Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Sams' in Disneyland

How do I even begin to put into words the awesomeness that was our Disneyland trip?!  I had a feeling it would be hard to recall all the events of our vacation, so every time I had a chance, I'd log into my blogger account & write out the highlights.  Lack of sleep before, during, and after our vacation has rendered me brain-dead, so I'll apologize in advance if my post lacks enthusiasm.  I promise you, it was an amazing vacation!

Day 1 -

We woke up at the butt-crack of dawn to catch our 6:35am flight to LAX.  Taking an early flight was actually really nice b/c we left our house & walked into Disneyland park within just a few hours of each other.  As soon as we checked into the hotel, we headed across the street to California Adventure for our first ride, California Screamin'.  The last time we were in Disneyland, Trinity was 7 & absolutely would NOT ride California Screamin'.  In fact, she cried when I rode it!!  This time, she was adament that it had to be our very first ride.  She was nervous while we were waiting in line, but she mustered every ounce of courage and had a blast.  After toodling around in California Adventure for awhile, we headed to Downtown Disney for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.  From the periodic rain & lightening to the bar stools shaped like animals, Rainforest Cafe is all about atmosphere.  It was one of our more expensive meals during the trip, but well worth the price when you factor in the surroundings, the top-notch customer service, and the yummy food.

Day 2 - 

Our second day in California was Trinity's 10th birthday.  At 2:30am, I was wide awake and could not fall back to sleep.  So I took the time to hide Trinity's birthday gift in the nighstand next to her bed.  Justin & I had agreed that she needed to be able to unwrap a present on her actual birthday, even though we had thrown her a bday party the weekend before.  Last Christmas, Trin had her eye on this wolf hat for sale at a kiosk in the mall.  It was way too expensive, so we didn't buy it for her.  While trying to choose a gift for her bday, I decided to look for a similar hat online & I managed to find one on ebay.  It arrived in the mail the day before we left for Disneyland, so I wrapped it up & Justin hid it in his carry-on.  When Trin woke up on her birthday, I asked her to grab "Happy Birthday" button out of the nightstand.  When she opened the drawer, there was her present.  She was a very happy little 10 year old!  After a day in Disneyland park, where we became honorary citizens of ToonTown, met several Disney princesses, and rode a bunch of rides, we headed to Ariel's Grotto for Trin's bday dinner.  As far as character dining goes, I would say Ariel's Grotto was my least favorite.  The food wasn't bad, but the service was pretty lack luster.  Trin did get to see a couple princesses & Minnie came out dressed as a princess, too.  The dessert platter was pretty awesome, as well, but it just didn't have that magical feeling I was expecting.  Maybe I was just too preoccupied with the fact that my baby was 10 years old for anything else to catch my attention.

Day 3 -

On the third day, we decided to be at California Adventure right when they opened so that we could try to ride Radiator Springs Racers, the new Cars-inspired ride.  (Every day that we were there, the shortest wait time for that ride was an hour, but most of the time there was a 2-3 hour wait!)  As soon as the park opened, we headed straight to Cars Land & got in line.  We were fortunate to only stand in line about 45 minutes.  We had our fingers crossed that we'd get a blue car (blue is Trin's favorite color) and that we'd get the front seat.  Although neither worked out in our favor, we all loved the ride & knew we'd brave those lines to ride it again before the trip was over.  In the afternoon, we went over to Disneyland where we got to meet Jack & Sally.  We were the last people in line to meet them, so Trin got to spend a lot of time chatting w/ them both.  Sally put her hands in the paws on Trin's wolf hat & Jack Skellington complimented Justin & I for skinning a wolf for her to wear.  After it got dark, we headed back over to California Adventure (they don't call it a "hopper" pass for nothing!)  so we could watch World of Color.  WOW!!! What an amazing show!!  I highly recommend that if you are in Disneyland, you take the time to watch World of Color!!!  Before heading back to the hotel that night, we raced back into Disneyland park to ride Haunted Mansion.  This was the first day we were at the park when they opened and when they closed, taking just a couple hour break in the afternoon to rest at the hotel.

Day 4 -

Sunday was probably one of the least fun days inside the parks.  There was some sort of charity walk going on in Downtown Disney, so there was literally wall-to-wall people everywhere we went.  Luckily this was one of the few days we didn't have a tight schedule.  We had reservations at the Blue Bayou for dinner.  We were advised to ask for a table by the water, which does sometimes require a little longer wait even with reservations.  Lucky for us, we were seated within 10 minutes & sat at a table overlooking the swamp area of the Pirates of the Carribean ride.  We got way more food than we could eat, so we decided to drop it off at the hotel & head back to the park.  But when we got to the hotel, we realized that The Walking Dead season premier would be shown in our hotel on East Coast time rather than West Coast time.  (Yes, we really are so obsessed with Walking Dead that we didn't want to wait to watch it after our vacation.)  Once our show was over, we went back to Disneyland and watched Fantasmic, which is a water show similar to World of Color, but on a bit smaller scale & with a lot more live character interaction.    After a full day of fighting the crowds, we were happy to head back to the hotel for the night.

Day 5 -

We got up a little early for breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen.  Now this place is what Disney character dining is all about!!  It's a buffet, which is always a winner for this fat kid!  There are also more characters going from table to table to meet everyone.  Also, it's just an all-around fun atmosphere.  Trin got to meet Baloo, Rafiki, Jasmin, Chip & Dale, and Goofy while we were having breakfast.  After we ate, we killed most of the afternoon riding all sorts of rides.  Trin got to steer the Mark Twain through the Rivers of America & received a Captain's certificate for it.  Afterward, we headed back to the hotel to rest & get ready for Mickey's Halloween party.  Our costumes were all 50's inspired.  Trin wore a poodle skirt, Justin was a greaser, and I was a pink lady.  The Halloween party was a ticketed event so it cost extra, but I'm very glad we did it!!  We met Jack Sparrow, Captain Hook, Peter Pan & Wendy, Cruella DeVille, the Tremaine Sisters & Lady Tremaine, Jafar, and my personal favorite, Maleficent.  The villains came out & danced, there was trick-or-treating, and there was a parade at the end of the night.  My feet were killing me by the end of it b/c I made sure to wear high heels for all our pictures, but I'd do it all over again.  It was an experience I'll never forget.
Day 6 - 

Since we didn't have anything scheduled until the evening, we spent the day just riding as many rides as we could.  After her excitement the first time, Justin & I decided we should ride California Screamin' for a 2nd time.  For some unknown reason, Trin decided to throw a crying fit & claimed she was too scared.  We tried to remind her of how much fun she had the first time, but she just wasn't havin' it.  I had to play the evil mom & force her on the ride & when it was all over, she admitted it was fun.  (I think the crying had less to do with the ride and more to do w/ exhaustion, which is why I forced her to ride it.)  At 4pm, we met up with a tour guide for the Happiest Haunts tour.  Again, this was an additional cost that was well worth the price!!  The tour weaves through Disneyland and California Adventure as we tried to find Aladdin's magic lamp.  Our group of 20 got to walk straight onto 5 very popular rides.  We rode Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain, Matterhorn, Space Mountain, and Tower of Terror.  Tomorrowland (where Space Mountain is located) was closed down b/c some company had rented it out for the evening, but our group was allowed in & we were the only people on Space Mountain.  That in itself was pretty freakin' awesome!  Trin had promised to ride Tower of Terror, but she got cold feet when we actually got there. Thankfully there were a couple other folks on the tour who chose not to ride, so she stayed w/ them while Justin & I rode it.  I have to say, as much as I HATE HATE HATE free-falls, Tower of Terror is fun as hell.  I would have gone on it again if we would have had someone to stay w/ Trin.  Since we were already in California Adventure, we took a chance & hopped into line for Radiator Springs Racers.  The wait was less than an hour & this time we got a blue car & got to ride in the front seat!  It was the perfect ending to a pretty amazing day.
Day 7 -

Our flight didn't leave until late in the evening, so we took advantage of our last day at Disneyland.  We packed our bags the night before so that we could leave them at the front desk of the hotel while we rode as many rides as we possibly could.  After a full day in both parks, we had practically no time to shop for souvenirs.  We ran through Downtown Disney to pick up a couple small souvenirs for us, my nephew, and our friends' baby.  (It was her 1st bday, so I had to send something a little extra special straight from Disneyland.)  We didn't have enough money to buy ourselves much.  Trin got a couple shirts, I got a picture frame, Justin got a shirt & a couple shot glasses.   Most of our extra money was spent on food.  I kind of had a little hissy fit about not being able to buy a shirt or hoody, but it passed fairly quickly.  Having pictures of our trip is a much better souvenir than any tshirt could ever be. Once our photopass cd comes in the mail, we'll not only have the pictures we took ourselves, but we'll also have pictures from some of the rides we went on and photos taken by Disney photographers.  When it comes down to it, those are the things that I treasure the most.  When we're looking through photo albums and scrapbooks, we'll get to see the look on our faces & remember a magical time in our lives.  There aren't any store bought goodies that can compare to that.

Since we've been home, it's been back to business as usual.  We are throwing our annual Halloween party this Saturday, so we've had to try to work on various projects for that, in addition to our usual busy schedule.  I'm looking forward to the party being over so that we can begin working toward our goal of a less hectic life.  I'm cutting back the number of days I'm volunteering at the book exchange, which will make a big difference.  Trin will be done w/ Basketball by mid-November, so that will also free up an evening each week.  I've really started to notice the effect our busy lives have had on all of us & for me, personally, lack of sleep is taking it's toll.  It's time to slow it down.  It's time to say "no" once in awhile & not throw myself into a zillion projects when I don't have the time.  The weekend we came back from Disneyland, we had a baby shower & pumpkin carving party to attend in 1 day and the next day we took Trin, her friend, and our youngest nephew to the pumpkin patch.  There has been absolutely no uneventful, restful days since we've been back & it's just got to stop.  I love my friends & want to spend time with them, but I've put myself on the back burner long enough.  I have to give myself some down-time once in awhile.  Once this Halloween party is done, I have a little break before I have to plan Justin's bday party, so my only obligations will be work, 1 day at the book exchange, Trin's basketball practice/games, and weekends w/ my Grandma.  I've really been feeling the need to sort of block out the rest of the world & really put my focus on Trin & Justin, where it should be.

For a lot of people vacations are about rest & relaxation.  There most definitely wasn't much of that for us on our Disneyland vacation, but having that time all to ourselves, made me realize just how much simpler and happier things are when it's just us three.  I could never & would never isolate from my friends & family or cut off all social interaction completely, but I am definitely at the point where I need to take a break from a lot of it b/c it's wearing me down.  I need an afternoon to sit around my messy house & just read.  Our family needs a weekend where we aren't running all over town, trying to fit in birthday parties & activities galore.  I am not the kind of person who can sit idle for long periods of time; however, as I get older I am learning that there needs to be balance.  My scale has tipped too long & too far on the busy side.  I'm ready to reach a more even keel.         

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