Spring Break 2014: Huntington Beach

We had a great final couple days at a resort in Huntington Beach. It was a little windier than we would have liked, but overall, it was well worth it to see the sun.

The best part was the pool, which the resort had heated up to what felt like 100 degrees. It was definitely warmer in the pool then out of it. Derek also had a his first experience {briefly} in the hot tub and I seriously believe it to be one of the top 10 moments of his life. He loved it.

Tate of course just wanted to swim around in the pool for hours. That kid and his energy.

Here are some final photos from the trip:

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Spring Break 2014: California Adventure

After our day at Disneyland, we spent the next day at its’ sister park, California Adventure. They are right next to one another, as in, you go to the same entrance, turn right for Disneyland, left for California Adventure.

There are “Park Hopper” passes available that allow you to cross over from one park to the other, but we opted to do a single park a day pass, mostly because with our littles we just didn’t see trekking back and forth as a realistic option.

We were totally right. Good call, us.

I said, “Let me take a picture of you at the entrance of the park.” This is what I got. Derek calls this, “Us laying down together like puppies.”


When we were at California Adventure years ago, they were still in process of creating “Cars Land,” based on the movie, Cars. Now it’s complete, with a plethora of other rides and in all honesty, our family enjoyed it more than Disneyland.

The absolute highlight of our time at California Adventure was this: I had read online how the most popular ride Radiator Springs Racers was a must ride. So cool. But so popular that the fast passes for it are gone in the first half hour the park is open. If you’re lucky. So when I put together my fancy Ridemax itinerary for our day, I was like, “Yes, must be there early to get fast pass.” We can do this.

We could not do this.

We did not end up seeing the Disney Jr. show, but at least we got a picture, where we are not laying down like puppies.


We arrived at California Adventure at 10:30 a.m. and I decided to just take a deep breath and not worry about it. But Ryan was like, “Hey, why don’t I go and see if I can get a fast pass for that big ride you were talking about.” And I was like, “Dude, there is no hope. The internet has informed me that what you are speaking of is impossible.” And Ryan said, “Well, I don’t care, you just go on that ride over there and I’ll run over and see.”

So after barely rolling my eyes at such optimism, {because I am a supportive partner}, I dragged the kids off to ride Monsters, Inc. When we came out, Ryan was standing there, with what were quite possibly the last four fast passes of the day for that ride. He told me that in line, the workers were actually warning everyone that they were almost gone and there was no assurance that just because you were in line, you were going to get one.

But he did. This is what I love about Ryan, he still always surprises me.

These were the absolute lats ones of the day because our return time, was, I kid you not, 9:15 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.

We spent most our time in Cars Land. The boys rode these cute little tire things that actually float off the ground on air. You move around by shifting your weight from side to side. The boys kept fighting about who got to be with Ryan on every ride, but this time Derek totally lucked out being with me because, tip: those things work best when you are not very heavy. So the two lightest people in our family zipped all over on air, while the two heavier members of our family did not.

See kids! I have talents too.

Derek was yelling at me, “Mom get in the ride! It’s going to start!”


After lunch we were all so tired. I am not even kidding. Our big day before, coupled with my sickness and the boys’ exhaustion and we decided to go back to the hotel for a couple hours and rest.

This was a good call. Three of us fell asleep and Ryan got some time alone. Refreshing for all!

My children, revived for a fresh bout of mania.


When we got back to the park, Ryan went to run and try to get a fast pass for the Color Wonder water show. We were not so lucky this time and they were gone, but it turned out that the fast pass machines were right next to this new river ride and the line was only 5 minutes long. Apparently this is unheard of because people were literally running from all corners of the park to get in line. Weird. Derek was a couple inches too short to ride, but Tate begged us to take him, so while Ryan stayed with D, Tate and I boarded the “rafts.”

Turns out, it was a good call for Ryan to stay. It’s never a good sign when you see people walking out the exits in drenched jeans, while wringing out their hair. Also, there were a lot of people in ponchos. What?

I will just leave you with this picture which gives a fairly accurate representation of what was happening:

Tate and I lucked out and only one of the legs of my jeans got drenched. I look more like a slightly damp rat than a drowned one, which is shown by this oh-so-flattering photo Ryan took:

See the kid wearing the poncho? And see my very wet leg? We were on opposite sides of the preparedness scale.


This was excellent timing since it was about 5:00 p.m. and the sun was setting. But what do you do? So we got some ice cream and went and stood in line for this Flight over California ride. Which is awesome and I highly recommend.

The line for this was long, but here is my one tip for Disneyland/California Adventure {other than don’t bother buying Ridemax if you struggle with things like, “Time management.”} We totally bought the kids one of those overpriced toys each day we were there and it made the whole standing in line thing completely bearable. This day I bought them these handheld bubble machines that just blow bubbles constantly. This was the best thing. I would have gladly paid twice as much. I’m sorry to all of those who might hate bubbles and were unfortunately caught in a never-ending stream of them, but for the most part, since it’s a theme park and bubbles are fun, most people liked them.

After that ride {which was awesome} we went over to Cars Land for dinner and ate at Flo’s V-8 Cafe, which was across from the Cone Motel {if you haven’t seen Cars all of this will be lost on you, but for those who have? It looks exactly like the movie!}. The boys had fun there and then Ramon drove up and had a little dance party in the street.

I have no idea why there is weird reflection back in this picture.


The parks are almost cooler at night, with all the lights and everything. I think for our guys it made the experience feel like that much more of a treat, since usually we are gearing up for bedtime when it’s dark.

That cloud of bubbles? Definitely from us.


We rode a few more rides and then it was time to go over to Radiator Springs Racers. Do not ever stand in line for this ride. The line was so long that I think it was possible to become fossilized while waiting. Seriously, it was easily three hours long. With a fast pass it was like five. Did I mention what a hero Ryan was to all of us in that moment?

The ride was super fun. Derek got to sit in the front and Tate was not scared at all. It was a great ride.

This was the perfect last ride. We also ended up going to see if we could see any of the water show. We were able to see most of it and Tate loved it. Derek was not as impressed. He just wanted to go on more rides. The show went right up to the park closing so that was it. Here’s a picture of exhausted Derek, bubble maker in hand, on the way home.

Next time we come, everyone will be tall enough to ride everything. And I will be sure to bring my poncho.

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Spring Break 2014: Disneyland

One of our main reasons for visiting California was to take the boys to Disneyland. Ryan had a conference call on Monday morning and then after that we set off for the park.

I’ll be honest, I felt a bit of trepidation since Disneyland has gotten big and there are now what feels like a million “tips” on how to make it the best time ever, keep your sanity, skip the lines, save money and not lose your children.

I did end up buying this cool Ridemax software, which essentially allows you to plug in your desired rides and attractions for the day and it creates an itinerary for you so that you can maximize your riding and minimize your waiting.

I know some people might say that having a schedule takes the fun out of the experience, but let me tell you, one time standing in line with small children for two hours waiting for a three minute ride will redefine your idea of “Fun-less experience.”

Here’s a tip on Ridemax though. It works best when you: 1. Get to the park as early as possible 2. Actually follow the schedule.

Here is what we did: 1. Got to the park almost two hours after it opened. 2. Immediately veered off schedule to ride Pirates of the Caribbean.

Thanks, Ridemax. Your itinerary looked awesome and efficient. I’m sure it was great.

But here’s the thing, the boys loved Pirates of the Caribbean and it totally worked out because I thought it was too scary and did not even have it on the schedule. Also, they were able to walk right in, whereas for the rest of the day the line was easily two hours long {everything fun was two hours long}.

Disney has this cool thing called Fastpass where some of the most popular rides have these little machines that you can put your admission ticket in and get another ticket to come back to ride the ride later. And skip the whole line in the process. The caveat is that you can only have one Fastpass at a time, but man, totally worth it.

We only used one while we were there, for Splash Mountain, but it was incredible. When you are jogging past a barely moving line of people two hours long, it makes everything feel right in the world.

Derek was just big enough to ride almost all the fun rides, and Splash Mountain was a go for him. I was a little worried about it, but he loved it. And if you ask him, it was by far his favorite ride.

We also met Mickey Mouse. This is the thing we realized about our children on this trip: Tate is an experience guy, he loved the parades, the fireworks, he was excited {still} to see Mickey, and he wanted to ride all the boat rides that take you around to see different areas of the park.

If Tate had his way we would have just taken waterway after waterway all day long.

Derek is all about the rides and the thrills. We met Mickey and as we were walking about, he said, “Well, can we go ride Splash Mountain again?”

Our last ride of the night was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This one really threw us off because it had broken down earlier in the day and so they let everyone with an earlier Fastpass cut the line {usually you only have an hour slot to return and there are only so many tickets given out for each hour}. This was probably the longest line I’ve ever stood in my life.

But it was cool to ride it at night since it goes in and out of the mountain and it’s up so high. They’ve also redone it with bigger special effects. Ryan and Derek were behind us and while Tate was wide-eyed at all the stuff coming at us from every side, Derek had his arms up in the air, yelling with glee at every turn.

Here are some other moments from the day:

Tate on the Dumbo ride, he kept talking about how the last time he was here he rode it with Grandma Pat, even though she was scared of heights.

The Astroblasters. These are like the Dumbo ride except rockets and they go much higher. The boys loved these.

They held hands almost the whole time.

This was funny. We walked through Tarzan’s Treehouse and there was this box hanging high up off the ground with a rope dangling down. Every kid who went by had to try climbing it. Even the big kids. I could see Tate sizing it up and then he walked up to it, hoisted himself up to the top in about two seconds, hit the box and then walked off without a word.

Ryan and I were laughing because that is totally something he would have done as a kid.

And our crazy pictures. This trip, man. The boys were wilder than I’ve ever seen them. So yes, there are fewer pictures because I was sick and off my game a bit, but seriously, these photos are a good example of what magical faces my children were making the majority of the time.

Disneyland was fun, but exhausting. We stayed until the end of the fireworks show and then took our tired boys home. Derek walked the whole day and though most days I don’t think it’s even possible to physically wear Tate down, he was asleep in 2.5 seconds after we got home.

I’m glad we took them and I think the next time we go will probably be when they’re old enough to run and get the Fastpasses for Ryan and I.


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Spring Break 2014: Visit to Palm Desert

For the first time, ever? we decided to go somewhere for Spring Break. Specifically, Southern California. I’ve been wanting to take the boys to Disneyland and this is usually around the time when winter becomes quite tiresome. Some sun sounded good.

Ryan flew home from New York on Friday night and we drove up to Seattle on Saturday afternoon for a late night flight out. Quite the relaxing beginning.

Also, I had a terrible head cold and both boys were starting to sniffle.

On the plus side, we got a nice upgrade to first class {or “front class” as Tate calls it. The downside is that no matter how large and comfy the seats, nothing could dull the excruciating pain of descent pressure on our three clogged heads. There were tears. Many, many tears.

But we survived and after a restful night at the Hilton near LAX, we got up the next day for the first thing on our agenda, driving out to Palm Desert to see Ryan’s Grandpa Bill and Uncle Ken.

The drive out was beautiful and sunny and everything I love about California. I have fond memories of similar road trips taken that way with my dad and sisters, so it was fun to retrace a similar route with our kids.

Palm Desert was so warm. Man, I love that place. Spring Break 2015, maybe?

It was such a treat to get to see Grandpa Bill and Ken. The last time we took Tate to Palm Desert he was 10 months old. And we had Kali with us. Oh, memories.

Ken took them on their first golf cart ride around the neighborhood. This was certainly one of the highlights of the entire trip. Who needs Disneyland when your relatives have a golf cart?

When they got back, Derek went up and had a very serious conversation with Grandpa Bill which entailed him telling Grandpa all about our rental car, what color it was, how fast it was and especially that it was very “cool”. This was such a cute conversation. D had clearly been thinking about things he could share and this was his big moment. Then he took Ken outside to look at it and demonstrated how the doors opened, the locks worked, how he could crawl in and out of it and of course, how Leone could be hung from the ceiling.

Mostly we just hung out, chatted and watched some college basketball, a perfect afternoon after some very hectic weeks.

The boys and I also went on a walk around the neighborhood. I just soaked in the heat. I wanted to lay on the ground like a lizard and just soak it all up, but I was afraid one of the residents would run me over with a golf cart.

This is Derek “pretending” to eat grass. I say, “pretending” because if I hadn’t told him not to, he totally would have eaten it. Anything to make his brother laugh.

I know we were all thankful that we had this time with Bill and Ken, one of the best parts of our trip.

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The Lost Tooth

The last time we were at the dentist, back in August, I asked him if Tate was ever going to lose a tooth. He was getting nearer to seven and had friends who had been losing teeth since four.

Dr. Thomas assured me that Tate was not only fine, but also pointed out that both Tate’s bottom teeth were loose.

So we waited. And sort of forgot about it in the frenzy of school and vacations and everything else in life.

Until around a month ago when Tate told me at the dinner table that his tooth felt, “Really loose.” So, I said we should wiggle it a bit at shower time and see how things were looking.

Tate was a bit hesitant to let me see it, but I’m nothing if not persistent so he reluctantly opened his mouth and let me have a look at it. Well, imagine my horror when I realized that he not only had both his cute little baby teeth, but also a huge adult tooth coming in behind one of them, pointing, I kid you not, straight back toward his throat.

Dr. Thomas did not warn me that if my kid’s teeth did not fall out in a timely manner, his adult ones would start coming in like a grotesque oral rock formation.

So in my mind, I was thinking, “We need to get this tooth out, and apparently my brain did a good job of relaying that to my finger which was wiggling his tooth because in an instant I felt that very distinctive, “crack!” of a big tooth root breaking.

Well . . . shoot.

Now I had reached the point of no return, because the tooth was loose enough he would probably end up swallowing it by accident and that would be both sad because hey, no first tooth, and also terrifying for him because he gets freaked out by stuff like that.

At this point he was looking at me with big trusting doe eyes and was like, “Mommy, what is it?” And I’m like, “Uhh, so here’s the thing, the tooth is really, really loose, so loose that you don’t want to swallow it, right? {He had no idea I helped this process along} and, you have another tooth coming in, so maybe I should just pull it out?”

It was at this moment that it became quite clear that Tate and I have different philosophies on how to handle loose teeth. He is most certainly a wait-it-out type of guy. He was not going to bother that tooth, barely even touch it, until it literally just dropped out of his head. Because it could no longer hang on.

As you might imagine {from that beautiful parenting moment above}, I am of the opposite camp. I have vivid memories of pulling, wiggling and taking out all my own teeth, some probably far before they were ready.

This was probably not the best time to discover said philosophical differences.

But it was too late. So I said, “Well, it’s going to have to come out, so I’ll just pull it and it will be fine.”

He said, “Okay {brave face}, just give me a minute to get ready.”

Then I reached in his mouth and pulled out his tiny tooth. And it was so exciting! It was so cute and tiny and wonderful.

And he saw it and immediately became hysterical.

“My tooth! It hurts! You pulled it out!!!! Gahhh!! Now I’m ugly! I wanted to have all my little teeth! The bloood!!!!!

This was when pretty much all hell broke loose. Did I mention Ryan was gone on a work trip? Because of course he was, none of this nonsense would have occurred if the reasonable parent was around.

So I am holding hyperventilating Tate who is trying to rinse his mouth out with the entire contents of the tap in the bathroom sink and Derek is just standing by, watching this whole ridiculousness unfold.

Finally, I left Tate and told him I would go get him a glass of salt water to help stop the bleeding {which was minimal by the way, however no one, like for instance, a parent, had prepared him for how saliva makes blood seem like a lot more blood}.

Derek was absolutely fascinated by the whole process of filling a glass with water and adding salt. After I took Tate’s glass to him, Derek started coming in with various receptacles full of his own salt water creations, which as you can imagine, was quite helpful.

So there we are, on a tiny square of bathmat, hugging and consoling Tate that it will be fine, his tooth will grow back, that the bleeding has stopped, and look, Derek just brought us another wineglass full of salt water!

The end of this harrowing tale is that Tate did finally calm down, he did get three dollars under his pillow and his crazy tooth straightened out and filled in the hole where the baby tooth had been. Which just goes to show you that I am the worst person ever to ask dental advice of. I know nothing. Well, except for how to pull teeth. In that way I am more like an old timey tooth expert and less like a “went to medical school” expert.

Tate also wrote the tooth fairy the best note ever, which is this:

Dear Tooth Fairy I lost my very first tooth and I was scared at first but then I realized it had to come out. From Tate.

Also, I found afterward that in the cause to help his brother, Derek had dumped my entire glass of wine down the sink in order to fill it with salt water.

It was as if God was punishing me for terrible parenting by turning all the wine into saline solution.

Now Tate has one other loose tooth on the bottom, but I am staying far away and he is not letting me even see it.

I’m betting the “Fall-out-of-your-head” method is going to come out ahead.

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