Friday, January 16, 2009

Disneyland with a Kid

I have now been to a Disneyland 4 times. The first time was back in college with Josh, Neal, and Anna. The second time was in 2006 when Angela2 and I went in Tokyo. However, today I actually brought a kid with me for the first time (if you don't count the 8 month pregnant visit in Tokyo). And, oddly, we only spent $14 for parking, gas $, and $3.50 on popcorn. A pretty good deal for 5 hours of entertainment. (Previously Dan and I bought Disney Annual Passes, the cheap ones where you can basically only go on unpopular weekdays, which is when you would want to go anyway.)

Will was so excited. Like many activities, I describe what we are going to do ahead of time. If possible, I use our TiVo to show him a youtube video on our TV about where we are going. This way he knows what to expect and gets even more excited. This tactic works pretty well, except when things don't quite happen the way I described. For example, prior to our New York City trip back in August, I explained the Statue of Liberty and how we could go up inside it. He was very adamant when we got to the Statue of Liberty that we had to go around and go inside the doors and go to the top. However, we didn't have monument passes, so he kind of missed out.

The same thing happened today with the Small World Afterall ride. I showed it to him on youtube, there was a boat going through a tunnel and the song. So he got excited and started singing the song before we even left our house. However, the ride was closed today. I guess it is in transition between Christmas and regular Small World version. Will was pretty disappointed and I had to explain that it was closed and that there wasn't even any water for the boats. That said, we still had fun. After nearly every ride, Will would say, "I had fun on ... "

We started by parking near Downtown Disney. For those of you who are planning on going to Disneyland, I can't promise that I know all tips about the best place to park, enter, whatever, but this worked for us. The alternative is to park in the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure which takes a while to get to, then you have to drive up and up and up and around and around, then take a tram to the park entrance. By parking at the Downtown Disney lot, we paid basically the same price for parking, but were fairly close to the monorail entrance and we didn't have to go in the main entrance, just the monorail entrance. As we had the annual pass, we just scanned that and we were in. I don't know how it would work otherwise. Plus, since Will loves trains and had never been on a monorail, he was very much into this way of entering the park.

The monorail dropped us off in Tomorrowland. We go to ride the Finding Nemo Submarine, which was the scariest ride. Will didn't like the eels and I covered his eyes for the lantern fish. Next we went to Autopia. Will was excited to get a "driver's license" and loved steering the car. Then we watched the Jedi training academy and completed the Star Trek theme by peeking inside Star Tours to look at C3PO and R2D2. Will is under the 40" minimum height for this one. Then, although I was a little concerned that Will would find Zurg too scary on the Astro Blasters, we went and he loved it. I think it helped that I explained that there would be something scary. And of course, you know I am being a great parent when I say, "Don't worry, you can shoot at Zurg with the blaster."

In the Dark Submarine

Will Excitedly Driving

Our next goal was to get closer to Small World since we didn't yet know it was closed. We ended up in Fantasy Land or Storybook Land or maybe both. At this point, Will seemed to realize that he could ask to go on particular rides that he saw. So we went on the Carousel and the Circus Train. He turned down the Flying Elephants, but after watching people get into the spinning tea cups, decided that was something he really wanted to do. In fact, when it was done he wanted to go again. However, we ended up avoiding the fun that was another spinning teacup ride to get to Small World to face our lack of annoying song disappointment.

Will Picked the Pink Teacup

Our final stop was Toon Town. I had been here once before, the first time I went to Disneyland. We entered and Will decided that he wanted to check out the Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin. It was as mediocre as I remembered and Will just thought it was kind of weird. We wandered around Toon Town for a little bit more and I pointed out Mickey's House and asked Will if he wanted to meet Mickey Mouse. He was in favor of the idea. When we went into the room with Mickey, Will was 2nd in line to get a picture with The Mouse. He was a little timid, but through some sort of Disney Magic, Mickey convinced him to come over and pose.

The professional picture is much less blurry

Overall, Will did great. We were there for five hours. I was originally concerned, because I see so many tired, crying kids at The Happiest Place on Earth. Plus, we didn't bring a stroller because I didn't want to deal with parking it and folding it and stuff. The only time Will cried was when a 3-year old pushed him in line and kicked him too.

Real Tears!

He was pretty tired by the end of the day and took a rest on the trolley.

Trolley Rest

Obviously we have to go back and ride the Small World Ride. Will thinks that should happen tomorrow, but really, our passes don't let us in on Saturdays. We will probably go during February, maybe again during March, and of course, on Will's birthday in April since Disney's promotion this year is attend free on your birthday. Then... it is expensive for Will to go since he will be 3 years old. We shall see.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

2008 Christmas Letter, Yea!

If you have been a lucky recipient of our Christmas letters in the past, you may know that we have been very late the last couple of years. Like most of our activities where we are late, we blame the kids. But, for 2008, we wrote our Christmas letter on/around Christmas and have sent most of them out. If you think we forgot you, it is possible (once again, we blame the kids for turning our memories to mush), but it may be that we are in the process of confirming your address. Give it a little bit of time. We should send the remaining letters out shortly.

Now, if you did receive a Christmas Letter from us and you had some questions, here is our 2008 Christmas Letter FAQ:

Q: How much did Alex weigh when he was born?
A: This statistic was in our 2007 "Christmas Letter." Even though Alex was born after Christmas, our letter was so late that we were able to include his birth details in that letter. While we are not sure exactly how much he weighed given that we had a fairly arbitrary fish-scale type weighing device, Dan and Mary Lou and Mary Lou's assistant came to the conclusion that he weighed 10lbs 12 oz.

Q: Other than not being a traveler and hiding things from you, how is Alex different from Will?
A: One difference is in their eating habits. While it is true that Alex will eat anything he can find, it's really about quality rather than quantity. We had to nurse Will every hour for a few months after he was born. Alex actually gave me a break. Then, we had to start Will on solids at 4 months because he was just consuming constantly. Alex we waited until 6 months old for solids. It's just nice to put Alex to bed at night not worried that he might still need more food.
A: Also a difference is that Alex started sleeping through the the night very soon (as opposed to 9 months old for Will). He has formed a bond with his "blankie" that causes him much comfort during the night.
A: Another difference is that Alex has a whole lot more hair. We didn't cut Will's hair until he was 13 months old. We cut Alex's hair when he was 10 months old. He might be due for another cut soon.

Q: Merry-Go-Round?
A: Yes, Merry-Go-Round. It has a custom built metal core and a neat, octagonal wooden frame. It's in our backyard. It's awesome.

Q: Have you LOL-Catted any other pictures of the kids?
A: Not yet, but we will. Don't worry.

Q: What other goals do you have for 2009?
A: Will is going to stop double-dipping.
A: Will is also going to learn how to do more than one thing at a time with the Nintendo controllers. Because it just doesn't work to either jump or shoot or move.
A: Will is considering learning how to video conference on his own. Fortunately Skype is free.

Q: Does Alex really only say "down"?
A: No, he says other words too, but "down" is his favorite. He uses it to get held, to get down from being held, to get out of high chair, to demonstrate throwing food off his high chair, when he throws balls or other stuff, and to get off the couch or our bed. In terms of other words, he is working on mom, blanket (which sounds like ma-ma), dad, up, ball, block, dinosaur (di-di), roar, duckie, quack, yummy, book, remote, box, bird, dog, hat, banana, melon, apple, more, snack, milk, yeah, no, bubble, hi, bye.

Q: Are there any grammetrical errors in the Christmas Letter this year?
A: Of course not. Although there is one numeric inconsistancy. And there is one arbitrary capitalization (as a throwback to old Kroboth Family christmas letters). And, the worst of all, I forgot that Alex went to Minnesota with me for work. As photographic evidence, here he is with Aunt Robin and Uncle Daniel outside the TGI Friday's outside the Mall of America.

Q: What changes will you make as you contemplate your 2009 Christmas Letter?
Ah yes, it seems as though people writing Christmas letters are raising the bar. Now we are seeing 2 different things. First, people are using Snapfish and other photo services to make their included pictures all fancy (Joanne/Steve, Diane/Mike, Cathy/Wes. Second, people are now writing "newsletters" (Angela/Phil, Kay/Gavin). And, of course, people have always been including an actual Christmas card with their letters. We will consider these "improvements" in the future.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, January 02, 2009

I lost 65 lbs without exercising!

What? Is this some sort of infomercial blog post? No, it's actually true. I have found the secret to weight loss. First, get pregnant with your second child. Gain extra weight because you are not living in a culture where walking everywhere is common place. Then, give birth to a 10lb 12 oz baby. Then, stay at home, taking care of 2 kids under the age of 3 for a few months. You will find your day consists mostly of feeding the kids, putting them down for naps, changing diapers, and potty training. It is unlikely that you will have time to eat. A few months later, when you get a chance, weigh yourself.

Don't believe me? I have photographic proof. Here are my before and after pictures:

So as you may realize, I am not making a resolution this year to lose weight. Exercise, yes, I need more energy. But with the goal to lose weight, not so much.

So what is the big resolution of 2009? 2009 has been deemed "The Year of Home Improvements" Yup, that's right, the ugly wallpaper in our kitchen that we have wanted to replace since we moved in in 2006, it's got to go. The carpet that looks like it is from the 60's, with a dull gray cloud pattern, that's probably going to go. We have to see how messy of an eater Alex turns out to be. And we are finally going to paint our living room, dinning area, and Dan office area. Any major construction projects? We shall see. Solar panels on the garage? Maybe. Replace our school classroom-like dining room ceiling? Perhaps. We are definitely going to paint or replace our backyard gates. Who knows, maybe we will even clean our garage or bring our fancy China inside so we can actually use it!

Bored and live in Southern California? Come hang out with our kids so we can actually work on a Home Improvement!