Thursday, August 16, 2007

Disneyland - our farewell to California

WARNING: This is a long post. If you want the Reader's Digest version, then you got the wrong blog buddy.

We had long planned to spend our last day in California at Disneyland. We had annual passes for the year we were there and took full advantage of them from August to May, but during the summer we had only been once. Perhaps because we had not been in awhile or because it was our grand farewell CA experience, we were extraordinarily excited for our Disneyland day (unlike the usually reserved annual pass holders).

We invited Char and her two boys (Brighton and Cole) to come with us as a celebration of our year spent with them. Char gets pumped for everything and fed off our excitement. On the day before, she called our cousins Rachel and Julia who are experts at winning stuff as part of Disney's Year of a Million Dreams sweepstakes.

[Sidenote #1] For those who don't know, this year the Disney resorts are doing a massive sweepstakes where staff members walk around the park giving away amazing prizes and experiences to random guests who are at the right place at the right time. Their are some extreme Grand Prizes, but the everyday ones are totally great too! Afton Benner (our niece), Tiffany Conley (Chuck's sister), and Rachel and Julia had all on different days and in different parks won special fast passes for all rides.

Rachel told Char what the "Dream Team" people wear and what times are best for finding them. They told us how the Dream Team will go into dream mode when they put on their special white vests. At that time it is best to approach them and ask, "Can you make my dream come true?" I had heard this a few times, so I knew the standard response was, "Well, what is your dream?" At that point, you had better be ready or you may only find yourself with a sheet of temporary tattoos.

I didn't think much of it though, because all I had ever heard about people winning was fast passes (special passes that allow you to skip the lines on every ride). We didn't need fast passes because we have our own Colioli-Pass - our nephew Cole has severe special physical needs and so he has a pass that allows his party to skip any line.

That night was the first time in a few decades that I lay in bed anxious for my trip to D-land the next day. I thought, "If I was asked, what is my dream?" I quickly realized that my dream would be for my cute little princess Leland to have a special time to really meet and visit with her favorite princess Sleeping Beauty. She had become so cute about loving all things Sleeping Beauty that it made me smile to think how much she would appreciate it. I put it out of my head as something that just would not happen and fell asleep.

The next day Char picked us up so we could ride together and we got to the park earlier than we had all year long. We rode Buzz Lightyear (see pics above) and then Char said, "Hey, do you want to go on Finding Nemo?" I said, "I would love to, but the line has been over 3 hours long every day since it opened earlier this summer." Then Char reminded me about the Colioli pass. So, Ashley, Leland and I took Cole and jumped to the front of the line and were on the next submarine to find Nemo. (Char and Brighto didn't come because they had promised to wait for Bill to go on it together for their first time.) It was REALLY cool!!! Thanks Cole!

[Sidenote #2] Yeah, that sounds really callous for us to rejoice in Cole's special needs. But he is so different now than when he got the special pass. Unless you know Cole, it is impossible to understand the difference between now and a year ago. Anyway, Cole used to sit and shiver in a stroller with oxygen and food tubes coming out of him and now he runs all over the place growling out "conversations". Anyway, Cole is doing awesome and it is so great that he is doing so well that we can rejoice in his Super-Colioli-Pass without feeling at all guilty.

While we were on Nemo, Char went off to stalk the area where the Dream Team was supposedly having their daily briefings (thanks super sleuth Rachel). Sure enough, as we walked up she told us to hurry up as she was tracking a dream team member up ahead. We started following him, but because he did not have his white vest on, we waited to approach him. I suddenly saw a woman with a "1st Visit" button which you can get for free from City Hall. I told Char, "We need one of those for Lucy; it may help us when brownie points with the Dream Team." So off I ran to City Hall.

When I got to City Hall, I saw another Dream Team member and decided to approach her even though she was not wearing her white vest. I said, "I know this sounds weird, but I hear I am supposed to ask you if you can make my dreams come true?" She smiled and said, "Well I am not really in dream mode, but what is your dream?" I thought for a moment and then replied, "I don't want what most people probably ask for... My dream is for my 2-year-old daughter to get to meet a princess today - preferrably Sleeping Beauty, but any princess would do - more than for just a photo. I would love for her to be able to talk to her and see her in a more personal situation. Is that at all possible?"

I could tell she was debating what she was allowed to do outside of "Dream Mode", but my heartfelt thoughts must have struck a chord, because she said, "I need to make a call to see if I can do it, but we may have a place where your daughter can spend some time alone with a princess or two." She went into City Hall and 5 minutes later she was back discussing the details. She took notes about Leland and our family so that the princesses would be prepared to meet us all.

[Leaving out lots of fun details here about getting temporary tatoos from the Dream Team guy Char was originally stalking, winning lanyards with collector's edition trading pins from another Dream Team person (who we did not stalk, but were in the right time at the right place), skipping naps, Char staying late to meet the princesses, and finally Char getting accosted by security as she jay-walked across the parade.]

When we got to Princess Fantasy Fair at our assigned time, we were told to wait on a bench outside of a little gathering room. From there, Leland peeked in through the curtain and saw that she was about to meet the princesses (who were with another family). Ashley convinced her to sit on the bench and sing Sleeping Beauty's song as the waited. Leland belted out her best version of "I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream." (Seriously, if you have not heard her sing it, you are missing out.)

When we entered the room, we saw Sleeping Beauty and Snow White kneeling in what was made up to look like the inner courtyard of a Princess castle. SB said, "Leland! I heard you singing my song. You did so well. Can we sing it together?" Leland was amazed that she was face to face with SB and began to sing.

For the next 10-15 minutes Leland sat on SB's lap and simply talked. Snow White talked a bit with Leland too, but she spent a lot of time making Lucy laugh and smile. I swear all time stopped for me at this point because I was just firing off pictures. I was so awestruck that what I had thought up the night before was actually coming true that it never occurred to me to record a video instead. (Tons of pics available at our Snapfish page, see instructions in right hand column.)

During our time with the princesses, we were never told how long we had to spend with them and nobody ever told us it was time to go. They just talked with Leland and then out of the blue she asked about Cinderella. The princesses said that Cinderella was about to start a story time outside and Leland said, "Okay, I go meet Cinderella now." And shortly thereafter, we said thank you to all of the Disney employees there and left. It was amazing... no time constraints, no demands, no real commercialized selling of trinkets, just time for Leland to chat with her "friends". It was the fulfillment of my Disney dream for my little princess.

That night Ashley and I agreed that the day was a perfect California goodbye.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Saying Goodbye to San Diego

It's been a crazy week and will continue to be crazy for a few more. Yesterday, we moved out of our apartment in San Diego. Our friends Adam and Shana who were visiting on vacation stayed an extra day which helped us a ton. We packed up the U-haul and Chuck is now on his way to unload it onto an ABF truck, then he will get our stuff in the storage unit and load that onto ABF as well. All while I get to relax and take my girls to the park and play with friends.

We sold our couch (funny story to follow) and a dresser. We decided to keep our kitchen table and chairs after being reminded by Adam that we had a matching armoire in storage.

Funny story about selling the couch:
Last weekend Chuck posted our great couch for $150 on craigslist. After a few hours he had about 12 responses. I told him it was probably because he under priced it. The first person that came to see it wanted it and gave us $20 to hold it. Well on the night she was supposed to pick it up - she flaked on us (after a few crazy phone calls with her soon-to-be ex-husband who was supposed to pick it up for her).

Chuck posted the couch again but this time for $200 plus $50 if they wanted it delivered. He posted it at 9pm and by 9:15 two guys were at the house carrying it out. Since Chuck had an empty Uhaul parked outside they loaded it up and drove it 3 blocks to the guys' house.

We bought that couch 3 1/2 years ago for $200, so we actually made $50 on the whole deal.

**Lani we missed you at Palm Springs.**

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Last Sunday in O3

So today was our last Sunday in Orange 3rd ward. Not very many people knew we were moving since the only Sunday since our final decision I spent in the hospital. It was sad to say goodbye to some of the families in the ward. The great thing is that we could attend that ward whenever we come to visit OC. Talking with Chuck after church we decided it was harder to say goodbye to some of our friends in Owings Mills because we all moved such different places who knows if we will see many of them again. Many of these families in Orange we may be able to see at Christmas time.

I am doing much better recovery wise. Each day is better than the one before. Although last night I felt like I was having another "attack". After talking with a Kaiser nurse and reading on the internet, I decided it will talke time for my body to adjust to digesting food without a gall bladder. There are certain foods that may irritate me and I will just learn them as I go. Every person reacts differently to different foods.

We are very excited for this week - our friends Adam and Shana Cumberworth are visiting for the week, we are meeting most of Chuck's family in Palm Springs for two days, and we are packing all of our belongings into a truck. Okay so not excited about the last one, but we are really excited about Palm Springs. We are glad everyone decided to go.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Miracle of Modern Medicine

I am doing better now with the help of pain medication and modern medicine. I do not feel incomplete or like a part of me is missing. I am very grateful that all of this occurred when it did and that we had Grammy and Papa's help with the girls. I stayed Sunday night in the hospital and was able to rest. We stayed at the Gates' home Monday to rest some more, then came home to San Diego on Tuesday. Chuck's work was very accommodating with his missed time at work.

After determining that I needed my Gall Bladder removed I remembered that my sister also need her GB removed 2 months after giving birth to her first child. While Kriss was having lunch with 4 women, 3 said they had their GB removed within 2 months of having a baby. Then in the grocery store Chuck ran into a family friend who said she had hers removed as well. So apparently this is pretty common. Who knew?

I am glad that it was done laproscopicly so I have 4 "bullet holes" instead of a large incision. One of the four is actually in my belly button so you can't really see it. I lost my voice Tuesday I guess from all the talking to tell everyone what had happened and the tubes down my throat during surgery. Chuck wouldn't let me talk to anyone all day which helped me regain my voice.

Our summer in San Diego (and CA) is coming to a close (about 10 days) and it has gone by so quickly. I feel like we definitely made the most of our time here even with all my visits to the hospital. I cried Sunday night with the Johnson's that we are leaving and all the kids will be so different next time we see them. I started crying when I saw Cole trying to take steps to walk and how much he has grown and developed over the last year. We all may benefit from the technology and procedures available to us today when it comes to medicine, but our little Cole truly is a miracle of modern medicine. I am grateful that I was able to see him take his first few steps and will be so excited to see him chasing his cousins around at Christmas time.