This past November I finally realized my long anticipated dream of taking my kids Disneyland! (It started when I was miserably sick in my pregnancy with Austin. I got through the vomiting and pain by visualizing my future little boy at Disneyland.)

November 1st, the day after Halloween, my whole family got on a plane and flew to sunny California. This included my parents, Heather, Debbie and her family too. My wonderful parents gave us this trip as a gift so we could all go play.

We were there for 5 fantastic days. Already I can't wait to go back! Anthony laughs a little when I say that because my memories of the trip are already rose-colored. I have hopes of putting together a scrapbook dedicated to all our future Disneyland trips. If I ever do, I may share online. For now though (and because I'm so behind on blogging) I will keep it super short.

Here is a collage I printed and framed for everyone for Christmas. Just a smidgen of the good times:

  1. Outside the new Monsters Inc. ride. One of the little kids' favorite rides - including Austin. Austin was pretty freaked out by all of the "dark" rides (the black-light lit rides). We took him on Pinocchio and that sealed the deal - no Snow White, no Peter Pan, no Mr. Toad, no Alice and definitely no Haunted Mansion. I was totally fine with this because I wanted his memories to be happy, not painful. We did coerce him onto Pirates because I had to see the Jack Sparrow updates. Austin spent the entire ride with his head in my lap. Just for the record, the Pirates changes were nicely done and a fun way to pull in more of the movie.
  2. Grandpa and Makayla strolling through Critter Country eating churros. Mmmmm.... churros.
  3. Me and Austin in front of the Brother Bear playground area. Austin and Ruthie had a blast here. I never understood why Disneyland put this boring old playground in their park. Now I get it. Disneyland caters to all ages - playgrounds for kids, farmer's markets and wine galleries for the "elderly". Those Disney guys are pretty darn smart.
  4. Anthony and Austin with their "A", all decorated with a Christmas Goofy. Ruthie and I got a similar picture by the "R". I thought this would be a fun picture to take every year and compare. Turns out, though, that California Adventure is about to get a major overhaul and the letters are going away.
  5. The gang with Minnie. We had a great time playing in Toon Town - a section of Disneyland I'd mostly ignored until this year.
  6. The most awesome parents on the planet! Tigger is my mom's favorite character to collect. She has about 50 Tigger memorabilia.
  7. When we arrived, the park still had it's Halloween face on. This Goofy pumpkin sat atop the entrance gate. By the time we left, most of the Christmas fun had arrived.
  8. On the bus. The kids came to think of the shuttle as being as much a part of Disneyland as any of the other rides. Whenever Austin and I "play Disneyland" at home, it always begins with the bus ride.
  9. Me and Ruthie on the carousal. This girl was amazing. She was so easy. I thought a 1-year-old would be kind of tough, but she completely enjoyed herself. She gave up her afternoon naps for a week (despite a few of my half-hearted stroller nap attempts) and was basically happy and easy going the whole trip.
  10. Kalyana and Makayla with Snow White. Character greeting is another piece of Disneyland I've always ignored. But these kids got into it (as we knew they would). Grandma gifted them with autograph books and they filled them up!
  11. The gang with Pluto. Seeing Pluto at Disneyland holds a special sentiment for me and my sisters. Back in the day (when I was 5ish) my Dad worked for Disneyland. During a park worker's strike, the business guys (my accountant Dad) were called in to run the park. My Dad spent one day operating Small World and another day playing Pluto. We didn't actually see him do that, but as kids that story felt magical.
  12. The entire group in the Tiki Room. A little Disneyland wisdom my Dad passed on to us early in our park-going youth - escape the hot afternoon with some pineapple ice cream and a nice air conditioned animatronics show.
  13. Grandpa and Tyce aboard the Astro Blasters. I still think these rockets were funner when they were on top of the people mover platform. You could see the whole park then! And for the record, I miss the Skyway too.
  14. Heather and Austin on Autopia. What kid doesn't love driving a car? The crazy thing is that even though the park was nearly empty when we went (an average 5 minute line) Autopia had a 40 minute wait the whole time! And for some reason the Fast Pass wasn't working for this ride. We still rode it twice though - and reminded ourselves that Disneyland is way more fun in the no-line off-season.
  15. Tarl and Tyce on Mr. Toad's. It was so great to be on this trip with the whole family. We spent part of the time all together and part of the time in our own families doing our own thing. It worked well. And I love that all the kids have this very memorable experience to reflect on and share (and they do talk about it often).
  16. Perhaps the favorite character meeting - Woody! All the kids are crazy about Toy Story. Kalyana may vote for the princesses, but I'm sure the rest would pick this guy. Sadly, Buzz doesn't do appearances anymore (I'm picturing parental mob scenes perhaps).
  17. Debbie, Makayla and Tyce on Dumbo. The very first ride on the very first day (not counting the bus)!
  18. Grandma and Austin on Tuck and Roll's Bumper cars. Bug's Land was completely empty on Tuesday. Seriously, it was us and two other families. We walked right on to the rides and then stayed on them three or four times before getting off. If you'll notice, my Mom is chatting on her cell phone here. This was a reoccurring theme in many pictures. Mom did a great job of keeping the group together.
  19. The Lambsons with Mickey. We all got pictures with him at his house in Toon Town and again at CA Adventure. No trip is complete without the big guy. (Oops, two #19s. The second is of Sleeping Beauty's castle - the defining icon of the park).
  20. Me and Kalyana on Splash Mountain. This girl, now just above the height limit, discovered roller coasters big time! She was tall enough for all except California Screamin'. I believe she picked Splash as her favorite coaster - despite the cool weather and all. A girl after my own heart.
  21. Mom and Heather with Mr. Big Cheese. Heather knows the parks better than any of us and has probably gone an average of once a year her entire life. She spent the $40 to upgrade her pass to a season pass and is planning to go back with some friends before the one-year mark. $40 extra dollars for another 5 days? Pretty smart.
  22. The family at the Princess lunch. We debated about spending the money ($30 per head) for this character meal, but in the end (and thanks to mom and dad taking the tab) we all felt like it was one of our favorite events. It was so nice to sit, relax, eat great food and recharge our batteries in the middle of the day. The kids had a blast meeting 5 princesses - including the boys (and we saved ourselves 45 minutes of standing in line to meet them).
  23. Anthony, Austin and Grandma on Toy Story Mania. A new family favorite! As Mr. Potato Head says, "It's a ride that's a game. It's a game that's a ride." Tarl ending up pulling in the family high score (of course), but I had a pretty close second. We rode this one twice, but like Autopia, the line was consistently 30 minutes long with no Fast Pass, otherwise we would've ridden it a ton more.
  24. Ruthie looking out the porthole on the Finding Nemo submarines. It was so much fun to watch this little girl enjoy the park. In my visualizations of Disneyland I always pictured Ruthie as being like a 6-month-old blob. I'm glad we didn't go until she was 1. She had so much fun on this trip and delighted and surprised us all with her squeals and laughs and animated faces. This ride was a huge crackup. Every time she saw the bubbles rush past the window she'd point and pant like she'd just won the lottery.
  25. The Johnsons outside the teacups. Notice Ruthie's apple? Grandpa gave that to her. It was literally as big as her head. She loved it.
Oh the joys! Ok, now to recall one or two small drawbacks:
  1. We made Austin wear a leash around his wrist. He hated it. He was the only one forced to wear it and I think he was aware of the unfairness of it. But that boy has always been a boundary pusher. When you say, "Stop!" it's often an invitation to take one more step...and then another. I'm glad we insisted, because momentarily loosing him would've ruined the trip completely (I've lost him before and it is devastating). However, one morning in particular, us Johnsons spent an hour outside the entrance while Austin threw the biggest and longest tantrum of his life, smacking his head on the concrete and giving himself the biggest goose-egg I've ever seen. At long last he gave up and then we had a great time for the rest of the day!
  2. Lack of sleep slowly crept up on us. Us parents went to bed at the same time as the kids because we were that exhausted. Plus, with everyone sleeping in one room, the rest isn't quite as restful.
And finally, three stories I wish I had pictures of:
  1. Austin discovered a love for swimming on this trip. The hotel pool (we only went once) had a 20-foot diameter area that was only 3-feet deep. Austin loved the freedom of being able to run around in the water on his own.
  2. One morning Austin and I got an early start in the park (Anthony and Ruthie took it easy at the hotel for an extra two hours). We did our own thing, including the Playhouse Disney Live On Stage show. Spending that one-on-one time with my boy was so much fun. He finally had the freedom to take the park in at his own speed - walking slowly, looking at decorations, going on Monster's three times in a row, etc. It was wonderful bonding time.
  3. Ruthie slept in the bathtub. She's the lightest sleeper in our family and we didn't want every shuffle of the sheets to instigate a crying attack. Our extra small playpen fit perfectly in the center of the bathtub. So that little girl got to sleep in her own room.
Did I mention I can't wait to go back?!


First Talk

Austin gave his first talk in church last week - the First Article of Faith. After one Family Home Evening lesson he had it memorized! He gets quite an astonished reaction from anyone he shares with, so he loves to share. In church, when it was his turn, he got up and recited this without any help. We were proud parents.



When we last left our heroes, they were anticipating a sugar-filled Halloween and a trip to Disneyland. Let's see how it all went down.

Halloween night we took the wee ones, plus the L kids to trick-or-treat in my neighborhood. We had a couple fairies, Buzz, Baby Ruth, and me - Jessie, the yodeling cowgirl. Ruthie only went with us to a couple of houses so I could show her off, then my mom took her home. The L girls were all business, running from house to house trying to max out their candy horde. Austin was the opposite, he walked slowly enjoying all the decorations and saying hi to all the neighbors we passed. I ended up carrying him piggy-back from house to house so we could keep up with the girls. Austin did eat plenty of candy that night - licorice, nerds, and lots of suckers. Anthony I got all the good chocolate stuff.

Unfortunately, having our first real neighborhood Halloween, I overestimated the number of trick-or-treaters we'd get. Recognizing the upcoming holidays, Anthony insisted that I not keep that much candy around for us to fatten up with. Crazy, I know, but I'm pretty sure my cub scout parents would not have appreciated me unloading 5 pounds of sugar on their kids.

After a fun Halloween, we got up the next morning and flew to... Disneyland! Finally! That was an awesome trip - and for the next blog post.