WHAT?? We went to Disneyland about 5 months ago .. wha? I know. I’m ridiculous. There seems to always be stuff going on around here these days (and by “these days” I mean, since we moved to CA). This week we have the Ward Talent Show, in which I am singing in 3 acts, Daniel is singing with me in one act and I am entertaining all the kids during the … wait for it … THREE intermissions, by singing “wiggle songs”. Also this week, is scouts, practices, I’m teaching the activity day girls how to sing, our AC died, ants are invading … yeah. That’s this week. And I haven’t blogged about Liam’s 6th birthday .. blah blah blah … we went to DISNEYLAND in January :)

Liz came into town and made this all possible. She’s the bomb.

We did two days. Day one – Disneyland, Day two – California Adventure. We stayed at a Marriott next to the parks. The parks are right across from one another and both are spectacular, as only Disney can do. Ya know, as I was experiencing Disneyland and all of its grandeur, I thought, if there is anything that is “overdone” it’s Disneyland. I have been teased for doing things a little overdone myself and have actually been quoted saying, “the art of overdoing things is a lost art!” Sooo, this was right up my alley. It makes me think I would looooove to do this as my job – to be on the creative team at Disneyland. I could come up with all sorts of craziness. It would be great. Anyway, back to January.

We left Ray with Christina because he naps and wouldn’t fully appreciate the experience at 18 months, so we were free to hang out until all hours playing at Disneyland. We went on a Mon and Tues … or a Tues and Wed?? Can’t remember, but it was the middle of the week in January at Disneyland and you’d think it would be totally dead … but it is like NYC, Disneyland is the amusement park that never sleeps.

We went in with a plan though. I had been prepped and trained by Christina and Aria, who are SoCal, Disneyland Annual Pass Holding vets. Christina and Aria planned out which rides were most worth it and which my boys would be most interested in, then Christina sat me down and trained me … for days. seriously. We watched youtube videos of certain rides, I memorized the map, we had teir 1, 2 and 3 rides and alternates. We had a plan from the moment we walked inside the gates. I had to know where to go and when for Fast Passes and make sure we hit the busiest rides first before they got crazy long lines. And I’m happy to report – it was a success! And all of the planning was worth it!!!

We rode everything we wanted to and some favorite rides twice! I think the boys’ favorite place was Tomorrowland in Disneyland because that’s where Jedi Training was, Space Mountain was Noah’s favorite ride and Liam begged to go on the little rocketship ride there all day and loved it. Gammie bought them awesome weaponry there too. Noah got to build his own light saber and he made Mace Windu’s purple one and Liam got Zurg’s gun. The coolest ball, popping rotating gun ever.

My favorite ride was Space Mountain too. Alright, here’s the story in pictures:

The boys walking together while we stood at the gate to get in.

The picture with Daniel is showing how many people were waiting for the park to let us in to Tomorrowland. This is Disneyland on a Monday in January, mind you. The picture of me is when I went to save a spot at the front of Jedi Training while Gammie, Daniel and the boys rode some rides.

And then there was Jedi Training …. I think I was more excited for this than the boys. Liam was flat out too nervous to do it, so it was just Noah who went up. But I just wanted this experience for him so badly! They LOOOOOOOOOOOVE star wars. This was like a fantasy coming true, and I was all pumped up for them.

Gammie getting love as we walked out of Tomorrowland.

On Tom Sawyer’s Island. I have to be honest, I thought this would not be too exciting or cool. But then we went and I was wrong – the boys loved this too! It had a myriad of caves and hiding spots and places to climb and it was all contained on this one island. You’d think you couldn’t get lost … but Liam proved you can. Liam got lost on one side of the island. We got pretty nervous when we didn’t see him after a few minutes and started looking around for him, calmly at first. We sent Daniel into the caves, but he couldn’t find him, then Liz and I split up to find him and in doing so, we left our backpack on a bench. We found Liam, who was crying, and turned back to the backpack and Disneyland workers were standing next to it radioing to others that there might be a bomb threat. We assured them it wasn’t and we were just in a panic because Liam was lost. It all worked out. Scary moments though.

Glad to be together and on the way back from the island.

This was from lunch … but what I didn’t get a picture of was dinner ….. somewhere in the New Orleans area of Disneyland, there is this place, a café where you can get these garlic fries with magical sauce that is laced with crack cocaine (just kidding), but really!!!! I couldn’t get enough of them. The tragic ending to this fry story is that I had Daniel hold the to go box of fries while I took Liam on one more ride at the end of the day and Daniel put them down on a bench and forgot about them. We walked out and I asked where they were …. my mouth died a little inside. It was so sad. Saddest part of the two days – no question.

Then – California Adventure – Day Two!

Yes, I was there!! There are only a few pictures of me and here are two of them :) I actually have more pictures that Liz and Daniel sent me of the two days, but I don’t know where I downloaded them …. anyhow, here’s me! On the left, Liam and I are waiting to do “Turtle Talk”, awesome. And then we were on the carousel in the right hand picture, obviously.

Taking a breather in Radiator Springs.

Daniel and I ran off by ourselves to do the scary ride … forget what it’s called (Hotel something)

And World of Color. I wish I had more time to write more, but Ray is standing at my side crying. Disneyland – it’s all it’s cracked up to be! Thank you Gammie!!!!

Camping at Joshua Tree National Park

This past weekend we went camping. Daniel has been referring to it as “glamping” (glamorous camping) … because he’s a punk. For some reason, it is the Forsyth way to not call it a vacation unless you are hurting yourself in some way. Daniel only calls it camping if you are suffering. Evidently, we were not suffering sufficiently enough to call it camping. Moving on …

Joshua Tree is a pretty cool landscape. We took lots of pictures (is it “glamping” because YOU brought the tripod and nice camera, Daniel?? hmm?). I’ll stop harping and let the pictures tell the good story:

Uncle Jeff told stories to the boys and then we put everyone to bed and the parents had fun around the fire, talking, taking pictures of the night sky and then playing with the camera. We used Walter’s phone for a tiny light and then kept the shutter open on our camera and drew all sorts of fun things …

Then we slept … not for very long. But we slept. Daniel slept like a log! I did not. I can now officially deem myself a “light sleeper”. I used to sleep like a log too, when I didn’t have kids, but ever since Noah, I hear everything. I heard the kids moving in their sleeping bags next to me, I heard coughing and sneezing and I heard Ray moaning in his sleep (he does this a lot). I woke up about 7 or 8 times over the span of 5 hours. I kept moving Ray under his sleeping bag covers and moving Liam off the tent floor and onto his mat and pillow … I was exhausted when I woke up the next morning, but that didn’t stop me from making awesome camping pancakes!!

I think it’s my mom’s fault that all of us girls do this. We love breakfast. Whenever we went camping as a family when I was younger, my mom would make an incredibly delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes cooked in the bacon grease, so they were like fritters! I didn’t do the whole sha-bam, I just did Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes. They are Daniel’s new favorite breakfast. It was so much more fun to make all this side by side with my sisters. They appreciate it.

But even before the morning scene got cooking, Daniel and Walter went hiking around the boulders in our campground and Daniel took pictures of the camp site.

Then Emily woke up …

And now I have to make mention of something genius I saw on Pinterest … a hand washing station. It was so useful and since a picture is worth a thousand words here it is. The only difference between this one and mine, was that I didn’t bungee cord the paper towels tot he container. I hung paper towels from a bungee cord hanging from the easy up.

After we packed up camp, we went on a short hike to see an arch.

The boys asked if they could climb on top of the arch and I said no because it was too dangerous, then we looked around for where Daniel had gotten to … and he was on top of the arch.

Weekend in SF

Have you ever woken up at 6:33 am and thought, “I have to get kids up and ready for school!” and then suddenly realized it was Saturday? … and you were in a hotel room? … in Oakland? … and you’re about to spend a day of fun with your honey in San Francisco? I have. You immediately smile and snuggle back deeper into bed and sidle up to your honey and fall back asleep, until 10 am. For reals!!!

Daniel had to work out of town a lot this month. He was in Seattle for a week, then home for a week, then gone to Tracy, CA (northern CA) for a week. I knew I’d be toast by the end of the second week he was gone and we had a free flight that was expiring in May, two free nights at Marriott and that’s all we needed as an excuse. Christina and Aria split up my babies and watched them from Friday afternoon until Sunday night and that was that! Daniel met me after I flew into Oakland and we went to dinner in Oakland at B-Side BBQ, which was our favorite meal of the weekend! It was soooo good. I had a pulled pork sandwich with spicy coleslaw and Daniel had the brisket and cornbread. We shared the yams – which were out of this world! They were so creamy and smooth and sweet it was almost like some dessert soup. So awesome.

The next day was just ours.

It was a 90% chance of rain in the city and 57 degrees, so we knew what we were in for, and I planned for it, but Daniel forgot one of his many jackets, so we of COURSE had to make our first stop at … REI to buy him another rain jacket. Yes, an absolute must :) I tease Daniel a lot about the amount of jackets he owns … because it’s a little ridiculous. We also picked up an umbrella and headed out into the rain.

We really plan our trips around food. I don’t know how that happens. Just does. And I love it. At noon we ate breakfast because you can eat breakfast whenever the heck you want when you don’t have any commitments or children begging for it. So we did. We found this cool little place on yelp called Tomate Café in Berkeley. Their fresh squeezed OJ was like eating an orange out of a glass. Very pulpy, but I liked it. I had the French toast with berries and slivered almonds on top and a side of bacon. Daniel had a breakfast sandwich. Mine was the best! The bread for the French toast was amazing … it was like a challah that had cinnamon swirled through it. So yummy. My favorite review I’ve ever read on yelp was about this café. They said, “call your momma, cuz she’s about to be slapped! The French toast here is ridiculous!” I had to say that at regular intervals to Daniel throughout the day – “call your momma, cuz she’s about to be slapped!”

Then we finally made it into SF. But by the time we got there, the rain had subsided and it was marvelous! Everything smelled fresh and the air breezing in off the bay was so full of memories from my childhood – of my family spending time in the city. Daniel and I found a parking spot right of the Embarcadero, next to the bay and walked over to the Ferry building, which is right on the water. The sky was all moody and cloudy and blue and grey and Daniel’s hands were so warm to hold … awwww, it was a moment. We walked around the Framer’s Market there at the Ferry building – trying out olive oils with sourdough, looking at the flowers and fresh food, and we bought some local honey sticks to bring home to the kids. We even walked a bit farther inland and down to Boudin, to get a sourdough round for Aria and Walter to say thanks for watching the kiddos!

We were trying to figure out what we wanted to do next and Daniel mentioned Amoeba and that sounded awesome, so off we went. Because you can decide things in the moment, when you have no commitments or children getting tired or bored. Amoeba is the coolest, largest used music store anywhere. They sell used CDs, vinyl, tapes, DVDs and even VHS and they have everything you’re looking for. We got a Natalie Merchant CD for Christina, two Tonic CDs for me, a Sam Cooke CD, and a Matt Kearny album. We also bought Joe vs the Volcano for $4 and Wizard of Oz. Then we perused down Haight Street.

This is a Daniel thing. He used to do this a lot in High School. He had quite a few favorite stores and only a few of them were still there – Wasteland was one of them. It’s a clothing store, with retro, unique clothes. I loved it and found several things I would buy, if it weren’t so expensive, but Daniel said he couldn’t find anything he would actually wear in public. We’re different that way. I found this big snuggly sweater that was all chunky and nubby and big that I could see myself living in with a pair of leggings and maybe boots. I also found a full length black skirt made completely of black sequins. I loved it. Daniel asked where I would wear it and I said “church”.

Now it was about 4 pm and lunch sounded good about now. Daniel’s mom had sent us an article about this pizza place – Tony’s Pizza Napoletana …. it was incredible. The wait was like an hour to go in and sit down, so we went next door to their “slice house” where you can buy it by the slice and take it to eat somewhere else, so we did. We got the Margherita pizza, meat lovers pizza, vegetarian pizza and hot peppers pizza (can’t remember the catchy name of that one). They were all awesome. The crust was perfect, crispy on the bottom but not burnt, fluffy and bubbly … and flavorful! The hot pepper one had little dollops of fresh ricotta plopped on top and cooked – it was just too much for words. So good. The funny thing was, that we didn’t have a place to take the pizza and eat it, so we just took it to the car and chowed down. But we had such an awesome little parking spot, that people kept driving up next to us and asking, “are you guys leaving?” We just shook our heads and kept eating pizza and fogged up the windows pretty good. Once the windows were all fogged up, I took the opportunity to get in some kisses with Daniel. Of course, right as I was doing that, some guy drives up next to us and asks … I just looked at him and shook my head as if to say, “uh uh dude, no way”. He laughed and drove off.

Then we went walking. We walked up to Coit Tower, only to realize it was closed for refurbishment – yeah, lame. But the view even from the base of Coit Tower was spectacular. The city looked so beautiful and it still wasn’t raining! This whole time it had been rain free. Daniel noticed that there were steps in the sidewalk up to Coit Tower and mentioned to me that he didn’t think there was any other city where he’d seen that before. The hills in SF are pretty taxing. But it was just nice to walk around the city with Daniel. We’d stop in at stores when we wanted to and talk and hold hands. It was just a beautiful thing.

We had planned on meeting Daniel’s best friend from growing up, Nick, and his wife for dinner. We had eaten pizza at about 4:30 or 5 and met Nick and Jessica at 7 … so dinner had to be light :) We were stuffed. We spent the night laughing and talking and catching up and then driving into Pleasant Hill and hanging out at their house for a bit and visiting and watching the funniest thing on Netflix (Jim Gaffigin – sp?? – Mr. Universe), then to bed.

On Sunday we saw my family for just the briefest moment at Drew’s baby blessing. I wanted to pick up little, fat Drew, but he was sleeping and Bethany wanted him to stay that way until the blessing was over, so I got down on my hands and knees in the pew and crawled over to Drew’s carseat he was sleeping in and snapped a few pics. Then I snapped a few shots of the wonderful family I was sharing a pew with. So cute. I love my family. After the blessing, I stole a few minutes in the foyer talking to Dad about religion but that was it. It was too short. Everything we did on Sunday felt like too little time.

After the blessing we went to see Daniel’s mom play organ for a church in Berkeley. Liz is always phenomenal, flawless really. And we got to see what she does every Sunday. She introduced us to a few friends then we jumped back in the car and off we went to Pleasant Hill 1st ward. We could only stay for 2 of the 3 hours of church, but it was great. The meetings were wonderful and insightful. We still were able to be spiritually fed in a short time. And then it was over.

This was the first trip away with Daniel where I wanted to get back to my kids at the end of it. I missed my little men.

The last, fun thing to do with Daniel was to travel with him in snazzy clothes. We were still in our church clothes, so I was in a black dress and heels and he was wearing his Zegna suit. It was cool to travel like that. I’m usually sporting athletic shoes and yoga pants while traveling with the boys and it felt nice to dress up to fly. I felt like a business woman on important business. For all they knew on the flight, I was meeting with big wigs when I flew into southern CA … but instead, I was driving to Christina’s house, throwing off my heels and getting on the floor to squeeze babies. But they didn’t know that.

It was a perfect trip.

I flew in style on the way to Oakland too. Just because I could. Yep. I wore heels and everything. Daniel was surprised when he saw me at the airport … that was kind of the point.

Good morning, from Tomate Café in Berkeley. My French toast, bacon and fresh OJ.

The view while driving into SF … glad it stopped the moment we got into the city :)

Hanging out at the Farmer’s Market in an Adirondack chair I should own.

There are too many hilarious things about this picture. It’s a gem. This was D in Amoeba. You’re welcome.

Lunchtime at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana.

Me taking a breather while walking up the sidewalk stairs to Coit Tower.

Daniel, disappointed at the top.

Andrew Reed Price, aka Reedzilla, because he rang in at 11lbs at birth. heck yes. That’s how we Damiano girls roll!

Jack, Bethany, Taylor and Livie sitting next to me on the pew.

Dad and mom, totally not ready for this picture.

Flying home in style with my Cake face.

Daniel NOT cooperating for a cute picture of the two of us. Ruined! … good thing I love him anyway. You should’ve heard him giggling after this picture was taken and I saw the result. I had no idea what he was doing while taking the picture and he waited for me to see it … he can be such a bum sometimes.

Thanksgiving 2013

This year, we hosted Thanksgiving at our house and the Blackburns and Clarks came. It was awesome to have everyone around one table. I loved that. There was a little scare the day before Thanksgiving when Aria called Christina and me and said she thought Chiara had chickenpox and so they wouldn’t be coming. Christina and I rushed around and covered the things Aria was supposed to bring. It all worked out fine and then Thanksgiving morning, Aria called and said Chiara was fine and it wasn’t chickenpox afterall. Aria felt sheepish and told everyone how bad she felt about not being able to contribute to the meal. It was funny. We were sooooo glad to have everyone there :)

Speaking of cooking …. I did the turkey this year. I’ve only cooked a turkey twice before and one time I called my mom the morning of and asked what to do with a frozen turkey. She just laughed. But this year was different! I went to Costco 10 days before and got the biggest turkey they had – 26 lbs. Then I did research on how to cook it and everywhere I looked it advised you to not buy any turkey bigger than 14 lbs … great. They said the reason was because bigger turkeys are older turkeys and the meat can taste “gamey”. Aria dubbed my turkey old and named it “Herb”.

I brined the turkey for 24 hours in advance in a 5 gallon bucket (which Herb barely fit into) and in order to account for this massive and old turkey I had, I wanted to allow a lot of cook time. Sooooo, I got up at 5:30 am on T-Day and prepped that turkey for an hour – rubbing it, injecting it, massaging it … it was ridiculous. I got it in the oven at 6:40 am and went back to bed. It smelled up the house in the most delightful way and it really felt like Thanksgiving! It was wonderful and I felt so victorious.

Around 10:30 am I checked on Herb and realized, to my dismay, that he was done. He was 165 degrees all over and that meant done. I checked my meat thermometer several times and in several different places on the turkey. Yeah. I was ready for Thanksgiving dinner at 11 am. It would’ve been a really nice brunch, but I just kept Herb nice and warm in the oven on low and we ate at 2 pm.

The dinner was awesome, we watched movies we had gotten from RedBox (Red 2 – awesome) and the kids watched their movies upstairs in the boys’ room on stadium seating. And here are the pictures of the fun happenings:

That was not real silverware .. it was plastic, but it looked pretty darn real, right?

The stadium seating for the kids:

The Saturday after Thanksgiving Daniel found a hike. This hike went through “The Valley of Enchantment” (that was the name of it) and was a hike to Heart Rock. It was only a total of 1.75 miles roundtrip and turned out to be pretty cool. Good job Cakes!

This next picture looks a little posey … cuz it was. Daniel put me here and said to smile. The hand on the hip puts it over the edge, right?

The Tide Pools with Jamiesons

So, the Jamiesons live about an hour and a half away from us now. In MI, they lived 5 minutes, now it’s longer, but amazing that we live close enough to hang out together at all, right? They happen to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth – California and not just that, but southern CA. They also live next to the tide pools in Rancho Palos Verdes. They’re awesome. About a month ago, we went to visit them and went to the tide pools and ate custard at Ritas. It was wonderful. On the way home from their house, Daniel and I were talking and we were saying that we feel like they are family. When you go through some serious tough times together (i.e. Michigan) it bonds you. Les was a single mommy of 4 kids because Bobby was doing his residency in MI and I was dealing with 3 kids and my husband in his Masters program at U of M. We went through the ugly, fat, baby years together and that bonds people.

Anyway, here are some beautiful pictures of us at the tide pools. It was so fun.