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Laura

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Friday, January 1st, 2016 09:10 am
So, we went to Disneyland for Christmas this year. (This was partially a whim and partially not - we had savings for, and plans for, an eventual Disney trip. I'd been waiting until the boys were old enough to enjoy it, and when our Christmas plans shifted a bit we said 'why not?' I'd meant to do 5/8 for the ages, but 4/almost-7 seemed close enough.) The one bad thing about timing is that Ian is 41 inches tall at the moment, or perhaps 41.5 with shoes on, and that makes him a half-inch too short for several rides. He was very disappointed by this once or twice, but honestly, mostly he didn't miss it. I think the Grizzly River Run is the one thing he really regretted it on, and if he had ANY idea how cold Andrew and I were...well, he'd still have regretted it, because four-year-old excitement and practicality do NOT mix. Heh.

I am not going to try to describe the Christmas decor in the hotels, Downtown Disney, or the parks. It was GORGEOUS and AWESOME and I will have pictures up later and let them handle it because seriously, awesome to look at, probably boring to read about.

I'm including steps/miles walked, as registered by my phone, because they amuse me.

I'm cribbing some of this from text messages sent to other people to jog my memory, so some of you may recognize parts of this. :) Day by day, because I'm not sure I can keep it coherent even so.

MONDAY (11,112 steps; 5.22 miles):

Boarded a plane in the morning and flew to Long Beach. At Portland, there was a dog (drug trained? bomb trained? both?) in a cordoned off area pacing past the line, sniffing passengers and their bags. With a prominent 'do not pet' sign. Since Ian doesn't read yet and Andrew may or may not read something, I told them firmly not to pet the dog, because she was working and her sign said not to pet. Her handler smiled - and produced collector K9 cards with the dog's picture on them as we came near them in line, which neatly distracted the boys from the actual dog. :)

Ian decided our "Super Shuttle" van was a space shuttle and the tunnel we went through was blast off, so I guess we positively flew to our hotel, too. By 11 am we were checked in to the Paradise Pier hotel, although our room wouldn't be ready until later in the day. (They pre-issue the room keys, which get you into various parts of the hotel and allow access to specials at the resort, and just link them to your room once you get it.) By 11 am, we were also walking to Downtown Disney to wander around (having spent 15-20 minutes in the room downstairs with the old Disney cartoons on the TV), because there was supposed to be a fire-alarm test sometime between 11 am and 2 pm, and we desired to miss it. The Lego store was a big hit, both for the tables to play outside (the boys), the fancy things inside (everyone), and the giant figures they built (occasionally the boys, mostly Scott and I).

Lunch at the Rainforest Cafe was well-received. Andrew said he'd tell us when the gorilla above our table moved. Ten seconds later he said the gorilla was moving, Scott ignored him but I looked. He laughed and said "fooled ya!" And then the gorilla started shaking his stick and grunting and Andrew looked astonished and Scott and I laughed so hard....

Later we went to the swimming pool because they demanded it, and they swam quite happily. They are NUTS. It was not particularly warm.

Back to Downtown Disney in the evening for dinner at the Italian place (because pizza and boys). There was a man making balloon things and both boys got balloon swords. Andrew popped his almost immediately after the guy left our table, by poking it into a corner of an adjacent table while swinging it about; after finishing the next table, the guy came back and made Andrew a balloon lightsaber. The boys proceeded to duel. (Whee!) Also, the table had an LED "candle" on it and both boys had to pick it up out of the holder and hold it next to their faces (AFTER I had said it was not a real candle and wouldn't hurt them, thankfully for my sanity; they're not completely insane, at least not all the time).

Parts of Monday were, honestly, stressy. The boys had to get up at 4:30 am and both refused to nap on the plane or shuttle or, in fact, in our room later on; they just didn't. By dinner they were melty enough I thought Elsa might be needed to firm them up again. On the other hand, that same emotional reactivity meant that when we got back to the hotel room after dinner (and I honestly forget where we ate dinner), and they saw the "First time at Disneyland / Mickey Mouse Christmas" welcome packages for them, they were OVER THE MOON. Each got a "Santa" Mickey Mouse plush, a red blanket with a white snowflake, mouse ears (not with their names on as intended, but they don't know that and were perfectly happy!), a Mickey Mouse on mouse ears ornament (photo later, I can't describe it well, and wasn't getting glass ornaments home just a jolly challenge? both arrived safely - thank goodness), and an autograph book and pen (at every character meet, Ian would refuse to get autographs in his, at first because the specific character wasn't on the cover, but he dropped that excuse with Mickey - who was on the cover - and just said no).

Then we tried to get them to sleep so they would actually rest before our only early-entry morning that week to the parks. (We had early-entry privileges every day. We also had character breakfasts Wednesday through Friday, outside the parks, so we weren't going to use that perk but the once.) Getting them to sleep was aided by the new blankets and Mickeys, which got snuggled. It was not aided by the beach ball pillows on each bed, courtesy of the hotel, which the boys wanted to bounce on and throw. Had I known about those pillows, I might have booked a different hotel. They would be a recurring, if minor, bane.

TUESDAY (16,475 steps; 7.34 miles):

Ian, in the hotel when he got up, BEFORE the park: "I love Disneyland. Disneyland is a big world. So big I want to go every day!" (Yes, again, we had not been in the parks yet.)

First day in park. Disneyland! Strollers. Yes, Andrew is a little old for one - but not over the age or weight limit, and asking him to walk the parks four days straight when we hadn't done anything to prepare his stamina didn't seem like a good idea. Sadly, though they apparently used to have double strollers, Disneyland now has only singles, so we had two singles - which means one parent could not take both boys much of anywhere, because you can't move two of those (especially one holding a heavier, older boy) by yourself.

And...it was raining! Which is both awesome and horrible. Horrible because you'd think the boys had never dealt with rain before and they were cold (and Ian at least was refusing to wear his bloody sweatshirt; they both refused to wear ponchos at this point - so did I, but I wasn't whining about the rain, I was laughing), and because this is when I discovered the hole in the sole of my shoe, at the heel. Awesome because it was less crowded than it should have been. We'd gotten moving a little later than intended (okay, a lot, but the alternative was forcing the boys through a morning routine faster than they wanted and setting a grumpy tone for the day, and just no), which means our Extra Magic Hour was more like an extra magic 25 minutes, but hey, we were still there before general admission. I had time to activate our Photopass+ before we went on rides and not muck up our goals. (And that Photopass+ was very wanted - it meant we got free copies of ride photos, for example.) First ride: Peter Pan's Flight, which is notorious for long lines. I can see why. It's a short indoor track ride, and it's stunningly beautiful in places. I wanted to go on it again, but as it turned out, other rides would eclipse it for the boys, and between that and the lines, we would never get back to it this trip. Still, it was an excellent start to the trip and so beautiful.

Here, a problem became apparent. I had a plan that was supposed to maximize the number of things we got to do, and yes, before you laugh at me, I had plans to ditch whole swaths of it as needed - there were lots of rides on it we weren't particularly interested in, or the boys were too small or too scared, and we could skip. (We'd gone over a list of EVERY ride/event I could think of before we left, and labeled them 'must', 'yes', 'no', and 'cannot' for each boy so we could track what was what...THAT turned out to be really valuable later, as you'll see.)

The plan wanted us to do things that were impossible because they were closed in the rain (oh well, life), and wanted us to do a couple interesting rides nearby that Andrew didn't want to do and Ian did. We juggled a little, and then I tossed the plan and just started going places, because the *whole thing* was going to be a pain in pretty much every bit of anatomy that ever appears in a "That's a pain in the..." type phrase, ALL AT ONCE.

Andrew went on the Dumbo ride (in the rain!). Ian decided not to. We all went on Pinnochio's adventure, which is just as disjointed as the negative reviews suggest (story-wise it doesn't quite cohere), but kind of attractive and not scary, and indoors and therefore dry. Ian and I went on the Toy Story arcade shooter game (Andrew worried he'd be scared; I think he might have been), and the gift shop at the end of that started some issues because Andrew wanted a Baymax toy. (He eventually spent more than half his mad-money for the parks on it and got it, and Ian bought an identical one, in a decision that caused Scott and I to stare at each other in dismay...but they're both fairly happy with their totally identical toys, so, so be it.)

After a cold wet morning, we stopped for a brunch (we'd had a snack-breakfast in the room, another mistake as the boys hadn't had ENOUGH) at a cafe inside Disney, where I got gluten-free Mickey Mouse waffles. I'm not sure they were totally fine since the mix had some corn meal, but it was the best I could do there besides just eating bacon and a fruit bowl (later in the trip, I would have done exactly that, and I probably should have). I had them with grape jelly, since they didn't have real maple syrup, and the grape jelly had no disallowed ingredients, unlike the other stuff. And then we went back to the hotel to dry off, regroup, and watch cartoons. I had hopes that Ian would nap. He didn't oblige.

I pulled out the holiday Mad Libs I'd brought and ended up having to sing Jingle Butts (and Scott would have to re-read it later in the trip, lucky him!). Also Deck the Halls, of which the best line was "Don we now our boiling apparel" - Scott had to re-read that one later in the trip and sang the following "Fa la la la la" in a pained falsetto.

Back to the park that afternoon, and I can only copy this note from a message I sent a friend: "We walked into the grand Californian hotel on our way to Disneyland this afternoon and they had the most glorious Christmas decor. And a sea of people sitting around on cell phones while ignoring it. >.<"

They met Spider-Man, Thor, and Darth Vader. Well, Andrew met them all and Ian stayed shyly with Mom for the first two (but he did want to meet Darth Vader! And no, they haven't seen even one of the Star Wars movies; I'm amused). Andrew was thrilled and also said hi to the two super-heroes for his Aunt Julia. He asked if Spider-Man could web someone, had it explained that no, he had his safeties on for the meet'n'greet. Andrew asked why...and proceeded to try to set the webs off during the meet'n'greet, thus perfectly demonstrating the in-character why. Heh. They were awesome, though. The intro to Thor was VERY well done, as you "travel across the Bifrost" to Asgard. The exit was...walking down a hallway back to the convention center, with no attmept at transitional magic, which somewhat broke the illusion. Oops.

After that, a little while playing Xbox games (which they didn't want to stop, which amuses me, because why go to Disneyland for that?), then dinner at the Pizza Port...which is to say I ate a Bobo's Oat Bar for dinner. Disney is VERY accommodating of special dietary needs, but a counter-service place is not the best for that, especially not when you are avoiding dairy and wheat among others and it's called the Pizza Port. (I was the one who steered us to it, because I knew the boys would love it, and I was not wrong. I regret nothing, except my inability to join them in eating it.)

After that, the boys saw two Stormtroopers walking across the plaza and tried to chase them down; they were marching somewhere and didn't stop, and I called the boys back. (Ooops, sorry - I see dinner happeneded between the super-heroes and the storm troopers, so Darth Vader was after the storm troopers.) We went over to the Finding Nemo submarine voyage and did that; it's pretty fun, though Andrew was a little worried about really being under the water. He wanted to know what was pretend, what was animatronic, etc.

We wrapped the night up with It's a Small World. We headed over there after Andrew decided he wasn't up to the Matterhorn so we moved on to Small World - and the Paint the Night parade got between us and it, so we watched it from a distance. (I saw a couple other parades from a distance here and there - the boys were NOT interested in them.) Andrew needed a restroom just after entering the line so Scott took him while Ian and I went in line. They got back in time for Andrew to join me in line, and Scott waited outside. (I'm not sure whether Scott was clever or unfortunate to miss it - we only went once for the whole trip, and it's lovely at the holidays, but it's still That Ride even if the earworm is greatly reduced in frequency.) The boys both loved it and we left with very positive memories for them of that ride. We rode the train to Tomorrowland, switched to the monorail for Downtown Disney, and hopped off to get ice cream at Haagen Dazs. (Yes, I know. Yes, it was cold. They wanted ice cream, and they were happy they got it, so.

Meanwhile, our pet sitter texted me that she had been and fed the cats / cleaned the litterboxes. She included a photo of each cat - Apple up close being petted, and Ray hiding in the door of the playroom at the top of the stairs, taken from a distance, ears half-back and glaring balefully at her. LOL

Tuesday night we tried to watch the fireworks from the roof of the hotel. (We had not done so Monday because they'd already had a long day and we had to get up early Tuesday morning, a double whammy.) We failed; they were canceled because of the weather, we were told because of the rain but it could just as well have been wind.

WEDNESDAY (18,098 steps; 8.39 miles):

First character breakfast, in our hotel, with Mickey and friends. Pictures with Mickey; a very good buffet with everything clearly signed for allergies/food restrictions (I had listed mine when making the reservations for all three character breakfasts; the different handling was baffling and interesting, as you'll see; this was easily the best). I was able to eat quite happily. And we got to met Mickey, Minnie, Daisy Duck, and STITCH! Stitch! ...I might have been a little more excited by Stitch than by the headlining character for the venue, lol. Andrew and Ian thought he looked neat and picked up on my excitement, but they've never seen Lilo and Stitch; I've promised to show them.

I stayed to pay at the breakfast while they went back to the hotel room, and the boys had an argument over elevator buttons that escalated to where Scott had to carry Ian back to our room kicking and screaming (and this in turn spilled milk that was being taken back to the room, including on the photo prints from the character breakfast - nothing got through their protective envelope however).

This was our California Adventure day (I wasn't sure if Thursday would be back in DCA or over in Disneyland) and it SO did not go as planned. After walking in on the continuing fight mentioned above and settling it, I then needed the restroom. For...a long while. I really hate IBS. We finally made it in to California Adventure sometime after 11 am, and stopped by to get me a disability access (basically lets you "stand in line" without standing in line, coming back at a return time instead), since I was not in shape to stand in lines. (I actually did pretty well once we had that, partially because I had medicated more - in ways I'd rather not normally, but we were at Disney and I didn't want to spend hours in restrooms. And partially because we had the pass, which meant I was not _stressed out about lines_ which would've exacerbated it.) I felt weird using it the rest of the trip. Like, wasn't I mostly doing well enough I could not-use it? But I was not doing all that well any time I got stressed or distressed, and really wasn't up to the standing in line. Pfeh.

In any case, we then obtained a time for Radiator Springs Racers and headed there, stopping at Flo's to get lunch (yes, it was bloody well that late when we went in, and I am still unamused by that, but what do you do except deal?). Seeing the Carsland section of California Adventure was awesome; seeing it done up for Christmas even more so. The traffic cone themed place selling ice cream cones, pop-cone, cone-fections, chili cone carne, etc., gave me a great deal of amused glee. (Not once all weekend did I get to pose with Mater, which I'm sad about, but I did get to pose with Red (the fire truck) on Christmas.) Back to Wednesday, though - there was a mini meltdown over choosing food at Flo's and it took a while to settle Ian down again.

Then we finally went on to Racers and that was a lot of fun (if you get a chance, go). The boys wanted to do it again, but the line was long - and we had other must-dos we hadn't done. (A couple of which we ended up deciding not to do. So it goes.) As it happened, doing it again was not a happening thing anyway. We had been off it five minutes when its power went out / it broke down (I heard both versions)...and I later heard it was four *hours* before they got it back up. Aie.

I swear I tried to talk them into some of the nice-to-haves, but they really wanted to hit musts. Which meant that Andrew and I went on the Grizzly River Run (Ian's height wouldn't permit - he watched, and talked Scott into standing where they'd get soaked the second time we went). We were wearing ponchos the first time; when Andrew asked to go a second, he took his poncho off so he could get soaked (explicitly, he was excited to). The line was short enough that I didn't bother with a disability access pass for the second run, which I am half regretful of, half grateful. Had I, we would not have been in line when the ride stopped for 10-15 minutes, thus resulting in my doing every calming exercise in the book so I wouldn't have to take us out of line to dash to a restroom. On the other hand...I strongly suspect we would have been on the ride, and that would have been worse. Knowing I _could_ leave the line to go to the restroom helped a lot with my ability not to freak about it, which in turn kept me from aggravating the issue. Eventually we got our second ride, got off, and found a very wet, tired, cold and out of sorts Ian. Andrew was also a bit out of sorts. Both wanted to go back to the hotel. We went back to the hotel, dried them off and warmed them up with videos.

On our way back to the hotel, Andrew, who had been testing limits now and again regarding crossing streets, walked slowly toward a four-lane road...which had no traffic closer than a block away...and then stepped one foot into the roadway (which I'd already scolded him for twice this week). I called his name, he stepped back up on to the sidewalk, and I got mommy-lectured by a guy who looked to be about 60. Um, I was two long steps away; Andrew isn't a runner; he was on the curve and would've needed 1-2 steps more to be in front of the traffic; and the traffic was _a block away_. Thank you, sir, I appreciate your concern but not so much your judgement. (Had I called Andrew back _before_ he put his foot in the street, he would've been offended and he might well have fought me, pulled away, and fallen into the street in a worst case; waiting until he _stepped down_ meant that he accepted the censure and stepped back up because it was for something he had done, not something he might have done. And yes, if I'd thought he'd pull a runner on me or get hurt, I'd have pulled him back or handled it differently, but I didn't think that.)

Scott was AMAZINGLY sweet: he sent me back to California Adventure when I asked if I could go back. I wanted to wander. I wanted to _see Disney at Christmas_. I wanted pictures. All things the boys did not want (except to see things, of course). I did just that. I walked. I got my picture taken. I took pictures. I heard music, I saw Christmas decorations. (I wish I'd had a park-hopper pass - Disneyland would've been even more awesome. But I didn't, and DCA was pretty darned awesome anyway. And I maybe didn't have time for Disneyland anyway.) I went on a single ride, the only ride I did while I was wandering. Ian wanted to go on the Tower of Terror and Drew was vacillating between 'no way' and 'maybe'. I was not sure -either- of them would enjoy it (or me, come to that). So I went on it. I actually did enjoy it, but I also concluded that Andrew would freak out in the interior scenarios that lead up to the actual _ride_ part of the ride and never get on it, and Ian would probably completely freak out at the ride. My verbal report on it resulted in both of them taking it off their to-do lists.

We had agreed that I would meet them for dinner - and I was just barely off it in time to do so - gotta love long lines. (I started back just about 5 pm.) But it meant that I walked out of the park to the sound of sing-along Christmas carols on the main street, and the sun setting providing a glorious sky, and the Christmas lights all visible in the growing dimness. That walk out is one awesome memory - it was just so perfect and comfortable and beautiful.

Then we went to the buffet dinner in our hotel. I was dubious, as buffets are normally iffy; they'd been very accommdating at the character breakfast, but we'd had reservations. And indeed, nothing was marked at dinner, since they hadn't had anyone with reservations and restrictions. I was able to ask questions and do okay, though - the salmon nearly sandbagged me, I'm glad I asked, it had been cooked in butter. It was also the only meat I really had a hope of eating, since the others had far worse things for me on them - so I took a lactase pill, ate the salmon anyway, and hoped for the best. It doesn't seem to have aggravated the IBS, but after the day started the way it did, it's hard to know if I'd have done better without the salmon or not...I mean, it was _already_ pretty well aggravated, right?

After dinner, with newly re-energized kiddos, we went back to DCA. I asked whether we could get a disability pass for the racers, but the answer was no - this is when we learned about the four-hour down time. All the fast-pass holders from that had come back and the ride had two, two and a half hours worth of line for standby. Which meant they could give me a pass for 2-2.5 hours later (so about 8:30 or 9 pm?), which would then dump us in a big line full of fast pass holders that, itself, was more than 15 minutes long. Um, not workable. Holy not workable mess, Batman. Even had they been willing/able to give me one, I could not have used it.

So we rode a 'maybe' ride for the boys, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. Which turned out to be surprisingly rideable and awesome, and very silly. Whoever came up with having Mater-faced tractors 'dance' a square dance on rotating circles was WILDLY creative, may I just say? We would end up going on this ride several more times (two or three total this night), and one or another of them featured a soundtrack where Mater forgets the words to the song and sings the rest of it as 'dadgum' over and over again. Explaining to Andrew why I was so giggly about it was surprisingly hard!

I don't have a good record after that, but I think we may have done Bug's Life, an area I'd originally intended to skip. Either this time or the next day.... A caterpillar train, bumper cars, that sort of thing. Andrew wanted to do the Grizzly River Run *again*, and I let him talk me into it, but suggested we do Soaring Over California first. Ian didn't want to go on it, he was afraid it would be too scary. Honestly, so was I. As it was, I had a choice - I could stay with Ian, and risk having to dash to a restroom with an unamused four-year-old, or I could go on the ride with Andrew and fast-track it. We fast-tracked it. (I was advised I didn't need it for GRR, because most people are not so foolish as to go on it after dark, in December. Wonder why. lol) So I went on with Andrew even though I was a little nervous about the fear of heights. I'm glad I did: I quite loved it. And yes, I had some bad moments in regards the height, but you can - if you try - see either the floor or the wall from most seats, I believe. From mine on this ride it was the floor, and I looked at it every time I started having trouble, and that was enough.

From there to the GRR, where Andrew somehow got me to go on TWICE (the line was only five minutes long). There were so few people that only four were in our boat (they seat 8) on the first run, and only us on the second. And then, as I told Andrew before we did it, back to the hotel so I could get a hot shower. I don't remember if Ian was awake or not by this point - if he wasn't, Scott carried him back, or I'd have remembered that. I was wet despite the poncho, and I was so cold. :P

THURSDAY (18,364 steps; 8.26 miles):

Christmas Eve! We went to our character breakfast with Chip and Dale, which also included Meeko, and had some adorable moments of Ian hiding under the table and the characters getting down on hands and knees to peek at him. I'd have been worried they were pushing his comfort zone, but I'm sure they saw - as I did - that he was grinning, occasionally giggling. The food was good; I had a chef orient me to what I could and could not safely have; there were no signs as there had been at the buffet on Wednesday. (Each buffet does it differently, I was learning...always fun.) I was able to eat plenty that didn't worry me much, so I was happy.

We'd had a bit of a meltdown from Ian over sweatshirts the night before - he was cold, but he objected to the green one that went over his head, utterly - and Andrew was wearing a blue one that was a little too small for him. So we stopped in the gift shop at the Grand Californian, where they had Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. I tried to get Ian one...he did not like it and refused, but Andrew wanted it. Of course, they were out of Andrew's size. I went with the next size up so he had to roll his sleeves up, but it will fit him a good while. And then his slightly-too-small blue zip-up sweatshirt went to Ian. And then we continued on; we were to Downtown Disney when I realized we were short a belt pouch, specifically, Ian's. Argh! Scott sat with the boys while I went back to search for the belt pouch, but failed. Could be worse; they had our phone numbers in them, and some snacks, chapstick, sunglasses, and one cheap souvenir each (little keychain Mickey-heads in various colors, each unique, so we could easily tell the pouches apart, hung from the zipper - except Ian's, because he tucked his safely inside). So at least if it was gone, the biggest inconvenience was Ian not being able to snag snacks whenever he wished to.

The orginal plan had been to let the boys pick the park for this day, and I was hoping they'd pick Disneyland, but we were going to do Disneyland on Christmas. The thing is, they wanted more of DCA also...and I despaired, because there wasn't a full day of things to *do* in DCA without a lot of repeats. So I swung by the tickets counter and upgraded us to park-hopper tickets after all. *facepalm* That might have been handy on Wednesday so I could've walked in Disneyland, but I had fun then in DCA, so maybe it's just as well. I was briefly annoyed that this resulted in us losing our "keepsake" plastic card tickets and getting paper ones...but the paper ones had Disney characters on them and are actually more awesome for scrapbooking later, and as soon as I realized that I was over the regret of not having just gotten park-hoppers in the first place. :)

We walked over to Paradise Pier to do the midway "shooter" ride. The boys were a little peckish so we got them a churro to split. Andrew looked at this strange (to him) food like it was too evil to consider, and took the tiniest of tastes...and then lit up and grabbed for it. *grins* From there, we roamed down the midway toward the Jumpin' Jellyfish ride I didn't want to go on, and got in line, only to discover that it was two people per fish (so I'd have to go on it for both boys to go). Whereupon the boys started fighting over who would go with me and who wouldn't (they both wanted to), and wouldn't yield even after we suggested two rides (one with me with Andrew, one with me with Julian). As my gut started roiling due to stress, I declared that I was not going on at all, and anyone who wanted to would have to go with Dad. Andrew took the better part of valor and went with Scott, and Ian continued melting and refusing to go on with Scott. He never did get to go on that ride, but he did get to sit on a bench with me cuddling him (and trying to calm both of us down), so at least he didn't have to do a frantic restroom run with me. I was worried for a bit.

I talked the boys into heading for the Disney Junior show next, and on the way we ran into Army Men (from Toy Story, green-painted army men) who wanted the kids to practice to be new toy recruits. Andrew wanted to, Ian didn't, so I roamed a bit with Ian (who was trying to figure out where he could get popcorn and a soda, but didn't communicate that well to me at first). I got my picture taken again, and once he explained what food he wanted, I took him just up to Radiator Springs and got him pop-cone and a soda. Gotta say, it's expensive but the portions aren't small - he and Andrew (who finished up and caught up with us there) shared it and enjoyed it.

Then on toward the Disney Junior show, where we arrived 20 minutes before the next showing. Ugh. I was not amused. Downtime is good, except when that downtime is dictated by being in a line. Oh, well. It wasn't a bad line and I could get out of it when needed, and we were right next to a TV showing various things to entertain waiting kids, so it worked. The actual show - now done with puppets, not live actors, as I already knew - was pretty well-done if basic and the boys enjoyed it. Andrew had trouble staying back from the stage not because he wanted to crowd the stage, but because every time there was something to grab at (pop bubbles, catch streamers, catch gold doubloons, etc.) he stopped paying attention to where he moved to, and we were at the front to begin with.

I believe this is when we did Soaring over California again - I know we did it either Christmas Eve or Christmas and both Scott and Ian got to go. Ian turned out to love it (as I thought he would, once I saw it!), and Scott liked it as well. But I don't have a firm record that this was when.

Then we crossed to Disneyland and had lunch at the Pizza Port (yep, I had another oat bar, whee!), before getting on Space Mountain. (Yes, the line was ridiculous, and yes, I had a disability access into it, because oh God no way.) The boys loved the food. Andrew loved (Hyper)space Mountain, but it was the first thing Ian declared too scary. (One of only two rides he so designated.) I don't think he liked the jolting turns in the dark. In our ride photo, he looks merely abstracted - he looks more scared in the Splash Mountain photo, but he *loved* Splash Mountain. Go figure. (On the other hand, Space Mountain is the only ride on which he gripped my arm so hard he left a bruise. I knew he would when he did it, too, but because he was doing that I also knew he was really scared, so I didn't stop him. Poor kiddo.)

Then we headed to FrontierLand and went on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (fun, and the boys loved it). The I got them on the river boat to go around the island on the "tour". They were entranced; I was bored. Perils of being a parent, but this surprised me. I remembered it as fun, and it turns out to be rather boring when you're paying attention. Heh. Then we got a standby time for Haunted Mansion (on Ian's MUST list and Andrew's no way list), and headed over to Tom Sawyer's island. That...would have worked better had the boys not split up, leaving me chasing Ian all over the island while trying not to think about a restroom. (I eventually got one. Before it became critical.) Still, it worked. They loved it. I eventually got Ian back to the mainland to go on Haunted Mansion. Where...the ride stopped unexpectedly with us on it. Twice. Once for over 30 seconds, tilted back at a 30 degree angle and looking up at a vampire thingy. I was concentrating on pointing out things to Ian and not on 'how long until it starts again augh!' when it started again. The Haunted Mansion - Nightmare Before Christmas is...neat, fascinating to look at, and yet somehow not that impressive to me. Not sure what to say beyond that. Ian liked it; to quote him:

Ian: "wow, that was so scary!!"
Me: "good scary? Or bad scary? Would you want to go again later?"
Ian: "good! Again now!"

We didn't go "again now". We went on Splash Mountain, which they loved. (Ian looks more freaked-out in his Splash Mountain photo than in the one for Hyperspace Mountain, but he liked it more and wanted to go back on. Go figure!)

The boys were rapidly approaching no-cope territory and it was nearly dinner time. Instead we took the train to Tomorrowland, the monorail from there to Downtown Disney, and went back to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. The theory was that it was convenient, easy, Andrew had been begging to go back, and they could accommodate my food requirements. Theory was one thing, execution was another - getting my food sorted out somehow led to the boys *finishing* theirs before Scott and I *got* ours. AND my turkey club, having been turned into a lettuce wrap, had the cheese on it that I'd asked it not - the server forgot. I took a lactase pill after the first bite (where I realized), then removed the rest of the cheese. SO lucky it's not a milk-protein allergy. Oy. Some good memories though:

Server: "And what does she want?"
Andrew: "I'm not a she!"
Server, with horrified look: "Oh, I'm sorry!"
Andrew: "It's okay, I get that all the time."
Server looks startled, and covers his mouth trying not to laugh.

Ian was being melty because the "fresh fruit in season" picture showed apples, oranges, cherries, etc. In December they have just orange slices, and he wanted cherries. His insistence on it amused the server. When I apologized and told him Ian had been up since 6 am with no nap, he said immediately, "I believe you need this menu," and lifted the drinks menu to the top of my stack. Scott ordered a strawberry lemonade and the server quipped, "That was a strawberry mojito?" (Ian decided to ask for corn and applesauce.)

Back to the hotel, and then opened Christmas Eve pajamas. Disney-themed, of course - the boys got Mickey with Pluto, I got Mickey & Minnie, and Scott got Donald Duck tangled up in holiday lights, which the boys thought was hilarious.

After that, Scott went out again to search for the missing belt pouch. He'd thought of a couple areas I didn't search, and one of them worked out - jammed behind the chairs they sat in while waiting when we got the sweatshirt. Aha! So we got Ian's belt pouch back, too.

FRIDAY (18,759 steps; 8.27 miles):

Christmas morning and a character breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen. We never did see Goofy except at a distance, but we'd see him later as it happened. Chip & Dale were there, as was Pluto, and Ian played peek with the chipmunks again, so that was funny. We were in a corner table and I seated him against a pair of walls with me between him and the room (similar to what I'd done the day before at the other breakfast where I knew characters made him twitchy), so he could pick his own meeting times, and he had fun with that. This was easily the worst location for allergy handling, and it was still pretty good. They didn't have any signs up (Paradise Pier appears to stand alone in that regard) despite our reservation, but they sent the chef to our table to go over what was safe. There were two problems with that. The first is that his accent made him very hard for me to understand, especially in the noisy room. And the second was that he would start telling me everything in a section was safe except *this* because it had cheese...but everything, EVERYTHING in that section was a pastry and had wheat. It was like he couldn't keep multiple allergies in his head for five seconds. I just started asking in more detail about dishes I might actually eat, and that worked pretty well. They were also willing to make me some plain hash browns (I think that was this day and not Christmas Eve? one of the two did--) which was nice. And this buffet had a custom omelette station that was happy to cook without cheese in. Shared pans, so it would absolutely NOT work for someone with a significant allergy to ANY of the ingredients (which I don't think the chef realized), but for me who just needed to avoid any significant introduction of the actual foods to my meal, it worked. Except dairy and lactose, and since there WAS cheese in other things made there, I just took a lactase pill and ate my food anyway. (Besides, if the chef was going to forget anything, it was going to probably be that something was cooked in butter. The lactase pill was probably wise *anyway*.) The breakfast was made more exciting for the boys because I had _not_ booked the character breakfasts as birthday trips or anything but our waiter asked and I said "well, I'm not sure they count; his is December 4 and his is January 9" and he just beamed and said "two birthdays!" so the boys got three different pins for eating there and having birthdays and all that, plus chocolate cupcakes. LOL. They were thrilled. (And they didn't get any little extras or interactions in park that wearing their 'first time' buttons or birthday buttons could have gotten them, because they refused to. LOL. So it goes!)

Plan for the morning was Disneyland, with ToonTown as a primary figure. We wanted to use the railroad instead of walking, so we entered via the monorail and didn't get strollers. (Mistake....)

First up was splitting the party - Andrew wanted to do the Matterhorn, Ian wanted to do Pirates of the Carribbean. Andrew didn't want to go on the latter, and Ian was too short for the former. I went with Andrew - the line for the Matterhorn was over a half hour, so we did Nemo's subs again while we waited for our time. Whee? Andrew enjoyed it at least as much the second time, perhaps more, whereas I was more bored. So it goes. The Matterhorn was fun but not as fun as I remember; I think Ian would not have cared for it. Got a text from Scott at the time that Pirates scared Ian enough that he did not want to go back on it. He did like it - sort of - and sort of not.

Andrew and I went on the Matterhorn, and then walked up to Toon Town, while Scott and Ian came down toward TT from the other side. (They'd take the train over to New Orleans Square for the ride...wish I had paid better attention to Scott's text about the dinosaurs, it would have potentially saved a little grief later in the day. Maybe.)

They posed with about every bit of scenery they could - and Andrew got to pose with Goofy and a car! - and then went on Gadget's Go-Coaster two or three times. Then on to Donald's boat and Goofy's Playhouse. No time spent seeking characters to meet - only the "main" ones were there and Andrew had met them all.

Then over to AdventureLand for the Tiki Room, both because we thought they'd enjoy it and because Scott loves it. Also, because Dole Whip and kids. This is where things *started* to go off the rails, in hindsight. Andrew asked if it was scary and we explained that other than a "thunderstorm" it wasn't - and in fact that was his experience of it. Ian was REALLY scared by the thunderstorm, in part because he'd insisted on sitting by himself behind us - but he came up to us and was reassured and I thought all was well. Except that when leaving, instead of sticking with us, he moved completely away from us - but we didn't realize. He'd been walking between me and Scott, "with" Scott, and when I couldn't see him anymore I assumed he was in front of Scott. Scott was looking forward and assumed he was still there. Then I heard him screaming behind us, as did Scott. Scott stayed with Andrew while I went back for Ian - we weren't out of the room yet. Ian had gone back toward where we had come in, instead of toward the exit, and he ran toward me all frantic. I scooped him up and cuddled him.

We got the Dole Whips, sat on some rocks while the boys basically ate pineapple ice cream equivalent for lunch, and Ian seemed to be fine after. We _should have left then_. Instead we headed for the jungle cruise; it had a 45 minute line so we gave it a miss. (I regret missing that; I recall it as funny and fun. And I don't regret missing it; I suspect I might find it boring now, and I _definitely_ did not want a 45 minute line.)

Then Tarzan's tree house, as the last thing to do before heading out for a break from the parks (we had promised swimming to the boys). Except...Ian ran away from us, like out of site dozens of people and a couple staircases ahead of us. He was playing and would occasionally peek up at me giggling when I yelled for him, but it was...not good. We caught up with him eventually (more than once, because he did it more than once) and he never left the actual treehouse, but he about slaughtered my last nerve and stressed me. So then - I carried him a while but couldn't carry him the whole way, and he pitched a screaming fit. So Scott carried him. Which he did not appreciate. We paused at the info booth where AdventureLand leads back out so I could get a pass for the Racers since we were going to do the afternoon in DCA. Good plan since they warned us Disneyland might reach capacity and have to turn people away from entering. (Yikes! Yes, it was crowded, and yes, they could keep it.) They had no such concerns about DCA. Meanwhile, Ian had a total epic meltdown. Screaming, kicking, wailing, the whole nine yards. Merry Christmas at Disneyland, little guy, sorry we pushed you one attraction too far!

Then we tried to get the monorail out. It was...bad. Tomorrowland was the most mobbed area, probably because of Star Wars, so we were barely moving through it - and then we saw the line for the monorail and it was obscene. We turned around and walked out, but again, barely moving. It was bad. Epic. But bad. (By then Ian had stopped screaming and kicking. I don't remember if I'd picked him up or not.)

We got the boys back to the hotel and they were not hungry for lunch. Shocker after the Dole Whips, I know. *eyeroll* I got cheeseburgers into them about 1:45 pm or so, I think. Quote of the day from me, sent to a friend: Dietary restrictions and travel lead to hilarity. Like actually seriously saying "I'm so glad this will work, I'm sick of salmon."

(But it was true!) Another message I sent her on Christmas (guess what the boys were doing right then!):
Dear hotel,
If someone had warned me the rooms would have beach ball pillows in them as extras, I'd have stayed somewhere else. The only saving grace is they are yours and can't leave with us.
Tired of the bouncing,
Me

I think the boys also got their swimming in, but I honestly am not sure. If they didn't, it was by choice. We were out of the parks for at least four hours that afternoon. I'd had hopes of getting Ian to nap, but that so did not happen. Heh.

Back in park about dinner-time. I have no record of where we ate, but I think it may have been in park at the cones, after our first cycle on the Racers. I went to the info booth to get a pass for the racers again for later because the boys loved it so, and we focused only on things we could do without lines otherwise - an awful lot of Mater's Jamboree, among other things. Andrew wanted to go back to Bug's Life, which I was _firmly_ convinced was in Disneyland and told him so - so we didn't. Um, oops. We hung out in Radiator Springs instead.

To quote a message I sent a friend: Ian refused to wear his sweatshirt even though he was freezing because it was the "wrong" one. I brought the zip up one today because the over the head bugged him, so now he wanted that one. Since I got Andrew a new Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, I tried to sell Ian on one and failed. Just got him to accept a zip-up from tow-mater's jamboree, but the picture he likes is on the back...so he's wearing it backwards because forwards was a meltdown. Whee! We will now be on the ride in question, probably more times than I like. Then racers a last time, then out park. Whee. I'm ... Actually loving Christmas at the parks.

When we got in the fast-pass line for the Racers again, Ian insisted on being carried. He didn't want the sweatshirt at first but eventually let us put it over him. And then? Then he fell asleep on Scott before we could get on the ride. Scott let Andrew and I go on the ride. The plan was to do Racers, Soaring Over California a last time, and leave. So when Scott tried to put Ian in the stroller and Ian started crying, Scott just picked him back up and carried him *across the entire park and back to our hotel* and let me know. Okay, then.

Andrew and I finished Racers and walked out...past Bug's Land. I stared at it, apologized to Andrew, and said he could do one ride from there. After making sure it wouldn't be *instead of* soaring, he picked the caterpillar train. We did that, then went on Soaring Over California, then left the park. At almost 9 pm. Andrew was so sad to be going and didn't want to be done, but he also knew it was time to get back to the hotel. And I count his sadness and not-wanting-to-leave-ness as a win.

We got back to the hotel, went up on the roof, and tried to watch the fireworks. Which were canceled, because of wind. Sigh. No Disney fireworks all vacation. (We didn't try Wednesday or Thursday because of tiredness, out-of-sortsness, and going back into the park. I regret that, now.) I showed Andrew a video of this year's Christmas show from YouTube which gave the in-park experience, and he was fairly content (so was I). Back to the hotel room where he wanted me to read him his Christmas Eve book (a Paw Patrol early reader), and I think he was asleep before the halfway point, although I did finish the book.)

SATURDAY (6,919 steps; 3.32 miles):

Flight out is in the evening because I thought we'd enjoy the hotels and Downtown Disney. Mistake, but the alternate was getting up at oh-dark-hundred for an early flight, maybe not any better. Andrew started off the day already agitating for when we could come to Disneyland again. We spent the morning in the hotel room watching videos (well, the boys watched them while I got them dressed, brushed, finalized our packing, and sent our luggage down to bell services to wait, since our shuttle pickup was late afternoon and checkout was 11 am). Ian did NOT complain about missing things the previous night due to having fallen asleep, and in fact at no point since has he mentioned it. I think he was purely worn out. :)

I told Andrew we were NOT coming back this summer, both for budgetary reasons and because I'd like them both to get taller. (Andrew wanted to go on California Screamin', which he is in no way tall enough for yet, and Ian wanted to go on several things he was a half-inch or more shy of the height for.)

The boys played with their balloon swords, but were told we'd have to leave them behind. Ian popped his "so no one else can have it" and was pleased with that. Andrew put his balloon light saber on the window sill and had his father write "There's nothing better than a light saber" on paper to leave with it, in hopes someone else WOULD enjoy it.

With the weather at 57 and breezy, they went out and swam in the pool, having a blast. Ian got cold fairly quickly and moved to the hot tub, then wanted to get dressed...right there. Meltdown one was because I made him go to the changing room to change; meltdown 2 was because I expected him to put on pants. Sigh. Meltdown 3 was after we went inside when I would't let him literally climb the wall of the place with food. I think he may not have been quite as happy with swimming as he thought. We got him settled in part by buying him and Andrew (who had meanwhile finished swimming, dried off, dressed, and come in with Scott) pressed pennies from the hotel's pressed penny machine. Food was had and they played in the arcade for a bit and then watched more videos. Meanwhile I used the hotel's laundry room to clean and dry the suits so we could pack them when it was time to leave.

Ian in particular was so, so done with changed-up vacation routine, I think. Andrew was a little too, but he was dealing a lot better with it. In any case, I was very glad to go wait for our shuttle (the boys played a strange game involving the tiles on the ground out front and were mostly non-disruptive) and then get to the airport, where we got dinner before boarding the flight. They were fairly well behaved for the meal and flight, I think - Scott handled most of the flight since he was seated between them as I had been on the way out. I had picked up a nasty Christmas cold and was not feeling up to it and napped most of the way back. (As souvenirs go, this is a lousy one. Alas.)

We drove home, and by the time we got there, they were soundly asleep. :)

Both are now happy and excited to talk about their favorite rides. (According to Ian, he loved Pirates, and Space Mountain was good. Heh.)

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