Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flying Solo: Week One

We've survived week one of Rob's trip. Everybody is getting where they need to be, they're eating and sleeping and have even been bathed. But 'round about Sunday, the kids all racheted down a notch -- they're tired of Papa being gone and they've all let me know.
This one here has been acting like he's strung out on antibiotics: he's squirting water out of the fridge dispenser onto the floor, he's bitten me, hit me, thrown things at my head and generally had about twice as many smackdown tantrums as usual. The other day as I was trying to dress him and he was wriggling away, I said "Now are you going to be nice to me today?" He put his head on my shoulder and said "luvoo Mama" (which doesn't preclude any of the hitting, biting or water damage, but still felt nice).
Then Monday after a particularly trying round of violin practice, I was serenading Will and Joss by belting out "Love at Home" in my mock-opera voice. I was at "there is joy in every sound/when there's love at home . . ." when we heard Joss yell "Stop. STOP!!!"
Everyone's a critic.

[and Curtis guessed right: this picture comes from our SIL Saydi. You can see more of her stuff here. Rob and I don't have this kind of lenswork down.]

Monday, March 01, 2010

Disneyland Tips

So here, for Pmom and others' benefit are my own personal tips on Disneyland:

1.I love, love, love The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. There is a 2009 edition and it is not only informative, it is an entertaining read. I tried another guidebook afterward and threw it down in disgust; they weren't opinionated enough. I checked this out of the library and it told me how to get kids on the rides they want to ride: the Chuck-Bubba handoff, the Hail Mary Pass and the Dumbo-or-Die-in-a-Day touring plan for maximum parental sacrifice and maximum fun for kids under 8. (No, we didn't do it -- are we all about the kids?! I think not.) It also told you which gate to enter, rated the rides for scariness and wait time and hotels and restaurants too. It was Lois's recommendation and I second it.
2. Don't let your kids get lost. After four kids and five trips to Europe, I finally succumbed and bought Joss The Leash. I decided that I didn't want my kids to have memories of getting lost at Disneyland (and I didn't want to spend the whole day looking for them and filling out paperwork on Main Street). The Unofficial Guide had this fashionable suggestion:
Hazel's ID tag, artfully retouched by moi. So all the kids had these on in case we misplaced them. Laugh if you want, but none of our kids got lost and we ran into Dominic, who did. Cute kid, not crying, but not a lot of help either:
Us: What's your name?
Him: Dominic.
Us: What's your last name?
Him: Dominic.
Us: What's your mom's name?
Him: Mommy.
Rob stuck him up on his shoulders for better visibility and we found is mom in a minute or two. But we were still glad it wasn't one of ours.

3. Take raingear. It was supposed to rain two days of our visit and it only rained for the 2.5 minutes we took my dad on California Screamin'. Raingear was still wonderful for Grizzly Bear Run and Splash Mountain unless you're really trying to get wet.

4. Fastpasses are wonderful. If you have kids under the height requirement, you should also take advantage of "switching off". This works essentially like a fastpass only you don't have to wait for a time slot. Walk up to the staff member at the beginning of the line and tell them you'd like to switch off. They will give you a coupon good for two people. One parent waits in line with the tall-enough children. When they're out, the other parent uses the coupon and can take one person with them through the fastpass line.

5. Not my tip, but my friend Karen's: try RideMax software. This helps you plan a trip at Disneyland without spending all of it waiting in line. I thought it was a smartphone app, but I found the software at this website [Karen, what did you use?]. She says that she has a testimony of it, and I can believe it. We used a tip to get onto the submarine ride (which is terrifically slow) and those of us who didn't use it, didn't ride.

6. Take a break with shows. Our group loved Bill Hillie and the Hillbillies (Golden Horseshoe and you can eat while there), the Jedi Training Academy and the Enchanted Tiki Room. We wished that we'd seen Aladdin. You can plug in the dates you'll be there and find out what the schedule is for park opening times and for shows.

7. Plan some down time. Grandpa and Grandma graciously took Joss back to the hotel for naps, which was the greatest secret of his success. We had a trip to the hot tub one night and a family pillow fight the next.By day three, Sebastian was so tired from all the walking that I took the boys back to the hotel swimming pool. Even in the cool night air, they splashed and swam and did "waterbending" moves and were much happier than they would have been with more walking and rides. They needed to control the stimulation for a few hours.

More Reunion

We saw personalities.
I think all of us, even Rob, went on the teacups this trip. Grandma thinks it's the prettiest ride in the park. Uncle John coined a new term: "teacupping" -- when the force of the ride causes one to smash into her fellow rider. He claims that he got teacupped on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I'm afraid he's right.
Grizzly River Run. It is a beautiful ride, but inescapably wet. Water spurts up through the drains when you splash down. I think my shoes finally dried out at 10:00pm that night!
When I got off of our raft with three kids, looking like dripping hobos, there was a hot guy getting on in his Gore tex jacket who looked at us disparagingly and got onto our raft.
We turned right back around and got in line again, and who should be getting off the raft, but Gore tex man and his son, sopping wet and walking like saddle-sore cowboys! I was smug, it's true. Charlie, who barely, barely, BARELY made the height requirement (they measured him THREE times!) for Grizzly River Run, loved it so much that he rode it three times in a row.

[click to enlarge] We did actually eat. This was at Rancho del Zocalo and we liked the location and the available tables, though we decided that the food was only mediocre.

[click to enlarge] In a totally uncharacteristic move, Rob bought cotton candy. It was enjoyed by all. I enjoyed the fact that we ate it next to a restroom for quick and easy cleanup.
[click to enlarge] Toy Story Midway Mania was a hit with the whole clan. It was also the ride we waited longest for. I can't believe Emmeline keeps glasses on!
[don't bother clicking on this one. my pictures from the trip were overall disappointing] There were plenty of fast rides too. Maddie and Will became California Screamin' addicts and Sebastian was a convert to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad after his first trip with Aunt Kiecoo. She has the most amazing and unique memory: she put her arm around Sebi and told him step by step what was going to happen next on the ride. After that, he was ready to do it again.
Tower of Terror was entertaining because Kiecoo would shriek every time the elevator car moved.
And there was lots of time for carousels too. I was worried that Grandma and Grandpa hadn't ridden many rides. Grandma said "I like to watch the kids go on rides." and Will said "Grandma doesn't like the rides." but I corrected him: "Grandma likes lots of rides" I told him "but they're mostly in Fantasyland.
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