Today I'm posting two posts I started long ago and just never finished.
At the beginning of 2014, some of Ryan's family was talking about going to Disneyland. We would have loved to go since we told Leta and Annie that we would take them when they were 4 (the magical age for a first visit). We said it when Lucy and Elsa were 4 and got to go when we had a few free passes and we thought three years would be financially different and we would surely have more money....but we were wrong. I REALLY wanted to take Leta and Annie, but I just pushed this want aside since financially it just wasn't going to work. Then, things happened to fall into place. Ryan had a few good work months, we had a few extra financial blessings, and I found a way to get a group ticket rate through my preschool. We felt like this was our one shot to take Leta and Annie and it would be fun to go with family, so we made it work! It is kinda weird how we ended up going to Disneyland exactly 3 years after we took Lucy and Elsa for the first time. So Leta and Annie were the exact same age as Lucy and Elsa when they got to go for the first time. And now that we are in the middle of foster care, I really see how it was such a blessing taking the girls at that particular time.
We traveled to California on Monday afternoon. We took Lilly with us (she is good enough to put up with us). We enjoyed downtown Disney and eating at Rainforest Cafe Monday evening and then swimming in the hotel pool. Rainforest Cafe was a fun treat, but not one I would pay to do again. Then we went to Disneyland on Tuesday and Wednesday and drove home Wednesday night. Ryan was a trooper! The girls loved having Anna and her kid and Emily came with her kids on Tuesday, plus Grandma and Grandpa Melzer and aunt Lilly and Uncle James, and the Estes family all staying at the same hotel and enjoying Disney together.
Here are a few things I want to remember:
1 – Annie’s smile when she told me that Minnie Mouse gave her 2 kisses! And then her holding up her two pudgy fingers. Oh and her first ride face:
2 – The smile on Elsa’s face when Queen Elsa waved to her.
Elsa really wanted to meet Queen Elsa at Disneyland. However, the line was two hours long the whole day. Elsa was in tears and it was causing contention with other members of the family. Finally, we made the decision that I would split off from the group with her and take her to see Elsa just to see one more time what the wait was. When we got there, the cast member heard me explaining to Elsa that we would miss much of our time with family in order to stay in line. So the cast member, hearing that Elsa’s name was in fact Elsa, took Elsa to the exit door and let her wave hi to Queen Elsa. It wasn't an official meet and greet and we don’t have any pictures of them together which would have been wonderful to have, but at least Elsa was made to feel very special and we then were able to catch up with family and enjoy the rest of our afternoon. It was also nice to have the one on one time with my Elsa at Tarzan's Tree House while the others were finishing Haunted Mansion.
We had eye contact!
3 – The look on Leta and Annie’s faces when we went on Tower of Terror. Both of them sat there in utter shock. All my girls decided in the end that they no longer liked Tower of Terror. I’m just glad no one’s heart stopped on the ride – though I was worried. I actually had the thought once the ride started, "Has a child ever died from shock?" Surprisingly, I didn't get too sick on this ride. Didn't know if it was the peppermint oils I put on before the ride or the fact that I was too worried about my girls.
4 – The giggles from Leta and Annie as I got to drive with each of them for the first time on Autopia. Both of them smacked their heads on the steering wheel and just kept on giggling and had the biggest smiles that they were actually driving a car!!
5 – The heat from sitting so close to the flames in the World of Color Show – which also meant the constant mist from the water fountains. We were soaked by the end of the night.
6 – Getting to go on Grizzly River Rapids twice – right in a row. It was our last ride of the entire trip and I knew people were eager to leave. It ended up with me, Lilly and James taking all the kids on the ride. We rode once and then all the kids were BEGGING to go again and I know everyone dreams of getting to ride the rides at Disneyland twice in a row without even getting off. Plus I hated ending the trip on a big No! So I took a calculated risk and let the kids ride again liked they asked even though I knew I was going to deal with the frustration of waiting parents and more motion sickness (and yes, there were angry eyes and upset parents and Ryan wouldn't talk to me when we got off). It was a good thing I didn't let them go three times like they were begging to. The laughter from everyone on the ride and getting to see everyone’s smiles all at once since we were in a big round tube was priceless to me - and possibly my favorite moment of the whole trip. We were cold and soaked, people were mad at Kathryn, but it was priceless.
Picture of Ryan not wanting to talk to me or wait to walk with me as we left the park the last time (that fact kind of tainted the utter joy we had just experienced).
7 – Feeling like a constant snack pack for my kids – my shoulders ached, but I kept many a tummies happy.
8 – Finding the perfect shoes before our trip at one of the two stores I had time to shop at. Athletic, more fashionable than my other shoes, and oh so comfortable. It was a shoe miracle for my crazy feet.
9 – There were many favorite parts about our trip to Disneyland, but I LOVED Lucy telling me while waiting in line the second morning – “Mom, they say this is the happiest place on earth, but it’s not.” So I asked, “Oh, what is the Happiest Place on earth?” And I kid you not, I didn't even pay the girl to say this, but she said, “Home.” And she is right. Disneyland is fun and over the top and exciting, but home is where we are at our best. Home is my favorite.
10 – Annie flinching big time as she thought the golf ball on Soaring Over California was going to hit her.
11 – I rode a carousel! It has been many many years, but Leta and Annie were begging to go on the one in California Adventure while we were waiting for Ryan and Lucy and Elsa on California Screaming, and my prayers were heard. I didn't get sick! (Though Lucy got terribly sick on California Screaming. At least she tried it once, but now knows, like her mom, no loopty doops.)
12 – Thankful that my little brother-in-law James gets motion sickness too. He made my Disney trip more fun because I didn't feel like a big wuss if I didn't want to go on a ride (like Space Mountain - couldn't handle Space Mountain after Star Tours, so I did Autopia with Leta and James.). It was fun getting to hang out with James more. He even saved me the seat on Grizzly River Run that he thought wouldn't get as soaked. James is such a neat kid and I'm glad we got to go on this trip together before his mission (I don't ever want to forget his laughter and smiles on Grizzly River Run either).
13 – Watching how the older girls’ bodies would steam as they got out of the Jacuzzi at our hotel and would run to go jump in the regular pool, or play with aunt Lilly in the splash pad area.
14 – The fact that Ryan didn't think my trick for making Leta taller would work and it did. He sat there and doubted when our little girl appeared about 2 inches too short to ride Matterhorn. I made him go away and I worked my magic. Then my short little runt got to ride on Matterhorn. All it took was a few pairs of wadded up socks in each heel.
15 - Seeing how happy it made Leta to buy her souvenir - a tiger! We made the rule up front that we would buy souvenirs on the last day at the end of the day so as to avoid buyers remorse. She had already figured out what she wanted on day one and then asked when it was time to go home the rest of the time, merely because she just wanted to go buy her tiger. We let her buy it earlier than we planned and no buyer's remorse here!
All the girls with their souvenirs. Annie only got a sucker because she saved her money for me to take her back to Build a Bear (they had a build a bear in downtown Disney and she wanted a Twilight Sparkle. I took her to get her Twilight Sparkle later in the month, when we were home. She was stubborn and held out.)
16 - Me beating Ryan on the Buzz Lightyear game.
17 - Yo Ho Yo Ho, the Pirate's life for me. Sadly Splash Mountain was closed again, but we did enjoy our pirate adventures.
18 - Catching the parade just in time and squeezing in to watch it.
19 - Annie, as we were leaving the park, trying to count on her fingers how old she will be before we have a chance to go again. I think we decided she might be 8.
20 -The girls having fun, being with and making memories with family.
Waiting for the park to open so we can run to Peter Pan.
Ryan and his sister Emily. We all love Emily and wish we could have spent more time with her.
Churros since the Pineapple Dole Whip place was closed.
We LOVED having grandma and grandpa!!
Disneyland is not perfect. Planning and dreaming is always lots of fun. It took up too much of my time and I probably wasted too much time planning, but that was my fun. I actually made myself a little sick from worry/planning. There was a stomach bug going around my preschool before we left and I was so sure we were coming down with it that the worry actually made me feel sick. Plus my eye doctor gave me a glaucoma scare that didn't help either.
Actually being at Disneyland was fun too, but exhausting emotionally and physically. Everything is definitely not perfect and I did have my moments of frustration. It was hard on me trying to balance the fact that it was Leta and Annie's first Disney trip, but yet I wanted to stay with family members as well. I hated that we didn't spend a ton of time with Emily and her kids while they were there because we wanted Leta and Annie to experience everything. Of course that made me worry more that family thought we were being lame for doing our own thing. It would have been nice if we knew that we were going to be back soon so that I didn't try to cram everything in and could have just relaxed with family more. Plus, I had created a plan that Ryan and I were going to stick to with our girls and others followed my plan too, so I was kind of stressed out, worrying if others thought I was doing a terrible job mapping out our itinerary for rides or being too bossy. (I really need to stop worrying so much if people are having a good time on vacation.) Plus there were times I got a little frustrated that I felt like I was trying to play catch-up with fast walking Ryan and Anna as we walked through the parks and I just wanted to walk and talk with my husband. (I know, cry me a river - I mostly hated that I let it bug me and hated that I worry too much for Pete's sake!). All in all, it was a lot of fun and very memorable, but while there, I realized Disneyland is definitely not the happiest place on earth and we don’t need to go again for many years…that is until I came home and looked at pictures and now want to do it all over again – this time with a season pass so we can go at a more leisurely pace. Hah.