Saturday, February 27, 2016

Disneyland

On Wednesday, our last full day in California, we went to Disneyland with Grandpa.


I said it a million times that day and I'll say it again - I'm so glad that we decided to bag it on Monday and try again on Wednesday, rather than fight the crowds on Monday. This time, we left at 6:45 in the morning, did a little loop on the 5 freeway so that we could park in the big parking structure, and bought our tickets online and printed them out ahead of time. We were inside the park before they even cut the ribbon at 8 o'clock.

Because we were there right when it opened, we were able to go on so many rides! The lines were super short for quite a while, and we were able to pretty much walk right on to some of the most popular little kid rides. It was wonderful! The first ride we went on is one of Ellie and Zelda's favorites - the Dumbo ride.


After that we went on the Storybook boat ride. I personally love that ride because you get to see all the miniature houses. I haven't been on it in years and years though because the line is always so long! But it wasn't that morning, and we were able to walk right on.

From there we went on It's a Small World. It was all decorated for Christmas, which was cool. Ellie and Zelda thought it was too loud, though, and covered their ears the whole time.


Walking back to Fantasyland, we went on the teacups. The girls loved them, especially Zelda. She was laughing hysterically.


We went on the Alice in Wonderland ride right after that. (We let a couple people go ahead of us so that Ellie could ride on the pink caterpillar.)


And from there to the merry-go-round:


Then we went on one of my all-time favorite rides: the Casey Jr. Train ride. No visit to Disneyland is complete without going on this train. (And, if at all possible, you need to sit in one of the cage cars.) We had a couple of monkeys all ready to sit in the monkey cage:


We had a couple churros after the Casey Jr Train (yum!) and then walked over to Tomorrowland. We wanted to go on the Buzz Lightyear ride, but the line was super long so we got fastpasses instead and went over to Autopia. It worked out perfectly, because by the time we went through the Autopia line and went on the ride, we could go use our fastpasses!

Ellie loved Autopia. She drove with Grandpa in the car behind me, Jason, and Zelda, and tried to go fast enough to hit us the whole time. She was laughing and laughing and really happy when she was finally able to bump us at the end.


After Autopia we went and used our fastpasses to get on to the Buzz Lightyear ride. For some reason, Ellie really didn't want to go on it. We convinced her to get on, but she wasn't enjoying it and was covering her ears the whole time. Then halfway through the ride, our cars stopped along the track and some message recorded message thanking us for our patience played on repeat. We used our laser guns to rack up SO MANY POINTS as we were sitting there stationary (I got over 400,000!), and then after about five minutes the lights came on, the ride turned off, and they told us we were all getting off. Something malfunctioned. We told Ellie they turned the ride off for her. As we walked off, one of the employees pointed out a secret laser target worth a ton (100,000? 1 million?) of points. We'll try to get that one in the future.


Jane snoozing in Tomorrowland:


From there we hopped parks and went over to California Adventures. We had lunch over on the pier where they've got a bunch of food places; I had yummy clam chowder in a bread bowl. We topped that all off with ice cream from Ghiradelli's.

The food place happened to be right next to one of the mother/baby stations they have in the parks. These are great! They've got microwaves for warming up bottles, high chairs for feeding food, changing tables, and a little toddler potty. Ellie decided she wanted to use the potty (twice) while we were eating ice cream, and it was great to have right there. We were able to warm up Jane's bottle, too.

From the pier we walked over to Bug's Land, where we had lots of fun.


We went on "Flik's Flyers" and the Ladybug version of the teacups and played in the little splashpad (good thing we brought extra clothes for the girls! They got super wet.).


Waiting in line for the ladybugs. Zelda's posture cracks me up:


We called it a day after that. My dad, Alyse, Tanner, Ezra, and Jane stayed for a while after us and went on a few more things, but it was getting late and my grandparents were coming over to my dad's house for dinner, and Jason and I needed to go pick up some food and get the girls home. So we made our way back to the parking garage and then called ahead and ordered some Buffalo Wild Wings (yum!), which we were able to pick up on the way home.

A little while after we got home, my grandma, grandpa, dad, Alyse, & Tanner all got there too and we were able to all have dinner together. It was so good to be able to see my grandparents one more time while we were in California. They gave Ellie a little starlight lantern for her birthday at dinner (this kind - it makes stars on the bedroom ceiling), and both girls love it. They've used it every night since we've been home.

That night we packed up all our stuff and got everything ready for the morning, so that when we woke up at 4 am (it still pains me to think about it - I hate waking up that early!) we were ready to go. My dad drove us to the airport and we flew home. Both girls were really good on both flights back to North Carolina, and everything went as smooth as we could have hoped. It was New Year's Eve, but we kept forgetting because we were traveling. And we definitely didn't stay up until midnight - I think I fell asleep at 8 pm that night. :)

And now we're finally caught up to 2016, haha. :) I hope to post about January and February this week in one big post!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Ellie rides a horse

The days following Christmas were just as packed with activities as the days before it.

On boxing day, we went to Jason's parents house because Tiffany's family was headed out. The girls were able to play together for a while before they had to leave. We took this family photo all together:


The picture's missing Shelley, and some family members who showed up a couple minutes after we took the first picture are photoshopped in, haha. But I love it! I love having a big group picture of (almost) everyone.

Afterwards we drove to Irvine and met up with Alyse, Tanner, their kids, and my dad at my dad's office. It's the first time Alyse has seen the new office since his company moved to Irvine this year.

Ellie and Zelda had fun playing in my dad's personal office:


After that we all went to lunch at the Irvine Spectrum and then took Ellie and Zelda to see their very first movie in a movie theater ever! We saw the Good Dinosaur. Ellie did great and sat in her chair the whole time. Zelda...not so much. She kept walking down to the end of the row and then looking back, teasing me like she was going to try to leave the theater (and a couple times she really tried).

Playing at Grandpa's house later that day:


The next day was Sunday; we went to church and then hung out with family all day. My mom, stepdad Stefan, and sister Sydney flew in from Utah and came over to the Thomas's house for dinner.

On Monday we were planning to go to Disneyland. The park opens at 8 o'clock, so Jason, my dad, the girls and I left at 7:40. (It's about a twenty minute drive from my dad's house.) Alyse and Tanner were going to leave a little while later and meet us there. But the whole thing was an exercise in frustration. For some reason, even though it had tons of empty parking spaces, they'd closed off the big parking structure to anyone but people driving in from the 5 south (freeway), and redirected everyone else to the overflow parking a couple blocks away. It took us an hour to drive the four blocks from the big parking garage to the overflow parking. The girls were watching Inside Out and were content, but my dad and I were dying.

Finally we were able to park and took the shuttle to the park - only to be greeted by security lines that stretched almost to the main road. I have never seen security lines that long at Disneyland. Never. We estimated it would take at least an hour to get through security, and at least another hour (maybe hour and a half) to buy tickets and get into the park. We were looking at another two to two and a half hours just to get inside the park. So we called it. We decided to bag it, buy our tickets online, and come back on Wednesday. We took the shuttle back to the car and drove home; my dad went to his office to get some work done (so he wouldn't have to work on Wednesday), and Jason and the girls and I drove to Santa Ana Zoo to meet up with Alyse and Tanner (who we'd called and told all about the traffic and lines and about deciding to reschedule Disneyland for Wednesday).

We got there right at the same time as them, and it was a fun visit to the zoo. Ezra wanted to climb on all the fences, and Zelda followed his example:


There is a certain trash can at Santa Ana Zoo, right next to the golden tamarins, that the kids can't get enough of. They love putting rocks and sticks and leaves into this particular trash can. They did it last year with the same trash can, and they did it again this year. They put stuff in it for like fifteen minutes before we finally dragged them away.


Later that day Jason, the girls, and I went to the Thomas's house and hung out with family there. We came back to Grandpa's house at bedtime; and Zelda instructed me to take a couple pictures of her while she smiled. This face. She is so adorable it kills me:


The next day, Tuesday, we went to Irvine Park with Alyse & Tanner and kids, Sydney & her friend Lindsey, and my mom. We met up with a big group of Tanner's cousins while we were there. 

First we all went on the train. Waiting in line:


Ready to go:


After the train, we did the pony rides! Ellie and Ezra both rode. It was Ellie's first time ever, and she loved it! She got the "fuzzy pony," just like she wanted, haha.


After the pony rides we went over to one of the playgrounds at the park and played.


After playing at the park we had lunch, and then got to hang out with my mom and Sydney for the rest of the afternoon. They flew back to Utah the next morning, so it was a short trip, but it was great to be able to see them and spend time with them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

So Behind

Guys. I still have two posts to post from Christmas vacation. CHRISTMAS VACATION. That's how far behind I am. And I feel like I can't blog about the stuff that's been going on more recently until I get them up because, because. (Remember in elementary school when someone would ask you why you did something, and you'd say, "Because," and that seemed liked a perfectly good and complete explanation?)

And I wish that I felt more productive today. This morning I had an early appointment at the OB that the girls and I had to leave at 7:30 in the morning to get to at 8:30. (The doctor's office is 45 minutes away. And it was pouring rain.) Then I had to take the girls to the post office to mail some stuff that I sold on Amazon because I'm cleaning out the house, and taking them to the post office is always a nightmare and this time was no different. They spun the circular rack of birthday cards around like three hundred times and Ellie picked off like thirty different cards, all while I was trying to package and address the stuff I'd be sending. Then I had to put the cards all back on the rack, while Ellie was still spinning it around (she was putting cards back too).

Then we've been home for the last couple hours, and everything's a mess. There's a mountain of clean laundry to fold and a messy kitchen, family room, and playroom that need my attention. A messy everything, really.

Today's weather is beautiful, though, which I am grateful for. It's been so cold lately, for weeks and weeks, but this morning's rain passed and turned into a beautiful, warm sunny afternoon outside. I tried to take advantage of the warm weather to try to figure out why the invisible dog fence we put around the yard last week isn't working, but I just can't figure it out and I came back in frustrated. It looks like we're going to have to do a "system test" to pinpoint the problem, and that's going to require messing with a bunch of wires. I'm going to wait until Jason gets home to do it.

Oh yeah, we got a dog. See how far behind I am?

Anyway, I like you guys. All of you. And I'm really fine, and I feel much better now that I explained how unproductive I'm feeling. I'm off to go clean something so that I feel even better, haha. I hope you're having a good Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Christmas Eve and Christmas

On Christmas Eve we went to the Orange County Zoo with Alyse, Tanner, their kids, and Grandpa. All the kids had a blast.


Later that day we went to Jason's parent's house for the traditional Thomas Christmas Eve party. Alyse, Tanner, and my Dad came too. We all ate dinner, the kids did the nativity, and then the kids all got to open their new matching jammies.

Getting a picture of all the kids in their pajamas turned out to be really, really hard. As the next couple pictures demonstrate:


We got a good one with all the grandkids and Nana and Papa, though:


My sister Alyse and sister-in-law Shelley (they've been friends since high school):


On Christmas we woke up at Grandpa's house and unwrapped presents. Ellie gave Grandpa a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur puzzle, and they put it together that morning.


After Grandpa's house we went over to the Thomas's house, where we unwrapped more gifts and had a White Elephant gift exchange. We then came back to Grandpa's for lunch and hanging out, and then later in the afternoon we went to my grandma and grandpa's house.

Baby Jane, Grandpa, and Great-Grandpa: