Today Jeri and Tim picked up a “new” car. It was a 1997 Subaru wagon with about 200,000 miles. We got it for cheap so the kids would have another vehicle to travel back and forth to community college. After picking up the car, they went to The Veggie Grill near the University of California Irvine. Both lunch and the weather were great.
The dessert that they are holding is the “Grilled Cookie” which is a large chocolate-chip, walnut cookie covered with chocolate pudding and chocolate sauce. It was delicious!
Today, December 31, 2013, we visited the mission at San Juan Capistrano. Jason got 11 complimentary tickets because the mission is a client of the graphic design company that he is working for. Tim worked a half day at Financial Tools. They picked him up in the van and we made the short drive down there.
The Mission was founded in 1776. They built the Great Stone Church which was the largest church at its time west of the Mississippi. Unfortunately an earthquake in 1812 destroyed most of the church. You can see the remains in the background.
The Mission had gardens, a vineyard, wine press, and much more.
They had a “hands-on” area for children to learn. They had blocks with instructions showing how to build a mission arch. As part of his work with the graphic design company, Jason designed the instructional graphic on the wall.
We spent a good part of Christmas eve wrapping presents. So we never got around to our “semi-tradition” of unwrapping one gift on Christmas Eve.
Because Financial Tools (Tim’s employer) was only open a half day on Christmas Eve, Tim worked the 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM shift (thanks to a co-worker who picked him up and dropped him off). So Tim and Jeri were up at 5:00 AM. Tim crashed on his bed around 10 PM.
Our church had a service on Christmas morning at 11 AM. So we didn’t have time to open presents before church. Getting home around 1 PM, we proceeded to have our Christmas Day dinner which was leftover Chinese carryout from the night before. We opted to skip the faux-turkey meal in lieu of something simpler. Hong Kong Express is a crowd-pleaser at our house.
After lunch cleanup was done, we had to take our annual Christmas photo. Here’s the picture.
Here’s Sarah in front of the tree.
Here’s Jeffrey with some of his presents. Note the top of the chip cans in the foreground.
On Sunday evening, December 15, 2013, our church presented a Christmas play called “A Christmas to Believe In.” Our family had some major roles in putting it together. It began a few months earlier when Elizabeth asked if we could do a play. Because Tim had directed a Christmas play at church a few years ago, he was reluctant to overcommit.
So Nicole and Joanna decided to give it a shot. They searched online and found a potential script. Pastor Steve reviewed it and had a few suggestions; his son, Justin Orman, revised it.
Next we needed the actors. Elizabeth easily recruited the her friends for the girl parts. When given a choice to playing in the Christmas recital or being in the play, Jeffrey decided to take a lead role in the play. Even though she wouldn’t have much time to rehearse until after her college classes finished, Joanna seemed to be a good fit for the other main role. Pastor Steve encouraged some of the buys and young men to help out. So our cast was set.
Rehearsals were Sunday afternoons. Because we didn’t start practicing until November and because this play involved younger children, it seemed like we might have started too late. Even one week before the performance, the play was far from being ready. However it started to come together during our final rehearsal (which was just hours before the performance).
Nicole was the director; Victoria was her assistant. Jeri helped coordinate miscellaneous details. Tim oversaw the production. Joanna, Jeffrey, Elizabeth, and Josiah all had parts. Josiah and another young boy were crowd favorites as they first played shepherds and sang “Away in a Manger.” Then later, they were wise men and sang “We Two Kings.”
We received a lot of favorable comments including one person who said, “That was the best play that the church has ever done.”
Here are some photos. Click on an image to see it full size.
Tim took two days of vacation, April 9th and 10th. We purposely chose a Tuesday and Wednesday because the crowds would be smaller at Disneyland on those days. On Tuesday, we were at California Adventure from about 1 PM until 6 PM when some of us had to leave to pickup a food co-op order.
The next day, we managed to get the entire family there…although Sarah and Joanna had to leave for class after only an hour. During the time that we were all there, we got a few family photos.
Here’s the line up for the following two pictures. From left to right, Jeffrey, Justin, Victoria, Sarah, Jeri, Elizabeth, Jason, Joanna, Nicole, Tim, and Josiah (front).
For weeks, Elizabeth and I (Tim) have had April 14th, 2013 circled on our calendar. Why? Because this was the day that our Disneyland annual passes expired. So Lizzie and I wanted to make the most of it. That day would be our special day together.
Because California Adventure opened at 8:00 AM, we rose early and left for the park at 7:00 AM. By 7:45 AM, we had parked our car, taken the shuttle to the park, and were standing near the front of the rope that blocks people from the attractions (unless you have an early-entry pass). At 8:00 AM sharp, when they released the rope, Lizzie and I walked briskly to Toy Story Midway Mania (3-D shooting arcade game).
Arriving at the attraction, we walked through the gate, were handed a pair of 3-D glasses, and were immediately on our way! It is SO fun! We love shooting targets, popping balloons, doing the ring toss, breaking plates, etc. We aren’t really destroying any real targets…it is all “virtual” like a huge video game.
Justin and Jeffrey have watched videos on YouTube where they learned tips on how to release higher value targets and score more points. They’ve shared their insights with the rest of the family. So now we all love to see how many points we can score.
Midway Mania – Rounds 2 and 3
After finishing, we got off and immediately got back in line. This time we had to eight minutes. After finishing, we got on for our third time. The wait time was still a short 15 minutes. (Typically the wait time for Midway Mania is 30 to 45 minutes.)
FASTPASSes for Radiator Springs
Disney has an innovative system which allows users to hold one FASTPASS at a time to bypass regular lines at some of their more popular attractions. With a little planning, you can minimize your time in lines and maximize your enjoyment.
Because our goal was to get FASTPASSes for Radiator Springs Racers at night, we headed to Cars Land after Midway Mania. However the return time (which is the time that you can use your FASTPASS) was 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM…too early. So we did Luigi’s Flying Tires which took about 30 minutes. So now it’s 9:30 AM which means that it’s almost time to head home. Now the Racer’s return time is 7:40 PM to 8:40 PM…perfect! So we get our FASTPASSes and head home.
We make it home in time to get ready for church. Because Josiah was still not feeling well, I stayed home with him. After church, we ate lunch together as a family.
Back to Disneyland
After eating, Lizzie and I pack up the food (sandwiches) that we prepared the night before and head to Disneyland. Because we had never done Splash Mountain (a water ride) before, we get FASTPASSes for it.
We tried unsuccessfully to get a seat at the Royal Theatre (to watch a live mini-production of a fairy tale)…which is just as well since they would be performing “The Beauty and the Beast” which we had seen on Friday. Next to the Royal Theatre, we watched Mary Poppins along with some supporting cast and band members perform a few numbers.
Next we headed to the Golden Horseshoe Corral to watch Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. Even though we’ve seen them before, they are always entertaining with Blue Gras music and comedy. No two shows have been exactly the same.
Afterwards, we headed to Splash Mountain which is a great ride for hot, sunny days but not so great on cool, cloudy days like it was. Although we kept our jackets on and zipped up, we still got our legs wet. Lizzie was in the very front of the canoe and I was right behind her.
Next we did the Winnie the Pooh and Tigger ride followed by Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes. We wanted to cross over to Tom Sawyer Island but the raft shuttle ended at 5 PM; so we just missed out.
We sat down at New Orleans Square to each our almond butter and jelly sandwiches plus popcorn, carrots, and chocolate chips (for dessert). We stuck around the square to hear the next music group. I was expecting a singing group but it was a jazz ensemble. So after their first song, we got in line for the Disneyland Railroad. We took the train to Mickey’s Toontown. Then we walked to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in nearby Fantasyland.
Heading to California Adventure
We knew that we wanted to be back in California Adventure before dusk (around 7:25 PM). So we started walking to the gates. We swung by Star Tours to see if it had a short wait time. Because the wait was 40 minutes, we kept on going. Now the time is about 6:45 PM.
Once in California Adventure, we window shopped in a few stores to warm up. (Remember our pants were still damp; the weather is cool and cloudy; the sun’s going down.) We also stopped in the Animation Academy and saw a zoetrope with Woody and Jessie. Heading to Cars Land, we still had a little time to burn so we saw the 4-D show again, “It’s Tough to be a Bug.”
Cars Land Lighting
While we were browsing in a shop in Cars Land, “the” song (Life is a Dream) came on. So we headed out to watch the lights come on. Because our return time for Radiator Springs Racers was between 7:40 PM and 8:40 PM and it wasn’t really dark yet, we wanted to wait a bit longer to do the ride. So we did The Bakery Tour, got our picture taken, and headed back to Cars Land.
Radiator Springs Racers – Round 1
But now Radiator Springs Racers was down due to technical problems, so we headed to Paradise Pier. We did California Screamin’ and sat in the very front of the roller coaster. Our wait time was only 15 minutes. Then we did Goofy’s Sky School. As we walked back to Cars Land, we noticed that there wasn’t any wait for Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (from The Little Mermaid). So we hopped on.
Radiator Springs Racers – Round 2
By now it’s getting close to our FASTPASSes expiration time. So we boogied back to Radiator Springs Racers. The ride was back up and running! The single-rider line was extremely long; the regular line had a one-hour wait. Thanks to our FASTPASSes, we had to wait only 15 minutes to get on the ride!
Exiting the ride, there is a place called Lizzie Suite.
Back to Midway Mania
After that, we stopped again at the bakery and got our only treat, a chocolate muffin. We ate the muffin during our 15-minute wait for Toy Story Midway Mania where I tried to help Lizzie get the high score. She was doing quite well through the first three games but we couldn’t get the alien ship to launch. She ended up with 154,000 which fell about 10,000 short of her personal best.
So we got in line again. Now the wait was down to 10 minutes. This time Lizzie was going to help me get high score. We each did really well. Each of us got our all-time personal high score. I got 247,000 and Lizzie got 169,000.
Now the time is a few minutes before 10 PM which is closing time for California Adventure. We considered doing Midway Mania one last time. But Lizzie wanted to get more (free) sourdough bread samples. So we dashed back to the bakery. She ended up getting five slices (instead of the normal one or two); I got three.
World of Color
Net we found a spot to watch the World of Color (laser water show) which started at 10:15 PM. The show is absolutely spectacular with music, water, lights, and fire. Because it was the second and last show, we were able to find a nice viewing spot.
Disneyland One Last Time
After the show ended, we checked the time; it was 10:45 PM. Because Disneyland closed an hour after California Adventure, we had 15 minutes to get back to Disneyland and on to the Star Tours ride. So once again, we walked briskly…running isn’t allowed.
For those that don’t know Star Tours is a ride based on Star Wars. You wear 3-D glasses and feel like you are moving through space. The “movies” are randomly selected.
We made it to Star Tours with a few minutes to spare. As we waited the five or so minutes to board our “space ship”, we were both hoping for either a new or a fun “tour.” We were not disappointed. It was both new and fun!
Exiting Star Tours, it is now 11:10 PM so we join the crowds making its way to the exits.
The Toy Story parking lot was nearly empty. Traffic was light. We made it home just before midnight. Jeffrey and Jason were still up playing Monster Hunter on the WiiU.
So I was in bed by 12:20 AM. The day had started about 19 hours earlier. Lizzie and I had spent over 10 hours at Disneyland. What a great day filled with memories that Elizabeth and I will never forget.
What makes Disneyland so enjoyable to me is that when I’m there I forget about all of my stresses and problems. My focus is simply to have fun and enjoy time with my family. My only regret was that I hadn’t spent more one-on-one times with the other children as well.
On Friday, April 12th, 2013, we achieved a significant milestone by releasing a new version of our software. I was able to leave work a little early. Instead of taking the bus home, a co-worker dropped me off at Harbor and MacArthur. Jeri, Elizabeth, and Josiah picked me up in the Carl’s Jr.’s parking lot and we headed to Disneyland (actually California Adventure). We arrived at the park a little after 4:00 PM.
Shows in California Adventure
Because it was a little busy, we first got FASTPASSes for Soarin’ Over California. Then we saw two shows, “It’s Tough to be a Bug” in 4-D and “Aladdin” (featuring live actors). After Aladdin, it was time to use our FASTPASSes.
Soaring Over California
We headed over to Condor Flats (home of Soarin’ Over California). Because Josiah was feeling a little nauseated, Jeri sat on a bench with him while Tim and Lizzie went on the attraction.
For those not familiar with the ride, here’s my description. After buckling into your seat, the ride lifts you up and gives you the sense of motion…soaring, dipping, accelerating, etc. In addition, the sights, sounds, and even smells give you the sensation of literally flying over California. You are taken on a tour of many scenic locations like the Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite, San Diego, etc.
A side note. The first time that Josiah experienced the ride was last year (when he was still six years old). He sat right next to me. As we “took off” into the sky, he incredulously asked me several times, “Are we really flying?” I had to reassure him, “No, we are not really flying.” Towards the end of the ride, he stated in a calm voice, ‘We aren’t really flying.”
Now it’s about 6 PM so we took a little break to eat the sandwiches, popcorn, and carrots that we brought with us. (We appreciate the fact that Disneyland allows people to bring in outside food to the park.)
Then we walked back to the park entrance and took the Trolley to the Hollywood Tower Hotel. From there we walked to Luigi’s Flying Tires and went “flying.” Then we spent some time on Paradise Pier…Goofy’s Sky School, Silly Symphony Swings, and The Bakery Tour (where they give our free sourdough bread samples).
We made sure that we were in Cars Land to watch the lights come on (at 7:25 PM). We stopped for photos in Monument Valley.
At the Wharf
Luigi’s Flying Tires
Finish in Disneyland
We headed over to Disneyland to finish our day there. We found a good spot to watch the 9:30 PM fireworks show. After the fireworks, we rode the Pirates of the Caribbean before watching the Fantasmic show at 10:30 PM. We had never seen the show before and were quite impressed.
We walked out of the park around 11 PM, got home around midnight, and were in bed by 12:30 AM.
Josiah woke up sick the next day. He had a slight fever and threw up several times.
When we first purchased our passes, I honestly thought that, over the course of the year, we might grow tired of going to Disneyland. As a result, we didn’t go very frequently initially. But as the year progressed, our family has enjoyed Disneyland more and more.
Because we bought passes for the rest of the family after ours, they can continue going through the month of May.
Because Tim and Elizabeth’s annual passes for Disneyland expire in mid-April, we’ve been going to Disneyland more often. “We have to get our money’s worth” is the motto. Because we purchased the rest of the family’s passes later, they can go through the end of May. So Tim and Lizzie are sad as the end draws near.
March 21st, 2013
On Thursday, March 21st, 2013, Tim was able to get off from work a couple of hours early. Because Sarah and Joanna weren’t home yet (Joanna wanted to see her math instructor so she could get her “A” on her recent misgraded exam turned into an “A+”), an “early group” headed out. Tim, Jeri, Justin, Victoria, Elizabeth, and Josiah to the park a little after 5 PM and headed to the Golden Horseshoe to see a live show, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. (Tim took a detour and got Fast Passes for Star Tours.)
The show was great. The guys are all named “Billy”; they play bluegrass music and are quite funny and entertaining. After the show, the six Paus headed to California Adventure. In California Adventure, they saw the rest of the family (Nicole, Jason, Sarah, Joanna, and Jeffrey) in line for the California Screamin’ (a roller coaster). Tim, Justin, and Josiah headed to Toy Story Midway Mania while Jeri, Victoria, and Elizabeth went to Cars Land.
Soarin’ Over California
After the “early group” regathered in Cars Land, they decided to that they had to time to do California Screamin’. Finishing the roller coaster, they had to dash to Soarin’ Over California (because they had Fast Passes that would soon expire). The ride makes you feel like you are actually soaring over California. You are lifted up in your seats and you feel like you are flying over various sites of California like the Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite, Big Sur, San Diego, etc.
The first time that Josiah (when he was six years old) did Soarin’ Over California last year, he sat next to Tim. Early in the ride, Josiah incredulously asked several times “Are we really flying?” Tim told him, “No, we’re not really flying.” Towards the end of the ride, Josiah stated a few times “We’re not really flying” as if to assure himself.
After Soarin’ Over California, they had to leave California Adventure and back into Disneyland in order to use their Fast Passes for Star Tours. Star Tours is a 3-D motion ride based on Star Wars characters. Apparently Disneyland has about 50 different stories. Each ride has about 30 riders. One person is selected as the “Rebel Spy” who becomes part of the story line. Josiah was chosen as the rebel spy (again).
Turns out that the story was one that Tim had seen (and enjoyed) before. It featured going into hyperspeed several times, going underwater, and being violently attacked by an underwater creature. It concluded with the nose of another space ship breaking through our windshield. Fun, fun, fun!
As they walked out of Star Tours, the evening fireworks show had begun. Although they missed the first part of it, they stopped on Main Street to take in the incredible fireworks show. The show (as always) was synchronized with music from Disney movies. Although most of the fireworks are launched from behind the Castle, some were shot off from our left and right.
After the fireworks (now it’s around 9 PM), this group headed back into California Adventure. Via text messages, they knew that the other group (Nicole, Jason, Sarah, Joanna, and Jeffrey) was at Grizzly River Run. So they were able to meet up. The ones who got soaked (Nicole, Jason, Sarah, and Joanna) decided to head back home. They were freezing…by now, the temps were in the 60s.
More Midway Mania and Cars Land
To finish out the evening, Tim, Justin, Victoria, and Jeffrey head to Midway Mania. Because of the World of Color show, the wait was only 20 minutes. After finishing, they got back in an even-shorter line (seven minute wait). Now it is a little before 10 PM (that is when they close the line). So they were able to do it AGAIN!
Jeri, Lizzie, and Josiah headed back to Cars Land. Here are a couple of photos taken by the Disney photographer.