Mixed Nuts

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What's Christmas without a tin of mixed nuts?  As a kid I always picked out the peanuts.  Maybe you learned to like the almonds.  But in the end you always feel like your being cheated as your left with a tin full of the yucky nuts that nobody wants to eat.  As I grew older some of those duds became favorites like cashews and pistachios.  I even learned to love chesnuts (best enjoyed hot off a cart on a busy city street).  

I admit I have never and can never imagine enjoying walnuts. But I now view a tin of mixed nuts as a fun treat.... minus those nasty walnuts of course.  Because, with a tin of mixed nuts, we all have our favorites.  And that's a little similar to how I feel about Christmas music. There are songs I have always loved, songs I learned to love and songs I still don't care for.  And that's why this year's Christmas playlist is titled Mixed Nuts.  Merry Christmas!

You can listen to this playlist on Spotify – or just click play on the embedded playlist below!  Kenneth has included some comments on our selections below.

“Miraculum (Instrumental)”, Lincoln Brewster:
Wendy loves the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but the two songs (which I also enjoy) have officially crossed over into the “everyone’s heard them, seen them live, and has them on a portable device” category. So, this is a cool track in the spirit of the orchestra. From a whole cd perspective, I really liked this CD, which I can’t say about the Trans-Siberian stuff.

“I’m Getting Nuttin For Christmas”, Relient K:
(Obligatory nut reference, pt. 1)
Yes, we had to include versions of any nut-related songs we can find. So, sorry to everyone who may be tiring of Relient K, one of our very favorite Christmas CDs. It is fun, though!
“Christmas Without You”, OneRepublic:

”Christmas Song”, American Bang:
This is a nice track about embracing the Christmas spirit, reconciling a lost relationship and then resolving to stay together… “no one should spend Christmas alone.” (It couldn’t keep the band together… they broke up in 2010.)
“Christmas Card”, Steven Curtis Chapman:
Consider this playlist our Christmas Card. And each year, one of the themes for me is this: “I’m sending you this Christmas card to let you know somebody loves you… and let you know you’re not alone.” At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that “wherever we are, He is with Us”.
“For the Beauty of the Earth (Nativity Version)”, BarlowGirl:
Maybe this is usually classified in the Church as a “Thanksgiving song”, but it totally qualifies and Wendy and I both love it.

“When Love Was Born”, Mark Schulz
“The Christmas Song”, Colbie Caillat:
(Obligatory nut reference, pt. 2)

“Sunny Christmas”, Renee & Jeremy:
Awsumb’s best friend’s dad asked me a couple weeks ago, “So, are you going to Disneyland this Christmas?” I coughed a little and said “No,” while thinking “but we ARE going to Disney World!” (We hadn’t told Awsumb yet…) Anyway, we seem to spend as much time in sunny and 70 weather as snowy weather in December. So… “Have a Sunny Christmas!”
“Because It’s Christmas”, Sidewalk Prophets

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, Lincoln Brewster

“All I Want for Christmas is You”, Bowling for Soup:
Semi-embarassing disclaimer: As a long-time Mariah Carey fan, I think “All I Want…” is a modern Christmas classic, but it’s definitely something I would include here. So now that the alternative versions of the song are starting to appear, I was surprised to hear Wendy say, “We should put this song on the cd…” I said, “You know that’s the Mariah Carey song, right?”

“Believe in Me”, fun.

“Always In The Season”, Pomplamoose:
We have a couple tracks from an indie-band, who has taken the YouTube train to modest success. They typically record their music as live videos where “what you see is what you hear”. Their music sounds timeless, but also eclectic.

“Little Drummer Boy”, MercyMe
Wendy's favorite Christmas tribute since childhood.

“Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, Pomplamoose:
(Obligatory nut reference, pt. 3… you know, it’s from the Nutcracker…) Speaking of eclectic, their CD is called “Christmas in Space.” You might get a sense of that from this track. (Maybe they should use this for a Space Mountain holiday overlay…)
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, Renee & Jeremy

These songs didn't make the playlist, but based on how many times Awsumb begged me to repeat them while working on picking tracks, these are probably his favorites:

These first two "bonus nuts" are Awsumb's picks.  They didn't make the playlist, but based on how many times Awsumb begged me to repeat them while working on picking tracks, these are probably his favorites...
“All I Need Is Love”, CeeLo Green.
Awsumb loves this track, which mashes up samples of the early 2000’s Mambo No. 5 and the Muppet’s “Mahna Mahna” for a danceable Christmas song… with the Muppets! Awsumb has been a lot less interested in kid’s music lately, but he wants to hit repeat on this song every time it comes on.

"Something in the Air", Grayson Sanders
I haven't seen this on TV yet, but I guess this is the Coca Cola Christmas jingle?  So if you see polar bears dancing, this is probably the song.

These next two?  They are just nuts - or the artists are...

"The Greatest Gift of All (the Hobbit)", The DoubleClicks
The DoubleClicks are the YouTube poster band for geeks.  If someone around you starts laughing during this song, they have just outed themselves as being somewhere on the plus side of the nerd spectrum.

"Christmas Unicorn", Sufjan Stevens
This song is just... nuts!

DisneyWorld Gumball Rally

Awsumb and I were talking about a way to surprise Kenneth for his 40th Birthday with a weekend trip to Disneyland.  I knew it would be tricky to pull off because he always does the planning and has access to all credit cards and accounts.  Then one day Kenneth pipes up, There is a special deal with WDW Today Podcast and Mouse Fan Travel to attend Reunion 2012 in Disneyworld. He went on to tell me he had already done some research and that we could upgrade our season passes to premium passes with admittance to WDW parks as well at Disneyland.  Also that there would be a special rate at The Beach Club and some special events we could attend with the Podcast Reunion. 

Kenneth was recovering from foot surgery he had back in September and was anticipating the second foot, which was scheduled in December. He was busy at work and anxious to get away knowing just what this second surgery and the recovery would be like. I admitted the plan Awsumb and I were trying to work out to surprise him and told him if he really wanted to spend his 40th in WDW we would love to make it happen. 

This would be a quick trip and a bit of a "Gumball Rally" as we tried to fit everything in that we wanted to see and do in just a few days.  So we revealed to Awsumb that once again it was time to "Put on your Mickey Ears!  We're going to Disney WORLD!"

Thursday, November 29

Day 1 - Travel

1.       5am Fly Seattle to Orlando

2.       5pm Check in at Disney’s Beach Club

3.       Walk to Epcot to switch Disneyland Annual Pass to Premiere Pass.  Everyone kept telling us the back gate would be able to help us.  I don’t know why they can’t just do this stuff at the front desk of the resorts. It is sure annoying to have to run all over to sort these things out when all you want is to start your vacation.  We were told guests services was not equipped to help us at this back entry.  But, they offered to escort us through the gates to walk to the front of the park where they were set up for this type of transaction.  We decided to split up.

4.       Friendship Boat back to Resort to check out Storm Along Bay…

5.       The Beach- Just missed the campfire on the beach with marshmallows, but sat down to watch a movie on the beach while waiting for Kenneth to return from Epcot with our new passes.

6.       Dinner at Cape May.  By this time we were so hungry and just wanted dinner. Although we had a previous reservation because we didn’t know where we would be and where we might have to end up going to upgrade our passes.  I really didn’t think it would be such a big deal to get dinner at the resort we were staying in, especially if we weren’t picky.  Turns out I was wrong. Reservations are just the norm at WDW for any meal more than counter service.  I about had it. All I wanted was to have simple dinner and wish my husband a happy birthday and get to sleep.  Maybe even swim in the pool.  After lots of back and forth we finally ended up eating at Cape May. It was ok and we all found plenty that we each enjoyed off the buffet.  Although there was crab and such because we are from the northwest it was nothing special. But I really enjoyed the salads!  I heard someone behind me tell her friend, “I don’t really like fish.”  Just a tip, but don’t eat at Cape May if you don’t like fish!

Friday November 30

Day 2 - Hollywood Studios (16 Attractions)

Breakfast in bed

1.      9:15am Friendship Boats to Hollywood Studios.       Pick up Toy Story FP/Sign up for Jedi Training

3.       Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

4.       Tower of Terror

5.       Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage

6.       Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

7.       Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

8.    The Brown Derby for lunch at 1:30pm

9.       The Great Movie Ride

10.    Photos with Phineas and Ferb (longest line of the trip)

11.   Star Tours

12.   5:00pm Friendship Boats to Beach Club

13.   Swim at Storm Along Bay

        My only comments are that although the sand bottom is really fun because the pool is so big and there are so many shallow depth changes it is easy to be walking through the sand then scrape your foot on the rough bottom during a depth change. I think these are set up because of some of the features in the pool like the whirlpool, etc. But it’s easy to ruin a pedicure!  My little guy loved the waterslide from the pirate ship and went over and over again.

14.  WDW Today Meet Up.  We went to WDW to celebrate Kenneth’s 40th Birthday, who got the idea when he head WDW Today has a special group rate and event that weekend.  There were a few different types of special events we could have gone to, but because our home park is Disneyland not Disneyworld we figured our time was better spent exploring the parks.  We did decide we didn’t want to miss out on the party at Hollywood Studio’s after park closing at 8:00pm to see The Osborne Light show.


Everyone tells you everything is walkable when you stay at The Beach Club. What they don’t tell you is that the walk to Hollywood Studios is really a 30 min trudge.  At least it feels like that after little sleep for 2 days, a full day at the park and swimming all evening.  We should have just waited for the next Friendship boat, but we were worried about making it to the park before closing at 8:00pm.  So, we just took off full speed ahead. And half way there the boat passed us!  I was so tired at that point I thought about jumping in the water so they would have to rescue me!


We did make it, just in time. We were led to a waiting area and my little guy was able to meet all the Podcast Guys and get the autographs.  He thought it was the coolest thing ever.  We realized that since we don’t really listen the radio, these podcast guys were celebrities to him.  They were all very kind to each spend some time talking with him.

15.  Toy Story Mania.  As the light show was being reset we were given this as a surprise.  (Which was perfect because we had abandoned our FP tickets we had picked up earlier in the day so we could go back and swim.)

16.   Osborne Lights/Dessert Party.  We were all given a gold box stuffed with treats, apples, sweet breads, cookies, brownies, etc.  Plus there was hot chocolate, cider and punch available).  I would say there was less than 75 of us there.  So fun to explore the lights and have the park to ourselves! By about 11:00 pm the park had been closed for some time there was no transportation.  We must have looked lost, so Ken, one of the transportation managers drove us back to the resort in his van.  Then we ended up ordering room service dinner.  The options weren’t as good as we expected. Our little guy fell asleep. Kenneth had a burger and I had a nice tomato, mozzarella and arugula salad.

Saturday, Dec 1

Day 3 - Epcot  (16 Attractions)

1.       10:00am  grab FP to Soarin’ and ride Mission: Space.  OK, we should have known when we were loaded onto the ride with no navigator that we were in trouble. That pretty much sums up the rest of our day. I feel like Epcot is a park that you can too easily wander around odd pathways doing nothing.  And having a navigator is really a good idea!  I was assigned the commander position, so of course I kept that title the rest of the day.  But it sure would have been nice to have a navigator!  I just hate walking around in circles and there isn’t much to see when you are walking around in circles at the front of that park.

2.       Spaceship Earth – Ok, those videos were hilarious!  Why can’t they email the whole video to you?  Definitely made such a dated ride.

3.       Innovention’s Sum of all thrills.  My 11 year old thought designing his ride was so cool.  Glad we didn’t miss this one. 

4.       Photo Pass at the front of Epcot

5.       Character Photos with Mickey and Minnie (Vent - Why are all the buildings in Florida so hot?  In California all the buildings are so cool and comfortable.)

6.       The Seas with Nemo and Friends (And I thought the new Little Mermaid ride was bad)

7.       Soarin’ (Ok, why don’t they call this what it is Soarin’ over California.  Sure it’s a favorite of ours too, but I don’t understand why the wait is so awful.  You really must get a FP in Florida. Our other observation was the cue and cast members were lacking compared to California.)

8.       Living with the Land

9.       Friendship Boat to World Showcase

10.   Teppan Edo (Reservation was for 1:30pm.  We didn’t make it there until 2:30pm.  We were seated with another party that had allergy issues. So they basically made three separate meals, which made our dinner take much longer than we had planned.  But we did enjoy our meal.

11.   5pm: Candlelight Processional.  The crowd was pretty thick and so our plan to see Santa before or after was scrapped. Little did we know that would be our only chance to see Santa in WDW.  In California there are so many more places to see Santa including your resort if you stay at The Grand Californian.

12.   China - Reflections of China in circle-vision

13.   Germany (no Hummel’s?!?!  Our last trip about 10 years ago one of the new generation was there signing Hummel’s and I was so looking forward to getting another one.  So sad to learn Goebel is no longer producing them.)

14.   Norway - Maelstrom Viking Boat and Movie.  My sons name is from Norway, and he just finished a big report on immigration from Norway.   On our last trip there were more things important from Norway for sale.

15.   Mexico - Grand Fiesta Ride

16.   8:30 Illuminations - fireworks and water show.  We had preferred seating with our dining package. In retrospect I think you can probably see the show from anywhere and instead of lining up in our assigned area we should have made our way over to Canada, UK and France, which we missed on our last trip as well!  Basically Epcot is a two day park.  Or a park to pick up a few things here and there when you pop in for a dinner reservation.  We did miss out on Le Cellier Steakhouse because they had no reservations and our trip was pretty last minute.  If we had planned to stay longer we could have picked up the last few things we didn’t get to see before or after dinner one evening.
We arrived back to our room to find room service had accidently delivered a beautiful cracker, cheese and fruit platter to our room by mistake along with a card wishing Glena and Silvia a Happy Anniversary. After we called the front desk they told us to enjoy and they would send another up to Glen and Sylvia.  We were sooooo tired and it had been such a long day.  This special delivery was just what we needed. And now whenever something magical happens we exclaim, "God Bless Glen and Sylvia!"

Sunday, December 2

Day 4 – Magic kingdom (20)


1.       Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom Card Adventure.  We probably shouldn’t have wasted our first hour doing this, but if you go to WDW all the time it’s a fun idea.

2.       Castle Photo Pass.

3.       Buzz Lightyear Spinner

4.       Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor

5.       Buzz Meet and Greet

6.       Carousel  of Progress

7.       Space Mountain X2 (Gotta try out both tracks!)

8.       Shop for new Mickey Ears… disappointed with selection… commiserate with WDW Corporate Employee about how Magic Kingdom just makes us homesick for Disneyland.  Disneyland is just so much more charming.  Bigger is not always better. Sometimes it’s just bigger. 

9.       Mickey PhilharMagic 3D

10.   Crystal Palace Character Meal with Pooh and Friends. We could have skipped this. Lunch was OK, but not great and our little guy seemed a little grown up for the crowd there. We should have checked out Be Our Guest, the new restaurant in Fantasyland. 

11.   Peter Pan with Fast Pass.

12.   Haunted Mansion – the new interactive cue is super fun!

13.   Hall of Presidents

14.   Splash Mountain

15.   Jungle Cruise

16.   Pirates of the Caribbean

17.   Thunder Mountain

18.   Magic Kingdom closed at 7:00pm for the new ticketed Christmas Party.  Cast Members instantly turned cold and we thought we would be able to talk out through the shops.  Wrong – “Get a Wristband” became our new family catch phrase as we were kicked out of the park.  We debated about buying tickets to the Christmas Party all day… but we were there for such short visit.  Maybe it would have helped our day feel more leisurely instead of so rushed.

19.   Swim at Storm Along Bay

20.   Beaches and Cream for dinner.  Where my husband finally got to order THE KITCHEN SINK!  I chose the tomato soup and it was so good we knew we were be back just for that.

Monday, December 3

Day 5 – Animal Kingdom (17 attractions)
Checking out the Christmas Tree (not the reflection in his glasses)


Kids always think the tricks the photo pass guys insert are fun!

1.       Oasis walk through

2.       Tree of Life Photos

3.       Discovery Island Trails

4.       Kilimanjaro Safaris

5.       Pangani Forest Trail

6.       Festival of the Lion King

7.       Christmas Mickey and Safari Donald Duck Meet and Greet


8.       Yak and Yeti for lunch.  It was so hot and muggy all morning with cloud cover.  Lunch was cool and relaxing.  The little guy had seared ahi appetizer for his entrĂ©e.  I chose the salmon and Kenneth a steak and shrimp prepared like a volcano!

9.       Finding Nemo – The Musical

10.   Boneyard Playground

11.   Dinosaur x2  No wait, they would have let us stay in that car all day if we wanted to!  New family catch phrase, “We’re not gonna make it, we’re not gonna make it!  …. We made it.”  Which was basically the theme of our trip. We basically waited for nothing, but also that meant we never took a break, never sat on a bench, didn’t even really have a snack. Even the shows were always made it just in time. It was exhausting!

12.   Everest x3  Ok, no one told me this went backwards… And as it went backwards in complete darkness I yelled “Are we supposed to be going backwards!?!  Are we going upside down!?!”  My boys laughed at my surprise and assured me we didn’t go upside down. I screamed, “Well I went upside down!”  This was also walk on.  I guess evenings at Animal Kingdom are just super slow as everyone leaves because the animals go in for the night.

13.   Kali River Rapids x5  This is pretty short compared to the raft ride in California with less thrills so it wasn’t quite so “Soakin’ Awesome!” as it could be.  But we still managed to get soaked!

14.   It’s Tough to be a Bug

15.   Russell and Doug Meet and Greet  - Park closed 7:00pm (Awsumb is still soaking wet!)

16.   Beaches and Cream for Dinner - 3 Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Please!

17.   Swim Storm Along Bay


Tuesday, December 4

Day 6 – Travel

Magic Kingdom Early Morning Hours (16 attractions)

1.       Ears

2.       Space Mountain x2

3.       Buzz Lightyear Spinners

4.       Jungle cruise

5.       Pirates of the Caribbean

6.       Thunder Mountain X2

7.       Splash Mountain

8.       Haunted Mansion

Check out of The Beach Club and have a quick Snack Lunch

9.       Friendship boat to Hollywood Studios

10.   Rock n Roll x2

11.   Tower of Terror

12.   Behind mouse

13.   Friendship boat back to Beach Club


4:00pm Town Car arrived to take us to the airport for our 6:30 pm flight home to Seattle… The airport was a nightmare and super busy.  The flight was long and cramped.  We should have used our afternoon to enjoy a leisurely meal… I just couldn’t click my heels fast enough to get home!  I usually have suitcases dumped out and laundry started by the time Kenneth settles with the cab driver.  If it weren’t for the wet clothes packed I would have left everything as it was by the front door because I was just completely drained.  But I managed to sort loads and put the luggage away before falling into bed by midnight.


And just like our last visit, which was for a week I told Kenneth, next time we need to go for 10 days or more and really take it easy!

Don't Forget The Parsley!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Our little Awsumb has always been precocious.  When he was very small and we went out to dinner he would get really upset if the service staff would not address him directly. He liked to order for himself.  One night while we were dining out he placed his order then added, “Don’t forget the parsley!”  He had noticed that when we go out, besides having someone else to serve us a cold drink and no dishes to clean up, that it was the little things that made it special.  Even a small garnish like parsley was an important part of the experience for him.   And it was that small thing that he cared about and didn’t want to miss out on.

 I have since realized that in a child’s eyes, it’s the little things that matter. And sometimes when you remember the little things, they don’t even care about the big things. This is why the large cardboard box that comes with a new toy, bed or whatever might be more exciting to them than the thing we spent money and time selecting for them.

 This is the time of year that I sometimes hear people worry that they can’t do enough for their children for Christmas.  Of course our challenge is trying to make sure our son doesn’t take things for granted.   As an only child he often gets things other kids in bigger families might not.  And although Awsumb has all that he wants and more, there are still things he asks for like and iPad, which he is NOT going to get.  Awsumb has brought up the idea of getting an iPad a few times recently.  And we have strictly told him this is just not going to happen.

 This weekend we put up our Christmas tree and the next morning Awsumb crawled in my bed to cuddle with me.  He said, “Ya know, even if we don’t get anything for Christmas we have such a beautiful tree.  And Auntie and Uncle are coming to stay with us.  We’ll all be together and Christmas will be so wonderful.”  He then paused and said, “As long as we get some chocolate!”  Apparently chocolate is very important to making Christmas special.  “At least a little piece.”

 Just a great reminder that it’s the little things that make memories and make celebrations and  holidays special.  Just like that small garnish of parsley, having a simple treat like chocolate, spending time with family and all those small, simple things are what our children will grow up and remember.  Take the time to make the little memories with your children.  For, it’s these little things that will help them remember that someone loves them.

 So this Christmas don’t forget the parsley, and some chocolate, at least a little piece!