Sunday, June 14, 2009

return of the absent blogger....

Yeah, yeah, yeah…..bad blogger, bad blogger! I get it. I understand. All 6 of you that faithfully check my blog because you get THAT bored have probably been wondering where the heck I’ve been the last few weeks. Would you believe that I’ve been living the phrase “running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off?” Would you? Well, it’s the truth, I swear. :D And the only reason you’re getting this update (and a lengthy one at that!) is because I’m currently trapped in the van on our way home from California and what else am I going to do at midnight? (or maybe it’s 1 AM….I have no idea what time zone I’m even in right now!)

So, where did I leave off……Matthew’s birthday party was probably the next semi-eventful thing that happened….I won’t bother posting pictures since I already scrapped it:

He and his little friends had SUCH a fun time…the theme was Star Wars, which you couldn’t really tell as I didn’t really buy anything ‘star-warsy’ for the party. And yes, those children are beating the living daylights out of each other with pool noodles! I highly recommend it! Brilliant idea for a party “game” from Auntie Cole……we called them ‘light sabers’ OBVIOUSLY……and they were supposed to be “dueling” vs. just smacking each other around…but they just went nuts and had a blast with it. And the best part? No injuries to report…yay! :D So the kids all played together very well….Matthew’s little “NOT-MY-GIRLFRIEND-MOM!” showed up (Her name’s Samantha…she’s the CUTEST little thing…..he’s got good taste…dark hair, blue eyes….I don’t see anything wrong with that! LOL!!! Her grandma said she insisted on dressing up for Matthew’s party…..awwww!! Isn’t that the sweetest thing ever?) so Matthew’s 6th birthday party was fun……I spent forever and a day making the R2D2 cake, which most of you have admired on my Facebook page (be my friend btw, I always need more friends!). Although I totally felt inferior the other day (I’ll explain later), but for the moment, I was proud of that cake! Matthew got some toys and (yay!) lots of cash to take to Disneyland on vacation. He was happy. Sugared the kids up and sent them home! Always a good way to end a party. So that was the last weekend of May….

The first week of June….uhm….total blur! It was the first week of baseball games for Alaina….tball games for Matthew……oh, and yeah, trying to majorly clean the house AND pack for vacation at the same time….something I totally do NOT recommend to anyone wanting to keep any shred of sanity! and the darned ball games (I’m SO glad they only last the month of June….I don’t know how some of you ball/soccer moms do this for months on end! SERIOUSLY!)……

So anyways….back to my exciting life (I babble when I’m tired….and I’m tired right now…..only awake to keep my brother Deron awake while he’s driving……. Karl’s naping in the back seat! Deron tends to doze off while he drives……just like my dad!)

Friday the 5th, we left on the road trip of all road trips……driving from the IL side of St. Louis to Anaheim, California for a week at Disneyland. OMG is that a LOOOOOONNNNNG drive. Seriously. LONG! BUT, our kids are total travel pros…..we had movies on the portable DVD player (God bless those things) for Zach…..Alaina and Matthew were stocked with snacks, their Nintendo DS’s, coloring books, an iPod, and I don’t even remember what else. They picked me up from work around 3 and we were off on our vacation!!!! Karl drove the majority of the way that first night… make better time we packed sandwiches to eat in the car so we didn’t even stop for dinner………just a few potty breaks (inevitable with 6 people in the same vehicle). The kids all passed out around 10 or so our time….by then we were in like Oklahoma or something….and it was storming. Might’ve been a tornado for all we know…..I just remembered a lot of lightning before I dozed off. I scrapped the WHOLE WAY TO CALIFORNIA! :D well….except when I was sleeping obviously…..or dealing with squabbling siblings…..or rubbing zach’s head to get him to go to sleep, etc…….by 7AM (local time) we were in Alburquerque, New Mexico and stopped for breakfast. You can make really good time when the kids are asleep! :D After that, it was a LONG day on Saturday of driving through New Mexico and then Arizona…..I had no idea that Arizona was such a friggin’ HUGE state….took FOREVER to get through (and of course by then we were SO SICK of being in the van it wasn’t even funny!). But we finally got into California mid-afternoon……and to Anaheim around 6PM local time. I was shocked and super proud of us……I’d guessed we’d get there around midnight. Karl guessed 10PM……so woohoo for the Herman clan (and Uncle Deron) and the family truckster hauling arse across the southern US! :D We got checked into our room at the timeshare (we traded weeks/points/whatever to get a room out there) and got settled in……and ordered a pizza for dinner……..Karl and I did a quick run to the grocery store……took some much needed showers after 27 hours in a van……and crashed for the night.

Day 1 of Disney-mania…….If I had my way, we’d be at the parks from opening ‘till close. But that’s not realistic with small children (or a hubby that’s not as gung-ho for that matter)……BUT, the time difference was totally working in my favor, so we were up and ready and to the park gates by about 10. That’s really good for us! AND…..Disneyland is smaller than the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, I swear it is……..and the crowds weren’t bad at all…….so we had a fun first day in the parks…….probably the highlight was Alaina and Matthew BOTH getting picked for the same session of the Jedi Training Academy show. We tried I don’t know how many times on our trip in March to get Matthew in the show and he never got picked…..this time both of them get picked. And it was hilarious….they had so much fun! Matthew got to fight Darth Vader himself with his ‘training light saber’……he thought he was some serious hot stuff after that! And then to celebrate, he decided to spend some of his birthday money to build himself a red light saber like Darth Vader. The rest of the day was the usual…..rides…..snacks (churros are a must for us!), and we left the park early to eat dinner in the room. By dinnertime we were kinda “done” anyways, kwim?

Day 2 was another typical park day……but we decided to play the system from this point forward. Since Karl has a hard time doing a lot of walking (the main reason I don’t get to stay as late as I’d like) and standing on his bad knee…….he went and got a special pass that let us use the handicap entrances for most of the rides. The kids called it “daddy’s fastpass.” It saved a LOT of standing, which helped Karl out tremendously. We still had to wait for the popular attractions…..but nothing like we normally would have. We discovered that Uncle Deron totally takes after my mother when it comes to theme park rides……aside from Small World, just about everything else was too much for him……so he spent a lot of time watching Zach while the rest of us rode stuff……it worked out great for us……way better than child swap! This is also the day that Karl surprised me by getting a reservation to Blue Bayou (our fave restaurant at Disneyland) for a combination celebration of our anniversary (which was the 13th…..11 years!) and Matthew’s birthday (which was the 4th). SUPER yummy dinner of course, and I just love the atmosphere there. Lovely evening!!!

Day 3 was my ‘we’re getting up early’ day! Unlike Disneyworld, when you go to Disneyland, everybody gets one day on their ticket they can enter the park an hour early (at Disneyworld you have to stay on Disney property for that…which we never do), so this was our early morning hour day that I’d picked. We got to the park just after 7 and it was so empty, woohoo! I’m not a morning person, and neither are the kids, but there’s no arguing the difference in the crowds early in the morning vs. later in the day! This was also the day we took naps………and then when we came back to the park after dinner, there was an unfortunate incident where Karl and Matthew were targeted by a low-flying bird (seriously, WTH?) and had to go back to the room. It was funny…….later! at the time, it was just gross to get birdcr@p all over you, kwim? So that left me, Alaina, and Deron in the parks……Alaina wanted to ride Pirates, and as that was “too much” for Deron, we went without him and when we came out he was gone…….I assumed he’d taken off on his own to explore….so Alaina and I went and had a fun little girls’ night in the parks by ourselves. Unfortunately, unlike in Florida, they don’t have fireworks every night at Disneyland, so we missed out on that…..but we still got to ride a lot of rides in the dark that we’d never done before (since we’re rarely in the parks after dark!)

Day 4 was the only day we went to California Adventure. Not that I have anything against that park….there’s just not much to draw us there. We rode toy story, which is identical to the one in Florida, we rode Soarin, which is also identical to Florida’s version, and Karl and I rode California Screamin (which is really cool) and that was about it for that park. They had a kiddie area we spent a good amount of time in………and since nobody would ride the tower of terror with me, I skipped it and we left the park early.

Day 5 was back at Disneyland. More of the same as the other days……ride our favorite rides as many times as we possibly can! The kids have lost interest in meeting characters unfortunately. They’ll go up to them if they happen to cross paths (which happens way more often at Disneyland vs. Disneyworld, fyi), but they don’t want to stand in line to meet anybody. I insisted on standing in line to meet Mickey, and after that I just gave up. They want to ride rides! Fine by me! Small World, ride#27 here we go! :D Zach can never get enough of Small World…..Karl never gets tired of the Haunted Mansion…..and I never get tired of Pirates of the Caribbean! Alaina and Matthew love those rides too……but their favorite is the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad….so we rode that several times too. Yay fun!

Day 6…..last day! Our last hurrah, riding all our favorites one last time before we had to leave…. We ate dinner with Woody and Jessie (we didn’t even know it was a character meal when we booked it) at some western roundup show thing. It was pretty cool. And at the table next to ours, they were obviously celebrating their son’s birthday, because the chef brought out an R2D2 cake that was 3-D and completely put mine to shame! Even Matthew said, “that’s way better than the one you made, Mom!” It was the coolest cake I’ve ever seen in person. I didn’t take a picture since I had no idea who these people were, but I did talk to the parents and evidently you can request just about any character cake at dinner now…..for a price of course. So that’s good to know next time we’re celebrating something…..I’d like a life-size Jack Sparrow cake please! :D But anyways, dinner was yummy…….then we went back and rode more rides in the dark…….I wanted to stay for the new fireworks show……I think I’ve seen maybe ONE fireworks show at Disney in all the times we’ve been there (always leaving early to put the kids to bed……fireworks usually start around 9:30 or so), and I really wanted to see it……so we stayed for it. It was packed and crazy….but it was cool to watch. I didn’t get many good pictures since they wouldn’t let me set up my mini-tripod on a trash can like I was wanting to (darned castmembers!), but it was still really cool to see Tinkerbell fly around in the sky….even the kids were impressed. It was a good way to end our week at Disneyland. Just bummed I’ve got like zero pictures from it!

We left bright and early Saturday morning (6:30ish CA time) and have been on the road ever since….vacation officially over!

Final thoughts on our vacation……we had a really good time and I’m so glad we went (even with the driving!). The weather was really good….it was only really ‘warm’ one day…the rest were overcast and almost chilly (I had my jacket every day!), and that helped everybody not get so worn out. We still like Disney World in Florida better of course (plus that drive is WAY shorter! After this drive it’ll seem like nothing!), but there are a few things that Disneyland has that Florida doesn’t, and so we made a point to enjoy all that stuff. But Karl and I both agreed wholeheartedly….next time WE WILL FLY! :D

I'll be back with a mammouth layout-filled post in a sec!!! :P

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