Turn the Beat (Year) Around

I’ve had writer’s block for almost two weeks. I can’t decide if it’s because I don’t know what to say, or I don’t know how to say what I want. I have things that I want to talk about…to write about…to hash out and try and make sense of things that don’t always make sense. I want to start conversations and get the ball rolling. I want to be creative and wake up that side of my brain that seems to be sleeping away the rest of 2013.

We had a wonderful Christmas. We enjoyed spending time with family. We surprised the hell out of my mother in-law on Christmas Eve with visiting family from Mexico. I still get verklepmt when I think about how excited she was (and still is.) My sister came to town a few days ago, so we’ve been spending time with her and her family, too. We’ve gone to a hockey game, we’ve gone to Apple Hill…we’ve tried new things around town that we’ve never tried before. I’ve spent time with friends. I’ve enjoyed my family.

So maybe it’s not that I have true writer’s block. Maybe my energy has just been spent on being present and enjoying my loved ones.

Maybe sometimes you just need to realize that you’re where you need to be.

I’ve taken some time to think back on 2013. To say it’s been a big and busy year is a tremendous understatement.

I started Life of Jill.
I chopped off all my hair. Because of course.
Sarah and I ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon.
Ramona turned 11.
I was a cast member of Listen to Your Mother – Sacramento.
Beezus went to prom.
I went to a couple of amazing conferences.
Campfire Wednesday was the best thing to happen to summer.
We bought a house.
A Giants game where they lost, but we had a blast.
We met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences along the way.
Beezus turned 16.
Ramona started middle school.
My brother got married.
Paisley turned 1.
Cap City Moms became a (softly launched) reality.
Celebrated 16 years of marriage.
College Visits? Ooph.
I enjoyed the hell out of my family and friends.

 

2013 - 1

2013 - 22013 - 3

That’s not even all of it. Not even a little bit!

Yeah, there were stressful and hard times and sad times mixed in. But when I think about 2013, there were some pretty badass things that I’ll be celebrating tonight.

And maybe that’s where I get stuck.

I focus so much on the past. I am celebrating a fantastic year coming to an end. I think about all the good that happened. I am thinking about all the fun that was had and all the love that was shared. But for some reason, I get stuck on how great things were, and I have difficulty looking ahead. I prepare myself for disappointment in 2014 because 2013 was so rad? That’s a pretty piss-poor way to do things if you ask me.

AND YET.

I basically have about 15 hours to celebrate and enjoy the end of a very awesome 2013 and snap myself into realizing that 2014 could be even more. More fun. More family time. More awesome. IT COULD HAPPEN.

Instead of sitting here worrying about what could go wrong. I should focus on all that is so totally right.

Life is what happens when you’re too busy making plans, right? Well, sometimes you can’t even make plans because you’re stuck looking back at the past and trying to walk into the new year backwards.

So yes…I have 15 hours to celebrate an awesome year. But I also have 15 hours to turn myself around and start walking face forward and get ready for what an amazing year 2014 will be.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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

Fall-ing

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such a pretty Fall cupcake

I made a Fall To Do list today. Which immediately inspired me to have Thanksgiving conversations with some of my family. I’m really sorry to have to admit that to you. I mean…I know that it’s only September…and I didn’t mean for it to happen, but I didn’t stop it either. I should be ashamed of myself.

But here’s the thing…there are a lot of us on my side of the family. Planning and scheduling holidays and events can get really difficult. Some of my siblings do one year at the in-laws, the next year with our side of the family. (One of my siblings lives too far away. Boo.) I don’t necessarily do that anymore. I used to try and cram SO. MUCH. THANKSGIVING. into one day, that it ended up being pretty gosh darn stressful. My family has taken to planning a separate Thanksgiving so that we can still all get together. Somehow, though, the on/off schedule has gotten a little out of sync. So somehow, my sister in law and I just declared Thanksgiving 2015 the year we all are together on the actual Day of Thanks. That gives everyone plenty of time to get squared away with their respective families.

What I realized after we had made such Thanksgiving declarations, is that I will have a college student coming home for the holidays that year. My head kinda exploded with that realization.

I will have you know that I only JOKED about sobbing hysterically. I didn’t actually do it. (PROGRESS.) (This won’t last.)

The fun thing about this year’s holiday celebrations is that we are (officially) welcoming in a new family member. My youngest brother (the youngest of all the siblings) gets married next month. I can’t even remember if I have mentioned that here, and I’m too lazy to go back and check, so yeah…my brother is getting married mid-October. I’m pretty much over-the-moon over my newest sister in-law. Both of my brothers have somehow convinced some pretty amazing ladies to marry them. I’m not sure how they did it, but I’m sure they have me and my sisters to thank for it. Just a hunch.

Once we get back from Disneyland, it will be less than three weeks until the wedding. Crazy. I should probably find something to wear that isn’t work clothes or yoga pants.

But now that the thought of shopping for a dress has sufficiently stressed me out, I’m going to go back to thinking about Disneyland. However, if I show up to the wedding in jeans and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, I may not have to worry about Thanksgiving plans since I will probably be uninvited.

I should re-think this plan. Probably.

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.

all it takes is faith and trust…oh, and something I forgot: dust

I haven’t been running much lately. Or at all, really. But it makes me feel better if I can say it the other way. I mean, I do realize life has been insane. We’re always on the go. I don’t even get enough sleep usually. So finding time to run hasn’t made the agenda for a while.

We don’t need to talk about how my waistline notices the lack of running. No need to state the obvious! But it’s the mental and, dare I say, spiritual side of running that I miss most of all.

Also: Races.

I miss the races.

I’ve seen several people talking about this past weekend’s Disneyland Half Marathon. And I’m surprised by how much it made me wish I was, well…regularly running, but also that I was running through Disneyland like so many people I know. You guys…it really is so much fun. Like, more fun than I ever expected.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved all things Disney. I just never though that Disney races would be so rad.

When Sarah asked told me that I would be running the Tinkerbell Half with her for her first half marathon, I was excited. (She feels bad because she didn’t give me much choice. I said: BRING IT.)

FOR THE RECORD: While I had been thinking of chopping off all of my hair for several months, I may or may not have taken the plunge just before our trip because DUH. Pixie haircut for the Tinkerbell Half.

 

see? adorable
see? adorable

Adorable.

Disney races start early. Don’t let anyone tell you different, because they’re lying. They gotta get all those runners through the park and still be able to open on time. But the best part of starting a race so early, in January, in Socal and at Disneyland?

FIREWORKS AT THE STARTING LINE.

Because of course.

Also, SoCal January is different than most other places in January, so the weather is nice. A little chilly at 4-something in the morning, but not bad at all.

tink (peter n wendy)

The beginning of the half marathon is through Downtown Disney and you make your way back to run through California Adventure and Disneyland. There are photo ops with several Disney characters all along the route while inside the park. Some stops had hefty lines, so you have to care more about getting the picture with than about how long it will take you to finish the race. Since this race is all about Tink, we wanted to stop to take pictures with Wendy & Peter and then again with the Lost Boys. Obviously. We decided against stopping for pictures with the princesses and other awesome characters because WOW the lines. The longest line we saw? Pictures with Storm Troopers. Plastic soldier men are the BUSINESS. Apparently.

the lost boys? HILARIOUS.
the lost boys? HILARIOUS.

Running through the park is a blast, though. Everything is lit up and just as awesome as you might think. And, because it’s Disneyland, there are people everywhere to help. Like, point you to the nearest bathroom. Or show your where the nearest garbage can is for your empty GU pouches…or they might throw it away for you. (That maybe happened.) (Disney isn’t ridiculously clean by accident.) You also run through some of the “back lots” where you see where they keep the floats and the stables where they keep the horses. It’s no Main Street “magic” but it is really interesting. Now, yes…running around Anaheim is a tiny bit boring, but many races have spots like that. The start and finish lines really make up for it.

I’ll be honest, I was a little lost in my excitement for Sarah at the end of her first half, so I feel like I missed some of what the Finish line had to offer. I still remember my first half and how I felt at the end of it. And I think I got lost in all that. But who doesn’t love an awesome Tinkerbell finishers medal? And a goody bag filled with post-race snacks? But mostly, who doesn’t love that end-of-race glow? (Just kidding, it’s all sweat and grossness. I’m not one of those people who finish a race looking all fresh and looking great. Nope. Although, this is the ONE race that I put on some serious make-up for.)

FINISHED!
FINISHED!

Here’s the thing…I just saw that next year’s Tinkerbell Half is about 85% full and it’s REALLY hard to not to sign us up again. It’s one of those things that is ON MY LIST to do with my girls before a certain one of them leaves for college. (Hysterical weeping.) And there are many of us have talked about doing this, too. So this is what I’m thinking: Tinkerbell Half Marathon 2015. Registration will open NEXT summer (July, I believe) and I think we should all do it. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Put it on your calendars.

You don’t even have to start training for it until the end of next year.

Best. Idea. Ever.

Happening.

 

 

(Um…thank you for the pictures, Sarah!)