Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happiest Birthday on Earth

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.
Disneyland :: Take One
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.
Disneyland :: Take One

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.
Disneyland :: Take One
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.
Disneyland :: Take One

Once in we stayed pretty flexible, scoping out lines, sometimes just watching the rides rather than getting in line.
Disneyland :: Take One

Disneyland :: Take One
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.
Disneyland :: Take One

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.
Disneyland :: Take One
Disneyland :: Take One

The other huge hit was Autopia, the 'drive yourself' car ride.
Disneyland :: Take One

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.
Disneyland :: Take One

We watched the realization dawn that they would get their own car to drive. Eager does not describe their reaction.
Disneyland :: Take One

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.
Disneyland :: Take One
(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.
Disneyland :: Take One

Disneyland :: Take One

:: 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.
Disneyland :: Take One
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.
Disneyland :: Take One

:: 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.
Disneyland :: Take One

:: 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.
Disneyland :: Take One

:: 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.
Disneyland :: Take One
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.
Disneyland :: Take One

Disneyland :: Take One

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.
Disneyland :: Take One

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.


Goddess in Progress said...

What a blast! I am so looking forward to the time when we can take the kids to Disney. Of course, we have particularly fond memories since that's where we got married, but it really is a magical place. Since it involves a trip to FL or CA for us, we'll probably have to wait a few more years. Unless I can convince M we should go in November. :-)

So glad you had fun. Happy Birthday, Tim!

Sadia said...

Happy Birthday to both.

It sounds like you had a fantastic day.

I went to college in Claremont. Four years in the Inland Empire, and I made it to Disneyland once. Second semester, senior year.

I'm hoping to take my girls when I head back to CA for my 10-year reunion.

Sereknitty said...

What a fun day, and so lovingly documented! Happy birthday, Tim --I hope you enjoyed every minute! Congrats to your brother, too!

LauraC said...

Happy birthday to Tim!

I grew up in Florida, and also without much money, so I got to take a ton of school trips but only once got to go with my family. Jon and I are hoping to take the boys to the multiple parks when they are older.

I told Jon this story and he said we have to plan our trip for our boys' birthday so half our family gets in for free!

Mama Llama said...

What a lovely day, belated birthday wishes to your hubster.

Where did you get your hat? I had a similar one, but after I wore it a few times, it got too floppy and just hung in my eyes. I need something for the beach!

Julia (MindofWinter) said...

First, you guys are so young! (I hate you. Not really. Sort of.) Happy Birthday, Tim!

Second, the boys are HUGE. They look like little men.

Third, the bucket hat always gets me. I need a tutorial.

And finally, although Disney has been on my list of places NOT to go for most of my life, I am now dying to go and show Griffin. You definitely know how to spread the magic. Maybe we should all knit at Disney!

Claroux said...

I am jealous that you live so close to someplace so cool! Never been to Disneyland. Last time I was at Disney World was my senior year in high school. Since it's a two day drive away we're waiting until we're sure the kiddos will love it and be able to handle it! Tell Tim I said happy belated b-day :-)

Lady P said...

ALL of your boys are great, handsome guys. Happy birthday to Tim and Jon, and congrats to Jon on the free ride to San Fran!

I worked at Disneyland for 7 1/2 years - I quit last year when my particular location was becoming less than the happiest place on Earth - but it's still the best place I've ever worked. My favorite thing was to spend the day with someone who had never been to the park or who hadn't been in a long time, and give them the inside scoop or point out cool things. I actually saw one of my friends in your pictures - The Dapper Dan in green is my buddy Jon!
October is a great time to go to the park - most people are in school or work and almost all attractions are open except The Haunted Mansion.
Glad you guys had fun - sounds like you did it perfectly!

Preeti said...

Happy Birthday!!! I can't wait to take my kids to Disneyland and experience delight and fun in this magical place!! Love the boys' shorts - so Ralph Lauren-esque!!! They seem to have had a wonderful time:) Hugs:):)

Preeti said...

The skirt is sooooo gorgeous! Can't wait to see it on you:)