Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pretty Paisley Sheets and a Great New Book

We had such a great Christmas this year. First of all we got to spend a week in California with the Dickson Family and then we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the Mercado Family. As always Mom and Dad Mercado completely spoiled all of us!
As we opened presents on Christmas morning we declared that the Mercado Family had single-handedly boosted the U.S. economy with the amount of presents we had all bought and received! But honestly, this year was no different than any other in that household. We have so much fun trying to find great gifts for everyone. Especially Mom. I swear, that woman can out-shop every other female in America! She is so good at finding out what we all want and can use. She also has a great eye for the things that we love but never knew we wanted. It is almost more fun watching her watch us open presents than actually opening the presents...almost.
Mom and Dad gave us practical things, like underwear (cute ones from Forever 21) and lotion, pajamas and coffee or tea. But they also gave us things that we enjoy but do not need. Like Wii Fit (I guess we probably do need that) and Star Wars and Clue games.
But my favorite presents by far are the ones that family gives to us that are meant to bring us comfort and happiness: like soft, flannel sheets and books that we will love to read and talk about. It's these kind of presents that mean a lot. They are the ones that keep us cozy and warm, that help us relax after a long day. Things we can talk and laugh about when we get together again. Mom and Dad always give us gifts like these and we know they come from the heart, not just from the wallet. Little do they know, the best present they give us at Christmas is the time we get to spend with them! We love the time when we all get to relax and laugh together. Thank You, We Love You Guys!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Disneyland Trip

I know I have not been keeping up well with my posting but hopefully this will make up for a little of it. We got back yesterday from our big Disneyland vacation and I have added a post and pictures for every day of our trip! I am pretty proud of myself. We'll see how long it takes me to post anything else. Hopefully not long but I'm not making any promises!

Disneyland Day 1: First Airplane Ride

Saturday we were up bright and early to drive to the airport. This would be all three of our boys' first ride on an airplane, so of course it was Daniel and I's first experience really traveling with small children.

I do think Daniel has had a little practice though, because unfortunately traveling with me can sometimes be like traveling with small children. I get stressed out about having everything packed and having snacks and stuff to do during the ride, but most of all I don't like to fly. I don't know what it is about it. I don't like the sensation of taking off and landing and I don't like the amount of commitment involved. Once you are in the air you can't change your mind. If you're in a car you can turn around or pull over. You can yell "Let me out!" But not it an airplane. Once you're off the runway there is no turning back. If something is going to happen it will happen. There isn't a lot you can do.

When Daniel and I flew to Las Vegas in August I really practiced my "flying face". That is my "everything is great, we are not going to crash" face. Because we were both really worried that I would overreact when the kids were on the plane and I would freak them out. Freaking out makes complete sense to me. If I am afraid when it is just Daniel and I or just me on an airplane, imagine how I would feel when all three of my precious babies were on the plane too. I might go off the deep end. Now, keep in mind, I have never physically had a meltdown on a plane. It has mostly consisted of crushing Daniel's fingers in a death grip and expressing my immediate need to get off the plane while Daniel lovingly encourages me to breathe in and out. I'm exaggerating a bit, but only a little. Luckily, my practice paid off ( I also had a practice flight with my Mom in November), I had a little panic attack when I realized how small the plane was but quickly occupied myself with handing out granola bars and answering questions. The flight was over quickly. None of the boys got scared or sick. And I didn't go berserk. Thank Goodness.

Now--off to Disneyland!

Disneyland Day 2: Relaxing Day at the Rental House

Sunday was our first full day in California and we decided to spend it enjoying all of the things our rental house had to offer. We played pool and Rock Band and swam in the pool in the backyard.

The kids all loved the swimming pool. There was plenty of room and lots of toys for everyone to play with. We swam around until Daniel started the cannon balls. I didn't get any pictures of Daniel himself because he had control of the camera but he did get some good shots of CJ and Rob jumping into the pool.

We tried to teach the boys how to play pool but of course they had their own way of holding the sticks and made their own rules. But they did have fun.

We also loved playing Rock Band as this is fast becoming a Dickson family pasttime! All in all it was a nice relaxing day that we used to prepare ourselves for our first day in the Disneyland Parks!

Disneyland Day 3: First Day at Disneyland

Monday was our first day at Disneyland. The kids were so excited they could hardly contain themselves. I think I can say that the grownups were pretty much feeling the same way. Unfortunately this kept us from planning well. We packed bread and bologna and chips in the car to make lunches later and then trekked our way in. It was very overwhelming! You have to remember that the last time my parents took little kids to a big amusement park was almost fifteen years ago and Daniel and I were first timers. My family went to Disney World when were teenagers but I think that was a little less chaotic. This felt like a whole new experience for everyone.

Needless to say, we walked into the park and were immediately innundated with requests for this ride and that ride and this attraction and that treat. It was ten o'clock in the morning and the boys were asking for ice cream and cotton candy!

We reined them in and tried to make our way around the park with some type of plan. We did make it to the Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Carribean rides. We also went on the Haunted Mansion ride and got the see the whole thing redecorated as the Nightmare Before Christmas. We went through Tarzan's Treehouse and rode Splash Mountain.

Lunch was an adventure in itself because we had to ride the tram back to the parking garage and walk our way back to the cars. Then make sandwiches for six hungry children and four hungry adults without counters or tabletops. Mom and I decided that we would spend our next two days at Disneyland eating at restaurants inside the park!

After everyone's bellies were full it was time for more. Gabe got to ride Dumbo's elephants and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. The boys got their cotton candy and we got to see the fireworks.

We drove home to the rental house exhausted but looking forward to two more days at the Disney Parks.

Disneyland Day 4: Kidspace Museum in Pasadena

On Tuesday we decided to drive to Pasadena to go to the Kidspace Museum. This was a museum we found online when we were looking for stuff to do nearby. It was going to be an hour drive to get there but it looked like there was plenty of fun stuff to keep the kids entertained.

First of all there was a climbing structure where the kids could climb thirty feet onto different platforms surrounded by safety netting. I really like the safety netting. There were also displays teaching the kids about earthquakes and water erosion. The kids got to slide plates to cause the quakes and build up the dirt to see how the water would wash it away. Gabe especially like the Jeep that was outfitted for an expedition, it had a steering wheel where he could pretend to drive.

The big boys liked the area where they could see tarantulas, scorpions, and spiders through magnifiying glasses. And the live bee hive where they could see the bees buzzing throughout. We kept looking for the queen bee because she was supposed to be marked with a dot but never could see where she was. There was also a kid sized ant hole where they could all pretend to dig through and then climb through back to the surface.

There was also two water coloring stations. One where you could make an actual painting on paper and then sprinkle it with salt to see how it affected the paint. And another where you could paint on a plastic leaf and wait for the water to wash it off.

All of the kids really like the trike track. Where they could put on helmets and zoom around the track. There was also a tandem trike so the bigger boys could give Gabriel a ride.

Finally there was a rock climbing wall. All of the kids enjoyed this, even Gabe who needed a little boost.

We all had a lot of fun. Daniel was especially excited when we got to drive by the Rose Bowl and see the grandstands being put up for the Rose Parade. Of course, classic California style we got stuck in traffic on our way home. It took us at least an hour and a half to go forty miles!

Disneyland Day 5: Second Day at Disneyland

Our second day at Disneyland was much more organized than the first. We had a plan. We would arrive as soon as the gates open and head straight for the Matterhorn. We missed the Matterhorn the first day we spent at the park because by the time we made it there it had closed for repairs or cleanup or some other reason. Caleb was very disappointed. So we made sure on day two that was the first ride we all went on. Next we hit Autopia, a ride where the little ones could drive (even Gabe), but of course it is California and towards the end there was a traffic jam, so we sat for 5 or 10 minutes.

We also made it on Space Mountain that day. I think we rode three times and loved it each time we went. We also rode It's A Small World. Caleb really like that one and I was so impressed that they had it set up so well for the Christmas Season. I had expected them to add a couple of things for the holiday but no, they had redone almost all of the scenes to represent the the Christmas holiday. It was great.

We also went to Toontown where all of the kids got to meet Mickey Mouse. Gabe also got to ride on a little roller coaster that he loved. I will never forget seeing him and Daniel get off and walk towards me; as soon as Gabe saw me he was talking a mile a minute and kicking up his hands and feet. He cracked me up! Even the guy standing next to me laughed at Gabriel's explanation.

We spent almost 10 hours at the park and that was plenty! We all went back to the rental house happy and exhausted!