Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Disneyland pictures, part I.

Arriving at our hotel, the Marriott Residence Inn Anaheim Maingate. The hotel was about a ten-minute walk from the park entrance. We enjoyed having a suite with a kitchen, and breakfast was included each morning

First stop: Dumbo! Vivian loved the "magic feather" they give you when it's your turn

Vivian tried to give the magic feather to Dumbo so he could fly

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Dots on Main Street USA

Fireworks over Sleeping Beauty's Castle

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Dots on Main Street USA at night

Back at Disneyland early the next morning when we had early admission

First stop: the crazy busy Star Tours which just reopened mid-June. We loved this ride! (Some of us, anyway - you can see what Vivian thought of Star Tours. She balked at the last minute and wouldn't get on so Robert and I traded off waiting with her - Dots got to go twice in a row)

Back on Dumbo!

Vivian on Dumbo again - this was the morning she was so out of sorts

Robert and his girls on the Casey Jr Train

Robert and Vivian on the Casey Jr Train. Vivian kept repeating, "Just like on Dumbo"

Dots on the carousel in Fantasyland

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Vivian liked riding the horse

Vivian gives Minnie a hug

It's a Small World

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Vivian and me on It's a Small World

Vivian on the Disneyland Railroad. Who'd have guessed things were about to get ugly?!

Vivian threw herself out of her stroller and tried to get off the moving train. Nice!

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The girls and me after we got Vivian settled down. She had a seizure not 20 minutes later, which was likely the cause of her earlier distress. She had another seizure an hour or so later after she and I got back to the hotel

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Evening in Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure

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The nighttime ElecTRONica show at Disney California Adventure. Will and Dots LOVED this

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Report on Disneyland.

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We had a wonderful family trip to Disneyland! We left last Monday morning and got home Saturday night. I'm just now digging my way out from under the laundry and mail to take time to share some pictures.

The family just after we entered Disneyland

New entrance to Disney California Adventure

This visit we especially enjoyed Disney California Adventure. The park is in the middle of a $1.1 billion expansion and enhancement endeavor, and the parts that are done are fabulous. Disney had just unveiled a new entrance to California Adventure days before we arrived, and I loved the music that was playing just inside the gates. All of it was California-themed. I'm trying to locate a playlist, but the ones I can remember are:

26 Miles by the Four Preps
San Fernando Valley by Bing Crosby
Do You Know the Way to San José by Dionne Warwick
The Little Old Lady from Pasadena by Jan and Dean
Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger
California Dreamin' by The Mamas and the Papas
San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie
and Surfin' USA by the Beach Boys

I used a really slick app on my iPhone called SoundHound to identify the ones I didn't know. I just held it up while a song was playing and in a few seconds it had identified the title and artist. Very handy!

Since DCA is a fairly new park, everything there is completely handicap accessible. This was great with Vivian as there were several rides we could take her on without having to get her out of her stroller (fewer transitions equates to fewer meltdowns with Vivian). We also had a Guest Assistance Pass that allowed us to use the handicap entrances at Disneyland and to wait in a quiet area when there were long lines; that pass was a godsend with Vivian.

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A DCA Cast Member loading Vivian onto a chariot on the brand new Little Mermaid ride (that was very cute!). They had me get into my seat in the chariot first, and I was so nervous that Vivian would get upset before the sweet unsuspecting girl got her into the vehicle. Fortunately that didn't happen!

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On board the chariot. I am trying to buckle our seatbelt in case Vivian decides to try and escape before the ride is over

Dots and Will seemed to enjoy themselves. Dots loved having her picture taken with the Disney characters. She and Will both loved the ElecTRONica music and special effects show at night in DCA and were big fans of the California Screamin' roller coaster. I haven't ridden a roller coaster in years, but I even enjoyed that one, though I only rode it once where the two of them went upwards of ten times over the course of the week.

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Dots and her Disney friends

Dots and Will in Fantasyland

The family sans me in the Paradise Pier area of DCA. California Screamin' is behind them

I was a bit disappointed that Vivian didn't enjoy Disneyland more. She seemed to *endure* our time there rather than revel in it. Tuesday morning Vivian was especially out of sorts. It was difficult to get her onto any rides, even though we were attempting things she should have liked (Dumbo, Casey Jr. Train, Carousel, etc.). We were on the Disneyland Train heading to meet Will (whom I had let sleep in so that I didn't have to deal with another grumpy child) when seemingly out of the blue Vivian melted down, threw herself out of her stroller and started to fuss about getting off the train (not an option as it was moving). Robert was able to calm Vivian down and get her back into her stroller where she fell asleep. Not ten minutes later she had a seizure (Vivian also had another one after I took her back to the hotel to recoup). I should have known something was stirred up in Vivian's little brain as she really was not herself that morning. Vivian did better as the week went on, but she never stopped asking her to go home. She eventually started getting on rides in the hopes, I think, that each would deliver her home! Since we've been home, however, she has said Disneyland was fun and will recount a couple of the rides she liked if asked.

Vivian on the Jungle Cruise

Vivian with Robert and Dots on the Casey Jr Train

Our family's favorite thing this trip was certainly the World of Color fountain show at DCA. My pictures don't do the spectacle justice, and it is also difficult to describe. 1200 fountains are choreographed with lights and Disney music and videos. The show was simply amazing. My reticent teenaged son told me he used up the last of his phone's memory trying to video World of Color. He even requested that we go back to see it again the next night (which we did). You can read a little more about the show here: World of Color.

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World of Color

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World of Color

Robert commented that he enjoyed this trip even more than Hawaii. That's saying a lot!

Robert and Vivian near Indiana Jones - my favorite ride at Disneyland apart from Peter Pan

Robert and Dots on the Disneyland Railroad

I'm a bit sad that our Disney vacation is over and am already plotting to go back after the construction at Disney California Adventure is complete. Perhaps by that time I'll have finished the laundry and mail from this trip!


Stay tuned for more pictures...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Off to Disneyland!

Will and Dots, Walt Disney World, 2003

Our family leaves for Disneyland in the morning! I can hardly wait. Besides the fun of the parks, Southern California weather with its highs of 80° sounds like a much welcome improvement over our sustained days of 100+ here in Texas.

Vivian, Walt Disney World, 2003

We took the kids to Disneyland in (I think) 2000 and 2001, but the trips predate my digital camera and I don't have time to dig out my old-fashioned albums and check. I did find these pictures from Walt Disney World in 2003 and Disneyland Paris in 2004 which were our last trips to Disney. As you can see from the age of the children in these shots, our experience this time will likely be much different! I'm looking forward to spending time together as a family, though, since we are so seldom all together for any length of time anymore.

The girls and me, Disneyland Paris, 2004

I'll post back soon. Wish me luck as we try to convince Vivian to ride anything besides Dumbo and the Casey Junior Train!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Love those Chick-fil-A cows.


In-N-Out Burger recently arrived in the Dallas area. The latest outlet opened a few weeks ago not far from my house. The response has been so incredible that there are several policemen directing traffic, and people are lined up for hours to buy a burger!

About two doors down from the new In-N-Out is a very successful Chick-fil-A franchise. Last weekend I spotted this billboard above the Chick-fil-A. I thought it was hilarious and so very clever! Love those cows.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dots on a mission. Of sorts.


Dots left this week for a mission trip to Colorado with a group from our church. They will spend a couple of days helping out with a homeless shelter in inner city Denver and then take part in some backpacking and whitewater rafting near Gunnison.

Her leaders have been posting some pictures and updates on Twitter.

Here some people are planting flowers.

While this group is picking up trash.

But where is Dots?

The only picture of her was taken at "Free Slurpee Day" at 7-11. Hmmm. I can almost promise you I know whose idea that was!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Report on the Fourth.

Yikes! Here it is the 13th of July and I'm just now posting pictures from the 4th. Will had his wisdom teeth out last Thursday, and I've been playing nursemaid to him. Let's blame the delay on that!

We had a very nice, if low-key, Fourth of July. We had some neighbors over to cook out Sunday night, then went to our community parade Monday morning and to watch fireworks Monday night.

Dots made these patriotic cupcakes from scratch using Cooks Illustrated's cupcake recipe and Ina Garten's buttercream frosting recipe. She thought of dying part of the icing red and blue and piping them to make the design on top. They were as delicious as they were cute!

Vivian helped herself to two cupcakes! (Notice the white gauze wrap that has replaced Vivian's beloved pink "cactus." We covered her incision to keep her from messing with the steri-strips, and it has had the added benefit of making her think she still has a cast!

Casual dinner with neighbors the night before the Fourth

The girls, Tucker and me at the parade

A funny Vivian story: Dorothy and her friend Clare wanted me to take them to get snow cones on the Fourth of July. I asked Vivian if she would like to go with us or stay home with Daddyman and Will. She thought for a minute and then answered, "I want to go with us."

Robert took some video of the fireworks on his iPhone. Listen to the end for Vivian's opinion of the grand finale!

Hope you had a Happy Fourth of July!