Category Archives: I did something Special

Theme Park Christmas, LegoLand Style

A few days before Christmas, we headed to LegoLand to check out their holiday decorations.  For some reason, the park was virtually empty!  Maybe people were scared of the cold and rain?  I’m like, uh, jackets and umbrellas … and GO!

We had a blast and rode a bunch of rides and did a ton of things.  I mean, if I listed every single thing we did, your eyes would glaze over.  So just go ahead and glaze now and wake up at the next paragraph break, because that’s where the pictures live and we all know that’s the fun part!  We took William to the Kid Power Towers (pulled themselves up 4 times), (the sky pedal ride wasn’t running), Junior Driving Club, then he rode the Sky Patrol ride, played in their seasonal snowman building area, rode on the Skipper School boat ride, the Flight Squadron ride, rode on the Royal Joust horse, did their dragon roller coaster two times, rode their Lego Technic roller coaster two times (love, love, loved it, I think that was his favorite), did their Lego Coast Cruise, the Safari Trek, the Coastersaurus roller coaster, the Fairy Tale Brook boat ride, the Legoland Express Train, Mia’s Riding Camp carousel, walked through the Lego Movie Experience set (which was like torture for kids… William kept asking why they had plexiglass in his way.  The plexiglass reached from the floor to six feet up, he checked both ends.)

Of course, we got pictures with Lego Santa and a few other characters.  Because that’s just how we roll.

Almost caught up with us today.  But tomorrow is another day with more memories!!

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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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Awana Club, 2nd week

After last week’s post, I thought I should post an update about how the second week went. I’m not sure what happened behind the scenes this past week, but things were much different and more organized this week.

To start, they did introductions and roll call. Then the teachers did a puppet show with the characters that were in the student’s pamphlet.

Then they were assigned a craft and were given a tiny tub of Playdoh, to “make something that God created.” William started with a footprint, then it morphed into a burrito, then bacon, then a taco, then an egg, finally a potato, then back into an egg. At least that’s what William said, and then in the middle of it all, he exclaimed, “Phew! This is hard work!”


Then they did a Bible story, although I’m not really certain which Bible story it was, but the verse they concluded with was 1 John 4:10, sort of> It was more like a partial verse, “God loved us and sent his son…” and that was also their memorization assignment for last week. Not too hard, considering that some of these kids (William included) can quote entire scenes of movies and complete stanzas of songs. A seven word Bible verse is definitely doable.

After that, they had snack time… and William volunteered to say the prayer! I was impressed! So, snacks last night? Cheddar Penguin crackers and chewy fruit snacks. I wasn’t overly thrilled with that, but ended up being grateful. Why? Because I had spied several bags of Fritos in the lead teacher’s equipment bin, so that momentary fear that I was going to have a child whose breath smelled like dog feet changed my perspective!

Then they had play time in the tots playground. William wanted to go into the playground for bigger kids, but the instructor told him he couldn’t, the gate was locked. He peered through and said, “Well, there’s a gap in the fence, so you just open up the gate and I’ll go around, then.” He didn’t get to, but I have to admire his problem solving skills.

The one thing I’m not happy about is that when the Cubbies arrive, they are supposed to be taken directly to the room. They don’t get to play on the playground before hand and they don’t get to participate in the opening flag ceremony or Pledge of Allegiances. I was informed that it was a mistake that they were included last week. I asked the pastor why that was, and he said he didn’t know. I emailed them about it this morning.

Personally, I think it shows a stand of unity as a greater group. It also allows the little ones to see that there are older groups (Sparks, etc.) to aspire to as they grow older and they shouldn’t be isolated just because they’re little. I believe that they are never too young to learn the pledge of allegiances. And, finally, it’s a nice routine to start the evening.

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Awana Club

Last night was William’s first Awana Club meeting. Awana Club was something that my brother and I did when we were kids, we pretty much grew up in Awana Clubs, attending every week, and earned our trophies. I loved the meetings… the games, playing with other kids, even the Bible memorization. It was just so much fun. I hope William ends up liking it as much as I did.

My mom, being experienced in teaching, mentioned to me that as it was the first night it might be a little disorganized. I was glad later that she had mentioned that, because it helped prepare me for the state of disaster that it actually turned out to be. To start, the room was locked. It then progressed to the leader trying to give parents an orientation while 10 kids (ages 3-4) sat at a table with nothing to do. When that didn’t work, the leader gave them their book bags to paint, except the paint markers still had the plastic wrapping on AND the internal stopper. Confusion reigned, and most of the kids had paint all over their hands, so they had to wash them (10 little kids to one tiny sink). They finally went out to the tot playground while the leader “prepared” a snack of half a hot dog/bun and Cheetos (of all things, really?), but she didn’t have plates, cups or a knife to cut things in half. Then the kids had to come in from the playground (but line up first!) and wash their hands again (10 little kids to one tiny sink). And that was it. As William pointed out when we got to the car, “We didn’t get to hear a Bible verse or read a Bible story… or play a game.” Yeah. Kind of the foundation for the whole thing, that Bible verse.

When I saw the issues they were having, I tried to help where I could and quietly made suggestions to the leader, but I felt like it wasn’t enough. So much of the stuff actually needed far more advance planning, i think. Maybe even making one of the crafts ahead of time to troubleshoot problems and then to use as an example for the kids. Awana Club is such a great resource; I pray that next week, and the weeks to come improve.

The quote of the night from William. After he’d finished painting his bag and declaring repeatedly and emphatically, “I’m done!” one of the helpers took his bag. He watched her with great concern, and seeing his concern, she explained to him, “I’m taking this outside for some air.” He replied, “Well, there’s air in here. That’s how you’re breathing.”

Yeah, air, kind of one of the most important parts of breathing.

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More About Last Month’s Vacation.

In a previous post, I shared one of the funny moments that happened late in our vacation while it was still fresh in my mind. I also shared some tidbits of things we did while on vacation in William’s monthly post. I wanted to share an overview of all the things we did.

Our airline experiences this time were much better and on par with what I expect from Southwest Airlines. We managed to rack up $400 a person in complimentary vouchers from Southwest for the shoddy way they treated us last October, and those vouchers mostly funded our trip to San Francisco the end of May and our trip back to Nebraska. Sadly, since they did so well, that is the end of our free ride. Thank you, Southwest Airlines!
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We stayed with my dear Aunt Marjorie (paternal side) for a few days while we visited the Omaha Zoo and Lauritzen Gardens again. We had visited those places last October, but our gardens visit got cut short due to a fast moving rainstorm. They have a model train garden that is quite amazing to watch, it’s so detailed! So we visited that again, and also walked up to see the two real-size, huge, famous engines they have on display.
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We were well pleased with our visit to the zoo last time, except they had ended the season of camel rides and their train wasn’t running the day we went. This trip it was overwhelmingly hot and humid. While the weather wasn’t necessarily a surprise, it was challenging for me (us?) because we’re used to California’s weather. Sadly, I wilted quicker than I expected in the heat. While at the zoo, We managed to meet up with some friends, a lady I know from an online Facebook group (and her family). Fortunately, they were willing companions for our agenda and didn’t protest when we suggested going and getting lunch. She had her two boys with her, the older of them shares a birthday with William. William LOVED meeting him and I loved hanging out with her. Tony pretty much gets along with anyone, and her husband was great to converse with. So, we kind of went to get some lunch and then just never stood back up again until it was time to leave.
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The timing of our trip was stipulated by a family gathering that happens annually the last Sunday of July in Albion, Nebraska. So, we did a road trip from Omaha to the middle of Nebraska, a two hour drive made longer by construction and ill-timed traffic lights on a timer in the middle of nowhere.
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My uncle (maternal side) graciously hosted us in their basement, which was blissfully cool and mostly comfortable. They are gracious hosts and very accommodating to quirky travelers. I highly recommend them. I just love staying with them on their farm. They have animals galore… cats and kittens(!!), dogs, horses and ponies, goats, guineafowl, cows, and… I’m sure I’m missing naming a species here. Also, my cousin has two girls and William just loved playing with them!
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The drive to the family gathering was mostly on dirt roads, which William thought was fabulous thanks to the off-roading scenes in the Cars movie. It was made more entertaining for me by texting with my cousin, who was in the vehicle in front of us. She acted like a tour guide with such things like, “This is corn fields on your right and soybeans to your left. Upcoming to your right is a house where no one famous lives.” She would switch the types of fields appropriately. As we drove, we passed a farm that had a bunch of old buildings on it. There were a couple of churches, a sheriff building, and other things. It looked like a little Western town. I later learned from my uncle that the owner of that farm had a vision of building a little town, but he passed away and now his family doesn’t know what to do with the buildings. I guess his vision isn’t theirs.
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At the family gathering, the couple who hosted it are 2nd or 3rd cousins, once removed, to me, I think. I’m not really sure. Anyway, they have grandkids around William’s age, and while the kids weren’t in attendance, their toys were. William and my cousin’s girls had a fabulous time playing down in their basement. They have a pool table down there and William loved putting the balls in the holes and then listening to them rumble to the end. Best kid entertainment ever! I enjoyed seeing one of my cousins who I haven’t seen since he was 6 or 7 years old, and meeting his wife. There were also other distant relatives there and it was just an enjoyable relaxing time. The food was set up buffet style, entrees on one side of the kitchen island and various “salads” (the notion of salad is very different in the Midwest vs. California) on the other side. Also, desserts.
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The days went quickly (surely a sign of a good vacation?) and before we knew it, we were headed back to Omaha to stay with my Aunt Marjorie one last night and catch our flight the next morning. Now… where do we go next?

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Queen Mary Chill

Backing out of the garage this morning, I went through the list… “Do we have our coats?  The stroller?  Water?  Snacks?”  Yes!  So, we’re halfway down the hill and I notice sprinkles on the windshield… “Do we have umbrellas in the car?”  Uhhh, no.  This is California.  It doesn’t rain here!

Yet, all the way, as we drove to Long Beach, there was definitely rain on the windshield.  And, even if you try to deny it, say, by not using your windshield wipers, it is still rain!

We arrived at the Queen Mary early, like at 9:10 AM (they opened at 10:00 AM), and we wandered around for a little while and then headed over to wait in line to get into the Village.  William was anxious with anticipation to get in, so I handed him my watch to keep an eye on it for the last 10 minutes.  He told us he’d let us know when it was 10 o’clock.  I was surprised when they actually opened the gates about 3 minutes early… thank goodness.

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We hustled past the Christmas decorations and bouncy houses so we could be the first in line for the ice sculptures.  When we did this event a couple years ago (link), the line was really long to get into the ice sculptures and the workers were really grumpy (to be fair, it was the end of the day).  This year, I even went down the ice slide and that was really fun!  Overall, this was a far better experience than last time, although, sadly, there were far fewer ice sculptures this year.

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Admission to their Chill event included their village (that they decorate for each holiday) (that we had bypassed in our rush to the ice sculptures), and they had a couple bouncy houses (one that was shaped like the Queen Mary… it had a super weird entrance that kind of gave you the feeling like you were being rebirthed haha) and the other was a candy cane obstacle bouncer.  William was disappointed that neither of them had anything to climb.

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They also had a wave swing ride that came from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.  I kind of wanted to go on it, but I knew if I did that William would want to go on it, and we just weren’t confident that he would have been OK with it.  William said he wanted to, and he said he’d be fine all by himself and I think he would have been fine, but Tony said the ride looked scary and he didn’t want to be “those parents” with the freaking out kid.  Sometimes it sucks to be responsible parents.  (sigh)

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We self-toured ourselves through the Queen Mary, walked to the bow and then went up top and splashed in puddles.  We headed back to the Chill event to find some lunch, because I’m far too cheap to spend $20 on a mere sandwich just to say we ate on board the Queen Mary.  So we had a huge chicken skewer in the village with a view of the Queen Mary and rain pouring down on our heads.  Because I was in denial at that point, because my iPhone told me it wasn’t raining.

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Overall, it was a good event… however, next year, if we do it again, I hope they will have more ice sculptures, like they did when we went in 2012.  Although, even with the ones they had, it was impressive.  I think I’d like to try to go during the month of December, because in January, there were no performances, no carolers and no Santa.

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Link to more pictures, so you can feel like you went with us can be found here:  LINK

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Gracious.

I had lunch with a vendor today. He found out a couple months ago that my birthday is this weekend, and he sent a meeting invite for lunch today. I accepted it and figured I’d get out of it with an excuse a couple weeks before (given my weird social anxieties), except a legitimate excuse never presented itself and Tony encouraged me to go.

I’ve known this guy in a professional capacity since I started at this job in March of 2010, so 4 1/2 years now, and we’ve never gone to lunch.

I chose Corner Bakery, since it’s one of my favorite places and I am obsessed with love their iced tea … it was loud, as most of them are, and I wondered to myself how the cashier was even able to hear our orders. He decided to order dessert, and ordered their pumpkin poundcake. When she came up with the dessert, she had the lemon poundcake instead. He looked at me and told me he thought he’d ordered the pumpkin. I replied to him that he had, but she likely misheard because it was so loud.

When he mentioned it to her, she got really flustered and apologetic. (I assume if she had gotten the correct thing, the wrong thing would have had to be thrown away.) He shrugged and told her, “No problem, the lemon sounds good, too, don’t even worry about it.” She was still apologizing to him as she rang up the order, he said, “You know, if it’s not too late, would you mind adding the pumpkin, too? I’ll just take it to my kids.” He smiled and she smiled in return and everything was instantly smoothed over.

I watched the interaction and was struck by how gracious that was for him to do. Not everyone would think to do that, truthfully, I might not even had thought to do it. I’m also not sure if it was an intentional or an intuitive act on his part, or whether that even matters… it was a kindness.

Oh, and he also got two desserts. 😀

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