Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DISNEYLAND!

Whew! We've been home for over a week now & I'm just barely getting to posting this.
That tells you. I've finally conquered Mt. Washmore & feeling like we've recovered - because it wasn't just Disneyland. First it was driving to my sister's wedding celebration/ring ceremony in Salt Lake. Then packing. Then a week of Sea World & Disneyland. Then back to Salt Lake for the SLC 1/2 marathon. Then back to Cedar. So... it was a busy couple of weeks there. But wonderful! Truly precious memories.
This post is about our trip to Disneyland. We'd been talking about wanting to go for a year or two, but never really found the money for it. This trip was really a gift from my aunt. I believe she would have wanted us to do it. And I've felt her and dreamt about her a lot the past week or so. I miss her.
We didn't tell the kids directly. McKinley knew we were going to go sometime, but didn't know when. When we got back from Salt Lake, I packed while Jason bathed the kids & entertained them so they wouldn't know. We were up till 1am packing that night.
The next morning (Friday, April 8) we woke the girls up & told them we were driving to where Disneyland was! They were excited. McKinley was especially excited that her cousins were going to be there & that we were going to the beach! The trip was actually pretty smooth. We got to San Diego in 8 hours & were able to check into the Bahia right on time & out to dinner with the Simons & Potts. We went to Luigi's, which has HUGE pizzas!
Saturday morning Dad & I went for an amazing run. Literally breathtaking. Wish I would have brought the camera. Boardwalk right by the ocean. Sigh... could someone please buy me a house by the beach? I mean - all I want is a house by the beach & a house in the mountains. Is that too much for a girl to ask? Afterwards we ate breakfast & headed to Sea World. So much to see & do! It was a lot of fun. The dolphin show was amazing. And the arctic wild was so neat. The shows were fun (though we never did get wet even though we were in the "soak zone")
Sunday was a beach day. The girls had actually never been to the beach (by the ocean), so it was a LOT of fun. A bit too chilly to REALLY get in & enjoy the ocean, but really nice - especially since we could just walk to the hotel pool when it got too cold. It was windy enough that we had fun with the kites, too. We had fun in the sun for about 4 hours before driving up to Anaheim. We checked into the Disneyland Hotel & they were good about changing rooms for us since we wanted one that was bigger with a space for Kezi to sleep. That night we went to good ol' Mcee-Dees for dinner.
Monday-Thursday was Disneyland and CA Adventures. Jason had never actually been to Disneyland, so this was a whole new world (cough, cough - sorry) for him, too! We got together with the Edwards, Potts, and/or Simons some of the time. It was neat to have family there. And it was fun to do some things just with our little family. Below is the slideshow & then some memories/lessons learned for our first family trip to Disneyland. All-in-all, I was say it was a smashing success. The girls are constantly asking when we can go back.

video

-Driving. I would say I maybe "overplanned" the driving part. I spent way too much money on stuff to keep the girls entertained (coloring books, magnetic toys, etc) when all they really did the whole time was sleep or watch the DVDs. Snacks were good, though. It was SO nice to have a van. Even with all our stuff we packed, we really didn't need to put any luggage or anything in the seat area. I used a laundry basket to fill with books, games, etc - along with snacks. It worked well to pass back & forth to McKinley who was in the back seat.
-San Diego. It really could be a vacation in and of itself. I wished we had more time here. It was so beautiful. And the beach was so close. Sea World was fun - especially the Sesame Street area for the kids. I was surprised at the security to get in. Everyone needed their own ticket with their name printed on it. And they were very strict about ride heights. The shows were packed, so you really had to get there early. And - even though I warned Jason - you still really have to prepare yourself if you're eating at the park (whether Sea World or Disneyland). Just don't think too much about how much you're paying for that hot dog & you'll be OK. We stayed at the Bahia right by the beach. It was an older hotel, but perfect location & we got a full kitchen, so I made french toast a couple mornings.
-Disneyland Hotel. You know, it was really neat. At night, you can flip a switch and the headboard above the beds light up with fiber optic fireworks and sings "A dream is a wish your heart makes." It's really cute. And it was fun to stay where they was the Disney flavor everywhere. The bummer was that it was under construction - and the pool was only half open. And no free breakfast. It was fun to stay there once - and I DEFINITELY want to stay in a place within walking distance to the resorts - but I don't think we'll stay there again.
-Disneyland. I think the time of year worked out well. We only waited 40 minutes tops for any ride and we really used those fast passes, which were super nice. The weather was great - 75-80. Our favorite rides were It's a Small World, Pirates of the Carribbean (I love how all the old rides have been updated to include the new movies), the Teacups, Space Mountain, and the Tiki room. We loved rides we could go on as a family - even Kezi. We also loved going to the Princess story time & coronation. It was fun to dance with the princesses. The fireworks show at night was AMAZING. Really. I bought the soundtrack to it because it was just so magical.
-California Adventure. Fun! It's nice that it's right across from Disneyland, because we really did go back & forth a lot. Our fave rides were the Buzz Lightyear Arcade (SO fun!), California Screamin' Coaster (Jason & I just went on this but it was a lot of fun - we went 2x in a row!), all the kid rides in Bugs Land - especially the cute catipillar ride, and the Tower of Terror was fun even though McKinley was too scared to go on it. Soarin' over California was really awesome, too. The rides weren't even the best parts, though. If you go, you HAVE to see the Aladdin show. Seriously amazing. The World of Color was breathtaking. We really enjoyed it, though it was sad that Ireland and McKinley had to go to the bathroom when there was only 10 minutes left. There is a lot of construction going on at California Adventure right now, so if you wait till 2012 to go, there is going to be a TON more things opening up - including a huge Cars movie area.
-Character Dining. I would highly recommend this if you are planning on seeing the characters. It is definitely expensive, but completely worth it. Rather than wait 30+ minutes to see them, they come right to you while you eat! And not only that, but they are able to really visit longer & dance & talk. Kezi was pretty unsure about them at first, but by the end, she was running up to them & saying "HUG! HUG!" It was so cute. The only drawback here is that your little ones spend more time watching for the characters than actually eating.
-Early entry. Yup...nope. Didn't make it either time. I just had to let go a little when it came to getting out the door in the morning. With 3 little girls and a sleepy husband, we never made it before 9:30. Good thing we had 4 days there so we could be more relaxed about it all.
-Girls ages. I'm glad we went now while the girls still are into all the princesses and fairies and magical things. McKinley could go on almost every ride but the Indiana Jones ride & the screamin' roller coaster at CA Adventure. Ireland wasn't even 40'' so there were quite a few rides she had to miss (which was sad because her cousin Joshua is 9 days younger than she is, and he could go on all the rides McKiney could), but she took it in stride & we did other fun things. Still... I think we'll wait till the girls are all at least 40'' before we go again.
-Family. What was great about this trip is that my family was around, but we didn't have to schedule every minute together. We could meet up here & there for rides or meals. McKinley especially loved having her cousins around.
-Sleeping in a hotel. I was honestly worried about it. We've had some nightmare hotel experiences in the past with babies up & crying & no one getting any sleep, but honestly it was great. We would roll in past 10 every night & the minute their little heads hit the pillows, they were completely out. Our room was nice, too because they had blackout blinds, so it was nice & dark & quiet in the mornings. Also - we "blanketed" off the section by the door for Kezi to sleep in, so we could be up & moving around & not bother her. She slept pretty good amazingly enough.
-Potty trips. If you do a trip like this, just mentally prepare yourself. I felt like we were stopping at bathrooms every 5 minutes. In the future, I will make everyone go to the bathroom at the same time - even if they don't need to.
-Nighttime. I bought these light spinner things at Walmart for a couple bucks. Best thing ever. Those light-up bubble-blower things were 12 bucks each! So- plan for the night life.
-Gear. Surprisingly, I wore flip-flops every day for 5 days & I was just fine! Jason wore his tennies & his feet were killing him by the last day. Go figure. Ponchos a must. I was glad I brought ours for the wet rides. It wasn't hot enough to really enjoy getting wet.
-Souvenirs. Dang, I forgot how expensive little things were. We dropped $100 at the hat store for heaven sakes. Wouldn't change it, though. They have these new ears that has the black hat base & then you can snap on different sets of ears to go with it - so McKinley has 2 sets of ears to go with her hat. And I love how the girls love showing of their embroidered names.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

March Newsletter & Jan-Mar Slideshow

Well, it's been a life-changing past month for the Hamilton family, for sure. In March, we had a great time exploring our new surroundings - finding new parks, the library, running paths, stores, etc. We have enjoyed getting to know the people in our neighborhood & ward, who have been truly wonderful & welcoming. We enjoyed going down to St. George a few times to visit my grandparents, Aunt, and the Hamiltons to celebrate Camri's birthday and also to go to the temple and go out with some friends and family. We bought a 2005 Toyota Sienna (a.k.a the Swagga Wagon). We got to have a get-together with some wonderful friends, the Barons. And we had a great ward Hawaiian Party at the end of the month. We've looked at schools, homes, at building lots. Still have a lot of decisions to make. But we are together. And we are happy.

I spent a lot of time putting together a slideshow for Jan-March, but for the life of me, I cannot get it to finish uploading. If I can in the future, I'll put it on here, but for now, here's the newsletter:

JASON: Jason is excited to be starting his new job. He really likes his boss and is more than excited to be able to go to work in jeans and a goatee (he hasn’t had a job in the past 11 years where he could wear jeans!). Also – his work hours are very flexible and he’s close enough that he can come home for lunch sometimes. It will take him a little while to learn the systems, terminology, and structure of the Forest Service, but he is a fast learner. On the 22nd, Jason got to take Ireland out for her date that she earned. They had fun at McDonald’s.

HEIDI: Heidi has really enjoyed Cedar City so far. From the first Sunday, she felt welcomed & like she fit in. Heidi has been training for her ½ marathon. It was a slow-go at the beginning with all the unpacking & not knowing where to run – and the unpredictable weather, but she did her 12-mile run last Saturday & is feeling good about the upcoming SLC half in a couple weeks. On the 19th, Heidi went to the Cedar Stake Women’s Conference – and was blown away with the amazing women and leaders in this area. Wonderful talks and workshops. On the 24th, Heidi took McKinley to McDonald’s for their date that she earned. We had so much fun throwing hoops, playing air hockey, playing on the slides, and eating ice cream & cookies. Heidi also enjoys getting back into the tradition of baking bread on Sundays. She also got called into Activity Days, which she is excited about.

McKINLEY:

-McKinley has done pretty well with the move overall. She truly does miss her cousins & especially asks about Michael all the time, but she is very good at making new friends. We go to playgroup & she loves playing with Parker Johnson (who she says reminds her of Michael) and she’s had play dates with Kayla Clawson and Allie Porter. One day, she had a play date lined up & had another girl call to play with her, too! She’s already popular! She also loves her new dance class & says she loves her teacher. They are learning a dance to Animal Crackers in My Soup.

-We’ve been busy and prayerful about what to do about McKinley’s schooling next year since it’s sign ups right now. We went ahead & signed her up for the local school, but we’ve also toured the Montessori Charter School. And we still haven’t ruled out home school. We hear good things about the local public school – East – and we’ve heard some negative things about the Charter School. And then with home school, we can feel better about having God in her schooling, so we are still being prayerful about it.

-For some reason (maybe the name), McKinley really thinks Ireland is a leprechaun!

-McKinley had a lot of fun going to McDonald’s with mom for the date that she earned. She was so excited the whole day & when we left she said “Mom – I’m just so excited!” We had a great time talking & playing basketball & air hockey & she even met a new friend there.

-One Sunday morning, we were hanging out in our room & the girls were giggling. We looked over to find them helping each other try on mom’s bras.

-We watched some America’s Funniest Home Videos & afterwards, McKinley was on a mission to find something funny. Mom let the dogs in one day & they were licking Kezia’s tray & McKinley said “Hurray Mom! Get the camera – take a video for AFV!” Mom said she didn’t think it was super-funny. McKinley said “But mom! It might be funny to some children!”

-McKinley likes to dip her PB&J sandwiches in ranch.

-Apparently, Tiarra has told McKinley that some stuffed animals are really real & now she is convinced that all her toys move around & talk when we’re not looking & she said her dog told Tiarra that it didn’t eat but it wanted water to drink.

-We haven’t been as consistent with homeschooling this past month, but what we have done has been really good. McKinley is reading really well. In fact, her real issue is getting impatient with sounding out. She knows so many sight words that if she sees a word that has most of the same letters, she’ll just assume it’s that word. We’re learning about Benjamin Franklin in History, and she’s doing really well with her skip counting, adding & subtracting. She also memorized Matthew 2:16 this month & the 1st article of Faith.

-One day McKinley was outside & she came in & said that she was building a slide for the bugs. Sure enough, there was a little slide made of sticks so the bugs wouldn’t miss out on the fun. She also loves to collect interesting rocks from the backyard & mom will find them in random places inside.

-McKinley still LOVES experiments - though now some of them are actually edible. She made a pretty good salad the other day and she made some dipping sauce with ranch and ketchup & mustard that daddy actually really liked!

-McKinley kept asking when they were going to see Michael, so mom helped her make a count-down chain & she colored pictures on each chain of her & Michael. Every day when she wakes up, the first thing she wants to do is take off a chain.

IRELAND:

-Ireland seems to have the hardest time out of any of us with the move. At 3 years old, she doesn’t understand what’s really going on. She has felt out of control, so she feels like she has to control everything else that she can. From her clothes to the bowl she eats out of to her shoes to where she sits at the table, she is SUPER-picky. She was always picky, but after the move, she just freaks out when she doesn’t get her way. Mom tries to choose her battles, and therefore has let her go out with dresses & snow boots and the like just to have some peace. She also misses Joshua & Sienna. She doesn’t understand why they can’t just come over right then.

-One day after dinner, daddy blew his nose. Then he said “hey Ireland – come here & let me clean you off!” Ireland said “NO!! That has boogers on it!”

-Ireland has loved the (sometimes) warmer weather. She asks every day to go to the park. And she even asks to go the park after we’ve already been!

-Ireland’s thing lately is saying “Ewww! Dis-gust-ing!”

-One of the girls’ wands says “There’s magic in the air!” Ireland had a fun time dancing around the house spreading magic. When she went to bed, she said “I need my magic in the air!!”

-Ireland has missed her daddy a lot when he’s at work. She asks where he’s at & mom will say he’s at work & Ireland will say “No! But he isn’t! He wasn’t wearing a tie!” We keep telling her that he doesn’t need a tie for this job, but she doesn’t believe us yet.

-Ireland had such a fun time going on a date to McDonald’s with her daddy. They had ice cream and played games.

-McKinley’s two front teeth are still loose & she will talk about it & wiggle them with her fingers. Ireland will try to pull hers out & say “My teeth are STICKIN!”

-Ireland loves to find matches. She calls them matchy-matches.

-At the ward Hawaiian party, they had some Hawaiian guy dancers who danced in their skirt things. Ireland says (loudly) “But Mom – why are they NAKED?”

KEZIA:

-Kezia has done OK with the move. We kept her in the portable crib, so she seems to do well – although she still seems to wake up before 7 & then again at 7am. When we Skype with family, though, she points to people (especially grandma) & kind of whimpers “gama!” “gama!”

-Since the doors in this rental home are the lever kind, Kezia has learned how to open them easily. We really have to watch her especially with the bathroom. She loves to take things out of the trash & put them in the toilet. She also loves to pull out the T.P.

-Another one of Kezia’s new tricks is getting on the kitchen table. She thinks it’s so fun to climb on the chairs and get up there & dance.

-She also is a drink dumper. Once she’s done drinking any drink, she will turn it upside down & shake.

-Kezia loves to say “Dora!” and “Daddy-o!”

-One day mom found Kezia in the bathroom with a toothbrush – dipping it in the toilet & sucking on it. EWWW!

-Kezia loves to sing “Happy Birthday to you!”

-She still loves watching Signing Time and Baby Einstein.

-The girls love Kezia – they fight over who gets to sit by her at mealtimes.

-It’s been fun having the dogs closer – they get to come in & clean up the floor & Kezia just laughs & giggles & says “Tundra!” “Sydney!” as they clean up around her & her tray.

-Kezia is still changing between 1 & 2 naps, depending on when she gets up in the morning.

-Kezia is really struggling with the concept of taking & sharing. At Sunday School, she will find the nearest baby & start taking their toys one by one & bringing them to us. And when we try to give them back, she shouts “MINE!”

-Kezia’s molars have finally been coming through! We are so glad to have that part of teething over with!

-She’s started to do the fake cry. If one of her sisters is hurt & mom is comforting, she will come with her fake cry to get some loves, too.

-She LOVES to be outside – even when it’s cold. We can’t wait for the warmer weather when she can play in the water because right now she’s always getting into the dogs’ water.