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I Don’t Blame Disneyland for the Price Hike

I grew up in Orange County, just minutes away from The Happiest Place on Earth. I went back when there were E tickets.

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A Disneyland book of tickets

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E tickets always had the best rides.

Even though we lived close, we didn’t go all the time. We would make a BIG deal about going to Disneyland. We would pick our favorite rides that we HAD to go on. We ALWAYS started with Pirates of the Caribbean – not sure why. It was just a tradition that stuck. It always got us in the mood for more Disneyland!

And there were always things we’d do – like have a Frozen banana, go to the Tiki Room, eat lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace, hit It’s a Small World… We’d stay all day and wear ourselves out and have the best time after getting the most of our day there. We’d sucked every last drop of fun we could out of the Happiest Place on Earth, and it would hold us over until our next visit a year or so later.

Disneyland could get crowded, but not insane. An hour wait was a unique experience rather than a common occurrence.


6 years ago, when we celebrated my daughter’s birthday at the park.

These days, there are SO many people who have annual passes. I know my point of view won’t be very popular with a lot of my friends, but I sometimes think that the whole annual pass idea takes away some of the magic of Disneyland. When you can go after school any time you like, or you go for just an hour because your kid wants to go on one certain ride, or your kids come to expect it as a common occurrence, I think it’s too much. When as many people have annual passes are going to the park as are the people coming in from all over the world, that creates a problem. I can’t imagine traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to see Disneyland only to be thwarted by too-big crowds and hour-long lines at every ride. That’s not magical. It is no longer the happiest place on earth at that point.

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And I get it – I really do! Every time we DO go to Disneyland all I want is MORE Disneyland! We actually did buy annual passes one year, when the price of an annual pass was paid off by the second visit.

I just think there has to be some middle ground. Perhaps a pass when you could go on whatever day you wanted, but you were limited to 20 visits a year. (Good lord, 20 visits a year is an awful lot!) Maybe 12? Once a month? That still seems like a lot.

I’ve also worked at a theme park. I was working at Universal Studios the day we broke records. It was the year Jurassic Park, the Ride came out and everyone got a t-shirt commemorating the occasion. As someone who works at a theme park, I can tell you that while it’s nice the park is making money, the employee doesn’t get anything more except more work. More crowds. More inane questions and more cute kids. More nice visitors and more rude ones, too. More of everything. More attempting to rush as many people through an attraction as is possible. More trash. More people complaining about how long everything takes because it’s so crowded.

So, I know a LOT of people are upset with Disney right now. I am hearing a lot of threats and “maybe this is it for us” status updates.

Maybe we can all go back to going to the happiest place on earth once a year and truly making it our happiest day of the year. Or maybe Disneyland will have to revisit some of their policies. Whatever the case, I hope that Disneyland can remain such a wonderful place for old and young, and the crowds can perhaps thin out a bit, so that everyone entering those front gates will have a truly magical time.

Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Yesterday we got back from 3 days at Astrocamp with my youngest child. You may remember me writing about my first two trips with my older children HERE and HERE.

My daughter was so excited, she packed herself and woke up early the day we left.


The buses are getting ready to leave as the parents look on.


We had 131 kids, which necessitates 3 buses instead of 2.


I snuck a pic of my girl just before they left.

This trip brought with it several firsts: first time for 3 buses, first time we went from Wed-Fri (instead of a weekend or Mon-Wed), and first time so early in the year to name a few. It was also the first time I was involved while working full-time, which was different. It was also my last time here as a parent. I’ve helped coordinate 3 trips for 3 kids as a parent at our school. This year is my last year as a parent here, as my youngest will be moving on to middle school next year. It’s hard to believe! I am trying to coordinate a trip for my own students later this year, but it will be a different experience as a teacher than as a parent.

As usual, Astrocamp was beautiful and inviting.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

After lunch, it was time to move into the dorms and get our first informational meeting, where we meet our instructor and head out to our first class.

One of the things I’ve talked about in terms of camp is the zipline. My son didn’t do it, and regretted it. I redeemed myself last time, and my youngest couldn’t WAIT to try it. Sadly, it wasn’t operating this time.

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. :(

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. :(

So, instead of zip lining, they gave us another activity to do…

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

I was feeling pretty awful (and scared), so I declined. I’m still not sure if it was the altitude or the stress of the week leading up to this, but I was feeling shaky and my head was killing me, so I took photos. My partner, however, did it and was awesome. All the girls did it, too. I was so proud of them!!

My partner

My partner, being awesome.

The classes this time were mostly the same as the last time we went…

Mars studies and rock climbing


This time, I harnessed up and climbed a Mars rock wall (I didn’t last time).

Rocket Building (and launching)


My girlie, building her rocket.

My favorite – Atmosphere & Gases. This time the chaperones got to have some fun, too!


Lights & Lasers was a class I missed last time, so that was cool.IMG_5194 IMG_5198

The funnest part of that class was the noodle fight wearing upside-down glasses. My partner and I got to try and we laughed so hard – it was like therapy!

Finally, we did the Skycoaster again. Last time, I was far too chicken to try it. This time, I got harnessed just in case. I was still terrified, but I didn’t want to let the group (or myself) down. So the lowdown is this, for those of you who didn’t read about it last time.

First, you get up on a ladder and get hooked up to the line. Then you dangle.


Then, the kids pull the rope to lift you as high as you want to go. Some people went all the way to the top.



Then you pull the ripcord…IMG_9841

And fly.IMG_9881

I went last. I was terrified. I walked up the ladder, and as I was up on the ladder, I seriously considered saying, “No. Never mind. I’m outta here.” But I didn’t. (partly because I didn’t want the girls to think less of me and partly because I didn’t think I could, knowing that one of our teachers was right there, with my camera.

So I went up.

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I only went about 3 feet in the air. Which was what I was comfortable with. I kind of wish I went higher, but I’m still proud I didn’t get back off the ladder. If I ever get the chance to do it again, I will try for a few more feet. :)

I’m going to try to book a trip for my own 5th grade class this year, and maybe make it a tradition at our school. We’ll see how it goes. If this is the end for me, I’ve really enjoyed my 3 trips to camp. It’s been a lot of work coordinating, and sometimes hard and extremely tiring as a chaperone, but also so much fun and so rewarding.

3 trips

322 kids

36 chaperones

1 possible broken wrist

a little bit of puke

a few tears

but mostly lots of smiles.


My first Stitch Fix

now that I’m working, I need more clothes and have less time to buy them, so I decided to try Stitch Fix.

It’s a service where you fill out a style profile and a stylist picks out pieces for you and sends them to your house. You try them on and pick what you want and send the rest back.

I said I was a teacher and needed a mix of casual and work clothes. Here’s what I got:

I love the skirt. It’s got cute detail and is neutral, so it can work with many items.

 The top is far too baggy and just doesn’t work for me.

  I’m torn on this cardigan. It’s soooooooo squishy and soft, but it’s a little big and I’m not sure about the patches on the elbows.  
It is freezing in my classroom… Just not 100% sure.   
  This sweater is so comfy! It’s again, kind of big. Is it too big? Too boxy? Ideas on how to wear it?  
Maybe with jeans? 

I also got a pair of earrings I like.

So, not bad for a first try.

What do you think? Which sweater would YOU keep if you were me? I’d love to hear some opinions!

Three Weeks In

Three Weeks In

There’s nothing like going back to work full-time to damper your online time. I haven’t blogged in 2 weeks and I barely keep up with people on Facebook like I used to. This is actually a good thing. I’m participating more in real life, I feel.

How is real life 3 weeks in?


The first weekend after school started was a lot of resting, doing laundry, catching up, and searching for books for my classroom. I also was extremely fortunate to be able to get a crash course in a teaching technique used by one of my daughter’s wonderful 5th grade teachers. She opened her classroom to me on a Sunday and spent a good hour with me going over everything. Between her help and all the getting-to-know-you help I got from her wonderful partner teacher, I was feeling much more confident about how this year was going to go.

The second week of school was more getting used to the schedule. On Mondays, the girls get out early and the boy starts late. We got into the groove of me taking my son to school (except on Mondays) and picking him up. It is lovely, honestly, to spend time with just him – however short – because it’s rare these days now that he’s older. I also realize my times like this with him are limited, and I cherish them.

Watching him head into that big school...

Watching him head into that big school…

That Saturday, he and I attended a Leadership Day for Comedy Sportz High School League. Sean’s trying to start one at his school, and we were given a lot of help on how to start it and how to run it. He just needs to find a teacher at the school willing to help out. Fingers crossed!!


Advisor’s session, where I asked far too many questions, and Phil and James were infinitely patient with me.


The boy, making friends with MUCH bigger, older, funny kids.

That Sunday was my husband’s and my 18th wedding anniversary. We took the kids out to dinner. The first place we tried to make reservations at was out of business. After being in business for 37 years, it closed down. We were bummed. I took this opportunity to find a new place we’d never been to.

I picked a place that looked good on the internet, but in reality was not so great. It was a) tiny b) empty and c) smelled weird. We decided to go somewhere else instead. We walked to a fondue place we liked, but guess what? It was closed down. My husband and son ran to a restaurant we knew of up the street from the defunct fondue place – closed down also. I was wearing almost-stilletos and I could barely walk at this point. We were all hungry, and getting grumpy. My husband ran to an Italian place we knew of while I walked (slowly) with the kids. He eventually called me with a slightly closer Italian restaurant to try, so we settled there. At this point, we were happy to just have something to eat and a place to sit down. We ended up having a lovely dinner.

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Our third week started out with a lot of excitement! First of all, I was excited to finally do a big hands-on project with my students. Secondly, and more exciting for all of us, we got the keys to our new house!

Lots of noise, lots of fun.

Lots of noise, lots of fun.

Even my kids who normally hate sitting still or listening or being engaged in learning were ON TASK, engaged, and (gasp) enjoying themselves. My aides were having mini heart attacks over the mess, but I was just enjoying every minute of it.


After school that same day, we headed over to the new house to plan and dream about how it was all going to come together. Everyone’s excited about decorating their own rooms. I’m trying not to be overwhelmed by the idea of moving in the middle of the school year. :P

Wednesday was an impromptu back to school night for my 5th grader, as well as the chaperone and informational meeting for our Astrocamp trip coming up in two weeks. I got handed several packets of paperwork and many checks that night. As much as I enjoy being able to set up this field trip for the kids, it’s been more challenging juggling it with work and all my other responsibilities. There have been many last minute changes made – chaperones dropping out and last-minute kids being added. I’m wiped out. I’m looking forward to being on the trip itself and glad that this is my last time.

The rest of the week had it’s challenges, which I won’t go into. Suffice it to say, I was ready for Friday. On Friday I started to lose my voice. I thought it was because I yelled on the playground when the kids were playing kickball because I forgot my whistle. Turns out it’s because was coming down with a cold.

That night, we had a good friend over for dinner. It’s always fun to entertain, and it’s extra nice when Steve comes to town. I’m hoping that once we’re in the new place we can entertain more. It’s going to be one of my goals for the new year.

Good friends, good food.

Good friends, good food.

Today my husband and I were going to go out to a nice dinner just the two of us, but with how I’m feeling, we’re going to pass. Hopefully I can just rest and enjoy the long weekend before heading back to school on Tuesday.

I hope everyone has a lovely Labor Day Weekend!


Back to School for All of Us

This week was back to school for my three kids. It was also back to teaching for me. For my husband, it is a new role of picking up the kids and making lunches and breakfasts every day, since I need to be out of the house before everyone else.

This summer I applied for a job at our district, after subbing for two years. For weeks I was in contact with the district about how procedures work. I was to turn in my resume, my letters of recommendation, my intro letter, my transcripts, and proof that I’m a teacher, basically, all online. Then I was to leave it up to the hiring gods for a principal to see my information and hopefully call me.

I was told over and over that it wasn’t protocol to contact the principals, so I didn’t. Until the very end, when I contacted one that had the most openings. I still didn’t hear anything.

With one week left till school starts, I came to the realization that I was not going to be hired. It was simply too late in the scheme of things for me to get a job. So I changed my mindset. I would sign up to sub at as many places as possible and hope to get known enough in the district that I would be able to get hired for NEXT year.


On our last Friday before school started on Tuesday, I took the kids to lunch, swimming, and yogurt. At about 3pm on that day, as I was pulling up to the Menchie’s in Burbank, I got a call from a principal to come for an interview.

I came home, showered, and headed to my interview.

The next day, I realized I had a lot of shopping to do. I needed to get supplies from the teacher store, and buy some new clothes for my new job. I was both excited and terrified of what was in store for me.

On Monday, that was my one day to get into the classroom and set up.


The classroom when I walked in.

I had a blank slate. And even after I’d bought several things to put up, it was still really bare.


I was starting to feel good about my classroom and how it was shaping up until I walked into the 14-year-veteran teacher’s class that was FILLED with bookshelves and books and color and life. It will take me a LONG time for my classroom to look like that.

On Tuesday morning, we all got ready to go. My kids were up and ready early so we could all spend some time together before rushing out the door.

3 kids, 3 schools - high school, middle school, and elementary school

3 kids, 3 schools – high school, middle school, and elementary school

Then Dad let me in on it, too.

All 4 of us ready for the first day.

All 4 of us ready for the first day. (I like that you can see Dad in the window.)

After school that first day I had an appointment for the youngest and a class for the middle. One thing that helped us that day (and helped us get off our feet the first week) was my amazing parents coming up and having meals for us all for the entire week! (And they helped clean up and do some laundry, too!)

It’s been a real shift in our family for me to be back at work full-time. My school is on the same schedule as my youngest, but I stay a bit later to get things done, so my husband leaves work to pick them up and then heads back when I get home. I get to take the big guy to high school on my way, which is nice – just the two of us. We’re all getting used to the changes and after the first week, I think we’re all settling in.


We ended the week with ice cream, delicious chili made by my own Mom, and Star Trek. (Mommy may or may not have fallen asleep during the show and may or may not have gone to bed RIGHT after the kids.)

This year has many changes and challenges and adventures ahead. I hope we have more happy than sad and more highs than lows, and I wish the same to all of you.



We Boldly Went (to Star Trek Las Vegas)

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If you are a regular reader of my blog (or a friend, which honestly is probably one and the same), you know that our family became Trekkies about 2 years ago. I can admit that I have embraced it more than anyone in the family – except perhaps my husband, who was already a Trek fan.

I have stickers on my car.

For some reason the blue is the only color that hasn't faded.

For some reason the blue is the only color that hasn’t faded.

I have several t-shirts. I listen to podcasts. I have an Enterprise coffee mug. I designed my own Tricorder Purse, and of course I have my own Trek dress.

So, at the last minute, we decided to head to Vegas and go to the convention. (Next year is the 50th and I’m thinking we should just go and make plans early and stay more days and get better deals on hotel rooms, etc.)

We drove up on Thursday and bought tickets for Friday. So, when we got to Vegas, we had lunch, dropped off the husband, who had to work, and headed to the strip.

The Galaxy mix got me in the mood for some Trek.

The Galaxy mix got me in the mood for some Trek.

**I will most likely post separately about Las Vegas itself. I’ll try to keep to the convention on this post**

We also tried several international sodas at the Coke store, and took a dip in the pool before dinner.

The next morning we got ready for the convention.

The first face to greet us was Kirk, appropriately.

The first face to greet us was Kirk, appropriately.

It wasn't quite as nuts as Wonder or Comic Con, but it was busy!

It wasn’t quite as nuts as Wonder or Comic Con, but it was busy!

There were some great free photo ops!

My children, captured by the Borg

My children, captured by the Borg

Spock and Kirk and the Guardian of Forever

Spock and Kirk and the Guardian of Forever

You could beam up (or down)

You could beam up (or down)



Take your picture with Tribbles


Sadly we didn't get to go ON the bridge this time.

Sadly we didn’t get to go ON the bridge this time.

There were auction items, including costumes from the various shows and movies.

 My son with Wesley Crusher's costume.

My son with Wesley Crusher’s costume.

Some of Spock's costumes

Some of Spock’s costumes




The boy having a drink at Quark’s.


The kids helped activate a warp core… or a replica of a warp core.

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We saw some celebrities. I was able to sneak some snaps of a few:

Joan Collins, aka Edith Keeler

Joan Collins, aka Edith Keeler

We haven’t watched Voyager or DS9 yet, so I was surprised to see two actors from “Happy Days” at the convention.

Donny Most and Anson Williams

Donny Most and Anson Williams

We went to a few panels. The first was Walter Koenig, aka Pavel Chekov from the Original Series. He had some great stories and was very charming.

Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig

We went to a tribute to Leonard Nimoy.


Some great photos of the original series cast.

Some great photos of the original series cast.

We went to a panel of comic book artists and writers.

The comic panel

The comic panel

They had a drawing at the end, and MY NUMBER was called first. What the what? I never win!

I won!!

I won!!


We also saw Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, and Denise Crosby.

They were fun.

They were fun.


We bought some merchandise, met some interesting people, and learned a few things.

On the left, a book I bought and got signed by the author. On the right, the comic I won.

On the left, a book I bought and got signed by the author. On the right, the comic I won.

I bought these cute earrings.

I bought these cute earrings.

I got to meet the guys from Mission Log Podcast – a Trek podcast I love – and we got to see lots of great fans in fun costumes.

A photo taken by Leonard Nimoy on an actual corner in Canada.

A photo taken by Leonard Nimoy on an actual corner in Canada.

A Wesley Crusher inspired backpack

A Wesley Crusher inspired backpack


WOK era uniforms


A cute family of Starlet officers


An awesome Borg Queen


A Ferengi couple. (Fearing women don’t wear clothes.)

Two Kirks

Two Kirks


In my head this is Nurse Chapel and Dr. Crusher.

I'm not 100% sure which episode these are from, but I love them!

I’m not 100% sure which episode these are from, but I love them!

And, there was a big balloon Bird of Prey



These boots logged some steps!


I got to field test my Tricorder Purse. I’ll post about it soon.


Ready for a nap

It was a long day! I logged more than 10k steps in those boots I wore. We DID that Con (Khan?) and got the most out of the one day we were there. The only thing that could have possibly made it better would have been seeing William Shatner and the costume contest… maybe next year.

Until then, we will remember how fun this one is and plan for the next one.

Local Color – The Old Abandoned Los Angeles Zoo

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Last week when I realized LACMA was closed on Wednesdays, I looked to the internet to find other things to do in Los Angeles this summer. There are several lists out there – things to do with kids, hiking, shopping, recreation – anything you could want! I found some interesting things I’d never heard of. How could I have lived in Los Angeles for 23 years and not know about the Old Abandon Zoo, for example?

Apparently, the Los Angeles Zoo was built in 1912 in Griffith Park. It was closed in 1966 and the remnants of it still remain. How cool is that? I immediately made plans to take the kids there.

Today we picked up one of my son’s friends and headed down. We found a Subway not far away and headed up for a picnic before finding the zoo. We had to visit the visitor center to figure out where we were going, despite me trying to find it on my own. Thankfully, we were pretty close already. (And thankfully, there was a ranger there to help!)


I’ve been several places in Griffith Park over the years and never realized they had a ranger station/visitor center.


“Let’s do this!”

We accidentally drove up to where there was a production prepping. In LA, this isn’t that unusual, and while it’s cool to see some filming/production work going on, it doesn’t make my kids excited anymore.

Production tents

Production tents

Stairway to the old zoo

Stairway to the old zoo

I had no idea what to expect. We headed up the stairs to see what was ahead. (Note: This is where they do Shakespeare in the Park in the summer.)

A glimpse of the old zoo.

A glimpse of the old zoo.

It was pretty neat, honestly. The rock enclosures were interesting. We wondered how they kept the animals from escaping. I’m sure there were pieces missing.

(*If you want to see what the zoo looked like back in it’s heyday, you can see some here, at Hollywood Historic)

Kids exploring the structures

Kids exploring the structures



Heading up to another area of the zoo

Heading up to another area of the zoo

We played in old cages.

boys in cages

boys in cages

girls in cages

girls in cages

I’m thinking birds were in these cages, but I can’t find a specific photo that proves it.

Even Mommy got in a cage.

Even Mommy got in a cage.

The cage below was almost like apartments.



"I can hear you!"

“I can hear you!”

Oh no- one of the animals got loose!

Oh no- one of the animals got loose!

Sad panda

Sad (happy) panda

There were lots of places to explore. We realized later that the new signs up must have been part of the production.

These signs looked suspiciously new...

These signs looked suspiciously new…

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We found this weird little shack near the possible bird cages. We have no idea what was in there, but now it’s full of a different kind of attraction.

Weird little shack

Weird little shack

Lots and lots of graffiti (and litter).

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More cages

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There was also a pretty green area where you can just sit and rest, read a book, or have a picnic.


If you’d like to visit, head to Griffith Park. It’s off of Crystal Springs Road – on Griffith Park Rd. You can always ask the rangers at the station.  It’s a cool piece of L.A. history, and you can get in a little bit of exercise if you go a little further.



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