Monday, November 26, 2012


This year we had a really fun Halloween.  Not only because the girls planned and plotted their outfits, and candy was anticipated and purchased, and the house was made more spooky each day by the decorations we put up, but that my parents and Jeff's mom were coming to town and wanted to surprise the girls, and thought that a Halloween "trick" would be just the thing.  I thought it was a pretty funny idea, and it took some maneuvering, but it worked.  

Last Halloween was fun too, and it was never blogged.  And what a difference a year makes!  This year the girls look so much older, and I can't believe how big Emma has grown.  Before I get to this Halloween, I wanted to post some pictures from last Halloween too:

 One of my favorite pictures from last year.  We are lucky to have a farm nearby our house that do hayrides and a small pumpkin patch in the fall.  Emma is so dang cute!  Why can't she be that little again?  :(
 The cuties on the hayride.

 We went to our ward's trunk-or-treat and chili cook-off, but the line was just too long for chili, and we knew we'd never get any, and we were starving.  So we ditched the party and got chinese food with our friends the Biglers.  They are such good friends and have the sweetest kids and luckily they all get along.

The girls last year showing their pumpkins that they (we ) carved.

 It seems that every Halloween I try to make some sort of Halloween food.  I remember when we lived in Baltimore when the girls were really little and I made shepherd's pie and sculpted the mashed potatoes as ghosts.  I've made "Mummy Dogs" with hot dogs (which the girls loved) and "fingers" with string cheese and slivered almonds.  Last year I had a recipe that I've held onto from my friend Melanie for many years and finally decided to make it.  Soup in a pumpkin was good, but I probably won't make it again.  It didn't seem to cook the vegetables very well and they were still  kind of crunchy.  But it was a good experiment and a good memory!

 This was Maddie's costume as a one-year-old and Emma wore it last year.  I love it so much, especially the hat.  Cutest.butterfly.ever.

 My goal for Halloween last year was to not spend any money on costumes.  And I didn't!  Maddie wanted to be a black cat for the second year in a row, and couldn't be talked out of, and Camie was talked INTO being a chinese girl after her Grandma Sullivan gave her this outfit.  It was supposed to be a nightgown, but I knew it would never get used as such, so she was a perfect China girl.  Camie was a good sport about it.

I thought Jeff would be great as a Polynesian since we just visited Hawaii that July.

Fast-forward a year to Halloween 2012.  This picture is kind of groty, but it depicts pumpkin carving at it's best.  Jeff did them all this year and the girls just played and watched from the backyard.  We always say that we want to not carve pumpkins until the girls are old enough to do it themselves, but then we always give in.  It's not Halloween unless you have a jack-o-lantern or two (or three!)

 The grandparents were scheduled to come into town for Camie's baptism at the beginning of November and thought it would be fun to come for Halloween and surprise them by "trick-or-treating" in costume (it was my mom's idea :)  Maddie was confused when my mom and dad showed up at the door, and then we all laughed when we discovered who it was.  It was so cute for my parents who had been traveling all day to do something like this for the girls.

Maddie wanted to be a "good witch"; Emma had this cute hand-me-down costume from her cousin Claire and loved being a "lalybug" and Camie wanted to be a vampire.  It was so cute this year because Emma really "got" trick-or-treating and would walk right up to the house with her sisters and say "trick-or-treat!" and "thank you!"  Everyone was saying how cute she was.  She also loved giving out candy.  When she was done going around the neighborhood, she loved opening our door and doling out the candy.  She was very possessive of her duty!  We love our neighborhood so much because of all the kids.  My dad joked that it was like the neighborhood in E.T. with the throngs of kids on the streets.  I'm excited to see what Halloween memories we will make next year!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth!

I moved to Utah when I was 9 years old.  I quickly learned that Utahns mainly go to three places on vacation:  Lake Powell, Hawaii, and Disneyland.  Growing up, I felt very deprived because I had never gone to any of them.  My dad would always "promise" to take us to Disneyland, and then it would never pan out.  The ONE time I actually made it to a hotel in Anaheim when I was about 19 years old,  planning to go to Disneyland with my family and extended family.   I came down with a dose of the flu, and my mom stayed behind with me in the room while my dad took my sister Katie.  She was sweet and brought me back a big Mickey doll because I missed it.

Fast-forward a few years to January of 2002 and I was turning 25.  I had just married Jeff the May before, and he was graduating from the University of Utah.  I lamented that I had never gone to Disneyland as a child, and as a birthday/graduation present, we decided to go.  We went in February.  My cousin A.J. and her family always went to Disneyland.  She would tell me, "Ka, it's the Happiest Place on Earth!"  I didn't believe her; I was a skeptic.  It was probably the Happiest Place for her because she had fond memories of always going there as a kid.

I ate my words.  

I remember walking down Disneyland with Jeff, as a 25-year-old adult, and wanting to skip.  It really WAS the Happiest Place on Earth!  There were no crowds when we were there.  We walked onto every ride.  Everyone was helpful, happy and trusting.  It was clean, and everyone was in a good mood.  My skepticism melted away.

When Camie and Maddie were 4 and 2, we surprised them with a trip to Disney World.  We were determined that our kids would not be adults when they first went to Disney.  Although Maddie was 2, she still remembers it.  When we found out we were going to San Diego this past July, we decided that our whole family would finally go to Disneyland together.  We didn't tell the girls, because we knew they wouldn't sleep for weeks.  But they would ask us, "isn't Disneyland close to San Diego?" hinting that they'd want to go there.  We secretly bought them Mickey and Minnie t-shirts, and packed their ears in our suitcases.  The morning of, we woke them up early wearing their Mickey hats.  "Wake up!" we said.  "We're going to go see Mickey today!"  They were so excited!  This is them right before we left:

We met my mom, dad, sister, and her two kids in the park.  We didn't tell our kids they were coming.  They hadn't seen their grandparents for months.  When I saw my mom, I told the girls, "Look over there!  Who is that?"  "Grandmaaaa!!!!" they said.  They ran down Main Street into her open arms.  She greeted them with a huge hug and it was one of the best moments ever.

 (Camie and Maddie at the entrance of Cinderella's Castle)

 (Emma wearing her Mickey ears we bought her.  I guess this is a preview of the stroller-nap that was to come on one of the longest days of Emma's life!)

 (Can you just see the joy on my mom's face?  She is so excited to see her grandkids and to actually take all her kids and grandkids to Disneyland!)

 (A picture of us with my sister Katie and her daughter Claire.  We were so excited to be there together!  I think Emma is done with this shot, don't you?)

We decided to hit the Peter Pan ride first, since all the blogs we read said it was the most popular.  It was so cute, and so perfect to start the day with.  It was not scary, and the kids loved it.  We then moved onto the good little kid rides:  the carousel, Dumbo, the teacups, etc.  We stopped at the Town Hall on Main Street to get the girls badges that said, "My first time at Disneyland" but they were all out of them.  Instead, they gave the girls "Happy Birthday" badges.  All the Disneyland workers were saying "Happy Birthday Maddie!" all day.  It was so funny because it wasn't their birthdays, but they were getting special attention I guess!

 Emma's first carousel ride

 Dumbo with Camie

 The Teacups!  Jeff opted to not go on this ride.  He calls it "a headache factory."

 This little boy was such a trooper all day.  He was only six months old, and did so well.  

 Taking a break from the lines and heat on the train that goes around the park.

 I love how my mom has photos with my kids on all sorts of trains.  I love the ones of her and the two older girls on the Strasbourg Railroad in Pennsylvania.  Now it's Emma's turn.

WARNING:   These next few photos might seem gratuitous, but it was quite possibly one of the sweetest and cutest moments I have ever witnessed.  

We decided to go to Mickey's house and look around.  We debated on waiting in line to meet Mickey Mouse.  The line was quite long, but we opted for it.  And I'm so glad we did.  Because Emma met one of her favorite "people" and still talks about it to this day.  

Emma about to meet him.

 She had to wait for cousin Claire to go first.  She couldn't stand it!

 "Hurry up Claire!" And as Mickey says, "Give me four!"

 She could not stop smiling and laughing.  She wanted to touch his nose, his ears, everything.

 Could you die???

 I joked with Jeff later, "Aww, Emma loved Mickey!  Or should I say, Emma loved that little Asaian girl in the Mickey suit!"

 For Camie and Maddie, not so much a big deal.

 Camie almost looks annoyed asking Mickey to sign her book!

 This cousin shot is killing me!

 Maddie really wanted to meet Minnie.  Her line was pretty long too.  I tried to talk her out of it and said, "But Maddie, that line is really long."  "No problem," she said, "We're going to be here all day!"  I laughed and then realized, Why am I trying to deny her of something she really Disneyland?  Let her have it!  Emma had a melt-down waiting in line.  She was over-tired and needed a nap.  I spent a very long half  hour or so walking her in her stroller trying to get her to go to sleep.  I even "bird-caged" her as Katie says, and put the blanket over the stroller so she couldn't see.  It finally worked, and she fell asleep, and was good the whole rest of the day.

 After a very yummy lunch of the famous Disneyland corn dogs, we sat and and waited for the parade.  We had great seats, but they were in the sun.  We suffered through it and made the best of it.  It was a great parade!

 (I loved the costumes).

 How could these girls not die of heat exhaustion wearing these?

 After a long day, we had dinner at the French Market restaurant.  Surprisingly, the food was pretty good, and it was so nice to sit down in the shade and cool and rest.

We were in for it going to Disneyland at peak season.  Our Aunt Robyn said that they are "Disneyland snobs, that they only go off-season."  We don't have that luxury!  The weather was sunny and not too hot, but standing outside made it really hot.  Thankfully, Katie had a friend with an eye condition similar to Claire's and told her a good tip.  Katie was able to get a handicapped pass for the lines, and we were able to use it.  So it was able to cut down on our waiting time by quite a lot.  This is the line for Star Tours.  Camie looks thrilled!  Most of the rides the girls were reluctant to tell us what they really thought, until days or weeks later.  I think they were a little scared on this ride, but they remembered it!  And my parents drug Camie, Maddie and Claire onto Thunder Mountain Railroad.  They were pretty shaken up about it, and didn't want to go on any more rides that seemed somewhat scary the entire day!  Now I know why my dad was so mad taking me to Amusement Parks as a kid!  All that money to get in and you hardly ride anything!

 Simon misplaced his hat so Katie got him this hat that said "Not large but in charge."  Ain't that the truth!

Camie and Maddie hardly wanted to go on any rides.   Instead, they had fun just hanging out at the park.  Here they are in Tinkerbell's garden with Claire.

 It really is ridiculous how about 85-90% of the rides of some element of fear or darkness or something that pops out at you.  There were very few that wouldn't have scared the girls to death.  Luckily, "It's a Small World" is not one of those.  We loved taking a break and relaxing in the cool shade and looking at all the dancing dolls of this old ride.

(This look of wonder on Emma's face is why we take our children here.)

The quality of this picture is not good because it is a picture of a phone picture of a picture, but you get the gist.  Katie talked Claire into going on Splash Mountain at the end of the day and this is the picture they took of us that you could buy.  I love that I am more scared than my 4-year-old niece!  I sure love that ride though.

As Katie said, there really is a small window of time when you can take your kids to Disney and they experience that wonder.  They love everything, and they really think the characters really are them.  For Emma, that window is opening, and will probably stay open for another 2-3 years.  For Camie and Maddie, that window is closing.  But I'm so grateful we've been able to take our girls during that window of time.  It was so nice to finally go with my mom and dad and sister too.  Our favorite times of the day were getting Churros and Dole Whips (sooo good!) laughing, screaming, and spending time together.  It was so fun and I can't wait to go back!  Hopefully before Camie is 25!