Thursday, December 31, 2009

It was a doozy

I'm not going to recap the year. Living it was exhausting enough. I don't really want to go through it again in condensed form. There was a lot of good; a lot of bad; a lot of blessings; a lot of tests. Just a lot.

As a good friend put it, "Its been a long damn year."

I remember when Doug was in grad school and working and I had a young toddler and was pregnant with another and we scrimped to get by in oh-so-expensive SLO, I said on more than one occasion, "I'll be so glad when we get past this point in life and things slow down and we have a normal schedule and we aren't so broke." Ha. Oh, my sweet, innocent naivete!

Each year since then has been successively busier, crazier and more fully loaded (we are slowly making progress on that whole "not so broke" thing). Don't get me wrong, the last four years have been fabulous, but they've been challenging. Both Doug and myself have poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears into his job and all the relationships that go along with it. There have been demanding callings, other jobs, school, and drama--family drama, friend drama, ward drama. Drama, drama, drama. I wish I could dismiss it as melodrama, but I'm afraid much of it has been things that matter. Big things. Things that aren't easily fixed.

And yet, this year, probably more than any other, has been full of huge blessings and many tender mercies--little moments that have reminded us that we are loved and watched over and attended to. Our friends have never been kinder to us, and many of our loved ones have never understood us better. I am reminded that the Lord maintains a balance in our lives. As the number of challenges and trials grows, the number of blessings and mercies grows as well. We often tell ourselves that where much is given, much is required. Perhaps we'd do better to remind ourselves more often that where much is required, much is given.

So very much is given.

May you find that 2010 brings you many blessings to count, treasure and find joy in.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Our kids had a pretty awesome Christmas. Rachel was kind enough to spend Christmas Eve with us, since during Christmas Eve day Doug and I were in Sequoia Park showshoeing (more on that later). The kids had a great time with her and then we all had a nice ham dinner when we got back. Read the Christmas story, sang Silent Night, said a family prayer and then marched them up the stairs, as neither Mommy nor Santa had done a single bit of wrapping yet!
This was just about Kylie's only present from us. She's young enough to not care (Keilana and Dylan opened all her presents and stocking stuffers), so we used her share on the big kids this year! She loves this thing, though. Usually she just takes the lid off and dumps everything out and then loads it back in, but sometimes she tries to get the shapes in like her brother. That mostly involves just violently pounding the plastic shapes against the plastic lid. She'll get there. =)

These have been a pretty big hit, but Keilana already managed to put a small hole in hers, so I need to figure out how to patch it. Perhaps duct tape? (Yeah, I'm classy like that). Her personality is captured fairly well by this photograph.

Kylie was most interested in the Christmas food. She kept stealing other people's candy and popcorn balls. She's quite a sneaky little theif, too.

Santa scored with this one. Easel with paper, markers, paints. Chalkboard on the opposite side. Our house is now full of paintings. So many paintings. This particular drawing is "Mommy and Daddy snowshoeing in the mountains".

And Santa's biggest score of all. When Dylan ripped back the paper and saw what this was, his hands and head started shaking, his eyes got huge and he short of half-yelled-half-shrieked, "Its a Lightning McQueen race track". He's spent half of his life in his room since Christmas morning. He's getting pretty good at it, too. He's better at moderating his pace so that the cars don't fly off the track than I am.
He likes to put things together, too (or at least think he's putting them together), so I think helping Daddy was part of the fun of this present.

Kylie has been carrying around her little music player from Mimi like a personal boom box, and Keilana is all aflutter about her Tinkerbell doll she got from Mimi. Personally, I'm pretty excited about the portable DVD player that Yaya bought the kids this year. That should make the 1300 miles(actually, more like 1500 mile the way we drive it) trips to MT much more pleasant!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


After a long conversation with some good friends Monday night, I realized that there has been a lot of anger or, worse yet, detachment on my part recently. I laugh at things that shouldn't be funny. I make jokes that are flippant at best, hurtful at worst.

I always feel ridiculous and extremely ungrateful for being anything less than completely happy and contented. My life, the parts that pertain only to me, has always been ludicrously easy, and I've always known it. So I have to fight feeling guilty for being upset about anything. Nevertheless, I had started to feel like much of my life has been spent watching train wrecks, unable to stop them, and then standing in the middle of the carnage and surveying the damage, wondering what, if anything, I can do. I got tired of hurting over other people's lives, so I started to emotionally detach because I hate being angry or sad.

But I realized after going home on Monday night how hardened some of my comments probably were, and I was ashamed of myself. Long-suffering is sometimes just that: suffering long, because even though it hurts to keep trying you could never forgive yourself if you just walked away. I'm sure everyone of you knows a similar situation in your own life: its the father you never see because every conversation is an argument and every act a betrayal; the brother you love but no longer recognize through the haze of addiction; the suicidal friend who calls you in the middle of the night, unsure he wants to live, but pretty sure he doesn't want to die; the young woman you watched grow up who is now losing herself in alcohol and casual sex in an attempt to drown a grief she doesn't know how to deal with; the boy who lashes out at everyone around him, angry at parents who betrayed their obligations to him before he was even born; the girl you take into your home in the hope of giving her something better than cycles of abuse, only to see her walk down the same path all over again; the loved one who magnifies the consequences of his imbalance rather than humbly seeking real help.

On Sunday I did a lesson on the Savior with the youth. We went over a condensed version of His life, hitting on some of the major events. We talked about how one of the last acts of service He gave, before the ultimate act of service of the Atonement, was to wash his apostles' feet. This has always struck me as one of the most humble acts of His singularly humble life. As we have been taught repeatedly, Jesus made lame beggars walk and blind men see. He healed lepers and brought the dead back to life. These were incredible acts of service, to be sure. I do not know the "mechanics" of miracles, if you will, but on this side of things the methods seemed quite simple: a bit of mud on your eyes, a walk to a priest, a touch of His robe. But what of this act of washing feet? It was not miraculous. There was no glory in this service. It was a dirty, probably most unpleasant job (bearing in mind that these men walked nearly everywhere, in sandals, on dusty roads, their feet were undoubtedly filthy), and the only result was clean feet.

No, I shouldn't say that. The other result was cleansed hearts.

Hearts were cleansed because it was an act of service given voluntarily, humbly, without complaint and with great love--even, I might add, over the initial protestations of those who were benefitting from the service. There are ways in which we asked to serve in life that may seem, on the surface, to be dirty and unpleasant jobs, and sometimes where those we are trying to help seem not to want our service. And yet, here we have the example of the greatest being who ever lived, kneeling at a basin and scrubbing the filthy feet of the men to whom He was teacher and leader. If we serve with humble hearts, truly out of love for those we reach out to, the Lord will sustain us. It may take a long time to see any results, but He will help us scrape away the dirt and mud and stains to find a clean surface.

That was the Savior's parting lesson to His apostles. If you would lead people, if you would teach them, if you want them to ever "get it", you must serve them. As Christmas rapidly approaches, I am reminded that we must serve wherever the Lord asks us to, in however humble or unglamorous the circumstances. Our official callings are one thing--generally, there is someone to hold us directly accountable if we are not fulfilling our obligations there. But what about the "dirty work" of every day life? Have I been the friend that I ought to be? Have I given way to anger where prayerful compassion ought to hold sway? Have I given up where there is something more I could be doing?

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren," He said, "ye have done it unto me." That applies as much to giving up on someone as anything else. The times where I have regretted something I have said or done to someone have actually been quite rare, but far too numerous to count are the times I have regretted turning a blind eye. My Christmas prayer this year is that I will be more aware of opportunities for small, humble acts of service, even if that only means holding onto hope for someone who may not have much hope of their own.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Why did you let me sit at the computer this long? I have so many other things I need to do today! If you see me posting again, please send me scathing text messages rebukes or something.

Parade and Santa

Friday night was the Lindsay Light Parade (they do this every year for Christmas). The PTO at Washington (aka Karen Hunter) put together a couple of floats for the kids to ride on. Keilana loved being in the parade, and Dylan loved watching it. It was a brisk, fairly dry evening--in other words, just about perfect.
Dylan, Brad, Kylie and Doug watch some of the lit-up floats go by. Its pretty fun seeing all the Christmas lights on cars, sleighs, trailers, etc.
Andrew, Keilana, Seth and James were pretty awesome little float-riders. They wore their Santa hats and reindeer antlers and sang "Feliz Navidad" and "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" as loud as they could.
Santa stopped by our ward party. Dylan had already talked to him at the mall a day earlier, but he saw that he could get a candy cane, so he felt it was necessary to talk to him again.
FINALLY, at the ward party, after 4 years of tears and refusals, Keilana sat on Santa's lap and told him what she wanted for Christmas. She has sent him lists before, but would never go up to him. She was still pretty shy, but she did talk to him at long last.

In contrast

This is what the inside of my head has looked like in recent months:
I'm working on regaining some focus.


Saturday, December 19, 2009


Been having a little trouble getting all "Christmased up" this year. Needed this reminder today. Thought I'd share.

To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.

". . .I speak of those final moments. . .that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries out in ultimate loneliness, 'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?'
". . .But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that he never flees nor fails us. When the uttermost farthing had then been paid, when Christ's determination to be faithful was as obvious as it was utterly invincible, finally and mercifully, it was 'finished'. Against all odds and with none to help or uphold Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God, restored physical life where death has held sway and brought joyful, spiritual redemption out of sin, hellish darkness and despair. With faith in a God He knew was there, He could say in triumph, 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.'"
~Elder Jeffery R. Holland

"There would be no Christmas if there had been no Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection."
~President Gordon B. Hinkley

". . .May we stand by Jesus Christ 'at all times and in all things and in all places that [we] may be in, even unto death', for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone."
~Jeffrey R. Holland

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas List

Fabric scissors

Bounce flash

new 18-55 lens (or fix the one I've got)

Some of those cool slipper/bootie things from Target

A cashier's check in the amount I need to get all my current dental work done

bunk beds

the orange crates from my backyard gone

new ankles

a little more faith (and, consequently, a little less cynicism)

crafting supplies

a Dyson animal hair vacuum

books (so many books. . .)

the ability to read said books without falling asleep

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oh, the drama

Kylie had her twelve month check up and shots today. Her head is 17.75 inches (the 50th percentile), she is exactly 30 inches tall (the 75th percentile) and she weighs 24 pounds even (about the 85th percentile). She is quite healthy--strong little ball of pudge, with good reflexes and hitting all her milestones: waves bye-bye, walks well (and climbs even better), gets lids off of things, says a couple of words ("Mama" and "wow"), etc., etc.

She handled her shots just fine (except that we held off on getting her vaccinated for chicken pox--apparently she can't be around anyone who is undergoing chemotherapy for two weeks after getting the shot), crying angrily while she was stuck with the needle, and stopping immediately once the band aid was on. But she cried at the MA the whole time she tried to do measurements. She screamed at Dr. Resa pretty much the whole time he was doing the exam. I was just sitting there thinking, "Oh, please, child--I'm 2 feet away!" But this kid cried when strangers held her by the time she was 8 weeks old. Obviously that says a lot about her attachment and her shyness, but sometimes I wonder what does that say about her awareness? A two-month-old shouldn't know, even instinctively, what a "stranger" is. Oh, sure, they know Mama's face and smell and sometimes will want her in particular, but for the most part out-of-sight, out-of-mind and whatever face is in her place is just fine. That's how my older two (and every other baby I've ever known) were. Its gotten worse since she hit the traditional separation anxiety age, but my my, its always been a problem. My other two had their moments--certainly Keilana was attached (still is) and it was hard to go to work every day, but she was always easy to leave with a sitter. Dylan cried maybe two or three times, total, ever, about me leaving him.

But I watch Kylie watch her brother and sister and how she "gets" some of their games and tries to join in. It makes me wonder what the little wheels turning in her head are up to. It makes me wonder what she'll be like as she grows into her personality a bit more. Mostly it makes me wonder what I've gotten myself into. Then I sigh. Then I turn and look at Dylan and sigh again. Then I look at Keilana, and she notices that I'm looking, and flashes me one of those ginormously cheesy Keilana smiles and I start to laugh, and she starts to laugh, and Dylan starts to laugh and Kylie starts giggling. . . . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can I just say

it really, really, really ticks me off when people behave as though their children are accessories. I believe in having your children well-groomed and decently dressed (I think its one of the ways you show that you care about them and are paying attention), but kids are not Fendi bags or Jimmy Choos. They're human beings, for Pete's sake! Pay a little more attention to what you're teaching them, or they may end up treating people like objects when they're all grown up, too.

And, on that train of thought, I absolutely and unequivocally abhor when anyone (I don't give a rat's patoot if you're straight, gay, transgender, black, white, red, yellow, green, male or female) attempts to sexualize children. Innocence is a precious gift and with nearly every person who comes into this world, it has a severe time limit. Let it last while it can. There's no shame or prudishness in wanting kids to be kids. So, no, its not OK for you to teach my five year old about your sexuality (whatever it may be) and I'm not going to put up with your snooty nose in the air because I dress her like the little girl that she is and not like a miniature 16-year-old.

Don't screech to me about your need for "liberation", to be free of the shackles of an "oppressive" (polite and moral?) society and then wail and moan about the loss of safety and security. You made a Faustian bargain--you destroyed that society for the sake of your "freedom". My children must grow up in that world, but I will not help you destroy their innocence and naivete any quicker than is absolutely necessary. So maybe you think I'm a bad parent because I won't fight for my child's right to be properly "educated", but I will fight tooth and nail to give my children the right to be children for that short period of life when they can.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kylie is one!

So here's a little info on Kylie. I'm not sure of her exact size at the moment (she has a check up on Tuesday, I'll let y'all know after that), but she's a toddling monster. She walks (and tries to do so very quickly), but has been much more lackadaisacal in her approach to learning to walk than her brother and sister were, so even though she took her first steps more than two months ago, and has been a "real walker" for a month, she still sort of walks like a drunken sailor. She is extremely shy, and so around most people other than Doug and the older kids and I, and in most places other than home, she is very quiet and still--extremely reserved. At home, she is still pretty low key: she isn't a constant babbler the way that Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were and she's pretty easy-going.

But she is BOSSY lately. She rules the roost around here, and she knows it. She is positive that every toy belongs to her, and is incensed when her brother or sister disagrees (however, she usually gets over it quickly). She already has more control of Ginger than Dylan does. She is pretty content and loves to wrestle with Dylan and have pillow fights with Daddy. It is very important to her to keep up with Keilana and Dylan--she wants to be part of the crowd and tries very hard to be involved in what they're doing most of the time. She's a cuddler, already giving very good hugs and the occasional kiss. She's still very attached and cries a lot of the time I'm gone when I leave her, but she is making progress. Her favorite toys are Dylan's large cars (she kneels, holds onto Lightning McQueen with both hands and drives him around the livingroom) and anything that makes noise when you shake it. She loves laughing and is quick to join in when anyone else is laughing, even though she usually has no idea why. Her only word so far is "Wow", but she uses it a lot since she finds the world endlessly fascinating. She waves "bye bye" and signs "all done", but that's all (we're still working on the signs for "please" and "thank you"--I haven't been as consistent with her as I was with the others). She's growing up quick!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


One of my biggest pet peeves in life is when people use the wrong your/you're or there/their/they're (the it's and its or who and whom don't really bug me).

But has anyone noticed how often I've been doing that lately? And its not an issue of confusing which one goes where--I know quite well what each one means and when to use it. But my brain and fingers don't seem to be communicating well lately. It drives me absolutely insane when I see it in my own writing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nearly unprecedented

Just finished making some snickerdoodles. Tried doubling the recipe--they're OK, but didn't come out as well as last time. Got the patio cleaned up and feel happy every time I see the pretty wreath on my front door (then a little sad when I see the stockings hanging up the stairway banister and remember I still don't have one for Kylie).

Anyway, almost done with my must-absolutely-get-done-today tasks. Keilana just left for a tea party, that makes it easier. Especially since Kylie's down for an afternoon nap. Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah. We're having the missionaries over for dinner tonight. We're horrible about feeding the missionaries--partly because they usually send the calendar around in RS and I never know when Doug's going to be home at 5 and when he's going to be home at 10, or somewhere in between, so I always mean to ask him and then forget. He signed us up this month. Its about time.

So we'll welcome them into our Christmas bedecked home (there are construction paper decorations everywhere--you've got to love little folk helping with the decorating), and then tomorrow night a friend from the ward is coming over in the evening to discuss some business stuff. Then Saturday Mimi and Papa are gonna come over and have some birthday cake with us (Kylie will be one!)

We so seldom invite people to our house, three times in one week seems almost bizarre. Don't get me wrong, we like people, its just that we are so bad at taking the initiative to plan ahead and invite people over. We'll have to work on that. My kids are such social creatures that they probably wonder why they got sent to somebody as lazy as me. *Sigh*

Keilana's turn. . .

So last night, I'm laying on my tummy on the floor next to the Christmas tree reading. Keilana comes and sits down in front of me, looks at me, smiles, and says, "Mommy, your nipples are coming off!"

I start laughing and say, "What?!"

Again, great big excited smile, "Your nipples are coming off a little bit!"

Laughing hysterically and utterly confused as to what she's talking about (after all, she can't even see my chest, since I'm laying on my tummy), I said, "Keilana, I don't understand. What are you talking about?"

She rubs my face where I had a nasty acne breakout a week or two ago and says, "Your nipples are almost gone."

I lost it and started laughing again and explained to her that the word she was looking for was "pimples".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Which reminds me. . .

I've been thinking about Alexa a lot lately. For those of you who don't know Doug's family, his sister Christa is pregnant with twin boys. They have a 3 1/2 year old boy, Keith, and a little one year old girl, Alexa. Yes, this little girl will be sandwiched in between three boys. I'm feeling for her.

You see, I was "the girl" in my crowd when I was little. I've always been a bit of a tomboy (or, as we call girls in Montana who like to play sports, climb trees, traipse around in fields, creeks and mountains and find dresses delightful but too impractical to wear on a daily basis, "normal") and I loved spending so much time with the boys. My sisters are 5 1/2 years and 7 1/2 years older than me, so in they weren't a big part of my life when I was growing up in the same way that my brothers were. With a twin brother and another three years older than me, there was never any shortage of boys around. All the kids who lived close (my cousin, Adam; the next door neighbor, Brian; and neighbor Trent--and his four brothers) were boys. So that's who my playmates were. My days consisted of playing machine guns in the haystacks and building forts in the lilac trees outside Grandma's house and the willows and cottonwoods by the creek (if you don't think lilac trees are strong enough for forts, you underestimate the ingenuity of determined five year olds). I remember one time when I was about Keilana's age, Brian's older sister (a year older than me) invited me over to play Barbies. After about 10 minutes of holding the doll, I finally asked what we do. She responded that we put different outfits on them and fix their hair. "That's it?" After my days with the boys, this seemed somewhat pointless and silly to me. I loved my boys, all of them (still do).

But sometimes I watch girls who grew up with all these sisters, or with at least one sister they were close to, and envy a little what I missed. When I got to high school, I learned to enjoy being one of the girls (though I never did get accustomed to the drama that tends to accompany female relationships) and started to wish I'd had more female playmates all along. As much as I loved my days filled with male-oriented activities, the fact is that I am a girl, and sometimes those boys could be a little overwhelming. I should be grateful for that, though, I guess. When the boys just got to be a little much and I needed some time that didn't involve hitting things (or each other), pretending to shoot things or (as we got older) blowing things up, I would retreat to the company of my books, notebooks and pens, which have proved to be some of my best companions.

I delight in all the girliness of my little girls, so I may have to steal Alexa now and then to make sure she gets some tea parties and stuffed animal safaris mixed in with the wars and broken windows. Just to make sure she knows that sometimes her brothers may tease her for being weird or silly, but she is in fact quite normal--boys just have a tendency, when they're young, to think all things feminine are silly or weird.

Ah, boys

We got home from doing some grocery shopping this morning and as I was straightening up the livingroom I said to Dylan, "I need to get some work done for a little while. Would you like to watch a movie?"

To which he confidently responded, "No, football."

I explained that there was no football on TV right now. He sighed and dejectedly said, "OK. PBS kids."

Monday, December 7, 2009


So, most of you are aware of the fact that I have a tendency to complain about California's lack of a true winter. I grew up with four glorious, distinct seasons: a hot (but not sweltering, live in the pool unbearable) summer with big blue skies; a crisp, colorful autumn with cold mornings and pleasantly breezy afternoons; a cold winter with dry air and light snow; and a rainy/sunny, 60s and sunshine kind of spring. I love that weather pattern, and I miss it. Especially once the Christmas decorations are up, I always get sad that the chances of snow are pretty darned slight. I love the hum of the furnace, the warmth of a wood stove, a cup of cocoa in my hands and a pair of SmartWool socks on my feet--something about all of that transports me to a better place in my mind.

But this morning I see its between 18-25 below zero with windchill where my family lives. Mind you, this isn't normal--usually the winters there are fairly mild for that far north. But every 5-10 years, a week or so of that type of thing shows up. And if you've never been in that kind of weather, let me tell you it is MISERABLE. Any thought of leaving the house causes great mental pain, let alone the thought of hanging out on the playground for 15 minutes at recess (yes, they still sent us outside--we northern kids have to be tough). Don't wear jeans. They get stiff and cold and that makes it feel as though they've frozen to your legs--which doesn't actually matter so long as you're outside, I guess, since if you were dumb enough to wear jeans you can't feel your legs, anyway. If you live in a trailer (which my family did when I was little, and my brother lives in it with his family now), its pretty much a given that your water pipes will freeze (and, then, possibly burst) and you may be without any heat besides your wood stove. It makes for a rough week.

So here are some of the things I'm grateful for about winter in California:
*I don't have to chop, haul or stack firewood (as a kid, we had an entire shed dedicated solely to firewood, and then another closet-sized room in the house whose sole purpose was holding firewood)

*I don't have to bundle my kids up in sweaters, two pairs of socks, a snowsuit, a heavy jacket, gloves and a hat every time I leave the house.

*My car starts every morning, and I never have to knock snow off of it or find something to scrape the windshield with (because for some reason, the scrapers made specifically for this purpose would always wander off). I also don't have to waste gas by starting my car 20 minutes before I leave in order to make it a bearable temperature when I get in.

*I never accidentally melt clothing made from artificial fibers while trying to get warm next to a stove (every one of you Montana kids has one of those stories, right?)

*More than not, my car tires grip the road firmly all winter, and do it without studs.

*I don't have to carry chains in my car.

So there are some advantages to this lack of a winter.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Monday was Doug's birthday, so we left Dylan and Kylie on Sunday afternoon and went down to Anaheim with the Bug. We stayed at the Anaheim Plaza hotel, which is a very cute, affordable option right across from the park if you're ever down that way. (And they let you bring pets, which is nice for us--Ginger came along on our trip, too).

I seem unable to get around to pictures--hopefully I'll get more up here or Facebook. But it was lots of fun. Keilana is absolutely the perfect age for it--she was such a rock star. She was on her feet almost constantly from 8 to 8 and she uttered nary a complaint all day. She kept up. She told me that she was hungry at noon and didn't complain once when she had to wait an hour for lunch. When we nixed the plan to go see the Princesses at the Princess Fantasy Faire because the wait was over an hour, she was disappointed but didn't so much as stick out her bottom lip or let out a tiny whine. She volunteered to go on the Tower of Terror, before we had ever brought it up and was super brave the whole time--pretty sure she screamed less than me.

I've discovered that my daughter is a roller-coaster lover. We hit Pirates of the Caribbean first, and she could see Thunder Mountain from there so she asked if we could do it next. She stuck her hands up in the air for much of it, even though it meant her puny self went sliding from side to side. She went on the Mulholland Madness (which is much less intense but way freakier than California Screamin', in my opinion) and wanted to go again! Once again, arms in the air the whole time. While Daddy took his turn on California Screamin', we were hanging out next to the water checking out Ariel's Grotto across the way and Keilana caught a glimpse of the Princesses. While I was on the roller coaster, she went back with her daddy, and saw Cinderella at which point she shrieked (and we all know how loud Keilana can shriek), "Cinderella!!" Cinderella heard her from clear across the bay and turned and smiled and waved at her. It made her day.

When we took her just a few months before she turned three, she really liked all the characters, but was too shy to go close to any of them, except the Mouse himself on the last day. This time, she walked right up and hugged everybody. She loved "the dolly ride" (Small World), which is pretty fantastic all lit up for Christmas. She insisted she didn't want to do the Haunted Mansion this time and she'd been such a super trooper that we didn't push it. The Christmas Fantasy Parade was much more fun than it would've been without her, I'm sure. She was just enthralled (the girl loves music and dance) the whole time, happily bouncing off my lap and pointing as each float came around the bend. She got to be there to countdown the tree lighting and was in awe of the castle (she has finally decided that it is, in fact, Sleeping Beauty's and not her's) with all the snow and icicle lights.

She was so awesome--happy, energetic, eager--that we promised her the next time we go (we're going to try to make it for Dylan's birthday), we will take her to the Princess Faire even if we have to wait in line for 2 hours. She more than earned it.

Oh yeah, and happy birthday to Doug!!