First, some pics of his little party, particularly the amazing cake I made that actually turned out. I know. *angel choir* He sent me the link because he's a foodie and follows food people on IG and I was like, I'M GONNA DO IT. I was kind of proud, if you can't tell. But really, it was so flipping good, and I don't use that word lightly. Blood orange almond ricotta cake, you make me sing:
|Hello! Come to me now.
|We found that Jeff Koons-like balloon dog sculpture at Home Goods just in time. It makes Sean super happy.
We spent his actual birthday at the DMV, per his request. Yeah, that sounds about right. He and I went to renew our licenses but it wasn't until I was standing at the counter after having hastily scribbled out all the paperwork whilst standing in line that I had forgotten we hadn't renewed our licenses together at the same time before, so my turn wouldn't be up for another year--YAY. Look at your license, Jen. So that was fun. Julian was there too, reading a book and observing that DMV world. While we were waiting to be called, I turned to Sean and said, "happy bday, Sean" with a 😑 expression on my face and he said,
|"Thanks! I love this. It just feels really birthday appropriate. My birthday was the first day I interacted with the US government. And now here I am, on the anniversary. It's my processing date! Just for me."
I kind of wish I could say I was joking? But I'm not. I guess there are perks to being with a person who has zero expectations for his birthday. At least he doesn't reject any efforts made, like a person who's a bad gift-receiver because they hate attention, etc, which is super annoying. So literally anything we do on his birthday is special and appreciated. Let's just remember that time I LEGIT-surprised him with a trip to Bermuda, because that was awesome. Also, he kind of hated the intensity of that surprise, which I get. If I were to do something like that again, I probably wouldn't wait until we were in a cab, a secret suitcase packed and placed in the trunk, babysitter lined up for the weekend and responsibilities taken care of, all unbeknownst to him. It was a bit much. I see that now.
The day after Sean's bday, Julian woke up sick. Fever + aches + a little bit of puking, etc. HOT DANG I said in my heart, and canceled everything for the day. This kid rarely gets sick and it's never for very long. Once or twice he's had a cold that had a lingering cough for a week or two but nothing more. So we assumed he'd get better just in time for our trip. He was the same the next day and since we were leaving for our 10-hr drive to CA the day after that, I wanted to get a leg up on some meds, if needed, so we went to the doctor, something I've never had to do with him, thank the heavens. He got tested for strep and the flu and they were both negative. Got his ears checked too and they looked fine. And they were fine, until like an hour after we got home from the doc when he was suddenly writhing in horrible ear torture pain. I had to sit and watch him like the most useless person on the planet watching the worst imaginable TV show I haplessly landed on. This poor kid. We finally got some drops in him which seemed to help the pain. But that was the PITS.
Next day, we left on our trip. This poor kid SUFFERED through the entire Disneyland experience. He was miserable. We put him in a wheelchair because he could not walk and we didn't even have to instruct him to "look sickly" or "walk feebly from the chair to the ride." He did it all really naturally on his own. :( He hadn't eaten for three days and finally after I had sweated my self to death and ground my teeth to nubs over it, he ate some soup on the night of the third day, hallelujah.
Anyway, I will have to work through the guilt of forcing him to go to Disneyland whilst super sick. I'm sure others have similar stories out there? Maybe? Please? But here are the pictures of us-- Julian suffering from unknown illness + unknown (at the time) double ear infection, thus having super plugged, oozy ears and not being able to hear a cursed thing. Oh, my heart. It still hurts. It's still fresh. We thought it might make a fun story one day. I'm not there yet. But still, I must document.
We stayed in a Disney hotel which helped the hobbling we had to do from hotel to wheelchair. And waking up to a scene like this is not the worst thing I can imagine:
|good morning, my love
|Yaaay, time to have so much fun
|Pumped full of meds and hoping for the best. We noticed we got one good hour of him feeling better before they wore off and he went back to Misery Town which, for the record, is the least popular town in Disneyland.
|At first he thought he might up for doing the slow boat rides only. Smile efforts to the max, here.
|Seriously, It's a Small World really is the worst. Julian's face says it all.
|But then we decided for him that he was feeling good enough for roller coasters and tossy-turny rides.
|This is my penance-- proof for him to use against me later. I deserve it.
Also the opportunity for some public shaming, perhaps.
|We walked up the Tarzan treehouse (didn't this used to be Swiss Family Robinson?) and yelled Sean's name for hours and watched him turn left and right and left and right, looking for us. Finally i had to take a pic to send to him.
In my old age, I have gotten more claustrophobic and have to straight up fight off the panic when I'm in enclosed spaces. Turns out waiting in lines underground in strange, dimly lit, mysterious, confusing, disorienting Disneyland ride underbellies for undetermined lengths of time ARE NOT MY FAVORITE THING. I honestly had to stress-eat Tiny Tarts every time I subjected myself to this which was, for some reason, REPEATEDLY, and I thought it was the harshest, most courageous self-administered exposure therapy. I was super proud of myself and that's not a joke. Luckily, that wheelchair saved me in that respect, but again, at the cost of my sickly child. We were able to go on way more rides than we normally would have and that was kind of amazing. We rode Indiana Jones three times. Turns out that's prob my favorite ride. Julian was able to enjoy it some but to what extent, I do not know.
Guess what else I don't love? Spinny-around vomit rides. I usually opt out of Teacups but compared to scary, dark, people-packed underground cave rides, this was nothing. I'll happy puke out in the wide open air with exits all around that I can see. So one evening when we had to return the wheelchair, we left Julian in the hotel and ran around the park real quick to get a ride in. Teacups is Sean's favorite. It's so cute and magical and nostalgia-steeped (get it?) and there was no one else to go, so I agreed to ride with him. But here was my face:
|What have I done.
|Luckily he got to go again the next day with Julian who was feeling .5% better. We'll take it.
|Rolling out of the Indiana Jones ride. Seeing this pic is giving me PTSD. I honestly don't know how I survived that.
The ride must really be that good, I am left to conclude.
The thing about Disney is the intensity of fun one has. We had no chance to enjoy the weather because it wasn't ABOUT THE WEATHER. GET TO THE NEXT RIDE. We had the max pass which helps you skip lines and we also had wheelchair check-in where they scan your tickets and tell you when you return which was usually about 30-45 minutes away. And then we'd come back and often just walk right in. Orchestrating this took planning and skill and it was kind of a thing of beauty by the end. The first day we walked about five miles and the second day? TEN. Doubled it. So good work, everyone. This kind of sounds like we were less-efficient on that second day, darting around from ride to ride. But I think we just had to pack it in and power through. "Powering through" at Disneyland is definitely the appropriate mode to be in. If you are a fun-pansy, then go to Lagoon. Disneyland is for fun-warriors.
|A rare moment of sitting and sun-enjoying. The first day temps were mid-80's. Second, low 70's.
Now, let's talk about the new Star Wars section of Disneyland. We love Star Wars but Sean loves it. Julian does too but given his state, couldn't quite give it the attention he normally would. I had heard vague things about the new ride but really didn't know much. Here are some pics of the place. It looked rad, I have to say.
|drink on the left was fun and blue. The drink on the right tasted like death and had a bunch of weird crap in it. I don't remember it from Star Wars at all. Am thinking it may have been a joke.
There are two rides in Galaxy's Edge (I finally just remembered the name for this area which I heretofore happily called "Star Wars Land.") There's Smuggler's Run, a fun virtual reality ride where everyone has a job hitting their button to defeat the enemy. Entering a new line in a new facility where exits and paths are unknown had me running for the Tiny Tarts, but it was fun to look around and see the stuff. Sadly, our wheelchair meant nothing here and we had to wait like in line like peasants. Also, I don't actually know what the ride was like because I had to bail at the last second because I had no idea it was virtual reality and those rides are the DEATH of me. LITERAL. DEATH. I have to shut my eyes, the entire time, like being faced with a basilisk, or I will die. So I backed out and waited near the exit like someone's grandma.
The other ride, Rise of the Resistance is the Big Deal ride everyone was there for. But actually being able to experience it was no easy guarantee. Basically you had to be assigned to a boarding group, using the Disney App. The way you'd win the lottery of that crazy set-up is you had to wait until 8:00am, after having had your tickets scanned, and then click the button in the app with all of your ticketholders and hope you make it in which you have literal seconds before you lose out. You hesitate one second and that could be your chance thrown out the window. Sean had actual nightmares about it the night before consisting of tapping the "get a boarding group" button and having it do nothing, and also having the button turn into a price you had to pay to ride the ride, which was $46,000, ha ha ha. Still makes me laugh. He actually had nightmares.
The next day we arrived at the park at 7am and you could feel the tension, even greater than the normal, everyday "new day at Disney" tension. We saw suckers who joined an extremely long line, thinking that was their only option. Fortunately NY-living has trained us to be the fittest to survive and we kept walking and found a much shorter line hidden between the others. Nervous excitement filled the air. Julian miraculously made the walk. What sacrifice. We got our tickets scanned and waited...waited...waited. Everyone standing around with their phones out at the ready. It was weird. I started a countdown and then when my phone indicated, yelled, "EIGHT O'CLOCK!!" And Sean flew light lightening and got in before I did. We made it! Cheers ALL around us, for the lucky few. Our boarding group was #79 out of like 81. Whew! What an experience. So bizarre. T'was a wild ride in and of itself.
We wouldn't be notified of our group's turn until that afternoon so we began our ride-mapping. Speaking of wild rides, we took this opportunity to ride all the "mini-rides" as we called them. The old school classic rides like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. I had no memory of this ride and it was WHACK. Apparently the story goes we are Mr. Toad riding in a car, hitting characters and driving recklessly, eventually facing a train, being hit by it, and then we die and go to hell where we're surrounded by fire and demons and the air is actually hot?? And then the ride ends. SO weird, and so very old-time Disney-- "And always remember kids, be good or you'll BURN IN HELL." Our faces when that one finished:
|what just happened.
Back to Galaxy's Edge. It was finally our turn and we made our way back. The ride itself? Kind of friggin' amazing. It's hard to tell because it was so disorienting and I, of course, was experiencing my usual but no less intense panic of being faced with riding an unknown ride. But it was quite a ride, and a long one, full of different things. We walked onto what looked exactly like an actual star destroyer, got yelled at by New Order officials, were assigned to some vehicle, watched holograms of Star Wars characters explain our mission. I always feel weird when I'm part of some "mission." Like, "You're telling me all of these things but I really feel like I'm doing NOTHING, here." Sean was super wow'ed at the details of the star destroyer--the floors, the many stormtroopers, all of it.
|i'm fine. I'm fine.
|They were real, not just projections. I swear! I think.
The whole thing was trippy as heck. I'd have liked to do it again but I'm not sure that'll happen in this lifetime.
And the rest of my pics:
|Hey Sean, there's your girlfriend. But who doesn't have a crush on Mary Poppins, let's be honest.
We decided we prefer Disneyland over California Adventure, which has some fun rides and vibes, but not quite like the original.
We all three did some carnival games. It took me until we were home to realize winning a game against a bunch of little kids is NOT really a thing to be proud of, after all, but did not lessen my love of the prize I won, which was a stuffed Eva doll from Wall-E. Then again, there were like five other little kids competing.
|I like these kinds of rides. Wild enough to bring out the screams but not the neck injuries.
Also, both so handsome. I just go back and forth, back and forth, at each handsome face.
Also I got this sweet pic of him in front of it:
Dear Julian, can you ever forgive us? Two days after our return, I finally got him to the doc for some proper meds. His ears are healing up, (I think) but he's STILL not fully recovered, and during this time of extreme sketchiness and uncertainty, I am paying the price, man, along with all of my unraveling, raggedy nerves. More on that later, but I wanted to give you some good pics of the place before it closed up shop along with the rest of the world, two weeks later.
|the journey home.