Friday marked another year passing for Tim, his 31st now done and gone. It seems like just minutes passed since I wrote to him here.
This year he had some great birthday privileges. First he got to do a.m. duty at 6:30 to keep the boys in their cribs until 7. Then he prepared his own birthday breakfast of pancakes with fresh blueberries. Then he got to clean out the family Truckster full of rock like snacks and Mama's discarded work papers. All before 9 a.m. Writing things like this remind me of how very lucky I am that I found a man like him.
He was not assigned all the duties without reason. You see, the grand plan of the day was Disneyland. Yeah, you know, the Disneyland.
The one that is giving folks free admission on their birthday through the year of '09. The one that lays only 20 minutes away via freeway system (sand traffic) but that we have not seen for almost a decade. The Happiest Place on Earth. And I do not say this lightly.
As a child growing up in the Shadow of the Matterhorn, I recall longing to be one of those kids that casually frequented the Park. This was never to happen, as my parents had too many littles with not enough bucks. The trips I did make usually came about from a school fundraiser, and once for my Grad night senior year of high school. So, maybe 5 total in my lifetime. Despite being so close to home, it has always maintained it's magical status in my mind, not a place to drop in but a place to dream and plan for.
This year we thought the boys were at the right place to take it in without freaking out, to be involved without being too overwhelmed.
And it seemed like the right timing, despite Friday being the kick off to a holiday weekend. My Mama suggested we take along my youngest brother Jon, an extra pair of hands and an early birthday present for him. Though I am not sure you can consider a day out in a public park with twin toddlers a present.
And you know something. For the four hours we stayed, Disneyland was the Happiest Place on Earth for me and Tim and Jon and them. I am not sure why it worked out so well. It was crowded beyond (for a weekday), there were plenty of lines to wait in, there were completely skipped naps. But it all worked.
We did a little homework the night before, scoping out rides for the boys and planning our approach. We knew any train and car ride should be included, we took our BOB and lots of kid friendly snacks. But I think the reason it went so well is that we really just wanted to have fun.
Once in we stayed pretty flexible, scoping out lines, sometimes just watching the rides rather than getting in line.
They loved watching Dumbo while we waited for the Casey Jr. train, they tolerated the lines we did stand in with surprising ease and they truly seemed to love watching the people crowding about almost as much as the attractions.
My favorite part was becoming familiar with the Magic that is there, going on the gentle little rides and seeing it with new eyes, how special it was to the newcomers. I loved the boat ride that took us through the Storybook land, all miniaturized scenes with completely bonzai'ed garden growth.
I could ride that boat all day. Our guide explained that there are some trees in there that are 150 years old, some planted by Walt Disney himself. That ride in particular made me see what he was aiming for all those years ago when he created this space.
The other huge hit was Autopia, the 'drive yourself' car ride.
I think it is hilarious that we went to Disneyland to find magic and one of the forms it has taken is the freeway system that gridlocks our lives.
We watched the realization dawn that they would get their own car to drive. Eager does not describe their reaction.
The boys loved it beyond all reason, we literally had to tear a screaming Mace out of his car. I found that it is almost impossible to take pictures with one hand and steer the car with the other. And I became a bit fascinated with the now retro fashion of the street lamps.
(I have about 14 more shots of these lamps from all kinds of angles).
Anyway, enough of the blow by blow account. I thought I would share some tips for any out there that might take on Disneyland soon with the young ones.
:: Go on the boats, the line flies by because there are so many boats that run. And everything is so little and pretty.
:: Go on the train that circles the perimeter of the park. It is a great place to rest your feet and the kids love it. And oddly enough, there is a weird section between Tomorrowland and Main Street where you travel back in time to the Land of the Dinosaurs.
A little scary and a little hot, but entertaining.
:: Limit your line standing. We nixed going on the Nemo Sub ride because the line was an hour wait and there was no Fast Pass. Autopia has a fast pass and we basically walked into the ride and into a car in minutes.
:: Take breaks. We would do a ride, then find a place to sit and listen to a band or some old time singers. The boys loved this and it gave them time to rest in the stroller.
:: Get out while it is still fun. We stayed four hours, did what we came to do and left. We saw the boys tipping towards the edge and were able to gracefully exit. Sure, no fireworks, no Main Street parade, but also no tantrums or tears.
:: Bring extra hands if you can. The three to two ratio was gold. No struggling to carry one, push stroller, retrieve items, etc. And Jon swears he had a good time just being there with them and seeing their delight.
Speaking of Jon, my amazing brother was given a full ride to San Francisco State, he found out Thursday. So, our baby brother is off to conquer his world, his new adventure. When I was young I remember seeing the fortune teller in the Penny Arcade.
Her presence always made me shudder a little and I never had a quarter to get my fortune told. Yesterday Jon fished around a bit and came up with his and got his fortune card.
Click on the picture to read it. Every word is so very true. I love you, little brother. You have a fineness of heart and spirit that is unparalleled. Except maybe by your brother in law, my husband.
So, love and hugs to both Birthday boys. And thank you, Walt, for making place that still has the essence of what you dreamed. When stripped of its commercialized sheen, underneath it still captures your heart and imagination and wonder. See you in October for this Mama's birthday. I can't wait.