Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 3 parks

Well we started the day knowing that we bought park tickets with an extra morning hour that we could use and Saturday was going to be the only day we could use it.  That meant getting up and out the door a little earlier than usual.  We made it to the gates at 7:30, so we got a half hour start on everyone.  It was drizzling, and I let Russ take the kids to go on some early rides while I took the passes to get a fastpass for Radiator Springs Racers.  One of the big bonuses to being in nearby parks!  We had our only character dining reservation that day at 2:50 in the California Adventures Park, so we could spend most of the day at Disneyland making sure we got all the rides in we wanted.  I also wanted to check out the Jamboree where they had a place to meet a Villain.  Russ and the kids went on another round of Star Tours and the Nemo Submarine ride that always gets packed.  I met up with the family at Pixie Hollow where the kids got to meet Periwinkle (the new Disney Fairy that turns out to be Tinkerbelle's sister) and then Tink herself. 

I had wanted to go on the Alice and Wonderland ride because there wasn't one in Disney World, but the ride was down for the morning.  So we ventured over to its a Small World and grabbed some popcorn on the go.  That ride was working, so we went on it.  It goes part of the ride outside, and seemed to be a longer ride than Disney World.  It seemed like they tried to put at least one Disney or Pixar Character in each theme which was cool.  So the only other ride I wanted the kids to try was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad coaster.  Gwen was tall enough, and I knew there weren't any big dips for her.  I didn't remember there being any dark tunnels for Trevor's fear, but apparently there were too many for him.  So Gwen loved it and Trevor hated it.  I wonder if it was after too many days of not enough sleep for him that he was just tired of being apprehensive about going on a new ride.  If that was the first ride we went on, I don't think he would have cared as much. 

So then we went up to the Jamboree that they put on during the Halloween season.  They had a band, people carving pumpkins, special food, arts and crafts, and a Villian conjuring station.  They take a group into a tent, cast a spell and a villian comes out you can get your picture taken with and talk to.  So we did that, and the first time it was Cruella De Ville.  She was AWESOME.  She was so interactive, snotty, and exactly like the character in the movie.  But she wasn't mean at all.  She asked Gwen what her favorite color was, and she said purple, to which Cruella said, "well, that makes one of us."  She also asked her what her favorite animal was, and Gwen said a cat, and Cruella said that she loves dogs.  If Gwen happened to see Pluto, tell him that Cruella is looking for him.  Gwen laughed at that and will laugh and tell anyone that asks about it.  Then they kind of put on a fashion photography session.  Cruella had Gwen get into her coat, and then the picture was taken when she opened the coat.  Trevor got his own time with her, and she asked him to show her some of his model poses.  That's the pictures that we got.  Trevor had to strike a bunch of poses, and Cruella evaluated them...most of the time saying that they were really good poses.  When she signed his book, she signed it on the first page, because she knew he saved that spot just for her, the most important person. 

I took Gwen over to try to get some time with Rapunzel, but the wait was 90 minutes.  So she settled for the Merry go round and a walk through Sleeping Beauty's castle.  They had a story to see about Sleeping Beauty.  So we decided to go back to see another villain.  Russ wanted to try to get on Space Mountain, but the fastpass was already past 8:00.  Our villain this time was the Queen from Snow White.  Gwen was the one that got to wave the magic wand to conjure her, so she was pretty psyched.  Unfortunately, this one wasn't as interactive.  Just kind of quiet and thinking she was the best thing ever.  So we did get her autograph and picture and met the boys outside the park to head over to California Adventures. 

They stopped in for ice cream to tide them over until the 2:50 lunch/dinner meal.  I went and got fastpasses for Trevor's favorite rollercoaster - California Screamin.  We rode on Radiator Springs Racers, and luckily got the other track so this time we got Luigi's tire shop and changed tires instead of Ramone's to change the paint job.  We didn't get a racing partner, so we still "won" and got a picture with my bangs in my face, but Gwen was still completely blocked from the picture.  We knew that the last day at the park meant to get a gift for each of the kids.  Trevor looked all over the Radiator Springs gift shops to see if he could find a prized Miguel Cabraro (I think that's his name) racecar from Cars 2 movie.  Unfortunately, there wasn't one that they could find.  So I found a reference book...all about the diecast cars.  I believe the cover boasted something like over 300 diecast cars listed.  Immediately Trevor was sucked in.  He learned about the cars he had and cars he didn't have yet.  It probably was somewhere right at his level for I don't know that it will stand the test of time, but for now, it had his interest. 

We decided to head across the street to go on Mater's junkyard jamboree one last time.  Trevor read his book the entire ride wait time.  He pointed out to me facts like "Jeff Gordon was the voice of Jeff Gorvette in the movie!" and how many Mater cars he doesn't have yet. 

That reminds me...I did miss one event on our first park day.  Before we went on Radiator Springs Racers for the first time, we ate at the real Flo's V-8 Cafe.  They served diner food.  I had beef with gravy, mashed potatoes, grilled corn and pasta salad.  I was worried that Gwen wouldn't eat anything, but she had her beef, bun, and fruit.  Trevor wasn't too thrilled with the meat...but I thought he would be.  I got a cute picture of Gwen in front of the cafe.  Another one of those things they really got just like the movie. back to day 3....we had yet to go on the Ariel Undersea adventure ride.  Gwen enjoyed was very Peter Pan or other storybook rides Disney does.  Since we were right there, we headed over to our lunch/dinner place.  We were a few minutes early, but nothing we couldn't wait a few minutes for.  First up was to get our picture taken with Ariel.  Then get our 3 course meal....antipasta, salad, main meal, and dessert.  Gwen got spaghetti and meatballs and Trevor ate Russ's fish while Russ ate some of his side dishes and some of Trevor's spaghetti.  I got more meat and gravy....yummy.....and dessert was great too.  Cookies, white chocolate, flourless chocolate cake, 4 different kinds of cupcakes and fruit.  During the meal, our princesses came out to visit:  Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. 

After the lunch/dinner the boys went to go on the roller coaster their last two times.  I took Gwen on the Ariel ride again.  Outside was the Phinneas and Ferb dance party that we saw the first park day.  She joined right in to dance again.  Then we walked over to meet the guys again over by the front of the park.  We missed a different dance party that I know Gwen would have enjoyed, but I never saw it advertised anywhere, so I'm wondering if it was super secret or something.  Instead we decided to do the Monster's Inc ride again.  This time, at the end, the Roz talked to Gwen.  She said, "Hey girl in the second row, I like your hair!"  Gwen still had her hair done up with the black Jasmine hair extensions.  And of course, just like the Mr. Potato Head a few days ago, she was just shocked that the character could see and talk to her! 

I checked my phone to see that Alice In Wonderland had a 30 minute wait (at least it was operating) so we decided to trek one more time over to the other park.  We waited in line, went on the ride and then knew it was close to the end.  I believe it was close to 5:30 or so.  I had asked if Gwen wanted me to run over to the Haunted Mansion to pick out a Sally shirt for her but then I knew I wouldn't be able to pick out what she would like.  Two shops later, her choice was a soft Sally doll, similar to her soft princess dolls she takes to sleep with her.  She LOVED that thing.  I'm glad she was able to get something she too would like and remember the trip by.  She also had a new Jasmine costume from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, so she wasn't just leaving with Sally.  Disneyland was very packed at this time, the busiest by far we had seen since we had been there.  I'm so glad we got to the parks when it was significantly less crowded.  I was also seeing a lot of groups that day at the parks.  I bet a lot of locals go during the weekend. 

So we were back to the hotel, although it was already getting dark...we needed a little bit of food which we ordered from the hotel restaurant, and started packing.  Our flight was 8am on Sunday, so we packed as much as we could, got up at 6, on the road by 6:30 and made it through security by 7:15.  Flight back was uneventful and most of Sunday was spent organizing and cleaning up, ready for school on Monday. 

And with that...our trip to California was over.  Russ stayed back to do laundry, get a nap in and go back to work on Monday in San Diego.  In looking back, I think both Russ and I were surprised at how neat it was.  We had both been to Disneyland before, but it had been about 20 years ago.  Especially since we knew Disney World really well, I don't think either of us were expecting much.  It was nice to be able to visit Carsland while Trevor hasn't hit his teenage years yet.  But everything on top of that was spectacular.  We have even mentioned, maybe we could do that again sometime.  It was so convenient to be able to park hop...and completely unrealistic at Disney World.  Rides - they were both really equal.  The Land doesn't have Epcot and its rides...except the family's favorite ride - Test Track has been transformed into Radiator Springs Racers....better than Epcot, in our opinion.  The Pirates ride was better in the Land.  We got to experience the changes that they do at Halloween, decorations and rides.  I will say the one big difference they don't have is all the different food options.  If you want to eat at the World, you have at least 100 options.  I'm pretty sure you have half that at the Land.  Epcot has so many different cuisine options, not to mention the other parks.  That was my biggest challenge.  I was glad to make a reservation at the princess dining place, but the other ones, I wasn't sure.  "Next time"...if there ever is one....I want to eat at the Blue Bayou.  The smells were sooo good riding on Pirates.  I would love to stay at a hotel that really was within walking distance.  We were able to stay at our hotel completely on points, but it wasn't within true walking distance.  It was probably a half a mile away...which wasn't too bad, but I knew coming back at night wouldn't be fun to carry Gwen that far. 

And next is finishing up all those pictures....that may take a while.....   

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Disneyland Day 2 - Our Halloween

I learned that because this was a Friday, the parks opened an hour earlier and even an hour before that was extra magic morning hour at California Adventure for hotel guests.  We were there on Thursday at 8:30 before the park opened, and we made it just a little after 8:00 to Disneyland for the day.  I brought our costumes in the car, in case we weren't going to go back to the hotel to change, but that was the goal.  To get a little rest before our "Mickey's Halloween Party" started at 7:00.  That was when the park closed to guests not having a party ticket.  They were sold out for the evening, so we expected a crowd. 

But first, I sent the boys to get a fast pass for is a car ride around a track, like the old time cars at Valleyfair, or the similar ones at Disney World.  Gwen and I went to look at Sleeping Beauty's castle and get her picture taken in front of it.  Then we went over to meet Merida (from the movie Brave).  She was about to open for the day, so we were one of the first ones to get her picture.  Afterwards, we went right next door to meet 3 of the princesses.  Gwen saw Ariel, Belle, and Tiana.  Trevor wasn't all that interested.  We met back up with the boys in time to go to Toontown.  I had had the kids watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit a few weeks ago so they knew what it was about.  We rode Roger Rabbits ride, with Trevor complaining the whole time.  He didn't like how dark and unsure of what was going to be around the corner.  It wasn't exactly like a pooh ride, but I wouldn't say it was scary either.  Just one of those things you could scare yourself about if you were 8.  Gwen had a good time though.  Outside, they had a bunch of characters....goofy, pluto, and Mickey and Minnie in their houses.  They also had a bunch of gags...Trevor found the TNT lever that blew up the house only 25% of the time.  The other time it made funny noises.  He had a good time finding all the funny things that happen when you push buttons or pull door handles or such.  It was outside, in the sun, so he didn't mind.  Then he would try to gag someone else with it.  There was one roller-coaster ride, and we all went on it, but Trevor wasn't even kind-of impressed.  Gwen loved it.  It was for younger kids.  So we moved on.

We had an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for 11:30, but it was only 10:30 so I figured first thing was to eat.  We found someplace where Russ could get a breakfast burrito, I got some eggs, bacon, and breakfast potatoes, Gwen got fruit, and Trevor got french toast.  While watching the cool Jedi Training Academy, we ate, and Trevor explained, he's already a Jedi Knight, so he didn't want to essentially be demoted to Padawan again.  Fine by me!  After eating, we used the fastpasses for the Autopia since we were nearby and I took Gwen over to the BBB to pick out her outfit.  I admit, in Florida, I picked out her hairstyle and dress since I knew I could buy it cheaper at the Disney Store and bring it with to the appointment, but I figured she had some time to think about which princess she wanted to be, and while she is going to be Merida from the movie Brave for Halloween, the dress was too warm to wear all day, so she got to pick out a new princess outfit.  Of course she picked out the skimpy Jasmine outfit.  I figured, she is 5, I'll let her win this one, but if she pulls it at 13, I'm hoping Russ won't allow her out the door.  She also picked her hairstyle, which included black hair extensions, called "pop diva princess".  Good grief...there went my cute little toddler.  I asked Trevor if he wanted to do his knight makeover again, and he was all for it, because that meant getting another sword and shield to play with.  A big difference between this BBB and the one in Florida is the space, the "reveal" and the photo studio.  Much better than in Florida.  When you are done, they have birds that pull the curtains always over the mirror while your makeover is happening.  It makes it much more dramatic.  Then the photo studio has fake animals, and a coach for the princesses to ride in.  Pretty cool set-up.  So now that that was done, Gwen was set for her Halloween costume for the evening.

We decided to make our way across the park to Pirates of the Caribbean.  The way they built the ride, you sail in and around their restaurant where the smells are wonderful.  I believe it was the Blue Bayou restaurant.  It wasn't the same ride as Disney World and I liked the little changes.  It seemed to be longer as well.  Since we were right nearby, we decided to head to the Haunted Mansion.  Disneyland changes this for Halloween through Christmas to put it into the theme of Nightmare Before Christmas.  I borrowed the movie from Netflix because I wasn't sure what the kids would think of it.  I had never seen it before.  I was amazed that they loved it.  I thought it was ok.  I have boycotted Tim Burton films because I thought they were too dark.  I had stayed away from the Disney movie Ponyo because I didn't think it would be interesting enough for the kids.  I was wrong on both counts.  And when I explained after watching the Nightmare Before Christmas movie, that it was how the Haunted Mansion was decorated for Halloween, both kids were excited to go on it.  It wasn't perfectly harmless, in that there were a few dark and jump-out parts, but I rode with Trevor, and he remembered where they were so he "shielded" his eyes (with his shield...har har).  It was significantly less scary.  Both kids wanted to go on it again, but we didn't have time.  We decided to take an hour break back at the hotel to get in our costumes and take a little down time before coming back to the park for the Halloween Party. 

So we got checked in to the party with our magic wristbands and headed for a ride on Star Tours since we had fast passes.  We were a little early since the party started at 7pm.  After the Star Tours ride, we used the map that had all the treat stations out.  Trevor was set on hitting as many of them as possible.  I brought the gang up to where I thought we could meet the villains, but it turns out they were only there during the daytime. facts were goofed up.  So we hit some treat stations then saw that Dumbo's ride and Pinocchio's ride had almost no wait.  Trevor hated Pinocchio's ride because it was too dark and scary but was ok with Dumbo.  At least we got those off of the to-do list.  Dumbo's ride was down when we were in Florida.  The kids said they wanted to do the Haunted Mansion again, so we started making our way over there, but still hitting the treat stations as we walked.  Russ made it to the meet-and-greet with Jack Skellington (main character of Nightmare Before Christmas) and called me to see if we wanted him to stand in line.  The kids said a loud:  YES, since they didn't get their picture with him before.  We went through two treat lines before meeting up with Russ, and the line didn't move much.  45 minutes later (the longest we had to wait in line all weekend) we made it to Jack.  After the kids got his autograph, suddenly, his girlfriend Sally appeared.  Gwen was in HEAVEN.  She LOVED Sally from the movie, and got her autograph.  After a few pictures, we asked if Jack wouldn't mind moving out of the picture, to which he said that his feelings were hurt.  But he did it.  I cannot tell you how much that picture and meeting with Sally made Gwen's whole trip. 

We only ended up spending 2 1/2 hours at the party, but it was really neat to see all the decorations, and to get a better feel for what it is like....if we ever do something like this again.  Pictures of the day included:  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, family picture in front of the Mickey Pumpkin with our costumes, Tianna, Belle, Ariel, Merida, Jack, and Sally.  There were fireworks going on when we left, but they really aren't the kids' thing.  They needed sleep, and wanted to sort their candy....They got so much that we had to say they could carry two kinds of their favorites home, but the rest had to stay in California.  I have to say, after this "Halloween" at Disney, I never thought I would enjoy a Halloween celebration like I did when I was a kid.  But again, Disney surprised me.  I LOVE how Disney does Halloween! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

A truely magical MEA break Day 1

Well who could pass up an opportunity like this.  Russ was traveling to southern California, home of Disneyland.  I could get my ticket paid for by Russ's job since he wouldn't be flying back home for the weekend.  Russ could comp both kids tickets on miles and our hotel would also be used on points.  We had a large amount already saved up from Disney Rewards Dollars even though we used a lot on our trip out to Disney World this year.  The kids were off Wednesday through Friday instead of just Thursday and Friday for MEA break.  So except for the park tickets, this would be a low cost Disney trip. 

I was a bit nervous to travel with the kids by myself, and our seats weren't all in the same row.  Trevor sat in the middle seat in front of us.  When asked though, Trevor preferred to be away from me.  HA...guess that's a test of his independence.  I was slightly worried about how much he would chat up his neighbors...and yes, he did to a business guy on the aisle, but he seemed very understanding and helpful.  Trevor for the most part just wanted to play his Nintendo DS.  Gwen was entertained by coloring, reading, and chatting with the teenage girls behind her.  They passed notes and drawings and candy through the seats.  Gwen loved it. 

We got in right on time, and because Russ checked a bag free, we didn't check any bags.  We got to the hotel around 5:30 and were in the outdoor pool by 6:00 California time.  It was a good way to burn off some energy.  I figured it wouldn't work all that well because we were not going back home to Minnesota until Sunday and that wouldn't give us time to re-adjust.  So the kids fell asleep between 8 and 9 but were up right at 6am all three mornings.  I tried to do a quick breakfast of cereal in the room and off we went to the parks.  We decided to drive and park with a rental car.  We were close enough to walk, but to walk home at night was going to be draining.  I learned where the real walking hotels are. 

We got to the parks before they opened at 9 (M-Thursday non-summer hours).  We were let in at 8:30 so I could get our photopass card to have the photographers scan when we took pictures.  Russ stood in line for the Radiator Springs Racers fastpass.  When the park opened and he got through that line, he went over to get a show pass for World of Color that night at 8:15pm.  I had a loose plan for the rides we should go on and when and we headed over to Carsland to take that all in.  It was awesome!  They have two less popular rides, one like bumper cars but on air called Luigi's flying tires and a spinner ride called Mater's Junkyard.  Next we headed to do Toy Story Mania which is identical to the ride at Disney World, but still a fun one for the kids.  Then we did Mickey's Fun Wheel where you can choose to sit in a stationary Ferris wheel car, or they have spinning carts that swing in a loop depending on where you are on the wheel.  Gwen was a bit freaked out at first, but ended up going on in a few times.  Trevor was a bit nervous at seeing the big Roller Coaster there, but when we got fast passes, he decided to give it a shot.  It starts out by slinging you up a hill...I think it gets you going from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds or something....and then runs you around and you do one loop upside down.  Thankfully it is all outside and no tunnels to throw scary thoughts into your head.  I went on it with Trevor first (it was the only ride Gwen wasn't tall enough to ride on) and he was hooked.  Especially since we got fastpasses for 4 rides instead of just 2.  Then he could go on it saved him 30 minutes of waiting in line every time. 

I have a phone app that was able to give me ride wait times, and this new Cars ride is so popular that waits averaged 120 minutes while we were at the parks.  The other thing that was extremely helpful was that it was also a ride that would shut down due to animatronics issues.  So I could see when it closed.  Even though our fastpass window was for somewhere around 1:00, we didn't have to stay within the 1 hour window.  As long as we waited until the start of the window, we could go on the ride anytime later that day.  We decided it was time, and waited around 30 minutes even in the fastpass line.  The kids favorite ride at Disneyworld was Test Track, where you are in a car "testing" out car things like wheel traction, heat and cooling, suspension...etc.  Well, this is similar except they put it all in Cars theme.  You leisurely drive through Radiator Springs just like Sally and LMQ do in the movie...same music in the background.  You suprisingly come across you do in Test Track to a honking Semi.  You go into either Luigi's to get a tire change or Ramone's to get a paint job. race.  You quickly go through the track against another car.  The first time we went, we "won" which I'm pretty sure Trevor was thrilled about.  He said he wasn't thrilled that they used their tactics to "scare" you with Mack and Frank the Tractor but I always like how Disney does things extra Disney...Test Track really didn't have any Disney characters, and this one was all out Cars.  Maybe next time we should try to do the ride at night, if we go back during a time it gets dark earlier. 

So after RSR (Radiator Springs Racers) we went over to nearby Bugs Life rides and area.  It was much more geared towards young kids, so we went on a chew chew train (Heimlich) and looked at the clock and knew it was time to hit the Aladdin show.  They did the Beauty and the Beast show at Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida, but I would say that Aladdin was better.  It was in an enclosed theater, lots of lights, and special effects.  The genie was up-to-date on humor....talking about binders of women and all as well as the length of RSR wait lines.  This was another thing we did that Gwen said was amazing.  After Aladdin, we went on the Monster's Inc. ride and came out to find we were just in time for the Pixar parade.  Russ grabbed some popcorn and we watched it come down the street.  We didn't plan this one, and it ended up being the exact same parade as DHS in Florida.  Its cute, but not necessary if you've seen it once.

We walked over to grab Soarin' fast passes, which is another identical ride found at Epcot, but an enjoyable ride at least for the kids.  The return time started at 7pm so I wasn't sure if everyone was going to make it.  We rode one last ride:  Goofy's flight school which is like the 4 person roller coaster at Valleyfair that Gwen couldn't go on because of her height this summer.  Well, she went on this one and didn't like it.  She wasn't a fan of the drops.  Of course that is one of the best things about a roller coaster...but at least she tried it.  We decided to go to the burger and fries dining place to grab some food before walking back over to see Carsland in the dark...or I should say lit up with its neon.  Really cool...exactly like the movie.  Totally Disney.

So I went down to save a spot for us at the World of Color.  I didn't get a perfect spot, but we were able to get a decent view.  Gwen was exhausted and ready to fall asleep, but the music and animation were enough to keep her awake.  So she made it until 10:30 MN time that night. 

Throughout the day, we had many pictures taken...the kids got their autograph books first thing and got Donald, and Woody signatures.  We have pictures taken from the Carsland sign, Neon'ed Radiator Springs, the ride photo from RSR, with Donald, Lightning McQueen, Flik from Bugs Life, Red from Cars, Woody, Jake, Handy Manny, and the rollercoaster ride California Screamin'.  When we asked Gwen what her favorite part of the day was, she said it was when Mr. Potato Head talked to her.  They had an animated MPH outside of Toy Story Mania.  Somewhere there was a camera to show who was looking or talking to the character.  Soon after Gwen said hi...MPH said to her:  Hi!  Girl in the white!  I see you!  Who is your favorite character?  She said "You Mr. Potato Head".  He says, "aww...thank you.  You are so sweet."  She was amazed that he talked to her.  Gotta love that Disney Magic! 

More to come from days 2 and 3!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gwen's week

I should say, that before the continuation of Gwen's week, we did have a day where we had to give the kids equal treatment.  Gwen's birthday was last Wednesday, and the next Thursday we had the kids' school conferences.  I was a little bit nervous, seeing as how I had hoped that both kids were making a good impression on their teachers this year.  My concern for Gwen was simply that we had made the right choice sending her early.  From what she has told me, she loves it and wants to go all day.  I was hoping that the teacher would feel the same way.  With Trevor, he had a bit of a rough year last year, and I was just hoping this year would be a little bit easier on him.  Similar to Gwen, he was remarking how well he was doing, and I was hoping his teacher would say something similar. 

With both kids, I was blown away.  With Trevor's teacher, she didn't focus on his "issues" simply noted how Trevor was also aware of them and working to minimize those things.  She had wonderful things to say about him and has done a wonderful job of complimenting him on the things he does very well in order to build his self esteem.  With Gwen, her teacher wouldn't have even known that she was young compared to her classmates except that she was telling everyone the day before that she was turning 5.  He had to ask her a time or two to be sure.  She has been conducting herself very well and in line with the other classmates.  He also remarked at how well her class gets along with each other and that it is a really fun class to be a part of.  It was so heartwarming!

So after that meeting, we picked the kids up and told them that we had been planning a trip to DisneyLand!  We had just planned it a few weeks before, but wanted to make sure that they were doing well at school first.  Russ was expecting yelps of joy and utter excitement, but in reality they weren't exactly jumping up and down.  NOT because they were bored with the idea, but kind of like me, they needed time for the information to set in.  That weekend, I got out all of our pin trading that we had done in March, and the kids got PUMPED for that.  I never would have guessed that part would be really exciting, but it was.  Kind of like a little treasure hunt for them.  I got a bunch of pins sold in bulk off of ebay and they picked through them to decide which they were willing to trade and which ones they wanted to keep. 

On Sunday, it was Gwen's family birthday party.  We did have a small recognition for her on Wednesday, with just Russ, Trevor and I to sing Happy Birthday, blow out her candle on a brownie and open her Merida (Brave) costume and big Heartlake City Stables Lego Friends that had over 1000 pieces.  We got her Olivia's house that had over 600 pieces around Easter and she has put that together by herself.  She got about the same distance through the stables before she handed it over to me. 

So Sunday, we had burgers, brats and hot dogs for dinner with french fries and chocolate cake for candles and singing time.  Gwen was PUMPED for her excited that everyone could come, that she got to play with and see both of her cousins....she did want to play party games, which was a little difficult given the age range of the guests...but she did have a windfall of gifts.  More Lego Friends again...I believe she is 2-3 sets away from the entire Heartlake City.  And she got a wonderful Barbie-sized Merida doll and horse that she is able to play with when she wants a little break from her Lego Friends.  We were able to complete all 6 sets within 4 days but now she has in the teens, the number of Lego Friends characters.  It is because we have so many friends, that I cannot throw away the boxes that the sets came in.  She can look at the faces of the characters and know which set they came with, then will look at the box to remember the name.  It is very confusing.  Especially because none of the names are also friends of hers.  It would be easy if their names were Megan, Ellen, Elizabeth, etc.  But they are Stephanie, Sophie, Ella, etc.  Cute names, just hard to remember. 

Rolling right into Monday, we went to her 5 year check-up.  Because we had already gotten her immunizations for Kindergarten, it was a very "boring" check up.  They measured her height at 43.5" and weight at 44lbs.  She's still a square...virtually.  Both her height and weight measured at the 75%.  The doctor told her she won't have to get shots until she is 11, which hopefully she believes him rather than asking me every week if she has to get more. 

And then to round out the week, the kids' school did their drawing for their Fall Fundraiser.  The "big" prize this year is a lunch with Tony Oliva, followed by a ride in a limo to DQ to eat a blizzard and drive around for a bit.  They had a mid-range prize that was given to the top seller in each class, and one drawn student from each class.  I had chosen to put all our purchases with Trevor so he could have more of a chance to be drawn for the drawings, because I figured, Gwen being in Kindergarten and only half-day wouldn't really care a whole lot about the lunch, or even pay that much attention to it.  Found out that Trevor was not the top seller in his class, by about $50, but that he did get drawn for the classroom drawing.  The overall lunch was drawn from the entire school, and Trevor was SUPER excited that he got drawn for the lunch with Tony Oliva.  Would you believe Gwen got drawn too?  Her name was in the bucket one time.  I gave a cash donation in her name so that she could be included in the drawings, but like I said, I wanted Trevor to have more of a chance.  Trevor's name was put in 5 times.  Gwen was put in once.  The entire school drawing, only 5 names were drawn.  I'm pretty sure her odds were around 1 in 750 at least.  That girl has always been crazy lucky.  But I'm very thankful that Trevor was drawn too because I don't know that he would have been very happy had Gwen gotten to go, and he couldn't. 

Regardless....we will be in warm California next week enjoying the company of Mickey and Lightning McQueen.  I can't wait to be warm again!  I know its only been a few weeks but I don't want to have to wait until March before I feel warm again!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Yep, it was that old starting phrase....5 years ago today....I remember where I was.  Strangely not a lot had been going on at this time in the morning.  I had a fast labor.  First contraction at about 11am, born at 3:33pm.  But I remember feeling I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of being pregnant with you.  I had a doctor appointment to see how the pregnancy was going and being a week past my due date I had just about had it.  As with your life, you are your own person with your own ideas of how things should go. 

It has been a great 5 years, and so different than your brother when he was the same age.  Different interests, different friendships, different communication.  This year we started you in Kindergarten, a year earlier than is the norm.  But you were ready.  If you had your way, you'd be in first grade this year.  You love school and all things about it, which is why you would prefer to be staying as long as you can.  You love dance class and all things music.  I think in January we will start you on your own piano lessons.  I know you are ready for that as well, but we need to get through our busy season first.  You love all things girl/woman/princess.  You love getting your nails done (as long as they don't use the clippers!!!), you love having your hair done.  You want to wear as high heeled shoes as possible and have asked me to keep the ones that I wear for you when you are older.  You want to wear make-up and thankfully are ok with chapstick on your lips as a substitute.  You enjoy telling people about all your boyfriends and talk about who you want to marry.  You are accepting of being carted off with me on our many adventures.  Granted, they don't end up being especially exciting adventures, but are accepting of bringing a book and some dolls and making do.  You love to help, whether it is baking, cleaning, or running errands.  If you think there is some way you can help you are all for it.  Yesterday was spent raking leaves and while you liked to jump in them, you were very eager to help put them into bags when it was time.  At age 4, when asked what your favorite subject was, you knew it was reading.  You do have a love for reading already.  You don't get frustrated easily so reading has a lot of joy for you.  You are willing to spell out words so you can keep reading to yourself.  We still have our nighttime reading sessions where I read to you, but other times you are more than willing to read to me or to yourself. 

I feel as though you have grown up so much in these first 5 years.  I cannot wait to see what this next year brings as well as the future years.  You have taught me so much because although you may look a little like me, I have learned how to embrace my inner "princess".  Thank you for being my teacher darling girl!  Have a wonderful birthday with all the fun activities we have planned!