage outside of the Haunted Mansion. It’s a little confusing as you have to enter a queue near the exit of the ride. The line was short, so we decided to go for it! For each of the ghost shots, the photographer asks you to look at the camera for a “normal” shot first and then act scared and look in the direction of the ghosts for the second.

We asked the Photopass photographer where to find the hitchhiking ghosts magic shot, and he told us to go to the Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square. We couldn’t believe that we had walked right by the photographer and missed it! We went back that way and could not find it. We asked several cast members, and they didn’t know what we were talking about. Finally, we found the photographer along the side of the Hall of Presidents that faces the Haunted Mansion. It was not surprising that this photographer had NO line. Whoever is on duty at that spot must be incredibly bored. I can’t imagine that many people who aren’t actively looking for it actually stumble upon the opportunity. I’m not sure why they don’t make it a little more obvious, but it is also a neat perk for those “in the know” and perhaps makes it more special.

At any rate, I was super excited to get this shot. Like before, the photographer had us pose first (this time with hitchhiker’s thumbs) and then act scared. We took turns as couples and got our group shot.

All of our “scared” photos crack me up every time I view them.

The hitchhiking photos are cute, too. I’m so, so glad that we got these. It was one of the highlights of the party (and trip) for me!

Oh no! Ghosts!

Even with the searching that we did, we had plenty of time to return to find a spot in front of the castle. I enjoyed being behind the castle when I went to Disney with Audrey, but being in the circle in front of the castle is absolutely awesome.

I had heard that HalloWishes is the best fireworks show of the year, and I believe it. It was incredible. Fireworks (and villainy parades) make me giddy. All of us loved it, though Cullen wanted Daddy to cover his ears so they weren’t so loud. I think he enjoyed watching them, but the sounds were a little scary.

I just love all the colors that they use on the castle. The colors for HalloWishes are more Halloweenish with a lot of purples, oranges, and greens.

Yay! Pyrotechnics!

They had a bunch of neat projections on the castle. You can see jack-o-lanterns in this shot.

More projections and pretty colors in this one. All of us were very impressed by the “pinwheel” fireworks on the castle and the (more than?) 180 degree fireworks surrounding us as part of the finale. Disney knows how to do fireworks.

After the fireworks, Maddie had one more thing on her agenda – to ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. We headed to the ride. The kids were pretty tired, but they were excited to ride. I thought the ride photos would turn out cute with our hats. It’s too bad Maddie wasn’t looking at the camera in theirs (and Cullen and I weren’t even trying to shoot things towards the end).

Neither kid requested to ride it again. We had been prepared to ride again since the lines were low. We knew this meant the kids must be very exhausted! Maddie snuggled up next to her Spinny Minnie and her apple juice bottle and fell asleep almost instantly. Cullen hung on a bit longer. He kept fighting it and refused to let us recline his side of the stroller. He was spinning his Spinny Minnie in a zombie-like fashion and was very out of it. He finally fell asleep while Earl, Michelle, and Gabe were riding The Haunted Mansion.

The Haunted Mansion was on all of our “want to do” lists for the party. I stayed behind with the kiddos, and the wait for them to return seemed very, very long! Eventually, I went over to watch the ghost lady, Madame Carlotta, perform on the lawn. She was hilarious. I rather enjoyed listening to her chat with guests, poke fun at costumes, and sing theme songs related to costumes.

Earl, Michelle, and Gabe had been stuck on the ride for a while, but they finally emerged. It was my turn, and I was excited to ride Earl’s favorite ride with him! We even got the “best” hitchhiking ghost – the one that switches your heads! That was awesome. And then to make the experience even better, Lady Renatta was on her way to the lawn when we were exiting the mansion. I “pushed” Earl into her path, and he had the opportunity to interact with her. Very cool. She had a funny reaction when Earl made it clear that he and I were not together. This was definitely another highlight of the party for me!

We were all exhausted at this point, and Earl and Michelle headed back to the resort. We wanted to buy the special Halloween party pin before we left (Earl and Michelle had already taken care of that bit of business earlier in the evening). We passed the hitchhiking ghosts photo op, and nobody was waiting (duh, it’s impossible to find). I hopped over and got a couple “insurance” shots by myself.

The party turned out to be a lot of fun, and we all agreed that it was a “fun thing to do once.” We were disappointed by the overall crowd levels. It was next to impossible to meet characters, and the timing of the “special” events made it difficult to fit in much in between. We thought it would be quick and easy to let the kids do a little trick or treating, but the lines were even worse for the candy trails! I couldn’t believe that people would pay for such an expensive special ticket to wait in line for normal Halloween candy. That just did not make sense to me. The most disappointing thing is that they have so many unique character opportunities, but you really can’t take advantage of them unless you want to spend most of your time in lines.

The parade, fireworks, villain show, magic shots and ghost interactions made it worth it to me. If I go again, I’ll know to have different expectations about what you can reasonably accomplish at the party and the crowd levels.

As we were heading towards the exit, I wanted to see if I could take advantage of one of the character opportunities from my list. All four of the standard Winnie the Pooh characters greet in costume next to the Winnie the Pooh ride in the new-to-me permanent meet and greet area. When we arrived, only a few people were in line. It was about 11:30pm, and I had no idea if the characters were done for the night. Nobody in line seemed to know either. I only had to wait five minutes, and I was so excited when the characters came skipping and hopping out to their spot.

Getting my picture with the four characters was the icing on my cake.

After the picture, we made our way out of the park with a stop by the Main Street gift shop for the special pin. I had to ask the right people in order to find the Annual Passholder MNSSHP 2012 pin. I’m glad that I was able to find it!

We waited for the bus with two zonked out children (and two very exhausted adults). We had no idea how we were going to get the stroller, ourselves, and TWO sleeping children onto the bus. Somehow we managed by Gabe handing both kids to me so I could carry them onto the bus. Thank goodness we had a seat. Someone with older children who has “been there” volunteered to help us get off of the bus by carrying the stroller so we could get the still mostly sleeping kids off the bus. We were grateful and very, very tired!

We went back to the room and crashed. The kids barely opened their eyes as we put them in their beds.

Next up…Epcot!

Disney: Day 6, MNSSHP, Boo to You Parade

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

The Boo to You parade runs twice for each party, and we caught the more crowded, earlier show so that they kids could enjoy it. I wish that we could have caught the second one so that Gabe could have fully enjoyed it. He had two excursions to the potty with Cullen and missed the headless horseman and half of the parade. Bummer.

The headless horseman gallops quickly through Main Street well before the parade starts. The cast members come by to make sure that guests do not have their feet in the street and that we know the horseman’s cue. It’s dark, and he’s fast. I didn’t get a good photo, but here he is holding his jack-o-lantern head.

The parade starts at least 5 minutes later, and I loved it. It was one of my favorite parts of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party, and it was one of my favorite parades ever. Since it’s Halloween, the parade has a ton of villains and ghosts as well as some special characters you don’t usually see in other parades.

I was sad that Cullen missed the float with Mickey and Minnie. I was worried he was going to be upset when he realized it, but he didn’t think about it thankfully. Some of the other characters in this section included Snow White, a dwarf or two, Pinocchio and Geppetto, Alice & the Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Donald, and Daisy. I’m sure that there were several others! The classic Mickey gang were all in Halloween costumes.

I love seeing all four of the standard Winnie the Pooh characters together in their Halloween costumes (not all pictured of course).

It was even more exciting to see rare characters Rabbit, Kanga, and Roo!

One of my favorite moments of the parade was when Peter Pan and Wendy appeared followed by Hook and Smee on the Jolly Roger. Other characters from Peter Pan were in attendance followed by Jack Sparrow and related Pirates of the Caribbean characters.

When Maddie saw these familiar characters, she got so excited! It was awesome. Unfortunately, Gabe and Cullen had not returned from the bathroom. I’m glad that I got this photo of Maddie just after she turned to us and said, “It’s the Jolly Roger!!!”

She also was thrilled to see the “Tick Tock Crock!” I loved how she pointed out all of the familiar characters that she had been exposed to through Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Another favorite part of the parade were the ghoulish gravedigger shovel dancers. I wasn’t able to get a great photo of them, but it was so cool! They were scraping the shovels on the road making sparks as the shovel contacted the pavement. It was a very cool effect.

The whole section on The Haunted Mansion was really cool. I loved the ghost ballroom dancers, especially, and the float with the hitchhiking ghosts.

The parade had SO MANY VILLAINS. The music was fun, and the “Boo to You” song has been stuck in my head for weeks. They had other villainy songs, too. We were excited to see the Queen of Hearts since Earl had been collecting many of her pins on this trip (and other Alice and Wonderland pins).

The Sheriff of Nottingham? From Robin Hood?

Doctor Facilier or “The Shadow Man” from The Princess and the Frog? Behind him, you can see Maleficent. Yes, I had to look up some of these, but I thought they were fun pics of some of the villains.

And we even were able to see the three hyenas from The Lion King. Yay!

The Queen from Snow White.

The only part of the parade that wasn’t as interesting to me was the hoedown section with things like the Country Bears and cowboys and other ho-hum things. Bring on the villainy! Who wants to see a country hoedown on Halloween? Not me! It was a little weird, actually. It was the one part of the parade that just didn’t seem to fit.

The finale section of the parade features Goofy and Pluto and Goofy’s Candy Company, and cast members tried to make sure that each kid received a lollipop.

Hooray for CANDY!

Cullen and Gabe did get to see part of the parade, and Cullen enjoyed what he saw (and the lollipop finale). Note the “costume change” as he had needed one after one of the potty breaks. We had planned on that with the cute Halloween jammies!

I loved the parade. I can highly recommend going to the party at least once just to experience the parade and fireworks. They were both fabulous and made the party worth it!

Disney: Day 6, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (pre-parade)

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

We considered the first part of Day 6 to be a rest day, but that was a little bit of a mistake. We should have had another REAL rest day at some point. This day ended up being more of a reversed, but full, day since we rested in the beginning and then ended up staying at Magic Kingdom very late for the party. As usual, we all listed our favorites from the day!

Maddie’s Favorites

  • Swimming pool
  • The fireworks
  • Small world
  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • Ice cream

Cullen’s Favorites

  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • Popcorn
  • Ice cream
  • Parade
  • Lazy river with Mommy
  • Small world

Gabe’s Favorites

  • **Fireworks**
  • Seeing Kerry with the Winnie the Pooh characters
  • The orange Dole Whip and when Cullen turned up his cup to get the last drops
  • Playing in the pool with Maddie
  • Haunted Mansion with Earl and Michelle

Kerry’s Favorites

  • Pineapple and Orange swirl Dole Whip (and seeing Cullen turn up his cup)
  • Boo to You parade and seeing Maddie react to the pirate section and when she said, “There’s the Jolly Roger!!”
  • Fireworks, especially the finale
  • Riding Haunted Mansion with Earl and Earl’s post-ride interaction with the ghost
  • The special party magic shots with hitchhiking ghosts and ghost driver
  • Getting my picture with all four Pooh characters in costume
  • The lazy river with Cullen

Michelle’s Favorites

  • Hearing Kerry squeal with delight at the parade and fireworks
  • Pineapple Dole Whip (her own, trying the pineapple and orange swirl, and seeing Cullen tip his cup up)
  • The not-so-lazy river
  • Hitchhiking ghosts photo

Earl’s Favorites

  • Maddie’s face at the parade
  • Fireworks
  • The guys with shovels in the parade
  • Walking onto Big Thunder Mountain
  • Meeting the ghost woman
  • Dole Whip, specifically Michelle eating it

Summary and Photos of Day 6, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (pre-parade)

After a long day at Hollywood Studios and a late night at Jellyrolls, Earl and Michelle had early breakfast reservations at Cape May. They were regretting their reservation time in the morning, but they had a fun time meeting Donald and Minnie. They knew they would be back to meet Goofy in a few days.

Our family woke up slow and lazily had breakfast in the room. All of us headed to the pool shortly after Earl and Michelle returned from breakfast. We spent some time in the sand bottom pool. Cullen seemed more confident at the pool than he has at other recent times. I think it helped that he could reach the bottom for most of the sand bottom pool.

We all drifted around the lazy river on innertubes a bit. It was challenging to get the kids in the tubes with us, and we should have stuck with a single tube (for each parent/kid pair) instead of a double. Some of the lazy river was very deep (over 8 feet deep!), so it was a challenge to get in and out of the tube! Cullen and I enjoyed several laps around the river. Maddie and Gabe did some swimming in another area.

We all headed back to the room at the same time, and we decided to be lazy and get room service. We knew we had a big night ahead of us and wanted to relax before the party. After lunch, Cullen and I both napped. Earl and Michelle napped and had quiet time. Maddie and Gabe had quiet time. We all got ready and headed to the party around 3:30pm. We were all very excited as this was one of the big things we were all looking forward to experiencing!

Gabe had bought a Sorcerer Mickey hat earlier in the trip, and Earl, Michelle, and I bought some hats of our own. I loved our little “theme” with Earl and Michelle’s Goofy hats and our Sorcerer Mickey hats.

I couldn’t wait to get to the party!

The kids were excited to be wearing their Jake and Izzy costumes, and they were two cute pirates!

We arrived right around 4pm when they start letting in guests with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets. I insisted on some photos, of course.

We knew that we wouldn’t want to wear the hats all night, so we made sure to get the photos we wanted as we entered the park! It was still quite warm, but we knew it would get cooler as the evening progressed.

Right away, it was far more crowded than we had expected. We thought that maybe it would thin out as the party officially started at 7pm and they kicked out the regular guests. The crowds never did ease up, so that was very disappointing. I had expected MUCH lighter crowds. You can see the sea of people as we entered the park.

Our next order of business after entrance photos was Dole Whip. I have heard people talk endlessly about Dole Whip, and I knew it was one of Michelle’s favorite treats at Disney. I felt I should try it once, but I wasn’t expecting to really care much about it. Michelle and I waited in a pretty long line, and I was thinking that it better be worth it! Surprisingly, it was totally worth the wait. I had the pineapple and orange swirl, and it was far better than I had expected. I loved it and will probably make a point to go there again next time. I sampled some of Earl’s pineapple and vanilla swirl, and that was yummy, too. Gabe had plain orange and Michelle had plain pineapple, I believe. Everyone sampled the different combinations. The kids loved it, too. Cullen enjoyed it so much that he wouldn’t declare that he was done or let us take away the cup until he had tipped it back to drink every drop. We got a few empty cups and gave them some of our flavors. Maddie enjoyed it, of course.

We didn’t have much of a plan for the party, especially since we weren’t sure what to expect. We would have certainly done things a bit differently now that I know. We did some wandering around without much of a plan wondering what we should do. We did some pin trading, and we decided to head over to the small world ride to try and cheer up the kiddos. Earl and Michelle were going to meet us afterward near the dwarfs, and they grabbed food while we were riding Small World.

I had been looking forward to the opportunity to get my photo with all 7 dwarfs! The only time you can do this is at the Halloween and Christmas parties. Unfortunately, you have to get in line at least an hour before they appear. Even if you do this, you may have a 45 minute wait to meet them. After Small World, I headed to get in line. I didn’t know that the line would be quite that bad until after I arrived.

The cast members for the party were starting to appear. I liked their special party uniforms.

I passed The Haunted Mansion on the way to the dwarfs, and I was looking forward to riding that later in the evening! That was a must do for us at the Halloween party (of course). I loved how the cast members had extra touches with their costumes for the party.

Gabe took the kids to Casey’s Corner where they could get corn dog nuggets – an easy “on the go” dinner. Gabe and I planned to grab food whenever. Our food plans were terrible. It worked well enough for the kids, but it was awful for us. If I did the party again, I probably would have made 5pm reservations possibly (as we had originally planned). Oh well.

The (lack of) food plan and the fact that the dwarf line was terribly long put a damper on our mood. Things started to not go as expected and the crowds were really bad. I stood in the drawf line while Earl and Michelle walked onto Big Thunder Mountain with no line. Most of the rides seemed to have very little lines, at least.

Gabe had a bad time with the kids. First, he decided just to sit with them and eat while I was in the dwarf line. Maddie fell out of her chair (typical, but not good for the mood). Then both kids HAD. TO. POTTY. NOW. Cullen was still having intermittent issues with his tummy, so we had him in pull ups as a precaution. Fortunately, he was still asking to go to the potty when he needed to go, so we did not want to discourage that! He had a few “incidents” that evening, so we were glad that he had pull ups. At this point, we felt that his tummy was probably upset because he was eating a lot of unfamiliar foods (like corn dog nuggets) and too much apple juice (he has very little juice at home, but apple juice is a convenient kid beverage in the parks).

Meanwhile, I decided to bail on the line and had been texting Gabe to find out what was going on. I didn’t hear from him for a while since he was trying to juggle both kids and their potty issues. So, um, Gabe wasn’t in the best of moods by the time we met up…and he was getting hungry because he had no interest in eating corn dog nuggets (or a hot dog). Things were not going very well at this point, and the party was a bit of a disappointment to everyone! We were not in the magical, happy moods that we had when we arrived. Realizing it wasn’t worth it to see the dwarfs was disappointing for me for sure.

I knew that Gabe wanted to do Pirates of the Caribbean, though the kids weren’t convinced. I also knew that Gabe was not having a great time, so I figured we should do something fun. The kids were dressed as pirates, so they should ride the ride, right? Just before we went in, the adults got light-up pumpkin necklaces and the kids got light-up “spinny Minnies.”

The kids didn’t enjoy that one at all. The Jake and the Neverland Pirates cartoon and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride are NOT AT ALL ALIKE. I mean I knew this, but I hadn’t ridden the ride since I was a kid. It’s dark and a little scary as these pirates are more “real” and “mean.” Cullen wanted me to hold his ears the whole time. Spinny Minnie helped a little bit through the scary parts. Maddie said, “I don’t ever want to do it again. I didn’t like that one bit.” Cullen was fascinated by the pirate cast members in the gift shop on the way out, but otherwise, the kids did not care for the pirate ride!

Earl and Michelle headed to ride Jungle Cruise, and we hit another disappointment as it was not open for the evening. Things just were not going as planned!!! Gabe and I headed to find a spot for the 8:15pm parade. On the way, we caught the 7:45pm Villains Mix & Mingle. That is a fun show, and it started to perk us up a little. We didn’t do the Mix and Mingle part of the show (it was far too crowded to even tell what was going on with the meet and greet portion), but the dancing villains part of the show is cool. They have a choreographed show and pyrotechnics and castle lighting. It’s certainly worth seeing, and they perform several times throughout the party.

Maddie loved the show and sat on my shoulders to get a better view. Cullen wanted Daddy to hold his ears the whole time since he was nervous about fireworks. He wasn’t as interested in the show as Maddie and seemed scared about the pyrotechnics. Between the villains show and the parade, we had a bit of trouble communicating and locating everyone. I don’t know how people managed before cell phones! We finally managed to get everyone together, and we had a fairly decent spot for the parade. We had grabbed popcorn for the kids, and Gabe went to get corn dog nuggets (much to his disappointment) for us since there weren’t many convenient options. The villains show had not quite made up enough for our somewhat grumpy mood.

Next up…the Boo to You parade!

The Sunday Somethings, 04nov12

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Something that makes me happy: Pajama days. We finally got one today.

Something I’m hoping: I hope to get some Disney posts written this week. I did finally get the photopass CD, but I haven’t had a chance to sort through those.

Something I’m reading: I started and finished The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh for February’s book club. I got it from the library, so I went ahead and read it. Hopefully, I can remember enough about it when we discuss it! The book wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, and I ended up liking it much more than I anticipated!

Something Gabe is reading: The Blinding Knife

Something I’m watching: I went to see a local production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I really enjoyed it and remember reading the book when I was a kid.

Something I’m playing: I played Pengaloo with Cullen. We haven’t played much else, though we play some Ticket to Ride Europe here and there on the iPhone. We’ve also been playing a “game” called “good/bad” at the dinner table each evening. Each of us says something good and something bad about our day. It’s a good time to share positive things, but it’s also a good time to talk about the things that are bothering us. It’s gone well so far, though Cullen seems to want to say the same thing each day.

Something I’m creating: I’ve been sorting through pictures from Halloween and Disney as well as some other photos in the past couple of months. Too. Many. Photos.

Something tasty: I can’t stop eating Halloween candy.

Something about both kiddos: They had a great time on Halloween. We had pumpkin waffles for dinner and then got dressed up to get photos and hit the neighborhood. We went to maybe a dozen houses and headed back home (which was PLENTY for them). They sorted through their candy, selected one piece to eat for that night, and decided which pieces to keep and which to give to the “Halloween Witch.” They were allowed to keep their 10 favorites, and the witch took the rest and left them a little Lego kit. They were excited.

Something Maddie is doing (4.5 years old): She hasn’t been wanting to go to school this week (well, except for the day where she could have CANDY by going to school). She was very happy in the “Fall Parade” at school, despite it being a rather cold morning. Last year, it was cold and she looked like she was having a miserable time. It was nice to see her smiling and waving and happy to see us in the crowd this year. She is great with her Lego kits. She put her new one together fairly quickly by herself. I’m enjoying the Lego phase and hope it lasts a while! Last night, for the time change, Maddie had a bonus hour of puking. Poor thing threw up everything she had while we took care of her and searched on Dr. Google to see if we had an emergency. She has acted fine all day, and we’ve been careful about what we’re feeding her. She continues to make progress in rollerblading, but she is still timid and claims that she doesn’t like it. She will like it more as she improves and gains confidence.

Something Cullen is doing (2.5 years old): I don’t think that Cullen has really had any accidents this week! It’s a miracle! He has had some naptime accidents, but otherwise he’s been doing awesome. He still wears the pull ups at night, and his pull ups are not dry in the morning. Cullen has been sleeping with a bunch of stuffed animals lately. He chooses all the Minnie Mouses that he can find plus any other “girl” buddies. Daisy, Nala (from The Lion King), and Maddie’s purple fish Lila have been making appearances. He usually kisses several of them good night. During the day, he’ll sometimes snuggle with one of the buddies and lean down and kiss them at random. It’s so sweet. Cullen refused to participate in his soccer lesson this week. We’re not sure why he didn’t feel up to it as he’s usually very excited about it.

Something I am struggling with: See above, something tasty.

Something I learned: I went to the Magnet fair for our county. It was overwhelming, but I talked to a lot of teachers and administrators. I’m looking forward to touring the schools that we are considering.

Something I’m looking forward to: Lunch with a friend, dinner and games with friends, and games night. Yay!