Category Archives: Entertainment can be Expensive

Theme Park Christmas, Disney Style

For William’s actual 4th birthday (you know, December 8th?), our friend who works for Disney let us into the park as her birthday present to William. Let me just say here for the record: BEST PRESENT EVER!

William had SO MUCH FUN. He got to see BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!! He got to see Donna the Dog Lady, Lightning and Mater and Flik. Santa, of course. And OLAF! But did I mention Buzz??? William was so excited to see Buzz that he was, literally, quivering! And Olaf, oh my goodness, it was so funny — William told him that he liked carrots, and when Olaf ran away, he started laughing so hard! He “ice skated” around the frozen fountain and even built a tiny snowman on the side of it.

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We rode Racers ride, rode in Mater’s Junkyard, did some bumper car ride in Bug Land, did the Toy Story ride (THREE TIMES), and played in the snow in Olaf’s Winter wonderland. In Disneyland, we made it over there around 5 PM and had dinner and then rode on the Dumbo ride and the Buzz Lightyear ride (TWO TIMES) and It’s a Small World.

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More than all that, though, he conquered his fear of tunnels! Ever since last year’s debacle when we got stuck on the Racers ride inside the tunnel, he has been terrified of rides with tunnels. But he did it! And now he says he’s not scared anymore!

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The cast members were so nice to us … from our friend who let us in (forever grateful), to cast member Eileen who told William the Toy Story ride wasn’t scary and walked us to the front of the line (no 45 minute wait in line) for the first ride — which was a blessing and a curse, because he had such a blast and was laughing so hard in the ride, that he became obsessed with it. HA! To the lady who we ordered our lunch from at Flo’s Cafe, when she found it was his birthday gifted him a mud pie. Little touches like that really made his birthday so special for him!

Then, late afternoon, he wanted to ride the Toy Story ride yet again, but decided he wanted to nurse while Tony did the line waiting. And… my boy, my 4 year old who doesn’t nap, fell asleep on me….under a rollercoaster, next to a loud, dinging dart game, on a bench, fell asleep on me.  So, he gave me a BIRTH day gift of letting me hold him for his 30 minute power nap. Which gave him just the boost he needed to be able to stay for the fireworks in Disneyland, which were scheduled later this year (9:30 PM) than they were last year.

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On the drive home, he kept saying, “I’m up way past my bedtime. I’m up way past my bedtime.” Yeah, well, you only go to Disneyland once a year. So an 11:15 PM bedtime is warranted for such an occasion.

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Filed under Entertainment can be Expensive, I did something Special

Travel Escapades, Part 2

On Saturday, October 4, 2014, we were scheduled to fly out of OMA at 4:20 PM, through LAS, into SNA.  We sadly departed our visiting with family in Elgin, Nebraska at 10:10 AM that morning in order to make our flight.  I had forgotten my camera’s charger at my aunt’s house, so we wanted to swing by and pick that up on the way to the airport (a 30 minute detour).  While Tony drove the 3 hours into Omaha from the country, I checked our flights online (thanks to Smartphone technology), and I discovered the flight was delayed from OMA to LAS.  We continued onward and upon arriving into Omaha, discovered the flight was even more delayed.

I called Southwest customer service to clarify what was going on, and was informed that there was a “ground stop” in LAS.  She said our flight from LAS to SNA was on time, however, our flight from OMA to LAS would be arriving into LAS too late to make the connection.  Basically, our connecting flight would be taking off while the flight we were on was over Colorado.

 She presented us with an alternative to depart the next morning, Sunday, October 5, 2014, at 8:15 AM (OMA-PHX-SNA).  We took the last 4 seats available on this route, as all other flights that day were sold out.   This left us with no option but to stay the night in Omaha and, as such, we needed to extend our rental car reservation for an additional charge.  

 The customer service rep also indicated that when we checked in at the airport to note to the gate agent that we would be eligible for pre-boarding due to the inconveniences we had experienced.  Particularly, since two of the people in our party of 4 had purchased Early Bird Check-in, which given the lateness of the flight change was a moot point (putting us in the “C” boarding group).  Additionally, remember, we were on a full flight and got the last 4 seats.

 The next morning, I spoke to the supervisor at Gate 18 about issuing us pre-boarding passes, and he refused to do so.  Since he was unwilling to honor the promised pre-boarding, we requested, as an alternative to pre-boarding, that he change our tickets to Business Select.  He said we would need to pay $40 per ticket.  The only concession he made was to refund the Early Bird fee that we had paid.  Despite explaining our situation, and knowing that our flight from OMA to PHX was sold out and would be a full flight (meaning 30+ people in front of us), and pointing out that in PHX we would only have 35 minutes to make our connection, and less time than that if our flight from OMA left late (which it did indeed end up departing late).  Upon arriving in PHX, and waiting for the 30+ people in front of us to deplane, our connecting flight was already boarding… and actually ended up departing early! We easily could have been stuck in an airport again! It is shocking to me that, given all the extraneous variables explained to him, that he absolutely refused to accommodate us in any way, and didn’t seem to care at all whether we made our connection in PHX.

 Also, contrary to what I was told on the phone from Customer Service Rep, about the reason we had to reschedule our flight (she said that it was due to a ground stop in LAS), the supervisor at the gate in Omaha informed us that the delay out of OMA the previous evening was due to the Chicago fiasco from the previous week… I’m not sure which story was true, but it seems to me that there was ample room for Southwest to be more accommodating, helpful, and plan better.

 Finally, as if it were a grand finale to Southwest’s incompetence, after we made our connection in PHX and settled in our seats to head to SNA, I began to nurse William who was coming down with a cold (ear issues).  If a child is coming down with a cold, their sinuses and ears are more sensitive to elevation changing, and breastfeeding can help alleviate that, as well as provide comfort.  I was asked twice by the male flight attendant on that flight to cease breastfeeding and buckle my son into his seat during takeoff and landing.  All three of the female flight attendants on that flight walked past us, noticed and said nothing, but he felt it necessary to say something twice?  In retrospect, he had taken a special interest in William, commenting on how big is is, and then to note that we were breastfeeding on top of it, kind of left me feeling as if I had been singled out by him.

 In all the previous flights that I’ve flown with Southwest, or any other airline, I have never been asked to stop breastfeeding my son while taking off or landing.  Before flying, I always check the airline’s policy concerning traveling with children, with breastmilk, with nursing, etc., and the only thing that Southwest’s website states about breastfeeding is the following, “Southwest welcomes nursing mothers who wish to breastfeed on the aircraft and/or within our facilities.”   Perhaps Southwest is intentionally leaving its breastfeeding policy vague so that it can be interpreted liberally by its flight crew, or perhaps Southwest thinks that by keeping its policy vague they are helping nursing moms.  Obviously, my situation demonstrates otherwise. 

As a nursing mom, it is difficult to “follow the rules” if I don’t know in advance exactly what the rules are. For instance, I would NEVER have latched my son, who had been through the wringer this past week with travel fiascos, prior to take off, if I had known that I would be asked to stop nursing him for take off.  Generally speaking, one doesn’t just “stop nursing” once you’ve just started and your child has gotten a letdown.  My son was on his last bit of sanity and had been in meltdown mode because, among other things, we had turned off the movie he was watching when we were landing on the previous flight (and I nursed him to calm him down while landing without comment from the flight crew, by the way) and had to unlatch him, much to his displeasure, to make our extremely tight connection and promised he could continue nursing once we got on our next plane, because I didn’t know there would be a problem with it.

 If there is a difference that a child under 2 (lap child) may nurse upon take off and landing, but a child over 2  (or a child who has their own seat) must be in their own seat during take off and landing (no nursing), then the airline’s policy should state that explicitly. I have always chosen to fly Southwest in the past for many reasons, one being that I’ve always believed them to be a family and breastfeeding friendly airline.

Either way, as a breastfeeding mom, I strongly suggest that Southwest educate all its employees and flight attendants about Southwest’s breastfeeding policy, as it is stated on the website.  If the breastfeeding policy on Southwest’s website needs to be clarified, then I strongly suggest it be done immediately.

I mailed two letters last week, one addressing our outbound flight issues and the other addressing our return flight issues. As I stated previously, there were so many ways that Southwest could have made these situations OK, and they failed on every single one of them.

It’s a good thing I don’t have anxiety attacks about traveling anymore, because I would be a serious wreck after all this mess.

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Travel Escapades, Part 1

For our trip the last week of September/first week of October, we flew on Southwest. Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never had an issue with Southwest before, and have always recommended them to everyone and anyone. They have a lot going for them… open seating, no baggage fees, kind and understanding employees, and have always touted themselves to be a family friendly airline, but also great for commuting business people.

For Saturday, September 27th, I mapped out our time table so we would be on time to our 7:20 AM flight. I packed everything I could the night before, and then woke up at 4:30 AM so I could get up, shower, dress, pack the last items that I needed to pack and set the suitcase in the hallway so Tony could take it downstairs and load it with the other suitcases. At 5:10 AM, I went in and woke William by nursing him. At 5:15 AM, my mom arrived so Tony could load her suitcase. At 5:35 AM, I walked downstairs carrying William. At 5:40 AM, we departed our home and arrived at the airport 20 minutes later. There we unloaded and waited in line to check our baggage, while Tony drove the car across the street to park it at my work for the week.

We made it through security, and arrived at our gate. All was well… and then, the gate attendant announced that our flight was delayed. We had our plane, we had our pilot, but we were missing our flight attendants. They claimed it was due to the Chicago security breach that had happened the prior morning. Yet, interestingly, every other Southwest flight in our terminal departed on time. Finally, our gate attendants “stole” 4 other flight attendants from another flight so we could take off, 1 hour and 43 minutes late.

As we boarded our plane, We checked with the gate attendant concerning our connecting flight in Las Vegas. We were concerned and suggested that because of the delay, perhaps we should re-book before we started our journey. They told us that our connection should be fine.

So, we landed at 9:40 AM in Terminal B, we were deplaned at 9:45, and then flat out ran, carrying our carry-ons (as well as me carrying the 40 pound toddler), to our connecting gate which was in Terminal C. We arrived there one minute after 3 other people who had deplaned ahead of us, only to see the gate retracting and our plane moving away from the gate. The pilot had decided to leave early.

The gate attendant said she had already re-booked us on the next flight, which departed at 5:15 PM. EIGHT HOURS LATER.

To add fuel to the fire, when I called Southwest’s customer service line from the airport that day, she told me that they had sold our seats to standby passengers for $512/seat and that the pilot was able to maintain his “on-time status.” Nice.

You know, given that there were only two nonstop flights out that day to our destination, and that the delay was not our fault, and that we did everything within our power to make our next flight, you would think that Southwest, maybe, instead of researching and booking us on the next flight, could have taken that time instead to arrange for a cart to meet us at our landing gate to take us and our luggage to the connecting gate? Or, I don’t know, maybe the pilot could have held the plane for 5 or 10 minutes, especially given that he departed early and actually ended up landing THIRTEEN WHOLE MINUTES EARLY at the destination?

So we spent 8+ hours sitting at the airport, with no food vouchers, no lounge area, nothing but the hard plastic chairs. To top it off, our 5:15 PM flight took off 15 minutes late… and we got to our final destination (once we were deplaned, got our luggage, got our rental car, made the drive) around 11:30 PM. Let me remind you we were traveling with a 2 year old, just to make things EXTRA interesting.

There were so many ways that Southwest could have made this situation “right,” and at every single turn, Southwest failed to do any of them. In all scenarios, Southwest failed us that day. I have written Southwest a letter, I’ll update once I get a response.

I have another post about our return flights, which was another doozy of a story and worthy of its own post.

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Circus Fun!

A few weeks ago, I saw that the circus was coming to town. Since Tony and I went back in 2006, I’ve wanted to go again, but have been waiting until William is old enough to enjoy it.

We got there early, they open the gates 90 minutes before show time so you can see all their animals. William was enthralled with the elephants. The big cats were behind two fences and netting, understandably given that they were like 5 feet away from us, but made it hard to really see them. They had 2 kangaroos, a pig and the usual assortment of goats and dogs.

When the show started, their ringmaster came out and, whoa!!, he is incredibly talented and his singing voice is astonishing. I was so very impressed by him that I actually took the time to look up who he is and find out a bit about the man. Andre McClain is his name, and here’s his bio according to the Ringling Bros. website (link). The internet yielded (among other things) that he’s a newlywed, he married his wife (also a circus performer) at a surprise circus wedding, and that he’s a multi-talented rancher and has been with the circus since 2003, only recently taking up the reins as ringmaster. So cool.

William enjoyed most of it, like the elephants, the big cats, the trapeze show and the gymnastics floor show. I guess the only part he really didn’t care for was the motorcycles in a cage. He said that was too loud and spent most of that time in Tony’s arms with his ears covered. Although, apparently it wasn’t so loud that he couldn’t fall asleep and take a surprise hour long nap. Thankfully, the bulk of his nap fell over the intermission and when he woke up, he was surprised to see the pig and dog show that was happening.

One of the funniest parts was a clown who came out and balanced on the wall in front of us, and then proceeded to walk on that wall all the way around the stadium in his big ass clown shoes. Of course, he did it during intermission when my arms were full of a sleeping William (so no pictures). The other funny part was when the motorcycle on a wire came out with a trapeze artist underneath him and he was right above us. Surprised, William jumped and then said, “What the heck are they doing up there?”

Of course, we did the souvenir picture… we had to. So we could do the comparison picture.

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LegoLand Visit.

Three weeks ago, maybe four, my swim plugs tore which allowed water to get in my ears, compounded by me shoving them deeper in the ear canal to compensate, I ended up with compacted ear wax and an ear infection. So, for all intents and purposes, I’ve been sick since June 1st. When I woke up with gurgling in my left ear on the 14th, and then resulting deafness, teach me to tough it out thinking it was just a cold. An ear infection is no laughing matter. A round of antibiotics and time, and some magic potion I’ve created, I’m *still* recovering from this and just yesterday regained a little bit of my hearing back.
P1460540 All that to say that my ear infection prevented us from going up the mountain this past weekend, so we decided to go to LegoLand instead.

At LegoLand, the entry line seemed to take forever, but turns out the lady in front of us was purchasing an annual pass, which they require a ton of details for that, so it DOES take forever. The wait gave me the opportunity to defend a poor little boy who wasn’t much older than William. He ran out into the area between the booths and the turnstiles when his parents weren’t paying attention and faceplanted. He was crying loudly, and no one came to claim him. I just started to head toward him when another family picked him up and dusted him off and, finally, a couple minutes later he was apparently missed and his dad came roaring out of the line, yelling at him for running away. Aghast, I went up to the guy and told him his little boy had faceplanted and he might be injured. But really? Way to overcompensate for your bad parenting, yell at your injured kid. I’m still kind of irked about that, in case you can’t tell.

Once inside, we headed over to Mini Land USA. One of our favorite parts of the park. We let William down to run around and burn off some steam, there’s lots of interactive buttons for little ones to push. Turns out, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale were there with their boys (we learned later via the power of social media). We didn’t realize who the little guy was, but William was having a spontaneous playdate with their 5 year old, Zuma. Tony recognized them but thought they were just look-a-likes. I am the worst celebrity spotter EVER and I just felt sorry for the poor girl whose hair was so overprocessed that it had no swish to it as it stuck out from under her hat. Now we’re kicking ourselves for not taking more pictures. Gah.

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Another of my favorite rides is the Storybook Boat Ride. It’s so peaceful and relaxing, a nice respite on a hot day. Turns out, William really likes it, too. At the end of the ride, he would passionately sign “more,” so we just got off and got right back on. We ended up riding it five times. Every single time around, we’d get to the Prince and his Sleeping Beauty, and William would say, “Nah nah!” He apparently believed the prince was preparing to nurse, as that’s his word for nursing. I do have to say, those Lego boobies were seriously firm and at attention. Definitely noticeable!

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Tony and I greatly enjoyed LegoLand in the past when we’ve gone, and we really enjoyed our day there this time with our son. It was fun and we’ll definitely be going back.

More pictures: LINK

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Oh my Goodness!

A lady came into the doctor’s office, trailed by her two tow-headed daughters. The oldest, about 5, the younger one about 3 1/2. The lady checked-in and her two girls squiggled up and shared a chair in the waiting room. Their eyes promptly turned toward the TV in the corner that perpetually plays “health” videos. On it, a video of a man getting oral surgery was playing, his head tilted back at an awkward angle (as if there’s a non-awkward angle in the dentist chair), blood on the protective paper surrounding his face. The oldest girl said, in a concerned voice, “Oh my gosh, oh my goodness… look…” She nudged her sister, and then in tandem, they both started repeating to each other and the room in general, “Oh my goodness, oh my gosh, oh my goodness…” Their mom sat down next to them. The video changed to show a line of kids about their age brushing their teeth, and the oldest summarized what she had seen to her mom, “That poor man didn’t brush his teeth and look what happened to him…” Everyone in the waiting room, and the receptionist, was wearing a smirk for the next 5 minutes.

We attended the U2 concert in Anaheim this past Friday night. It was a good show — of course it was. They are one of the few bands one can expect to deliver a good show, and they always meet the expectations. We’ve had the tickets for this concert for over two years (it was supposed to be last year, but Bono had emergency back surgery instead). We saw them back in 2009 at the Rose Bowl, and this venue was much more convenient for us. Plus, we attended with two of our favorite people.

People watching at concerts is always something to behold and this event was no exception. We had the Butt Crack Massager guy in front of us, whose hand kept creeping up and down his woman’s butt crack. Then we had the guy behind us who brought his kid, who fell asleep mid-concert. And the Worshiper, who was sooooo into the concert that he had his hands raised to the sky the entire time, even when there was no music. And, finally, we had the two young women who were sitting in front of us who we dubbed the “Hair Swishers.” The one was such a passionate hair swisher (she swished her hair every 30 seconds, minimum) that she banged the back of her head on my knee during one attempted swish. Oh my gosh, oh my goodness was the litany going through my head. Tony didn’t realize how swishy she was until they switched seats after a beer run and the swisher sat in front of him. Even he started to get annoyed, and his patience level is MUCH higher than mine is. Now THAT was funny to watch.

The Butt Crack Massager guy

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Dude with hands in the air, always

Hair swishers. Ugh.

Yesterday we had another Duck Park Date. I found a loaf of bread for $.35 at Ralphs this past week and I immediately put “Duck Park Date” on our calendar. We were relieved to arrive at the park and find that we were practically the only people there! No fights, hooray! So we’re sitting there eating our frozen yogurt, and all of a sudden there’s a HUGE ruckus. Two geese started fighting across the pond. One of them grabbed the other’s neck and pushed him into the water. Feathers were flying, heads were being dunked, wings were flapping, and the honking! Oh my goodness, the noise! This was serious. I looked at Tony and said, “Whoa. Those girls that were fighting a couple weeks ago could take lessons from these birds!” And then we went over to try and break up the goose fight. Turns out, the dominant bird was a Papa protecting the Mama and their nest of 6 little babies. Have to say, that is something worth fighting about.

Then some idiot let his dog off the leash and the dog promptly went tromping into the flowers where the bird’s nest was. Mama Goose had a lot to say about that… I’ve seen dogs move pretty fast, but that dog? With Mama Goose on his tail? Oh, he moved… and it took her about 10 minutes before she was settled down enough to entrust Papa Goose with guard duty again and go back to her nest tending duties.

Do you see Mama Goose settling back down in the flowers?

Oh my gosh, oh my goodness!

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U2 Concert Review

You may have heard that U2 was in town this weekend. They were playing at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena — the 360° Tour (aka outdoor arenas).

Back when I was gainfully employed as a contributing member of society, I bought tickets the second they went on sale. Knowing that U2’s tickets usually sell out, and knowing the capacity of the Rose Bowl (92,000 seats), I figured it might be a good idea to accompany the ticket purchase with getting a room. Sometimes my genius ideas surprise even me. Getting a room is always a genius idea.

First off, let’s cover the bad — the idiots. Of course, there’s always the idiots in the world… like the people next to us in the parking area who were blaring non-U2 music so loudly that their stereo was distorted. *eye roll* Instead of hanging near their distorted world, I went up and sat on a grassy knoll under a tree and read my newspaper, while listening to Bono and Edge perform their sound checks. Far more enjoyable than distorted “canned” music. Or how about the group of people who walked by while Tony was sleeping before the concert in the back of the car (since he went to work this morning at 4:30 AM) and they saw him sleeping and YELLED at him about how he’d missed the great concert, thinking he’d wake up and be bummed. They really thought they were so funny and clever. I told them they were rude and was ready to take them on! Don’t mess with my husband! Then we had the dudes who were sitting next to us in the arena who were smoking cigars (I’m not a fan) and were surprised when the gal in front of them mentioned that some people might not enjoy the smell. I think I’m turning into a crotchety old lady!

Tony’s the huge U2 fan. Me, well, I know their music and unless you’ve had your head in a cave for over 20 years, you have too. The show was great — they set out to please their audience, and did they ever. They put everything they had into their show as musicians and kicked butt doing it. They were broadcast live on YouTube, which was pretty cool. (You can see the re-broadcast of it here: Link) They were very professional and started their show on time (with a disapproving nod toward Mariah Carey’s disastrous display of unprofessionalism at her concert in Anaheim).

The weekend went off like a well-synchronized assembly line. When we drove up there Saturday, we got every light green between our house to the freeway (not even kidding), had a leisurely dinner at Olive Garden (leftovers for concert day), spontaneously walking to the theater and learning the next showing of the movie we wanted to see started in 10 minutes. Sunday, we showed up with our general parking pass and were directed into a lot not too far from the gate we needed to enter. Better than that, we were directed to park under a tree! A great big shade tree!

I even had my very own MacGuyer moment! During the concert, a dude coming back to his seat stepped on the front of my flip-flop and the string between my toes broke! Imagining a flippy-floppy walk back to our car at midnight, I desperately looked around for ideas. I spotted a long string tied to a light cable. It wasn’t doing anything as far as I could tell, so I untied it, looped it through the plastic doo-dad, tied it over the “V” on the top of my shoe. The perfect temporary fix.

So I guess what I’m really admitting is, I stole a string from the Rose Bowl arena. When you’re watching the New Year’s football game, you can remember that and think of me. Here you thought you were gonna read a concert review…

Of course, we took pictures: Click to See

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Filed under Entertainment can be Expensive, I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile, I Stimulate the Economy