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.

Sep 10, 2014

The Fig Tree

For the most part, our land is a bit barren when it comes to trees, especially established trees. When we purchased, there were 6 trees - albeit 2 being trees that have fallen over and grown over themselves.Two other trees, redbuds, that we absolutely love, have to come out as they were planted on top of our septic tank! And the two others need to come out because they are too close to the house and eventually can be hazards to our roof - then again I don't like the variety those two are so I could care less. But it's the two fallen over trees that have grown over themselves that I love. One of those is a fig tree. 

For one, it's such a nice contrast in the summer with all its green versus all the brown around us. And it actually produces fruit. Ok, so I have only enjoyed one actual fig, mainly because I have not successfully gotten to the fruit when it is ripe before the birds have, but I will one of these days. We also have discovered that it fruits twice a year - once at the beginning of summer and once at the end. Now that I know when it fruits I can be more on top of it. I've even been pinning Fig recipes in anticipation. 

Cameron eventually wants to remove this tree. And I get his reasons, but it will be hard for me at the same time. It's hard for me to describe - some of it has to do with it being original to the property. But it's also so organic in the way  that it has grown, fallen and come back again. I'll have to show you some pictures of it when the leaves aren't on it so you can see the trunk and limbs. It also creates a really cool cave with a canopy of leaves on one side. We'll see how long I can hold on to it.