Monday, January 30, 2017

Disneyland with the Betteridges! part 1: pre-Disney

For more than a year, we've planned on and been saving for this Disney Betteridge Reunion.  Chris and I and all the kids went without birthday or Christmas presents from each other and we made pizza most Fridays instead of buying, and we didn't travel home to Washington for Christmas....because we wanted to be with all my siblings and their kids for a week long Disneyland party!  We all went in together and rented a 6 bedroom house within a few blocks of Disneyland! 

Once we found out that driving to Anaheim, CA is only 2 hours longer than the drive to Provo, UT, we knew we could for sure make this trip happen, financially speaking, because we could drive instead of fly. So... we undertook the 31 hour drive from Mississippi to California with our 4 kids.   We are all experienced car trippers, but we added a few new things for this beast. We used the car top, even though we could've fit everything IN the car. Having some extra space between the kids and each other and the floor, etc... was a really good decision. We also decided to let the kids be in charge of their own snacks. They each had their backpack with a few books/toys and snacks clipped with a carabiner to the head rest / handle bar in front of them.   Having the backpacks off the ground and easily accessible was a great idea... Freddy didn't really get the concept of putting things BACK into his bag, but at least he could get stuff out himself. We also purchased a clip around soft tray holder for Frederick so our cookie sheet trays (that we always use for meals) and his toys wouldn't slide off his lap. It sorta helped. We left on Thursday around 3:00 pm, and drove through the night stopping for bathrooms and stopped once for breakfast on Friday. We pulled into Pheonix, AZ about 4 on Friday afternoon. We met my cousin and her kids at a park for a bit, then checked into the hotel that my Dad helped us get. :) Then we went over to one of Chris' friends from high school for dinner.  We were back in the hotel and all asleep by 9:00.  We slept great and headed off for California in the morning after I did some service at a nearby temple (Can't pass up a chance to make it to the temple when its only 5 minutes away!!) then we all had a leisurely breakfast at Waffle house before driving 5 hours to Anaheim. 

We pulled in around 4 at the house and met up with a lot of the cousins and my siblings. We got settled in our room and then had a great time hanging out, chatting, talking about plans for the week. 

The next day was Sunday. We attended a nearby ward for Sacrament Meeting (and filled up 3 whole rows!) and then went back to the house to have our own Primary with sharing time by me, and singing time by my mom. After some lunch and quiet time we went to walk along the beach. We knew most of the kids would get completely soaked no matter what they wore, so a lot of us let our kids wear swimming suits. (I found out later, that this is one of the things Gwen told her piano teacher about ... "we went swimming at the beach.... on Sunday!" haha)  It was SUCH a beautiful day and SO SO fun to be all together with my family. (only missing my dad, my brother in law - German, and of course, my sister in law Radene and her son Carter because of his Leukemia treatment). I really enjoyed this slow paced, peaceful day. I especially loved sitting by Chris at church, and playing spike ball with Sarah, Jordan and Estefi at the beach. 

We had a delicious BBQ chicken and salads and whatnot for dinner. Tiffany and Ashley meal planned the whole thing and all I had to do was show up, help out a bit, and pay some money. It was SO NICE (for me).  We put the kids to bed kinda early (the time zone and beach made that sort of easy for my kids) and tried to plan out the strategy for California Adventure the next day. Tiff, Todd, Jared and Ashley had done some good research and determined a loose itinerary of which rides and shows to try and hit when. Again, I totally lucked out. Then Tiff, Sarah and I painted our nails - Disney style.

part 2 - California Adventure

Monday morning dawned and we were all up early. Everyone so excited. The kids played with the cousins while adults from each family packed a lunch for the day. Tiffany and Ashley had planned and even cooked some take-able meals ahead of time: deli sandwiches, pasta salads, 'walking tacos', chicken nuggets, bagels etc.  It was kinda nice that the parks didn't open until 10:00 so we had plenty of time to get there. Chris really didn't want to pay for parking so we decided to have him drive the kids and I to the drop off point early early and then he'll drive back to the house and then walk back. We wanted to be at the gates about an hour before they opened so we could be in a good spot to get Fast Passes for the newest and coolest ride in the park: Radiator Spring Racers. (Normally its like a 2 hour wait.. without the fast passes).  Although it sounds terrible, waiting in line for the park to open wasn't all that bad. They open the gates early (I can't remember 15 min, or 30 min) and then you have to wait at another point inside the park at the end of the main street, for the 'rope to drop' right at 10:00. Chris collected everyone's tickets and booked it with Jordan to get Fast Passes for Radiator Springs while the rest of us walked to Midtown Mania (a Toy Story 3D laser blaster ride) and got in line. It was fun to have 25 people in line in a row... the kids would wander in and out and play with each other. We waited maybe 30 min.  Not too bad.  

Then we walked over to Cars Land and did some of the little rides before our Fast Pass time was ready. 

Frederick was too short for Radiator Springs Racers by like 1/2 an inch. I tried to get the guy to call it a 'close enough' but he wouldn't. So I waited with Freddy while Chris took the other kids with all the other cousins. My brother and his wife waited with their 7 month old, Tommy, waited with me as well as my sister and her 1 year old. Chris and my mom got  Riders Swap passes for us to get on the ride later. We were confused how to do this and sort of expected to just walk right up to the front of the line, but we had to wait with all the other Fast Pass users, and I wondered what was the point of the Riders Swap pass... we could just use our own, still good, Fast Passes. Later that day when the same situation came up for Soarin' over the World, we talked with the worker and found out that one Riders Swap pass is good for up to 3 people, and has no time limit. So, it is better and different than a regular Fast Pass which is only good for a specified hour and for only 1 person.  Once we understood it right, we were sure to add the options for Riders Swap into our mental figuring of how to optimize our Disney experience over the next 4 more days.

Turns out the boys LOOOOOVED Screamin'. I was really surprised and impressed! I didn't think they would like such a fast and upside down roller coaster, but they loved it and rode it  4 or 5 times in a row with extra fast passes from the people too short to ride it while I and some other adults took the girls and younger ones to see the show, Frozen. It was amazing! So so good. All the little girls were literally on the edge of their seat the entire time.  Freddy even stayed awake and paid attention and loved it even though it was right in the middle of his nap time.  After we all met up again I think we had passes to Soarin' over the world and got some more for Radiator Springs again.  We grabbed some dinner at Flo's Cafe in Cars land, and it was nice to sit for a while and recharge. Then we did Ariel's ride, and waited for the firework show. We had gotten fast pass tickets to be able to go into the reserved area for the firework show right on the pier. This... wasn't really worth it at all. Everyone was standing and so anyone my height or shorter could only see the tips of the water shooting up. I could tell there were some images being projected onto the water but I was too short to see it. So for like 30 min, we were all standing, holding kids on our shoulders or backs or whatever just to see the tips of water shooting up.  Chris said it was a cool show. :)  I could see the fireworks when they started. Before it was over, we decided to leave and beat the crowds out of the park since we knew we still had miles of walking ahead of us to exit the park, walk through downtown disney and then a mile along the streets home.

Whew. Day 1 in the books and a total success! 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Preschool with Freddy

Freddy loves to do preschool with me.  I don't do it very often with him because its easy to get caught up with other stuff that needs to get done.  We probably do one session every 2 weeks or so and I don't prep for it AT ALL. I just fly by the seat of my pants and try to throw something together. Man, I really hope I can get some other kids involved with us next year so I put more thought and focus into it.  It makes me feel bad that I don't make it more of a priority just for Freddy. Sigh. Alas, I'll add it to the list of things to work on and just move forward the best I can.  This past week we did a preschool on snow.  We sang songs about snow, read books about snow, cut out snowflakes and made a snowman out of marshmallows. Its so much fun watching Freddy sing songs with me, and play with me. He looks at me with such love, it kinda indescribable how that makes me feel -- you'd think with all that good feeling I would actually spend more one-on-one time with him!  When we pick up the kids from school the first thing Freddy will say is, "I do preschool today!"  The kids are so sweet with him and ask him questions about what he did and say cute adult comments like, "that sounds like fun!" in a high, gentle voice. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Texas then NewYears

  Freddy is in love with Jane. Anytime I tell him we're going to meet his friends somewhere he always asks excitedly "Jane? with Jane? Jane be there?" (Except he pronounces it 'Jame')  So he, of all people was super excited to go to "Jame's house!"  We made it to Thom and Brittany's house late Monday night. They are always so sweet to let us arrive so late and they have everything ready for us.Tuesday, Brittney and I got a good run in in the morning. I can barely make it through 3 miles and at such a slow pace for Brittany. I feel back holding her back but its nice to have a 'therapy' session with her.  The weather was great and we met her extended family at a park for a hot dog roast and let the kids run wild. 

 Another day we met them at this climbing place for kids while Chris and Thom golfed. We finished at the climbing place just in time to come and meet them on 18 green to watch them finish out.  Brittany and I trying to find 18 green with 8 kids in tow was quite a site, but for the most part the kids were quiet and respectful of the course. Chris would probably want me to comment on how the round went. Lets see if I can remember it... as I was privy to a detailed round recap.  Um... something about it being Match Play, and Thom winning that by one stroke that could've been a tie if Chris had made his first putt on 18.  But also Chris won if you were just looking at strokes... but they weren't so Thom really won. But Chris sorta won too.  Also maybe Chris had some birdies on the front nine. I think that's all I got.  

Brittany and I got to have a girls morning and go see a movie with her sister and then go out to lunch and then Chris and Thom went to play tennis one night, letting Brittany and I continue our therapy session.  I love talking with Brittany.  Then the last night, Brittany arranged some babysitting so we could all go to the temple. We were supposed to go with some of her siblings and parents but lots of people were sick so it ended up just being the 4 of us. It was SO NICE to only drive 40 minutes to the temple and to be able to go WITH Chris in the same session.  We ate at a yummy Thai restaurant after.  And then the greatest thing was having the sweet YW who babysat for us, say that they don't charge for temple trips!  I know God will bless those girls for their selfless service. I know 8 kids under the age of 10 isn't easy!

Then we drove home Friday. It was nice to unpack and settle a bit before New Years Eve and New Years day on Sunday. We didn't have any major plans for New Years. We let the kids 'stay up' a bit. We put Freddy to bed almost like normal, and then got out some treats like redvines, peanut M&Ms, chex mix, and little soda cans and we played Phase 10. I think Gwen said something like, "This is the best party ever!" or something.  I guess having access to unlimited treats while staying up late is a pretty awesome party for Archibalds. :)  We found a count down on Netflix and it was so cute to see the kids get so excited to count down from 10. (probably because they didn't realize it wasn't the ACTUAL countdown yet...which makes me wonder if we're terrible parents to sorta trick our kids like that) Anyway. Chris and I got to cuddle on the couch and watch a movie that ended SECONDS before the New Year hit. We rang in the new year in style with a bottle of Martinellis. 

Sunday was the next day. Church at 9 and Chris and I still in charge of a lot of stuff while most people are out of town. Freddy is now a sunbeam!! Ah! I have all of my kids in primary with me and we have Jr. and Sr.s combined for sharing time/singing time. Its very fun to be with them. Here are pictures I took of them after we cut out hearts and wrote how we'll follow Jesus and show love to others that we'll send in to the Friend. 

We came home and FINALLY put together our gingerbread nativity scene that we had baked and cut out before Christmas. We froze it while we were in Texas. It was fun to make. Gwen did a great job on the angel, Alec, the manger with baby Jesus, and Charlie did the star. Freddy mostly just liked piling the candy on the sheep and shepherds but at one point put life savors on as eyes for some of the shepherds and then said, "Look big eyes!" He had a long Good n Plenty going down for the nose and for some reason we all thought this was super funny. We were all laughing pretty hard.  Fun memory.