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Scattered Sundays

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Hello, friends! Longtime, no talk!

I officially did it. I took a week off and left my laptop at home. I’ve never done this before and it felt both weird and fantastic.

And where were we? Disneyland!

colorful rainbow flowers in a mickey ear form.

After our uber-disastrous trip to Disney in 2016, to quote Troy at the time “I’d rather eat glass than ever bring the kids back here”. But, they’re older, things are different, and we went with my friend from high school and his wife (whom I have forced to be my friend) and their kids. They’re all Disney pros.

two friends
Friends for 25 years! We haven’t always been blurry though.

Troy and I lived in Los Angeles before the kids and had annual Disney passes during our time down there. We’ve probably been to Disney at least 50+ times.

But things are different, everything is done via the app, and my beloved fast passes are now obsolete unless you pay for them. I enjoyed telling the kids in an old-timey voice that “back in my day, you had to walk across the park to check on a ride’s wait time”.

Our friend’s oldest son and Jack get along so well. And their younger daughter and Bennett are pretty much identical in their interests (art, stuffies, animals, and weird bugs). It was a match made in heaven for both kids.

two kids at Disneyland with Boba Fett.

Our family stayed for a week, with 4.5 days in the park. Their family was there for six days, with the same amount of time in the park. We had gone down one day early to see friends, but that ended up not happening because after 3.5 years, I finally got the ‘Rona. Doh!

Over one week before we left, I got a sore throat and was stuffed up. I assumed it was my normal annual sinus infection, but wanted to make sure it wasn’t strep throat. Afterall, we had a trip coming up and I didn’t want to be searching for an urgent care at Disneyland.

They told me, yep, it’s a sinus infection and wrote me a prescription to take with me to the park just in case it turned into something bacterial. She said to start taking it if I developed a fever and/or the symptoms lasted longer than nine days.

a father and son at Disneyland in front of the Cars fire truck.

The next day, my temp went up to 99.8 which is very high for me. I usually rock a standing normal temp in the 97s. With the trip coming up, I was like “ah, I’ll just take the meds” and started them.

Within hours of starting the meds, I developed an intense thirst that I have never experienced before. For readers who have had and nursed kids, the best way I could describe it was “it’s like the first six weeks of breastfeeding thirst but 3x worse”. There was not enough liquid to keep this thirst at bay.

The next day after starting the meds, I also started losing my sense of taste and smell. It was weird, but Dr. Google said that the thirst and lack of taste/smell were both semi-rare side effects of the med they prescribed for my sinus infection.

It wasn’t until Friday morning when NO food had ANY taste, that a friend suggested I take a covid test. And yep, it was positive. Sadly, I did this AFTER I took Troy’s cousin and her two kids to the airport at 2:30 am.

My poor little niece (not really my niece but that’s how we refer to all younger relatives in our family) caught it from me. Thankfully, she had one rough day and then felt mostly fine.

I felt horrible for exposing her, and then was also a bit stressed out about our trip. I tested positive on Friday, and we were scheduled to fly out on Sunday morning. I became a CDC research EXPERT in the time between testing positive and anyone in my family waking up.

The current guidelines are to isolate for five days…but I was already three days past that. After five days you could venture out, but were supposed to be masked in indoor or crowded spaces.

I had had the symptoms for over a week, but I still plopped a mask on my face that I wore for the next four days. I ate outside, away from the family. At that point, the damage was already done (it had been eight days already!) but it made me feel like I was doing something.

Everyone in the family wore a mask the entire time we were in the airport, on the plane, in the Lyft, in the hotel lobby, and in public places. I remained masked in the hotel room (that was fun) and in crowds. The night before our first day in the park I had the slightest line on the test ever. And I tested negative the next morning, phew!

No one in the family ever tested positive or had similar symptoms. I’m thankful that we were able to go on our trip, sad I exposed my niece, and I am excessively grateful that I never had the ‘rona until the strains were so mild that it was assumed I had a slight sinus infection.

a mother and son.
“And I shall call him, Mini Me”.

Despite a weird and bumpy start to the trip, we had a blast. Going with a family where each of our kids had a partner, made a HUGE difference. Yes, siblings fought, but each could then commiserate with someone their own age.

One of the things that made our last trip such a disaster was that Jack got scared on his very first ride and then never recovered. Everything we thought he would love, he ended up hating. And it was like pulling teeth to get him to try anything.

We had Bennett watch youtube videos about Disney rides for a month leading up to the trip. He was at least aware of the rides and potentially scary things on them.

Our plan was to start out with the Peter Pan ride and use that to ease him into everything. Naturally, it was the only ride that was closed.

We noticed Big Thunder had a 5-minute wait, said a prayer, and hopped on for our very first ride. I sat next to Bennett and told him to hold my hand or that I could snuggle up to him if he got scared at any point.

Four seconds into the ride, I grabbed his hand and whispered “it’s ok, buddy”. He threw my hand off of him, hissed at me (like a cat) and put his hands in the air, and screamed with delight.

This little daredevil went on EVERY ride over the entire trip. Even things like the IncrediCoaster (used to be California Screamin’) in California Adventure and Space Mountain in Disneyland. Now, he didn’t love those, but he tried them and didn’t shut down in any way. Phew!

a little boy with a baby yoda shoulder buddy on his shirt.

Our friends are hardcore Disney, and we got there at 7:30 am and often came close to shutting down some of the parks. With our hotel super close to the parks, we would take a 2-3 hour break each afternoon when it was really hot.

The kids would play in the pool on the breaks, some of the adults would nap, and I would read by the pool. I think these mini-breaks were critical to making sure there were no meltdowns from any of the kids. Bennett threw in the towel a few times and asked to go back to the hotel around 8/9 pm, but overall we all rallied.

Thursday was our friend’s birthday and meant to be a break day. We had all bought five-day park passes because the price difference between four and five-day passes was $15 per person. And with his birthday, having the extra day allowed us to celebrate with dinner in the park.

Sadly, Troy woke up Thursday morning feeling like absolute junk. The boys and I stayed out of the hotel as much as possible all day, and spent a lot of time at the pool, in downtown Disney, and with our friends.

A local friend came to spend a few hours with us, and we hung out outside, to avoid spreading whatever it is he might have had. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and wasn’t too hot.

I’m not a doctor, but his best guess is something he ate the day before just didn’t sit well with him and he just felt awful for a solid 36 hours. And just to be clear, he took multiple Covid tests that we brought with us, and never tested positive.

two boys drinking mint juleps at Disneyland.
This is Bennett’s Dexter face.

We all ditched Troy and our friends took Jack with them to the park that afternoon. Then Bennett and I joined them after my friend left. We spent the afternoon and evening in the park, had a fun birthday dinner, and rode loads of rides with short wait times because we were there so late.

A day of sleep and not eating like a 20-year-old frat boy, made Troy feel a lot better, but not 100%. He skipped out on the next morning’s activities and joined us for the afternoon at California Adventure on Friday.

By 8:30 that night, soaked from riding Grizzly River Run 3-4 times in a row, the parents and littles were exhausted. The teens/tweens were still having a blast, so the parents made the decision to let them stay, alone, in the park until the 10 pm closing.

two boys with a Disney character.

Our hotel was the closest one to the park without being the actual Disneyland Hotel. The pedestrian pathway to the hotel was the width of a two-car road and was always filled with families leaving the park.

We gave the boys strict guidelines and rules, and one of them was “text when you are leaving the park”. At 9:59 pm, Jack texted me that they were on their way. And then 20 seconds later he sent me another one that said “headed back in. Will fill you in soon”.

As they boys were leaving California Adventure, they found a lost three-year-old girl. They stayed with her until they could find a cast member and her parents. If ever there was a reason to break curfew, it’s that!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, people need to back off of Gen Z. These kids are fantastic, have big hearts, and suffer zero fools. They rule.

A few things that we took with us made a huge difference in our overall comfort level being outside all day. I bought this SPF shirt and wish I had one in every color. I don’t feel like it kept me any cooler than wearing a t-shirt, but I loved not having to slather sunscreen all over my arms and shoulders.

I wore the shirt for two days total (we did laundry mid-week) and it was great. It also dried super-quickly after riding water-based rides. I found it mostly true to size, but a little bit on the big side. If you want something fitted, I would size down one size. You can see it in action below.

a mom and her son.

With multiple cellphone users in our group, we had a mishmash of portable chargers that came in really handy. This is the charger that we use the most, and it is currently 30% off.

We also bought two of these neck fans on a great sale. We never actually had them with us when we needed them, but every time we have used them since the trip, they have been an utter delight.

We came home to at least a few of the new chickens laying what I refer to as “starter” or “practice” eggs. They’re teeny tiny, but will increase in size as the chickens get older. I don’t mean to brag, but some of these chickens are overachievers, since technically, they should still be a month away from laying.

4 eggs on a grey cloth.

On Friday morning I was working at my desk and heard a commotion in the chicken coop that sounded like there were 400 raccoons in the yard with buzzsaws. The chickens were FREAKING OUT.

What terrifying creature was causing them to all clutch their pearls? This teeny tiny barely weeks old kitten. The horror.

a tiny kitten.

Die-hard readers know this cat is basically a twin of Bennett’s stuffy, Baby GG. And no, we can’t keep her because Troy’s stupid allergies ruin everything.

She took off running once I went out to the chicken yard, and parked her little fluffy butt under the woodshed. I asked her nicely to come out and that I wouldn’t hurt her, but man, kittens have terrible listening skills. Pfft!

We got some kitten food from the store and I put a little tin pan out with some water. I pretty much filled the pan with dry kitten food and a container of some wet food. I’m just guessing here; I don’t know anything about newborn kittens!

I came back a few hours later and the container was empty, licked clean, and flipped over. Since food (and chonky animals) are my love language, I filled it back up, put it back out, and told her she could come out from under the woodshed and have some more.

a kitten eating.

For now, I’m just feeding her and making sure she has access to fresh water. We may try to trap her and give her to a kitten rescue person in our community Facebook group.

Amanda, from Midwest Nice said we should name her Raccoon, and honestly, yes.

In the Garden This Week

We were only gone for a week, but the garden seemed to have doubled in size on our trip! Not only the plants that are supposed to be there but also the weeds. Oooph, there is so much weeding to be done.

Strawberry season passed us by quickly, but we have rolled into raspberry and blueberry season with much joy. I’m enjoying these garden snacks while I’m out there watering, and any berries that get brought into the house are immediately consumed by Jack, my berry-loving child.

Our raspberries put out two crops each summer. This first one has smaller berries and lasts for a few weeks. The next crop will start in late August and produces giant and delicious raspberries.

We have a total of 25 (I think?) blueberry plants and they all ripen at different times. The plants with the big berries are producing right now. They’re easier to pick but each plant doesn’t produce a huge crop.

At the end of summer, into fall, I have two low plants that produce so many blueberries that eventually I tell the birds to have at it because I just can’t pick them anymore. It takes so long to pick them and the bushes are so low that I have to sit on a stool while harvesting 400 lbs a day.

If you are blessed to have excess berries in your life, check out my tutorials on how to freeze raspberries and how to freeze blueberries.

What I’m reading this week

On vacation I finished More Than You’ll Ever Know, started and finished The Family, and then started The Foundling. It was a good week of reading!

More Than You’ll Ever Know is a (fictional) story about a woman who led two lives, with two different families, in two different countries. You rarely hear about women doing that, so it was a fun twist on a trope.

The Family goes through the lives of two women raised in “the mob” in NYC starting in the 1930s. It was fine…not sure if I’d read it again or heavily recommend it.

The Foundling has been great so far and I’m excited to see where it goes.

READER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Samantha left this five-star review on our Frozen Berry Cake {Pin this recipe}:

First time trying this recipe out, and it was a hit. I had prob a cup of frozen blueberries in the freezer, so I chopped up frozen pineapple chunks small and dispersed them evenly as well. Added probably a tablespoon of lemon juice from the zested lemon… and think next time I might add even a bit more. There is so much you can do and play with this recipe! I love it. And used a really rich Greek yogurt (Cabot was the brand). It ended up tasting like a sour cream coffee cake. Anyway, LOVE IT. And will be making it again, probably tomorrow. =)

frozen berry cake on a plate with a fork topped with yogurt and a sprig of mint

ON SUSTAINABLE COOKS THIS WEEK

It’s a very “squirrel getting ready for winter” week on the blog; we’re freezing and canning all the things!

How to Freeze Corn on the CobFreezing corn on the cob is the easiest way to preserve the delicious taste of summer. Learn how to freeze corn on the cob for fast healthy side dishes that you can enjoy all year long. {Pin this tutorial}

4 frozen ears of corn on a baking sheet

Canning Green BeansFollow this step-by-step tutorial to learn How to Can Green Beans in a pressure canner safely. One of the easiest canning recipes around, you’ll love having jars of home canned green beans to use all year long. {Pin this tutorial}

jars of green beans with a head of garlic on a white board

How to Freeze PeachesLearn all the tips and tricks for how to freeze peaches to stock your freezer with the star of summer fruit. Freezing fresh peaches is so easy and can be done without sugar, which makes them great to use in desserts, smoothies, or snacks. {Pin this tutorial}

frozen peach slices on a baking tray

THE FIVE MOST POPULAR POSTS THIS WEEK

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4 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. We tried planning a trip to Disney World and it was just so  overwhelming. I am thinking we would like to try Disneyland instead because none of have ever been to California- we could mark off 2 items on our list of things to see. I would love to know the hotel you stayed at or if you are not comfortable giving that information maybe you could give me a couple names of the hotels nearby Disneyland that are close like yours was. It sounds like ou had a terrific vacation and well deserved!

    • I know Disney World is HUGE, so yeah, it would be overwhelming for sure!

      We stayed at the Best Western Mini Suites in Anaheim. My friend booked the hotel and we trusted their expertise. It’s very much a bare bones Best Western, but you’re paying for the location and not the amenities. They do have a continental breakfast, which was pretty decent.

      If you’re a Rakuten member, you can get up to 10% cashback for booking the hotel.

      We bought our park tickets from Undercover Tourist, which my friend recommended. There are so many options for which tickets to buy, and we went with the cheapest – 5 day – 1 park per day option.

  2. Absolutely missed you last week.. but it was delightful to read about your trip to Disneyland … wow the photos of Jack and you.. and Bennett is such a funny lil dude… yay to getting over the icky R and sorry your lil niece got it but ya can’t be sure nowadays what is being passed around.. I sure wish you could keep raccoon (especially for Bennett) yikes I hope he doesn’t know about him… that will make for some issues 😳. He could become an outside cat if that makes any difference. Thanks for reading recommendations.