Thursday, November 27, 2014

#HernandezOCOdyssey: Starting the Second Half

The second half of our trip will be much more mellow. We checked into the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa for the next three nights. It's absolutely beautiful. Not more than five minutes away from our SC house, I've driven by it day after day, year after year and just marveled at the beautiful hotel perched on the hill overlooking Dana Point Harbor. The Dana Point Harbor is one of my favorite places (if not my most favorite) in Orange County. I've been coming to the Harbor as long as I can remember and it always makes me feel at home and safe. The memories I hold of the countless times I've visited the harbor with my parents and my grandparents keep me warm and full. The Harbor was also a favorite spot of my dad's, too. I definitely feel close to all of them when I'm there. But, more about the hotel and Harbor in another post....

Yesterday was meant for bringing flowers to my parents and grandparents, picking up the pies and rolls from Polly's Pies and grocery shopping for our Thanksgiving meal. Mostly mundane errands for a "vacation" but remember, it's not exactly a vacation when I'm here every week. Nevertheless, the only photo we took is the one Alex snapped of Xander. Within five minutes of leaving the cemetery, Xander fell asleep. A little peculiar since he rarely sleeps during the day, and it was pretty early, around 10:30 am. While at the cemetery, Xander was happy to see his "family that live in heaven" and insisted on helping me cut and arrange everyone's bouquets (a total of 6). Xander then asked me if he could keep a flower from each of the arrangements. Sure, of course, I replied. And he happily carried them back to the car, and clearly clutched them tight in his chubby 4-year old hands and fell asleep. 


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

#HernandezOCOdyssey: Storytellers Cafe Character Breakfast, Jingle Jangle Jamboree & Lego Racing

The day started with the Storytellers Cafe Critter Breakfast . It is the best. See above. We met Pluto, Chip, Dale, Koda and Meeko, but I couldn't get a picture with him in time. It's better than Paradise Pier. I've never done Goofy's Kitchen, but in comparison to Mickey's Beach Party, Storytellers Cafe trumps it. I'm obsessed with the character breakfasts. I think it's because I know their shelf life has an expiration date. I know Xander is not always going to get a total kick out of seeing the characters. I know those expressions on his face you see above are limited. I can appreciate them. And, I do. The character breakfast was definitely a highlight of our trip this time. This character breakfast I booked about two weeks in advance, but I'm told we were there on a "slow day." 

In fact our third day and final day at Disneyland was quite pleasurable. We did a lot of things Alex, or myself had never done before....rode the Columbia and the Casey Jr. Train and visited the petting zoo and the Jingle Jangle Jamboree at Big Thunder Ranch. This was my second favorite after Tom Sawyer's Island. Let me explain....

What I love most about having my own family is just being with them and making memories with them whether it be at Disneyland, or at home on a rainy Tuesday night watching Pirates of the Caribbean. Obviously the entire Disneyland trip was full of memories, but what I loved about Tom Sawyer's Island and the Jingle Jangle Jamboree was that the memories weren't fancy. We weren't being entertained by a million dollar ride, or a million dollar purchase. On Tom Sawyer's Island we were entertained by literally some twigs and berries (chuckle. sorry, I had to throw it in there because it worked), and at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree we were entertained by some homemade games, coloring crafts, country Christmas decorations and some gingerbread cookies. We probably spent an hour there really just doing stuff we could have done at home. I realized you can put a family unit such as ours into any situation - rich or poor, fancy or casual, formal and informal - and what's most important remains the same: just being together. I don't know how I ended up so lucky. Every day I wake up living the dream of my childhood self.

So enough epiphanies (I always have to have one while on vacation!) and now for the pictures......

How many of you have seen The Columbia, but never took a cruise? I'm betting a lot of you. I was you until yesterday.

Xander was loving The Columbia. Funny enough the guy in the background is NOT a Disney cast member on the ship, though clearly he could pass for one. 

Family pic at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree.

I couldn't pull Xander away from the petting zoo at Jingle Jangle Jamboree. This little boy truly loves animals. I really do think he is going to be a veterinarian. 

Look me in the eye and tell me your problems.....

A landscape view of the Jingle Jangle Jamboree: cookie decorating in the middle, Santa in the corner, reindeer games in the other corner, coloring and ornament making in the other corner and a stage for caroling. Just loved it. 

Xander made an ornament for the Disneyland tree. He thought that was really cool. 

This was pretty rad. and Xander just about died when Mickey came over and asked him and the kid he was playing Christmas plinko with if he could play too. Uh, yeah, it's kinda like your house. I think you can play too!

They drew a crowd!

The Casey Jr train did make for a great photo op!

Pondering the meaning of life inside a giant teacup is a great way to spend a Tuesday afternoon. 

Give Xander a wheel, and he'll happily jump behind it!

And, Autopia was one they had to do again. I took advantage of the time to do some Christmas shopping for our house...

The last, somewhat poignant, vision of our trip to Disneyland. 

But, we couldn't leave without doing a little Downtown Disney....and the Lego store got all of our attention once Xander learned he could build cars and race them.....

And, with that, we made it to the Disney Resort finish line. The Disney portion of our trip came to an end. What an amazing time we all had. I know what to cherish, what to forget and what to improve upon for next year. Is it too early to book yet?