Sunday, February 22, 2009

February 2

You Are My Sunshine

Taylor was having fun peering through the handle of this paper bag, so I took some pictures.

Fixing the Car

Trying out the Macro

I was in the backyard the other day sizing up the damage that the last few wet winter months have caused. Along with an influx of weeds, the grass we planted last Spring finally sprouted. It is well over a foot tall in parts. (Yes, three men living in this house and our "lawn" still never gets mowed.) The annuals we put in last fall died, but those unsightly wildflowers that I regret planting have flourished. I realize now that there is a reason they call them "wild". The ones I wanted to sprout didn't (Cosmos, Columbine, Foxglove, Larkspur), but of course, the ugly white Alyssum did. They are pretty weedy looking and do not at all fit in with the tropicals. I found a good use for them though. I've been wanting to try out the Macro feature on our camera and they made for some good photography.

Here are the Snapdragons...

I was pretty impressed with the camera's performance. These shots were taken with the lens about an inch away. I gave up the use of manual lens adjustment for the convenience of a point and shoot once I had Taylor, but I miss being able to choose my focal length. The macro feature on this camera gives me a tiny bit of that control back.

I discovered many things are more beautiful when you take a closer look. The ugly Assylum isn't so ugly in Macro.

I cropped a piece out of the picture above just to see how much detail the camera was able to pick up. The closer you get, the more beautiful the Assylum gets.

Even grass and leaves becomes sorta interesting...

Not sure what these are called.

The Clivia finally bloomed. This photo makes the flowers look large, but in reality, they are only about 3 inches wide.

A Calla Lily preparing to open...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Valentine's Day Banquet

Some of our table companions - Ben and Karen Abugan and Mrs. Carol Comafay

How well do you know your spouse game...

Pastor Todd picking the winning raffle ticket

Steve and Rebekah

Jeremey and Anne

Disneyland in the Rain - The ONLY way to do it!

We had 6 things motivating us to go to Disneyland.

1. Tax return time
2. Last month of free admission for Taylor
3. February is Disneyland's slowest month
4. 2fer ticket time (visit 2 parks for the price of one - Disneyland and California Adventure)
5. The rain
6. The rain

Now, ordinarily the rain is not motivation for me to do anything but stay inside with a warm beverage, but this is Disneyland we are talking about. Someone should change the sign to "The Busiest Place on Earth". Now, I had not been to Disneyland in the rain since 1991, and while it was an awesome experience to ride Space Mountain over and over 10 times in an hour, I expected by 2009 that many would have figured out that the best time to go to Disneyland is in the rain. Not to mention, we were going on a Saturday, so surely the rain wouldn't stop all the out-of-school hooligans who embrace the thrill of riding the Matterhorn in a downpour. Still, we were more motivated by reasons 1-4 and figured the rain would just help our chances of hitting as many rides as we could. So we went...

We hit a wall of rain about half way there. In fact, we actually drove right though (not under) a vibrant rainbow. It was pretty spectacular. We took it as a sign that the day would be promising!

We arrived close to 9AM, I think. Probably closer to 9:30AM once we parked and rode the tram. The rain had stopped, but the skies still looked threatening. This is what the ticket line looked like at that time! It was a sign of things to come!

The first ride we rode was Peter Pan's Magic Flight. It is short, but it has always been one of my favorites. I love flying over Never Never Land and the stars. Taylor loved it too. The wait time for this ride was less than 10 minutes. After that we headed over to Snow White's Scary Adventure. There was no line at all for that ride.

By this time it started to sprinkle a bit and we decided to escape to "It's a Small World", since that ride is relatively long and is indoors. I have never gotten on that ride so quickly. It was maybe a 5 minute wait. It was funny to see a bunch of umbrellas in the boats as people sat there waiting for their boat to make its way inside. All we had was a small child's umbrella that Grandma had gotten Taylor in Hawaii two years ago!

Taylor is becoming stubborn. She knows when I want her to smile and goes out of her way not to when I am trying to take her picture. We got very few pictures of her smiling at Disneyland. You'd never know from the photos that she was having the time of her life. She gets that from Kennedy and Me!

"It's a Small World" was closed for most of 2008 for renovations. They replaced the original 1950's boats with more buoyant ones, updated the dolls and added some Disney characters to the mix. In the photo above you can see Ariel and Flounder.

Next, we decided to make our way to Mickey's Toontown. Taylor loves Mickey, so we wanted to go show her his house and hopefully see him. I couldn't believe how empty Toontown was. This is usually the place where parents take their little ones to run around and explore to burn off some energy. It's typically bustling with hundreds of families with hundreds of strollers and thousands of children. It was such a rare moment to see this place so empty, so I had to get a picture. If we had more than one child, we probably wouldn't go to Disneyland in the rain either.

We made it to Mickey's house after buying Taylor a poncho. The rain started coming down harder so we figured we should be good parents and invest in a $7.00 piece of plastic for our child. The stroller was carrying water by this point anyway, so we parked it. Once inside Mickey's place, Taylor came face to face with his washing machine. She has a slight distrust of washing machines, on account of the deafening pounding that ours makes when it gets off balance. When I informed her that she was looking at Mickey's washing machine, she ran back to me for safety.

This is the path to meet Mickey. It takes you through his house and backyard. I imagine this is typically a waiting line rather than a leisurely stroll.

She loves Mickey, really, she does.

These things weren't meant for the rain. Taylor kept sliding off the slippery seats.

This picture is classic. I had never been on this ride before. It was Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin. There was no line, so we tried it. Maybe a little too much spinning.

Taylor loves the Disney Princesses, despite the fact that she doesn't own a single one of their movies and I think the only one she has even seen is "Aladdin" on the Disney Channel. She does, however, have a bunch of princess figurines and books. Before going to Disneyland, all she talked about was meeting the princesses. So we knew we couldn't pass up The Disney Princess Fantasy Faire. I guess that's what every parent in the park with a daughter was thinking as well. Fortunately, the 20-30 minute wait was under a tarp. It was the longest we waited in line for anything that day, so we really couldn't complain.

Snow White is one of her favorites, but she only knows her from the Shrek movies, of all places.

She was totally star-struck by Sleeping Beauty!

Taylor also took pictures with Mulan (she called her Jasmine), but she looks like she is about to cry in all the pictures I got of that.

The stroller was soggy, so we were letting Taylor walk a bit. Can you imagine ever letting a 2 year old walk at Disneyland?! I had to get a picture of it. This was right next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (off frame to the left) - an area that is normally teaming with people.

After this picture we went to "Pirates of the Caribbean". There was no waiting for that ride! It was awesome. We we worried that Taylor would be scared. She did cling to Kennedy for the duration, but she never cried. A few days ago she was in the backyard and she tipped the chair she was on. It almost fell into her water table. For some reason this reminded her of the "pirate ride". I guess because of the dip and splash. She commented that her near fall into the water was "like pirates at Disneyland". And then she added, "I don't like that one".


It was 12:30 when the sun came out. Can you believe only three hours have passed? We did all that stuff by lunch!

The Jungle Cruise - 10 minute wait

Next, we went on "Finding Nemo" and "The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh". I had never been on either of these rides before and was actually very impressed. These are the rides you miss when you don't have children. The wait time for "Finding Nemo" was one of the longer waits we had. I think 20 minutes. The wait for "The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" was much shorter than that.

Taylor was looking forward to meeting Pooh. I think he was the only character she actually hugged with out insistence. Disneyland takes pictures for you also with their own camera, then they give you a Photo Pass card that you can use to view the pictures online. They happened to capture some really great smiles from Taylor with the Princesses and Winnie the Pooh, but unfortunately, you have to pay $13.00 for one 5X7. I was bummed, because I got so few pictures of Taylor smiling at Disneyland.

After this we headed over to Tomorrowland to try the Astro Blasters ride. I beat Kennedy again. This time by over 400,000 points. Again he claimed there was something wrong with his ray gun. Unfortunately, we didn't get pictures this time. There was a large, marble ball in the area that fascinated Taylor. It was suspended by water pressure so she could spin it. The sleeves of her sweater were soggy after this, but it was worth it.

By this time it was almost 3PM, when we decided to go back to Fantasyland where we began. We had done most everything we had planned to do, and more, so we thought we'd hit some things we had passed over. The first we tried was "Pinocchio's Daring Journey". There was no line, which was great, considering the length of this ride is so short you will miss it if you blink. Who knew there was enough time to fall asleep during it.

It was 3PM when we decided to leave the park. Taylor fell asleep just in time for the rain to return. I couldn't believe all we had done! It is not uncommon to spend 14 hours at Disneyland and only ride 6 rides. It's the reason you actually have to search for a single-day ticket and you can't buy them online. No one does it. It's usually not worth it. And who in their right mind would stand in 2 hour lines with toddlers anyway? Oh wait, I think we did that with Grandma and Grandpa Isaacs when Taylor turned one!

We wanted to do Autopia, because Taylor loves driving cars, but there was a 30 minute wait in a line exposed to the rain. Other than that, we did all of our must-dos by 3PM. I'm looking forward to the day Taylor is tall enough for the thrill rides, but seeing her joy more than made up for missing out on them this time.

Here is what we did from 9:30am to 3pm (under 6 hours!):

1. Peter Pan's Flight
2. Snow White's Scary Adventures
3. It's a Small World
4. Explore Toontown
5. Meet Mickey
6. Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin
7. Meet the Princesses
8. Eat Lunch
9. Pirates of the Caribbean
10. Jungle Cruise
11. Finding Nemo
12. Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
13. Meet Pooh
14. Astro Blaster
15. Pinocchio's Daring Journey

I never loved the rain as much as I did that day. I will never do Disneyland any other way! Wait, did I say that? No, I take it back. Do not, I repeat, do not go to Disneyland in the rain! It's a horrible experience you will deeply regret!

There was a double rainbow on our way home too. It truly was a blessed day!