Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Last night, I was at the grocery store.  Yes, I am insane.  The grocery store on December 23 is no place to be.  The only worse place to be would be maybe Bath and Body Works on December 24.  That is the day it is filled with men, who are either crazed or dazed.  That is all beside the point.  In the grocery store last night, an acquaintance asked, "Are you ready for Christmas?"  My answer was, "Every time I think I am ready, I find out that I am really not."  I didn't add, "Why do you think I am at the store?"

I got ready pretty early this year, but it really gets me nowhere.  There is always more that can be added to the list.  Every year there is an imaginary "enough" line drawn.  If I am ready, the line just gets pushed out.

I like Christmas. (Realize here, that I am just writing about the surface celebration, and not the depth of my feelings about Christ and his birth.)  I enjoy the mood, the music, the presents and family celebration.  But I LOVE the day after that...and the day after that.  It is the time to enjoy the results of at least a month of preparation.  One of my favorite times of the year is when we are finished with Christmas, and can enjoy the vacation time that the kids still have.  There is a true feeling of freedom that comes when I can see that the calendar shows days represented as empty squares. We will decide what we feel like doing...and do it.  (It is one of the best benefits of being such a Retro Mom.)

Maybe you think Rudolph is just wearing glasses to shield his eyes from his own nose, but I think this is his December 26th and relaxed.

This year is a little different.  We are having extra days of Christmas.  Those are great too.  We will have family here to extend the days of celebration.  I am excited for that.  Riley will have cousins everywhere she looks.  I will be glad that I am not shopping and wrapping, but having some overdue visiting time.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas....and the day after that, and the day after that....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Three Stray Pictures....If You are Disneyed Out, Don't Look!

I included a couple of pictures of the big Christmas tree yesterday, but this really puts it into perspective, doesn't it?  Look at the size of those ornaments!

I know I have a picture about like this yesterday, but this one is "autographed," and I wanted to include it.

This is what insane people do on a cool, rainy day!  Look at how fun they are.  I am not as fun as they are.  I had more of a sense of self preservation.  I am ducking down behind Emilee.  (My boring self didn't have to walk around soaking wet for the next six hours.) 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Showery Saturday.....

Saturday at Disneyland was rainier than Friday.  We started off with these two umbrellas, and bought another one in the park....when we actually found a store that wasn't sold out of them!

This picture was taken as we were waiting for the tram.  Kaitie and Co. had already been in the park at least a couple of hours.  They rode the earliest shuttle from the hotel, so they could make their entrance promptly at 8:00.

It is obvious that Riley is still sleepy from the day before, but not too sleepy to visit Minnie's house.  Of course Minnie's ornaments are quite pink.

The good sport in this scenario is Emilee. She is not in Minnie's fan club, but came along pretty willingly. I think she didn't even hate looking at all of Minnie's things again. Emilee used to be crazy about that house.  I personally liked Minnie's fun winter outfit.

I just love the expressions on my girls as they told Santa what they were hoping for this year.  Apparently Santa hangs out at Big Thunder Ranch by day, and heads home to the North Pole each evening.

Even Mrs. Claus was there.  What a bonus!

And we can't forget the reindeer.  They were there too.  See them back there?  Of course they are else would Santa go back and forth each day?   I told Santa I was amazed at the schedule he keeps.  (I was thinking if I complimented him a little, I might get a good gift this year too.)

We managed to get the whole group together for most meals.  Since we had been to A Bug's Land the day before, my thought was:  ".....they come, they eat, they leave....."

Another thing on my to do list, was the Shootin' Arcade at Frontierland.  We have never stopped there before, and I wanted to this time.  We went through many, many quarters there.  Jeff was a decent shot.  I wrote yesterday that he found shooting that he enjoyed more than at the Toy Story ride.  This was it.  The girls and I did better with the Toy Story ride, for sure.  

Speaking of things on my to do list, I still wanted Riley to meet Princess Tiana.  We went to where she was supposed to be at New Orleans Square.  We were told that due to the weather, she had gone to the Princess Pavilion for the day.  Riley and I headed for the Princess Pavilion.  For some reason, Jeff and Emilee headed to other locations.  I can't imagine why.....

So, we stood in line to see Princess Tiana.  When we got back there though, she was on a break.  It would have been so disappointing except the last Princess back there was unexpected, and very satisfying to Riley.

Princess Minnie!

I was disappointed that I....oops, I mean that Riley didn't get to see the new princess.  She recovered pretty quickly.  (I'm sure I will soon...)

After this, Riley and I needed to catch up with Jeff and the pouring rain.  They were in California Adventure.  It took Riley and I a long time to get there.  We stopped and bought a rain poncho for her, and accidentally picked up some Christmas ornaments as well.

We also stopped and watched what we called The Fake Parade.  I guess this is what the parade looks like in the rain.  The characters are driven by in cars, and they wave.

The rain didn't stop us from having fun.  It was such a novelty for a little desert girl.  I could wring the sleeves of my jacket at this point, and get loads of water, but since she stayed happy, I stayed happy.

Riley was delighted when the wind blew our umbrella like this!

We loved the stripes on the California sign too!

We left the park about 6:30 p.m. that evening so we could get on the road.  It was kind of nice leaving a little early.  Riley skipped from the park, rather than having to be dragged. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last Friday...

You might think that a little girl who had been to Disneyland a few times this year, might not be quite as excited to go anymore. 

Here is Riley on the bus from the parking lot into the park.  Doesn't she look plenty excited to you?  She was!

We have all enjoyed our "Year of the Mouse." Of course a trip in December was in order, so I could see Disney all dressed up for Christmas.  I had two things I was particularly excited about.  I wanted to see the new princess, Tiana.  I also wanted to see the snowfall that comes after the fireworks.

Kaitie brought a friend along for this adventure. When the bus dropped us off, I handed Kaitie her pass and waved to her.  Those two flew through the park, and had a wonderful time.

The rest of us moved a little more slowly, but had a really nice time too. Emilee was kind of sick this trip, so the lower key pace did not bother her.

I was standing at the foot of this Christmas tree when I took this picture. Some of the ornaments were as big as my head!

Everything looked so wintery and nice.  I was even glad the skies were gray.  I knew we would drink hot chocolate and feel festive.

When Jeff had to take a couple of phone calls, I took the girls to get souvenirs.  Emilee got a scarf, and Riley got some shiny Christmas Minnie ears.

Like I said, we were excited to see Princess Tiana.  Here she is, dancing with her prince in a little parade.  They were on their way to the river boat to do a performance.  As soon as they got to the boat, the performance was called off because of some slight rain.  We were a little disappointed, but hoped to see her later......

Emilee said she would be willing to do the things Riley wanted to do, so we went to "A Bug's Land."  We have not gone there this whole year of going to Disneyland.  Riley usually has to do what the older girls want to do.  This trip we did a few more "Riley" things.  Here she is on the bumper cars.....the slowest bumper cars I have ever been on in my life.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the trip.  Emilee went with Riley on the Lady Bug Ride.  I told them to make faces like the grumpy lady bug. 

I guess this is how a bug feels next to the Christmas ornaments...really small.  Notice the girls were trying on each others' souvenirs.   Then....

...they had me try them on!

Here we are in the Toy Story line.  We are wet because we had just ridden California Screamin, in the rain.  The guy at the ride said that it should be named, "Screamin' in the Rain," in honor of the day.  I rode with Emilee though, so I thought maybe it should be called California Coughing.  Everytime she would scream, and that was plenty of times, her throat couldn't handle it and she coughed like crazy.

I think that Toy Story might be Riley's favorite ride.  I know that here, she was riding with her favorite Ride Buddy.  He liked shooting in this game, but we found another shooting game later that he liked even more.  (I'll get to it.)

We hardly ever stop for parades over there, but the Christmas one drew us in.

A spectacular sight over there was the Small World ride all lit up for Christmas.  I took this picture, while looking up from my boat ride.  We loved it inside and out.  It was Christmas around the world in there.

  Sweet, isn't it?

The fireworks show was beautiful.  It was not as amazing as the show for Halloween, but still so nice.
Because of the rain, they weren't able to do the snowfall after the fireworks.  I was really looking forward to that!

Here are the girls after the fireworks.  See, the castle looked stunning!

We went to the Plaza Restaurant, for a little snack.  Riley could not hold up any longer.

This is what Main Street looked like as we were leaving that night.  Even without the snowfall, it was magical.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hey, There is a Christmas Tree in This Post....So it's Okay

By December 9, does anyone even care what we did for Thanksgiving?  Well, we did set up our Christmas tree, so I guess I can still write about it now.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year.  We had a group of 20 people.  That is a low number compared to what we might have had. 

Here is Emilee, getting ready to bake her beautiful apple pie.  She made it all herself.  Okay, I cut the apples for her, but I didn't touch the crust.  It is good I didn't touch it or it wouldn't have turned out as well.  I haven't ever made a beautiful crust.  I make crumb top apple pies now, just to avoid that ugly crust business.

Ryan and Brittany spent the week here.  We loved that!

They brought swim suits and came totally prepared to enjoy a weather contrast.  The first night though, Brittany got an ice pack for her foot saying it had been sore, where she had a callus. This had been going on for a couple of days and was getting swollen.  The next day, it appeared to be getting infected so Ryan took her to urgent care. 

The doctor opened and drained it, then found metal shards in her foot and scar tissue.  She didn't know how long that might have been there!  Poor Brittany ended up sitting around with her foot bandaged and elevated.  I don't think she had the week she envisioned at all.  We did play some games, and tried not to let her get TOO bored.  It was so nice getting better acquainted with her.  I can see why Ryan is happy :)

Ally was here less than 24 hours.  She came in after work on Wednesday and had to leave Thursday to be back to work at 6:00 am Friday.  You would think with a schedule like that, she might have slept in a little on Thursday.  She did not.  Jeff and I were up really early getting things ready for our 1:00 Thanksgiving meal, and who should come into the kitchen to help?  Ally!

After a couple of hours, I had four of my children around my table.  If you know us, you know who was not there......

Here are the four who were awake, singing some crazy song from "She's the Man," outside of Emilee's window.

And here is Emilee's reaction.....

This picture was taken when we were almost completely set up.  I was happy to get 20 people seated, and not have to do a buffet like I have sometimes done before.  I have pictures of people sitting around the table eating too, but no one wants to look at me on this.

Like I said, Ally got on the road only a few hours after we ate.  We have a tradition that when out-of-towners leave our house, the kids chase the car down the street.  Here is Ally, and the group that was about to chase her car. 

I think we all felt a little like Ryan here.....we were not quite ready for her to go.

Life went on though, and the next day we got busy on our Christmas decorating.

The kids still each look for the certain ornaments that they made, have their names or pictures on them, or which have special meaning to them.  They want to hang up THEIR ornaments.  My tree shows quite a lot of family history!

Ever the NUT, Emilee managed to get behind the tree and stayed there for awhile.  I would love to publish the text messages we sent to each other while she was back there, but I am not allowed to cross that particular line.....

This was the last day of Ryan and Brittany's visit with us.

By the time they left for home on Saturday, only Emilee and Riley were left to chase the car!  (I didn't get a good picture of that, but they definitely did it.)

ps:  Most of these pictures came from Brittany's camera.  My thanks to her for letting me snatch them off  her memory card before she left!