Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A sample day

i am writing this post on my phone while rocking gavin to sleep and am pleasantly surprised that i can upload  a pic and write content this way. above is a sample of my day. sometimes it is fun to see snipets of one's daily life, 

what's on your itinerary today?

whatever it is have a C&B day! :) =)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Energy Connection

Here are a few good reads to start off our week. 

Have a charmed & blessed week all!

How Well Are You Managing Your Energy?
By Tony Schwartz
Original Content  
|  July 05, 2010

We've got it all wrong when it comes to getting things done, says energy expert Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We're Working Isn't Working. It's not how many hours you put in that determines how productive you are, it's how much energy you're able to invest during the hours you work. Master this one simple concept, and you'll not only be more effective, you'll also be much happier.

The challenge is not to get better at managing your time, which is finite, but rather about managing your energy, which you can systematically increase and regularly renew. As human beings, we need four very different sources of energy to operate at our best: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. None is sufficient by itself, and they all influence one another.

Too often, we take our energy for granted. We assume that if there's more demand, our capacity to meet it will just naturally expand. But if you often find yourself feeling tired or overwhelmed or stressed out, you know that's not true.

The fact is that if we're not intentionally finding ways to increase and renew our energy, we're depleting ourselves. If we're not getting stronger, we're getting weaker.

Before you go any further, I want you to stop right here and take our Energy Audit. This simple assessment will give you an immediate window into how well you're managing your energy across the four dimensions. When you've finished, I'll share a little more about what your scores mean.

At the physical level—the foundation—too many of us treat our bodies as if our health is our birthright. We work too long and too continuously, which takes a toll even if your job is sedentary. And we rest and sleep and work out too little.

A new study released several weeks suggested that people who work more than 10 hours a day have a 60 percent higher chance of a heart attack. A different recent study found that people who get up and move frequently during the day have more protection against a range of illnesses.

Overwhelming evidence suggests that nearly all of us need at least seven to eight hours of sleep to be fully rested and able to function cognitively at our best. Yet the average American gets less than six and a half hours, and that number continues to diminish.

At the emotional level, all our urgent busyness fuels a state of heightened impatience, anxiety and frustration. In physiological terms, it's called the fight-or-flight response, which serves us well when the threat is life or death. The problem, in fight-or-flight, is that our brains don't operate as well. We become more reactive and far less capable of thinking logically, imaginatively and long term. Worse yet, the adrenalin-induced rush we get from elevated stress hormones can literally be addictive.

At the mental level, the primary form of overload we're all fighting is information. Technology makes it possible to be connected all the time, but also difficult to ever disconnect. Many of us cope by trying to multitask. We end up splitting our attention between multiple activities, and almost never full engaging in any of them. By practicing fractured focus, we progressively lose the ability to absorb our attention in one thing at a time.

Ironically, we're also less productive when we try to multitask. The researcher David Meyer has shown that when we switch attention midtask to take on another, the time required to finish the first one increases by an average of 25 percent.

At the spiritual level, we undervalue the fuel we derive from deeply held values and a clear sense of purpose. When something really matters to us, it becomes a powerful source of energy and direction. Rather than responding reactively to every new demand, purpose serves as a road map for setting our priorities. 
The good news, we've discovered in our work at The Energy Project, is that small, intentional changes can make a very big difference in our lives.

It makes sense that the bigger the demands in our lives, the greater the need for renewal. We do just the opposite. Start taking a break at least every 90 minutes. You can get a lot of renewal by completely disengaging from work even for very short periods of time.

Start paying attention to how you're feeling, moment to moment. How you feel profoundly influences how you perform. When you notice yourself moving into negative emotions, apply this principle: Whatever you feel compelled to do, don't. Instead, smile, take a deep breath and wait to act until you're capable of thinking clearly.

Stop trying to multitask. You can't, efficiently or effectively. Instead, work as much as possible in short, uninterrupted sprints. Focus intensely for no more than 90 minutes, and then take a break. At a minimum, do the most important thing first every day, for at least 60 minutes.

It's very easy, under pressure, to do whatever will solve the problem in the moment, without regard for the long-term consequences. Instead, ask yourself this simple question when you have a difficult decision to make: "What's the right thing to do here?" The more intentionally you make decisions, the better they'll be.
Take just one behavior from the Energy Audit that you're not currently doing but know you should, and start doing it at a specific time every day for a week. You'll notice a difference in your life.

Running on Empty
By Tony Schwartz
Original Content  
|  May 14, 2010

Does it seem like you've got too much to do and too little time to do it? Are you running harder than ever but still feeling like you're always trying to catch up? Are you anxious at work—or anxious about not working? Do you find it hard to concentrate on one thing at a time?

Energy expert Tony Schwartz, author of the book, The Way We're Working Isn't Working, shares how running on empty can lead to a constant game of catchup.

When’s the last time you felt genuine passion in your life? Are you exhausted when you go to sleep at night and still tired when you wake up? 

We’re in a new kind of energy crisis and this one’s not about the planet, it’s about you.

Demand is exceeding our capacity. A lot of us are running on fumes. My book is about this crisis, and it’s called The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working. That’s true, I’ve found, whether you work in an office, or you run your own business, or you’re at home raising your kids and running your family.

We all know instinctively that the way we’re working isn’t working, but where have we gone wrong, and what can we do about it? I’m hoping to provide you with some answers. I want to introduce you to a new way of working and a better way of life.

The ideas and strategies I’ll be sharing are grounded in scientific research across multiple disciplines, but they’re also common sense universal principles that we've lost touch with as we race from one task to the next. We don’t stop long enough to ask whether the lives we’re living are worth the costs we’re paying to live them.

The first mistake most of us make is that we try to operate as if we’re computers -- at high speeds, for long periods of time, running multiple programs at the same time. In fact, human beings are meant to pulse – to move between spending and renewing energy. Our most basic survival need is to spend and renew our energy – to inhale and to exhale. We’re hardwired to make waves – to be alert during the day and to sleep at night, and to work at the highest intensity only for limited periods of time.

Nearly every system in our body – brain, heart, blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels -- pulses when it’s healthy. Instead, we push harder and faster for more and more hours, in the mistaken belief that investing more time, more continuously is the only way to get more done.
There are two problems with time. The first one is that after a certain number of hours fatigue inevitably sets. After that, you make more mistakes, you get into more conflict with coworkers, you’re less creative and you’re less efficient. The second problem with time is that it’s finite, and most of us don’t have any of it left to invest. Our dance cards are full. For example, in an effort to get more done, one of the first things we’re willing to sacrifice is sleep.

But consider this disturbing fact: sleeping even a single hour less than our bodies require reduces our cognitive capacity dramatically. Much as we try, we can’t fool our bodies. Consider this statistic: even a single hour less sleep than you need to feel fully rested takes a significant toll on your capacity to think clearly and logically when you’re awake. Sacrificing sleep is self-defeating.
So what’s the solution? It’s not to manage your time better. It’s to manage your energy.

In contrast to time, energy is something we can systematically renew. In physics, energy is defined simply as the capacity to work. Therefore the more energy you have – or the more energy you renew – the more fuel you have in your tank, and the capacity you have to get things done. Unlike cars, human beings have four distinct energy needs: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The better and more regularly we meet each of these needs, the healthier, happier, more focused and more effective we become.

My goal is to teach you simple, highly effective ways to meet and regularly renew each of your four core needs, so you’re fueled to bring your best to whatever you do. A habit is something you fall into, but doesn’t necessarily serve you well, such as smoking, or eating the wrong foods, or checking your email constantly. 

The technique I’m going to teach you is how to build what I call “rituals” – highly specific behaviors that you do at very specific times, on specific days, until they become automatic and you no longer have to think about them. A ritual is a behavior you choose intentionally and practice knowing that it has the potential to add value in your life, or in someone else’s. 

We'll be following up soon with a way to assess your own energy levels in each of the four dimensions. I’m also going to help you define the rituals you need to help build a life you deserve to have. 

Managing Your Energy

O, The Oprah Magazine  
|  From the July 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

For all of us who perpetually feel that there aren't enough hours in the day, performance psychologist Jim Loehr argues that managing your energy is far more important than managing your time. And while the time bind gets all the press, Loehr must be onto something: Oprah says that when she read his book, The Power of Full Engagement (Free Press), coauthored with Tony Schwartz, she thought, "I've been doing this for years."

Nicole Keeter finds out more from Loehr:

Q: You encourage people to actively seek stress, though most of us have been taught that stress is unhealthy and to be avoided.

A: It's a conundrum. People think that they're being devoured by stress, but I always ask them where they got the strength they have now. Has it been from the storms, the challenges—the stress? Or from the good times, the great parties? In every case, people say that what's pushed them the most has helped them the most. Stress pushes us to expend energy emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Then comes a period of recovery and healing—and growth.

Q: You developed much of The Power of Full Engagement through years of working with world-class athletes. How did you connect these ideas to the energy use of average people?

A: Athletes think about energy recovery. Most people don't. If there's a massive energy expenditure, you need an equivalent recovery period or you end up exploding. It's an exciting concept because it gives people permission to go to the beach.

Q: We tend to see taking a break as a waste of time.

A: So many people give 100 percent all day long, but they never renew. Renewal can be doing yoga, getting a massage, listening to relaxing music, turning off your cell phone on the way home, or eating five or six small meals a day rather than one or two bigger ones, to keep your blood sugar up. We usually try to give people one or two things maximum that they can do to convert a negative habit into a positive ritual. If you bring every resource you have to making one change the most important thing in your life for 30 to 60 days, it will start to take. Within four months, you might put together two or three of these, and the balance of your life will begin to shift.

The Energy Makeover
By Penny Wrenn

Forget being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound—all the author wanted was enough oomph to get through the day. And she needed something more inspiring than "eat right, sleep right, exercise." So she went looking for her very own, very personal wind-up key...

When you spend as many hours as I've spent collapsed on the couch in front of the TV, you have a lot of time to think about how bushed you are and what you might do to give yourself more energy. At 30—single, no kids—I suffered not only from exhaustion but also from exhaustion guilt. I knew I was too young and unencumbered to be so tired, but even on my best days, when I started off grooving, the grooving inevitably became chugging, which quickly turned to churning, which eventually sank into grinding.

I'd tried the "exercise, eat right, get a good night's sleep" program—and found it unsustainable. I would run for a week, then run out of steam. My budget did better with $5 Kung Pao chicken dinners than $10 salads from Whole Foods. And my life as a freelance writer was too unpredictable and deadline intensive for a minimum-daily-requirement approach to sleep. There had to be another way.

So I devised an incredibly random and totally unscientific strategy to recharge, based on a few "if, then" theories I'd speculated about during those lethargic hours on the sofa.

1. If sluggishness, like yawning, was contagious (and judging by my family, I'd say the chances were good), then might energy be, too? In which case, would spending time with energetic people pep me up?

2. On the other hand, if one's energy level was the result of genetic predisposition, like big breasts or flawless skin, then, in the spirit of push-up bras and concealing foundation: Would faking energy give me energy?

3. Or maybe low energy was the result of a bad attitude—in my case, expressed by the mantra "I don't feel like it." If so, could I turn things around with a hearty dose of "I think I can"?

I'd conduct my own energy-building experiment, answering these questions and checking in with some experts along the way.

Afraid of losing momentum before I even got started, I quickly made a list of people whose energy I might be able to tap. My first (insane) thought was the fifth graders my friend Maria teaches—if ever a group of people had pep to spare, it would be a bunch of manic kids. But when I talked to Jon Gordon, author of The Energy Bus, he encouraged me not to confuse frenetic with energetic; the former, he warned, is often a sign of being hopped up on what he calls stress energy. "The people who make you feel energized may not be the ones who are bouncing off the walls," Gordon said. My energy-by-osmosis experiment made sense to him; he told me that every social interaction is an exchange of energy. But he urged me to gravitate toward "the right kind of high-energy people"—people whose oomph was enthusiastic but focused, passionate but purposeful. 

 immediately thought of my good friend Tracey—an irrepressibly happy, married working mother who lives in Brooklyn. In Tracey's world, everything is always "Great!" and "Yay!" Stop by her house unexpectedly, and she'll whip up a batch of cupcakes. She took up deejaying when her daughter was just 4 months old, and she spends her weekends zipping off to Home Depot with her happy, handsome husband. If my life were an episode of Extreme Makeover, Tracey would be my desired "after" picture. And hanging out with her would be more than just a chance to borrow some octane; it would also give me a chance to flex some faking-it muscle. I would match her "Yay!" for "Yay!"—even if it killed me.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Brooklyn. The sun was shining. All my normal clothes were in the laundry, waiting to be washed, so I ended up wearing a sexy summer dress I wouldn't otherwise have chosen. And feeling sexy gave me a spark—a spark so strong that it didn't fizzle out even when I ran into an old boyfriend and his new fiancĂ©e (whom I liked more in 20 minutes of chatting than I'd liked the boyfriend in two months of dating). By the time I showed up for brunch with Tracey, I was on an energy roll. I was present. I was engaged. My dress got the attention of an actor sitting one table away. (Flirty glances from handsome actor? Instant energy boost.) Tracey came with her family, and as we laughed and talked, I forgot I was there to wiretap her zest. I simply enjoyed myself.

And then another funny thing happened: On the way to Tracey's house after brunch, she expressed surprise at my low-energy complaints. "I've always seen you as energetic," she said. Then she stunned me with the news that she envied my energy vibe—specifically, the way I could talk to anyone about anything and become the resident conversation-engager in a room.

I figured that since we were being honest, I might as well tell her that I was jealous of the way she was always "Great!" and always had stuff to "Yay!" about.

Then she compared me to Dorothy's friends in The Wizard of Oz—the Scarecrow looking for brains, the Tin Man looking for a heart, the Lion looking for courage, when in fact they'd had these things all along.

I went back to my couch to think about what Tracey had said. She wasn't the only person who was baffled by my energy quest. So maybe I wasn't as low energy as I thought. Or maybe I was defining energy the wrong way.

It was true, as Tracey believed, that I zoomed in the presence of other people. I greeted friends with an excited "Hey!" or "Look at you!" I hugged, kissed, complimented, checked in on the latest news. I smiled a lot. And laughed—loudly—when I got a kick out of someone. It was usually when I was alone that I felt zapped.

Maybe I had two personas—onstage and backstage. Or maybe I'd been unwittingly faking it all along, at least in some situations. 

Judith Orloff, MD, author of Positive Energy, doesn't believe in faking it; instead she endorses "acting as if." "You want the energy to be real," she told me when I called her for advice. Faking it, she explained, is merely going through the motions—the product of a "getting it over with" mentality. "Acting as if," on the other hand, requires actually getting into the energy act and telling yourself, "I am energetic" or "I have the energy I want." It is about trying, and practicing, and it could lead to something positive.

When I told Orloff about my date with Tracey, she zeroed in on the jealousy. "Being envious or comparing yourself all the time binds up energy," she cautioned. Point taken. But why, then, had the "I'm jealous of your ____"; "Well, I'm jealous of your ____" exchange with Tracey felt so refreshing?

"Expressing yourself clearly and lovingly—while not holding anything back—can be an amazing energy boost," Orloff said. "Honesty can set energy free."

Expressing yourself clearly and lovingly can be an amazing energy boost. I couldn't get those words out of my head—and it dawned on me that maybe this was because I am at my least clear and least loving when I'm in my head. When I'm feeling lethargic, I don't give myself a pep talk; I don't recognize the specific things I have accomplished, or remind myself of my ability to get things done. Instead I let my inner Mommie Dearest take over, which leads to brutal self-accusations about falling short—underperforming, underproducing, underachieving. The voice in my head turns into a hammer: "Get out of bed! Off the couch! Get it together already! What's wrong with you? Whatever it is, get over it!"

I'd always believed that voice. I believed that lethargy could be cured only with scolding and tough love. Now Orloff was telling me it would rather be killed with kindness. In her eyes, beating up on myself for feeling low only brought me lower. A more effective step toward "setting an energetic tone," she said, would be to practice compassion for myself. If I could be kind to myself, without a "must" or "should" attached, I would be all the more energized.

More than a week had passed since I began my experiment—so was I brimming with vim and vigor? Put it this way: No. But there was a shift that came directly from moments of being nicer to myself. Saying to myself, "I know you're not up for it—and baby, I know you're tired—but let's give it a go anyway, shall we?" made it easier to get up in the morning. Being kinder to myself also helped me become more aware of the places in my daily routine where lethargy liked to lurk but could be cut off at the pass. My desk chair, for instance: I noticed that after three hours, my bum started to hurt; since discomfort can be a downward spiral to exhaustion, I started getting up and walking around a few times a day. My bed: Those snooze-button intervals were a drag. I didn't fall back to sleep—I just lay awake wallowing in "I don't have the juice" self-pity. So I started rising as soon as the alarm first sounded. 

When I spoke to Orloff again to report on my progress, she said I was energetically tuning in to my body. Yet even with the slightly higher buzz from all my findings (that a sexy dress can tilt the energy scale in your favor, that confessing your jealousy to a good friend lightens an emotional load, that exhaustion isn't a thing to be beaten into submission), I still didn't have the energy I was hoping for.

But I had one more task to go: overcoming "I don't feel like it." So I called David Burns, MD, author of the cognitive therapy bible, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Cognitive therapy helps people change the self-defeating thoughts that lead to self-defeating behavior; "I don't feel like it" seemed ripe for such a change.

When I told Burns that I was looking for alternatives to the "exercise, eat right, get a good night's sleep" prescription, he had this to say about that advice: "That's garbage." The man was now officially my hero.

"Those solutions offer more of a placebo effect than anything else," he told me. "They don't get at what's really going on with people." Burns said the real enemies of energy are feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, anxiety, hopelessness. And he was willing to guide me through his method for dealing with those feelings.

When clients complain to Burns that they wish they had more energy, his response is always, "More energy to do what?" It's an obvious question, but when he turned it on me, I was stumped.

What would I do with more energy? Shower more often? Floss before bedtime? Hang the framed paintings that had been stashed in the corner of my living room for I'm ashamed to say how long? Scrub the coffee cup rings off my desk (which would first require digging out the desk itself from under the piles of junk that had accumulated all over it)? Shop for a new pair of ballet flats? ReadThe New York Times? Learn Spanish? Rejoin eHarmony (oh, but the thought of filling out that online questionnaire again—it had to be ten pages long!)?

I floated these ideas to Burns, who insisted that I choose one thing to start with. If I examined a single daunting task, he said, I could uncover what was making me avoid it. Dubious, I chose the desk.

Burns went to work, tossing out diagnostic questions: "Why would you bother cleaning your desk?" (Oh, I don't know—maybe because stuff is starting to stick to the coffee cup rings?) "What negative thoughts come to mind when you consider the task?" (Only disorganized losers, with little hope of ever making sense of their lives, have desks that look like mine.) "On a scale of one to 100, how angry, hopeless, frustrated, inadequate, or guilty do those thoughts make you feel?" (85.)

I could almost feel the dots connecting. No wonder I rarely felt like doing anything: The mere thought of the attempt detonated a smoke bomb of negative self-opinions. Emotionally, it was easier to avoid the tasks altogether. 

In his book, Burns talks about a problem endemic even to to-do-list makers. He calls it do-nothingism, and says that like its close relative, procrastination, it's rooted in defeatism (the belief that your efforts won't get you anywhere), feeling overwhelmed ("It's all too much," you think), and fear (of disapproval, of success, of failure, or of not getting it "just right").

I saw, now, that "I don't feel like it" was my version of do-nothingism. Given that so many of the to-dos on my list were ruled by other people's needs or whims, "I don't feel like it" was my attempt at invoking some do-as-I-please autonomy. But if Burns was right in saying that action often leads to motivation and energy—and not the other way around—then my stubborn refusal to engage was only getting in my way.

That insight led me straight to Jim Loehr, coauthor of The Power of Full EngagementManaging Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. I liked Loehr's definition of engagement: "the ability to bring your full and best energy to whatever one is doing at the moment—right here, right now." And I felt a perverse glee when he told me, "People start getting less efficient at producing and recovering energy around age 25 or 30." (Depressing but validating; maybe I wasn't too young to be exhausted, after all!)

What I didn't like so much about Loehr's ideas, at least at first, was that he's a big "exercise, eat right, get a good night's sleep" guy. But as we talked, I started to see his point. A higher energy dividend, he said, comes with properly earning and spending the get-up-and-go currency that we call oomph, pep, zest, or "the juice." According to Loehr, the energy cycle breaks down this way: Make it, use it, replenish it, repeat. Twenty-minute walks and leafy green vegetables were "make it" endeavors. Six hours of sleep instead of three were replenishment.

And where I usually messed up—as Loehr told me most of us do—was in the "use it" cycle. Loehr blames the underuse of energy for much of the world's exhaustion. The biggest underuse culprit: being in a sedentary position for long periods of time. As in, ahem, watching TV. 

Yet energy isn't only about what we do to, and with, our bodies, Loehr said. He, like the other experts I spoke with, believes energy must be considered from four angles—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I was starting to understand the first three components, but what about the fourth?

I thought back to my conversation with Jon Gordon; he'd asked if I felt spiritually connected to a higher power.

"Like God?" I'd said. "Not really." Don't get me wrong; I believe in something bigger than me. But did I feel the pull of a certain life force lately? No. And now I began to wonder if my lack of vigor was related to a spiritual disconnect.

So I took a final detour in my energy journey: I made a date to see a clergyman.

Sitting across from me in his office at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem, Jesse T. Williams Jr., the church's head cleric, told me that energy is a spiritual notion—or as he put it, "God has everything to do with it."

As a churchgoer, I'd felt the motivating boost of a booming Sunday morning sermon. But it always wore off. How then, I wondered aloud, to tap into this power on a regular basis? Williams's answer was simple: Ask. "Give us this day our daily bread"—that's his own approach, requesting no less zest, and no more, than he needs.

And maybe sufficiency is the point. Call it "giving it all you've got." Some days my all is a lot; some days it's not. After conferring with the experts and starting to practice what they preach, I've discovered that I can tilt the odds in favor of higher-energy days by being more present, letting go of envy, getting out of bed, eating a vegetable once in a while. Just as important, instead of stressing out about low-energy days—which only adds to the cycle of exhaustion—I now take them in stride. I show myself some compassion. I give myself a break. I say to myself, "Not bad, baby," and I feel good. Not "Great!" exactly. But pretty damn good. Which, for today, is energy enough for me. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Small world & friends part 3

"My heart is soooo happy!"

On to the final installment of our most recent trip to Disneyland with Days 4 - 7 of our combined family vacation with the Siapnos.

Day 4

It was a rough start getting out of the hotel that day. Both adults and children seemed crankier than usual and Gerald and I had a spousal spat that morning. Thankfully we were able to quickly put it behind us and on our way to the elevator, Gerald and Paul were talking about getting "Daddy Juice" at the Park. Code for "Alcohol." I said "Hey, mommies need juice too!" On our way to the park we stopped by "Bar Louie." We wheeled in our strollers and tots and downed our drinks (only 1 drink per adult, I believe ;D) My fellow juicers were not keen on taking pictures so I did not take any. But boy, did we have a jolly-ole-time on our walk to California Adventure, lol ;D

We juiced up here :)
We got to California Adventure and were greeted with wonderful SoCal weather. As the day progressed it got hotter and it felt like the barometer hit the mid 90's. For me, that is too hot and I whittled away very quickly.

Go Mickey, get busy 
The rest of the Brigade were riding a couple of rides and we all met up to watch Mickey and his dance troupe. Whoever got in that Mickey get up must be a hot stinking mess after all that dancing, but anyhoo, it was very entertaining and shortly after, we stood in line to get a picture with the big mouse.

Gigi a little shy

You were worth the wait Mickey!

We found an air-conditioned-haven inside the Sorcerer's Workshop where I rested while Gerald looked after the kiddies. He too agreed that it was too hot to walk around outside so we stayed in and explored the area.

Inside Beast's Lair..nice and cozy w/ the AC
"I'm a big girl mommy!"

A personalized storybook activity 


Ursula's fun!

Our family honed our acting and singing skills :)
It was time to feed Gavin and we found an area to relax and take a couple of family-self-portraits. They turned out pretty good:

The sun set and a nice evening breeze set in. No need for a sweater, it was the perfect weather to be out and about at night. We walked to Downtown Disney and had dinner at the Jazz Kitchen. I remember the food being fairly good the last time we were there but this time around the food was ok. We even had the bread pudding that took forever to make and that again was..ok. I would suggest dining elsewhere. We did do something very special after dinner. We purchased Gigi's Belle outfit for the next day and she was ecstatic..and so were we!! We decided that the next day was going to be all about the Princess experience :)

We also ran into Mike, Caitlin, & Mikaela and of course took a quick picture with them :)

Day 5

While Christina did homework and studied for a test, Paul took Chloe & Lizzie to a movie and Gerald and I took Ben with us to the Magic Kingdom. The lines to see the princesses are usually pretty long so I wanted to do the princess-thing first thing in the morning. Gerald took Ben and Gigi to "The Royal Coronation" where the kiddies sang, danced, curtsied, bowed, and pledged that they would uphold their Princess/Prince-ly duties  while Gavin and I stood in line for the Princesses Meet & Greet.

Princess galore

...and more..

"I promise to uphold all my duties as Princess to the very best of my abilities..."
Arent we just precious!?!?

I searched all over for a Prince or Knight costume for Ben and they (Disneyland) did not sell them. Apparently dressing up is all about the Princesses. The best we could do was the above pictured Shield and Sword get-up. 

Then, it was time to meet the Princesses.

First up was Princess Tiana:

Brave Ben

Gigi really "gets" the whole princess phenomena now

Then *pause for effect* Princess Belle. Our fave!

I swear the woman who played Belle was spectacular!!!!!! Not only was she beautiful, gracious, and warm toward Gigi, but she spent so much time with us dancing, twirling, applauding, autographing, hugging, etc. that she literally held the line up! It was probably because Gigi said, "Belle, I love you. You're my favorite Princess everrrr!" And also, at her best, my little girl can be quite the charmer : )  As a girly-girl mother, I was in Princess heaven..floating..I was so happy! My girlish, princess dreams for my daughter all came true that day! 

Fairy tale-dreams do come true!

Here are more pics:

Then Ariel:

"Where's her fin?"

Ben passed up on Ariel, but gallantly stood for this solo pic :)

Then Cinderella:

Then a miscellaneous maiden and sir:

Ben, "I'm not used to taking soooo many pictures..I'm tired"

Gigi, "Are we suppose to fly now?"

 Then, story time with Sleeping Beauty:

The kiddies' and adults' tummies grumbled so we got some lunch. After lunch Gerald took Gigi and Ben to small world one more time. After that we got some sugary treats and headed to Fantasy Land to meet up with a dear friend, Marvin, and his family.

Our little ones

A dear friend and my birthday twin!
 After Fantasyland, we were on our way to see Star Wars but Ben was pooped and napped in his stroller. Gavin was already napping and when Gerald and Gigi returned from a ride, she conked out too. We decided it was a good time to head back to the hotel while the kiddies napped.

Later that evening the daddies looked over the kiddies while the mommies had a night out. Josey got to our hotel at about 6:30 pm and we decided to walk around Anaheim's Gardenwalk. Christina wanted to check out this store and we spent about an hour shopping there! I forget the name of the place but it had an H&M'ish SoCal flavor. I swear I LOVE SoCal fashion! It's so much more alive and hip that what NorCal has to offer :) I purchased a caplet, belt, headband, & shoes. Josey got a hip little flowered top and Christina got a colorful tunic and some flattering skinny jeans. We decided to "wear" out our purchases and strutted our new stuff!! LOL. It was so fun ;D

We decided to go back to Bar Louie since they were so nice and non-judgmental when we went there yesterday morning with the kiddies and all ;D The three of us had dinner and talked like tried and true friends do: from the heart :) We all benefited from our "girl time" and promised to pencil it in when either of us were in town. We ended the night with great big hugs, love yous, and conked out with our hubbies and kiddies.

Day 6:

The Siapnos left that day and it was a flurry of activity getting things packed. Here's a pic of Gigi & Ben's last breakfast together :) They're so cute!

After our roomies left, Gerald went to the gym and worked out. When he returned, I went for a  4 mile jog around the Disneyland/Downtown Disney area and found that the House of Blues was having a Reggae Brunch the next day.

When I returned from running, we took the kiddies to the pool one last time =)

We made a Target run that evening for formula, water, and got some microwaveable items that we ate while we watched Fringe back at the hotel. We conked out early, ready to go home the next day.

Day 7

Travel day usually has some built in stress to it. Gathering everything together, packing, cleaning (to me) is so anti-climatic and not fun. Then you add all the gear you've accumulated on top of the kiddie gear you've got, and its almost makes you want to scream (me at least.) Good thing Gerald is proficient at packing and decluttering without getting overwhelmed like I do. Go babe, you rock! Our last hoorah was at the House of Blues where we had Reggae Brunch and it was phenomenal! 

Gavin & Gerald (male bonding)

Fried chicken & waffles : chocolate chip pancakes and fried chicken..yummm!

That's all folks, 

Disneyland is all about magic. Our daily lives can be dull if we don't believe in the magic found in daily living. We adults need to remind ourselves to think and feel with our hearts where our inner child resides, make peace with whatever inner demons we have, and the inevitable will happen.

*Our very own happy ending*

Have a charmed & blessed week all!! :) = ) ;D