Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Birthday to Us

Since all of the kids' birthdays are so close together, we decided to keep the presents to a minimum and take a trip to Disneyland. We have a friend who has a condo in Santa Ana and has offered to let us stay there (thanks, Dave!), and we knew that would help with the cost as well. So we headed South on October 15. We have gone to Disneyland several times in the month of October and have always had pretty good luck with crowds (or lack of crowds) and weather. This year was the exception. Unknown to us when we planned the trip, that week was Fall Break for Arizona and parts of Utah. Thursday wasn't too bad, but Friday and Saturday were crazy! And it was so hot! Especially for October.

On Thursday we started off in Tomorrow Land. We were so excited for Ryder to see the Jedi Training. He isn't old enough to participate, but he was mesmerized and even quite frightened by Darth Maul and Darth Vader. We then met up with our friends the Dastrups. It was so great to see them!

Ryder gripped Eric a little tighter when Darth Maul arrived

Fun on the rockets and teacups

On Thursday night the Clarks arrived, so we were able to spend Friday and Saturday at Disneyland and California Adventure (my favorite!) with them. We are so glad that they came. We always have such a great time with them--although Friday's attempt at eating lunch was nobodys favorite. (Hunger+heat+two closed restaurants+winy kids=a lot of unhappy people.)

Haven and Ryder were pretty patient while waiting for the big kids to go on big rides

Haven begged and begged to go to Toon Town this trip. Tina and I took the four little people there while the big kids did their thing. They had such a blast is Mickey's house.

But I think they loved Minnie's house even more

We had some more fun in Bug's Land where Jacob was obviously embarrassed to be seen on the bumper cars

More Bug's Land--we had a good time cooling off there

Savannah can't hide her excitement at being on Heimlich's ride

Tina and I watched the Pixar Parade with Calvin, Ryder and Haven--it was super cute

The carousel in California Adventure

I'm hoping these pictures aren't too small--I love watching Savannah's face change

Tina and I are again hanging with the little people--this time on Dumbo

On Sunday we stopped off at the beach before leaving town. It was a little chilly and we had no intention of getting in the water. Of course Haven headed straight for the water and was a little surprised to see a wave coming right at her. She turned around to head away from it when it hit her from behind and flattened her in the sand. I walked back to the car to try to scrounge some clean clothes for her, and by the time I returned Ryder was soaked! I was so done with the beach for that trip.



We really had such a great time even amidst some frustrating situations. Here are a few more tidbits:

- On Friday night we ate at Chick-Fil-A near the condo. When the lady gave me my receipt, she said that if I came back before the end of October I could get everything on the receipt for free! Guess where we ate Saturday night?

- It's not a good idea to try and leave Disneyland during one of their parades. We wanted to meet the Clarks on Thursday night in Downtown Disney. We tried to leave while the parade was going on and I ended up having unkind feelings towards everyone who stood watching in a walking zone. And it was a dumb parade to boot.

- The corndog place in California Adventure is closed right now! They are building some sort of Ariel attraction. You can still get a smaller version in the Farmer's Market near Bug's Land or on Main Street in Disneyland.

- Haven went on Soaring over California and Grizzly Rapids for the first time and loved them both! We couldn't get her to go on any other big rides, although Julia bravely went on Space Mountain and Tower of Terror.

- Ryder wanted to go on all the roller coasters but had to settle for only the Matterhorn. The Dastrups and Eric and the girls went with Ryder on the Matterhorn while I stayed out with Haven. While they waited in line, Ryder fell asleep and had to wake up before they would let him ride. He would not wake up! They tried everything but he wouldn't wake. Finally one of the workers yelled at him to wake up and it worked. I'm glad he awoke, because he had a great time on that ride.

- Our GPS was so helpful! It got us to Disneyland and wherever else we needed to go. It also helped us find a yummy pizza place on the way out of town. How did we ever travel without it?

- It was nice that Savannah and Sage could still use their annual passes. Sadly, though, we had to pay for Ryder because he is now three.

- I had to literally drag a kicking and screaming Ryder from one of the stores where he found a gun that he wanted.

- Rides we wanted to go on but didn't: Haunted Mansion, Toy Story, Nemo (Haven wanted to go on this one), Star Tours, and the Go Coaster (it was closed). But using the combination of stroller passes and fast passes, the kids all got to ride the best rides multiple times.

We had such a fun time. I can't wait to go back again even though I know it won't be for a long time. It was great to see the Dastrups and we always love spending time with the Clarks. And of course it was fun to be together as a family.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sweet is Debatable, But Savannah is 16!

I know this is long overdue, I am a blogging failure lately. In an effort to catch up I am going back to Savannah's 16th birthday in October. This was supposed to be a non-birthday party year due to our Disneyland trip, but it was hard to let this significant day go by without doing something special. The weekend before her birthday we actually invited a few friends and surprised Savannah with dinner at Red Robin followed by a movie projected on a screen in our backyard (thanks Ryan and Brooke!). It was a lot of fun and I think she had a good time.

Before we stuffed our faces

That's my girl

Apparently we weren't exciting enough for Hayley

16 balloons

Everything you need for a movie (check out the cute popcorn cones that Brooke made)

We also had some frosted mugs for root beer floats--Savannah LOVES frosted mugs

Jessica and Megan made this cute cake--what great friends!

Ryder and Haven think they can join in

Sage is ready for the movie to start

Savannah and Megan watching Princess Bride

Jessica and Sarah

On Savannah's actual birthday we had a little party at home.

Savannah wanted a French vanilla cake with whipped cream frosting

Singing Happy Birthday

In all fairness to Tanner, he did ask me several times for more ice cream before taking matters into his own hands

Savannah and Megan

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Help

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Help is definitely at the top of my list of favorite books. Set in the early 1960's, it is the story of three women in Jackson, Mississippi--one white (Skeeter) and two black (Aibileen and Minny). Each woman takes turns narrating from her own perspective and each character is so richly developed that their voices are distinct and genuine.

It is hard to describe the gamut of emotions I felt while reading this book: shame, disgust, delight, sorrow, disbelief, love, regret and the list goes on. And it really was nail-bitingly suspenseful.

In the years directly preceding the death of Martin Luther King Jr., I was still surprised to read of the conditions and hate and ignorance that existed. And although this is a work of fiction, Kathryn Stockett is speaking from life experience.

One thing I love about this book is that it doesn't focus only on the imperfections of the white people, but also speaks to the fact that there was a wide spectrum of people at different points of goodness or evil.

I cried when this book ended for the sheer fact that I would miss all three of those women. It was as if good friends were moving away and I wouldn't see them again.

Audio Review: Aside from the excellence of the novel itself, this is a superb audio recording. Each of the three narrators were, in a word, perfect! In fact, there was one chapter in the book that was narrated by a fourth and objective narrator. At that point I sorely missed the other three. I also had the strange impulse to speak with a southern drawl whenever I listened to it for a while.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Delightful Read

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a delightful book. It is funny and sweet and very serious without being cheesy. Besides being informative about the occupation of Guernsey during World War II, the depictions of Guernsey's inhabitants rings true. I loved the letter format. I have found this format annoying in some books, but not so with this one. This is really a book that anyone can read and learn from, as well as enjoy. The characters are marvelous and well-rounded. The ending is predictable, but the journey is lovely.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Darth Ryder Turns Three

September 8 was Ryder's third birthday. He enjoyed celebrating turning three, even though he continues to insist that he is 2 1/2. ("I don't want to be three! I'm tuna half!) You may notice that this kid is obsessed with Star Wars (Chtar Wers). He wants to watch Star Wars movies all the time, his favorites being Episode 1 (the Darth Maul one); Return of the Jedi (the green one); and Episode IV (the blue one). He also loves Clone Wars (Clo Yours).

Over the past year he has switched from his obsession with Word World to Knock Knock jokes to Star Wars. With Word World he noticed letters everywhere; he then tormented us with Knock Knock jokes that NEVER made sense; and now we get knocked around pretty consistently with a plastic lightsaber.

It has been a lot of fun to watch him change as his vocabulary increases and his sense of humor develops. He can be a stinker, but he is quick to follow up his trouble-making with a kiss and an "I love you."
Opening gifts--do you notice a theme?

"Luke. I am your father."

"I will destroy you."

Ready to blow out the candles

It's hard to blow out candles through a Darth Vader mask

That's better

Ryder's new Darth Vader ship

Looking fancy with those shoes

He didn't want to sleep without his new lightsaber

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Haven Turns 5

On Monday, September 7, Haven turned 5 years old. The big girls convinced her how awesome it was that she didn't have to go to school on her birthday and it was kind of fun. She was also very glad that her dad didn't have to go to work and that grandma Easley was in town. For breakfast she wanted waffles AND pancakes with syrup and strawberries on top.

Ryder benefited from breakfast as well--without the strawberries

Opening presents

Her new helmet with knee and elbow pads

Haven finally scored a bike

Happy day!

Last year Savannah and Sage made Haven and Ryder's joint birthday cake. Haven did not forget! This year she requested specifically that Savannah and Sage make her cake. They took the challenge. Haven wanted a Tinkerbell cake, so the big girls were trying to figure out what to do. My mom suggested that they look on my step-dad's niece's blog and cake website for some ideas. (Janell has amazing talent, by the way!) They decided to try fondant. Let me first say that the baking of the cake itself was initally a catastrophe. I really had little hope that it would work out. And I must say that there was a little weeping and wailing on Savannah's part as well. But it turned out great! They used a fondant recipe from Janell's blog that uses marshmallows and tastes so yummy. Well done, girls!

We had a fun day. We actually had everyone over for barbeque ribs and other yummy stuff for lunch and then celebrated Haven's birthday. Haven said it was her best birthday ever (she says that every year, but I like to think that she feels it's true). She is such a beautiful and amazing little girl. She has a great sense of humor and loves her family. And we love her too!