Monday, January 25, 2010

Great Wolf Lodge!

The bags were only unpacked for two days. Normally we would spread our fun out a bit more but because of gymnastics meets, we got to spend a fun weekend at the Great Wolf Lodge. What a great place for a meet!

My Level 4's competed on Friday night. While I was coaching (the meets were held in the lodge's conference center), the rest of the family was living it up at the waterpark.

The kids loved the dump zone, where the massive water bucket was emptied every few minutes. They raved about the water slides and wave pool, too. But, Caleb was especially fond of the basketball hoop area.

My team did so well and actually won their meet! I was so proud of my gymnasts' efforts and it didn't hurt that all their parents were more than willing to give Michelle and I all the credit. :)

We slept in, the hotel room was super comfy, and then had a great buffet breakfast where Alyssa was able to fill up before her competition.

She did well, earning her personal best all-around. She did have two falls--one on beam and one extremely uncharacteric fall on bars. But even with those mistakes, she took fifth place all-around out of 27 girls in her age division. She did a beautiful floor routine which earned her a 9.25 and second place and she also placed second on vault.

Here she is sporting her two silver medals. Darling little thing, isn't she? (I can say that, I'm her mom!)

Here's the video of her vault (because Grandma missed the meet and wanted to see it.) She makes it look pretty easy considering the object over which she vaults is literally as tall as she is.

Way to go, Lys! It's always fun to watch her compete, but even more fun when the competition is held at such a great location.

I think our extreme fun is now done for awhile.

Friday, January 22, 2010


It really is the happiest place on earth...unless it's raining--then it's the wettest. Nevermind that the rain storms in California made national news, our magical moments far outweighed the soggy ones.

We packed as much fun as we could into our Disneyland vacation. Rides, shows, parades and characters. You name it--we did it. Here's a peek at some favorite moments in no particular order...

The Toy Story ride is really a blast and probably ranks as Caleb's favorite. Here we are sporting our 3D glasses:

I used to be partial to California Screamin', but Tower of Terror may be my new number one. It's such a great ride! Caleb managed one ride, Natalie two, but Alyssa took the elevator to the Twilight Zone a total of four times.

Splash Mountain is always a favorite, especially on a beautiful sunny day.

It's a Small World's holiday decorations were really great. At first I was disappointed that the usual song was mixed with Jingle Bells, but by the fourth float around the world, I'd grown to like the arrangement.

The kids went crazy for Mullholland Madness. Jon and I rode it once and then preferred to watch from the sidelines. During the rainstorm, Caleb and Alyssa rode it four times in a row without ever getting out of the car. How often does that happen at Disneyland?

A cool shot of Jumping Jellyfish:

The Pixar Play Parade is fabulous. All our favorite characters and some doing fancy tricks.
Here's the Bug's Life float:

We had breakfast one morning at Goofy's Kitchen. I'm not sure my kids got their money's worth with their bird-size stomachs, but we got lots of time with the characters which was a definite highlight for Natalie.

And how often do you get to have an ice cream cone with breakfast? At Goofy's kitchen, you do!

This is the face of girl who was genuinely enchanted by getting up close and personal with some of Disney's biggest celebrities. She was the perfect age; tall enough for nearly every ride and yet young enough to experience the magic of meeting the characters.

Last time we visited Mickey's house (6 years ago) he was dressed in his Sorcerer's Apprentice costume. This time he was on the set of Steamboat Willie. I'd love this picture a whole lot more were it not for the strangers posed in the background.

Natalie was partial to Pluto. Just look at the joy on her face after talking to him.

These two were ride buddies and quite delightful together. They even developed a secret handshake to do before riding a ride. I love that this next photo captured a moment between them.

Caleb sincerely thought he had a chance at releasing the sword from the stone. After earnest effort, he admitted defeat and decided it wasn't really meant to come out. Funny boy.

Look at Natalie snuggled into Pluto...then scroll down to see her admiration for Tinkerbell.

Chip and Dale were sure a lot of fun. They were up to all sorts of mischief and playing tricks on the kids.

The rain started to fall on the third day.  We headed out into it thinking our Seattle roots would prepare us for such inclement weather.  Nothing could have prepared us for the deluge of water we experienced.  We lasted as long as we could but after the kids rode Mullholland Madness four consecutives rounds in a torrential downpour, they were soaked to the bone and we decided we'd have to call it quits for the day.

Natalie and I waited while the older kids were riding their ride.  Just moments later we had to run for cover because my thin poncho and $2.00 Walmart umbrella were no match for the California rain.

Just as we arrived back at the hotel, it was as if Tinkerbell waved her magic wand and parted the clouds.  We quickly changed our drenched clothes and headed out for more fun, this time with the sun in our faces.

Caleb didn't have anymore dry jackets so he had to borrow my zip-up, cableknit sweater for the evening.  We couldn't help but sing, "Won't you be my neighbor?"

Aaaahhh...the sun in our faces never felt so good.

What a fantastic trip--rain and all!  In fact, the rain just made it that much more memorable.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The countdown chain tells us we only have to wait one more day.

We've packed the bags and taken the luggage on a test drive around the house.

We've consumed lots of Mickey pancakes (thanks to our friends who loaned us their adorable pancake maker) just to celebrate the anticipation of being able to see the mouse himself.

I made personalized autograph books that are all ready to be filled with character names.

Now we just need Friday morning to be here. (And for the weather to cooperate with us.) We can hardly contain our excitement.

California, here we come!