Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Park Play

Joel and Dean go on regular "Adventures" together - little Daddy and Dean outings about once a week, sometimes to places that I absolutely refuse to step foot in (Fun Factory), sometimes for the sole purpose of letting me get some much needed house cleaning done without more messes piling up behind me faster than I can clean, and sometimes just for a little Father-Son bonding time. One of their favorite places to go on these "adventures" is to a fun little park up in Wailuku, hidden just above Wailuku Elementary. This park is close to home, has a great new-ish playground, basketball courts, a beautiful view of both the West Maui Mountains on one side and Kahului town and the North Shore on the other, and also a great big field (that's actual purpose is for baseball, but also works well for telling a 5-yr-old "Hey Dean, see how fast you can run to that fence over there on the other side of that field" and then getting him to do it 7 more times to try to beat his previous time all in an attempt to wear him completely out so he'll *maybe* take a nap for once, or at the very least just be tired later and give his parents a little peace and quiet for an hour). So anyway, Joel and Dean took one of their standard Wailuku Park adventures Sunday afternoon - it was a beautiful day and Joel actually snapped a few cute pictures of Dean with his phone that I thought I'd share. Enjoy!


Yeah, maybe we better just stick to gymnastics...

There's also a perfect climbing tree that Dean LOVES to explore and monkey around in!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Amazon Associates

Hi there!'s been awhile, huh? I know, I know. I still haven't even finished our Disneyland Vacation update and then I haven't even posted at all about our summer break! But we thoroughly enjoyed our Summer Break and I did a whole lot of No Pressure stuff - which meant very little (Ok, NO) blogging!! But I did do a lot of picture taking, and I promise to get lots of Dean and summer adventure pictures posted soon. But first things first. I wanted to let our family and close friends know that the Tapler Ohana is now an Amazon Associate. What does that mean? Well, if you're reading this post in an e-mail update, go ahead and click HERE and go to the actual blog. Now, see that fancy Amazon link over there in the right-hand colum under our picture and information about us? (yes, I know, I need to update our family photo. I'll get to that eventually). Well, if you use that link to get to Amazon when you're doing your shopping, a small percentage of your total purchase price (it doesn't change your total - you'll still pay the same price for the stuff you were gonna buy anyway) will go to the Tapler Ohana!! We'll use this money to buy booze and new iPhones and go on all those fancy vacations we take all the time...Just kidding!!! I wish. No really. The money is actually going to go directly into an education account we've set up for Dean. We may be using this money to help pay for private college-prep school once Dean reaches middle school (we are still undecided about this, so it's a good thing we have a few years to make a decision. Unfortunately, it may take us that long to come up with the money). If not, it will go into his college fund. Now I know there are lots of charitable Amazon Associate links out there on the interwebs where the money goes to really amazing organizations that do totally awesome things like feed hungry children and spay and neuter feral cats and such. I really do think that's great and if you already use one of those links I'm not asking you to stop - by all means, please keep feeding hungry children and definitely spay and neuter animals (unless you're Dean's Tutu, then you should totally put your own Grandson ahead of those feral cats. He already thinks you treat your own cats better than him. Don't make him think you treat feral cats better than him). But, if you don't already use a charitable Amazon Associates link and you're planning to shop at Amazon anyway...and you care about Dean's education...well, why not take one extra step and come to the Tapler Ohana blog first and access Amazon from here before you do your shopping (you don't have to do anything else, just use the Amazon link that's posted here on the blog and then shop as you normally would on Amazon, they take care of everything else). And just in case you needed a little incentive, here are a few pics of Dean from his first few days of First Grade, which is going AWESOME!!

First Homework:

Checking out his new classroom:

Box of School Supplies (we order from Akamai School Supplies, which delivers directly to the classroom and donates 10% of the cost to the Pomaika'i PTSA):

Don't worry, I'll continue to remind you periodically about the Amazon Associates link, but I promise not to be too annoying about it! ;-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Disneyland Vacation, Day 3

Ok, I'm going to try to finish up the posts about our Disney trip this week - I promise!

We spent Wednesday (May 16) of our trip just relaxing - we didn't go to the parks that day, but did some shopping at Downtown Disney in the morning then just hung out at the resort pool in the afternoon.

Dean was very specific with his shopping requests - he had already scoped out Downtown Disney when we walked through to go to and from Disneyland the previous day and he wanted to go to the big 2-story Lego store, to the Build-a-Bear store, and to the candy store! We don't have any toy stores on Maui, so honestly it was kind of exciting to be able to take him into some stores that were just for kids! We hit up the Build-a-Bear store first and Dean took things VERY seriously in there. He has been in one Build-a-Bear before on the mainland when he was 3 years old and picked out a very loud peace-sign covered bear, but did not want any clothing or accessories for his bear (because, as Dean said back then, "Bears don't wear clothes"). He also received a rainbow bear from Build-a-Bear online for his preschool graduation, that he had been eying in the catalog. Again, no clothes. This time, I expected him to once again head for the ugliest bear in the store and I must admit he was torn, but finally with a little bit of shameless arm-twisting by yours truly, he decided on a cat that looks just like our kitty Nani. However, he named his Build-a-Cat "Meowy". He filled Meowy with stuffing and a cat-sound-maker and then took the job of giving it an "air bath" VERY VERY seriously. For real. He spent like 10 minutes giving that thing an air bath and scrubbing it down. He couldn't be talked into buying it any clothes, not any kind of Disney Princess costume or Yoda Costume or even a Hula Cat costume complete with coconut bra. He was having no part of that. Because "Cats don't wear clothes". Duh. However, he DID insist on buying it a water dish and food dish and collar and brush and a mat to put it's food dish on and he really REALLY wanted to buy some shampoo for it (we were able to talk him out of the shampoo by telling him the airlines didn't allow it on the plane). After what seemed like 12 hours in the Build-a-Bear store, we finally headed to the Lego store!

Dean was in Dean Heaven at the Lego store. Dean is a kid who prefers to play with Legos in his own way and just "build whatever I want to build". He has to be coerced into following the instructions and actually building the thing that is shown on the box. He would much rather just come up with his own thing and build "freestyle". I think he just stood and stared at the Lego Brick Wall for about 10 minutes. He couldn't believe you could just fill a big cup full of individual bricks and buy them that way! We let him fill up 2 large cups of bricks to buy, but he took FOREVER agonizing over every little brick and thinking about what he might use it for before adding it to his cup. All in all, he bought 2 cups of mixed individual bricks from the brick wall, 2 new large building plates, a set of wheels, axles and accessories for building cars, and a few of the new Minifigure sets. Then we let him play for awhile outside in the Lego play area.

One of my favorite things of the day was letting my Mom talk us into doing one of those silly Movie poster photo things. We decided on a Star Wars: Return of the Jedi poster and I have to say, we TOTALLY NAILED IT!! (and the funniest comment I got about this when I posted it on Facebook was Jeremy saying "I don't get it, is Mom supposed to be the Ewok?").

After a little more shopping, we headed back to our hotel and relaxed poolside for a few hours. We had a few drinks while Dean wore himself out swimming and going down the slide. He had to try out each of the 4 pools and all of the hot tubs. He had so much fun! He also perfected his cannonball technique on this trip - that kid really can do a perfect cannonball!


After some pool time and then resting in the room for a bit, we headed back to Downtown Disney - we walked down to the Disneyland Hotel and had a drink at a Tiki Bar that seemed to only employ women over the age of 70 (for real) and had terrible service. That was the ONLY experience with bad service on the entire trip, so I guess that's pretty good. It was disappointing because it was a cute little bar. After drinks, we had dinner at Rainforest Cafe, which Dean LOVED. I'm sure most people have experienced a Rainforest Cafe at some point before, but it was such a cool experience to that little Maui boy! And the food was excellent. A perfect end to another super fun day!

(Disclaimer: That is a non-alcoholic drink Dean is consuming above. Just FYI).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Disneyland Vacation, Day 2

Tuesday morning (May 15) we got up and had breakfast at Jamba Juice in Downtown Disney before spending our first day at Disneyland! Because we were staying at Disneyland's Grand Californian Resort we got a "Magic Morning" (early entrance into Disneyland) both Tuesday and Thursday mornings, this meant we got into the park at 8:00 a.m., while the general public had to wait until 9:00 a.m. When we got into the park, we headed straight for Tomorrowland where Joel and Dean immediately loaded the Astro Orbiter and had fun riding that. We then rode Space Mountain and Star Tours, again with no wait at all! After that, we ate the most delicious chocolate parfait from Tomorrowland Terrace (I may or may not have had 4 or 5 more of these during the course of our vacation, one of them served in a gigantic R2D2 bucket).


After stuffing ourselves with the best parfait ever made, we immediately boarded (without a line) It's a Small World, which became one of Dean's Top 5 Favorite Rides (I haven't figured out if Dean loved It's a Small World only because he really loved it or partly because of how much Tutu hated it). We rode It's a Small World 4 or 5 times total for the trip! After It's a Small World, we got in line for Autopia. This was the first (and one of the few) time we had to wait in line for any length of time - we ended up waiting probably 15-20 minutes to ride this ride. This is the ride where kids get to drive the little cars on the track. I can remember riding this ride at Disney World with my Dad when I was a kid. I also remember a very similar ride, but with old time-y cars - but I can't remember where that was (Silver Dollar City? Six Flags? I have no idea...). Dean and I rode together in one car and Joel was behind us. Dean steered the car, but he couldn't reach the gas pedal so I had to push that for him, but he still loved being able to drive his own car!

After Autopia we headed over to New Orleans Square and immediately loaded Pirates of the Caribbean (no wait at all! Walked right onto the boat!). Dean "kind of" liked this ride, he wasn't too crazy about all the mean pirates but he sure liked the treasure room with all the jewels, gemstones and such! After that we waited in line for less than 5 minutes for the Haunted Mansion, which was another "kind of liked" ride for Dean. While in line for that, I got a phone call from someone special and made plans for a very special surprise for Dean, who was waiting for us outside of Tarzan's Treehouse...

Sarah!! Dean was so excited! Even though it's been almost 2 years since Dean's old babysitter Sarah moved from Maui to San Diego, they still have such a special bond! We were so happy that Sarah's mom let her miss school for the day on Tuesday and they drove up to spend some time with us while we were at Disneyland! And it was even more cool that we totally surprised Dean! When we saw her outside Tarzan's Treehouse, I said "Dean! Look who's at Disneyland!!" As soon as he saw her he ran and launched himself into her arms and gave her the biggest hug. He tried to play it off, but he cried a little he was so happy! Sarah and her mom, Elizabeth, got to spend about half the day on Tuesday with us and Dean was in heaven! My mom and Joel went and rode the new Indiana Jones ride while Dean and Sarah explored Tarzan's Treehouse.

We did lots of fun stuff with Sarah. Dean and Sarah and Joel rode several rides in Fantasyland - the Mad Tea Party (spinning teacups), Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Pinocchio's Daring Adventure, and Peter Pan's Flight. We had lunch in Fantasyland then Dean talked Sarah into riding It's a Small World with him again.

By early afternoon Dean was getting pretty tired. We decided to ride Splash Mountain and then say our goodbyes to Sarah and Elizabeth before heading back to the room for a rest. Dean LOVED Splash Mountain. He rode in front, so of course got the most wet of all of us, but he laughed and laughed. There is a camera right in the middle of the big drop on this ride and they have the photos posted for you to see when you exit the ride. Our photo was HILARIOUS. We took a picture of it. It's not that good because of the glare, but you can clearly see Dean, me and Sarah at least and our faces are so funny - look at that joy as we all scream on our way down that big drop!

We took a train ride around the park then said goodbye to Sarah and Elizabeth. I really can't say how special it was to spend a little time with them while we were there! On our way out of the park we passed Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and noticed there was no line at all, so decided to go ahead and ride it. It wasn't as much fun as I remember when I was a kid, but Dean absolutely LOVED this roller coaster ride! It was another one in his Top 5 Favorite Rides!

We took a little rest break for a few hours at the hotel, then we headed back to the park for a few hours in the evening. We rode a few rides again and had dinner at Disneyland, then called it a pretty early night. It was a pretty perfect first day at Disneyland!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Disneyland Vacation, The adventure begins + Day 1

We had such an awesome time on our trip to Disneyland last month! My Mom joined us for a week at Disney May 13-19 and it really was one of the best vacations ever! Dean was so good and had so much fun - and it was so fun experiencing it all with him! A couple of observations - I really think it was a good decision to wait and go when he was 5 instead of going earlier. He was old enough to ride almost everything (and he literally rode EVERYTHING except the 2 rides he wasn't tall enough for - Indiana Jones and California Screamin'); also, I know for a fact that Dean is going to remember this trip for the rest of his life. 

I have SO MANY pictures to share from our trip, so I'll probably break this up into 4 or 5 blog posts, just about one for each day of our trip (hopefully getting them posted this week), in order to get them all posted. Also, I'm going to write A LOT of detail about the trip and what we did each day. Most of you probably don't care about that much detail, but remember that this blog serves as a kind of journal for me too, and that's the purpose of this. We want to remember these details, so I'm writing it all down here while it's still pretty fresh in my mind. Feel free to skip over all the jibber-jabber and just enjoy the photos!

We left Maui just after lunchtime on Sunday May 13 and flew directly to LAX. Because we were staying at the Disneyland Resort (the hotel we stayed at was the Grand Californian Resort and Spa) and were planning on spending our entire vacation at the Disney Parks, we didn't rent a car. Our trip package included a shuttle from the airport to the hotel, which was interesting. (All I'll say about that shuttle ride is that I seriously thought we were never going to leave LAX! I was ready to ask the guy to stop circling the airport and just let us out and find a cab, regardless of how much it cost, just so we could get the hell out of that airport. I'll also say that the people in the LAX airport are not at all friendly - not the workers, not people traveling, not anyone - we did not encounter a single friendly person. People everywhere were extremely rude, there was cigarette smoke EVERYWHERE - something we're not at all used to, and I was terrified we would be killed in a car accident before we ever even left the airport because people were driving like crazies! So glad I don't live in a place like that! Anyway...) We finally arrived at our hotel around 10:30 p.m. California Time Sunday night. The Grand Californian was amazing! It's kind of a lodge-y type of hotel with a gigantic fireplace in the main lobby, lots of stained glass windows and Tiffany-like lamps, and a bunch of wood. Other than our room being a little smaller than we expected, we were overall pleasantly surprised by how nice the hotel was. By the time we got all situated in our room we were starving, so we ordered some delicious room service, then went to bed!

We found out that because we were staying at the Disneyland Resorts, we got early entrance into Disneyland on Tuesday and Thursday and California Adventure Monday and Wednesday - this meant we could get into the parks an hour before they opened to the general public! Very cool. We decided to spend our first day at California Adventure. Our hotel sits literally right next to California Adventure and has it's own private entrance into the park, which was really nice! We had a really yummy breakfast at Whitewater Snacks near the pool at our hotel, then when it was time for our early entrance, we just walked right into California Adventure! The first thing we rode was Soarin' Over California (first people in line for the day), where you're strapped into a seat that's suspended in the air above an Omnimax projection dome that shows a "movie" of some of California's sights - it's a virtual reality type of ride that feels like you're soaring over California in a hang glider - for about 5 minutes - and there's a breeze, they pump in smells that coordinate with the sights you're flying over (orange groves, eucalyptus forests, etc). It was pretty cool! Next we rode the Little Mermaid ride. There was absolutely no line - we walked right up and loaded into our seashell and set off into the undersea world of Ariel. We then just walked around a little bit trying to get oriented (there was a lot of construction going on at California Adventure because they were remodeling the main entrance and also preparing for the grand opening of Cars Land, which we just missed by about 3 weeks!), then headed over to Paradise Pier.

Joel and my Mom walked right up and got on the California Screamin' roller coaster - it's the big roller coaster you can see in the background of the pictures above. Again, there was hardly any line at all. The signs said 5 minute wait for most of the rides Monday, but the majority of that was eaten up by how long it took to walk through the maze to get to the loading area. We rarely waited more than 5 minutes for anything on Monday. It was perfect! Joel and Mom rode the roller coaster 2 or 3 times in a row while Dean and I walked around Paradise Pier and scoped out some shops, other rides, and possible snack places. (BEST PICTURE EVER below).

After California Screamin', we headed over to the Tower of Terror ride to see about getting Fast Passes for later in the day (we had heard there is usually a really long line for that ride), but there was only a 10-minute wait, so Joel and my Mom decided to go ahead and ride it while Dean and I headed over to A Bug's Land to check out some kiddie rides. Dean decided he wanted to do the Bumper Cars, which he didn't like because it was "too boring". (although you'd never guess this judging by the smile on his face)


By the time we finished the bumper cars and took a bathroom break, Joel and my Mom were done with Tower of Terror and we headed over to see the 3D show "It's Tough to be a Bug". Dean HATED that. I mean really really hated it. He cried and wanted to leave during the show. I kept trying to tell him to just take off his glasses and close his eyes, reminding him that it wasn't real. It didn't help that the theater sprayed water on you when the poisonous bug supposedly sprayed you with poison and the seats "crawled" up and down your back and legs when the theater supposedly filled up with cockroaches, etc. Of course my Mom was cracking up laughing the whole time and loved it! There was no way we were getting Dean back in there! After that, we had some lunch (again, really yummy food!). Everyone talked about how expensive the food would be at Disneyland but we didn't think it was expensive at all. Maybe it's because we live on Maui where everything is expensive and a value meal at McDonald's costs $9, but to us, the food was really reasonable - especially considering it was all really good. A hamburger, fries and a soda was about $12. I had a really big delicious salad for about $7. Nothing outrageous to us. We were really happy with the food the entire trip - both the quality and the price. Anyway, after lunch we headed over to Grizzly Peak where Dean finally got to run around the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, one of his favorite things at California Adventure!

After all that running around and climbing we were all pretty hot and sweaty, so we decided to finally ride the Grizzly River Run, which is a river rapids type ride. We got SOAKED! But it was so much fun and Dean loved it - he laughed and laughed, probably harder than I've ever seen him laugh! He thought it was the coolest adventure ever! After getting soaked, we walked back to our hotel to rest for a couple of hours (so nice to be able to do that!).


Before our trip, we had purchased a VIP Picnic Package thing for the World of Color show at California Adventure for Monday night. Joel and I picked up our picnic dinners and took them back to our room to eat after we rested, before we headed back to the park for the evening. After our rest and our picnic dinner, we headed back to the park around 6:00. Dean wanted to ride a few more rides, so we decided to give the Toy Story Mania ride a chance. I had avoided it initially because I knew it was an interactive 3D ride and I thought it was a shooting type of game (we don't do guns and shooting play), but Dean really wanted to ride it, so we had a quick discussion and I was talked into it. It is NOT a gun thing - it's more like a fair / midway game type of thing where you just pull a ball on a string and try to aim at things like balloons to pop with a dart, plates to break with a ball, you toss rings onto little spacemen, etc - but it's all virtual reality. It's SO COOL. It ended up being one of our favorite rides of the whole trip! So glad they talked me into giving it a try! Here's Dean waiting to board the Toy Story Mania ride with his 3D glasses on:

 We walked around Paradise Pier a little more after that, enjoying seeing everything all lit up at night, and Dean rode a few more rides - a really disappointing Jumpin' Jellyfish with Tutu, and then the Zephyr ride with Joel (so glad Joel is able to ride all those spinning rides! I can do roller coasters all day, but can't even watch something that spins without feeling sick!).

Then it was time to find a place to sit among about a couple thousand other people to watch the World of Color water and light show. We had to jostle around for a good spot a good hour or more before the show even started and Dean was one pooped out little boy! He ended up falling asleep right there on the concrete before the show even started! We were all exhausted to the point of probably not really appreciating the show as much as we should have and we were glad to get back to our room and fall into bed around 9:30! But it was a pretty perfect first day. We had big plans for Tuesday - our first day at Disneyland!!