Thursday, April 23, 2015

grandma's house and disneyland

Our trip to California in March was magical.

Once again, it was attached to one of Tim's work trips, but the timing was perfect.  His expo was the first week, and the second week was my family's spring break!  They all drove out and Tim took a little (much-needed) time off to hang out with all of us.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We stayed the night in St. George on the way down.  I have the best in-laws who let us stay with them when we don't feel like making the full thirteen hour trip in one day!  We went to church the next morning, and I couldn't help but take pictures!

I just love her.

At one point, we stopped at Subway to eat, and I spent a few minutes obsessing over how cute she was.  We got her a kid's meal, and it always makes my heart melt how grown-up she looks eating them.

(She got a little cold and had to borrow my jacket.)

I couldn't get over how green it was!  Cajon Pass is usually pretty brown.

Ellie and I spent the first couple of days hanging out with my grandma and our favorite labrador, Cody.

Then my aunt Ginny took a couple of days off to take us shopping!  I never complain when she wants to do that.  (Or eating out.  I never complain about that either.)

^^One of Ellie's cute new outfits.  Obviously.

Ellie and I both got pretty spoiled those days!

Obviously Ellie was lookin' pretty stylish!

 Sometimes she makes this face just to make me laugh.  (It works.)

"I playing da piano!"

Somehow I didn't get very many pictures after my parents and brothers got there!  Bummer dude.  But I promise, we did have a lot of fun, doing normal Sparks-y things: soda runs, talking, eating out, talking, eating - you get the idea.  It was fantastic.

I did get this one (random) picture from our trip to the Natural History Museum.

(You're welcome.)

Alas - now I will bombard you with Disneyland pictures!  It was basically the best day.  We spent until probably around 4pm taking Ellie around to whatever rides we knew were more her speed.  Then my parents came and picked her up (my grandma lives like 5 minutes from Disneyland) and watched her the rest of the evening!  We went on a couple of rides just the two of us, and then met up with my brother and his girlfriend.  Basically, it was the perfect day.

Our biggest mistake was taking her on the Snow White ride first.  We didn't remember how scary that would be for a two-year-old, and it totally traumatized her.  She spent the next few rides just waiting for a wicked witch to jump out at her.

It took some convincing, but eventually she succumbed and started to enjoy herself.

In fact, she didn't cry the entire time we were there.  She came the closest when we were about to meet Pluto.  She told us that she wanted to give him hugs and kisses, so we waited the two minutes in line, only to have her totally freak the second we were about to meet him.  (Santa Claus, all over again.)

Speaking of lines, let's just talk about those for a second.  The most we ever had to wait this trip was 25 minutes, and that was unusual.  That was amazing to me, because I'd been a couple of times where we waited 45 minutes if we were lucky!  What a good day. 

The teacups were by far Ellie's favorite.  On every other ride, we'd had to coax her out of her hesitancy.  The first time I took her on the teacups, she suddenly burst out laughing!  She giggled almost the entire ride.  (Tim gets a little motion sick on those, so he only accompanied us once.)

The fact that she loved them so much made them my favorite part of Disneyland.

I was so impressed how well she did in lines.  We saw plenty of kids bawling their eyes out, and I just knew that on any given day that could have totally been Ellie.  I was counting my blessings that day!

The Carousel and the Dumbo Ride were her two favorites after the teacups.  We rode each a couple of times!

As we were walking out to meet my parents, we happened by the parade!  I was so happy it worked out that way, because Ellie was entranced!

At the end, she kept saying, "More! More!"

We had totally mixed feelings about dropping her off with my parents.  On the one hand, she was being so good and enjoying herself so much.  On the other hand, it was so fun to have some time where we could go do our own thing.  Really, it was the best of both worlds.

We loved hanging out with Eric and his girlfriend that evening!  Our favorite experience with them was riding the rockets.  I was imagining that it would be like the Dumbo ride, only a little faster.  It was...except that the seats were much smaller and it went much faster.  We decided to pair off, only to find out that we could barely fit in a rocket together!  I was barely strapped in, and Tim wasn't really strapped in at all.  Then as the ride started, the centrifugal force kicked in, and suddenly I was crushing Tim's bad knee.  It started going faster and faster, and I started freaking out internally (and I'd been the one to encourage this dang ride!).  Tim tried to tell me about his knee, and I (with my hands covering my eyes) yelled, "Suck it up!"  Then we just giggled (partially out of fear) the entire rest of the ride.  It was horrifying.

We got off the rockets only to find that they'd had a similar experience.  (At least we weren't alone.)

It was one of the best days I've had in a long time!

ellie's 2nd birthday

Ellie is one spoiled little girl.  Both grandmas, one great-grandma, a great-aunt, and two parents may have contributed to that on her birthday!  But oh man, was it fun.

We opened a couple of her presents from her aunt and great-grandma early so she'd have enough time to play with them before we left for California.

They were a pretty big hit, if that isn't obvious.  Curious George is her favorite show right now, so naturally, it was love at first sight.

The day she turned two is basically one of my new favorite days.  This year, I decided not to throw a party.  I didn't think she'd really appreciate one yet fully, and I knew it would be a lot less stress for us if we just didn't worry about it this year.  Instead, we decided to fill the entire day with things we thought she'd enjoy.

Presents came first...

Presents just get more and more exciting the older she gets.  I love that now she tears into the wrapping paper and gasps excitedly with each new find.  I'm pretty sure parents have at least as much fun as kids do on birthdays and Christmas.  Scratch that, I'm pretty sure we have more fun.  It's magic.

Then, we decided to take her to her first movie in the movie theaters.  It was really hard to find one geared toward toddlers at the end of February, but we settled on Big Hero 6.  (It was basically the only kids movie we could find.)  My favorite was when the movie first started, and she kept exclaiming, "Whoa!  WHOA!  Whoa."  It lasted for several minutes, and was so cute.  She loved having her own popcorn and drink, and she really liked most of the movie.  (So did we!)  There were a couple parts that were a little intense for her, so I would just walk her out into the hall until the music calmed down a little bit.  She liked that system.

The next stop was the Treehouse Children's Museum.  (If you read my post about it, you know Ellie and I are basically in love with that place.)  It has a new Curious George exhibit that's kinda more geared toward older kids, but Ellie didn't care.  The fact that George's face was everywhere was exciting enough.

The miniature diner is one of my personal favorites.

 And boy, was she working hard in that sink.  (It bodes well for my future.)

 It was as much fun for us as it was for her!

 Ellie couldn't get enough of the tools section.  She must take after her dad (and her Grandma Patrice), because this definitely didn't come from me.  She spent the most time here by far.  She still loves playing with hammers and screw drivers and drills.

For dinner, we were going to go somewhere with a play-place.  We really wanted to make the whole day about her!  But after the excitement of the movies and the Treehouse Children's Museum, this was Ellie:

Which meant we didn't go somewhere with a play-place.  Instead, we went to Corner Bakery, which was definitely about Tim and me.  (We love that place.)  I don't think Ellie minded one bit.

At corner bakery, we bought a little bundt cake.  I was sure I had a couple of birthday candles at home, but we got home and realized...there were none.  Tealight candle to the rescue!

She was a big fan of that cake.  What can I say, the girl loves chocolate!

She still talks about birthdays and birthday cakes and candles and the birthday song!  The whole experience really left an impression on her.  And I can't really blame her.  It was pretty magical!