Previously, I'd thought I'd just add this into my "Week in the Life" series, but the more I thought about it, the more significant it became. Thus I decided to dedicate a post to the spontaneous adventure with my girls this week.
Several weeks ago I was talking with my mom about their 30th anniversary trip to California. She had mentioned that she wanted to go to Disneyland so I very generously offered (ha) that if they would treat us to a day of Disneyland I would come down with the girls and meet them there. I was only half kidding so when my mom entertained the idea as a possibly good one I got very excited. We started planning.
My best friend Rosalie lives in Hesperia California (near Victorville) about an hour and a bit away from Disneyland. The plan was to stay with her for two nights, and joining my parents in Disneyland.
The day arrived, (unfortunately I was to leave on Adam's birthday...sorry babe, thanks for taking one for the team) and I'll admit I was very nervous. I usually don't drive long distance. I drove to Utah by myself when we didn't have children and I drove to Hesperia once when I just had a 9 month old Hannah but this was going to be a whole new adventure. The timing was nearly perfect, I left around the time for afternoon nap and both Hannah and Paige were asleep before the I-15. I recently sold my ipod and I'm getting ready to buy one of the new ones so I was without music. I didn't feel like talking on the phone (had to concentrate) so I drove in peace and quiet. The girls slept all the way to Barstow (which was awesome) and then woke up pleasant for the last 45 minutes of the journey.
Rosalie is a music teacher. She teaches both private and group lessons. She is Kindermusic certified and so we got to Apple Valley in time for a quick dinner at McDonalds, then we went to her class. She did a great job under less than ideal circumstances (teaching to a group of kids 2 to 3 years old is never an ideal situation in my opinion lol) especially with Hannah full of energy and McDonalds. Hannah had so much fun and Paige even enjoyed music class.
That night was not ideal. I got Paige to sleep for about 20 minutes before Hunter and Hannah ran in the room to wake her up. Both Hannah and Paige were awake until about 10:00PM which is unheard of for them. I knew that they would both have to get up early (turns out they woke themselves up at 6:15) so I was a little stressed, knowing Disneyland would be a big day for all of us.
The next morning Rosalie made the yummiest pancakes of my life (apple pancakes) and hash browns. We were off at 7:30. I was so nervous. Anytime I've gone to Disneyland, someone has driven me and I never have to worry about where I'm going or if we will get there. Especially in recent years with a GPS in every car. Well I didn't have a GPS, I had written down instructions but who knew if they would get me anywhere. I had to trust Rosalie and Michael. So I went blindly on my way. When I finally got on the 57 South I got so excited I started clapping my hands and Hannah said "Mommy, do NOT break your hands off the wheel. You are driving, keep your hands on the wheel." We pulled off onto Ball and took a left onto Harbor Blvd (the only streets that were familiar to me) and we were waiting at the light when we saw my parents one car ahead of us in another lane. YAY! How lucky was that? Well, if you've ever tried to board a Disneyland shuttle with a three year old, a one year old, a folded up double stroller, and a backpack full of supplies by yourself then you'll appreciate what a blessing it was that I met up with my parents before we got into the park. We parked right next to each other.
Hannah was beyond excited to go on Small World. She hasn't stopped talking about it since our family vacation last April which is an eternity to a three year old. That was the first ride we went on. She sang and danced the whole time. I asked"Is this better than watching it on Youtube?" "Oh, yeah!" came her vigorous reply. After the ride we saw Belle standing and meeting some little girls. I got all excited because Hannah is going to be Belle for Halloween (at her request). "Umm, I like Belle," she told me, "But she's not my very favorite. Cinderella is my very favorite." Well okay then.
Next, my parents took Paige and snagged a place in line for us at Peter Pan while Hannah and I went on the Carousel. Hannah informed me that this time she was not afraid, she was going to do it by herself and I didn't have to stand by her. No kidding. She loved it. Peter Pan was, as always, a classic. We didn't get to it 6 months ago so it was a new one for Hannah. I didn't get to ride with her but I think Paigey liked it a lot.
Six months ago, Hannah would.not.go. on Pirates. I've been talking it up these last couple weeks and using my mom's line "you were only two last time, now you are three." So Hannah decided she was big enough to go. In the line, she chickened out, but we were so close that we HAD to do it. I told her it would be okay. She tried to hide at our feet but I was afraid she would get hurt on the drops if she did that. I am so mean. As we are starting the ride I say to her, "Remember I told you there was going to be a slide? Well it is kind of big and it might tickle your tummy." She hated that slide. She screamed and cried, then screamed and cried again for the second one. When we told her there were no more she resumed the fetal position by my legs. About half way through the ride she came up and enjoyed the last little bit. I asked her why she didn't like it and she told me "The slides and the pirates." Paige didn't even flinch during the hills, not once, and she enjoyed the pirates.
Haunted Mansion was next, and while she screamed and cried six months ago I KNEW she would love it because she is obsessed with watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is how the Haunted Mansion is decorated. Side note--girls are both being perfect waiting in line. Hannah and Paige both loved it, although later Hannah said she was too scared to do it again, presumably because she wanted to see Minnie's house in toon town.
We ate at The Hungry Bear, a Marsden family tradition, and had an excellent view of the Rivers of America. Hannah and Paige were still going strong, no signs of being tired. Hannah got out the map and found all the attractions we'd done (by herself) and was determined to do Small World again.
After we ate we decided to hop on the train and go once around Disneyland, but when we got to fantasy land, my mom suggested I take Hannah on Small World since she'd been dying to go. We did. The line was pretty long this time and when we were ALMOST to the front, Hannah decided she wanted to go see Merida from Brave. I convinced her to go on Small World with me and we could see Merida after. She was happy to go on Small World and this time, acted like she owned the place "We are almost to the room with the flying carpets Mommy," "We are coming up on the windmills Mommy," etc.
My mom was waiting in line for Merida when we got out of Small World. Paigey was napping and Hannah was so anxious to see her. I asked "What are you going to say to Merida when you see her," she replied "I'm brave like you." When we finally did get to see Merida after a very long wait, Merida spent about 7 minutes talking with Hannah. Hannah started off by giving her the longest, most sincere hug in the world. She LOVES Brave after all. She told Merida "I saw you walking away, then I saw you come back." Merida told her in a perfect Scottish accent that she went to feed her horse. Paige was awake at this point and couldn't care less about Merida, she was more excited about Merida's three bear brothers behind her and kept pointing and squealing. Hannah's interaction with Merida was by far the sweetest thing I've ever seen and it made me really grateful for Disney for hiring such a sweet lady to give my daughter an authentic experience. Side note, my mom and I both cried at the interaction.
Next it was time for a little Mommy fun. I haven't been on a "big kid" ride in Disneyland since 2008, before I had kids, so since I was there with my parents I got to go on Splash Mountain with my dad. When I was about 9 years old my dad FINALLY convinced me to go on Splash. I was NOT having roller coasters and Splash Mountain looked deadly to me. As we were going up the hill I FREAKED out and was desperate to get off the ride. My dad told me to say a prayer for comfort. I prayed "Heavenly Father, I'm too scared to do this, I can't do this, please don't make me do this." The ride stopped, we all had to exit the ride and we got vouchers to be able to go on it again (which we did later that day, but my faith in prayer was solidified). So my dad always teases me and reminds me NOT to say a prayer while we are on the ride. Of course everything was fine and dandy and I had fun with my dad.
Then it was my mom's turn for Splash so I got to take the girls by myself on the Winnie the Pooh ride. How exciting. The girls liked it though, and Paige was especially happy to see Pooh bear as we exited the ride, although I wasn't waiting in another 45 minute line to see Pooh.
We ran into my friends Kira and Erick Westbrook from high school which was so great. They are the cutest couple ever. I was happy to see them happy and married to each other and doing well, living in Northern California while he attends med school at Stanford.
Jungle Cruise came next, Paigey's favorite ride. For those of you who don't know, Paige is a HUGE animal girl. She LOVES LOVES LOVES to see any animal and thinks they are hilarious. As you can imagine, she was in seventh heaven riding around on the jungle cruise.
Next came Mark Twain river cruise. Hannah loved it because she loves the Princess and the Frog. We enjoyed a couple big fat pickles (Paige practically devoured mine and would get upset when anyone else took a bite, just like grandma Margie).
My parents went off for a little bit to enjoy Pirates again and Thunder Mountain while we went to Small World. The line was crazy however and I didn't know if I could handle it with two girls so we went to toon town which isn't my favorite but Hannah loves it and so did Paige. The sisters walked around together picking fake flowers and making fake phone calls. We hung out there for about an hour. Hannah loves Mickey and Minnie's house and loves playing pretend so it's a perfect spot for her.
Next we met up with my parents for some bacon wrapped asparagus which was heavenly. How could it not be? Bacon. Anyway, we enjoyed that for a bit, then decided to go to Main Street to shop, however we got there right as the parade started. Grandma Margie managed to get Hannah to the front of the curb and she knelt behind her while I stood in the back. Hannah was DYING. She was so excited and kept jumping up and down waving at everyone and shouting at them. She would stand up and start wiggling her hips and was talking to an elderly lady beside her about all the exciting things she was seeing. It was another especially special part of the day. I love showing Hannah all the things I love but I also love her to show me things she finds particularly magical.
We ended the night with one last train ride around the park, and getting celebration pins. The longest line we stood in was the line to get on the shuttle back to the parking lot. Paige finally started fussing when we got to that point (they both lasted all.day.long.) and I had a major headache that I was able to ignore the whole day until the end when the magic ended. It was so bad it was making me nauseated. My parents got me to a gas station so I could fill up and head back to Rosalie's. I was exhausted and I was worried about making it back safely but they gave me their GPS so I could figure out my way. The last 15 minutes of the drive I had to convince myself to stay awake, but it was a perfect day.
The next day we packed up and left Hesperia pretty early to drive home. The girls were perfect travel companions and I spent that time driving home, being grateful for having a mom who taught me to be brave to take my kids on adventures by myself, grateful for my parents for letting us tag along on their anniversary, and grateful to a husband who encourages me to do fun things. I asked Hannah what she was grateful for. She said "What are you grateful for?" and I told her I was grateful for my parents. She replied, "I'm grateful for your parents too, they are my grandma and grandpa and I love them."