Oct 24, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday Sydney!

I'd like to interrupt our DisneyMania series, to wish our sweet Sydney Lee a Happy 2nd Birthday. DisneyMania will conclude next week.

Dear Sydney,

Our family would not be complete without you. Your smile and laugh is contagious. Without fail, you make me smile every morning when I wake you up. Most days you are more than happy for a big hug before laying down with a cup of milk while we get you ready for the day. You're getting more and more affectionate these days. While you give hugs often, the big bear hugs are extra special when you put your hands behind my head and land a big wet kiss on me at the same time - you're not quick to dole out kisses at all.

Over the last month or so, you have worked on declaring your independence, wanting to do more and more on your own. Only when you get frustrated will you ask for help, and even then you will ask for it begrudgingly. Case in point, you always want to put your own pants on, but more often than not, you end up putting both legs through one leg hole. You've also taken to grabbing the pink stool from your bathroom to carry around the house so you can turn lights on and off on your own. 

This year you have been blessed with good health, rarely getting sick. Next week we visit the cardiologist to ensure you are still in good health after the Kawasaki Disease scare last year. Plus, you are finally getting caught up on your immunizations, which brings a sense of relief and closure to the whole episode.

You have such a happy, easy going personality, yet you aren't a pushover. You let your voice and opinions be heard. Your teachers say you sing "let it go" when another child tries to take a toy you are playing with. You do the same with your sister.

And you are one tough cookie. Shots don't phase you at all. And your teachers haven't always caught when another child has, on the few occasions, bitten you over a dispute until the teeth marks show up later.

The love you have for your sister London is clear. You love to play with her, and it's the cutest thing when you give her a hug and kiss goodnight before bedtime. While you were slower to walk, as soon as you could, you started running after London. One of your favorite things to do with her is kick the soccer ball back and forth. 

You two have entered a squabbling phase, fighting over toys, attention from mom or dad, even seats at the table. But you both good about saying sorry and giving hugs afterward. 

Your vocabulary expands in leaps and bounds almost daily it seems. "Let it go" was likely the first major stringing of words you did, when London received a singing "Elsa" doll for her birthday. Now you ask "What song" just like London in the car when we listen to the Disney music, and "yellow bus" when you see them while we are driving. Your favorite is "Mommy I see you." And like your sister, you are good in asking please and saying thank you when you have requests. You ask for movies on the weekends just like London but you have yet to even sit through a full episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. I'm sure this will change soon.

You're very good at entertaining yourself. I'll be doing something around the house, like dishes and you may pester me at first, but before I know it I will look around and find you knee deep in toys, playing happily on your own or flipping through a book. 

You love having daddy or I read to you before bed. 2 or 3 books at a time. Some of your favorites are "Goodnight Moon" and "Little Blue Truck Leads the Way", not to mention your puppy book. 

You are also my little eater. You don't have much of a sweet tooth, eat pretty much any veggies placed in front of you and most fruit. Apparently, cantaloupe is the exception. And you're not that fond of meat, at least not yet. You also love to dip a finger in my wine and then suck on your fingers whenever you get the opportunity. We learned in Disneyland you need to be watched. We were sitting around the Tiki Bar fire chatting with friends. Next thing we all knew you were sneaking in a taste of my Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki rum! We had a good laugh and we all kept a closer eye on you and our drinks the rest of the night.

Technically, our recent trip to Disneyland was to celebrate your birthday, but we're also having a party at our house tomorrow. The cake will be decorated with a train, as you are obsessed with them. The second you can hear a train whistle blow at home, you run to me and say "Mommy see, mommy see" telling me you want me to pick you up to look out the kitchen window, although very recently you've learned to run to the back door or the slider in Mommy & Daddy's bedroom to see it for yourself without my help. 

You had a blast in Disneyland, particularly liking The Disneyland Railroad and Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters. We were actually walking past Astroblasters on our way to Pirates of the Caribbean but had to stop and ride Astroblasters again at your insistence as you became hysterical the second you saw it. You did a fantastic job during the Fireworks show we watched - you clung to me a little more than usual, but you never screamed or cried and by the end you were smiling and giggling.

You love to sing and dance, often humming a tune in your head when no actual music is playing. One of my favorite memories so far is being woken up by you on a Sunday morning while you were humming "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin. I can only hope that you continue to have this happy go lucky & fun personality all your life as I believe it will take you far.

I can't wait to see what the next year brings out in you. We love you.


Oct 22, 2014

DisneyMania - The Ultimate Playlist

A preview of what's the come - all 4 of us on The Jungle Cruise!

Unlike our last trip to Disneyland, when London was 18 months, we decided to drive down instead of flying. Without traffic, it's around a 6 hour drive. We weren't sure how the girls would do, though they handle 3-4 hours pretty well, so we had hope. Of course, we loaded up on snacks and made sure to stop every few hours to just get out and walk around for a few minutes. And then there was the playlist I compiled of Disney music. 9 hours, 10 minutes worth. I built it from CDs I had (remember what a CD is?) and purchased music from Amazon. I looked for popular songs to the movies we were watching as well as actual music from the theme parks. 

We actually started listening to the music about a month before the trip, and it added to our excitement, especially when we heard the actual ride play-thrus, like Haunted Mansion and Haunted Mansion Holiday from start to finish, or the Little Mermaid Medley, which includes Sebastian telling you to exit to the left! Both London and Sydney enjoyed it and I definitely think it helped get them through the car rides. London still asks for the Disney songs when we're in the car. 

And, without further ado, here is the grand list and how each song related back to Disneyland/Disney (please bear with me, I had the list written up in Excel, but images work best here. You can always message me if you want it in Excel)

Next post will be about the trip and include many more pictures, I promise!

Oct 20, 2014

DisneyMania - A Movie Marathon

This is the stack of movies when we started
We started planning our Disneyland vacation months ago - I think I submitted my vacation request back in April, which means planning started before then. That's because it wasn't just the 4 of us going. My parents were planning on going as were several friends' families. By the end of our trip, there was a total of 19 of us in the park!

And while Cameron and I were probably more excited than the girls for this trip, we did what we could to get London excited. So at the end of July, I pulled all our Disney movies (we own a lot of them) and started a pile of movies for London to watch. When we started out, she had one movie for every Saturday and Sunday, and even Labor Day, to watch before we went on our trip. And we still had movies left over so we threw in some bonus movies. The initial stack I picked out either related to a Disney Princess or a ride at Disneyland or California Adventure. Here is that list: 

Frozen - Disney Princess (and what inspired the movie marathon, as we needed something new to watch!)

Mulan - Disney Princess

Toy Story 2*

The Muppets - Muppet Vision 3D, Hollywood Land in California Adventure

Snow White - Disney Princess & Snow White's Scary Adventures, Fantasyland, Disneyland

The Jungle Book - stretched this one for The Jungle Cruise in Adventureland in Disneyland

Sleeping Beauty - Disney Princess & Sleeping Beauty's Castle Walkthrough, Fantasyland, Disneyland

Alice in Wonderland - The tea cups and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ride, Fantasyland, Disneyland

Aladdin - Disney Princess; (on a side/sad note, we watched this the Sunday before learning of Robin Williams passing; Sydney even woke me up that morning entering our room while Cameron was trying to let me sleep in singing the tune of "Friend Like Me")

The Little Mermaid - Disney Princess & The Little Mermaid Ride in California Adventure

Peter Pan - Peter Pan's Flight, Fantasyland, Disneyland

Pocahontas* - Disney Princess - we didn't own it, it was on TV

Hercules* - was on TV & we'd never seen it

Toy Story 3 - Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters in Tomorrowland, Disneyland, as well as Toy Story Mania in Paradise Pier, California Adventure - this was London's choice in selecting one Toy Story movie to represent it all

Cars - Cars Land in California Adventure


The Aristocats* - a Netflix order since we'd never seen it

Winnie The Pooh - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Critter Country, Disneyland


Beauty & The Beast - Disney Princess

Tarzan - Tarzan's Treehouse in Adventureland, Disneyland

Dumbo - Dumbo The Flying Elephant, Fantasyland, Disneyland

Brave - Disney Princess

The Nightmare Before Christmas - Haunted Mansion Holiday, New Orleans Square, Disneyland

Monsters, Inc. - Mike & Sully to the Rescue, Hollywoodland, California Adventure

Oliver & Company*

Pinocchio - The Adventures of Pinocchio & Story Book Canal, Fantasyland, Disneyland

The Lady & The Tramp*

Toy Story* - replaced the selection of A Bug's Life as when I opened the case I realized the actual disc is misplaced; would have covered A Bug's Land in California Adventure

The  Sword & The Stone - King Arthur's Carousel, Fantasyland, Disneyland

Tangled - Disney Princess

Cinderella - Disney Princess

Finding Nemo - Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage, Disneyland Park, watched the morning we left!

* Indicates a bonus movie. Some of the bonus movies we didn't own and either DVR'd as it happened to be on TV in this time frame or rented via Netflix.

Oct 18, 2014

Hello There!

Sorry for the long silence. At first it was because I felt I didn't have much worth sharing. Then it was because we were on vacation - to Disneyland! We're back and I have plenty to share - more photos than you probably want. So stay tuned for DisneyMania. But before we get to that, I'll get you caught up on what we did just before we went to Disneyland. 

We planned to drive down on a Tuesday evening, and I decided to take the whoel Tuesday off, just to get everything ready and not feel rushed after working. Well, I ended up getting my work projects done the Friday before we left, so I took Monday off to. I haven't took a full week off work for vacation since London was 8 months old and Cameron and I went to Cancun! I have to admit there is something really nice about not working a full 9 days (I'm counting weekend days here). I came back replenished even as tiring as Disneyland, and driving can be. 

That Monday I spent packing for myself, the girls and the dogs (who would spend the time at a PetsMart hotel - they absolutely love it there), cleaning the house and sneaking in a quick mani and pedi. Hey, I was on vacation right, I needed to indulge myself just slightly on a day completely to myself. 

And because I had anticipated taking Tuesday off and spending it at home, I scheduled a tour of the school we are looking at transferring the girls into from our current district. Hard to believe kindergarten registration for London comes this February! The school is exactly what we are wanting for the girls. The Kindergarten class is a full day, not half. This will be good, not only for our work schedules but also for London as she is used to this currently with day care. The school is small, one class for each class, K through 8th. It also offers after school care until 6 PM. And after school activities like 4H. 

And since the school is so small, the kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten class are combined into one. This is good for Sydney as she will get the benefit of a true kindergarten class while she spends a year in transitional kindergarten since she's one of those Fall babies that won't technically qualify for kindergarten the year she turns 5. What's even better is they recognize kids learn at different paces, so if Sydney is ready for a ready level of 1st grade when she finally is in kindergarten, she's get to go to reading group with that class and not be bored stuff with the kindergartners.

The school has been around since the late 1890s yet is progressive in many ways. Plus, the facilities were quiet nice and new, as compared to where the girls would go if we don't request an interdistrict transfer. That tells me the money is being put to good use there. And the school has a very involved and affective Parent Council. Before we know it London will be going there. Best part is, the nearest bus stop for the school is a mile from our house on my way to work at the time I need to be headed to work. 

So there's an update for you. Stay tuned for DisneyMania!

Sep 19, 2014

Cake Decorating 101

Remember this post, about the Flag cake Cameron requested I make for the 4th of July? This cake?

Well that cake inspired me. 

It's no secret that I love baking - to the point that I insist, almost every year in baking the birthday cakes and cupcakes for the girls. There has only been one year where I have agreed to purchase something from a bakery, cupcakes for London's 2nd birthday. But, that was when I was pregnant with Sydney and exhausted, so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. 

I'm actually a bit snobby about baking when it gets down to it, too. I won't bake a cake from a box. They just don't come out dense and moist, even when you take them out just prior to them being fully cooked through. But one area I feel I need to improve is cake decorating. 

Don't get me wrong, I was proud of the 4th of July cake. London's 4th birthday cake? Not so much: 

Not my finest work. Screams homemade. But it tasted amazing. Which is why that one never saw the inside of the trash can.

So at the beginning of August I signed up for a cake decorating class through Jo Ann. Specifically, Course 1 of the Wilton cake decorating courses. I was so excited for it. And it almost didn't happen. The course was 2 Tuesday evenings for 3 hours. All other sessions of that class were offered during the day, so I couldn't do them. The Saturday before the first class was to start (the first Tuesday in September), I got a call saying that I was the only one signed up for the class and they have to have at least 2 people signed up for the class to take place! I quickly called around and got my girlfriends Lynde and Kim to sign up as well. 

We spent the first class going over piping basics and some easy piping techniques including the traditional cupcake swirl - but of course I forgot to take any pictures during that class. The only thing that would have made the class more fun would have been a bottle of wine for us girls to share.

The second class taught us the basics on cake leveling and the importance of a cake spinner. That and a handy dandy tool we were introduced to for cake leveling were quickly bought after class that night! 

And I did take a few pictures. I have a long way to go in developing my skills but as our teacher said, what really matters is practice. Which I should be doing given I have plenty of left over frosting sitting in my fridge. Better to practice than eat it, right? It's just a little weird to me still to just get out all the tools just to practice and not actually make anything.

Creating a "dam" to prevent our filling from spilling out

An Iced Cake

And the final result

Good thing Sydney's 2nd birthday is coming up, then I'll have a true reason to practice.Time to start thinking up the design. It probably will have something to do with trains. She is obsessed with trains these days. The second she hears one about to come by to our house she runs to me saying "mommy see mommy see" indicating she wants me to pick her up so she can look at the kitchen window - even though she can see it without my help from the back door! She's quite the character. My guess is her first ride at Disneyland is going to be the Disneyland Railroad!

And while I enjoyed the class, for now I am going to hold off on Course 2 - that one is four 2-hour classes. One, I don't have the time right now and two, I want to master course 1 as best I can first.