The 3rd Battle of Winchester

Sometimes, Mom needs some quarantine quiet to get a little work done. What’s a housebound dad with few connections to do in the middle of a pandemic in rural Virginia? Take the kids to see Civil War battlefields, of course! I found the location of the 3rd Battle of Winchester and took the kids to see it this evening. It was good exercise, good time together, good to honor our past, good to connect with nature, good to slow down.

Disneyland Day 3

This was a Magic Morning for us, which means we entered the park an hour before it would normally open.  We’ve already seen almost everything we wanted to see, so we took the chance to ride Dumbo (again) and go on the Finding Nemo Submarine ride.  Then Clara and Mommy waited in line to be the first to meet the Princesses at the Princess Fantasy Faire while Liam and Daddy waited in line to be the first people onto Tom Sawyer’s Island (which is being rebranded as Pirates’ Lair).

I lost Liam on Tom Sawyer’s Island, which was distressing (but only for me).  I found him with the help of another family, who helped me scour the island.  I found him in time to see Mommy and Clara steam past on the Mark Twain paddle-wheeler.

We reunited in New Orleans Square to listen to a group of pirate singers, then headed out of the park toward Disney’s California Adventure!

Our first order of business was lunch, and we ate at the Taste Pilots Cafe, which is a hanger converted into a restaurant.  Our table was right next to a big picture of the Bell X-1.  (Made me think of you, Dad!)  Lisa and I have great Bleu Cheese burgers, while the kids enjoyed chicken strips and fries.

Then we rode on Ariel’s Undersea Adventure which, like almost every other ride during our stay here, had no lines.

We debated over our next move, but decided that a nap was strategically important.  So we headed back to our hotel, which has an entry directly into the middle of California Adventure.

After nap time, we headed back into California Adventure and went to the Hollywood Backlot area for Mike and Sully’s Adventure.  Then we attended the Animation Academy, which is something I’ve been looking forward to taking Liam to.  He has really been enjoying drawing lately, so I thought it would be cool to meet an animator and get a drawing lesson.  The experience wasn’t what I hoped.  We all learned how to draw Mickey Mouse, which was pretty cool.  But I had hoped for more one-on-one interaction, and the experience moved a little fast for his age level.  Nevertheless, he professed happiness with the experience.

Our next destination was A Bug’s Land, which was perfect for the kids.  A litte lame for bigger people, but perfect for little ones.  We went on four rides (one of them twice in a row), with no waiting in line.

We continued our meandering exploration of California Adventure and came to Paradise Pier. Lisa rode the California Screamin’ roller coaster while I took the kids on King Triton’s Carousel.  Then we reunited to wait in the longest line we’d yet seen: the line for Toy Story Midway Mania.  The half-hour wait was totally worth it; this was a really fun, interactive ride.  You wear 3-D glasses and play a variety of midway-type shooting games.

We headed back to the Pacific Wharf Cafe for a really yummy dinner.  They have soups in sourdough bread bowls, which are made on-site.  Both my broccoli cheddar and Lisa’s Monterey clam chowder were wonderful!  This place tops my list of places to eat again in Disneyland.

We headed back to the hotel to meet Uncle Jon.  He was waiting by the fireplace at the Napa Rose, a beautiful dinner spot at the Grand Californian Hotel.  Jon put the kids to bed for us and stayed with them fo Lisa and I could go out for drinks and dessert to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

Overall, it was a great third day at Disneyland.  Lisa and I were both surprised at how much we enjoyed California Adventure.  Lisa said that she might have enjoyed the ambience even more than that of Disneyland.  We look forward to exploring the park more today.

For our fourth morning, we have tickets to a character breakfast with Ariel at Ariel’s Grotto in California Adventure.  Clara is especially looking forward to this.  We’ll also buy some souvenirs today.  We told the kids they could each pick one item to buy, so they’ve been looking and debating for the past three days.  It’ll be fun to see what they choose.

Disneyland Day 2

Lisa made some really yummy cinnamon/brown sugar/raisin/buttermilk/flax seed/sunflower seed scones. They were moist and fluffy, and were a great start to our second day at Disneyland!

This morning we went straight to Mickey’s Toontown for Toontown Morning Madness.  It was a singing/dancing show introducing many of the classic Disney characters.  The kids really seemed to enjoy it.  We went to Mickey and Minnie’s houses to meet them, played on Donald’s boat, and then rode (twice) on Gadget’s Go-Coaster.

The kids played around Toontown (which is about as close as possible to walking around in a cartoon world), and Liam and I rode on Roger Rabbit’s Car-toon spin.  That’s one ride I don’t recommend for anyone.  It was too scary for Liam, and it really wasn’t all that fun for me.

We headed to Frontierland for lunch at the yummy Mexican restaurant, then rode on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride.  Liam and I rode together, and Lisa took advantage of Disneyland’s great ride-sharing policy for parents with children too small to ride.  The first parent goes on a ride, waiting in the full normal line.  Then the second parent enters from the exit and gets right on the ride.  This saves so much time it’s almost worth having kids with you for this benefit alone!  The lines everywhere were very short, though, probably because it’s the middle of the week in the off-season.

After lunch and the roller coaster, we headed back to the hotel for nap time.  As expected, the kids had a hard time settling down.  At least, they had a hard time until I told them that we weren’t going back to the park until they took a nap.  They fell asleep almost immediately.

While Lisa and the kids slept, I went back to Disneyland and rode Indiana Jones (which the kids are too small to ride), Star Tours (which Lisa doesn’t care to ride), and the Haunted Mansion (which I refuse to take the kids on).

When Lisa and the kids woke up, we went to Disney’s California Adventure through our hotel’s special short-cut entrance and picked up our tickets for tonight’s World of Color show.

Then we cut through Disneyland (past the infamous Club 33, Disney’s exclusive club with a 10-year waiting list) to Adventureland, where we went on the Jungle Cruise.  The constant flow of bad humor makes the Jungle Cruise my new favorite ride.

We spent a little time in Frontierland on the way to Critter Country, where we rode Splash Mountain.  Splash Mountain was terrifying for Liam, but somehow after the ride it became his favorite.  I don’t know why this happens, but I remember having a similar experience with Pirates of the Caribbean when I was a little guy.  By this time in the day, the rides were so short that we could have ridden Splash Mountain several times in a row, if children would have permitted.  But Clara’s too small for Splash Mountain, anyway.

Both Liam and Clara LOVED Winnie the Pooh’s Adventure, which is a cute, mild, non-scary ride in Critter Country.  We saw all the characters from Winnie the Pooh, but were about 20 seconds too late to get a chance to greet them.

We enjoyed dinner at the Golden Horseshoe saloon as some of their last patrons of the evening.

Everywhere we went, cast members offered us special buttons to pin onto our shirts.  Not the collectible pins that people seem to trade and wear on lanyard around their necks, but the old tin round buttons that elementary school kids love so much.  I’ll have to take a picture of Liam with his button collection; he’s quite proud of it.

Our evening was very eventful.  Were were able to enjoy both the Soundsational parade in Disneyland AND the World of Color show in Disney’s California Adventure.  The kids loved the parade, as expected.  And the World of Color show was Amazing, but not great for kids.  If you want them to be able to see, you really do have to hold them.  And holding them for the length of the show was pretty difficult.  Still, the show is a definite must-see; a true spectacle of lights, water and fire.

Tomorrow we hope to visit California Adventure in earnest.  We have early-opening tickets for the Disneyland park, but we need to figure out exactly what opportunities those tickets afford.  Whew!  Good night!

Day 1 in Disneyland

We left Reedley and arrived mid-morning in Disneyland.  What a fun experience!

Our first ride was the train around the park.  Liam was scared of the dinosaurs, and it was an early indication that we would have to watch out for scary experiences.  Next we went down Mainstreet, USA to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.  Again, it was a little bit scary for Liam.

Peter Pan’s flight was, as expected, a highlight.  While waiting in line we met a couple who are retired teachers.  They are also grandparents, and really enjoyed talking with our kids.  King Arthur’s carousel was next (see the photos below), and then we took a break and ate lunch in Fantasyland.  Lunch was $40 (yikes!), and the adult portions were about right, but the children’s portions looked small.  They weren’t; our kids actually had plenty to eat.

The crowd index was really low (as expected for a Tuesday in November), and our rides on both Dumbo and the Casey Junior Circus Train were quick, due to the short wait in line. Liam sang the Casey Junior song for the rest of the day.  But he only knows the words, “Casey Junior’s back….”, so he sang that one line over and over and over and over.

Clara’s favorite ride (so far) was the Mad Hatter’s teacup ride.  After enjoying this spinning sick-inducer, we headed to Tomorrowland, to the Autopia cars and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro-Blasters.  Clara drove(?) with me on the Autopia cars, and she had so much fun. She laughed the entire time!  On the Astro-Blasters, Liam and Daddy competed with Clara and Mommy for the highest score.  Daddy was a bit worried early on, because it turns out Mommy is a pretty good shot.  But the ladies were soundly defeated by the end of the ride.

We were getting pretty tired by this point, so we wandered through innoventions (meh), then took the Monorail back to Downtown Disney.  We were able to ride in the front of the Monorail with the driver – we’d heard you can request this, so we did.

We had a late but scrumptious dinner at the Storyteller’s Cafe downstairs in our hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian.  Lisa enjoyed the corn chowder and a salad, the kids made their own pizzas, and I enjoyed the buffet, complete with New York strip steak and an over-the-top dessert selection.

After dinner we collapsed into bed.  Lisa and I intended to plan Wednesday’s fun, but we were both snoozing before we knew what was happening.  I’m writing this during naptime on Day 2, and I hope we can update the blog to share all of today’s fun and adventures sometime (late) this evening!

The Night Jesus Saved Liam

March 20, 2011

After reading Jesus’s words about hell in Mark 9 before bed, Liam told me, “I don’t want to go to hell. ” I told him that there’s only one way to know for sure that you’re going to heaven. I explained our separation from God because of sin, and Jesus’s provision. We prayed the prayer of salvation together, then asked for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I explained to Liam that he had become a Christian, and told him that he should tell everyone he knows about it.  He thought it might be fun to have everyone come over to our house for a party.

Liam also had some interesting questions. He wanted to know why I’m not perfect, even though I’m a Christian. I told him that my sinful nature still wars against the Spirit of God in me, and that I won’t be perfect until I die and go to heaven.  I told him that I’m not perfect, but I am forgiven.  And God’s now forgiven him because of what Jesus did.  Liam told me that when we go to heaven, we’ll have perfect bodies, just like Jesus.  Apparently he’s been listening and putting some of these things together. I feel like he has a very real understanding of what he prayed, and I’m so happy that he’s chosen to follow Jesus!

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Guess who’s back?

Just when you thought you I’d quit writing altogether – just when you’re sure that this trip to our blog will be fruitless – as you’re making one last visit for old time’s sake – the unthinkable happens.  You actually find a new blog post.  Whether it’s worth your time to read, I won’t try to pre-judge.  Maybe your comments (or lack thereof) will be all the feedback I need.  Or maybe, just maybe, fate isn’t sealed and the end isn’t written yet. Maybe the end can’t be known from the beginning.  Maybe you’ll leave a comment and stir my faintest hopes.  Or maybe not.

Anyway, we’ve had a lot going on in the past week, months, year little while.  We now have a second child (who, I’m sad to say, still isn’t reflected in our blog’s header graphic.  We could at least do as well as the Team Shinn blog and put up a picture that includes all of us (and our pet unicorn).  Clara is growing into a mostly delightful young girl.  She is funny, sincere, and likes to order her world in her own way.  She can be a little strong-willed at times, too. My favorite Clara-ism is her saying ‘Yipee!’

Liam’s a tender young lad who also happens to make a lot of noise.  His favorite mode of play seems to involve car crashes and other catastrophes.  That sounds bad on (blog) paper, but in reality it’s not at all disturbing.  He became a Christian last night when he accepted Jesus into his heart.  I’ll have to write an entire post on that – it’s pretty interesting.

Here’s a gratuitous picture (I know some of you are only here for the cute kid pictures):
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Speaking of cute, Lisa is doing well. She’s really developing a pretty fantastic skill as a photographer.  Though she and I differ pretty drastically in style, she’s bringing back some material that really earns my respect.  She and I are tossing around the idea of creating a book-length product of some of her work from the simple.life.art series.  It would be very worth doing.  Lisa has also been running lately, which is relatively new for her.  She’s actually in bed early tonight because she’s planning to run first thing in the morning.

I guess that just leaves me (for now).  My biggest life news is that I decided to blog again.  Okay, I think I had you there for a second.  Though I care about andrewandlisa.org almost as much as you do, it’s not actually the most important thing that I have going.  My big news is that I’m pregnant.  (Did I get you that time? I was sure you wouldn’t expect a second cheap gag so quickly on the heels of the first.)

No, my real news is that I’ve returned to school.  If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time, you’ll remember that I took a few courses at Fresno State several years ago.  Well, I’ve resumed that course of study and am again working on my Master’s Degree in Business Administration.  I have two courses this semester, and I LOVE being back in school.  The role’s been a weird adjustment for a fully independent adult, but the reading and mental stimulation are well worth it.  Not to mention that I have some interesting classmates.

Speaking of reading, I’ve been doing so much reading in so many areas that I should probably plan a few blog posts just to catch you up on my reading list.  I know that sounds boring, but perhaps I can come up with an interesting way to share.  Limerick, maybe? Or Iambic Pentameter?  I know it sounds goofy to write a sonnet about one’s reading list, but I really do love it about that much.  Tell me now if that sounds grindingly boring, and I’ll go suck my (gin-covered) thumb in a corner for comfort.

Well, this silliness has gone on for far too long.  I can’t give you the last few minutes of your life back, but I CAN beg you to come back for more of the salacious details and gratuitously cute kid pictures that you’re sure to find in future posts here on andrewandlisa.org.  Good night.

New pictures of Liam and Clara!

They’re both growing so fast! Here are some pictures of our little walking girl and our little playful boy.

Liam is so playful these days, and is starting to see play as a worthy activity in itself, instead of something you do out of curiosity.  That’s really fun, until play time is over.

Clara is getting more fun all the time!  She loves to eat, and she really likes clothes.  She loves to put on shoes, hats and jackets.  Here are a few pictures from our most recent studio session with them!

Enjoy,

Daddy (Andrew)

All Clara, All the Time!

So, our blog used to be the Andrew and Lisa blog. (Hence the url, www.andrewandlisa.org.*) Then it turned into the All Liam, All the Time blog. I guess Liam still makes the occasional cameo, but now we’re into All Clara, All the Time mode!

Today’s special feature on Clara includes the ADORABLE christening gown Grandma Mitzi made for her dedication this Sunday. Lisa and I had lots of fun taking these pictures while Clara jabbered at us and threatened to fall off her various perches.

Enjoy the pictures,
Andrew

*Incidentally, you can also reach us at www.andrewandlisa.com, if you prefer.

Thanksgiving 2009

We’ve had a nice Thanksgiving this year. We have a lot to be thankful for: close family, clients who are willing to keep supporting our photography habit, (mostly) healthy kids, and 4 good years with Maggie before she passed away. I realized when I was going through her pictures that I haven’t been taking nearly as many personal pictures lately as I did before. Here’s part of my attempt to rectify that.

Liam had a Thanksgiving feast at Chapter One on Wednesday. I took a little time off work to go over and be with him. They dressed the kids up as little Indians and Pilgrims and fed them a nice Turkey-Stuffing-etc. meal. Liam, dressed in a cute little Indian headdress, ate his cranberry sauce and a roll, and that was pretty much it. He didn’t discover until Thursday how good mashed potatoes can be, and veered away from anything that looked like meat. When the pumpkin pie was served, he just ate the whipped cream (with his fingers, I might add!). I stuck around and took a few pictures of him playing on the playground. He’s so imaginative these days! He walked over to a little girl who was playing store and placed an order, went through the whole transaction, and picked up his item (whatever it was). He’s very fun, and his imagination reminds me to have fun and play once in a while.

That evening we went to Papa and (Mayor) Oma Fast’s house for Zwiebach and faspa(sp?). Below are a few pictures of us playing at their house.

Thursday we went to Gail and Larry Harder’s house for a Fast-side Thanksgiving meal. I had to take the kids home for their naps right away, but we still had time for a little eating and came back after nap time for more fellowship. The pictures from Gail and Larry’s house are all of Clara, who happened to be sitting by the window where the light was good.

I hope Thanksgiving was great for all of you, Shinn-fans! Enjoy the photos.