Halloweentime at Disneyland


Last weekend my younger son and I took our pals to check out all the fun for Halloweentime at Disneyland and California Adventure as guests of the resort.  We spent a lot more time at California Adventure, since our friends had never been there, plus it was far less crowded on this windy Saturday.

During Halloweentime, both parks have special features to help you get into the spooky spirit. Here are the things we checked out, and if you do, I recommend getting a Fast Pass, because the regular lines were really long:

California Adventure:

The Tower of Terror – this freaky ride will scare you anyway, perfect for Halloween!


The Haunted Mansion – this spooky attraction gets a visit from Jack Skellington and the characters from A Nightmare Before Christmas every Halloween and Christmas. The 6-year-olds loved this ride!

Space Mountain – this ride is already terrifying because it’s in the dark, but add a bunch of creepy space ghosts and it’s even more exciting!

The giant Mickey jack-o-lantern – right at the beginning of Main Street, this seasonal mainstay is an awesome photo spot, but our kids could not be bothered, unless it was to photo bomb someone else’s family picture.


There is a special Mickey’s Trick-or-Treat party that you can attend in the evening – check out all the Halloweentime features at Disneyland’s website. And you can make a little bit of Disney magic at home with this recipe for Jack Skellington cookies at OC Mom Blog. Here are more pictures from our day of fun:


















Easter Traditions, Our Way


Our family has forged ahead through the years with our own special take on holiday traditions – some that we invented, some that we carry forward from our childhoods. Here’s how Easter works at our house.


Mom hauls out the box of Easter gear from the garage and hopes there’s enough stuff to last another year. Then she heads to Cost Plus and CVS to get treats and candy to fill the plastic eggs and the Easter baskets.



This year we added the EGGstravaganza Egg Hunt festival at Grape Arbor Park in Calabasas. (Did you know that the neighborhood north of the Lost Hills exit is Calabasas?  Huh. I thought it was Agoura. Color me updated.)


This is no simple egg hunt, dear friends. It is a full on holiday fair, with snow cones, games, prizes, a petting zoo, and photo ops with the Easter Bunny. The egg “hunt” was done in timed sections: little kids started earlier, then each higher age group got subsequent times. It wasn’t exactly a hunt, though, because the plastic eggs were just dumped out on the baseball field. Once the announcer called “Go!” it was basically a crowd of kids bulldozing their way from one end of the field toward the other. Then each kid had to trade his eggs in for a box of goodies. It was well handled and not too crowded, and we attended with another family who conveniently live in that neighborhood and let us park in their driveway.





Later in the day we did our traditional egg dyeing activity, with the old school PAAS kit, vinegar, and plastic cups. My mother used her old chipped mugs, so this isn’t exactly spot on, but look how pretty.




This is when we get up early to sneak downstairs and hide eggs in the backyard before the kids wake up. Well, our older son has a cold so he was up coughing like crazy at 5AM. We got him settled back down and guess who didn’t want to go back to sleep for an hour? Mom and Dad. So we poked around in the darkness hiding all the eggs, then drank coffee and rested on the couch. The boys didn’t get up until 7:30! Usually there is a big fight between them about who got more eggs, but this year they helped each other. It was cute.






When they came inside they found their Easter baskets – plain baskets with a bit of Easter grass, a plush toy that comes back every year (one kid gets a bunny, one gets a lamb) a chocolate animal, a toy, and some assorted other candies. Not a big deal. No Easter presents. We keep it real here. It’s not Christmas.


After breakfast we headed to church at St. Jude’s, where there is major overflow on Christmas and Easter, so we had to attend the overflow mass in the hall. Both kids acted like they were about to fall asleep, so we actually made one of them go back to bed when we got home! Which was good, because for me, the rest of the day was all about gumbo.

Grandma Bettie’s Holiday Gumbo

Many years ago before we had kids, we realized that Easter was the only holiday for which nobody in town invited us to a celebration. Since we don’t have other family here, we enjoy visiting friends for Thanksgiving, 4th of July, etc., but come Easter, we were just home alone. Since I had always wanted to try making my husband’s mother’s gumbo, I tackled that project on an Easter Sunday, and thus a new tradition was born.

I’ll admit that the first few years did not yield the most delicious gumbo. The basis of most Cajun stewed meals is a roux – a mixture of oil and flour with bell pepper, celery, and onion. It has to be cooked just right or the rest of the dish will be terrible. And it has to be cooked in a cast iron skilled. Don’t ask – it just has to.


It has taken years but I must say, this year I nailed it. Got the roux just right on the first try, and the yummy smell of the gumbo – which eventually had chicken, smoked sausage, and shrimp added to it – filled the house for hours. Bonus – the kids actually ate some of the meat!

The Week After Easter

Oh who am I kidding? Mom eats most of the leftover candy, and that stuff is gone by Tuesday.


What are some Easter traditions that you carry forward from your childhood? What are some that you invented for your kids?


Cute Valentines I Won’t Be Making

I’m not saying I hate Valentine’s Day, although the thoughts I shared on the “hate” portion of this guest post I wrote for A Dad’s POV does have a little bit of me in it.

And the number one reason women hate Valentine’s Day is:

1.  We don’t have a [boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/partner/wife]. In the days leading up to and including Valentine’s Day, it suddenly seems like everyone we know is in a relationship, and every relationship looks wonderful and romantic. And all of the advertising that companies do to promote their Valentine’s Day specials sounds like it’s saying “Suck it, loser. You’re going to die alone.”

No, I’m kind of on the fence.  I like celebrating my love for my husband and children, and if I had the time to get into crafty Valentine-making, I would probably enjoy that, too.  But the truth is that I don’t make time for crafting unless I have to (when a kid’s homework assignment requires it) and even then I do the bare minimum.  Parents aren’t allowed to do their kids’ homework for them, right?

And so it is with a tinge of envy and an inner “Hell, no, I won’t be making those” that I have happily clicked on and read my blogging peers’ Pinterest-worthy Valentine crafts.  Many of them are easy enough to make if you have the time and inclination, neither of which are present in my house right now.  Here are some that caught my eye:

That’s Crafty!  Valentine’s Day Photo Cards at Savvy Sassy Moms (pictured at top)

Valentine’s Day:  Lunchbox Love at 5 Minutes For Mom

Adorable Vintage Valentines For Teachers at Momfluential

Valentine’s Crafts For Kids at Pragmatic Mom

10 Sweet & Easy Valentine’s Day Treats at Atlanta With Kid

What Valentines are YOU making?