May 21, 2008

Things I Learned On Vacation

There is so much to tell everyone about our recent trip to California that I can't possibly tell it my typical format. I'm told the internet only has so many tubes and pipes. It wouldn't be able to hold all the information that I am about to impart on you. So instead, I have narrowed our vacation down to 20 life lessons that I learned while traveling with my family last week.

1. The stomach flu blows. I came down the with the stomach flu on the very morning we left for California. I did manage to will myself through the flight free of major incident (if you know what I mean), but I had so such luck at LAX. By the time we landed, my stomach could no longer take it (you should really know what I mean now). After the horrific airport experience, I worked so hard to not throw up anymore all the way to the hotel that it completely wore me out.
This is what I look like resting and recovering at the hotel.

I spent the entire first day of our vacation in our hotel room. Alone. This sucked. Although, at the time, I didn’t really care. I just wanted to get feeling better, not just for the sake of feeling better, but to be able to spend time with my family during the kids’ first time at Disneyland.

2. Reality television isn’t real. Before my family ventured our of the hotel room for Disneyland Wednesday afternoon, Henry insisted that I have some TV to watch. I wasn’t planning on watching anything, just sleeping. He turned it on anyway right before they left for the park and left the remote control right next to the television. I was too sick to get out of bed to grab the remote to change the channel so, there I lay watching the random channel Henry picked out for me.
I definitely have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I’m glad I saw what I did on TV that day, on the other, I lost three hours of my life that I will never get back. The television programs I just so happened to watch were The Maury Povich Show and The Jerry Springer Show. After watching these spectacles, I have come to the following conclusions:
  • Never follow a friend to New York or LA and agree to be a guest on either of these shows with them. They either want to tell you they have a secret crush on you, tell you that you’re not the father of their/your baby or beat the crap out of you in front of a live studio audience. After that drama, how awkward would that plane ride home together be?

  • Also, never wear a wig on any of these shows. On two out of the three episodes I watched, wigs went a flyin’.

  • Another also, did you all know that Jerry Springer now has female bouncers? They are all buff and kind of rough up the guests in a suggestive sort of way. I found it oddly interesting.

I actually felt a little worse off for having watching these shows.

3. Jeremy is awesome. Okay, I kind of already suspected this, but he was such a trooper during our vacation, especially during the beginning when I was so sick. On the day we arrived, he took the kids to Disneyland all by himself and they had such a good time.

The kids hit the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, the train, a horse and carriage ride, King Aurthur’s Carousel and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride all on the first half day.

Henry seems unsure of the Jungle Cruise at first.

He was excited about all the wildlife on the ride.

This is what Henry and Dad look like as they ride on King Arthur's Carousel.

Here's Henner's demonstrating feats of strength.

More carouseling.

I thought it was sweet that Jeremy took the little ones on a horse drawn carriage ride down Main Street Disney. Jeremy said he was just too tired to walk anymore.

4. Jeremy is a sucker.
So when Jeremy took the kiddies to Disneyland by himself, He fell prey to all the high priced hot dogs, drinks, Mickey shaped pretzels and balloons that are easy and expensive to pick up. I totally would have done the exact same thing.

Ladies and gentleman, if you've ever wondered what a high priced Mickey shaped pretzel and the first of dozens of juice boxes that our child would consume looks like, take a gander at this.

Here's an eight dollar balloon that Henry used to entertain Reesie in the hotel room. It was well worth the money to see her laugh so hard at her brother.

5. Women dig single Dads. When Jeremy and Henry first ventured to the park together, Jeremy wanted to capture the moment on film. He tried to get the best views. Here only half of each of their heads is documented.

This is better, but where's Jeremy?

Still a little off.

Finally, a kind Asian woman offered to help Jeremy out by taking a picture of the two of them together in front of the entrance.

Jeremy claimed he received lot’s of “awws” and adoring head tilts from Mothers in the park that saw him carrying two kids around Disneyland all by himself. They must have thought it was Dad’s appointed weekend with the kids and he was treating them to some fun. What a chick magnet. I must have totally killed his action when I tagged along on day two and three.

6. We stayed at a HO-tel, not at a ho-TEL. Jeremy and I got a kick out of Henry calling the hotel a HO-tel. It was kind of ghetto, but mostly cute.

7. Learn the Disney way.
When you’re in Disneyland, you should know that all employees are referred to as “cast members” and rides are called “attractions”. Also, no cast member will ever, I repeat ever, point something out with one finger. They will use either two fingers or their entire palm to point something out for you. They also have cast members that come along and straighten all the strollers parked in stroller parking areas to make the park seem even more tidy. Another also, no cast member from one land is allowed to be seen in costume in another land, for example, an employee in Adventure Land will not be seen walking around in Fantasy Land wearing his Adventure Land get up. It just does not happen, folks.

Here we are back at the HOtel practicing in the Disney way. Jeremy almost has it down. Where's your smile?

Henry demonstrates the casual Disney look.

Reese shows her puzzled Disney look.

Her look is so cute, it deserves another.

This is what tired and haggard Disney looks like.

8. Disneyland is magic. If you’ve never taken a small child to Disneyland, I suggest you do so, and soon. They don’t call it the Magic Kingdom for nothing. Both kids loved it! Henry was a bit overwhelmed by everything, but was super excited for anything that we suggested. We spent a good deal of time in Fantasy Land, which is now my favorite land in the entire park.

Reesie blew raspberries at everyone the entire trip. Here I caught her in the act.

Totally busted, little one.

Thursday I was feeling better.

Much better.

Henry and Jeremy rode the Teacups Ride. They picked an orange cup, of course.

They also rode on Dumbo.

stood in line with me and my semi-queasy stomach.

More line standing.

This thing is the Gadgets Go-Coaster in Toon Town. It was Henners' favorite thing ever.

Here's his face after he finished riding it for the first time.

Here he is just after his second time.

I decided I would like to take him on it the third time. Here's what Henners looks like when he knows an attraction is going to be completely awesome.

I'd like to say my face is glistening from my dewy complexion, but that just wouldn't be true. It was hot that day, my friends. Henry and I are drenched as we wait in line.

Up we go as we slowly climb the first hill on the roller coaster.


Still climbing.

! We start our first descent.

Here's Henners in the middle of the coaster ride.

Here's Henners after his third ride on the Go-Coaster. He is pooped.

Reese, Jeremy and Henry take a load off in Tomorrow Land.

We also hit up the Buzz Light Year Astro Blasters (so much fun to say), the Motor Cars, the Haunted Mansion, the Matterhorn and many others on the second day.

9. Airports are not magic. If you’ve never taken a small child(ren) to the airport to wait for an airplane, please count yourself lucky. There, people WILL point at you with one finger and no one straightens anything. Also, small children seem drawn to airport bathrooms. Jeremy and I were suddenly drawn to the hand sanitizer.

10. You’ve got a friend in Jesus. That’s Jesus pronounced “Hay-soos”. Early in our trip, Henry became obsessed with the hotel swimming pool. On the first day in the pool, he met Jesus, the pool maintenance guy. Jesus was nice to Henry especially with his barrage of questions. Henry would ask, “What’s your name? Do you go to Disneyland too? Whatcha doing? Look at me swimming!” Also, you should know that Henry thought Jesus’ name was “Soos”, and that’s what he called him for five days.

On our last day at the hotel, Henry had his heart set on swimming that morning. When Henry and Jeremy made the trek to the pool at 8:00 am, they found a note on the pool gate telling them that the pool would be closed for two hours to paint the deck. Oh no! There would no time to swim before we had to leave for the airport.

Normally, I’d have a photo here to help illustrate the story a little bit, but Henry’s heart was absolutely crushed because the pool was closed. I can’t even begin to tell you how upset all of us were. Henry’s heart was breaking and ours was too just watching him. It would be cruel to have documented this moment. I actually hope I never have to see anything that sad again. Ever.

Anyway, we kept cruising the pool in shifts to see if the painting was progressing. First, Jeremy and Henry would go out to see, then me and Henry. Finally, on the last visit, Soos caught Jeremy and said that he would stop painting for a few hours so Henry could swim one last time before he left.

We all went down to the pool together as a family and it was so touching to see the small walkway and area of pool deck that Soos had left for us to lounge on while Henry swam. Always, always be nice to the Soos of the hotel.

Henry demonstrates his muscles.

Jeremy and Henners lounging in the heated pool.

Henry became quite an accomplished swimmer.

Reesie and I watched as the boys splashed.

11. Lost and found. If you ever get lost in Disneyland and forget what “land” you are in, be sure to look at the garbage cans. Each land has it’s own theme complete with garbage cans, costumes, telephones etc that match that particular fantasy. I didn’t document the receptacles, but I did take photos of a few of the fun phones we came across.

The phones in Toon Town are my favorite.

The phones in Tomorrow Land aren't as fun.

12. Patience is a virtue. During our three day stint at the park, Henry learned the joys of waiting in line. He eventually got it down, but there were a few times early on that he would protest a little loudly about someone else getting on his ride first.

13. There was good and not so good. While at the park, I discovered a new favorite ride, the Storybook attraction. It’s so sweet and quaint. Henry and I went on it together. He loved going into the whale’s mouth, but that was the high point for him. I loved the peaceful boat ride and all the miniature little villages set up along the ride. Our tour guide had the most soothing voice as she told us the stories along the way. I seriously could have fallen asleep and just drifted on that boat all day long.

Here we are having a relaxing boat ride.

We sailed into this whale's mouth. Henry thought that was awesome.

Henners definitely loved the Buzz Light Year Astro Blasters ride the best. I still argue that "astro blaster" is fun to say. Henry was able to use a laser gun to shoot aliens and monsters. Three of his favorite things all rolled into one; Guns, aliens and monsters.

Henry did not enjoy many of the attractions that involved being in the dark. He’s not afraid of the dark, I just think he would get a little disoriented. Needless to say, Pirates of the Carrabean, or “Yo Ho” as he called it, was not visited more than once. Henry also was not a fan of the the Matterhorn because of the “bum-ba-ble monster with white hair, white eyes and white teeth that was mean at us”.

14. The Finding Nemo Voyage ride doesn’t exist. The line for this thing was always an hour plus wait in line. No fast pass. Nothing. Henry didn’t have much interest, so we didn’t push it. So, according to our family, this ride does not exist. If anyone tells Henry differently, they’ll have some serious explaining to do. Or at the very least, they will have to take our children themselves to Disneyland and wait in that horrendous line to see a seven minute attraction.

15. Juiced up. Jeremy and I have always been believers that juice is liquid evil for little kids. It’s sugar and water packaged to look healthy. Nice try, Minutemaid. However, while at Disneyland, Henry had an apple juice box awakening. He drank twelve of these things at Disneyland alone (at $1.70 a pop) and another eight that we purchased in a value pack for ($0.89 a pop). And don’t even think that you could purchase a bottle of apple juice (same brand) and make Henry happy. No. Instead you would have to search the park for a juice “box”, not juice “bottle”. Duh.

Lovin' the box.

Taking time out for a hot dog and a juice box.

Of course, where there's a liquid substance and Jeremy, this is bound to happen.

Still more juicing.

Seriously, so much juice and even more potty breaks.

*Post Script: We have Henry half convinced that juice boxes are only available in Disneyland. We're keeping our fingers crossed that this white lie will go on for a while.

16. Toon Town or bust. If you think we didn’t spend a majority of our time in Toon Town then you’d be wrong. This place had Goofy’s Bounce House, Daisy Duck’s Boat, the Gadgets Go-Coaster, Roger Rabbit Car Ride, lots of buttons and gadgets to push and pull and so many juice box vendors.

Henry thought it would be perfectly acceptable to pee off this porch in Toon Town. I caught him just in time.

Here's Goofy's House.

Here's Goofy.

Henry loved the piano in Goofy's House.

And the slide.

Henry pushed and pulled the TNT lever at the Toon Town Fire Department and made bells and whistles and smoke come out of this building.

Here he is listening to that ruckus.

So many doorbells to push. This one made a crashing glass sound.

The interactive post office would talk to him when he turned the knobs.

Henry and Jeremy hung out in Daisy Duck's ship for a while.

No visit would be complete without a demonstration of feats of strength.

Here, Henry is specifically wishing for another juice box.

Reesie thought Toon Town was awesome too.

17. Mickey Mouse is scary, Darth Vader…not so much. Yes, Henry still has an aversion to costumed characters. He would happily point out Goofy or Mickey as he stolled by and even excitedly wave, but he wouldn’t go anywhere near any of them. However, while taking a break in Tomorrow Land drinking, what else, but another juice box, we noticed strange smoke coming from a stage right in front of us. Then Henry noticed a “big black guy” rising from all the smoke.

Here's the smoke and the "black guy".

Apparently, we were witnessing the Jedi Training Show from the back of the stage. During the 20 minute performance, the actors walk to the back of the stage during their down times during the show. Darth Vader would frequently walk by us and stand directly in front of Henry. He even leaned down a few times and got within a foot of Henry’s face to just breathe really heavy to him. This didn’t faze Henners at all. He just kept sipping on that juice staring down Mr. Vader. After the final Darth vs. Henry confrontation, Henry turned to me and said, “Was that black guy taking my juice? He not take my juice.”

Here's Henry being protective over his juice.

18. Just think about it. A word of advice. Never, ever tell Henry that he should take a nap. You will be met with several excuses and lots of shifty manuvering. However, if you suggest that he stop and "just think about it", he'll gladly crawl in bed and rest. Jeremy and I were only vaguely aware of this phenomena while in California, as it is relatively new in Henry's bag of tricks. We quickly caught on and used it as early as the second day of our trip. Score!

Here's the four of us starting to "just think about it" back at our HOtel room.

19. Sometimes baseball games are short. We took the kiddies and ourselves to the Angels vs. Dodgers game on Saturday. Jeremy and I were in heaven. Reesie even liked it. Henry liked the music, the crowd, but that was about it. His main focus was to get out of there ASAP and hi-tail it back to the HOtel to swim. After only four innings, he successfully removed the rest of us from the game and back to the HOtel.

Here's Reesie enjoying her first game.

She even got a little rowdy with the rest of the crowd.

Here's Henry eating cotton candy and concocting plans to get us back to the swimming pool.

20. Disneyland chewed us up and spit us out. So each day, we'd bring the kids back to the HOtel to just think about it. Sometimes, Henry would just think about it so hard that he would fall into a deep, deep sleep.

Here's Henry after he's just thought about it.

He would just think about it for a few hours. Eventually, we would get a little bored waiting for him to stop just thinking about it.

Really bored.

Really, really bored.

Reesie even resorted to playing with Jeremy's iPhone.

On our final night in California, Henry was just thinking about it for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, Jeremy and I got hungry. We decided to splurge and order in from McCormack & Schmidts just around the corner. Jeremy loves this place and was dying to eat there again.

Here's what a fancy $90 seafood meal looks like sprawled across your HOtel room floor.

Crazy, huh? We ended up eating in near darkness and very quietly so that we wouldn't wake Henry up from his "deep thoughts". Reesie was still awake so she joined us and looked on as we ate.

I must have been caught up in the cuteness of Reese because I totally missed Jeremy eating my very last oyster.

Here I am sad that Jeremy has taken what was once mine.

Just as Jeremy took his last bite of halibut he mentioned that he wished he would have asked them to include the garlic dill sauce that came with it on the side instead of asking them to not include it at all. I noticed a small container of unopened sauce in one of the containers. I opened it and tried it.

Ah ha! It was the very garlic dill sauce that Jeremy was talking about. I then proceeded to dip the rest of my salmon in said sauce. In your face, Jeremy. That'll teach you to take my oysters.

Please know that I took 374 pictures while we traveled so I have many, many more tales to tell including fun airport people, visual proof of why it's unflattering to eat bananas in public, mean Dads at Disneyland and random business signs in Huntington Beach. But as I mentioned before, I think I'm clogging the interwebs tubes.

Thanks, California. You were awesome. See you in two years!

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