Saturday, May 19, 2012

It Was Such A Vacation Coming Home... Part 5, 6 & 7 - California Memories...

You wouldn't think that my favorite part of visiting Southern California would have been just driving around it, but in fact, I think it was. And we had a whole two days to do just that!

And it would seem, in that endeavor, that having the aid of 2 GPS equipted iPhones on board would have been of some convenience.


Hacienda Heights

I could have made that trip from Disneyland to home in my sleep, which in fact I did, many, many times during my years of Disney-dom. But it still looked completely different! Nothing familiar at all!... except for that hard to miss, straight shot north. That is, until we reached Whittier Blvd and turned right off of Beach... and then hung a fast left onto Hacienda. If my mom or sisters are reading this they'll most likely already be smelling the avacados and orange groves... I swear, it could have still been the 70's! Every landmark left unchanged, including that house on the left (with the junky yard?) just as you round that first bend to the right?.. (looks like they've cleaned it up a bit over the years though.)

I think I've probably driven that road more than any other in my life (on many stormy nights and foggy mornings even) and yet I was ever so grateful that Aaron was driving this time around because when we got to that hairpin turn right near the top of the hill?... I had to close my eyes for a sec. I guess I would say that the only thing that has majorly changed at all over that two-mile hilly trevail was the appearance (out of the blue) of the most humongous, sprawling Buddhist Temple I have ever seen!... ( ok, it's the only one I have ever seen) just as we crested over the hill making our way down into my old native homeland. But everything else looked pretty much the same... except for the store fronts, of course, which were pretty much all etched in Chinese.

But almost home!

And as we turned left onto La Subida Drive the memories began flooding in.

"Just a little further, keep going..."

"It's up there, just one mile exactly."

"That is where so and so lived!..."

"And I remember such and such there!..."

"Ok... now, see that school yard?..."

...well it's gonna be the very first house, just past it, on the right."

"Ok, we're coming up to it...

almost there..."

"Just a little bit further and...


REALLY? (I know! I had to click on it to enlarge it too!)

Whitney: "Are you sure this is it?"

Me: "Yes, I swear! Or at least this is exactly where my house was the last time that I lived in it for 20 years...

I mean, I remember having to crawl through that sliding window (which now appears to be the front door) and into the kitchen sink more times than I'd like to admit, but that's probably not the most courteous way to welcome guests! And where did that big tree come from? And is my bedroom somehow... way bigger now? Etc. Etc. I guess you'd have to had "been there" to appreciate my complete shock and surprise. As for the Southwestern architecture in this mostly predominantly Asian community? I guess that made just about as much sense to me as anything else.

The next surreal moment was catching Dennis Carrol in his driveway working on his car. I did the math... and by counting three houses down realized that I was, in fact, not in error. We chatted for a few minutes and it was practically as if we had been chatting just yesterday, except with a couple more kids in tow.

Next stop Shadybend.

Turnbull Canyon road and it's landscape has pretty much stayed the same too. Thank goodness for small favors!

We passed the High School where I spent those many, many years... all angst free of course :)... And Whitney's pre-school, where she got her smart start... and we thought of Papa.

Papa: "So, how do we get there, again?"

It was quite shocking and sad to see the burned out and gutted remains of the once beautiful Saint John Vianny Church. SO sad! The coincidental thing is how much I've been thinking so much about this since I got home and wondering what had happened and they finally caught this guy just four days ago. It's been over a year! Unreal. My old LDS church building, just to the south of it, still stands.

Anyway, here is my awesome condo of regrouping. Or my "Along the Way Station" as I like to call it.

1**24 Shadybend Drive (Some of the numbers have been hidden in order to protect the Google privacy of the current owners. Just because the internet can be a very shady place...

I never thought, when I first moved in, that it would ever feel like home. But it did. It was. I remember all the birthday parties under that little patio awning and my little garden just behind that fence and the carpeted garage... and I can picture the living room just inside that front door and the kitchen beyond just as if it were yesterday. I remember the kids doing cartwheels out on that tiny little front lawn.. and the day that Mark installed that Belwith door-knocker, peep hole. Some of my sweetest and most precious pictures and videos of my children were taken in this place. And I remember strolling thru it on that day I moved out in July of 1990, with tears running down my face and saying "Goodbye House" :( It had served it's purpose well, I guess. *sigh*

There's nothing like keeping up a tradition. And so that's what we did next. Kentucky Fried Chicken... check. Stimson Park... check. Except that now it's "Steinmetz" park. But still, again, we didn't need the GPS in order to find it...

And it's still pretty much the same except different. Different in that my babies aren't babies any more...

Whitney Stimson Park 1987

Daryn Stimson Park 1987

The recreational equipment has been upgraded. But other than that, the demographics seem pretty much the same.

And now, diligent reader, I realize this is getting a little lengthy and that you're probably already getting tired, to which I can completely relate, so I'll spare all the details of our short but sweet evening stroll around Downtown Disney which ended, thankfully, just before the boys got really, really tired. The fireworks that I was able to see from my bedroom window seemed spectacular!

Huntington Beach

It wouldn't have been much of a trip to SO CA, without visiting the place where my beautiful healthy skin would eventually meet it's demise.

I think the only thing I regret more than all those years my skin spent on this beach... was the fact that this time around the Snack Shacks were not yet open for the season! So I'm hoping they have those Huntington Beach tortilla chips and cheese things in Heaven because I'm just not sure I'll ever get back here again I seriously need to meet up with a little cardboard basket of them at least ONCE again at some point during my existance. Right Carol?

I just love this place! I don't believe there has never been another singular place on God's planet that has ever made me feel quite as happy and alive as this 8.5 mile expanse of sun and sand. Its nickname is "Surf City" and it was the backdrop to the movie "Endless Summer." And the fact that I have never surfed even once in my life or the that my summers always ended WAY to soon should in no way be taken into consideration in your being convinced of my love for it.

And in weighing the sunrises vs. the sunsets, having been given the incredible opportunity to have witnessed both, I think I'll take the sunsets any day. Primarily because sunrises just come WAY too early in the morning for me and the sunsets are just so much more laid back.. ya know? At any rate, we were out there at right about noon. So a totally moot point I suppose anyway...

Anyway, enjoy the pictures!

My Beach!


Beach Boys

This couple looks like they're either completely at home here...or wondering how in the heck exactly they've found themselves on this beach with two babies in a stroller...

Me and Jade

What's up THERE?

Rosie's Diner at the very end of the pier. Awesome!

This was right after the very sweet "balloon guy" came by. We tipped him a buck. It probably should have been more...

The Beach from the Pier

So lovely!

We were only there for a really short time, but still. There's just something about that salty air...

It's Always Hard Leaving A Place Better Than You Found It!

But somehow we managed.

All of those un-kidfriendly trinkets and treasures, put back in a flash! Of course, the owners will have to refill the candy dish!

I don't know about you, but I'm really ready to be headed back home, sort of.

Fortunately, for me, Calder felt the same.

Everest, however, was a complete pistol the entire plane ride home. In fact, come to think of it, I'm really amazed how we even managed to sneak him through security.

But the trip overall? Awesome!

Such wonderful memories that I will cherish and remember forever!

And yet it's still so great to be back home!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It Was Such A Vacation Coming Home... Part 4 - California Adventure

I have to say that the old Disneyland parking lot sure does look different these days...

Today was our day to visit the new California Adventure park and I didn't know what to expect. We started off the day however back at Magic Kingdom for some do-overs of our favorite rides as well as to catch a few things that we hadn't had time to do yesterday. For one... taking those requisite photos in front of the train station.

Jade looked adorable in her Rapunzel dress and it was so sweet how the Disney characters that we met adressed her by either by "Rapunzel" or "Princess." The look of complete awe and wonderment that registered on her face when she met "Tink" was worth the price of admission...

By noon we were headed over to C.A. It was strange seeing it for the first time. It seriously didn't feel like we were at Disneyland and I still don't have a feel for how it's laid out, as opposed to the Magic Kindom wherein I know every nook and cranny. But it was fun going on rides for the very first time, as opposed to ones I'd pretty much grown up on. Here are a few pictures.

Jumpin' Jellyfish

LadyBug Boogie

The foyer outside the 3D Movie "It's A Bugs Life.." haha

I don't recall going on a ton of rides, maybe because I didn't have this quenching need to relive my childhood and I didn't mind taking my turn strollering the boys around.

Whitney and Aaron got to go on all the "big kid" rides... *sigh*

Tower of Terror... (Trust me, I didn't mind taking one for the team for this one AT ALL...)

We took a little break while Jade enjoyed and danced around at the Disney Junior Show...

... and collected some junk.

But I think that overall, except for trying to hold onto squirmy little Everest on the Heimlick Chew Chew Train, Soarin' Over California will probably be what I'll remember most about the day. The video just doesn't do it justice. It was amazing! But for some very odd reason, Jade was not a fan. :(

It had been a very long two days for a couple of tired little boys (and their Grammy).. so I wasn't opposed to being the one to stay back at the condo that night (once their parents got them to bed of course :) I got a chance to read my book and see Elise given the boot on American Idol. Under different circumstances I would have loved to have gone back with the rest of the family to watch the amazing World of Color but again, I really didn't mind taking this one for the team either. Whitney and Aaron definitely deserved an evening off! Disney does it again! I'm just thankful for YouTube... and of course, sleeping babies.

Only two more days to fill. I think we'll be able to fill them. No problem.

Next Up: California Memories

Friday, May 11, 2012

It Was Such A Vacation Coming Home... Part 3 - The Happiest Place On Earth!


When we first got on the tram to go to the front gate of Magic World Jade said, "I LOVE this ride!"

I love her.

There's not much I can say here that Whitney hasn't already shared, and since these are all her pictures afterall and so, for her, not too many surprises... I still have a need to document a couple of things from what was probably one of my most memorable (and exhausting) days of my life. But first... I just love this picture!

We started from left to right. In Adventureland. I was told that typically most people tend to go to the right first, so we went against the grain.

And seriously, no lines at all! First stop Jungle Cruise. It was everything I had remembered it being, except for the stand up comedienne wannabe manning the boat...

Here's me and the boys underneath Tarzan's Treehouse still looking somewhat fresh.

And then quickly on to Pirates and Haunted Mansion. Who could have ever thought that holding on to two squirmy boys in line could be that much fun?

Jade was completely tall enough to ride Splash Mountain! YAY!

What a lovely day for a log ride and a splash down!

And she loved it!

Twice even!

And she loved Thunder Mountain too!

I think.

Ok... this day is already getting way to long and it's only noon! Where else can I manage to wheel this double stroller around while everyone else goes on the "big" rides? jk Not to worry. I'm REALLY not so much into the big rides.

We checked out the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique where for only $200+ your child can recieve a complete princess makeover while picking out a princess outfit which she can then wear around the park for the rest of the day and get ketchup all over it. "Trust me, you're not destined to be a completely horrible mom if you don't do this," I said. I hope she doesn't end up resenting me forever for talking her out of it.

I think my favorite moment of the day was most definitely It's A Small World, because well face it, no matter how how great your load in life might be... this ride will surely lighten it!

And I can honestly say there is nothing as precious as witnessing so much magic through a child's eyes. So if only for this one moment, it was an automatic happy, happy, succesful vacation just like that... in one fell swoop!

Except that almost equally as magical was glancing over at Jade's wide eyed and opened mouthed expression during Star Tours with her head planted firmly on the back of the seat... and then upon 'landing' hearing her say "Wow!!! That was absolutely crazy!" Haha. She is such a trooper!

And now, can we be silent for just a moment while I reflect on how many years I've dreamed about taking my future granchild on Dumbo?...

Aaron was pretty much jonesin' all day for a turkey leg, so when we rounded the Matterhorn and finally spied a stand that had them, he was all over it. It was a great little rest stop too. I searched out a ladies room, Whit went to grab some Fast Pass tickets... while Aaron chomped down on this very large... appendage. : )

But he SO deserved that moment of pleasure, because he then awesomely volunteered to trek those two very tired little boys back to the condo and put them to bed, leaving us girls to be able to enjoy the magic of the Main Street Parade. I nearly teared up as soon as it started.

It was sort of surreal... and I think I probably watched the dancers feet more than anything... just remembering all those cable car tracks... and hoping that none of them would get any of their high heels caught in them. haha.

But there was nothing more precious in the world than that "oh my gosh, wow!" expression that Jade put on her face when Princess Arial blew her a kiss!

Can't wait for the year-end video!

Anyway, I had such a great time with this little girl and I am just so thankful to have been able to spend this magical day with her! She was SO exhausted by the end of it!

But of course she would never let awwwwwnnn...

So are we really gonna try to do California Adventure tomorrow?

Monday, May 7, 2012

But First...

I'll never forget all those years of working at Disneyland. In fact it seemed like home for a very long time. I know I probably went a little crazy pointing out every little memory to Whit and her family while we were there but really, it was a huge and important time in my life.

I didn't recognize the outskirts at all!

The backstage lot, where I first fell in love... now consists of a huge parking garage.

And we use to get guest passes for free...

This photo was taken somewhere around the intersection of Ball Road and the street that is now called Disney Way.

That's me down there sitting on Paul's lap about mid-way towards the bottom. And no, he wasn't my first love. Unfortunately this pic was taken on my first love's day off... :(

"Main Street" however, has somehow still managed to forever stay the same...

Electrical Parade - Cinderella Unit 1973

Clarabelle - Christmas Parade 1974/1975

America On Parade - Showboat Showgirl 1975

Easter Parade 1975

It was a blast! It was a really, really sweaty couple of years in my life as I recall... but still a blast!

Ah, here he is, my first love, 20 years later... Reunited. *g*

And so who in the heck dressed me for this grand reunion anyway?...

And Now!... The Most Magical Place On Earth!..

Sunday, May 6, 2012

It Was Such A Vacation Coming Home... Part 2 - Delta Connection

Airplane rides nowadays are pretty much well, Hell. Period.

And even though a quarter of a can of your choice of beverage and a bag of 14 peanuts can lend to make it a tad more tolerable... it's really still a moot point when you're not even able to put your tray table down to accomodate this fine faire. So thank you so much God for giving somebody the presence of mind to invent Goldfishies!... Because sometimes, just a little baggie of them can really, really save your arse.

Proof in point..

Thank goodness it was only an hour and a half flight. But I felt so bad for Aaron and his long legs. Trust me, I know about long legs... and mine are relatively short compared to his.

But what fun... because at least we got a few fun stares. I mean twins will always equal a few of those right? So nobody once had even an ounce of a rotten heart to toss us off the plane.

Touchdown... Orange County. Whew!

Jade was so excited! (as well as being really cute!)

Some have asked how it was that we managed all the luggage...

Well, putting mathmatics to work... plus just a little elbow grease, here's how.

Me = My doubled up roller plus Jade's.

Whitney = Stoller plus big roller bag.

Aaron = Backpack and 2 large roller bags + dealing with all the car stuff.

All of us = "Jade... honey, stay close by please! Please?"

Onto the Condo...

We rented a great big car! Sorry we didn't have the presence of mind to take pictures of it. Getting in and out of that vehicle with all our "content" was work enough.

I would recommend this place to anyone wanting to travel to the Disney/Anaheim area, unless creaky floors bother you. The owners were pretty amazing with their timely responses on any issues and the place was stocked with all sorts of goodies, most of which had to be immediately placed on very high shelves...

Here are a few pictures.

There was a big TV which proved to be wonderful in the evenings... like for watching American Idol on that night I stayed at home on baby watch... And there was an awesome porch outside that we didn't spend too much time on after that intial fall when Everest fell backwards off the chair and crashed his head onto the patio slider... But catastrophe averted!

I can still picture the two little hook-on feeding chairs and the cereal mess beneath them...

The kitchen had everything you could possibly need including a state of the art blender for making margaritas! Not wanting to rock the boat I stuck to root beer floats... haha

Kids room, complete with PlayStation. We put Calder on the lower bunk in a baby tent and Everest in a Pack-n-Play. Jade spent the first half night on the top bunk but quickly moved into her parents room upon hearing a "scary noise." I'm hoping that the scary noise wasn't the snoring coming from the adjoining room...

Mine and the kids bathroom. So cute. *heart*

The most comfortable bed I've ever slept in!

Master Bedroom...

The Playground! Just a hop, step and jump away...


A little mom break...

Next Stop...Magic Kingdom! The Most Magical Place on Earth!!!