Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Nutcracker

Emily's dance studio did a wonderful production of The Nutcracker!  We loved watching Emily perform in the soldier dance.  She spent many extra hours rehearsing last week and it was worth it! 

I snuck back stage before the performance to get some pictures of her in her costume.  Later, they put cute pink dots on their cheeks.

Pictures, pictures, and more pictures
My dad, my sister Betsy, and Michael's mom were all there for the performance.  Everyone wanted their picture taken with our beautiful star!

Great job, Emily!  You were wonderful!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Fun Week with Papa

Papa was here for over a week, and we had a great time!  Here are some of the highlights:
Christmas piano recital--all five kids!
Here they are with their teacher.  They did a great job!
One of our favorite traditions--decorating Christmas cookies!
All ready for church
Nathaniel was in a car accident recently.  He is OK, but our 2005 Honda Pilot wasn't.  I was very lucky to find this "twin."  The model is the same--the only difference is the color. 
Look at that happy teenager!  No more driving Mom's minivan to school!  Woo hoo!
Out to lunch after a busy day of shopping--Joe's Farm Grill
Emily's band concert.  She plays the flute and is first chair in her class.
Work brunch and gift exchange--so fun!

This past week was especially busy for us.  Emily had so many rehearsals for her Nutcracker performance (more on that next time).  Add in shopping, wrapping, Cub Scouts, etc., and it was a super busy week.  Hopefully we didn't wear Papa out too badly!  We miss you already, Dad!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Halloween 2016

Nathaniel--50s greaser
     (both Nathaniel and Emily made their own costumes)
Andrew--Captain America
Daniel--(black) Spiderman
Christine--Minnie Mouse
Michael--Jake from State Farm (red shirt and khakis)

Here are the boys at our church's Trunk or Treat

I won second place in the pie contest with my chocolate pie!
Ready for Trick or Treating!  Emily went with friends and Nathaniel was stuck doing homework, poor kid. 

Halloween night--look at all the loot!  They even got a few full-size candy bars!

It was a fun Halloween!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

May Miscellaneous--October Edition

Snuggles with cousin Sarah

 Andrew is ready to go on his first Scout campout

Emily got her braces off, October 17

These two look so cute sitting and doing their homework and music theory 

Emily's Evening of Excellence at church

This was the day Andrew babysat for the first time while I took Emily to the orthodontist

Sometimes Andrew practices his piano before school so he has more time to play with friends in the afternoon

Daniel had a great time at the Cub Scout activity.  At the end, the fire truck came and the firemen sprayed water on the boys.  It was really cool and they loved it!

Emily, ready to perform at the community Trunk or Treat

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Disneyland!! Fall Break 2016

We left for Disneyland on Friday, October 7.  I had a hard time falling asleep the night before, so we didn’t get started as early as I wanted to.  We left the house by about 9:15am.  I got a message on the car that the tires were low.  We got them filled and we were on our way.  We only stopped once the whole trip—at Blythe for lunch at McDonald’s.  We arrived at the hotel around 4:15pm.  There was some traffic but it wasn’t bad.  Michael was in Las Vegas for a couple of days at a trade show, so it was just me and the kids.  Michael drove from Las Vegas and arrived a little before us.  He got us checked in and bought our shuttle passes.  We arrived, got moved in to the hotel room, and then went to dinner at the Anaheim Gardenwalk.  We went to Johnny Rocket’s for dinner and picked up some cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory for dessert.  We went to bed early—by 9:30pm—so we could be up early and get ready for Emily’s performance.  We were up before 6am and made the 8:15am shuttle.  It took a long time to do her hair and makeup.  There was a long line at security, but we made it in plenty of time and got Emily to the theater.  Nathaniel got us some fast passes for Radiator Springs Racers.  We almost caught Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps from Zootopia, but they were just leaving when we got there.  While Emily was getting ready for her performance, the rest of us went to Grizzly River Run (which I didn’t ride—I hate to get wet on rides) and then the Golden Zephyr.  On our way back to the stage, we tried to see Nick Wilde again but he left early.  We had fun watching Emily in the dance concert.  Her group was the last one. 


After the concert, Nathaniel got us fast passes for Soarin.  We had a little time before Radiator Springs Racers, so we went to Mike and Sully to the Rescue—the Monster’s Inc ride.

After that we headed to Radiator Springs Racers.  It’s one of my favorites.  While we were in the middle of the ride, they had some technical difficulties.  When the ride ended, they told us we could ride again because it had stopped.  We said, “Sure!” and went again.  Unfortunately, Michael, Emily, Andrew, and Jonathan didn’t get the same explanation as us and they declined.  After the ride we had lunch at Flo’s V8 CafĂ©.  That is one of my favorite restaurants at Disneyland.  All the kids get something they like.  They even have ribs!  After lunch we picked up some passes for California Screamin’ and rode the Silly Symphony Swings. 

On the way to California Screamin’ I saw a line forming to meet Jessie from Toy Story so we got in line.  We had such a hard time meeting Nick Wilde that I thought this might help make up for it.  Nope!  As soon as it was our turn, Jonny whined, “But I don’t like Jessie!”  You can tell from the pictures that he wanted nothing to do with it. 

After that, Nathaniel left to go to Disneyland on his own.  Normally we don’t buy Park Hopper tickets, but we got a discount on them through the dance studio so we were free to go from one park to the other. 

We took a break and had ice cream.  We were able to meet Pluto, so Jonny was happy about that. 

Then we left for Disneyland.  We took a different route, going through the Grand Californian Hotel and then catching the Monorail at Downtown Disney.  It dropped us off in Tomorrowland.  We rode the teacups and met up with Nathaniel.  Andrew really wanted to ride Autopia, but the line was so long.  I had volunteered to get fast passes for Big Thunder Mountain, and we met up at the Golden Horseshoe.  After that we went to Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, and Big Thunder Mountain.  We took the 9:30pm shuttle back to the hotel.  We picked up Subway subs for dinner and we were in bed by 11pm.  We were exhausted! 

On Sunday we slept until about 7:30am.  Michael took the kids down to breakfast while I finished getting ready.  Then we came back to the room to relax.  My Uncle Jim came to the hotel around noon.  He had somewhere to be that was near us anyway, so it worked out well.  We visited a while, had lunch, and then Jim had to leave. 

On Monday Disneyland opened at 8am so we caught the 7:15am shuttle. 

The line for security was long again, but it moved pretty quickly.  The first thing we did was head to Space Mountain.  Poor Jonny was really scared on that one.  Then we went to sign the boys up for the Jedi Training Academy.  Daniel was excited about it, Andrew took some convincing, and Jonathan refused to do it.  Next we went to the Matterhorn.  It was fun, but it jerks you around a lot and it hurt my neck.  Next we got fast passes for Indiana Jones, rode Haunted Mansion and Pirates again, then back to Indiana Jones.  Next we got fast passes for Big Thunder, rode It’s a Small World, then rode Big Thunder.  That is another one of my favorites.  While I went to get fast passes for Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear, the others went to Autopia.  By then it was about noon, so we took a break and had our snacks.  We also bought Cokes and churros.  Then we rode Buzz Lightyear. 

Jonathan was dying to meet Jack Skellington, so Nathaniel volunteered to take him. 

We shopped a little and then decided to see if they would let us in to Star Tours with our fast passes a little early so we had plenty of time to get the boys to their Jedi Training by 2pm.  I asked, and the guy was really nice about it and let us in.  Once we came out, I got new fast passes for Nathaniel and Jonathan since they missed it.  We were out of Star Tours by 1:30, so we went to find a table.  Michael found a spot, but it didn’t have a good view and it was in the sun.  So I went to a better spot and stood there forever waiting for people to leave.  One family started getting up and some guy swooped in to ask if he could have the table.  I said as nicely as I could, “I’m sorry, but I’ve been standing here waiting for 20 minutes.”  He said he really needed the table because his group had two kids in the Jedi Training.  I said I did, too, and if another table didn’t open up for him we would share.  It was the best seat possible and I wasn’t going to let it go.  He ended up getting a table right near us anyway.  After the Jedi training, a lady at a nearby table said, “Your family should be thanking you for getting that table!  I was watching you the whole time and you deserved that table!”  It pays to be nice.  The Jedi training was really fun.  Andrew was great with the lightsaber!


After the Jedi Training we did Buzz Lightyear again (you can get fast passes for that one any time).  We had lunch at Rancho de Zocalo.  Michael has always wanted to go there and the kids always protested.  They all ended up liking it, except for Jonny. 

After lunch Michael got Big Thunder fast passes, Nathaniel and Jonathan went to Star Tours, and we went to Big Thunder.  Michael, Emily, Andrew, and Daniel rode it first (I wasn’t feeling too great), then we had enough fast passes for Nathaniel, Andrew, and Daniel to go again (Jonny didn’t want to). 

After that we headed to California Adventure.  We would have been kicked out because of the Halloween party anyway.  We had tried to get Halloween Party tickets but they were all sold out.  Michael and I weren't too broken up about it because it would have been really expensive!  We caught some of the parade as we walked in to California Adventure. 

The first ride we went on was Toy Story Mania, another of my favorites.  The line took over an hour.  We left after that and barely missed the 8pm shuttle.  I ordered Papa John’s while we waited.  Michael and Nathaniel went to pick it up.  We were in bed by 10:30pm.

On Tuesday we wanted to make the 7:15am shuttle again, but we were all just so tired.  We slept in a bit and caught the 7:45 shuttle.  The security line was ridiculous.  It wasn’t even a line—it was just a mass of people.  It took us forever to get in.  

The first ride we wanted was Tower of Terror, but it was temporarily closed so we got four fast passes for Radiator Springs Racers (not everyone wanted to go) and then went back to Grizzly River Run and everyone but me rode two times.  The line was short, probably because the weather was a little cold and overcast.  While we were there we got fast passes for World of Color for everyone. 

We also got to meet Chip and Dale, which was fun.  They were really in character and the kids got a big kick out of it.  Jonny thought it was hilarious when they tried to get in to his backpack, and the lady scolded them and told them to stay away from his snacks!  They are very mischievous.  Next we did California Screamin.  I rode it this time.  Nathaniel and Andrew rode twice, and Daniel and Jonathan didn’t want to.  I got Soarin fast passes for me, Emily, Daniel, and Jonathan.  Michael, Nathaniel, and Andrew were anxious to get to Disneyland.
We rushed over to meet Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps again.  We missed them again!  They left at 11:25, even though they were scheduled until 11:30.  I guess they purposely leave early.  We waited until they came out again at 12.  While we waited, we decided to split up for the afternoon.  Michael didn’t want to, but it was our last day and he and Nathaniel and Andrew really wanted to head over to Disneyland.  The rest of us had our pictures taken with Nick and Judy and then went to lunch at Smokejumper’s Grill. 

While we were eating, Michael texted me to tell me how crazy it was over there and that the food lines were ridiculous.  I told him, “You chose poorly!”  Daniel really wanted an adult meal, and he was so proud of himself for eating the whole thing. 

We had so much fun going to Radiator Springs Racers again, The Little Mermaid ride, and then Soarin again. 

After that we had pictures with Oswald, per Jonny’s request.  Then we left for the hotel to take a break and caught the 3:00pm shuttle.  Jonny and I both took a nap.  After I woke up, Jonny was still sound asleep, but Daniel and Emily said it was fine to let him keep sleeping.  We had a few bites of the Homewood Suites dinner and then caught the 6:15pm shuttle back.  While we were separated, Michael and Nathaniel and Andrew went to the teacups, Space Mountain (2 hour wait!), Big Thunder, Autopia, Matterhorn, Indiana Jones, and had a late lunch at Rancho de Zocalo.  They did a couple rides using the "single rider" line so their waits weren't too bad for some of them.  It was chaotic when we got to Disneyland.  There were no fast passes for anything.  We split again—this time Emily went with Michael, Nathaniel, and Andrew back to California Adventure to see World of Color. 

Daniel, Jonathan, and I rode the Finding Nemo sub ride and the teacups.  We got in line for the canal boats, but it was moving so slowly that the rest of them caught up with us.  Michael stayed with Jonathan for the canal boats and the rest of us went to Peter Pan, which I really wanted to ride before we left.  Everyone but Jonathan and I rode Big Thunder Mountain one last time, and we headed out.  I took Jonny and Daniel to the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney and the rest took the 11:00pm shuttle. 

We ended up catching a shuttle to our hotel at 11:15pm, even though it wasn’t scheduled at that time so that was pretty lucky.  When we got back Michael and Nathaniel went to pick up food at McDonald’s and we all went to bed by midnight. 

On Wednesday, we got up at 8:00am, went to breakfast, packed up and checked out by 11:15am.  We stopped for lunch and made one other rest area stop and made it home by 6:45pm.  The kids helped us bring everything in, and then Nathaniel and Emily went to their youth activities. 

Here are my favorite kid quotes from the trip:

In the car ride, we were listening to “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars.  Jonny said, “I know it’s a girly song, but I still like it.” 

Nathaniel, on the car ride to California: “Emily, are you playing a dress-up game?”  Emily immediately said “No!” gave a sheepish look, and then said, “Maybe.” 

Jonny beat everyone to the hotel room by going up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, even though we told him not to.  Michael:  “How did you beat us?”  Jonny:  “Because I have a brain and I can run!” 

We had so much fun, and now we're enjoying the last few days of fall break!!