California Part 1: Disneyland

We planned a trip to California for my cousin's wedding. Nicole is technically my third cousin, but she happens to be my very favorite third cousin, so a trip to California to celebrate her marriage was in order.

The original concept was a cram-eight-girls-into-my-Pilot trip, but it later morphed into a take-everyone-but-the-working-husbands-and-difficult-little-boys trip. That means Steve and Adam both stayed home.

We stopped in Las Vegas for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe and a quick visit to Coke World and the M&M Factory. And then we kept on driving to California.

The next morning, we made the kids eat as much as they possibly could at the breakfast buffet and walked over to Disneyland:

Right inside the gate, we saw Minnie Mouse:

And then I saw this sign, and I was relieved that Adam wasn't with me:

Our first ride was the Jungle Cruise, and it did not disappoint:

We hit most of the main rides: Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo the Elephant, Tiki Room, Indiana Jones, the train, It's a Small World, the carrousel, the Matterhorn, Peter Pan's Flight, Storybook Land, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Teacups:

And the kids got to meet lots of Disney characters:

We cruised through the park rather quickly, thanks to Talmage and his special needs pass. Rachel was in need of some attention, so I took her and Kaleigh over to explore California Adventure. They had a good time riding one or two rides together:

But then Kaleigh fell asleep, so Rachel went on some of the bigger rides by herself. She is brave:

We waited in a long line to ride Mickey's Fun Wheel. . . and then it promptly started raining. The wind was cold, and ferris wheels are so so slow. We were trapped in our cage at the top when they announced that they were experiencing technical difficulties.

By the time we got off the ride, our shoes and pants were soaking wet and we were freezing cold. It was a bit disappointing because it was only 5:30 pm, and we had planned to stay at the park until midnight. As we were exiting the park, I asked the lady at the gate if they ever offer anything as compensation when it rains. I was sent to talk to someone else, who sent me to talk to someone else, who sent me to talk to someone else. Rachel was near tears and begged to go back to the hotel, but I told her to give me five more minutes. We walked out of guest services with $900 in free passes.

We spent our "bonus day" at California Adventure Park, and it was much more magical for me. Slightly warmer, less wind, no rain, and the rides and are inspired by Disney movies from the last few years. . . meaning I've actually seen them.

I think we hit all of the rides, except for a few that were closed because of the wind. My favorites were California Screamin, Soarin over California, Redwood Creek (the kids could have played there all day long and I felt badly that Adam wasn't there- he would have loved it), and Toy Story:

(That was the score from my first ride through. Yes, Lucy beat me. I didn't realize you could rapid fire until the very end of our second time through and now I can't wait to go back and beat Rebecca's score.)

The cameras on the California Screamin captured some pretty funny faces:

But nothing beats this shot from the Tower of Terror:

Kaleigh rode every ride she was tall enough for and cruised around the park as happy as could be:

Rachel was extremely helpful throughout the entire trip. And I finally found out why. . . she wanted a churro. We sent the others off on another ride and snuck away to buy her a special treat:

By the end of the day, my shoulder was throbbing in pain, but I had such a great time. I left Disneyland thinking we never needed to go back, but after our second day at California Adventure, I was already planning out in my head when we could return with Steve and Adam.

We stayed long enough to watch World of Color, and then we caught one more ride on Soarin Over California and called it a night.


My Favorite Christmas Gift

Late at night, on Christmas Eve, my sister emailed this to me.

Pretty sure it's my favorite Christmas gift of the year.

Thanks, Rebecca.


I'm Back

After a long, unintentional hiatus from blogging, I'm back.

Where in the world did December go?

(I didn't do a very good job of taking pictures, so most of these are camera pics. And I stole some of from Rachel's iPod and some off of Facebook.)

I sold a trailer full of poinsettias for the Junior League of Ogden. And had a few discussions over the pronunciation of the word poinsettia:

We decorated our Christmas tree:

We went to Snow Days at Weber State University, which coincidentally, might have been the last time it snowed:

We took the kids to their first Weber State Mens Basketball game:

I finally took Adam to the doctor and left with three prescriptions for him and one for me. . . He had a really bad cold and I found out I have a separated shoulder. (Last week, my favorite uncle taught me that a "separated shoulder" is a poor term to use. And that Insta-Care doctors aren't generally suited to deal with orthopedic problems.)

We celebrated December birthdays at Ballard Family Sunday:

Kaleigh was the most pleasant present-opener ever. She was absolutely delighted with every single gift, making it very fun to watch.

My sister nominated me for What Not to Wear:

Not really, but after seeing this picture, I think I should probably give in and let her nominate me. This picture was taken the day I took Adam to the Insta-Care. I was at the pharmacy filling prescriptions when I got a text from Steve that the power was out (again) and to go pick up the girls from church. By the time I got there and picked them up, it was time to go to Ballard Family Dinner. It had been a rough day, and I had no energy to change my clothes. Steve came down to the kitchen wearing a grey shirt and his corduroy pants. . . said he didn't want me to be the only one wearing corduroys. When Derrick showed up late, wearing a grey hoodie, I figured we probably needed a picture. How embarrassing.

Steve's winter rye finally decided to sprout:

We participated in the Children for Children concert at the Jefferson Creative Community Center:

The kids discovered all sorts of funny apps on their iPods and spent hours and hours giggling at their creations:

Their current favorites are Snoopy's Fair, Singing Santa, Holiday Video, and MouthOff. Singing Santa would be what the lucky folks in my ward got to hear during Sacrament Meeting a couple weeks ago.

We held the second Ballard Girls' Night and went to the Holiday Open House at the Eccles Community Art Center. Afterwards, we came back to my house to make gingerbread houses and drink hot chocolate.

It was pleasant/enjoyable/fun/loud/rowdy, depending on who you ask.

I made a couple of late-night Christmas shopping trips and only got pulled over once. A fix-it ticket forced us to finally got our taillights fixed. (Debra, tell Aaron it was a fuse.)

Rachel and Lucy played their last Jr. Jazz basketball game of the season:

We attended the Milligan Family Christmas Party and got to ride horses:

Adam required full-time supervision:

Other activities included laying on the heated floors, talking to the chickens, and playing Mormon Mouthful:

We were excited that Steve took the day off work to go with us. . . but then he stayed up all night working and had a rough morning moving three families from our ward. (The whole story is way better than that and includes having to wake one of the families up and then watching one of the ladies they were moving be taken away by the police in handcuffs.) Steve slipped away from the party and drove to Preston to get some much-needed food. He ordered. And then realized he didn't have his wallet with him. Tired and hungry is not a good combination for him; he probably should have just stayed home.

My two cousins and I decorated Rebecca's car:

We went to our wonderful ward Christmas party:

Steve spoke in sacrament meeting and invited one of his employees to go to church with us. Adam sat on the visitor's lap during the sacrament and grabbed a whole handful of bread and quickly shoved it into his mouth before I could do anything to stop him. Rachel and Lucy were well behaved, but we were sitting so far back that they needed binoculars to see the speakers:

We went to the Sonora Grill Christmas Party. No pictures were taken because there was nothing worthy of taking pictures. I will be planning next year's party.

Rachel and Lucy went to the symphony with the Dave Ballard Family. And the adults went to Sonora Grill for Rebecca's birthday dinner:

(If you need another reason to love December, try the Chiles en Nogada at Sonora Grill.)

This photo of Kacie was taken by Rachel at Rebecca's birthday dinner. I'm not sure what's going on, but since Kacie just had a birthday, I figured I should probably post it. Happy Birthday, Kacie!

Lucy wrote her letter to Santa Claus:

Steve let Adam do his own hair for preschool:

And it seems like I spent a whole lot of time dealing with random issues.

We thought our mail was stolen off our front porch. But after spending hours on the phone, we found out that the mailman had just scanned the packages incorrectly:

I created our family Christmas card online and waited patiently for them to arrive. . . only to find out that there had been a glitch. So then I had to re-create and re-order. Those cards came with a mistake on them as well. MyPublisher was kind enough to replace them, but then they didn't send as many as I had ordered. As in not enough to send out. (So please don't be offended if you didn't receive one.) And if your mailman asks for 15 cents before he will give you your mail, that's because I accidentally sent the first half of our cards out with 29 cent postcard stamps on them.

We received at $9,000 bill from the IRS. It is completely incorrect, but the process of digging up all of my receipts from 2005 to prove that they are wrong is a bit of a project.

California pictures and how to pull off a five-day trip to Disneyland/California for four people for less than 800 bucks coming soon!