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Week in Review

Written on September 28, 2007 by Rylan & Kaitlyn.

Sorry for not writing a post last Friday. I was too busy hanging out with Mickey and the crew. We had a blast.

I got the chance to spend some time with my crush Mary Poppins. She really is as sweet in person as she appears on the movie. She was very nice to me but of course I was so shy that I barely said a word. She didn't mind though. Bert was fun to talk with though. He let me hold his chimney sweeper so that was real fun. If I hadn't have been strapped into my stroller, I would have shown him my Step In Time dance moves. I've been perfecting them recently.

We had a great time and got a chance to go on all of the rides that we wanted to I think. We even headed over to California Adventure and go on a bunch of rides that we had never seen before. I also went to the Playhouse Disney Live Show at California Adventure. I had a chance to see Jo Jo in person so that was a blast as well. Everyone was singing and dancing including me. They shot out a bunch of streamers too which was real fun.

A real surprise was when my dad told me that we were heading back down to Hollywood this visit in hopes of seeing Shrek. I don't recall if he was there last time but I know Fiona and Puss N Boots were. When we drove by my dad spotted Shrek and I immediately got excited. I had a chance to meet with him and he was a fun guy. I don't see why people don't like ogres. They seem fine to me.

Let's see.... This last month has been super exciting. I have been picking up new words left and right. Here are some of my exciting new words I have been saying.

- Shrek
- Peter Pan
- Poppins
- Minnie
- Pluto
- Party
- Balloons
- Cake
- Plum

I am really excited about my birthday that is coming up quickly. Mom has been telling me all about the party so that is where I learned some of those new words. I think I am going to really impress everyone that was at my party last year. It's been a great year.

It's always hard to top a weekend of going to Disneyland so I hope dad has something good up his sleeve. Have a good weekend.



7 Ways to Save Money During Your Disneyland Visit

Written on September 27, 2007 by Kevin.

People at my work sometimes ask me how I can afford to go to Disneyland so many times in a year. Experience is key I think. Being the sole financial provider in the family, I have to think frugal and how to stretch the dollars that we budget.

Each trip, we come across new things that we realize we are overspending on or otherwise just don't need. Here is a good starting list on how to keep Disneyland a bit more affordable.

Under 3 is free - Yes that's right. Disneyland offers children under 3 years old to enter the park for free. Some people will say that the children cannot remember things at that age and maybe that is technically right but that doesn't mean I could have them sit at the house staring at wall. Either thing they won't remember right? Kids at this age have a right to be stimulated just like the older children and we make sure to do that with Rylan and Kaitlyn. We want them to experience everything possible even if they cannot remember it. As a parent, I see that many other parents don't give their children the credit that they really deserve. Just because they are young does not mean they are not intelligent and don't deserve to be treated equally.

Pack your lunch - A couple visits ago we tried this by packing P&J sandwiches. They quickly became flattened and really became worthless at that point. I have heard many people bring bagels which would hold up much better. We decided on small boxes of cereal and healthy granola bars this time. It worked out OK to fight off the hunger a bit longer and was a bit healthier I presume. We are very open to further suggestions on this one..

Choose wisely - OK. You cannot bring your own food so you are going to stick it out and eat purchased meals. Choose wisely because there are many things that will set you back $8+ easily. Kids meals are overpriced and the portions are jaw droppingly small. We learned this the hard way. This time around though we were a bit prepared. Massive corndogs cost $5.80 which includes chips/apple bites. A large chimichanga only cost $5.00 and a huge turkey drumstick will set you back $6.00. By themselves they may seem like a lot but compared to the rest of the park these are the most affordable. Fruits can also be purchased for a high but fair price. Also, if you are a AAA member, ask restaurants and they may offer a 10% discount.

Water is way overpriced - We reviewed and reviewed the weather forecast for this last visit and we were betting on rain. When the sun decided to shine for the entire day, it got hot and we purchased bottle after bottle of water. These ring in at almost $3 a piece. Yikes. Our second day, we brought water bottles that we had purchased at the local grocery store. One six-pack for the price of one bottle at the park. Much better. We learned a hard lesson on that one.

Collect on freebies - Children are looking for souvenirs to take home to show their friends and family I imagine. We had a budget aside for gifts but it is very easy to overspend really quickly at these stores. The unique toys that they only sell at the park are very tempting. Depending on the age of your child, ask around at the Disney Vacation booths and they will give your child a few free stickers. No obligation. Just free stickers. Make a trip to the Jungle Cruise and pickup your free souvenier map as well. If you are in a hurry, ask the cast member at the exit. They should be able to get you one. City Hall offers free pins for your 1st park visit, birthday, anniversary and more I imagine. Cast members will typically spot these and give you a bit more attention.

Leave the first aid kit at home - Disneyland has first aid stations throughout the park. They offer the basics free of charge including band-aids, Tylenol and others.

Time is money - If you have a complaint, let it be known. For the first time ever, we had multiple complaints on Saturday. We talked to the customer relations at both California Adventure and Disneyland they offered us free fast passes to any ride. We ended up using these throughout Saturday and did not need to stand in any lines except for the new Finding Nemo ride.


Have any tips of your own?



Rylan meets Goofy at California Adventure

Written on September 26, 2007 by Kevin.



Let them come to you..

Written on September 25, 2007 by Kevin.

There are so many different reasons to go to Disneyland. My wife has loved Disneyland forever it seems. I went a few times as a kid but I really became interested when I saw how happy it made my wife. As time has changed, we now have kids and the visits are for all of us really. We love to see the happy face on Rylan when he spots Mickey through a crowd. His excitement feeds ours. We suspect Kaitlyn will be the same way.

I took my wife to Disneyland to propose and we headed their for our honeymoon as well. Heck, we were there for our babymoon as well. While the rides are fun, we mostly love the atmosphere that is Disneyland. You step into the park and you feel like you have left everything else behind. Disney has mastered it.

Of course the main reason why many people go to the park is to see the characters. Many people will stand in 20+ people lines just to get their 30 second pictures or signatures. We do this occasionally too but while waiting for my wife to feed and change Kaitlyn something dawned on me. Near the baby center at the end of Main Street there is a cubby hole that has a first aid building. Right next door is an employee entrance. If you are tired of walking but your kids are still anxious to get their pictures taken, this may be the place to rest.

As you are walking through the park you will spot characters being whisked in and whisked out with the help of a cast member. These characters eventually need to go somewhere to get away from everyone and this happens to be one of those spots. Within the time that my wife was able to change and feed Kaitlyn, Rylan and I saw Jack Sparrow, Ratatouille rats and Mary Poppins & Bert. Amazing. No crowds. The characters came strolling along and were very nice about taking one last picture before ducking into the employee only section.

There are plenty of points of entrance/exit that the characters use. From my own experience, this has been a very effective spot to hang out and just wait for them to come to you. Try it next time you make a visit to Disneyland, you may just luck out as much as we did this last weekend.



Rylan waving and dancing to Mickey.

Written on September 25, 2007 by Kevin.



Disney Star Struck

Written on September 24, 2007 by Kevin.

Rylan's last couple of visits to Disneyland were a bit different than the last. He was not only shy when he saw the characters, he was downright afraid. While this can be fun for us to laugh about, it certainly must be a scary situation for him.

We knew that this time we would do our best for him to really enjoy the time that the characters give. We have been playing some of our different Disney movies in hopes that he will learn a bunch of the characters rather than the common Mary Poppins, Pooh Bear and of course Mickey Mouse. This seemed to work out perfectly.

We walked into Main Street on Friday and immediately saw Goofy. Rylan was locked in. He couldn't point fast enough. A great start to the day. As we moved on throughout the day, we were happy to see many characters and Rylan was thrilled. The characters that he knows their names, he was calling them out. He was even excited to see some of the characters like Jack Sparrow and the Ratatouille rats.

When Bert and Mary Poppins walked by, he got super excited. They made a nice stop to visit with Rylan and Kaitlyn for a while. Rylan took to Bert's chimney sweeper really fast but he was a bit shy when it came to Mary Poppins. Once these characters were heading off, Rylan perked back up again, calling out their names and waving. We saw these same characters on Saturday and they remembered him. They must have played with Rylan for 10 minutes off and on as other kids noticed them. It's really nice when they take the time to play with your kids and don't feel too rushed. We of course got plenty of photos.

As for Kaitlyn, she laid in the stroller looking cute as ever. The characters all said hello to her as well. For some reason she wasn't as excited to see them as Rylan was. We'll have to work on this.



Aye. Talk Like a Pirate Day

Written on September 19, 2007 by Kevin.



Avast, thar! September 19th be a day that tharre be sure t' celebrrrate. Of courrrse its Talk Like a Pirrrate Day. Arrrggh! Down some apple ale 'n but be sure t' watch yer sprogs around th' Kraken 'n Davey Jones' Locker.






2 days away..

Written on September 19, 2007 by Kevin.

Just a few days and a couple hundred miles stand in our way of visiting Disneyland once more. This is Rylan's fourth trip and Kaitlyns first. I think Rylan knows what's coming and he seems super excited.

*Disneyland Tip* Purchase your tickets ahead of time and eliminate the need to stand in one more line.



Impersonator - Take 2

Written on September 17, 2007 by Kevin.

It has now become practice of mine to hunt down people stealing my children's photos and videos. After another hunt down, I came across the following myspace account that was linking to one of Rylan's Videos. While I cannot confirm that she is stealing any images, the fact that her profile name is Rylan's Mommy is a bit suspicious.

http://www.myspace.com/scrumtruelescent

Her account has been reported. Let's hope she is dealt with appropriately.



Times are changing..

Written on September 17, 2007 by Kevin.

It seems like just the other day that we had Rylan sitting nicely in his shopping cart or sitting quietly in his highchair but those days are gone now. As Rylan becomes more independent there are some things that he just is not interested in any longer. This mainly includes use of the the shopping cart and highchairs while out eating.

For months now, Rylan had been giving us troubles getting him into the shopping cart. When he sees us preparing the cart with his seat cover he knows what is going to happen next. We would typically gently force him into his seat in which he simply hated. He would throw his body around and scream like no other. We tried luring him in peacefully by having something ready for him such as food or a toy. That occasionally worked but certainly not enough. We eventually gave up and let him do what he had been wanting to do for a long time. Walk around himself. He now walks around just about everywhere we go.

What is the fastest way to get a kid to cry at a restaurant? Put them in a highchair. Around the same time that Rylan rebelled against the shopping cart, he began to hate the high chair as well. This has now limited us a bit on where we can go out to eat and also which tables we can sit at. We now are restricted to a booth seat with Rylan on the inside. Tables and chairs are never perfect spacing from one another that a booster chair is no good. Most of the time he cannot sit close enough to the table without risking the chair tipping over. Rylan now sits entirely down or on his knees to eat. He is a typical kid who loves to give a little show to the surrounding booths. Like a nosey neighbor, he occasionally peeks over to see what they are eating and may even break into conversation with them.

Times are certainly changing for Rylan and us. We do miss the days where we could just put him in his seats and he would be fine with that but we understand that as he grows he will want to do more things like we do. We are interested to see how he reacts at Disneyland and if he will want to be walking around for most of that trip or not. I don't know how far his little legs can take him before he zonks out tired.



Week in Review

Written on September 14, 2007 by Rylan & Kaitlyn.

Yippy! Our home has found a buyer. I don't know what this actually means but my dad says we are in escrow which is exciting and will hopefully be moving out the day after my birthday. Talk about great birthday gift. Exciting stuff.

I know my dad just mentioned Cici's Pizza yesterday. I enjoy going there but not right after taking a nap because then I am cranky and don't want to eat. That was the situation the first time we went but I enjoyed my time much better the second. Last night we stopped by a place called PizzaSta(I don't understand the name either) which is also a buffet like Cici's. They were ok but not great. Me and Kaitlyn just were not in the mood to be there. I barely ate anything and Kaitlyn cried for most of the visit. It was not a fun situation at all.

My dad got me the Shrek 2 soundtrack for when we are in the car. I guess they are a bit tired of hearing the same Mary Poppins songs while driving. This cd is great. It has all of these great songs from the movie that I remember and it has a good enough selection that mom and dad don't grow tired of it. I like to dance around in the back while dad is trying to drive.

My vocabulary is ever expanding now. I am picking up new words really quickly. At night, when I am going down to sleep, we are all upstairs for a bit and then my dad takes Kaitlyn downstairs. The last couple of nights I have been saying "bye bye baby". It's fun. Then, this morning when Kaitlyn woke up and my mom was taking care of her I said "morning baby". This was the first time I had said morning so that was a surprise.

Tomorrow I will hanging out with my grandma and go out to eat. That should be a bit interesting. When I was a little guy, I was pretty good at restaurants but it's difficult with Kaitlyn. She just wants to scream and scream so my mom and dad end up having to bounce her. They have even had to give her a pacifier at times to calm her down. They never did that with me.

I think that sums up this week. It was a pretty good one. This day next week, I will be hanging out in Disneyland hunting down Mary Poppins and Mickey. Whohoo!



Review: Cici's Pizza

Written on September 13, 2007 by Kevin.

Updated: Please read here on why we no longer go to CiCi's Pizza.

On the occasion that I have a weekday off, one of our fun things to do for lunch is head over to the Peter Piper Pizza lunch buffet. Rylan loves to try the different types of pizza and it now gives us a loud place to take Kaitlyn in the case that she screams.

For months now, we have been seeing commercials all over the television talking about Cici's Pizza. We had never heard of this new company but it looked like they had some tasty pizza at an affordable price. We immediately headed over to their website to see where they are. Hmm, none within 40 miles of us. Bummer. We were taunted for about 6 months with these darn commercials at night. We kept checking the website for any signs that one would be coming closer to us, nothing at all.

All of a sudden this past week, we got our weekly coupons and there we go, a Cici's Pizza coupon. I scan it quickly and whohoo there is a new location near by. Their advertisements sure worked on us, we packed up the kids and headed off.

So, Cici's Pizza is a buffet style restaurant but they also sell individual pizzas as well. We opted for the buffet simply due to the ability to try all of their traditional and unique pizzas. They have some different style pizzas including buffalo chicken, spinach and even a macaroni & cheese pizza. I don't know how long the place has been opened for but the first time we went in, it was packed. My wife hunted down a table while Rylan and I checked out the pizza choices. I had Rylan tell me which ones he wanted to try. He seems to enjoy the classic chicken, macaroni & cheese and your typical pepperoni is always a favorite. He gobbled them up pretty quickly.

They offer a small salad bar, pasta bar and a dessert bar as well. The salad bar has 3 different styles of salad which were pretty tasty as well. I have no experience with the pasta bar but it looks like macaroni pasta with Alfredo or spaghetti sauce for toppings. The dessert bar is Rylan's favorite part of course. They offer a cinnamon roll type item, an apple pie pizza and brownies too. It's a bit hard to manage how many of those cinnamon roll pieces you eat. They go down too easy.

Overall, this place certainly goes on the list of great quick and family restaurants. The restaurant can be a bit loud which helps out with a screaming kid. They offer warm tasty pizzas with 16 different type choices. The prices are affordable for the family and right now with Rylan still considered free, we can get out of there only spending about $10. The buffet cost $4.99 and the individual pizzas start at that price as well. Even after being so dissapointed at first of not having a location nearby, we are glad to have waited. This place is one of our current favorites.



Kaitlyn and Rylan as...

Written on September 12, 2007 by Kevin.



Fiona and Shrek.



Oh Boy.

Written on September 11, 2007 by Kevin.

There are many companies who sell baby lotion. With Rylan, this simply wasn't too necessary as he didn't have sensitive or dry skin. Kaitlyn on the other hand did have some issues on her face that had gone away and now are coming back again. We picked up some of the Aveeno baby lotion which seemed to work nicely. This stuff is expensive though.

Rylan, being the bargain shopper that he is, discovered a new way to moisturize your skin and stay within a budget. In fact, this is a dual purpose moisturize that many people find yummy to eat.

With 2 kids now, it is easy to get distracted for a split second long enough with one kid that the other kid gets into trouble. We stepped away from the dinner table for a moment with Kaitlyn and when we came back, we discovered Rylan had managed to reach to the mayonnaise jar on the table. Of course as the camera came out, we couldn't yell at him and we decided to let him have his fun. Once the mayonnaise began to break down, it became very oily and Rylan's skin should be moisturized for the next few days.

I am not sure what is more nasty, being covered in mayonnaise or eating it right from the (plastic) jar.



Week in Review

Written on September 7, 2007 by Rylan & Kaitlyn.

Well this week has been pretty interesting. First let me talk about my green poop. I really wish that I could remember what I had swallowed though. Heck, I wish that I could tell my mom or dad what it was but for some reason they just can't understand me sometimes. For those who are interested, my poop is still a bit green but it seems to be flushing itself out. Yippy.

My grandma took the entire week off and spent a couple days over at our place. Those was good times. She brought us lunch yesterday so that was pretty nice too. She isn't one to normally dance but yesterday I had her bebopping with me. We had a chance for some 1on1 time as we played with the blocks together. When she tried to step away, I went over and grabbed her and pulled her back down. She sure got a kick out of that. I got to show off my skills and tell her what was on a few of the blocks such as kitty and car.

We didn't do too much for labor day weekend except a bit of shopping. We did manage to snag some great deals though for me and my sister at Children's Place. The outlet store here even had a few things for $0.19. Dad sure was happy.

I think I heard my dad mention going to that Cabelas store this weekend to hangout. I think it's fun to go there and see all of the animals and fish. Maybe I can ask my dad to get some video of me running around with the fish. That could be fun. I hear they have these pre-made s'mores. I wonder if I can try one of those. They sure looked good on television when I saw them.

My sister Kaitlyn is doing well. She is starting to enjoy laying in the playpen and watch her mobil and just last night, she hung out in her swing and barely made a peep. I get a bit nervous and my big brother instincts kick in when she screams so it's nice when she is calm and quiet. It allows me to relax as well.

To wrap things up, check out this baby. She has a full head of crazy hair at only 10 weeks old. That's pretty nutty if you ask me.



"Abnormal BM" aka "Alien Poop"

Written on September 5, 2007 by Kevin.

A while back, we stopped by a garage sale that had some great vintage Disney records. We snatched these up and figured it would be fun to play them with the kids one day. On Labor Day, we figured we would go try and hunt down a record player and some additional Disney records.

Our first stop was the Savers discount store. They had a huge stack of records so the entire family came in. As my wife and I looked through the records, Rylan kept occupied by reading a few books on the shelf nearby. We left with a few new records and made it over to the BigLots store next door. We quickly browsed through and headed back to the car. At that time, my wife noticed that Rylan's fingertips where shaded green.

We examined the coloring which wouldn't come off easily by using a wipe. We didn't notice the green anywhere but on his fingertips. I figured it may have been caused by an old book he was reading and maybe the cover ink was rubbing off. We did what we could to rub it off and let the issue go.

Fast forward now to last night. It was time to take Rylan upstairs and I laid him down for his last diaper change. Lo and Behold, Rylan's poop was a mixture of normal color and then a bright distinct green. I called my wife over and we talked it over for a bit. I finished Rylan up and while I was getting his toothbrush ready, he pooped again. This is abnormal in itself because Rylan normally only has one poop per day but this one was his fourth now. I lay him down once more and open up that diaper. Wow. The entire poop is bright green. Everything appeared normal except for the fact that it was super bright green. What in god's name did he eat?

Now, Rylan throughout the day has shown no signs of cramping or anything else you may think relating to eating something hard or toxic. After a bit of talk, we decided to take him to the ER just so we could rest better at night.

We happened to go to the ER at the right time because we were the only ones in line and we ended up going back in about 25minutes. Amazing in itself. We ended up having 3 doctors check out Rylan's poop. We had brought the diaper for them to see it and they were certainly surprised and baffled by it. Of course they asked us the normal questions on if he ate PlayDoh or anything else abnormal. The only thing we could relate it to was his green fingers from the day before.

They sent us home and told us to keep an eye on him. Seeing as it had already been 24+ hours since he probably ate what caused it, he would have already shown symptoms or had cramping from something stuck in his system.

What was it that he possibly ate? We may never know but we do have some guesses. At Savers they were selling Halloween supplies, maybe there was a Halloween face paint on the bookshelf some kid had left there and we didn't notice it. This would surprise us though because Rylan is very good about taking things out of his mouth that are clearly not food. I can't imagine that stuff would taste good and we didn't notice anything on his face or mouth. He also tried some new cereal yesterday as well, maybe by chance it caused this? It's certainly a mystery.

The ER desk lady that checked us in wrote down that his issue was an "Abnormal BM" which was certainly an understatement. I liked to say that he had a Bio-hazard Butt and my wife liked to call it an Alien Poop. I'm not sure if those would be considered proper medical terms though.

On a lighter note, I have something for you to ponder throughout today. If you were the alien race, how bad would you feel that humans taunt you so badly that we actually make balloons that look like you? Maybe that is why in movies they always come to destroy us. They just can't take us laughing at them any longer.



Review: LUVS Ultra Leakguards w/ Bear Hug Stretch

Written on September 4, 2007 by Kevin.

It is no secret that blogs continue to grow in popularity. Each day, thousands of new blogs are started of all different genre types. Parents flock to other parenting blogs to get the inside scoop on the latest products or suggestions on how to get their kids to eat vegetables. I try to make this blog both beneficial in regards to giving parents a bit of knowledge and also allow our family to keep in touch when they are not near. I have been extremely lucky to have been offered to sample new and exciting products and review them with Rylan's assistance. I don't think that we have experienced one product that we didn't care for.

I was contacted a few weeks ago by a marketing agency that was interested in me sampling and reviewing the new LUVS Ultra Leakguards w/ Bear Hug Stretch. I am never one to turn down samples, let alone diapers. Was it a coincidence that we were just about ready to run out?

These new LUVS diapers are said to have the most stretch to them compared to value or store brand diapers. We commonly purchase Huggies diapers so I am going to compare my results to them. Right off the bat, you can tell that these LUVS diapers are going to be extremely stretchy. These would be able to accommodate even the widest kid or most active one too. The stretchy tabs give a nice secure snug fit around the waste which should help keep those full diapers contained within. I have noticed no diaper sag while on Rylan and they keep in place really well. You will notice the absorbency crystals at the bottom of the diaper but we experience no leakage of these, unlike some other diapers including Huggies. We have encountered large dirty diapers from both angles and these have been able to handle all that Rylan can throw at it.

We have been using the diapers now for about a week and I am sad to see it come to an end. The quality of these diapers equal if not exceed the Huggies that we typically use. We currently buy our Huggies in bulk at Costco but this may make us change that habit. Diaper for diaper, these should save a few dollars per bag compared to your typical size of name-brand diapers. At the time of this posting, they only are offering sizes 3-6 but around December, they should have out sizes 1 and 2 also.

Bottom line, these new LUVS Ultra Leakguards w/ Bear Hug Stretch do the job well. They certainly can compete with the better known brands but still offer a slightly lower price which is always helpful. I guess if I had to throw in a negative comment I would say that we would prefer to see Disney characters rather than Blues Clues on the front. Even replacing with generic characters or none at all would possibly lower the price by a tad bit more which would make parents even that much more happy.