Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Our Trip to LA! (Part Two-Disneyland)

Welcome to 2019 Everyone! Hope everyone had a great holiday break!

I typically don't recap the specifics of events (parties, trips, etc.) on the blog, it is not my strong suit. It's mostly stories and life observations, but this was a special thing people asked to write about so I'm gladly doing it. 

Let's pick up where we left off from our last post (which was the first half our trip to LA). Like I said, right after filming, Sarah and I both had to film a few cut-away shots. Then she had to fill out some paperwork for the show while the kids played.

I was so excited to see her, I snapped a picture when she wasn't looking. 
I hit the jackpot with this cutie.

Everything was filmed, signed, and we were loaded into the big party bus on the way to Disneyland.

The kids were so excited! And also REALLY hungry. The filming/commute schedule got changed so my kids hadn't really eaten since that morning. By the time we arrived at the Disneyland Hotel, it was 8pm. After a quick pow-wow, Sarah and I decided she would take the kids to eat in the hotel buffet, while I finished checking in and unloading all of the bags to the rooms. Neela was with me at the check-in. With complete confidence (and completely oblivious to the line of people waiting), she walked straight up to the desk, slapped the "Disneyland" ticket from filming on the counter, looked the receptionist in the eyes and said, "We're here." Hahahahaha. She was convinced the Disneyland people were on pins and needles excitedly awaiting our arrival. She was definitely in some sort of "celebrity" mode. I laughed so hard. 

So I got checked in, unloaded, and ran downstairs to the lobby to help feed the kids. Luckily, it was a buffet. However, I wasn't aware it was like $25 or something a person. Upon learning this and given the fact they hadn't eaten any real meal for like 12 hours, Sarah and I told them, "Have fun guys. Eat whatever the heck you want." It was a nice first meal as a complete unit (still not sure what to call our group?). So they had eaten and wanted to get dessert; I told the kids to knock themselves out. Olive ate like 3 of these treasure boxes made of and filled with chocolate. Titus ate the entire buffet out of strawberries and thought it was the funniest thing ever. 

He and I were dying laughing at his multiple overflowing plates of his favorite fruit. 

Olive and her favorite food ever assembled. 
Fun fact: She asked me to make these for her birthday party next month.

We wrapped up dinner and headed up to our rooms. Ours were side by side, but not adjoining, so the kids were constantly running back and forth in the hallway between the rooms. After a few minutes, our kids discovered how to call each other's rooms. Not exaggerating when I say that I think our room phone rang about 78 times in the two days we were there. 

Two buddies leading the way to find our rooms. 

We woke up the next morning and looked at the itinerary for the trip. The first thing was "Breakfast with Donald." It was the same buffet we went to the night before, except it was breakfast and there were cartoon characters. Since my kids have grown up in a house where their dad works for a costume shop, they've seen just about every cartoon mascot in history, so the thrill is kinda gone in that area. However, to my surprise, all 7 kids were freaking out to meet... Stitch. HAHAHAHA. Seriously, who even thinks of Stitch when they think of Disney? The food was super good and our waiter Steve was seriously so so patient and kind. Chatting with him was one of my favorite parts of  Disneyland. He thought it was hilarious that our kids completely wiped out the fruit bar the night before and then did it again at breakfast. I looked up and yup... each kid was loaded down with fruit. Except for Stevie who of course ate only chicken fingers. I swear that girl could happily survive solely on water and chicken fingers.

I swear I think Stitch was the most popular character at the breakfast. Every table of kids freaked out when they saw him. 

After breakfast, we went back upstairs to pack for the day at the park. Once we packed a bag for the day, we headed out. Random side note: Man, it was so nice to be with someone who thinks like that. I'm more of a 'just go and figure it out along the way' person. Sarah is thankfully much more planned and organized. Sunscreen, water, chapstick, bandaids, hair ties for the girls, etc. She packs and prepares so well. It's one of the many reasons I'm so attracted to her. We are a pretty great blend of spontaneity and preparedness.  

Stevie and Annika holding hands walking to the park. 

Walking into the park was really pretty. They had it done up really nice for fall with pumpkins and flowers everywhere. The kids loved it and, unlike them, wanted to stop to take some pictures. 

Stevie and Annika really bonded on this trip and are now "best friends" :D 

When we finally got into the park, I had to keep my promise to Neela to ride "one big ride." That girl is a thrill seeker if I have ever met one! However, none of the other kids wanted to ride one. So of course, Sarah being Sarah offered to take the other SIX while Neela and I waited in line for over an hour to ride Space Mountain. I felt really guilty taking her up on the offer, because six kids (three of which she'd just met yesterday) for an hour and a half in Disneyland is a lot. But Sarah was insistent and I promised Neela. (I HATE BREAKING PROMISES TO MY KIDS!) So I took her up on it.  

After about 75 minutes of waiting, we saw the ride boarding! 

I'm so glad she got to ride it because she said it was the most thing fun she's ever done in her life. :D

While we were waiting, Sarah sent me some pics of them on a ride. She said it was so I could see how much fun the kids were having, but secretly I knew it was to keep me from feeling bad about her having all the kids by herself. ;)  

Once we met up, I felt the day start to turn around. We ate some lunch, snagged a group pic in front of the castle, and then our Fast Pass was ready for the interactive Star Wars Ride. We walked straight onto the ride. It was so sweet, and holy crap... that thing was fun!! The kids (and adults) LOVED it! Right when we got off, all of us wanted to do it again. But it was like a 2.5 hour without a fast pass so we decided to move on instead. 

Annika's giant hot dog cracked me up.

After the ride, we exited into a GIANT Star Wars store. Since Ellen gave us each a per diem for the trip, Sarah and I decided to give each kid $30 to buy whatever they would like at the park. The boys (including myself) could have spent about another hour in that store, but finally both of the boys decided on remote control droids to buy. Side note: Those remote control BB-8's are so mega fun. I borrow Titus' on occasion just to drive around the house.

This store was MASSIVE!! I loved it!

It was about 4pm by now, so we took the kids to get some ice cream and watch the parade. Then the kids voted to head back to the hotel because they had a massive pool and giant water slide. Truthfully, Sarah and I didn't try to talk them out of it at all. Hahaha. It was a lot with 7 kids and long lines. Also, since it was the official Disneyland resort, the whole thing was Disney-themed anyway, so I don't even think the younger kids (well, Olive) even noticed. That girl is the most blissfully unaware child I have ever met. I get so envious of how she can be so joyfully absent minded about basically everything in life. 

After swimming/water sliding/hot tubbing for a few hours, we walked around until we found a little, quaint diner to eat at. It was a nice relaxing evening after a 100% to the max day. Following dinner, we kinda strolled around before making it back to the hotel. The kids played, chatted, and snuggled on their last night together. I snuck this one picture of all of the kiddos overlooking the park at night out of the hotel window. 

It was so fun hearing all of their recaps and excitement about the day. 

The following morning, we had to get up early for the flight home. I think the party bus picked us up at like 7am to drop us off at the airport. Sarah and I sat next to each other and just chatted about the trip. Mostly, though, we talked about how I always brag that I am "unsurprisable," and she got me within the first few months of our relationship. 

They dropped Sarah and her kids off at their terminal and us at ours. Everyone was tired, but a good tired. We were all satisfied and our hearts filled from that weekend. I thought every highlight of the trip was over until I had my first and only celebrity interaction boarding the plane to take us home. I was herding my kids through First Class to our seats at the back, when someone tapped me on my shoulder and an awkwardly familiar monotone voice said, "Excuse me sir, but I just have to say that you have the most beautiful children." I turned around and it was BEN STEIN! I just stood there in shock, but before I could even reply I got *nudged* from behind to hurry me along finding my seat. When we sat down, I told all of the random people around me that Ben Stein was on our flight! But no one knew who I was talking about. #societyfail Fun fact, 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' was one of the movie choices, so it's probably good I wasn't sitting beside him or I would have freaked out and made a scene from the hilarious absurdity of this situation. Seriously, what are the freaking odds?! 

I mean, we are basically like best buds now.

Anyways, that was our LA trip. It was a wonderful memory and such a neat opportunity. 

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,

Friday, January 4, 2019

"Christmas in the Animal Kingdom" by Stevie Megow

   This is the story of a Christmas between the borders of the Animal Kingdom. This isn’t the type of story that has Santa and his reindeer giving presents. This is a more natural story. One that could, or couldn’t possibly happen. There is Alpha, he is king of the Herbivore side in Animal Kingdom. His job is to keep everyone where they are supposed to be. There is rules in this Not-So-Animal-Paradise. You cannot go to the Meat-Eating side. That is where the grass never grows the trees are polluted and the flowers are always dead. You would barley ever see any herbivore there. It’s a very sad place for herbivores. Their king’s name is Fang. Fang is a big, strong, black, lion. He won king last year when he beat the last king named Zing. Zing was a very good king. He let the plants grow and the Animal Kingdom was never split up between carnivores and herbivores. Fang cheated by getting more Carnivores to help him. You could only beat them yourself. No one stood up to him and the Animal Kingdom is now split in half. If you had a friend on the other side Fang wouldn’t let you see them no matter what side you were on. There are much more rules but too many even the leader himself can keep track of them without using the wall of ancients.
   This started when all the herbivores and carnivores were waiting anxiously for the rooster bird to wake up when the sun comes up to say it’s Christmas day. They waited and waited. Until it stretched it’s neck and sang it’s morning song proud and happy. Cock-a-doodle-do-do-do! They gathered around the snow covered tree and ate pine and sat beside their king. He announced that the Christmas Giving will start when the last little squirrels to come out of their little holes. When the last little squirrel came out of it’s paw dug hole. He yawned and squealed with excitement when he saw the pine cones on the tree. This meant that it was Christmas Day and that the Giving is starting. All the herbivores big to small sat near the pine covered tree and started dancing, eating, and talking to others. While the baboons banged the rocks as drums, and the rhinos plucked pine with their horn as a guitar. All the carnivores ate dead fish hoping it was still alive so it could dance in the water with them. They ate things that broke laws or didn’t care about the king anymore. The animals all got their gifts and got food or sticks. When Fang saw this (he wasn’t king ) he burst out in anger. He thought that carnivores, omnivores, and carnivores shouldn’t be together like this. So he made a plan. A very nasty, evil plan.

   The day finally came. The day when Fang finally introduced his plan to his gang. When it was the king battle he put his plan into action. The commander or leader of the King Battle called out Fang’s name. He walked slowly up to Zing with an evil glare in his eye. Zing saw that glare and backed up a little. This gave Fang a little more courage to win. He felt like he didn’t even need his plan. He attacked Zing, but it didn’t do much after all, Zing has already beat all challengers. They are okay they don’t want to die so they eventually give up. They get healed afterwards. Fang finally took a good hit, but Zing was still standing. Fang was about to give up until he remembered he still had his plan. He gave his gang the signal. They lunged into the battle as a surprise attack! Zing didn’t give up! He lunged at each wolf one-by-one. Most were defeated, but that was just a distraction from the huge surprise attack Fang had planned. When Zing defeated the last wolf, he was terribly injured. Fang found his aim and lunged right at Zing. Zing couldn’t go to the recovery room because he was too badly injured. He was left on the ground. Unable to move from his injuries. Everyone tried to help him, but failed. Fang simply just grinned looking at Zing. He tried not to cry, but there was something in the big golden lion’s eyes, it was a sort of happy-like-feeling. When he saw the lion again he saw a wave of white in his eyes. Then a small house cat. But the house cat was being attacked by a wild spotted cat! The cat had six dogs beside him. He looked out of the lion’s eyes then at his numb frozen paws and the red coming from Zing’s body. He cried seeing the visions in the dead lion’s eyes. He saw that this was the wrong decision. But then he also saw the spotted wild cat on top of the golden colored house cat. He then saw that the spotted wild cat was getting lots of attention from the other wild animals. He then noticed that the wild cat which was him in Zing’s visions was getting attention and pride because of what he’d done. He then went to the rock of Kings and gave an announcement.

   Fang announced that anyone could be king if they beat the original king. One of the rhinos yelled, “Not if they cheated!” Lots of other animals agreed with her. Fang then yelled, “If any of you animals want to take his place, defeat me and I will be happy to make you the new king”. They all went silent then they all backed away slowly. Fang then approached saying “Well then, if none of you accept that means I am the new king.” Fang then told all carnivores to come to him. He said that he would split the carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores. All the grass never got water because the sun himself was sad of Zing’s death. The Sun then made everything hot and dry. All the carnivores were FORCED to kill herbivores for food, or else they’ll starve. All animals in Animal Kingdom were hot and thirsty. All herbivores ate the small herbs they could find in this terrible weather.

  This now leads us to where we were. All the herbivores were saying it was the carnivores’ fault for breaking Zing’s code. But the Carnivores said it was the herbivores’ fault for eating almost all the plants in the Animal Kingdom. While the Omnivores say it was Fang’s fault for killing Zing. The animals wanted to go to war but the omnivores. They wanted not to become monsters and hurt others. The herbivores and carnivores didn’t care and decided to go to war. The omnivores wanted to stop them, but they could only do one thing. Ask The Sun and record it to show the others it was really Fang who did this. But one thing that was the hardest, how will they get there?

   Day one of the war: Herbivores are running low on supplies so they retreat and join war the next day. Day two: The Carnivores are winning by a bird. They had used a plan. It was to surprise attack randomly. They would set up camp and ambush randomly. Day three: herbivores are starting to know the method for the carnivores. Meanwhile the omnivores were building a flying rock that would launch them to the sun. While they were building that other raccoons were building a voice cloning machine that would let them hear what the sun said to them. They worked hard every day. Until one day they finally finished. All they needed to do was finish the voice machine. Day twenty-three: Herbivores are running out of rhino fighters. The birds went back to get more fighters and supplies. Day sixty-seven: Carnivores are starting to give up. But remember what the omnivores said. “What if?”, one of the carnivores said, “The Omnivores are right? I mean could eating all the grass be a reason to wipe out Animal Kingdom?” Day eighty: Herbivores see the carnivores talking with the omnivores. They then sent the news to Alpha. Alpha went and talked to the carnivores. The carnivores told what they thought to the herbivores. “Hmmm. Even though that would make sense and Fang is evil, the sun wouldn’t be mad and kill Animal Kingdom just because of a black lion cheater.” explained Alpha. “Please herbivores! We can’t do this without you!” pleaded the carnivores. “Ok on one condition! Show us some proof, The Sun could be sick. Then Sun could be doing anything!” Alpha said calmly. The raccoons got the voice cloner ready and the carnivores and herbivores helped get the flying rock ready. “What should we call it?” asked Rocky. “Perhaps RockET, since I invented it and it’s a rock.” Explained Et. “Rocket it is!” yelled Alpha excitedly. They finally made into the air. It took a while to get to the clouds. It started to shake rapidly because the wind was rough up there. They got past the rough winds and got into the thick clouds. The clouds got so thick they couldn’t see! They then came crashing down many miles to the ground. Meanwhile the other animals that didn’t go in the rocket spied on Fang. He saw Fang picking on a herbivore. It didn’t have any use to them but they got his voice on the voice cloner. They kept recording and recording, until they finally got that proof they needed.

   Some of the raccoons that were still on the ground made a spider web parachute to catch the small rabbits, squirrels, lions, and other animals that were falling from the flying rock object. But they couldn’t catch their best fighters, the rhinos. They were too heavy and big to catch, so they had to think of a different outside-of-the-box-idea. They thought for a little while. But then they had an idea. They would get the animals to make a big animal totem. The biggest and strongest go at the bottom then they would get the web, and put it on top. Then they could catch the rhinos without the web breaking. They caught all of the animals successfully, but didn’t have proof that Fang was the one responsible of the hot weather. The carnivores and omnivores knew they needed that proof to convince the herbivores that Fang was the evil crook. Alpha didn’t get angry at them. He simply smiled and said, “My friends, you have tried so hard to convince us herbivores, but we already knew. Fang commanded us to fight you. He would threaten to harm all carnivores if we didn’t. We couldn’t fight back knowing what he would do to you. We had to pray that the omnivores would convince you to stop this nonsense. Now that you know we can teach that Fang a lesson, but not now.” Explained Alpha. But the carnivores didn’t want a “soon”. They wanted a “NOW”!

   Now that the omnivores had the proof, they scurried into the shadows, so that if Fang couldn’t see them and they could make an escape move. They couldn’t make it to the shadows in time. “So you finally learned my little secret, have you? Well do you know what I do with people who spill the beans? Oh well of course you don’t you don’t LISTEN to me! Well people who tell my secrets go in the throne room!” yelled Fang. “What’s so bad about the throne room?” asked a sly fox. “That is the room with the fire! The hottest place in the Animal Kingdom!” Explained Fang. “What if?” asked that same sly fox. “We join your side?” “Hmm. I’m into it, but you all have to promise to obey my rules and no warnings or into the throne room!” said Fang with a grin on his face. The fox gulped. “Ok, w..w..we’ll join your side. King Fang.” Stuttered the fox. Fang grinned. “Go find out what those other animals are doing and bring the news to me, and quick!” The omnivores ran as fast as they could, promising to keep their lips shut, not knowing that the herbivores have also have done something like this.

   Meanwhile half the omnivores, carnivores, and the herbivores decided they should declare war, but Alpha wants to do it soon. The carnivores just want to fight now. If they could convince Alpha to fight Fang, the other half of the omnivores could be in great danger. The omnivore spies watched the beavers grind tree trunks and rhinos grab the logs with their horns. Then the baboons got berries and smashed them and put them onto their logs. “What is going on?” asked a grizzly bear. “I don’t know? Are they doing log paintings? Asked a chicken. “Wait, They’re drawing a lion, and covering him with tomato juice!” Yelled a pig. “They are planning war! Send this news to Fang.” “Why do we even have to do this? Those are our friends!”  “Remember, Fang! He would put us in the throne room! “But that could be our proof! If we tell them, maybe we could fight with the others and get our freedom back!” explained Thorn. “Actually, that’s a great idea, Thorn! You are always coming up with the best ideas!” said Terry the woodchuck. “Let’s do this plan while Fang is distracted! Hurry go! Whispered Thorn the robin. While Terry and Thorn announced the good news while Fang was asleep, the raccoons made a fast and safe route to where all the other animals are. When the route was discovered all the animals followed the trail. It took a while to not get spotted and stay on the same trail. They were hungry and thirsty, but they finally made it to the campsite. The other animals asked where they’ve been, so Thorn and Terry told them everything including what insects were on the ground when it happened. Alpha was just happy to see all of the animals together again. Thorn said that they couldn’t start war until the other half of the omnivores were healed up. Once they were healed and had all of the things you need for war like medicine, food, drinks, and more they went to have a talk with Fang then settle things to their right way.

   When they reached Fang they questioned him. He then admitted that he was the one who made this weather terrible. He looked at the half of the omnivores who earned their freedom by escaping he looked at them in the eye. You said you would obey me! LIAR! He pounced at Thorn. Then lots of other animals started attacking Fang. “STOP! ALL OF YOU!” Yelled Alpha. “You are hurting another creature! Would Zing want you to do this?”  “Yes listen to that stubby red panda! He is correct don’t hurt me! Just go home! Carnivores come with me! Omnivores find a new kingdom!” announced Fang. “That’s not what I meant Fang! I meant not to hurt him! If he has done nothing to us don’t do anything to him! If he says we are doing war, then we set war on him! If not, we all go home! Carnivores with Fang! Herbivores with me! And omnivores go with whoever, if he says no join me!” explained Alpha. “So what’ll it be Fang?” Growled one of the wolves. “I WILL DESTROY ALL OF YOU!” roared Fang right before he attacked Rover one of the rhinos. The carnivores lunged at Fang. Herbivores and omnivores ran toward Fang and attacked him too. Until he gave up, ran away, and never returned. After that all animals had one leader, and that leader was leader until they died, or if the other animals didn’t like them. All animals lived together and in peace. They lived with family and celebrated naturally. They always celebrated the death of Zing on the day of January 1. The new rules have been used ever since Fang left the Animal Kingdom. They celebrated Christmas the same day, the same way. Life went back to the way it was, but without Zing everyone would cry once in a while. Alpha was alpha for a long while until he passed away and went away to a nicer place, Heaven. The new alpha was chosen, but not by fighting. All the animals gathered in one big group. Before the alpha dies they have the next great alpha beside them showing them what it is like to be alpha and the responsibilities of being an alpha. So before Alpha left he chose his best friend Arlo, Arlo the lion. One day when Arlo was hosting the celebration for Zing a little blue jay flew to him very quickly giving him urgent news. “Hello Fay! What brings you here so quickly?” asked Arlo. “We were on patrol Arlo!” said Fay talking speedily. “And?” asked Arlo. “WE SPOTTED FANG!” HE HAD THE ONE MARKING TERRY GAVE HIM! AND HE’S IN THOSE WOODS RIGHT OVER THERE! Fay pointed with his tiny beak to the black shadows and the fish carcass beside the forest. “What will I do?” asked Arlo to himself.

To Be continued…… :3

Stay yourself! And live your life! Peace! :3
Stevie Megow