Disneyland Day 1

Instead of having a big party for the twins’ birthday this year, Grammy and Grandpa came out from Utah and we all went to Disneyland and California Adventure for a few days to celebrate. Theme parks and Disney, in general, are not my thing, so I have to admit, the thought of crowds, long lines, junk food, life-size animals breaking into song, and cranky, overtired kids was not making me super excited about spending three days at the “Happiest” Place on Earth.

Growing up, Disneyland entailed a long road trip and was a very special occasion, but around here, many of our friends have annual passes and treat it like going to the park. “Playdate at Disneyland? Meet us at 3:30 for a few rides and dinner!” are the group texts I receive all the time. No big deal! I can’t imagine braving traffic, parking, lines and crowds on a regular basis, but I do understand the appeal of not feeling the pressure to make it to every single ride, show, parade and attraction.

Despite the crowds, lines, heat, junk food, cranky kids, and basically everything else I had counted on, we did have many magic moments, particularly for Meredith, who was mesmerized and delighted by the chaos and characters. Being more of an introvert and sensitive to noise, crowds and constant sensory input like myself, it was all a little overwhelming for the twins, even though they did have fun.

Case in point: at the end of our Disneyland extravaganza, the girls said their favorite part was the pool. So what you’re telling me is…. WE COULD HAVE STAYED AT HOME AND GONE TO THE POOL FOR FREE?? I’ve heard more enthusiasm from them about the beach and zoo! Hence, we will not be getting annual passes anytime soon. Still, having Grammy and Grandpa there for the girls’ first Disneyland experience and reliving our childhood memories was all worth it and, even amidst the chaos, spending such a solid chunk of time just being silly as a family was priceless!

After preschool and naps on Monday, we packed up and braved the traffic to Anaheim, with three hungry, cranky kids whining the entire 45 minute drive. It was the perfect start to our vacation…

Jake and I figured that in order to make it through the next three days of corn dogs and “It’s a Small World” playing ad naseum, we needed a nice, adult dinner out. We loaded the kids on Grammy and Grandpa and sent them to Goofy’s Kitchen for a character dinner at the Disneyland Hotel, where we were staying, while we enjoyed a peaceful kid-free and kid-food free dinner at Napa Rose over at the Grand Californian. No characters, mac and cheese or Disney songs in sight!

Meanwhile, at Goofy’s Kitchen:

Grammy and Grandpa reported that the singing and dancing characters were playful and fun with the kids.

Zipidee Doo Dah… glad we weren’t here!

I love how nonchalant the twins and Meredith were. Like, no big deal people. We see this all the time.

Meredith had the best time out of everyone and was enchanted with the life-sized, dancing animals.

The twins were too busy pigging out on gummy worms to interact with Pluto, but Meredith just HAD to see what those whiskers were all about.

Fascinated with Minnie’s nose.

EWWWWW, MEREDITH!

Such troopers for letting us have a nice evening out! 

Predictably, the twins were shy with the characters, but having an enormous buffet of food and desserts in front of them helped.

Paralyzed by the choices.

This explains why everyone was a nightmare getting to bed that night!

Food coma.

Walking around the hotel while Mommy and Daddy were still at dinner.

Grammy injured her ACL a few months ago and will likely be having knee surgery soon, but fortunately, the Dland Hotel had scooters you can order ahead of time and have delivered to your room. The girls were excited to try it out!

Our first night was a total disaster trying to get everyone calmed down and ready for bed. We usually stay in a condo or somewhere with a separate bedroom for the kids, but since this was a regular hotel, we were all smushed together in the same room. We started out with S and A sharing a bed, but quickly realized that was a bad idea after they spent an hour giggling, wrestling and pinching each other, with Meredith screaming in the meantime because she couldn’t sleep with all the noise.

We moved Samantha to the couch, where she continued to tell jokes, tease Amelia and ask random questions, and eventually sent her next door to Grammy and Grandpa’s room. I am not a happy person when I don’t get sleep and was already freaking out since we were hours past bedtime and needed to be up at the crack of dawn in the morning. To top it off, our room overlooked Downtown Disney and we had to endure some very LOUD and annoying music the entire time we were trying to put the kids to bed. I was in tears thinking we were never going to sleep, and Amelia was still restless from the noise. About 9:30, Jake went down to request a new room, at which point the noise from outside stopped as the concert was over. Amelia finally conked out and Grammy reported that next-door, Sammy had stayed up chatting for a bit and then passed out. Since the kids were asleep, we decided to keep our room that night and switch in the morning, and, to their credit, the hotel gave us a discount after we complained. Still, it was a stressful first night.

If you stay at one of the Dland properties, you get an “Extra Magic Hour,” where you get in one hour before the general public. This was totally critical since we didn’t have to deal with any lines that first hour and got a ton done. On top of that, you have to get to the gates at least half an hour before the extra magic hour, or you’ll waste that extra hour going through security and waiting in line to even get into the park.

We literally woke up, threw the kids in the strollers and raced out the door to make it to the gates by 6:30 a.m., along with a thousand other crazy people! While in line, we got the girls dressed, hair done, and ate breakfast, until at last, the gates opened and we scurried to Fantasyland. Definitely worth waking up for! It was magical being there in the early morning, especially compared to later in the day when it was so packed, we could barely move.

Four out of seven people in our group were in wheeled vehicles ha!

With this itinerary, we had a lot of ground to cover the first day:

First stop: Peter Pan since that has a wait of 45+ minutes later in the day. Even with the extra magic hour, there were still a lot of people in line, but fortunately, this ride had a special wheelchair access line and we got on immediately, thanks to being with my mom! Because many of the rides had special wheelchair access lines, we didn’t even need fastpasses that first day and were able to bypass hours of lines. An injured knee did have its advantages! Thanks mom!

You can fly…you can fly…you can fly…

I totally admit that as cynical as I am about Disneyland, I did tear up a bit going on this ride and thinking about how grateful I was to relive childhood memories with my own little family!

Dumbo time.

  

Meredith was enchanted!

A simply gorgeous spring day at Disneyland.

Our three princesses.

         

The girls, Grammy and Jake raced each other on Autopia.

Meredith napped in the stroller while the twins explored Toon Town. Next to Nemo’s Submarine Voyage (SO boring, but totally the girls’ speed!), climbing around Chip n Dale’s treehouse and exploring all the silly cars and shops in Toon Town was the twin’s favorite part of the morning.

Since they were celebrating their birthday, they received special birthday buttons and cast members gave them a special birthday greeting wherever we went.

Snack time before Small World. I got the girls cheap autograph books and sharpies before our trip because I thought they would be less shy about going up to the characters. The girls got autographs from characters at Goofy’s Kitchen, but didn’t really understand the point, so thereafter, their autograph books because the perfect little coloring books while we were waiting in lines or strolling around. Grammy also found these cute SafetyTat identification tattoos to give us a little peace of mind in case we got separated, which turned out not to be a problem since the girls stuck to us like glue.

Sammy LOVED small world and knows the entire song, because one of her teachers at preschool always plays it on the guitar and sings.

Some of the Dland blogs suggested getting a balloon to tie to your stroller so that you can always find it in the crowd or when you park it during a ride, but after following this advice, I have to say it was more annoying than useful! It kept hitting trees and people as we were walking around and just created more hassle when the girls wanted to hold theirs. They deflated after the first day, but Dland will give you new ones for free, which at $9 a pop, they better!

Even though bedtime had been rough, nap time was surprisingly easy! Meredith took her morning nap in the stroller and by 1 p.m., we all headed back to the hotel where I put the twins down (as long as they weren’t in the same bed, they fell asleep quickly), while Grammy and Grandpa walked Meredith around. Then, as soon as the twins had conked out, we brought Meredith in to sleep in the pack n play. We had switched rooms to a much quieter room, but it wasn’t ready yet, so Grammy and Grandpa hung out by the pool with some refreshing Dole Whips, while the girls used their room to nap.

After naps, we hit the park again in the late afternoon. Meredith was instantly drawn to Cinderella!

Getting around the park in Grammy’s scooter was a lot more entertaining than the stroller.

In line for the Jungle Cruise, still as cheesy as ever.

While Jake and the girls were on the Jungle Cruise, we went to grab a table at River Belle Terrace.

  

A mac n cheese disaster for the ages!

Meredith’s favorite part was watching the ducks. Again, we could have stayed at home for free!

By nightfall, all three were beyond exhausted, but we stopped for one more ride on King Arthur’s Carousel. We found a last minute spot to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade, in all of its catchy music and 1970s technological glory. Meredith fell asleep in her stroller, while the twins watched, half-asleep, from atop our shoulders.  I will now need permanent chiropractic work.

Meredith stayed asleep transferring her inside the hotel, and thankfully, the twins went down quicker than the night before, still with a good amount of giggling and “SHE PULLED MY HAIR!!!” before finally settling done amidst our threats to take away the Mickey bubble wand and puppy stuffed animal souvenirs they bought using some of their chore money. I’m sure images of flying elephants, animal parades, princesses and churros filled their dreams that night and they all slept like rocks before getting up for another full day!

Lots of love,

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Four and Fabulous

From wombmates to roommates, these two four-year-olds are still as close as can be! In between the constant arguing, tattle-telling, badgering, teasing and driving each other crazy, there are some sweet moments. Today, before bed, we were sitting on the couch and Amelia hugged Samantha saying, “I love you because you’re my sister.” Samantha repeated the same to Amelia and they both gave Meredith, who was feeling left out, a giant bear hug and “I love you’s.” Those heart-melting moments make up for all of the hair-pulling ones.

From becoming big sisters to starting preschool, these girls have really grown up over the past year!

Their big day began with a festive balloon drop… because who wouldn’t want to be showered with balloons on their birthday?

The girls chowed down on the traditional funfetti birthday pancakes, which, tragically, did not turn out as fluffy and pretty as in years’ past. The girls still gobbled them up just the same!

Funfetti birthday pancakes in their former glory:

  

After breakfast, the girls caught a frog on the patio! While I was shrieking and leaping back in fear, the girls were super calm and tried their best not to squeeze it to death.

The girls played with some of their fun crafts and gifts from their birthday celebration the day before, and opened some birthday packages that had come in the mail. We are loving this awesome Shakespeare for kids set from Marisa and Lori! I love it when I don’t have to be bored to tears during storytime!

Samantha and Harper went for a cruise to the park in their bday jeep from Katie and Jenny.

Won’t be long before they are driving their friends to the mall… I just had a minor heart attack.

Meredith LOVES this thing. She’ll hop in and start hitting the steering wheel and screeching for someone to start it for her.

Let the good times roll.

Samantha and Amelia had their ballet/yoga class while Meredith took her morning nap, and then we met up with Phi, Michael, Parker and Baby Maple for some pasta and foosball/bean bag tossing. Parker and Maple always have the most excellent audiobook recommendations and gave the girls Madeline and Cat in the Hat, which we’ve been enjoying in the car!

These two were hilarious toddling around with their signature baby zombie walks.

SQUEEZE. The girls wouldn’t take off their number 4 necklaces from Meredith until bedtime and randomly kissed Meredith and told her thank you throughout the day.

Hmmmm… I think it goes through this hole.

Eh. Close enough.

Struggling to hold wiggly babies!

I think it was time for a nap…

Later that day, Grammy and Grandpa drove in from Utah just in time for birthday cake with Great Grandpa.

Make a wish! We are apparently going to have an awesome Christmas this year, because every time the girls throw a coin in a pond or wish for something, they wish for a “Merry Christmas!”

Chocolate and milk YUM.

The only way I can get the girls to look at the camera and smile for pictures these days is to have them make a silly face first, and then tell them to switch to their princess smile faces.

Close enough.

Way to start off a year of four and fabulous!

Lots of love,

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S and A’s School Celebration of Life and Friend Birthday Celebrations

For their birthday celebration at preschool, it’s customary for the kids to bring in their own cake mix and help mix and bake a cake for the entire class at school. Samantha and Amelia couldn’t wait for their big day and were ecstatic to help bake their cake during class. Normally, I pick them up at recess right before lunch, but on their birthday celebration day, they stayed for lunch for the first time so they could celebrate with their classes and enjoy their brownie cake. The twins also helped write a “History of Samantha/Amelia” with photos which their teachers read to the class on their special day. I love that their preschool teachers take the time to make each kid feel special on his or her big day– the girls were beaming when I picked them up! Their preschool refers to it as a “Celebration of Life,” and it truly is; although, I’m sure the only thing the kids care about is the cake.

Miss Holly snapped some pictures for me of Samantha’s class being silly:

The History of Samantha, as written by Samantha and Mommy:

Samantha was born on March 11, 2013 in Irvine, California. She was born first and her twin, Amelia, was born two minutes later. Samantha was very loud when she was born and screamed for a long time! Samantha loved to be held and swaddled in her blankies and had to wear diapers and couldn’t talk or walk. She drank bottles and slept most of the time.

Samantha started to eat fruits and vegetables and sit up when she was six months old, and started crawling  when she was 8 months old.

By the time Samantha was one year old, she learned to walk, and could say “mama,” “dada,” “baba,” and “dog.” She loved to go on walks, sing Pat a Cake, swing and go down the slide.

At two years old, Samantha was sleeping in a big girl bed, learned to use the potty, learned to ride a scooter and was talking all the time. She loved to go to the beach, play at the park, visit Grammy’s house in Utah, and play with dolls.

At three years old, Samantha became a big sister when her little sister, Meredith, was born. She was a great helper with Meredith helping feed, dress and play with Meredith. Samantha started preschool for the first time and learned her letters, numbers, and had fun doing art projects. She loved to swim, go to Legoland, and build tall towers with magnatiles.

And now Samantha is four years old! She can get dressed and button her clothes all by herself! She helps Mommy at home with Meredith and by putting the dishes in the dishwasher and cleaning her room. Her favorite colors are pink and purple and her favorite movie is Frozen. She loves gymnastics and dance class, the beach, loves to do crafts and swim, and her favorite place is the cabin in the mountains in Utah. Her best friend is Amelia and she loves to play with mommy, daddy, Amelia, Meredith and her dog, Bandit.

Sammy’s pictures she passed around class:

   Amelia’s favorite part was the singing candle Miss Becky gave her.

The History of Amelia, as written by Amelia and Mommy:

Amelia was born on March 11, 2013 in Irvine, California. Amelia was born two minutes after her twin, Samantha. Amelia was quiet when she was born and only cried a little bit. She loved to be held and swaddled in her blankies and had to wear diapers and couldn’t talk or walk. She drank bottles and slept most of the time.

Amelia started to eat fruits and vegetables and sit up when she was six months old, and started crawling  when she was 8 months old.

By the time Amelia was one year old, she learned to walk, and could say “mama,” “dada,” “baba,” and “dog.” She loved to go on walks, sing Pat a Cake, swing and go down the slide.

At two years old, Amelia was sleeping in a big girl bed, learned to use the potty, learned to ride a scooter and was talking all the time. She loved to go to the beach, play at the park, visit Grammy’s house in Utah, and play with dolls.

At three years old, Amelia became a big sister when her little sister, Meredith, was born. She was a great helper with Meredith helping feed, dress and play with Meredith. Amelia started preschool for the first time and learned her letters, numbers, and had fun doing art projects. She loved to swim, go to the zoo, go to the beach and take care of her dolls.

And now Amelia is four years old! She can get dressed and button her clothes all by herself! She helps Mommy at home with Meredith and by putting the dishes in the dishwasher and cleaning her room. Her favorite colors are pink and red and her favorite movie is The Little Mermaid. She loves gymnastics and dance class, the beach, swimming, riding her bike and scooter, baking cookies, and loves to do crafts. When she grows up, Amelia wants to be a veterinarian or a princess. Her best friend is Samantha and she loves to play with mommy, daddy, Samantha, Meredith and her dog, Bandit.

Amelia’s photos for sharing time:

 

 

Samantha and Amelia are four! Almost… their preschool birthday celebration was a few days before their actual birthday over the weekend.

The girls didn’t have preschool on Friday before their birthday, so we played at the park with Maliyah and Allie and celebrated with princess cupcakes I made, but should have outsourced since making five different batches of buttercream in different colors for the dresses took forever. All the big girls burned off their cupcake-induced energy playing tag/pretending Meredith was a monster and running away from her.

Amelia’s favorite princess is… you guessed it! I don’t think she’s ever even seen all of A Little Mermaid, but she still claims it’s her favorite movie? She’s obsessed with mermaids in general.

Samantha and Elsa are best buds.

Friday afternoon it was birthday celebration #3 with our neighborhood friends. It ended up being hot that day, so we busted out some water balloons leftover from last summer and invited everyone to the park for a water balloon fight and cupcakes.

The kids have never really gotten into the whole “fight” thing. They mostly squished and stomped on the balloons instead of trying to throw them at one another.

  

Meredith thought it was all very exciting!

Cupcake time before the princess dresses melted in the sun!

Addison and Camdyn obliged the birthday girls with a round of their favorite game– Duck Duck Goose.

We were totally surprised when Jenny arrived in style with a Barbie Jeep she gifted to the twins! Talk about an awesome birthday present! Thanks, Jenny and Katie!

Cruisin’ with my besties.

So terrified to fast-forward 12 years when these girls will be driving for real! Stay off the roads!

They may have gone off roading and killed all the plants at the park, but eventually they got the hang of it.

Hop in, girls! Let’s cruise to the beach!

Friday night it was time for birthday celebration #4, in case you’re counting, where we had dinner and even more cupcakes with Natalie, the Nguyens and the Erpeldings. Meredith toddled all over the play structure trying to keep up with the big kids and everyone was either running around if they were kids, or chasing kids if they were adults, that we didn’t even notice it was getting dark and hadn’t even had dessert yet. We lit the girls’ candles in the dark and they enjoyed yet another birthday song before digging into their treats.

Todd and Owen brought along a science demonstration for our entertainment… the classic mentos in soda trick.

Mesmerized by the soda fountain.

So much excitement and it wasn’t even their real birthday yet! Although I missed putting together an official party this year, it was relaxing and fun to hang out with our friends and have a casual celebration instead. We may have to do this again next year!

Lots of love,

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She’s a Toddler!

Meredith had been zooming around on her hands and knees, or cruising from furniture to furniture for months, without seeming too care much about taking the plunge and walking solo. I had been begging her to start walking since virtually every pair of her leggings had holes in them (even with her trusty “hazmat suit” on) and her hands and knees had been rubbed raw from all that crawling!

Like most milestones, Meredith was on her own time table and finally decided to take her first steps on February 15, a few weeks after her 1st birthday and, coincidentally, the same day we accepted an offer on our house (an emotional day all around!) After a few weeks in escrow, the deal with our original buyers fell through and our house is now back on the market, so it’s been back to my job as full-time maid, but at least some things are still moving forward– like Meredith’s walking! She’s practically running around this place and is absolutely terrifying trying to walk down the stairs!

Samantha, (and then, Amelia a week later), started walking a few weeks ahead of Meredith, which I find funny considering Meredith has two examples/motivations around her at all times. Looking back at what was going on around the time the twins started walking, Meredith has been up to the same shenanigans, having a harder time going down for naps and bedtime, and crying randomly at night. She loves to practice her new skills in her sleep and it’s been keeping her up. At least I can take comfort in looking back to this milestone with the twins that an end is in sight and hopefully it’s just temporary.

The twins were just as excited as we were when Meredith started walking and have been encouraging her along the way. There is a class of toddlers in their preschool that the girls always point to and say, “When Meredith starts walking, she will be a toddler, like them!” So when Meredith took her first steps, the twins exclaimed, excitedly, “MOMMY, SHE’S A TODDLER NOW!!!” Whenever we refer to “Baby Meredith” now, the girls correct us: “NO, she’s TODDLER Meredith!”

Meredith’s first steps 2/15/17:

Let it go!

The first few weeks of walking, Meredith felt like she had entered a new, exciting world of possibilities!

She loves to go down the tube and the slide by herself (she will go down the big slides at the bigger parks as well).

Meredith has the best of both worlds… she loves to toddle around and then gets a free ride home.

Meredith practicing her new skills (gotta love that zombie toddler walk):

Our baby is officially a toddler!
Lots of love,

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