Thursday, May 31, 2012

Disneyland Katie Style

How to do Disneyland on a Budget...

Just Kidding.
When I was getting ready for our big Disneyland 2012 Adventure I searched the internet for blogs and articles on how to do Disneyland On a Budget... Then I proceeded to forget/ ignore/ disregard everything I had spent months learning and did Disneyland Katie Style.

So here are some tips on how to do Disneyland Katie Style.

One of the things on my Bucket List of things to do before I die is Learn to Fly an Airplane.  Yep, it sounds crazy if you know my feelings about Math and you know that Pilots are required to understand numbers in order to navigate an aircraft.  But whatever.  I love airplanes, I love flying, and someday I will fly with the Blue Angels.   So the first event of our trip to Disneyland was meeting the pilot.

 Doing a vacation Katie Style would mean that you would shove your cute children out of the way so you could squeeze up into the cockpit and snap a picture of yourself with the pilot.  I did not do that.  But I wish I would have.

Riley was my flying buddy, and ride buddy, and bus buddy, Ok, she was my only child that would sit by me.- She was my only buddy.

Our kids were pretty much rock stars on the flights down to L.A.   I was prepared for break downs, fear, boredom, and ear popping.  Instead- they were pretty much the happiest kids ever. And I knew we were in for the World's Greatest Vacation Disneyland 2012... or maybe they were storing up the mood swings and breakdowns for Disneyland.

The latter proved to be true.

I am not going to be a typical Mommy Blogger who only writes all of the perfect things about her vacation and her children, giving a false sense of reality and a parenting complex to others who read her blog lie to you, there were some rough moments.

Like leaving the Hotel our first morning, and wanting to take a picture of my kids (since I heard you should do that every day in case you lose a child - so you would have an  updated photo with the actual clothes and description of what they were wearing that day... paranoia is a wonderful thing) and the adorable outfits that I made for them (with Aleisa's help of course).  And this is what I got:

They may be grumpy- but the outfits are kind of adorable, right?

We experienced those faces most mornings of our adventure.  We would get to the park early each day and "play" all morning until nap time, then go back to the Hotel, exhausted from the tantrums- er, I mean rides- and take a nap.  Then we would wake up and head back to the Happiest Place on Earth and stay till the park closed having the time of our lives!  Seriously, they were wonderful from 4:00pm till midnight!  Apparently on vacation my kids become Night People.  Looking through the pictures you can tell the exact time of day by the expression on my kids' faces. Doing Disneyland Katie Style means bribing your kids to have fun all morning and then sitting back to enjoy the afternoon and evening.  Next time we may go to the pool till noon every day and skip the A.M. Drama.

Another way to do Disneyland Katie Style is to ditch Ridemax and every other app that will help you fit in all of the rides with the least amount of waiting in line.  Ditch the rides because your kids will find way more joy hugging Chip and Dale, Mickey Mouse, and even the White Rabbit which they have never heard of.  (And the highlight of D-L 2012 will be seeing Macie spontaneously kiss Dale on the nose)

Macie's First Kiss

Taking photos with the Characters was probably one of the best parts of the entire trip. They loved hugging and kissing each character. That was pretty much the only thing that could get a smile before noon.

Before we planned our vacation I dreamed of taking my kids to Disneyland. But I felt like it was hopeless to think of a trip this extravagant before we finished P.A. school.  (I know to most of you, this isn't that extravagant.  Most people I know have taken their kids on tons of trips like this for years- bur for us, in our situation, this was HUGE)  I felt like I was living my own Fairy Tale. You think Sleeping Beauty was happy when she got that wake up kiss?  She had nothing on the kind of happiness I felt.

P.S. can you tell my kids are from Seattle and have no idea what to do when the sun comes out? 

Of course Mickey isn't complete without Minnie.

One way to do Disneyland Katie Style is to not follow any of my instincts.  When you see the long line for Mickey and  you also see that your Disney App claims there is only a 5 minute wait for Space Mountain- you skip your instincts and get in line for Mickey.  Normally I am the girl who wants to get my money's worth.  And more importantly I don't like to leave any party feeling like I missed out on something. So after reading the Blogs, the tips, and the advice I felt the need to fit it all in.  After all, who knows if we will ever get back here again?  But not this trip.  This time- I followed my kids (not my instincts) and didn't miss a thing.  Ok, maybe we never made it to the Tower of Terror or Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, but we did ride those teacups!

 Another important thing to do when you Vacation Katie Style is to care about Style.  I still remember the first time I went to Disneyland I was probably about 5 years old (Riley's age).  For the most part I think I enjoyed Disneyland- but sadly my memories of the Happiest Place on Earth are scarred with one vivid detail. Style.  I was in my "I only wear dresses or tutus" phase and my mom had only packed shorts.  Now that I have a 5  year old of my own I realize how difficult it is for them to understand that most of their wardrobe is left at home and a mom can only pack so much for a trip.  But when I was 5 - I just thought she was being mean.  I remember walking down New Orleans Square and seeing a teenage girl wearing a skirt.  (I remember it so well- that when we finally made it over to that part of the park I actually had a flashback!) I was devastated.  Why was she allowed to wear a skirt at Disneyland?  How could I ever have fun wearing shorts??  It was a cruel cruel world.  So when I let my girls get dressed on the second morning of our trip (the day we would have lunch with the Princesses) I let them pick their own clothes.  And even let Riley choose her own hairstyle!  This was one of the hardest things I have done as a Mother.  And when they insisted that they wear their Princess Dress Up Slippers- I let them.

Anyone seen the Modern Family episode when Gloria wears heals to Disneyland? We got lots of comments about our shoes.

Lunch with the Princesses.

 Another way to do Disneyland Katie Style is to just plain give up on the perfect shot.  I think after that first pic at the Hotel we can all determine that my kids just don't like to pose for pictures.  I could let this frustrate me, I could scour the park for the dream background, for the right lighting, the perfect smile or I could just set the camera down and just watch them smile for real.  This was one of my best decisions.  I may not have all of the adorable pics that most moms get at a place like that-- but I am not most moms, am I?

Waiting for the parade 
  Waiting for the Parade to start and watching it was one of the highlights of the vacation. (Really, waiting for anything to start was a ton of fun!  We bought the kids the light up bubble guns for Fantasmic and had tons of fun blowing bubbles together while we waited for the show to start.  Katie Style means buying a ridiculously over priced souvenir because it is fun.)  Maybe because it was in the evening (after naps), or maybe it was just watching my kids smile and have fun waiting on a curb.  A few days before we left for California I was playing with my kids at the park.  For some reason we were laughing our heads off.  I felt the tender reminder that we could be happy anywhere.  While I was still excited for Disneyland and a true vacation - I also realized that we are happy at the park, on walks, and playing in our backyard.  It was a nice gift to my heart to remember that Disneyland would be fun- but it would not be our only memory.  Disneyland Katie Style means no pressure.  Have fun, then go home- and keep having fun.

And now, in case you didn't believe me when I said we had some majorly grumpy moments- I will give you a little example.  I will show you the picture - you guess the time of day:

Blake on the Carousel... what time do you think?
Eating Fun Dip Candy- laughing at our green tongues... what time?
Posing in a car, what time?
A smile almost as big as her ice cream... a.m. or p.m?

Every now and then Cotton Candy worked to get rid of the grumpies.

So, you see, something magical about that afternoon nap for my kids.  To be honest, even with a bit of the morning grumpies- we still had some wonderful moments before lunch.

Favorite Parts of Disneyland:
JT: Watching the kids enjoy Fantasmic and the Parade.  (and he is embarrassed to admit that he loved the date with me because he doesn't want to sound like a bad dad- but the fact that our kids screamed and cried if they had to go on a ride with me demonstrates that he is clearly not a bad dad!)
KT: World of Color. I actually cried.  There is something really special to me about listening to beautiful music, seeing amazing art on a surface of water, and knowing that I was making a memory with my kids.  I will never forget how happy I was.
Riley: Aladdin (the performance at California Adventure) which was a surprise since she covered her ears for the whole thing! And Soaring California. 
Blake: Seeing the Characters and Toy Story Midway Mania :)
Macie: The Parade, where she waved ecstatically calling out to Donald Duck.  And It's a Small World, where she waved to each character as if she was in a parade for them.

Last but not least.  If you really want to do a vacation in true Katie Style- I highly recommend leaving your kids.


By Thursday- I was getting a little tired of hearing the same complaint that no one wanted to go on rides with me.  Riley was the only one who was excited to be with me.  This was really hard on my heart.  (like, cry-myself-to-sleep-hard)  And I realized I needed a minute alone, with someone who loves to be by me.  And since my kids weren't fans of going in the morning- we left them.  With a babysitter.  At the Hotel.  And JT and I had a wonderful date to the Happiest Place on Earth.  (I gotta say, at first I felt guilty leaving my kids on vacation so I cancelled on the babysitter, but when I saw how happy my kids were to stay home and play- and how excited JT was to be alone with me- I got over myself and ditched the kids!)

Riding all of the rides that the kids were afraid of :)
One other thing we loved was walking home at night.  JT and I have always loved taking walks at night.  (Before Riley was born we would walk a mile or two to the grocery store for a treat at midnight, we loved it)  We would skip the bus back to the Hotel at night and just let the kids fall asleep in the stroller as we walked home reminiscing about the fun we had that day. This also gave me a chance to enjoy how Californians love to light up their palm trees with Christmas Lights.  Ahhhh, palm trees :)

Riley loved Hot Chocolate on our nightly walks home :)
Anything cuter than sleeping with Minnie, Kitty, and glow stick?

So there you go.  Vacation my way.  Including bribery, tears, slippers, grumpy faces, smiley faces, kisses, laughs, bubbles, cotton candy,  and everything I wanted it to be.  It is funny how much you can miss something so simple- like a week at Disneyland.  But I do miss it. I feel so blessed that things "worked out" the way they did so that we could have one big hurrah before P.A. school starts.  It has become painfully clear how hard the next few years are going to be on us- and I am so grateful to have something so Magical to look back on.  

Who needs a Princess?  We are making our own Happily Ever After.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Gift to Myself

This year for Mother's Day I am going to get myself a gift.

No, not one of those "my husband is too lame, and my kids are too oblivious so I need to buy myself the perfume I have been asking for" kinds of gifts.

And not the "I am going to buy something totally extravagant that I really can't afford and then justify it by calling it a Mother's Day Gift, and since no one dare dispute how deserving I am of a good Mother's Day gift- I will be able to get away with this frivolous purchase" type of present.

I am going to give myself the gift that only I can give.


This Mother's Day I am going to focus on giving myself a gift that I need more than perfume, flowers, or chocolate.

When I sit in church on Sunday and hear the speakers tell stories of their own saintlike mothers I will give myself a small but important gift:  the precious gift of not comparing myself to anyone else.  When their stories are accessorized with acts of  motherhood grandeur I will not doubt myself.  I will not hear the stories of a mom who gave her last crust of bread to her child to prevent starvation and then feel guilty about stuffing the rest of my Snickers bar in my mouth before Macie could ask for another bite.  I will simply not compare.  When I hear the stories of the mom who worked 3 jobs but somehow made it to every soccer game I will not feel guilty about the time I forgot to take Riley to preschool simply because I didn't realize it was Monday.  I will not compare.  When I hear about the sweet mild mother who never rose her voice above a whisper I will not feel guilty that my kids have a "passionate" mother whose voice reflects her excitement in life.  (and frustration as well)  I will not compare.

When I go to hand Macie a cup of milk and she screams that she wants Daddy to give her the cup- I won't be sad. (She has started grumpily saying "Marry Mommy!" which actually means "I am not going to marry you" - she picked this up from Blake who uses that phrase as the absolute insult when he is mad at you.) I will give myself the gift of knowing.  Knowing that someday in the future she will come to me. I will know that if she ever grows real hair she will want me to braid it.  I will know that someday she will like a boy, and her Dad will have no idea- but I will know.  I will see it in her eyes when he invites her to his birthday party and I will help her pick out the perfect gift and outfit for the party.  She will want me then.  I will not be jealous or question my abilities as a mother simply because they love their Daddy.  In fact, I will be happy that I chose a guy that could be my children's hero.

When I hear my kids argue- even though I have asked for the ever elusive, infinitely unattainable gift that all mothers yearn for ("A Day with NO Fighting") - I will just smile.  I will forget for a moment how annoying the sound of whining is and remember that some homes never get to have the sweet sound of children.  I will remember that somewhere there is a "Mom" who never got to hold a child of her own, a woman who would give anything for bickering in her home, or any other trial that comes with children.  I will feel blessed and grateful.  And if I am being thoughtful (which I hope I will) I will even say a little prayer of comfort for her- because Mother's Day must be hard for the women who want to be mothers and aren't.

And when I get dressed for Church on Mother's Day and I can't find a thing to wear, and I mindlessly grab that favorite dress that looked good on me years ago- before 3 babies- I will laugh instead of cry.  I will give myself forgiveness and acceptance for not having my 25 year old body anymore.  This may be the hardest one of all.  To accept the body that has changed after carrying and nursing three babies.  To accept that it may never be the same.  No matter how hard I work out, how many crunches, lunges, and push ups I do- I may always look like I have had 3 children.  Because I do have 3 children.  For one day I will be OK with that.  I will embrace and love my squishy, soft body as a place for my kids to snuggle.  (And hopefully if I can do that for one day, I can do it for two, and then three and maybe it will become permanent... for now let's just aim for getting through one Sunday :)

These are not Mother's Day Gifts that anyone else can give me.  And for as much I love the glittery cards, beautiful photo books (did I ever tell you about the time JT stayed at the office till 2a.m and I was paranoid that he was having an affair because who does real estate at 2a.m? but it turned out he was just making me a Mother's Day Photo Book? yep, that was a good one), the Breakfast in Bed, the perfume, the Personal Trainer at the gym, the flowers, the cameras, or every other gift I have gotten over the years- this year- I just need a gift from myself.


Accepting myself and believing that I am the good mother that JT tells me I am.  (I just realized after all this time that I am suppose to put periods in J.T.'s name! oops, all these years! oh well, too late now) Accepting that motherhood is hard, but absolutely wonderful.  Accepting my mistakes along with my successes.  And I suppose, if I have to- it means accepting more gifts from my sweet hubbie.  (that was so JT doesn't think he is completely off the hook!)

Here they are- my pride and joy, the reason I get to celebrate Mother's Day, my kids:

In their every shape and form- I love them. :) Happy Mother's Day to Me!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Identitiy Crisis

If you have known me for more than a few years, you will have known me to have had an Identity Crisis.  And if you have known me for my whole life- then you know what I am talking about.  

When I was born my mom named me Kathryn .  I don't think the name had any real significance other than that my mom thought it was pretty.  And I don't think she had any intention of sticking to that pretty name. I think I was always Katie.  (Or the Michelin Man, but it was not my mom who gave me that name, and if you need a really good laugh you can go back and look at the pics here)

Of course there have been other variations of Katie.  My mom usually called me "My Katie" (I don't know if she called any of my other siblings "My" but I always thought it was special).  Sometimes my sister called me KatieBug.  My uncle (and most of my cousins) called me Katie Kangaroo.  And everyone who is now 50 years or older called me "Ka ka ka Katie, Beautiful Katie" (which is not so much a reference to my amazing good looks as it was an old song).

You can see that when I went into Kindergarten it was a struggle to choose which of these names I would use.  I played it safe and went with Katie.  That is until first grade- when the unthinkable happened.  There were two Katie's in my class.  What?! Two Katies?  At first this wasn't a big deal.  I could handle being Katie N.  The other Katie was a little bit different, you could say, but no biggie, it's not like we were twins or anything.  Then one day, to be mean- someone called me a name.  Not Katie N.  But Katie ______.  Yep, instead of calling me freckle face, or super model, they used her full name as an insult.  (kids can be so mean)  I was horrified.  I could handle being Katie N.  but not Katie ______.  I had to change my name immediately.  Luckily with a name like Kathryn there were tons of options.  I went to Kate.  Problem solved.

Unfortunately when I matured and went on to Third Grade she was in my class again.  But by then I had outgrown Kate and moved on to my sophisticated full name Kathryn.  Oh it was regal.  Suddenly I was being called Kathryn the Great. (ok, only by my teacher, but still - it's royalty!)  But after a few years I realized the name was  a little bit too heavy for a class clown.

I transitioned back to Katie when I went to Middle School and stayed Katie ever since.  Sorta. (P.S. in case you were worried, Katie _____  moved away and I was never insulted with her name again)  I pretty much stayed Katie from then on.  (Unless you knew me at EFY, then I was CK- but only at EFY.  So the few times I heard a young elder in the MTC yell "Hey, CK!  Remember me?" I always knew it was a former EFY kid.   You would actually be surprised how many times I heard that.) This whole name thing has always been a joke in my family.  For years my family would laughingly ask which name I preferred that day, as if I was fickle enough to change it on a daily basis, and as if they were going to stop calling me Michelin Man.

At one point, as a young adult I handed my I.D. to a girl who just stared at it in shock.  She looked at it- then me and pointed out that we had the same name.  Same full name.  I just gawked at her long slender body, thick auburn hair, and sparkly green eyes and quickly explained that I am a Katie.  She could keep Kathryn, it seemed to fit her better.  Remember the whole royalty thing?  I think it fits tall, skinny, gorgeous red heads better than it fit me.  And besides, the shock on her face told me I couldn't pull it off. 

So here I am Katie.  Only I kinda wish I wasn't.  What?!  Having another identity crisis, at your age?  Yeah, maybe.  The thing is- the whole time I was Katie to everyone - I was always "Kate" to my closest friends.  If I go to my home ward where I grew up - a lot of them still call me Kate.  If you talk to most of my siblings- they call me Kate. If you ask my best friends- I am Kate.  But it isn't a name for everyone.  It is just a name from my close friends. In fact, I don't ever introduce myself as Kate- that sounds way too intimate - like sharing a bowl of cereal, you just don't do that with strangers. 

The weird thing is my closest friend ever, JT obviously, has doesn't call me Kate. (JT - whose name is actually Jonathan.  He would never introduce himself as JT- because it is like sharing cereal, you know.  But everyone calls him JT anyways.  So this nick name thing has gone in the reverse for him.  Now his nick name is more of his real name and his real name has become his work name! weird. )   The other weird thing is: why am I so attached to a nick name? Why do I care?  What makes me like having a nick name?  What makes me sad that most of my friends don't call me that name, what is my deal?  Why do I love hearing an old friend call me Kate?  I was just wondering about this (and if I need a shrink)....

When Riley turned to me and asked me to call her Ry.


So there it is: genetics.  I must have passed it on.  Apparently she is starting early.  It is going to be interesting how many nick names she can come up with from the name Riley.  Too bad I didn't bless her with an awesome name like Kathryn that you could change a million times (and even try to be royalty, or at least embarrassed by the girl at ZCMI).   Sorry, Riley, you are left with Ry.

(which is still better than Michelin Man)