Disney California Adventure


Although we live very close to Disneyland, only go once a year or every other year – it’s just way too expensive! Luckily, this year they offered the SoCal pass, which was a great deal. We finally had the chance to use our first day, and we went to CA adventure, which I’ve only been to once or twice. 

(Side rant: Honestly, Disneyland is just so much better! I have NO IDEA why they would build a California park IN California. It’s only like an hour to go to the real Hollywood or one of the piers. CA adventure would have done so much better in a different country! We could have had DisneySea like in Tokyo, but they passed on it. What a waste… DisneySea is amazing! /Rant)

Anyway, we hadn’t been since they built Cars Land. Ohmygosh, it’s amazing. It’s really like walking into the movie. The area isn’t that big, but they have all the stops in the move as well as the cars driving out to take pictures. My son was enthralled. That alone might be worth coming back – but not much else. 

There were a few fun things, but if you aren’t going on any of the big rides, eh, you could pass. The toy story ride was really fun but the line was crazy. Good thing we had fastpasses! It was fun meeting Elsa and Anna! We did see the show, but again, just eh. We had to wait a full hour for the hour long show, and while the performers were good, the production felt forced; the chorus was pushed in odd places, the pacing was rough, and some was really really cheesy. The guy who played Olaf was dynamite though. However, my daughter loved it, so it was worth the time.
We’ll be using our other two days at Disneyland, which I know really well, so I’m looking forward to that!



Last night my family sat down to watch a movie. I’ve been on a Disney kick lately, but not the animated movie – the old live action ones. For the most part, they are safe, cheesy and fun to watch. I don’t remember them, my husband has never seen them, and my daughter will tolerate them, which is awesome because it means we don’t need to sit through another Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

So this week the movie choice was Pollyanna. My mom used to love this movie, so I watched it fairly often as a kid, though, to be honest, it kinda bored me, so I watched it less often than my mom wanted to. I remembered very very little from the movie. All I basically remembered was that Pollyanna came to live with her Aunt and slowly made the town a happy place to live. Color me SHOCKED when I found the movie to be heavily influenced by religion – something that was so over my head as a kid who never went to church. The discussion of religion kept coming and coming,

I was sitting half paying attention to the movie when Pollyanna casually mentioned that her (now deceased) parents were missionaries (me: wait, did they die on the mission field! TELL ME MORE!). At one point, Aunt Polly is sitting with the Reverend and hands him suggestions of verses to include in the next Sunday’s sermon. It’s pretty clear that the suggestion isn’t really a suggestion (Wait, is she just helping or is he forced to do that because of the money she gives?).

Aunt Polly Harrington: He said you only have the congregation for one short hour a week. And there are six long days of mischief for them before you get them again.

Reverend Ford: Ah! I see your point. Strike hard on Sunday the excessiveness of God’s wrath and hope they carry it with them a few days into the week!

 Later, the town tries to rally to raise money for the orphanage began by Aunt Polly’s father, but Aunt Polly pledges to take care of the problem – though only the bare minimum, not what really needs to be fixed. (That doesn’t seem like real charity to me.)  People talk about hating Sunday and it being the worst day of the week because of the sour taste the sermon leaves in their mouths. The Sunday sermon is awful: full of damnation and sin – and the viewers have to watch all of it (where’s the salvation, grace and forgiveness?). Later, the town rallys together and asks for the support of the church and the revered declares that he must remain neutral. (Is that really the church’s job – to not take a stand?) Pollyanna finds the reverend practicing his sermon “DEATH COMES UNEXPECTEDLY!” in a field and tells him about her father, who decided to concentrate on the “happy texts”

Reverend: The happy texts?
Pollyanna: Yes. Like, um, ‘Shout for joy,’ or, ‘Be glad in the Lord.’ You know, like that… There are eight hundred happy texts, did you know that?
Reverend: No, I didn’t know that.
Pollyanna: And do you know, my father said that if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must have wanted us to do it.

While leaving that thought hanging in the air, and after commenting casually, “no one owns a church,” she hands Reverend Ford a letter from Aunt Polly with suggestions for the Sunday sermon. Reverend Ford looks after Pollyanna as she leaves, starts to read the letter and falls to his knees, crying, “what have I done?” His sermon the next Sunday is full of love, joy and the “happy texts,” which he has spent the rest of the week counting. Spurned on by a change of leadership, the entire town starts to feel joy which eventually affects even sour Aunt Polly. If only church today had that kind of power – to reach out into the community, bring joy – reaching into the darkness and pulling people out of their isolation. While the gospel does have that power, it feels like too many churches themselves isolate and never bother to go out of their own doors to serve the community around them.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that my mom actually liked the movie. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of us believe that church and region really is like that – often angry, condemning, and guilt-ridden. How redeeming then for the movie to turn not just the town around, but the church – the guiding light? The reverend realizing he’s been preaching fear and guilt, and, when confronted by a child, realizes that church (and more importantly) God and Jesus, isn’t about that – Love, joy and happiness is infinitely more important. If only people (like my mom) could realize that  churches like that are not just for the happy-ending-movies, but that that kind of freedom and happiness can be found just around the corner if you can find the right church home.

Jake and the Neverland Pirate Party

My Daughter playing pirate

My Daughter playing pirate

For my daughter’s 4th birthday she really wanted a Jake party. Actually, we gave her a choice: Minnie, princesses, My Little Pony, or Jake (my husband tried to offer Dora, Handy Manny or Diego, but how do you decorate for those without just buying the licensed stuff? No thanks!)

Anyway, she chose Jake, and I was super excited! I love pirate stuff! I headed to pinterest to get some ideas – check out my pirate party board here. I didn’t use all the ideas I found because there were just too many! Some of the stuff I made took a little figuring since I found the idea, but not the how-to, so I’ll be adding that (as I add my back-dated posts), but all that work was totally worth it. Not only did I decorate the outside, I made a few decorations for the inside tables and counters – not that people were hanging out there, but guests had to pass those areas to get to the backyard. Here are some of my favorite photos from her party:

Find the Buried Treasure

My favorite part was playing Find the Treasure. My daughter has a sandbox, so I bought a ton of gold doubloons here, as well as necklaces, bracelets, bouncy balls, and some sea creature squirter toys at the dollar store, then buried them. I gave the kids each a bag, then said, “Okay, find a necklace. Find a bracelet. Find a ball. Find a sea creature. Find 5 gold doubloons. Okay, now whatever else you find is yours!” And then they went crazy. They got to keep whatever they found as their party favors. Less that $15 to get a really fun game and really fun favors for a ton of kids.

Ring the hook (more details in another post to come) and the food station (before food) with a “Make Yer Own Treasure” station below for the kids.

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Ship for play and photos. I used a tri-fold presentation board from Michaels – plus a bunch of props, dress-up and Halloween costumes. Plus the walk the plank – made from a long beam and a couple extra pieces of wood.

Dress up   walk the plank

The main characters – drawn on white poster board. (Captain Hook is in the first picture.)

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Her cake – a bunch of cupcakes with blue and chocolate frosting. The chocolate has smashed Oreo crumbs. Super easy to make. Also, signs in the front yard. Made from scrap wood I had laying around.

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The Pirate flag was going to fly, but we tied it between shade that was already up to provide a bit more shade. Sold here. Plus the Pirate Banner – awesome because it was 100 feet! It covered our whole backyard for less than $7. Sold here.

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And a bunch of the random decorations we had lying around that I cobbled together into pirate-y atmosphere.

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This was one of the most fun parties we’ve ever had – for both kids and adults! 🙂