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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


So, we had a wonderful family trip to Disneyland this week. We really made great decisions that resorted in a great trip overall. We chose to stay at the Howard Johnson on Harbor. This was actually a PERFECT place to stay. It was priced like a hotel, but was very much like a resort. There was a great water play area for the kids, with a hot tub in the kids play area. I am very much a fan of being able to watch my kids while jacuzzing.

We spent the first day just playing at the hotel. We were able to check in early and we ordered lunch from the Mimi's next door. Later than evening, we spent some time at Downtown Disney and had dinner at Rainforest Cafe.  We made it back to the hotel in time to put the kids down to bed and watch the fireworks on our balcony while eating dessert. Perfect, perfect day.

We hit the parks early and made a very long day of it. We initially thought we would try to do the Cars land rides because we got there so early, but that was just madness. We were able to make it to the Tow Mater ride in the evening. Once I realized that it is a spinning ride, I quickly made the decision to just watch, so Marc took the kids on. It was probably Tiana's favorite ride of the whole day. Watching her on it was making me nervous at first (it really whips around!), but when I saw her face, it was just so cute. She was smiling this open mouth smile and giggling and squealing. So, so cute.

It is funny, when we arrived at the park in the morning, Vinny wanted to know how long we would stay, and I told him we would stay until bed time. He loved this idea... until around 4:00, when he asked if we could go back to the hotel and play in the water again. Marc and I jumped at the suggestion. In fact, we even decided to save some money on dinner and order a pizza to eat in the room. The way Tiana has been lately, any time we can avoid a sit down dinner with her, we do.

After dinner, we went back to the park and made an evening of shows. We saw World of Color, during which Tiana crashed. What a cool show. My one criticism was the whole, "This is a standing show" thing. I would rather they squish less people in and let people sit, more like Fantasmic. If I am going to get a fastpass for a show in the morning and get there an hour before, I think I should get to sit down. I mean it is kind of a long show. Little kids are particularly tired by 9:00 after a long day at Disneyland. After the show, we boldly made a mad dash back to Disneyland to attempt to see Fantasmic. Vinny saw it for the first time with Grandma earlier this year, and he wanted to see it again, so we did our best.  We actually ended up with great seats.

Of my favorite new experiences at Disneyland this year was Big Thunder Ranch. Its an all you can eat bbq with entertainment. It was very cute and a good place for small kids. Its a table service restaurant (they serve you food, not buffet style, which is good because buffets kind of gross me out), but it is outside and very relaxed, so they totally didn't care that Tiana just wanted to run around the table.

My favorite improvement was the cell phone charging lockers. Yea!  In this new world of smart phones that do so much for being at the park (being able to take photos and share them, use MouseWait app, do business in line, etc.), it stinks that using them often means a dead phone by the end of the day; however, we were totally happy to give them up for 45 minutes to be able to have full batteries to take photos for the rest of the day. Totally worth $2.

We decided to do Goofy's Kitchen this morning as one last bit of fun before heading back to the real world. This was not a good decision. First of all, it used to be cheaper for breakfast than dinner. That is not longer the case. It is not just as expensive, which is silly, because breakfast is just not as big of a meal. We barely ate anything. $100 for the three of us. Also, Tiana is still a little young for this; she loved the characters, but she did not understand that they were not all there just for her and that she had to stay seated. Plus, the last time we went 3 years ago, they stopped every 20-30 minutes or so and did a "Dance Party" with Goofy in the buffet area. That was Vinny's favorite part back then, and that didn't happen this time, even though we were there for like an hour. I guess it is a dinner thing?  If so, they should definitely charge less for breakfast.

This morning was also just a bad morning. Vinny was completely melting down this morning over stupid things involving packing his suitcase back up, which is ridiculous, because it could not have been a more orderly affair. Very simple things can get very complicated with an OCD kid.  These anxiety attacks are giving ME anxiety. They are turning me into a crazy person. He just grates on my nerves lately. Plus, Tiana was REALLY cranky. She was up all night teething, and when I changed her in the morning, I realized she had a bad diaper rash too (which, by lunch, resulted in me heading to the doctor, which actually resulted in antibiotics. Poor thing).  This is probably partially my fault for lazily deciding to use disposables at Disneyland. I rarely, rarely, rarely use disposables on her. While cloth can be slightly inconvenient, it is usually not too bad. I store dirties in a plastic bag and bring them home. Not that big a deal. I even toted a giant bag of dirty diapers home from Arizona. But, when I thought about dragging dirty diapers home from Disneyland, and about how much room a day's worth of dirty diapers would take up in a backpack or in the stroller, I went ahead and bought some organic disposables. These usually are fine for her, but not this week I guess. It got bad. She's in so much pain and was so cranky today.

Overall, it was a very successful trip. The HoJo was fantastic. I want to plan a trip there every year. They even have a suite with bunk beds for the kids and a separate king size bedroom. I would like to book this on our next trip.   :-)

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