finding our laughing place

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Not that you had any doubt, but we obviously had a great trip. Disneyland never fails to make me wish lived there. I do know how ridiculous that sounds by the way. It’s just…well, we just have so much fun when we are there. We all act like kids. And while I do realize that two of us still ARE kids, well…the four of us acting like big kids is so much fun.

I mean…YMCA on Splash Mountain? But of course:

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I have several things that I want to share with you. Like how much fun we had on the Halloween Haunts Tour. (And spent some time with other awesome bloggers along the way.)

 

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These are some pretty rad people

Or the new light up Mickey Ears that are programed to change and light up with the fireworks and shows. They even turn OFF during specific events. It’s like technology and magic had a baby and that baby is light up Mickey Ears. THEY ARE COOL.

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This is my kid and her ears watching the AWESOME fireworks

The Halloween decorations? AWESOME. AMAZING. SUPER RAD. I may or may not want to decorate every inch of my house for Halloween now. (My husband thanks you, Disneyland.) I also didn’t expect to love Halloween at Disneyland as much as I love Christmas at Disneyland. (Foolish girl that I am.) Spoiler Alert: OMG I LOVE HALLOWEEN AT DISNEYLAND.

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I want one outside my house now

But one of my favorite things was watching my kids. Ramona is my little dare-devil all of a sudden. She now rides all the rides. And somehow it was up to me to ride Tower of Terror over and over with her. Turns out it DOES get easier and I don’t need quite as much recover time after the falling is all over after the 5th time on it. (She also shares my love for California Screamin. So there’s THAT.)

Tower of Terror. Again. (See? I look less frightened.)
Tower of Terror. Again. (See? I look less frightened.)

Even Beezus, who will NEVER ride Tower of Terror…and still has nightmares about the time I kinda forced her onto CA Screamin’ had an absolute blast. She loves the other roller coasters that DON’T go upside down or start like you’re being shot out of a cannon. (My favorite part.) None of that really matters, though, as I see this JOY on her face. This sixteen year old, junior in high school who is GIDDY about Cars Land and finally getting to ride Radiator Springs Racers. (We weren’t able to ride it the last time we were there.) I was expecting to cross off one thing off the College Bucket List after this weekend, but ended up crossing off TWO. And maybe it sounds weird to be so excited about this, but my kid let loose and danced her way down Route 66 this weekend. MULTIPLE TIMES. After trying for years to get her to let go and just dance, all we needed was some oldies music, some rad fluorescent lightening and a little Disneyland magic. (Yeah…I said magic. Again.)

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I giggled and laughed and let-loose right along with her. We all did.

So yeah…so much more Disneyland updates coming your way. But first? First I’m going to be excited about crossing two things off our College Bucket List.

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And thanking Disneyland for making it all happen.

 

 

 

My family and I were given tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party and Disney park. All opinions are my own.

 

we can’t help ourselves

For the past week or so, I’ve secretly announced to Beezus (or The Dude) how many sleeps we have until Disneyland.

Four more sleeps!

Two more sleeps!

For some reason, Beezus thinks that I sound British when I’m saying this. I find this hilarious and, without fail, launch into the best British accent I can muster for the remainder of the conversation.

Yeah…I completely deserve all the eye rolling.

One more sleep, though. One. More. Sleep.

photo credit: disney
photo credit: disney

grim, grinning ghosts come out to socialize

photo: mine
photo: mine

My family is so good at going to Disneyland. Not because we’re geniuses or anything, we have just learned over the years what works for us and how we’ve even learned how to have an amazing time without breaking the bank. You would think we would’ve grown out of it by now, but my kids are 16 and 11 and still want to go to Disneyland on all our vacations. All of them.

Sorry, Hawaii or Mexico. You’re just not good enough.

There is something about Disneyland that zaps the four of us into the best versions of ourselves-all at the same time. Even when we travel with friends or meet up with some of our favorite people. We have our Disney plans down to a science, so we know how to ride our favorite rides and see our favorite things pretty efficiently. We find that we have tons of patience for crowds and waiting. (Miracles!) And, somehow, we all just go with the flow and let the fun and excitement dictate how we spend our day.

Truth be told, we love going to Disneyland any time of the year. Summer? A blast. Thanksgiving and Christmas? Ridiculously magical. (Yes, I just said magical. I’m sorry. But you have to know the truth IT SNOWS ON MAIN STREET.)

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photo credit: disney

For years we’ve talked about going to Disneyland during the Halloween season. We’ve had many conversations about wishing we could go when the park is “dressed up” for spooking. But this is where I admit that I had no idea how amazingly cool Disneyland is for Halloween. And it’s even cooler this year.

  • The Halloween season made its appearance just this past Friday (Friday the 13th, man.) and stays until Halloween. New this year: special Halloween décor at the Mad Tea Party in California Adventure.
  • Mickey’s Halloween Party: 13 nights of magical Halloween partying with Mickey. A separate ticket after-hours event for you and your family to celebrate Halloween and trick or treat with your favorite Disney characters. Your event ticket gets you in to the park up to three hours before the event, so you and your family can enjoy the park before celebrating with Mickey. Tickets sell out fast, so get your tickets early. For more information on the specific 13 dates, click on over here.
  • Monsters U Dance Party: new this year, a dance party with your favorite Monsters University students. It has been described as a “family friendly frat party” but if Mike and Sully show up in togas, I’m just not sure what to think.
  • Rides and attractions also “dress up for Halloween. The Haunted Mansion is a mix of Halloween and Christmas a la Nightmare Before Christmas. Space Mountain transforms into Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. (AWESOME.)
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photo credit: disney

What half of my kids don’t know yet, and why I’ve waited a little bit to say anything, is that the four of us are heading the Happiest (Spookiest) Place on Earth next weekend to check out Mickey’s Halloween Party. Like, next Friday kind of next week. I’m so giddy I can’t stand it. I’m also probably super annoying and I’M SORRY. This was just one of those things that has been on our radar for so long, I just can’t help how excited I am. And part of that is because I’m so excited to surprise that Ramona kid of mine. She’s been working so hard, I can’t wait to see (and probably video) her reaction when she realizes where we’re going. I’m a little bit bummed that we couldn’t surprise Beezus, but sometimes juniors in high school can’t be surprised by trips somewhere if they’re missing a day of school. (LAME, I know.)

I’m probably a little more excited than I should be to see some of the Disney villains take the stage. It’s not very often they get to be the center of attention, and I’m super excited to see them out and about a lot more. Hopefully my kids feel the same way because I kinda want to get a picture with as many as I possibly can. No seriously. I mean COME ON…Maleficent OUT IN THE WILD PARK.

I might not be able to sleep this week.

 

My family and I have been given tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party and Disney park. All opinions are my own.

our summer

I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. The busy season at work. The all things moving and unpacking and settling in to the new house. We have a little break in most sports-related things.

But unfortunately, this also brings the ending of summer and lazy evenings and no homework. It’s time for us to go back to school shopping and figuring out new schedules and routines, especially in the new area. We have a new school to figure out…nerves are out in full force. We need to reevaluate our routes to work and to the school that didn’t change. There is drop-off and pick-up to worry about and fret about.

I mean…and then there’s just the regular life that keeps going on and on.

This isn’t new. This happens every year. I get very overwhelmed and anxious as we head into fall and a new school year. I feel regret for all the time I’m not able to spend with my kids because of the busy time at work. I worry about the upcoming school year…getting used to new teachers, expectations and schedules. Plus, there’s just so much to DO. It’s pretty much impossible to get everything done. But before I get lost in a sea of “what-ifs” and wishing some things could’ve been different, I want to remind myself of all the things that meant so much to me. I want to document the summer memories and traditions we started and loved, even when everything else was catawampus.

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The Move

Moving is hard. It’s hard to move away from a neighborhood and people you love and adore. It’s only 20 miles away, but it seems so far sometimes. And packing, and unpacking. And I haven’t even wrote about all that needed to be done to the house before we could move in. All the work we still have to do to clean up all the different messes the previous owner had made. But you guys? I love our new home. It is everything that I never thought I would ever have. My kids love it. The Dude and I love it. Paisley even loves it. (I can tell. I think.) I have this great space for the people that I love. We’ve already hosted several family events and get-togethers. I can’t help it…I absolutely love it. Which is good. Because that first mortgage payment is probably coming out of my account as I type this.

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Get-Togethers

One of the best parts of this summer is how much time we’ve spent with family. My sister was in town during the week we moved in to the new house. We had family visit from Mexico. It feels like we haven’t stopped with events and what-not, but it’s been amazing. Exhausting, but amazing.

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New Blogging Adventures

After all these years of quietly blogging and writing, I had never ventured to any sort of blogging conference. But this year, I actually went to two. I need to sit down and actually write about them, but for now I’ll just tell you that I’m so glad that I went to each of these conferences. Both events fell at the worst times to be heading to the Bay Area, but it all worked out.
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I also had the chance to work with and meet up with the lovely people from SodaPop PR and Tillamook and also attend the Sunset Magazine Celebration weekend. I had a blast meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people. These people are so wonderful.

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Sports

Both of my kids had great softball seasons this year. Ramona had a wonderful regular season and then had a great run on the All-Star team. She did so great!! Beezus has done great with her high school team, and had a dang good season with her travel team. It was a lot of fun to watch both girls push themselves and to improve and grow. We honestly had a blast. And having wonderful parents on both teams was a HUGE bonus.
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Trip to UCLA

Back in June, we made a whirlwind of a trip to cheer on our dear, close family friend as she graduated (with honors, I might add) from UCLA. We had such a great time celebrating her accomplishments. So proud of her! I’ve been celebrating her accomplishments since she graduated preschool, and I have loved being there for all these big milestones! And, I’ll be honest, I was surprised at how beautiful the UCLA campus is. It’s STUNNING. So glad we were able to tour the campus and see the sights.

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Giants Game

Yes I realize they’re dead last right now and they kinda suck. But damn, we had good seats and had an absolute blast.

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Campfire Wednesdays

Here’s the thing: Campfire Wednesday saved my summer. From my parents’ backyard, I felt like we experienced summer even when the deadlines were looming, the move was happening, and the stress was ridiculous.

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I love my family. I love hanging out with my family. And creating this summer tradition was everything I needed to feel like we actually did have some fun this summer. I hope to enjoy a few more before we have to put away the marshmallow roaster sticks. Because I love everything about it and I’m not ready for it to end.

I’m having a hard time knowing that this time next week, Ramona will officially be back in school and that our summer will be on notice. Beezus heads back to school the week after that, so I feel like we have so much to accomplish in the next few days. And by accomplish, I mean have all the fun possible. Be lazy. Swim more. Eat more s’mores and ice cream. We really have so much to do!

And I kinda can’t wait.

Telling the Stories

I started my first blog in 2004. Sarah thought it would be good for me. Maybe she recognized that I had a lot to say but never the guts to actually say it. I think she also knew that I needed a space of my own where my words could be all mine. I needed a space where I could speak my mind and purge all the thoughts that were stuck in my head and stuck in my heart.

For the first time in my life, I realized that I enjoyed telling my story. And, more importantly, that I needed to tell my story. But to be honest, telling my story back then involved A LOT of sarcasm and I lot of sour grapes. It was my story, but it was a very unkind version of my story. I blogged anonymously, so I let loose. I tried to find the humor in most of the hard times I was going through, but it was done with so much snark, I’m really glad that I have since taken those blogs down. They were, at times, the very worst of the person I am. It was irresponsible and often mean, but it was the only way I survived some really difficult parts of my life.

While I have lightly dabbled in the blogging world for a little over a decade, I never hreally made much of it. Blogging was my Free Therapy (I once had a blog with that name) and the place that was only mine. And, as a few more people started reading it and commenting, it was also a form of validation for what I was feeling. Maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t as crazy as these people were making me out to be! (Or, I’m just as crazy, whatever.) I enjoyed the writing process, telling my story and the people I met along the way. But I never really took responsibility for my words. In fact, when it became apparent that too many “real life” people were reading my blog, I took it down. More than once. It was a bit too honest, and I wasn’t careful when writing about real people. And even if their actions had earned those words, they (maybe) deserved the respect of not being blasted on the internet. I also knew that if I was confronted about saying those things, I would probably die of shame right on the spot. As much as setting those words free probably saved me, I wasn’t proud of that person. It wasn’t the person I believed myself to be.

Having said that, I learned more about myself through blogging (and running, really) than I ever thought possible. It gave a voice to feelings I didn’t know that I had. It also gave me the confidence to stand up for and take care of myself. In fact, I no longer needed those mean words that I had written before because I had stopped letting those people walk all over me. And when you find the self-respect that you had been lacking, you will also find that you have a lot more respect for the words that you use to write.

You also have a lot more respect for the story you need to tell.

At the beginning of this year, and with the encouragement from a dear friend, I began taking steps to tell my story and owning my words. I’ve created something here that I’m proud of. This is still my very own space of internet real estate, but I have taken ownership and responsibility for the words that I put here. I can be authentic without being mean. I can tell my version of MY story, not someone else’s. I can be honest without affecting my integrity and the integrity of the story. Not that I will always write the sunshine and rainbows version of my life, I’m just more aware of my words and how I use them.

Sometimes writing takes a person down a road or an idea that wasn’t planned. I absolutely did not set out to write about my blogging history lesson. I wanted to talk about a conference I attended earlier this week and I wanted to share some of that and some of the things I learned. But since I somehow landed here instead, I hope that you might take a look at what Cam wrote. There were some great speakers that morning, but for some reason, I keep coming back to the stories that we all have to tell.

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Let’s be honest, Disney is amazing at telling stories. It’s what they do best and it is what started it all. And, I believe, is what keeps so many of us coming back for more. At the Disney Social Media Moms “On the Road” event, Michele Himmelberg brought up the importance of these stories and related it to the bloggers (mostly the mom-kind) that connect so well to the storytelling world because that is a big part of who they/we are.

I found myself being fascinated by the stories that we all have to tell. Disney obviously tells their stories on a MUCH grander scale, but there is still a relatable and real idea behind even the most spectacular of all the stories. But more important than that, I find that this space I have here is allowing me an opportunity to not only share my story and own my words, but also connect with the stories of others. It feels weird to try and relate this blogging journey of mine to Disney and the conference, but it is the reason I even thought about it at all. It made me think about how I tell my stories and how it shapes who I am.

I have no idea why I am compelled to share my words on a blog, but I can’t seem to make myself stop. There is a pull to tell my story. And maybe, at the end of the day, that’s the point.