Happy 4th of July!

July4-01FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender-1Lovely picnic under our shady tree in the backyard.July4-02Ready to watch Rob set off some fireworks in the front.July4-05July4-04July4-06

And from this morning…  Holly wanted me to take a picture because her donut matched her outfit!  Haha.IMG_1755We enjoyed a low key, very nice holiday today.  Happy not to be leave the house or battle any crowds to watch fireworks.  There is no place like home!

Disneyland!

disneyland-7Or a better title might be “So we won’t be doing that again.”  (I borrowed this picture from online, by the way.  If I had taken it, there would have been about 20,000 sweating people in it.)  For some reason Rob and I felt our girls were entitled to a trip to Disneyland at least once in their lives.  Seems like the American thing to do, so we did it.  We had some fun highs and some low lows.  I’m going to be honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly here because this is my journal entry for the trip and I want to remember everything.  So let’s get started…

First off, we drove.  YES, we did.  Three days down, three days there, three days back.  Clearly I despise flying so much that I would even consider six days in the car as opposed to a three hour flight, but also, driving enabled Holly to meet her birthparents in northern California on the way down and back.  That was a very big deal for her, for us, and for the families.  It was totally worth it.  We met family and friends at every stop along the way…Disneytrip01We stopped off for a nice visit with the grandparents.  It was already hot and getting hotter as we headed south.  Temps reached 109º on the way down.  Every rest stop was miserable and we averaged stopping every 45 minutes.  Apparently my girls have teeny-tiny bladders.  Our progress was slow going.  Next stop was Concord, where we got to have dinner with Holly’s birth mother and family.  Holly was nervous; I was nervous; and her birth mom was nervous!Disneytrip02Above is my sweet girl feeling anxious.Disneytrip03Here are Rob and Linlee not feeling anxious at all.Disneytrip07And this is Catherine, just as sweet as sweet can be.  Holly was very shy at first, but warmed up by the end of the evening.  I think the two were quite taken with each other.  Holly also got to meet her aunt and grandmother and cousin.  It was a wonderful visit.Disneytrip05After dinner the girls went for a swim at the hotel pool.

Our first morning at Disney was pretty much a disaster.  We arrived at 8:30 AM and it was already blistering hot.  I was panicked.  If it was so uncomfortably hot before nine in the morning, how would we survive the day?  It took us about 40 minutes of standing in lines to simply enter the park.  Then we encountered the crowds of people which varied from overwhelming to horrifying.  We bravely battled our way into a restaurant for Mickey Mouse waffles.  This was Holly before breakfast arrived (it wasn’t going well):Disneytrip13We finally made it to It’s a Small World by ten o’clock.Disneyland-Paris-Its-a-Small-World-1500x1127I think this might have been my favorite ride; it was absolutely delightful.  It also cracked me up as the boats entered inside the pavilion, you could hear a groan of relief from all the passengers as the air conditioning hit our bodies.  Afterward, the girls wanted to go on the carousel (crazy – they can do that anywhere) and that’s the only other ride we managed that morning.  We tried for the Haunted Mansion, but the sun was beating on us so relentlessly in line that my children just wanted to go back to the hotel and swim.  So we did.Disneytrip09Refreshing!Disneytrip10Disneytrip11Disneytrip12Much better afternoon.  Then we headed back to the park after dinner for a “dessert party” and laser/light show called World of Color.Disneytrip14The temps were slightly cooler as the sun set and we were in better spirits.Disneytrip15Disneytrip16Disneytrip17Our dessert party included savory and sweet treats and prime seating for the show.Disneytrip18The light-up cups (which the girls got to keep) were actually synched to the music of the show.  They would change color, blink, dance, and fade in & out.  It was too cool!Disneytrip19Disneytrip20It was late after the show, but we managed to slip in one more ride before bed; Ariel’s World (which is in California Adventure Park).  It’s a Little Mermaid ride.  The girls loved it.

The next morning was a bit cooler.  Another 40 minute line to get inside the park:Disneytrip21Disneytrip22Breakfast at Starbucks.  Nice!  Then we headed straight to Pirates of the Caribbean.  pir093458fiIt’s another boat ride, but more thrilling than It’s a Small World.  Our boat went into a dark tunnel and Holly was clinging to me.  Then in the pitch dark we went over a good water fall – totally getting splashed (we were in the front row).  Suddenly Holly was laughing so hard she couldn’t catch her breath.  Turns out she is all about the thrill (not surprising).  She loved that ride and wanted to go a second time, but Linlee did not like it.  We tried the Haunted Mansion next (actually made it in this time), but it was a bust; too scary for the girls.

In the afternoon, the girls had appointments at Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique.  Fairy Godmothers-in-training turned the girls into little princesses.Disneytrip23Disneytrip58Disneytrip24Disneytrip26I love this one of my mom grinning in the mirror.

Disneytrip25There were lots of sparkles!

Ready to meet some real princesses…Disneytrip32Disneytrip31Disneytrip30Practicing their curtsy.Disneytrip55Disneytrip38Disneytrip39Disneytrip37Holly enjoyed meeting the princesses, but Linlee was beyond tickled!Disneytrip33Disneytrip34Disneytrip35Disneytrip36Waving good-bye to the princesses.  We found pizza for dinner and then Rob and my mother did the autopia ride with the girls.  That evening we girls left the park around eight, while Rob stayed on to do scarier rides – much to Holly’s dismay.  I suspect she might have been enjoyed the scary rides.  Perhaps when she is a teenager…

Last morning; ready with our parasols…Disneytrip43There was no way I was putting a hat on my head while my skull was already popping out beads of sweat like a fountain.  We headed straight for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.Big-Thunder-bothIt’s supposed to be a fairly tame roller coaster (as far as roller coasters go), but it was more than thrilling enough for me.  I screamed the entire ride.  Again, Holly laughed and hooted and held her arms above her head.  Rob and Linlee were behind us and I could hear poor Linlee’s little voice crying, “Help us!  Help us!”  Come to think of it, I don’t believe we explained what a roller coaster is to her and it’s not likely that she would have picked up that information on her own.  Our bad.  Needless to say, she did not like the ride.  I felt queasy for a couple of hours afterward, but at least it didn’t ruin my entire day.  Once again it was getting hot and uncomfortable mid-morning.  My mom and I were lucky enough to find a table in the shade and camp out there while Rob took the girls on the teacups and a couple other minor rides in Fantasyland.

Another afternoon swim break…Disneytrip42The hotel pool was a lovely little oasis.  We stayed at the Annabella.Disneytrip41

Last evening…Disneytrip44Holly also got to meet up with her good friend Isla from preschool!  Last year, Isla’s family moved to San Diego and as luck would have it, they were visiting Disneyland the same time as we were.  We all rode the Jungle Safari together (big hit with everybody), the girls did the tree house and we ended with a famous Dole Whip (frozen pineapple treat).Disneytrip45Disneytrip46We would have liked to watch the electric parade, but we hadn’t staked out any spots to watch from and we were told that there was literally no room left.  There was nothing to do but go home.  That was a frightening exit.  The hoards of people were absurd and if one person had screamed “fire!” or “gun!” we would certainly have been trampled to death.  I had Holly’s hand tightly in mine while Rob held onto Linlee’s.  I kept checking to make sure we didn’t lose my mom in the masses.  Our phones did not work inside of the park (ack!), so if we lost each other, it would have been a disaster.  I was never so relieved to get safely on the shuttle and back to the hotel.

Disneytrip47While we were at the park for three days, Holly’s crayons melted together in the car!  And then we headed back to northern California for another meet up.

Disneytrip49This is Holly and her bio dad.  Once again she was super nervous (and so was he), but we had an absolutely wonderful visit.Disneytrip50Disneytrip51Above is also her paternal grandmother.  They were so thankful to get to spend time with Holly.  Everyone doted on her, making her feel really special.  That made my heart happy.

Lastly we stopped by Rob’s Aunt Ann and Uncle Rich’s home on our way toward Oregon.  Another fantastic visit.  Aunt Ann’s connection to Holly’s birth family is the reason Holly is ours. ♥ Disneytrip53Disneytrip54Disneytrip52Aunt Ann gave the girls these scarf wraps which they loved.  Holly put hers on at every rest stop after to show it off.  Ha!

It was a long three days home.  Temps got back up 106º – very cranky making.  Our last day was the worst.  Holly was at the end of her rope in the car and I reached the end of my rope when we lost somewhere between 60 to 90 minutes sitting on the freeway because of an accident.  Arriving at our cool, beautiful corner of the world had never been so sweet.  I love Washington State!

In summary, the trip was full of some wonderful moments which I am very glad we experienced, but we will not be repeating the adventure.  I thought our time spent in the car would be the most stressful, but in actuality, it was our time in the park which was the hardest.  For instance, the girls saw Moana (princess) and totally wanted to say hello, but it would mean standing in a 30 minute line roasting in the sun all for one or two minutes of Moana’s time.  Holly just shrugged helplessly and said to keep moving.  We could never seem to gain momentum; the lines were too long for everything.  We also had trouble finding places to eat.  Linlee is super picky and the restaurants tended not to have the few (very common) items she will eat.  It was super frustrating.  Once we ducked into a Mexican restaurant thinking that they would at least have quesadillas; nope.  And they wouldn’t make one for her.  If I needed a shady spot to sit down for a moment, there wasn’t one.  Well, a shady spot might have existed, but some other sweaty tourist was already sitting there, probably surrounded by five of his kids and wasn’t going to move for a good half hour.  In my opinion, the rides simply were not worth the trouble.  However, I’m glad my children can say they’ve been.  I think they have good memories of the trip.  And Holly meeting her birth parents was a very important, significant experience.  I’m especially pleased that we were able to provide that for her and her birth families.  Now we can sit back and relax for the rest of the summer…

Painting Pottery

pottery9Holly invited Zoey to join us pottery painting today.pottery03pottery04pottery02pottery05Deep concentration.pottery06pottery10pottery07pottery11pottery08Afterward, we went to Baskin Robins for a treat.photo-17Holly was thrilled with the birthday presents Zoey gave her, including a matching shirt!  What a fun afternoon!

Birthday Girl!

Hollyseven01Our firecracker turned seven today.  How did that happen?!Hollyseven02This year she chose a lemon cake.  It was delicious!Hollyseven05

A few of her gifts…Hollyseven06Holly asked for a “real” fan.  She got two!Hollyseven07Hollyseven08Hollyseven09This is a “mermaid pillow.”  You can run your hands over the sequins; in one direction they are blue and in the other direction a pink color.  I have to admit, it’s fun to play with.

This weekend Holly is going to paint pottery with her friend Zoey for an extra birthday celebration.  🙂

Grade School Hawaiian Dance

Holly’s grade school hosted an end-of-the-year Hawaiian dance last night.  Of course my little first grader was totally keen to go.  I was a very shy first grader and would have been terrified to attend a dance with all the grades – but not Holly. Socially, this little one is fearless and embraces new experiences with zeal. She is going to have so much fun in life!  Here are Rob and Holly before the dance:Hawaiiandance01Hawaiiandance02Practicing the hula (even Penny!).

Hawaiiandance03And here is my favorite picture taken after the dance.  You can see a pink-cheeked girl wearing two leis who had loads of fun dancing the evening away with her classmates.  She was absolutely glowing.  Oh, I think it must be good to be Holly!

A little Linlee, a little Holly

20170410_120645-281ynio-e1492401130635Above, Linlee at school; below, Linlee ready for a field trip to the Ballard Locks.photo-920170525_111501-2bw9rm4

photo-5Above, Holly receiving her medal for completing her gymnastics spring course; below, her class all “dabbing.”  photo-8photo-7Holly jumping!

Starbucks break!

This picture makes me laugh… One happy child and one pouty child purposely sitting four stools away from her sister. Parenting is so much fun!photo-4

Memorial Weekend

We’ve had a lovely three-day weekend.  Temps reached the eighties, which is unusual for Seattle in May.  This particular holiday weekend is often rainy for us.  Because of the beautiful sunshine, we actually went to a lake each of the three days (I went the first two, but opted out on the third).  I did an abominable job of remembering to take photos.  Gone are the days when I feel compelled to photograph & blog almost every single moment of our lives.  It’s nicer for me to travel without a heavy camera and enjoy being “in the moment” with my family.  Still, documenting good memories is important too.

While the girls were splashing in the first lake, I was lying under a shady tree with a book.  This was my view when looking up.  Much nicer than looking at a TV!photo-12photo-2Here are the girls at the second lake (big pond, really).  We’d arrived to check it out and go for a walk around it, but of course everyone needed to dip their toes.  Rob returned to this lake with the girls today for actual swimming.  They had a great time.photoWe enjoyed a lovely salmon dinner with my brother at my mom’s house on Saturday, went out to dinner on Sunday, and we are grilling sausages and dogs tonight.  All around terrific holiday weekend!

P.S. Rob is so sweet…  He posted a note on our bedroom door to remind Holly to let me sleep in.  Holly pretty much “needs” me 100% of the time, so I don’t get a lot of breaks if she is in the house.  Anyhow, his writing is in the dark blue.  Her response is in the light blue:photo-3

The Wide-Mouthed Frog

That is the name of the class play which Holly and another classmate narrated tonight.  Holly rocked it.  She spoke clearly and expressively and seemed totally relaxed even though I know she was nervous.  And me?  I managed to hit “pause” instead of “record” every time she spoke.  ARGH!  I cannot communicate how frustrated I am with myself.  I’ve never made that mistake before, but gee whiz!  I do, however, have pictures of the pretty little narrator…narrator01narrator02Ready to go!narrator04narrator05Holly and Addison ready to share the mic.narrator06narrator07The girls did not have to memorize their lines.  They read from the script and they were both very good.narrator08Holly is on the floor watching the next play, but you can see Linlee and Rob up on chairs.

Fire Pit!

We finally enjoyed a gloriously beautiful weekend with lots of sunshine and warm (but not too hot) temps.  It seemed like the perfect time to try out our fire pit.  I was just thinking of roasting marshmallows for a treat, but Rob was thinking we’d cook our whole dinner on it.  Our rusty old barbecue went into the dumpster rather than making the trip to the new house, so using the fire pit was a fun alternative.  In fact, I liked it better.  More “campy.”photo-4photo-7photo-6It was a delightful temperature out, so I have no clue why she felt the need to bundle up.firepit01Now to the good stuff!firepit02Linlee had no interest in roasted marshmallows or s’mores.  Go figure.firepit05firepit04What a fun Sunday dinner by the campfire!