Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hats, napkins, life vests, good times...

Time for more Disney Cruise pictures!
It's a bit hard to look back at such a wonderful vacation (from nearly 3 months ago!) and figure out how to capture any of those moments in a blog. SO... I hope these random snapshots (literally) give you at least a little taste of the fun times we had!
In this post, I figured I'd just upload some photos of us wearing silly things...

-Life vests (not so much silly in and of themselves... we just look silly wearing them!)

- Napkin "hats" (Our server, Ali, made these silly things for us to wear... I think Sean has Mickey Mouse, I have Minnie Mouse, Dad has Pluto and Mom has Goofy!)

-Pirate Mickey ears (Yes, all three of us proudly wore our ears for Pirate Night!)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Disney Cruise Food... it's all good!

One of the many wonderful things about a Disney Cruise is the incredible food -- and the incredible amounts of food! You can have food pretty much 24/7... and it's all already paid for (with your ticket price)! I can't even begin to tell how how amazingly delicious everything was. But here, at least, are a few photos capturing some of the appetizers, entrees and desserts!

Here is Sean with a plate of ratatouille.... and he's giving us his best Anton Ego face (that's the food critic from Disney and Pixar's movie, "Ratatouille").

Jaiden enjoys a plate full of every child's dream dinner -- Mickey Mouse pasta with a side of french fries (minus the veggies, of course!).

Now on to dessert -- this was a bowl of light, fluffy, delicious chocolate mousse (or is it "mouse" on a Disney ship?).

I don't even remember what this artistic-looking, chocolate dessert was called, but it sure tasted -- and looked -- amazing!

Mom got some incredible meringue dessert. It also looks like a piece of art!

Here is one of the many delectable entrees.

Pirom, our head server, fixes mom's plate of lobster! (This was Pirate Night, by the way. Mom doesn't usually sport a red "Pirates in the Caribbean" bandanna.... Arrrrrrrr!)

Oh, and here I am enjoying one of my all-time favorites: a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar! Yep -- these little frozen desserts that were made popular in the parks have made their way onto Disney ships, too! YUM! (Yes.... still Pirate Night... hence the pirate Mickey ears!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pretty as a princess

Ok -- it's only been - what? - 2 1/2 months since our Disney Cruise... and I am just now getting to the pictures?!? I guess I did not really want to face the reality that the glorious vacation was over.... At any rate, here is the first of likely several posts dedicated to The Magic.
In these photos, you can see that Jaiden had the chance to mingle with some Disney princesses, namely Cinderella, Belle and Snow White! Her favorite is actually Sleeping Beauty (AKA Brier Rose; AKA Aurora), who, unfortunately, did not make an appearance. No matter! She had an awesome time!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Birthday Girl!

We had Jaiden's 7th birthday party a few weeks ago at Jumpin' Jax.

As always, the kids had a wonderful time running around, jumping, sliding and just being silly.

Even the 3-kid pile-ups were fun!

So were the little kiddie cars.

Luckily there were two of them, because the cars were pretty popular... for about 5 minutes!

Jaiden loves the big slides.

The obstacle course is fun, too.

Unless you get a wedgie. Then it's not fun, as Sean shows in this pained expression!

Enough of that.... back to the fun!

And on to the cake!
Jaiden chose a lady bug as her birthday party theme this year. So my good friend, Season, created this outstanding cake! Sooooo cute!

The cake table looked very festive with the colorful tablecloth and brightly-wrapped presents!

Jaiden is contemplating a wish before blowing out her candles.

And here she is before eating the delicious cake... and the dark-colored icing. Oops! Everyone ended up with red, green or black teeth!

Looks like they grew antennas, too!

J was concentrating on opening this present. It's not often kids get to rip open paper at birthday parties... usually birthday gifts come in easy-to-open gift bags! ;)

Ah-ha! Here's an easy-to-open gift bag!

After opening presents, Jaiden got to hop into the super-cool, air-blowing party room where she tried to grab as many Jumpin' Jax bucks as she could within the time limit!

This may have been one of the highlights of the day! Too bad she didn't end up with real money! We could have used some to pay for the birthday party! Ha-ha! ;)


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chuck E. Cheese's: pizza, games, tokens, child abuse, cocaine.... wait, what?

Wow. What a crazy time we had last night at Chuck E. Cheese's. I mean, this tops all of our previous experiences at the "rodent palace." In fact, the story is a bit long and a bit on the traumatizing side, but I'll do my best to tell the tale....

Sean and I were waiting in the parking lot at Chuck E. Cheese's. It was Jaiden's birthday, and Chuck happened to be her activity of choice. (We'd already had her party a few weeks ago, which I'll post about later! So Chuck E. Cheese's was just a fun little thing for us to do on her actual birthday.) Since Jaiden was at camp earlier that day, she was with my mom and dad. So we sat in the car waiting for them to arrive so we could all go in, open some birthday presents, eat pizza and play games. A pretty normal, everyday kind of plan, right?

Well, as Sean and I watched people... and watched people park... and watched kids already too hyped-up on sugar run around the parking lot, we spotted a SUV pulling up to a prime parking spot that's NOT supposed to be for patrons of Chuck E. Cheese's. We'd seen a few others do this already. They'd pull up, spot the "no-Chuck E." parking sign and pull out, in search of another not-so-prime spot. But more than just making an insensitive parking error, this particular driver nearly drove into the restaurant next door. Yep. He was up on the curb a little, and then up on the curb some more, and then VERY much on the curb, barely missing the parked car to his right and somehow not quite accelerating enough to get the back wheels up on the curb, too, so he could plow his wife and family into the inoffensive building.

Sean and I were wide-eyed now. (Wouldn't you be?) I said to Sean, "Is this guy on drugs, or what?" After a few more minutes of trial and error, the driver finally managed to get the SUV parked at an awkward angle in the "no-Chuck E." spot. Very curious now, we watched the passengers pile out. The pregnant-looking wife plopped out first and opened the back door. Three little bodies came out, one by one. It looked like a 3-year old, a 2-year old and a 1-year old. Woah. Lots of little ones. Then the mom reached in and grabbed a baby seat. But I noticed that the WHOLE baby seat came out of the car -- including the base that's supposed to be VERY securely attached, belted-in, tied-down and super-glued to the car. She popped the base off and thew it back in the car, and I could see a very tiny baby... probably less than 2 months old... asleep in the seat. Wow. FOUR little ones. In diapers. 3, 2, 1, 0. THAT should make for an interesting trip to Chuck E. Cheese's. (Ah, the dramatic irony....)

Just when we thought the little kid parade was over, the driver (AKA Dad?!?) sort of fell out of the SUV, stumbled around to the back door and pulled out ANOTHER baby seat. I figured it was empty. He was slinging it around, and it appeared that he'd gotten it from the trunk area and pulled it over to the back seat and yanked it out the door. Now, at this point, I'm thinking: where were all these kids sitting? 4 little kids? They should ALL be in car seats. Strapped in. Safe. But I only saw 1 in a baby seat. Dad had another seat that could have been occupied. But that still leaves 2 tiny kids. Were they just sitting in the back seat? Were they on the floor?

I was feeling a bit sick, when at this point... I looked at the Dad again. He was swinging the car seat, kicking it out of the way so he could close the back door. That's when I noticed the little body in a yellow onesie hanging from the seat, face down, bottom hanging over the side and bare feet nearly hitting the ground. Sean said, "Do you see that? Look at that baby?" Somewhat in shock, I replied, "That can't be a baby. That HAS to be a doll. You don't carry a baby around like that. It's about to fall on the pavement!"

At that moment, we spotted my mom and dad and Jaiden and got out of the car. As we walked toward Chuck E. Cheese's, we saw a man -- with a horrified expression -- heading toward his car nearby. "Did you see that baby?" he asked us. Sean and I looked at each other. "That was a baby?" I asked. "I thought it was a doll?" His wife came out next. Same expression on her face. "I can't believe he's carrying a child like that," she said. "We should call the police." (Ah, more dramatic irony....)

At that point, we told mom and dad what we'd seen. And feeling a bit odd now, my family and I walked into the restaurant and found a booth.

Lo and behold, the horrible driver, his wife and their 5 little kids were seated across from us. I had a "great" view. I tried not to stare. I tried to pay attention to Jaiden and her presents. I tried to think about pizza and games and fun. But I kept looking at those little kids, just sitting there. All of them with vacant looks, droopy eyes and sad faces.

As we waited for our pizza, the 3-year old started running over to the salad bar where he proceeded to grab food with his grimy little hands and stuff it into his face. His dad yelled at him, but when the little boy came back to the booth, there was no discipline or punishment given. Instead, you could hear the dad instructing his son (with some very inappropriately colorful words, by the way) to get him some food and bring it back to the table. The little boy did. Back and forth. Salad bar. Booth. Salad bar. Booth.

Meanwhile, the mom got up with the tiny baby and started walking around and sitting at empty tables... after a few seconds, she'd get up and go back to her table. Over and over again she did this, like she was just casually soothing and rocking the baby, just innocently moving from place to place. (The baby was completely OUT, by the way. I never saw that kid even move.) That's how she ended up with two plates, one cup... and a receipt. I wacthed the whole thing. I guess the family planned a trip to good ole' Chuck E. because it's a pretty easy target. Lots of people. Lots of extra plates and cups left over... and used receipts casually left behind because the food had already come -- and gone.

At any rate, the mom took one of the plates to the salad bar and filled it with food. Just helped herself. Then she went back to the table and proceeded to shove lettuce leaves into her mouth with her hands. I guess she didn't think to grab a fork while she was up and about. Or maybe that's where she draws the line: Ok to use someone else's used plate or cup, but NOT ok to use their old utensils. (The other kids didn't eat, mind you. They just sat. Silently. Staring blankly or falling asleep.)

When the dad made his attempt to get food at the bar in the same manner, the manager stopped him. People had definitely noticed what was happening. I guess the manager couldn't "prove" anything, though. He went away. And the dad sat back down.

About 5 minutes after that failed attempt, the delinquent dad and his like-minded wife left three of their kids at the table (the little yellow onesie girl on the floor in her seat, right-side-up now, and the 1- and 2-year olds, zombied-out in the booth) while the little boy ran around by himself. The two of them went up to the manager with receipt in-hand and demanded food. They said they'd ordered a pizza, and it hadn't come yet. The manager obviously did not fall for it.

I was filling drink cups when that mess was going on. When I walked back to our booth to share the updates, another restaurant patron was standing nearby. That's when he mentioned what he'd just seen: the dad had pulled out a little envelope of cocaine. In the middle of CHUCK E. CHEESE! I looked toward the booth and the three little kids. Scattered on the floor and on the table next to them was white powder. My eyes were saucers now. A lady next to me had seen it, too, and she called the police.

You can probably guess some of what happened next. Most of it was witnessed from afar or just retold to us.... but here's the gist of it: The dad, mom and kids left the building. (And at first they just left yellow onsie girl on the floor. The mom came back about 6 or 7 minutes later to get her.) The police arrived. The family was stopped outside before they could leave. People were interviewed/questioned. The SUV was searched. Three uniforms collected drug evidence from the booth right across from our little family birthday party....

And the guy was carted off to jail.

I don't know what happened to the mom. Or to the kids. I hope someone takes those 5 little ones away from them. Soon. Maybe this incident started that process for them.

All I know is that I've never witnessed anything quite like that before in my life. And I hope I never see it again.

(BTW: I chose NOT to share any photos of this actual family... mostly for the kids.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tickly, tumbly bubbles and flutters!

Tickly, tumbly bubbles and flutters!

That's the only way I can even begin to describe the funny little feelings I have been experiencing lately as this ever-growing, now-apple-sized baby moves around inside.
I wonder what's going on in there: Turbo kick practice to remind Mommy to go to aerobics on Thursday nights? Some aikido moves to make Daddy proud? Is this a little drummer-to-be? Is the baby rearranging furniture in there to make things more cozy? Maybe the baby got a-hold of a bouncy ball and is having a little too much fun. Or could he/she be blowing bubbles? Or catching butterflies? Practicing some show-stopping Riverdance moves, perhaps?
Whatever is happening in there, it's sure to get more interesting from here on out... as the baby gets bigger and starts taking up ALL the space! How fun! ;)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Prince Teddy, The Spoiled Rotten Pipsqueak

Teddy is an interesting little guy. He doesn't really cuddle like his "brother," Rowdy. He mostly just looks for opportunities to place himself in positions of importance, which usually means: on top of pillows. One of his favorite spots is Jaiden's gigantic pink heart pillow. I could go on to describe the scene, as Teddy delicately plops himself atop the royal fuzziness... but I'm sure this picture says more than I could! ;)