Monday, December 15, 2008

Thanksgiving at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Eric & I were empty-nesting this Thanksgiving and were determined not to be Losers! I suggested altruistic options (feeding the homeless, inviting a soldier) but we compromised (?) by celebrating at Disneyland. It's been years since we have been and this was our first venture sans children. There are lots of benefits when there are just two of you - it costs less, you get to move to the front of the line quite often and instead of seeing the world through the eyes of a child, you get to rediscover your inner child.

We awoke that Thursday morning to a torrential rainfall. We were resigned to staying home and being low key about the day, but the heavens parted and we decided we'd drive to Anaheim and see what the weather looked like away from the coast. All the tourists were thinking the same thing because when we got there it was starting to get crowded.
We got our tickets and joined the surging throngs of holiday participants and made our way up the festivally decorated Main Street. Making a snap decision we headed to our right and started toward Space Mountain without any agenda in place. As we jostled our way through the mass of humanity, the crowds parted and I saw a familiar face standing alone. Surprised I said 'There's Clark.' Eric thought I said park and followed my gaze questioningly to see that I actually was pointing at his brother!!! Amidst all of the hubbub, within five minutes of entering the resort we see family! We couldn't have planned a rendezvous better, in fact if we had planned it, I'm sure someone would have been late or missed the designated meeting place. Clark, Christie, Patrick & Olivia had sneaked into California with Christie's family and had decided to keep their visit on the down low since they didn't have time to visit us on the tight extended-family agenda. We spent a few minutes chatting and then went on our merry way.

We enjoyed all of the usual rides and endured the lengthy wait times. We utilized FastPass for several popular spots, but as the day proceeded the lines actually got shorter.

We enjoyed the opening day of the Holiday Parade on Main Street. It was very beautiful and was funner then a ...

We found a short line at Splash Mountain as the sun was setting and figured we'd go for it. As we approached the loading area I altruistically took the back seat because it was wet and I didn't want Eric to be uncomfortable. Big Mistake! I got DRENCHED! Fortunately I had a sweater in my soaked backpack so I was able to change out of some of the wetter clothes. However my jeans were splattered and I spent the rest of the evening trying to dry out! Fortunately there are no embarrassing pictures of me with my pants looking like I wet them.

We enjoyed dinner without worrying about the price or a child's finicky choices. Young Eric's famous Disney story involves leaning over the balcony at the Carnation Cafe and throwing up! His father whisked him away before the unsuspecting people below them could even respond - (fortunately that inner child stayed home!) My greatest fear is that some day we are going to meet some family with the memory of being on the receiving end of this story! Years later family food history repeated when youthful Ben ordered kabobs in New Orleans square and choked on the meat, forcing Eric to do the Heimlich. Within seconds they were surrounded by Disney employees making sure everything was OK & no lawsuits were being formulated! It was funny that as we sat down to eat in New Orleans Cafe, Ben called to wish us Happy Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a laugh at his timing as we reminisced.

We got to all the attractions we wanted including Thunder Mountain, the Tiki Room and the Jungle Cruise. At the appointed time we reconvened at New Orleans Square and found a spot to watch Fantasmic and the nightly fireworks display. As an added holiday bonus we were feted with snow! As a teenager growing up just blocks away from Disneyland, nightly sparkle and distant rumbles are part of my heritage. You could almost set your clock to the 9:20pm fireworks from the resort.

I've included a couple of videos to share the joy of our Disney adventures.

If you haven't done so yet register now for Free Disneyland admission on your birthday in 2009.

Fun & Games

We've enjoyed many varied activities with family and friends this holiday season. I keep waiting for a chance to write more satisfactorily (is that really a word?) but have decided to post pictures and at least enjoy the visuals that go with the good memories. If I never get the written component in place at least I have shared the good times.

Dana Harbor Christmas Boat Parade with Carl & Ivy
The Christensen's and Johnson's headed to Dana Point Harbor for the annual boat parade of lights. The crowd favorite was a yacht with a sound system blasting music & dialog from Ghostbuster's. As we wandered along the boardwalk we encountered Bishop Kirk and Janet Lindahl. Afterwards we took a stroll around the harbor enjoying the lights, people and good company. Then we headed home to enjoy Trader Joe's gingerbread cake and cider.

Dinner at Aunt Karen's
Aunt Karen invited us to dinner the weekend before Thanksgiving. She was quite the prepared hostess and pre-ordered Prime Rib and the works through Ralph's Grocery Store. When she arrived at the designated time to pick up her food she found that they had failed to place the order. She was livid. We ended up going out to dinner at a great little steak house, but she emailed and followed up with a phone call to Ralph's headquarters with her complaint that they had ruined her dinner party! Needless to say they comped her a lovely Prime Rib dinner and we got two meals for the price of one invite! While awaiting the rescheduled pre-Christmas meal, Cassy Ginn & I helped decorate the house and tree and learned about the German tradition of hanging a pickle in the branches. Karen's is a beautiful glass version.

Spaghetti & More
On Sunday we were invited to the Goodsell's for a lovely meal of spaghetti. (Yum! Eric's favorite) We stuffed our faces, played Christmas Catch-Phrase (women dominated) and the children decorated train cookies and watched funny videos on the internet. We love the fun people here in the area.

I have tons of hilarious pictures of Michael Story making faces and playing with the kids. I'll either post them in a separate entry - or get some good ransom payoff for not posting them!

Eric & Kid Elflings

Eric & Kids Elf Themselves

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Check This Out!

Just a silly little something to entertain you during the holidays. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Christmas Miracle

I had a special spiritual experience in connection with the OCMCO concert on December 3rd. I have had a cough for the past month and had been using Airborne for two weeks which seemed to keep it at bay. But I had a setback last week (Splash Mountain-Disneyland, wet through to the bone for the rest of the night) and was having a difficult time talking and singing. During the final run through the day before the concert I tried some cough suppressants but they were not consistently holding down the tickle in my throat which turned into intense coughing spells, but it was easier to hide behind the bell chorus in the cultural hall and take a quick sip of water to ease the throat. During the dress rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon in the Renee & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall I mostly lip synced to the music. When I tried singing to warm up my voice I started coughing violently and it took a while to get it under control. It's hard to be inconspicuous when you stand front row center in a hall known for its acoustics and have the added bonus of a microphone inches from your head. There's no escape from the 2000 pairs of eyes that will be watching in just a few hours. Sipping water eased the tickle but would not be allowed during the concert. Sucking cough drops was my only solution as the cough syrup was not doing much. My head was throbbing from the pressure and I felt totally spent.

I was totally dependent upon Heavenly Father for a reprieve and support. I asked Eric for a blessing Wednesday morning and in it he promised that I would be able to participate fully. I spent the hour before the concert fluctuating between faith & fear. I believe in a God of Miracles but I didn't know if my learning experience was to sing or to step aside. I didn't want to ruin the experience for others while selfishly moving forward, but I also didn't want to let anyone down including myself. I was physically & emotionally exhausted and sat quietly pondering and seeking solutions. Minutes before the start of the concert fate placed me inches away from the director and I debated my last chance to tell him I was going to sit it out. But in that moment I knew that I would regret not allowing God to bless my life through this experience. Faith & fear can not coincide & I was trying hard to live in faith.

I went on, sucked cough drops throughout, sneaked a water bottle in (which was my just-in-case-can't-use-unless-'choking-to-death'-back up). I sang throughout the evening without a tickle or cough. God heard my pleas and allowed me to participate. I felt His enveloping presence throughout the evening as he buoyed my tired, pensive soul and as he cleared my throat and voice. I was able to talk after the performance and share my experience with my choir friends and family who had been praying for me, today however I have little voice and am coughing again. Nevertheless, last night the windows of Heaven opened to show me Father's love for a desiring daughter who wanted to offer her meager talents in connection with this magnificent event.

Man I feel blessed!

The concert was wonderful. The venue was sold out weeks in advance. Two days before the concert Segerstrom opened up additional seats that were situated above and behind the choir loft which they rarely do and they sold out as well. The music was beautiful, the children's choruses cute and well rehearsed and O Magnum Mysterium was incredible. I'm hoping that I can get a copy of the audio or video recording to relive the beauty of the evening.

Our next concert is on Saturday March 21st. We're doing Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Overture to Candide along with Rachmaninoff's Piano Concert No. 2, 'riveting' African-American spirituals and Easter selections. The directors are really excited for the new music. Me? I am a clueless neophyte of choral music so it's all a learning experience that I love!