Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Noticer

Is the economy bumming you out? Is a fruitless job search sending your sense of self importance south? Have you ever met someone who was unrelentingly positive in any situation and wondered how you could get a little of what they have?

Please allow me to introduce you to a little fresh perspective in the form of Andy Andrews’ latest book, The Noticer. It’s the story of a man named Jones (or Garcia or possibly Chen) who manages to pop up in situations that seem hopeless. At least to the people stuck there! With some brutal honesty mixed with words of encouragement, he manages to change the course of an entire community. And how does he do that? By noticing some of the things that tend to be overlooked and pointing out that there is always a wider perspective.

One nugget of wisdom is the idea that it’s really impossible to simply make a tiny difference. We may imagine our actions to be tiny, maybe inconsequential, but in truth, everything we do has far-reaching, possibly unimaginable effects. The truth is we matter, and the things we do make a huge difference - no “tiny” about it. This is something that mothers of young children need to hear often and repeat far and wide!

It’s a short read and not particularly deep. You could finish it in a day or over the course of a week if you keep it in the car and pick it up while waiting for the kids to come out of classes. It’s just a book, but during a week with a sick child, an out of town husband, and a few deadlines that could only be met by giving up a night’s sleep, it made me feel like I’d had a nice chat with an old friend, complete with a warm hug and the encouragement necessary to make it through with my head held high. Who wouldn’t want a little of that?

Get your hands on a copy today. Even better, look around you and get one for the person in your life in need of some noticing!

Monday, April 27, 2009

See those teeth?

That perfect string of gorgeous pearls, evenly spaced and dainty in size?

They are all wiggly. All of them. There is one on the bottom that can be rotated just shy of 360 degrees.

Excuse me, I need to go put my head between my knees and breathe into a paper bag because I'm ready to pass out just thinking about it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chicken or the egg


This week my Mom brought us some fresh eggs courtesy of the hens on her property. We used to be so spoiled back when there were more hens and more eggs and we went a full year without buying any at the store... only enjoying the free range organic eggs that she would give us every week or so.
One of our favorite stories about Nathan happened when he was about four and we were visiting my parent's house. They'd gotten about a dozen new baby chicks and they were being kept in the front parlor of the house in a small cage with a heat lamp. My boys were enamored of these precious downy baby chicks, and wanted to hold them. After they'd both had a turn, Nathan asked where the babies had come from. We said they came out of eggs. He seemed to be okay with that answer.
Later we had some scrambled eggs, and Nathan completely freaked out, asking if we were eating scrambled baby chicks. With an overabundance of panic in his eyes and rising pitch in his voice, he asked, "was this a CHICKEN?" We assured him that it wasn't (without going into details about fertilization and such). He kept repeating, "oh no, oh no," while wringing his hands together. He got so upset he finally blurted out, "was this a chicken this MORNING?" It was hard to keep a straight face and assure him that no, it was never a chicken. He was so worked up that calming him down took quite a long time, and another round of holding the little fuzzy baby chicks.Now whenever our ever so melodramatic son gets a little overly excited about something, either Michael or I will look at each other and say "was it a chicken this MORNING?" and burst into laughter. It helps to diffuse some of the tension that our naturally intense son seems to exude.

I think we'll wait awhile longer before letting Nathan in on this inside joke at his expense. Nearly five years later we're still getting plenty of mileage out of it!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Spy...

I saw this little gem on Nathan's teacher's desk:

I recognized it immediately as some of Nathan's handiwork. He has a very distinct style and I have no idea where he gets it. He is hard at work creating a comic book series. He told me he wants to grow up and be an author/illustrator. I told him he didn't have to grow up to do that, we can take advantage of some of the many self-publishing services out there and get him in print now. Christmas gift dilemma solved!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Open House

Open House! That coming-into-home-stretch event that says Summer Vacation is creeping ever closer! The whole school sparkles and shines with the best artwork and the biggest smiles. Michael is working out of town this week but Grandma made her way down to help out this week and to be the boys' guest at the night's festivities. Here are some photo highlights.

First stop was Ben's kindergarten classroom. Mrs. Kajikawa was also Nathan's kindergarten teacher. The odds of this happening were low considering there are seven kinder classes! But it did, and it's been nice to have a matched set of some of the projects they have both done while in her class. Here they are with her:
For comparison, here is Nathan next to her at Open House during his Kindergarten year in 2007:
This is Benjamin's desk:

This is Nathan's desk:

The students had an art show in the cafeteria. Our school district is fortunate to have an Adventures in Art program where the children get to study an artist and then explore that style. It goes beyond simple arts and crafts and really tries to instill an appreciation of fine art in the children. The program is funded completely through donations and fundraising of the PTA, as the budget crunch in the state of California have given the axe to nearly all art, music, and drama programs.
Here is Nathan's "Non-Pretty Portrait," styled after the Latin American artist Vladimir Cora. I saw it across the room and was instantly drawn to it... I was thrilled to find it was Nathan's!

And in the category of "that will go great with our living room color scheme," here is Benjamin's "Red Poppies," styled after German artist Emil Nolde's wet watercolors:

And then, just in case we happen to stick around here in the future, I decided to snap a photo in front of the school mural. IF we are still here a year from now, you'll be seeing the same pic with the boys a little taller come next April!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Diet Coke

As I mentioned, it's been a hot week. It's also been a week where I've been up late taking care of a sick child and trying to squeeze in a few very late night minutes with my husband who is working out of town this week. So during the day I've been pretty tired, pretty useless. I went a little crazy with the Coke to try and stay awake and stay cool, and Nathan spied my line of empty cans on the counter, waiting to be put in the recycle bin.

Nathan: Hey Mom, I think you better switch to Diet Coke!

Me: (preparing to be insulted by my 8 year old) Nathan! Why in the world would you say something like that!

Nathan: Well, have a look... it seems like your entire diet consists of Coke!

Me: (plastering kisses all over his head) You are the funniest boy I know!

Will Play 4 Food

Nathan is such the brooding artist type. He's either thinking of the next great song he will write or wondering how quickly we can leave guitar practice to pick up a pizza.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Under the weather

This week in Los Angeles we experienced triple digit temperatures... in April! I love this kind of weather. I'm cold all the time. Seriously! The only time I've felt warm was when I was pregnant with Nathan and Benjamin. Michael and I jokingly called them my "internal combustion heating units". The rest of the time you'll find me wearing one more layer than everyone else, or borrowing Mike's jacket.

The hot weather was just a blip though, they are forecasting for Friday a high of 64 F, a nearly 40 degree drop in just a few days! Although we had big plans to take our dinner down at the beach as the sun set, Benjamin changed that. I walked over to pick him up from his after-school chess class yesterday and found him doubled over, throwing up. He was miserable and embarrassed. The walk home was even worse, and we stopped several times so he could retch into the gutter. All evening he could not stop throwing up. It was horrible to watch, and even worse to hold his feverish body as he shivered and whispered that he felt so, so, so terrible Mommy.

I'm a terrible patient. I don't want to stay in bed, I have too much to do. I'm frustrated at the illness, the weakness, the injury. I don't like to be sidelined, I want to be in the action. But I make an even worse nurse. Every time Michael gets sick (seriously, you can ask him), he asks me why I'm so angry with him. I'm not angry, I say, I just hate it when you're sick. Now get back in bed and rest this minute! And our boy Nathan is just like me, at his sickest he is out of it and then when on the mend he is grumpy and grouchy and upset that he's not feeling 100%. I tend to treat him the same way I treat Michael, very matter of fact. But Benjamin? Every time he gets sick I fall apart. Completely. I sit on the floor in the hallway outside his room and watch him sleep. I hold a wet washcloth to his forehead and sing him songs and tell him stories. And when he cries, I cry. And then when Michael comes home from work I recount the day's events and cry all over again. I'm sure it's simply the leftover fear and concern we felt during his baby and toddler years when simple infections for us could mean a hospital stay for him. That kind of terror isn't easy to forget, even though he is now a strong and healthy little boy.

While going through boxes of stuff to get rid of last week, I came across our medical ID cards for Adventist Hospital in Hong Kong. There was mine, Nathan's, and Michael's. I pouted slightly that I'd somehow misplaced Ben's. And then I remembered that Ben didn't have a card. He never once got sick the entire time we lived there. The rest of us had strep throat a few times, the barfing flu several times, Nathan had a string of injuries requiring stitches and x-rays, and Michael was hospitalized for intestinal distress. But not Ben. Our time in Hong Kong was difficult, but I was blessed with this small grace: never having to sit up all night fretting about him, crying about his health in a foreign country.

Ben is on the mend despite a lingering fever. So far, no one else feels sick. And we're all looking forward to dinner on the beach very soon!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Paper Wasp

We've got yet another unwelcome visitor, right on our front porch! Good grief, we must be very popular as it seems like the whole world is knocking on our door trying to get in! Today I found this busy fellow building a nest in the eave above our porch. I have to admit I wasted the better part of an hour in the 97 degree heat watching him create his little nest. What an incredible work of art! Paper wasps make their nests using their saliva and fibers from dead plants and wood. They are pretty beneficial to this area as they keep other pests away, but we can't have a wasp making it's home right at the doorway to our home, especially since we've got some sting allergies in the family. So tonight after the sun sets, the beautiful work of this industrious insect will be no more.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Old Spaghetti Factory


Today we had lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Duarte, CA. Our first trip to this restaurant was the one in Salt Lake City, UT where Michael and I ate while we were up visiting his sister Heather and her then newborn son, Tanner. Tanner turned 14 this weekend, so it's been quite a few years since we had our first dining experience there! Of course, the draw of the Old Spaghetti factory is the buildings they occupy. They are generally old train stations with dark woods and high ceilings. And they all have a big trolley car right in the middle of the restaurant where all the kids want to sit.
This was our first time at the one in Duarte; we passed it on the freeway a month ago and decided that the next chance we got, we'd try it out. The Duarte restaurant is in an old school house. The exterior says the school was built in 1909, making it 100 years old. The boys were thrilled with the high arches that made up the doorways, so different from today's modular classrooms!
The menu rarely changes in the 40 years since the original opened, but one thing has... the prices! It used to be such a good deal that we'd make the drive to the one in Fullerton (around 30 miles away) knowing we would get some good, cheap eats. Now it's not really worth forking over the money for both the gas and the food. Which is sad, because the spaghetti with Mizithra cheese and browned butter is delish (although it will instantly raise your cholesterol level by several points)!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sleepy Saturday

We held a block-wide garage sale today, which meant we were up late last night, and up early this morning. We sold just about everything because our strategy was to purge rather than profit! When we wrapped it up, Mike and I decided to take a nap. I turned on the backyard sprinkler to try and revive the brown grass for summer, and the boys put on their swimsuits to play in the springtime sun. As I crawled into bed, I had to sneak a peek at Ben who was dancing around, happy as a lark! Sweet Dreams, Zzzzzzzz...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Interview with a Kindergartner


I happened to be in Benjamin's class today as his teacher interviewed him for a special project. The children in his class get to write a few sentences about Ben (favorite food, favorite dessert, favorite ride at Disneyland, etc.) and then draw themselves with him, and then on the back they write something they like about him. The teacher then binds it all in a book, which he gets at the end of the year. I was really impressed with how hard the children were working on this! Perhaps because Ben was the first person they were writing about, they haven't gotten lazy and bored with doing it over and over.
I was also very touched by all the kind things the children were saying about him. As a parent to these two particular boys, I've found people are very quick to tell me about all the rotten things they've done. Kindergartners are notorious tattlers as well! It was nice to hear 20 small people telling me about how terrific Benjamin is. It was so nice to hear!

During the interview I discovered two things about Ben that I did not know before. His favorite shape is a square, and his favorite planet is Mars. Sounds like there should be a joke in there somewhere, huh?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lunch Date



This week was the Kindergarten "Lunch with Someone Special" event at school.
I brought Ben the one thing that he always begs for but never gets, Lunchables, and a picnic blanket. He's our little social butterfly and scarfed his food down as fast as he could so he could go chat with his friends, leaving me feeling less than special! I packed up the remains of our lunch and waved him over so I could say goodbye and he gave me a giant hug and several kisses, telling me I was the best mom ever. So, I guess I'm pretty special after all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Flat Stanley's Adventures

I have to say that Nathan really picked the right person to mail Flat Stanley to!
While Stanley was a guest with my Mom and Dad, he got to visit the chickens and collect eggs, go out to Painted Rock and Soda Lake (and watch out for rattlesnakes!), hang out with some hot air balloons that landed in front of my parent's property, visit some wild buffalo, mow the lawn with Grandpa, and visit my Dad's work buddies on the set of CSI: New York (which films here in Los Angeles).
While on the set, Flat Stanley got to handle the film clapper, hold the camera that filmed a scene with Gary Sinise and Hill Harper, and hang out in one of the NYPD police cars with some extras. Stanley sure gets around to all the coolest places! The photos below will be displayed at Back to School Night next week.
This is Soda Lake, an alkali lake near my parent's house. When we go out there I imagine we could be on the moon with all the white powdery salt everywhere!

Lucky Stanley got to hang out on the set of CSI:NY. Here he is with the film clapper. That is an extra in the background, dressed up in an NYPD uniform.

Maybe Stanley will grow up to be a director? Here he is, handling the camera with the help of the camera man.

In the scene they were filming, a semi-truck drove through the front of a deli. Look for it in an upcoming episode!

Flat Stanley and my Dad, hanging out in one of the NYPD cars in Downtown LA, which doubles for New York in CSI:NY.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Resolutions Revisited

The first quarter has passed and I thought we'd come back and see how we're doing with our resolutions for 2009.

Heather:
1. See at least one live show each month. More is better.
This year we've seen:

  • Pippin at the Mark Taper Forum produced by Deaf West Theatre Company (which is one of our very favorite theatre companies).
  • RENT at the Pantages Theatre with three of the original cast members (it was our fourth time seeing it and we've decided it was our last. Enough is enough!).
  • Frost/Nixon at the Ahmanson Theater (with Stacy Keach the night before he was hospitalized).
We've got plans to see a play, a musical, and some old fashioned all-American Melodrama within the next month as well, so we are doing great with this resolution!

2. Eat at home more often.
Yep, we are totally doing this. We eat out on Sunday afternoons and maybe one other time during the week when there's a late guitar practice or chess class or something else that keeps us away from the house for most of the day. The unfortunate side effect of this new eating-at-home plan is that I have gained at least ten pounds since December. This is shocking and horrible and completely unexpected! Everyone said the side benefit of eating at home is weight loss. Obviously I'm doing something wrong. I guess when we go out to eat, Mike and I generally share a meal. At home, we load up our own plates. Also, I spent about six years as a vegetarian and still don't like to cook meat or poultry, so the food I cook tends to be carb heavy. I guess it's time to scale back and get Mike to do more grilling on the BBQ (which he loves)!

3. Get rid of at least one black plastic trash bag or one giant box of accumulated and unwanted “stuff” every single week.
Oh yeah, we are doing great on this one. But I still feel like there is no real progress being made. You would think that with all our moves we would have gotten rid of so much more! But I think we've been trapped into hanging onto things just in case we need them for the "next place". We must change our way of thinking on that!

4. Design and create new creative opportunities for the boys/family/myself each month (writing, painting, sewing, etc.).
This is simply a silly resolution for us. It's like resolving to breathe more. It's more of a value than a resolution, as each and every day we do something creative and crafty. We can't help it.

5. Make significant progress towards eliminating our financial obligations.
This is more important than ever. The only thing certain right now is how uncertain it is to have a steady income! We are making giant strides at getting rid of all debt and lowering what we pay for everything else. In fact, I asked Michael to call up our phone/Internet/cable provider and see if we could get a better deal. He did- he talked them into lowering our monthly bill by $25 AND throwing in a FREE DVR. We've got about 80-90 new channels too. But no additional time to waste watching them! I would encourage you to do the same thing... businesses want to keep their customers so they are willing to be more competitive than ever. Give it a try!

Michael:
1. Learn to fly
Funny, but my million-airline-mile holding husband hasn't flown once this year. Nor has he learned to fly himself, though he has spent a lot of time flapping his arms.
2. Learn to teleport
Nope, no progress in this area.
3. Learn to stop time
No progress here, either, but having the DVR helps him be able to catch Heroes more often!


Nathan:
1. Eat more pizza.
He used his own money to buy lunch on Pizza Day at school.
2. Get better at math.
Nathan is already better at math than I am. Since when do 2nd graders do fractions and equations? I thought I learned my times tables in the 5th grade, but Nat is learning division this week. I have to find someone else to help him with his math homework!
3. Get better at playing the electric guitar.
He's earned four "belts" so far in his guitar class. Even he is amazed at how far he's come. I'm proud of him, but I'm really excited about how proud he is of himself.


Benjamin:
1. I know everything already.
No change here! Ben informs us each day how much more he knows than we do.

Happy Easter!

Wishing you and your loved ones a fun and blessed Easter!
The boys sampled hard boiled eggs today for what may have been the first time. They were both allergic to eggs as babies, and while the allergy has gone away, my memory of cleaning up the after-effect of them has not. So it's not something we feed them that often! They found it far more fun to crack open the shells than to actually eat the eggs! Ben didn't care for them at all. Nathan just licked his because we sprinkled some salt on it. Boys!


We hid some plastic eggs in the front yard and then gave them some baskets of goodies from my Mom and Dad. They are busily playing with their new treats, and I'm going to go take a nice Easter nap before heading over to dinner with Michael's parents and the local siblings.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Past Easter Portraits

Each year, with a few exceptions, we've tried our best to take an Easter snapshot of the family. Here's a look back over the last nine years of Easter fun.

This is Nathan's first Easter, at 5 months old. We were living in Japan at the time. Each of the grandparents sent him a bunny. We trekked nearly two hours on four trains and a bus to go to an English speaking church in Tokyo for Easter service. They kindly put Nathan in the baby nursery there so he wouldn't disrupt the service. It was the first time I'd ever been separated from him, and we didn't know anyone there. I was nervous. They gave us a number and said that if he needed anything, they would flash his number on the screen. I spent the entire service fretting and worrying. Inevitably they flashed his number, and I did not calmly walk out of the service, I ran at top speed, the program and inserts I had been gripping floating behind in my wake, people's heads getting whiplash as they watched the wild woman run out the door. He was fine, just hungry!

Somehow we missed 2002. This is 2003, and Nathan is two and a half. It is not the most flattering photo, but I love it. We were living in Fremont, CA and I was pregnant with Benjamin and look like I have an Easter egg for a belly! I had some complications requiring a lot of bed rest, so this was a rare fun treat to go out as a family and celebrate.
2004 and Benjamin's first Easter. He's so round and rolly and happy! This is at our house in Lomita, CA where we lived for a year. We crossed the International Dateline on Easter of 2005 while flying on our way to our new home in Hong Kong, so we completely missed the holiday that year!

Easter 2006, back in the USA! One or all of us were sick, I think a single photo on the lawn was all we could manage!



2008, last year! Our family nearly doubled that year when we forced Tommy, Alyssa, and Chris to get in the family photo. Michael made his world famous BBQ beef ribs to make the day extra special!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Read to me

Ben has joined the ranks of the readers. It has to be the biggest magic trick there is! One day the words on the pages of a book are lines and symbols. You might recognize a word or two, but comprehension is a long way off. And then the lines and symbols are suddenly a story! And there are so many stories to read! There is an entire world of stories, just waiting to be gobbled up, one after another.

Benjamin has been able to read individual words for some time, but he would always say he couldn't "read". To him, reading was picking up a book and going from start to finish, laughing at the funny parts. Since about Christmas I've noticed that I will start reading to him and he will tell me to stop and pick up where I left off. To me, it is among the most incredible things in child raising... right up there with the feeling of being pregnant and feeling those first fluttery kicks, or the first time baby sleeps through the night. It's magical, miraculous, and amazing.

This week during Spring Break, Benjamin has climbed into my lap to read me book after book. He didn't ask me to read to him at all. I was a little blue about it. Until this weekend when Ben grabbed one of more difficult Magic School Bus books, climbed onto Daddy, and sweetly asked to be read to. It's nice to be needed!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Gifting

There is a little boy in our neighborhood who is Ben's age. Saturday is his birthday party, a dinosaur themed day at the park. When I RSVP'd, his mom said she was happy we were coming, because we always give the Very Best gifts.
Oh dear, I thought, as I scrambled to remember what we'd given him in the past few years that was worthy of being called the Very Best.
I love to give gifts. I love it when I see something that is just perfect for someone, and when they open it I love the look of delight on their face. I'm a good listener, and I remember the little details to save away for later. Many years ago my mother-in-law told me about these violet candies she ate as a child, and what a huge treat they were. A year or two after our conversation I was at a vintage candy store and saw the candies she had been talking about, and promptly bought a package. When I later presented them to her, it was like watching her get on board a time machine back to the days of her youth as she savored her treat. She is probably my favorite person to give gifts to, because she forgets that she has told me all these things and thinks I'm a mind reader!
Unfortunately with the economy being what it is and job security being tenuous at best, we have reined in our spending to the point that our previous generosity for things like wedding gifts, baby shower presents, and birthday giving has been scaled back substantially. This is tough. Especially since we have apparently acquired a reputation as stellar gift givers!
So what to do about our weekend birthday party? One of my Northern California friends recently blogged about these tees she made for a birthday party, and I decided to give it a try. While I was at it, I made a couple for my kids as well.
We also picked up a cool glow-in-the-dark dinosaur puzzle and some dinosaur ink stamps to go along with the theme. So I didn't invest very much money into the gift, but instead gave my time. Which is good for everyone, especially my own kids who got to sit and watch all the steps of construction along the way. Quite impressed with the end results, they are now busy sketching out designs for making their own. So far, their favorite design is toast. Seriously. A piece of toast, on a tee shirt. So just in case toast on tees becomes the latest fashion fad, remember you heard it here first!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring Messing

My Mom has come down a couple of times in the last few weeks to help me work on the house and get organized. I have big ideas, but I'm bad at executing them. This is her area of expertise however! I wish I had a little more of what she has! The house was looking pretty great for awhile, considering that Nathan and Benjamin leave a whirlwind of paper clippings, marbles, markers, and Hot Wheels wherever they roam. For me it's easier to keep something neat and tidy when it starts out that way rather than to attack an enormous disaster area. So things were looking pretty good, if I do say so myself. And then Spring Break happened.

Nathan spent his first day of Spring Break creating an elaborate Optimus Prime Transformers costume out of construction paper.
He was trying to figure out a way to realistically "transform" the costume. Give him a little more time, and I'm sure he'll figure it out. But this is what the area behind the couch (his workspace) looked like after his paper-fest.
With our little jaunt to Disneyland yesterday, the wreckage has now been sitting there for three days. I guess I better get on it. Or get the kids on it. That mess isn't going to clean itself up, you know. Thankfully my parents never said that lovely phrase to me while I was growing up. They simply said keep the door to your bedroom closed.

Get Validated Today!

Here's a short film worth taking 16 minutes out of your day to watch. Who couldn't use a little validation?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma with the Big Truck!


Thanks to Disney's generosity of giving everyone a free ticket to the Disney theme park of their choice on their birthday, we were able to enjoy doing something we haven't done in many years: going to Disneyland with my Mom and Dad! Mom got in for free since it was her big day, and they gave her a button at the ticket booth proclaiming that it was her birthday. This meant nearly everyone we passed call out Happy Birthday Grandma! A great way to celebrate if you like that kind of thing (which I always do!). My parents, the boys, and I got to Disneyland in the morning and then Michael joined us after work. I have fond memories of many happy birthdays spent at Disneyland, and it was nice to be able to celebrate Mom's with my family!
We enjoyed lunch at the Blue Bayou (the restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction) where the Monte Cristo sandwich is amazing. The cost of dining there is prohibitive, so we only do it once every couple of years.

It may have been Mom's birthday, but it didn't stop the boys from getting presents! After going on the interactive Buzz Lightyear attraction, Mom bought the boys their own astroblasters to play with after dark.
I took a photo of my parents with the boys in front of the castle when we first got there. I really try to make sure to get photos of the kids with their grandparents, as I only have a couple shots with my own grandparents on my Mom's side, and not a single shot with the grandparents on my Dad's side.
My big plan was to wait to take the big group shot in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle until Michael arrived after work. Of course, it was completely forgotten until we were about to leave, well after dark, with sleepy children. So instead I present the single big family shot of the day... our experience on Space Mountain! Priceless!

We finished the big day with a big bang! Several actually! We watched the fireworks display before slipping out and heading home.

Happy birthday Grandma! We love you so much!