30 April 2012

Happiest Place on Earth + A California Adventure

Have you guys been on the edge of your seat waiting for the Day 2 adventures of the Michelson Family Does Disneyland?!  Well, here you go!

After seeing Olivia's excitement upon meeting the various characters at Disneyland, David and I decided that we would try to get there as early as possible so we could meet some of the princesses at the Princess Fantasy Faire.  We did a pretty good job of getting everyone ready and out the door, but had a few hiccups once we got to the parking structure.  Tickets were left in the car {but we realized it before boarding the shuttle} and then there was a problem when they scanned our tickets {but that was easily resolved}.  So, we didn't quite make it there as the gates were opening up.  But, we were still pretty early and decided to forge ahead with our original game plan.  And, I am so glad we did!  We ended up waiting a little over 30 minutes {by far the longest wait for anything we did}, but it was so worth it seeing her interact with the three princesses we met.

We first met Belle and Olivia was so excited to meet her.  She kept telling her how it was her birthday and she showed her how to make the three with her hand.  Then she went on to tell her all about meeting Minnie and Mickey and Pluto and how Pluto did "3" with his hand differently than her.  It was so cute seeing Belle's reaction to her.  Those princesses must have sore cheeks by the end of the day because they were smiling non-stop!

She met Ariel next and told her all about riding on the Dumbo ride.  Ariel asked her if her friend Scuttle {the seagull from The Little Mermaid} was up there flying around and Olivia had no clue what she was talking about.  Olivia then went on to tell her all about how I had bought her new shoes and painted her fingernails and toenails.  {Which hadn't been painted in over a week and were totally chipping, but Ariel told her how beautiful they looked. So sweet.}  Ariel's photographer absolutely LOVED Olivia and was blown away by how well she could communicate with the princess.

Our third princess to meet was Tiana from the Princess and the Frog.  I didn't know how Olivia would react to her since she had never seen the movie.  We tried to watch it with her in the hospital when I had Sydney, but she didn't really like it.  But, I had nothing to worry about.  Tiana was a charmer and is now one of Olivia's favorite princesses.  She likes to tell me that Tiana is from "The Weeziana" {Louisiana}.  

No joke, after this experience we probably all could have gone home happy campers.  It is hard to put into words how exciting it was for us as parents to watch our little girl {she is so not a baby anymore} holding her own with these princesses.  Our hearts were just so full watching her soaking in everything.

We decided that since it was just the four of us, we would just kind of take it easy the rest of the day.  Our passes allowed us to hop over to California Adventure, so we decided to do a couple things in Disneyland before heading over there.  We went into Toontown again to check out some things we hadn't done the day before.  We saw Chip and Dale's Treehouse, went into the post office and Olivia even rode her first roller coaster!  She got to meet Goofy and then rode the Roger Rabbit ride {and got scared}.

{Yes, Sydney was on this trip too!}

One of the "cast members" in Toontown told us when and where we could meet Donald, so we made a mental note of that and tried to get some other things done before we went to the Main Street to see him.  We rode the Casey Jr train {duh, she loves Dumbo} and started to wait in line to meet Tinkerbell, but after seeing Princess Aurora head to her area, David made a mad dash to see her.  Sorry, Tink, you'll have to wait to meet our princess until next time.

We rode It's a Small World one more time {because it really is probably MY favorite ride and both the girls LOVED it} and then headed into the Main Street area to see Donald.  And, wouldn't you know it, we just missed him.  We got to see him head off to his little break area, but that was it.  {And, while David may be fast at tracking them down on their way to their site, I'm grateful he wasn't like some of the crazed fans who chased them down on their way out.}  We DID, however, get to see Minnie and Mickey again.

And, I know this may sound a little crazy because the characters don't talk and their face is permanently smiling, but ohmygosh, Minnie absolutely loved Olivia.  Like, kept pumping her hands near her heart loved her.

And, I was beyond thrilled to see Mickey in a tux.

After this, we had the token photo taken in front of the Disneyland entrance and strolled across the lot to California Adventure.  The only plan we had for there was to see a Disney Junior show,  do the Ariel ride and just sort of walk around a bit.  Getting the park hopper ticket was a really last minute thing so we didn't do much research on the park.  It was actually nice being over there because {even though Disneyland wasn't super crowded} there were virtually no crowds there.  

Olivia fell asleep in her stroller for about 5 minutes {the only nap she took that entire week} and then we got in line for the Disney Junior show.  It was in a little auditorium with a stage up front.  The show was really cute.  It was centered around Mickey Mouse Clubhouse {which is one of Olivia's favorite shows} and then had little snippets with Handy Manny, Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Little Einsteins.  They did the theme songs which had Olivia {and lots of the other kids} up dancing and clapping and the characters were huge puppets.  Olivia kept yelling out to them, "Hi Minnie! Hi Mickey! We just saw you and hugged you!"  Adorable.  So glad we decided to do CA Adventure too - just for this show!

We met Handy Manny after the show.

We took a much needed break after the show and sat for some lunch.  I don't think I mentioned this, but we packed waters, lunches and snacks for all of us.  So, over the course of the two days there, the only thing we bought were two diet cokes and two oranges.  It was great too because we didn't have to worry about where or what we were going to eat.

Good as gold the entire trip!  Can't wait for her to be old enough to enjoy it.  
{Wait, yes I can.  Stay a baby a little longer please!}

Full bellies = happy faces!

Next on our list was the Ariel ride.  Several people had recommended it and it did not disappoint.  The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite Disney movies and the colors and music were amazing.  We rode the ride 3 times in a row.  We would hop off, walk through the ropes and get right back on.  Perfect time of year to go.  Unfortunately, as I went to take pictures of this ride, my camera battery died.  So, from this point on, the rest of my pictures were with cell phones.

After this, we strolled around the park and let Olivia ride yet another carousel - King Triton's - this one was underwater-themed.  Same thing, we rode it three times and only got off because we saw Buzz Lightyear and wanted to get our picture taken with him.

Happy as can be.

This little munchkin crashed out during this part of our trip.

Olivia got scared of Buzz and chickened out at the last minute, but it was clear to me that Buzz thought Sydney was out of this world.  {hee hee}

David saw that there was an area for younger kids called "A Bug's Land" and so we headed over there.  It was a perfect place for toddlers with all of the rides - we did a little "chew chew" train where Heimlich eats his way through various {scented} food and then Olivia finally got to do a bumper car bug!  There were spinning lady bugs {that were way worse than the spinning teacups} and a fun flying ride that we all got to go into. 

We wrapped up our California Adventure with a ride on Monster's Inc: Mike and Sully to the Rescue.  Monster's Inc is David's favorite animated movie - I think he could quote the entire movie if he had to - so I am so glad we were able to do this ride.  We lucked into so many things on our trip {being in the right place at the right time to meet characters and princesses} and this was just another example of that.  We were headed out when we decided to just walk past the ride and saw that it was closed down temporarily.  They told us it would be open in a few minutes so we sort of hung around the area and went in when it opened back up.  The only time we "waited" was the amount of time it took us to snake through the maze that is set up for the usual crowd of people.  It's so crazy to think that there are times when the park is so full that people wait an hour to go on a 2 minute ride.  And, I feel so blessed that we weren't there during that time!

We left the parks on a good note.  We had the time of our lives and left wanting more.  We couldn't have asked for a better trip or a better way to spend our biggest girl's 3rd birthday.  We had so much fun and can't wait to go back.  Hopefully Sarah and the girls will meet us again and maybe we can even convince some of our other SLO friends to come too. {Sarah R, I'm talking to you!}  And, you know next time we want Nana and Poppy and Uncle Rhino to join in on the fun.  There were so many rides I thought David would have liked to go on, but the trip was really all about Olivia.

As we left the park, I saw Olivia waving her arms around and ran in front of her to see what she was doing.  Can you tell?

She was hugging Disneyland.
Kaboom.  My heart exploding.

Family picture on the way out.

Now, here are a couple things I want to make sure I document:

*At Minnie's house, she has a kitchen with a refrigerator with various types of cheese, an oven with a rising cake inside, and a dishwasher that suds and bubbles.  On our way into the park on the 2nd day, Olivia said that she wanted to meet Cinderella and she asked me where Cinderella lived.  Then she said, "I wonder if Cinderella's house has a dishwasher too."  {Too which David quickly replied, "No, remember, Cinderella has to do all the dishes by hand!"

*Some of the rides {I'm talking to you Snow White} are sort of scary.  I was really amazed at how scary some of the child-geared rides were.  Even the Winnie the Pooh ride was a little trippy.  Whenever Olivia got scared, she would cover her ears.  Eyes usually stayed wide open, but the ears got covered.

*We pretty much saw all the characters, even Chip and Dale, but not once saw even a glimpse of Daisy.  I guess it's a reason to go back!

If you stuck with me for this whole post, pat yourself on the back.  
And, thank you for loving my kiddos.

29 April 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth - Olivia's 3rd Birthday

For Olivia's 3rd birthday, we decided awhile back that we would try to meet up with her BFF Kendall somewhere in California.  At first, we thought about going to Sea World, but Sarah recommended Disneyland and I couldn't be happier that we chose to spend Olivia's 3rd birthday at the Happiest Place on Earth.  

We drove over to Anaheim on Monday {the day before her birthday} and checked into our hotel suite that was only a mile away from Disneyland.  We thought we were pretty smart finding a really nice {and cheap thanks to Hotwire} hotel room that had two rooms - one for us and one for the girls.  Boy, were we ever wrong!  Even though Olivia didn't nap on the ride out, she was way too keyed up to go to bed on her own.  So, poor David {or, actually lucky David} ended up sleeping in the other room while I slept with both girls in the big bed.  We did manage to get some sleep, thankfully, because we were up and at 'em early the next morning.

{This is the special Minnie Mouse dress Olivia wore to Disneyland the first day.}

We headed over to Disneyland on Olivia's birthday and met up with Kendall, her mom Sarah, and baby sister Katelyn in the parking garage before heading in.  It was SO great seeing them.  I hadn't seen Katelyn since she was about a month old and Olivia was so excited to see Kendall.  I think Kendall was a little shocked to see Olivia because it took her a few minutes to warm up to her {even though Sarah said she talked about Olivia the entire ride to Disneyland}.  After that, they were right back to instant buddies.  

Since Olivia is obsessed with Dumbo, we decided to head straight to the Dumbo ride first.  She was so excited for the ride!

The magic feather!

After Dumbo, we got right on the Snow White ride.  Holy Mercy - that is not a ride for toddlers.  Fortunately for us, by the time we were finished with it,  Mickey's Toontown had opened up.  This is where Mickey and all of his friends live and we were hoping to at least meet Minnie and Mickey and get the visions of witches out of our kiddos eyes.  And, whoop whoop, we did!

Love these girls

She was over the moon meeting Minnie!  And, she loved touring her house.

Mickey's line was kind of long and I have to admit I was a little disappointed that it was the Fantasia Mickey Mouse, especially since Olivia had never seen that.  But, she was thrilled anyway.

While in Toontown, we toured Donald's boat and Goofy's Playhouse and were lucky enough to meet Pluto roaming around.

Please note that Pluto only has three "fingers" - and so when he showed Olivia that she was three, he showed his whole paw.  This had the biggest impact on her and she ended up telling this story to just about everyone she came into contact with.

Sarah's sister lives in L.A. and has a season pass to Disneyland.  She brought her triplets {yeah, you read that right} to join us for the fun day.  Once we met up with her, we headed over to ride It's A Small World and found a spot to have lunch.

I made little goodie bags for the kids with Disney stickers, Disney fruit snacks and a cd with lots of Disney songs on it and it seems that the fruit snacks were a HIT.

We ended up riding the train around and touring Princess Aurora's castle and somehow running into the Fairy Godmother.

David was so great at spotting one of the characters roaming around and hightailing it to where they were so we could get a little Meet & Greet.

Friends in a teacup.

While I fed Sydney, David and the other ladies entertained the girls with the carousel.  We then headed off to check out the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the Winnie the Pooh ride, the Jungle Cruise and then the Finding Nemo submarine voyage.  We were really lucky that we barely had to wait in line for any of these rides.  The longest was the submarine ride and that was probably only about a 15 minute wait! We picked the perfect time to go!

After the Nemo ride, it was time for Sarah and her girls to head out.  We had such a great time hanging out with them - we miss them SO much and we feel really blessed that they drove down to celebrate Olivia's 3rd birthday with us.  Such good friends...

Saying goodbye...for now.

We decided that we weren't quite ready to call it a day yet.  We headed up to the Main Street area and found ourselves a nice spot for the parade.  We had a little bit of time before the parade started, so we stopped into City Hall and picked up a birthday button for Olivia.  {She also got to see Pluto again!}

The parade was amazing.  Olivia was super excited to see all of the characters and the princesses.  She would call out to them and say things like, "Hi Minnie!  I was at your house today!"  It was so stinking cute. David and I looked at each other at least 20 times and said, "This is SO worth it!"  The genie from Aladdin came right up to her and about scared the daylights out of her, but she loved everything else.  The highlight had to be when the princess caravan came around and Cinderella saw her birthday button and mouthed "Happy Birthday" to her.  She was in HEAVEN.

Would you look at that face?  Blowing Cinderella a kiss.
SO precious.

After the parade, we decided to take a little stroll around Fantasyland again and do one more Dumbo ride before calling it a night.  We were all exhausted, but had permagrins on each of our faces.  We had the BEST time celebrating Olivia's birthday at Disneyland.  {We love you so much, beautiful girl!}

I literally took 850 pictures on my camera and cell phone.  David took another 100.  I have spent just about every spare minute editing the photos and putting them into a separate file to make a photo book of our trip. I got it down to about 250 favorites.  {Ridiculous, I know} I'll be back {hopefully} tomorrow with details from the 2nd day of our Disneyland trip.  {I know you guys are so anxious!} 
To Be Continued...

25 April 2012

Sydneygrams + Eight Months

Sweetest baby ever turns eight months old today.

Sweet baby, you are SUCH a blessing.  

24 April 2012

Birfday Celebrations

Five years ago tonight, I sat on the edge of David's bed and cried.  It was the night before I turned 30 and I sobbed.  I threw a little pity party for myself right there on his bed.  It was stupid, I know.  I knew it then, but that didn't stop me from doing it.  I wasn't engaged, I didn't have kids...I wasn't where I thought I would be by 30.

But, look at me now.  I'm married, with two BEAUTIFUL daughters.  I have a husband who, despite the fact that I practically live in pajamas, loves me and is an amazing father to our daughters.  And, as fate would have it, I get to live a few miles away from my wonderful parents.  Here's looking at you, thirty-five.

Happy Birthday to ME.

17 April 2012

Olivia is Three

Oh my precious Olivia,

Somehow you've grown right before my very eyes.  There is absolutely no baby left in you at all - you are a full-fledged toddler.  I see you in the baby pictures, but I don't see the baby in you anymore.  And you are only three.  So that means you have a lot more growing to do.  And while I am eager for all the wonderful moments that are yet to come, I can't help but be a little weepy at the time that has passed.  Your daddy and I love you so much and we are so proud of you.  You are smart and funny and oh-so creative.  There are days where my heart just wants to burst open with all the love I have for you.  Keep learning, keep growing, keep smiling and laughing.  And keep on knowing that we love you to the ends of the earth.  {So much so that we've endured 6+ hours of car time to take you to the most magical place on Earth - Disneyland!}

I want to detail some of the funny things you do these days, so here are a few that I can think of.

+  Yesterday, I asked your dad to bring me a blank cd {and you thought I said blanket} and you yelled down the hall to me, "We don't have any stinkin' blankets!"  That's something you have heard your Poppy say.  Little pitchers have big ears, Poppy!

+  You are mildly obsessed with the movie Dumbo.  {Moving on from Jungle Book}  You love to climb up on your dad like the elephants do and have even attempted climbing up on your sister.  In the movie, it's called the Pachyderm Pyramid, but for some reason you call it juggling.  Your favorite part of the movie is what your dad and I think is the saddest.  All the mommy elephants are cuddling with their babies, but Mama Jumbo is locked in the "Mad Elephant" cage {or jail as you like to play with your animals}.  Timothy takes Dumbo to see her and she rocks him with her trunk to the Baby Mine lullaby.  You want to watch this clip over and over despite the fact that it brings tears to your parents' eyes!  You even line up all of your animals and match them with mommies or babies and sing the lullaby to them.  Your favorite is to take two little elephants and make the baby elephant swing from the mommy elephant's trunk - just like the movie.

+  You have been sleeping in your big girl bed for a few weeks now and love it.  However, you are having a hard time falling asleep at night and have been pushing it to 11 or 12 at night before you fall asleep.  You definitely take after your parents there.

+  You can be a stinker sometimes.  {Truth be told, girl.}  And, it's so funny that if we say, "Well, Poppy was going to take you to the playground, but he only does that for nice girls," you will quickly come back with a sweet little voice and say, "Hiiii Poppy.  How are youuuu today?!"  You definitely know how to work it.

+  I can pretty much get you to do anything for two M&Ms.

+  You know what? I think three looks pretty good on you, kid.

Haven't seen enough of this beautiful child?  You can watch her birthday video here.  

Happy Birthday, Big Girl.
I love you so much.