There Is No Place Like Home

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

As September 11th rolls around each year it's impossible not to be reminded how easily our freedom can be taken away... Whatever conspiracy theories you may or may not believe, whatever political parties you support, the thought of our county and freedom being threatened is very upsetting. Quite simply because there is no place like home.

As we move forward, September 11th is another gift we can give ourselves each year. A time to thank those who serve our country.  A time to rethink what freedom means to us.  And a time to thank God for all we have.  To move forward we also must live our lives and recommit ourselves to the things we value, such as family.

This year we had the opportunity to spend time with our family and were lucky enough to attend events that included moments of honor for those who have been lost and those who continue to serve.  But most of all for us to live and enjoy the things we love most. I recently read that when asked to share a favorite childhood memory most people choose summertime memories, including sunny skies, baseball, friends, family, vacations, cars, etc.  And so, these things become what define us, who we are and what we hope for.

We feel blessed this week to enjoy stolen summer days, the sunshine, a visit with my family and make new childhood memories for our son....

Angels Stadium of Anaheim - Angels vs. Mariners

Extra Innings - We call this FREE BASEBALL!  What could be better?
Abreu hits a home run to win the game for the Angel's in the 14th inning

Pageant of The Thunderbirds

Uncle wins 1st place!
Awsumb had a wonderful time working in Uncle's shop this week to get the car ready for the show!

What activities and simple pleasures define America to you and your family?

Late Summer Disney Get Away

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It may seem like we go to Disneyland a lot, but really we go to visit our favorite Auntie and Uncle.  Disney is an extra little perk. Summer seemed to go by in a flash this year.  And after weeks of Kenneth working around the clock, we needed a vacation.  Because we have Annual Passes this year and Kenneth found some hot 'end of season deals' we just had to go. So, can you handle the longest Disney Trip Report ever? 

SATURDAY – DISNEYLAND Midnight (3 attractions)
After a few days visiting with family grabbed dinner at In-N-Out and made the drive up Harbor Blvd. by 8pm to check in a The Grand Californian. Because Space Mountain was about to close for the Halloween overlay we raced over to SPACE MOUNTAIN X 2 and catch 9:30 Summer Fireworks then shop at Star Tours and Lego, Back to Hotel 11pm

(28 Attractions)

We have had a long weekend of festivities, so we have breakfast in bed and get a late start. (Space Mountain, Star Tours, Haunted House closed)

Train from New Orleans to Toon Town. Mickey's House including photos with Mickey,
Minnie's house under construction, but we did get to take photos with her on the Street.

Awsumb likes to walk through Donald Duck's Boat and Goofy's House. The boys usually do Mickey's Toon Town Morning Madness (available through any travel package) on a day I sleep in, so it's been a while for me. Goofy's is just a toddler play area, no more bounce house and Donald's reminded me that we haven't seen Donald for 7 years since WDW! Where does he live anyway? Gadget's Go Coaster, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin 40 minute wait… the longest wait of our trip! Why didn't we fast pass this? Yes, I complained! The boys have never had to wait because they always get that early entrance and had no idea it would be so long.

Tea Cups X 2 (Ride operator just
invited us to stay on!) Dumbo 10
minute wait while Daddy grabs Thunder Mountain fast passes and by the time we went to ride it was down! Apparently they were looking for someone's eye glasses. Then onto a broken Pirates of the Caribbean and we were worried our luck might be changing?!? So we walk through Tarzan Tree House (we recently watched the old Swiss Family Robinson with Awsumb .... I really miss the old tree house), Indiana Jones (fast pass no wait), Jungle Cruise (no wait) and over to the Matterhorn X 2 (1st time 20 minute wait, but 2nd time walk on after a mishap) Buzz Light Year (10 min wait) My score - 580,200 Level 5 - Beat that! (I don't even like video games!)

9:00 pm Plaza Inn for dinner and a great spot to watch Magical Fireworks Disney always has great fireworks, but it's no "Remember Dreams Come True" which are our favorite!Big Thunder Mountain finally up and running and then off to find a spot to watch the last showing of Fantasmic at 10:30 pm - no Dragon (it's had problems from day 1) No wait, we just walked up to the rope right before show time and as more people joined us they put rope around us creating a new section. We were right behind an empty section that a cast member said was the "make a wish" section. After we walked onto Indiana Jones and Jungle Cruise. Then took the Train from New Orleans to Main Street and short walk through Downtown Disney to The Grand arriving about 12:15am. Housekeeping left a note informing us the power would be out from midnight through 4am. It's almost 2am and no power outage yet. Thank goodness because all they left is a lightstick! I like to have things set out for the next day and really should get off my laptop and get to bed!

28 attractions)
Late morning arrive at 10:30. NO crowds, no waits times, all attractions walk on or stay on and go again! Sunny and warm at least 80!

Lightning McQueen & Mater Photo, Disney Visa Photo with Pluto, Muppets, Monsters Inc., Play House Disney, Mickey Photo Op, Green Army Guy, California Screamin' x 3 (Awsumb's first time – loved it!)

1:00pm Lunch at Pacific Warf Café, Soarin' Over California x2, Grizzly River Rapids x 2, Redwood Creek Playground, 3:00 Brother Bear photo op, It's Tough to Be A Bug, Heimlich Chew Chew, Flick's Flyers, Francis' Lady Bug Boogie, Drive 'em Buggies, Tower of terror x 3

5:00pm Dinner at Ariel's Grotto
Nothing to write home about… we only did this to get WOC reserved seating. Why don't they put Story Tellers or better yet NAPA ROSE on the WOC package?!

Grizzly River Rapids x 2 – and we are SOAKIN' WET! It's after 7pm and we head back to The Grand to change into dry clothes, while Kenneth went to reserve a spot on the rail for WOC

WORLD OF COLOR (8:15pm) The new amazing water show is like PAINT! LOVED IT! It was worth getting reserved seating. After the show we knew the park would be closed, but unlike DL you can't shop your way out. They obviously haven't worked things out at DCA since the addition of WOC. So we shop our way through Downtown Disney back to The Grand.

TUESDAY – Disneyland MM 9—8 (20 Attractions, including Napa Rose)We have decided to stay a few extra days and spent the morning on the phone extending our trip, so we didn't take advantage of Early Entry Hours. We arrived to the Park about 10:00.

Breakfast Beignets at Ralf Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, Monorail to Tomorrowland, Nemo (why does Nemo smell?  Nemo give me a panic attack!), Mattherhorn x2 (we like to ride each track)

Lunch at Tomorrowland Terrace children's meals are not worth it and tiny, get an adult meal and split it! Captain EO, Innovations,
We never do this, but once you get past the never ending Honda commercial it wasn't as bad as it could be. The house of the future was like visiting the Microsoft company store and while they are current, they aren't future LOL! But there were video games and stuff kids might enjoy. We missed Asimo (the Honda Robot) and didn't want to wait 30 minutes for the next show. If you go in there, go for that first!), Autopia

Meet Buzz Lightyear, Buzz Lightyear Astroblaster x 2 (My Highest Score Ever- Level 6- 980, 200 OK, so they stopped the ride to load a wheel chair and I really took advantage!)

Dole Whip, Tiki Room, Indiana Jones, Jungle Cruise, Shooting Gallery, Big Thunder Mountain, Mark Twain River Boat, Pirates of the Caribbean, Train to Monorail to The Grand to get ready for dinner at Dinner at NAPA ROSE (THANKS UNCLE C.K. and Auntie Laurel!)

 WEDNESDAY – Beach Day 10-8 (14 Attractions)

And we need a rest day! So we sleep in, have breakfast in bed and Monorail from The Grand to Tomorrowland, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain x3Meet Pooh and Friends, Pooh Corner Treats and Dole Whip, River Rapids x 3, bought a couple of the Soakin' Awesome beach towels to take with us to the beach!

So we grab lunch at In-N- Out, and drive to Huntington Beach. Because we usually go to California in January, we never go to the beach. And although we got to the beach and lake often here in WA, I thought Awsumb needed to experience a WARM day at the beach.  The strong surd caught him off guard and he was upset about getting all sandy... Yep, that's my boy!

Pools and Hot Tub at The Grand, Late Dinner at Story Tellers
And time to play Laundry Fairy with no internet access! – LOL! Counting Dinner, Treats and In and Out (which is attraction according to my husband!) Tomorrow are going to get in on the special invite to Annual Pass Holders for the WOC late show. It's starting to look a lot like HALLOWEEN here! We are enjoying what feels like stolen summer days and will end on a great note as the parks turn to fall for the weekend and we go home.

THURSDAY - Disneyland MM 9—8 (24 Attractions)

The Park is getting busy! You can tell people are coming in for the weekend and getting excited about Halloween Festivities.

Monorail from The Grand to Tomorrowland, just after 9am, Nemo, Matterhorn x 2, Alice in Wonderland, Magic Shop Awsumb has been saving his $ for this. He bought the spirit light and was given a short lesson by the clerk.

Silhouettes by Bonnie Totally worth the time to get this done. This was our 3rd attempt this visit, as we kept finding the shop empty (hours vary).

Went into the Main Street Cinema to see original Mickey Cartoons. Because we are here all week we have time to wander through all the small things. Awsumb enjoyed seeing these all together, and watching Mickey Mouse change over time.

Picture by Mickey Pumpkin –watched filming of Halloween Commercials with Villians for a bit.
12:30pm Lunch at Storytellers (love that chicken, corn chowder soup!)
Soarin' Over California,Muppets Closed, Monsters x2, Drawn to the Magic (should be called Drawn to the Music), Meet Sorcerer Mickey and Woody, Turtle Talk

Tower of Terror (this one really freaks Awsumb out, so although there was no wait, we only went once)
 Green Army Men Operation: Playtime, California Screamin' x3

5pm ANNUAL PASS WORLD OF COLOR Fast Past lines opens and is already a mile too long, we decide it isn't worth it unless we can just walk in. So, we pick up our Free Disney Visa Photo, and head back to The Grand to Swim Awsumb goes down he waterslide a zillion times and a fully clothed Dad jumps in to rescue his NOT child.

7pm Pick up Annual Pass WORLD OF COLOR ticket and got in the Red section. People were already lining up for the next performance and we were just not going to stand around for hours. Some rides were going to be open and we had collected fast passes earlier in the day in case everyone else had the same idea. Awsumb loves to play at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, Mulholland Madness x 2And then Kenneth gets some work phone calls and emails that needed attention (he had decided to check in at the office during our swim time, sometimes when you're on vacation it's hard to let go!) Between that and the Wild Goose Chase to find dinner! Which certainly wasn't an attraction and I will have to tell you about later (But I can't now because they are shutting off the power from midnight until 4pm. This is the second time this week and they have didn't even leave us a glow stick this time! I think they were supposed to, but saw ours sitting out from a few nights ago) We finally got to eat dinner at 8:15 pm Dinner at La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney and were lucky that they let us back in the park for the show. We get in the back of the red line for WORLD OF COLOR
9:15 show and end up on the rail of the back section… We were not centered like the other night, but there couldn't have been a better place to watch in any red section as the back section is raised! Perfect timing.

Tomorrow is a big day, open from 9-12, all the Halloween rides open. We are so excited! OH and the GOOD FIREWORKS! Saturday will mark 8 days at Disney for us. And this has certainly been more like a Walt Disney World Vacation!

FRIDAY – Disneyland 9—12 (26 Attractions)

This was a VERY BUSY day at Disneyland for the opening of Halloween. We took things pretty easy, it was day 7 after all! Hadn't we done it all?

9:30 am We get to ride in the back of the Monorail from The Grand to Tomorrowland.
Space Mountain- Ghost Galaxy (30 min wait, get FP for later), Matterhorn x 2, Small World

Haunted Mansion Holiday x 2 (1st time through 40 min, use FP, then get FP for later)
Tom Sawyer Island, Pirates of the Caribbean, 2:40 Lunch Blue Bayou

Jack and Sally, Villians – Queen of Hearts, Frollo, Cruella Deville, Main Street - Donald Pumpkin Costume and Mickey and Pluto in Vampire Costumes. Kenneth has to have some ice cream and we listen to the Dapper Dans sing Halloween Music.

Big Thunder Mountain x 3, Jungle Cruise, Indian Jones, Space Mountain- Ghost Galaxy
8:30 Dinner at Plaza Inn and "Remember Dreams Come True" Fireworks (the good ones!)Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion Holiday, Indiana Jones x 2, Jungle Cruise

I am soooo tired. It's been a long week. I am glad we got to enjoy the parks this week with no crowds. All the people today made me feel exhausted from the get go. Everything was just so jammed. We wasted a lot of time meeting special Halloween Characters. That was fun for us because we usually come in January. Time to pack up and get ready to head back to real life! Because the park opens at 8 tomorrow early entry is at 7, so the boys are going to go over and do a few favorites. Then we will lunch at Storytellers and head to the airport!

SATURDAY – Disneyland MM 8—12 (14 Attractions in 4 hours)
I needed to get some sleep and pack things up. But, the boys used Early Entry, leaving at 6:30, waited at the gate for the 7am opening.
Space Mountain- Ghost Galaxy 2 X walk on, Astro Orbiter, Matterhorn, Haunted Mansion Holiday x 2, Splash x 2, Adventures of Pooh, Indiana Jones (got stuck at the beginning and end of ride for about 20 minutes each so the boys opt to not do it again.), Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, Buzz Lightyear11 am Check out at The Grand then over to Storytellers Café for lunch. And by 2 pm we were off to the airport for our 5pm flight home.

157 ATTRACTIONS TOTAL! Plus a Mariners Game!Awsumb was sad to leave what he was beginning to think of his new home.  "I was starting to think we could live there forever!" he said. 

We were so lucky to enjoy this stolen week of summer together.  And we hoped we soaked up enough sun to last through another northwest rainy winter.  (Please excuse the iphone photos, but they were the quickest to upload.)

This trip I noticed that my almost 9 year old is conscious of growing up, but because he is sensitive and sentimental, he still wants to enjoy the little kid magic. It was fun to watch him realize you don't grow out of anything at Disneyland.  And I leave you with Walt's thought from opening day....

"To all who come to this happy place: Welcome.  Disneyland is your land.  Here age relives fond memories of the past and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.  Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and hard facts that have created America... with the hop that it will be a sourcce of joy and inspiration to all the world." 
 -Walt Disney 1955

102 Minutes That Changed America

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remember the New York City Blackout of 2003? I can't remember all the details or how long they were out of power, but I think it's comical that many of us watched it hour by hour on TV! News crews ran around the city collecting footage of things such as: restaurants as they emptied their freezers and grilled up steaks for spontaneous block parties, ice cream palors scooping it out for free before they had to deal with a melted icecream soup mess, hotels that didn't have enough flashlights for their guests, etc. Here was an entire city with no power, people finall forced having to talk to eachother, work together, etc... and the rest of us are glued to TV screens watching it play out. Kind of pathetic and I admit because of my love for a great train wreck I watched.

So many things play out for us all on live TV these days. 20 years ago can you imagine we would watch the U.S. Army lying on their bellies in a shooting match on a bridge in Afganistan? But nothing compares to news broadcasts I watched on 9/11/01 CNN replayed the real time live footage in a special called 9/11:Five Years Later. But I think some of the most interesting footage was from civillians who just happened to catch the chaos on video as seen in 102 Minutes That Changed America And of course as I have recommended before 9/11 - the documentary that was supposed to be about a rookie firefighter who becomes a man and turned out to show him become a man in a span of 9 hours.

The subject of voyeurism is very much on my mind as I am finally reading The Hunger Games... more later.

Read last year's blog about Remembering 9/11

The Business of Being Born

Monday, September 6, 2010

Add this movie to the list of things NOT TO WATCH when yet again you are bleeding to death (signifying how NOT PREGNANT YOU ARE!) and trying to decide if you should go to the emergency room or not.  I know TMI... I have endometriosis - it's not pretty.  I have actually seen this before, just after it came out. But The Business of Being Born has been on The Movie Channel again recently and I just couldn't resist.

Because of some of the complications I had during my pregnancy such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, a natural birth was just not possible.  In my case, induction saved the life of my baby and my own. But even then I saw how those interventions actually hindered the process.  The induction required 24 hours with a  folley catheter, which did begin dialation and contractions.  But nothing was going to happen with out pitocin. The problem is the more pitocin I was given the stronger the contractions and the less chance I could deal with them without stadol and eventually an epidural.  And of course the pain meds caused me to need more pitocin.  I became totally suspicious that they were just pretending to give me pain meds and lying about it (later I found out this was a side effect of the stadol, feel like everyone is against you).  Oh and then there was the bunny breathing and cookie oven hallucinations. 

After 24 hours of this I was finally prepped for a c-section.  At this point I didn't care, just get the baby out. I would do whatever they said I should... and remember because of the preeclampsia who I was to question anything they told me I needed to do.  And if it weren't for another patient across the hall, also named Wendy, who decided to give birth before her doctor could arrive, I would have been taken straight to the O.R.  But somehow my symptoms normalized again and stayed that way for a few hours.  Long enough for my body to finally catch up with all the meds and give birth.

There were still a few more hurdles to go through as Awsumb was born with no heartbeat, no muscle tone, not breathing and an Apgar score of 0.  But when all that was finally worked out I had a healthy baby boy.  Although the birth wasn't natural, I was so thankful that at least I didn't have to have any further complictions from a c-section to interfere with normal attachment, bonding and even breastfeeding issues.

The more you learn about natural childbith the more you realize how totally amazing our design is.  The hormones released to help mother a cope with and forget the pain, and to bond with her baby are just amazing.  I don't know how our society began to see pregnancy as a condition that needs to be cured instead of a natural process.  No wonder so many women have trouble with attachment, breastfeeding, and depression after giving birth.

And I haven't even mentioned the costs involved.  You would think in a time when cost of healthcare is such a topic that people would realize this is one area that we could really save money if we really waited to intervene until absolutely  necessary. 

However you gave birth, whatever your complications, you and a couple girlfriends will love watching this documentary and will be able to relate to these filmakers as they tell their stories.  If anything just to remember how sweet to hold that little baby of yours for the first time!

No Time To Read!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A friend of mine recently wrote about not understanding when people say, "I have no time to read." Because of her love of reading and because reading came easy for her at a young age and because she is just super smart I think she probably devours books the way I do soap. I kind of understood what she meant at the time, because I too love to read. And though my mind wanders and I often have to reread passages and have never have the best reading comprehension, I am always in the middle of a 2 or 3 different books, have a stack beside the bed I want to read next and of course an Amazon Wish List.

Reading is such a great sport because you can do it anywhere, anytime! My favorite times and places to read are: Rainy days, sitting in my cozy armchair curled up by the fire. And bright sunny days, sunk down into a lawn chair cooling my feet in the grass. And although you might think I would get more reading done during all those dreary days we have here in Seattle, I usually read the most in the summer. And I just knew this summer I would finally get through the stack I had let build up over the last few months.

Well, I walked by my stack the other day and realized that I didn't even make a dent! For the first time ever I understood what, "I don't have time to read." really meant. It means, "I love to read, I want to read, I plan to read, but I didn't have any TIME to read!"

As this crazy summer of ours is coming to an end, I realized this has been the busiest summer of my life and it went by in a heart beat. We never made it to the Oregon Coast. We never painted the garage. We never swam in the lake. And I didn't really have time to read.  I did listen to quite a few recorded books and even read with my little boy. I guess I need to make time. Time to be by myself, time to refect, time to read.

What keeps you from reading? When do you read most and where do you like to read?