During the second week in May David and I went west, young man and travelled to California for the first time. Our destination? Disneyland, of course!
There’s a formula to convincing my husband to take as many vacations as we do, which I plan to chronicle in a future blog post. The short explanation is that David and I wanted to do something special for our anniversary. First we thought about WDW. I even had two nights booked at the Grand Floridian over our anniversary weekend (cha-ching!). But since we aren’t renewing our annual passes until the fall WDW was a costly option. Then we talked about going to South Carolina. We could take Luna with us and we could stay with Grammy so it’d be an affordable trip! Those plans got thwarted when we semi-unexpectedly decided to move in May.
That left us with few anniversary options. Of course we could go to a fabulous restaurant and exchange gifts, but I hate spending lots of money on anything BUT a vacation. David and I haven’t exchanged gifts for birthdays, Christmas or our anniversary in over a year. We figure we’d spend $200 on dinner, plus $200-$300 on gifts for each of these occasions. If we’re already $500 in we might as well take a trip!
The idea of Disneyland was intriguing. The tickets were cheaper than WDW, and the flight prices were comparable to Orlando. We had one free flight with our AirTran A+ rewards, so the trip was looking more and more feasible. Our biggest decision was where to stay.
When we go to Disney World we have a lot of accommodation choices, but all of those choices are always on Disney property. After a substantial amount of research I realized that “on property” had a whole different meaning out west. There are far less perks of staying on property in Disneyland (no bus service, no Magical Express). There are also no moderate or value resorts. While they do offer three fabulous hotels, they range in price from $200-$600/night for a standard room. Yowza!
So I did something I never thought I’d do– I started looking at off-site accommodations. Both of my favorite trip-planning resources (AllEars.net and DisneyTouristBlog.com) outlined the merits of staying offsite in Disneyland, so I decided to take the plunge.
Once I decided that staying offsite was the only feasible option for our trip I started researching the area hotels. My top priorities for our hotel was that it was within walking distance to the parks, that it had free WiFi (gotta stay connected!) and that it offered some kind of breakfast option.
Enter Ramada Maingate at the Park.
I was first attracted to Ramada Maingate because of their website. Working in the web industry means I ALWAYS judge a book by its cover, er, I mean website. Ramada Maingate not only had an attractive, easy-to-use website, but they also had a great social media presence.
They also met all my credentials– Within walking distance of Disneyland? Check. Free WiFi? Check. A free continental breakfast every morning? Check. Add newly renovated rooms and a pool and jacuzzi to the equation and I knew we’d found our hotel.
We arrived in Anaheim very late– it was past midnight in Cali, meaning it felt like it was past 3 a.m. for us! We used SuperShuttle to transport us from LAX to the hotel. Upon arrival we were quickly checked in by Eric, who was super-friendly and helpful, even as the clock neared 1 a.m.
We exhaustedly made our way to our room. The plan was to shower as quickly as possible then go to sleep so we could take advantage of Magical Mornings the next day. Once we entered the room and saw the bathroom our plans quickly changed.
We had a renovated king size room with a jacuzzi tub. When I say jacuzzi tub I don’t just mean an oversized bathtub. I mean a deep, water jet jacuzzi. I meant to just take a shower that first night, I really did, but I just couldn’t resist the jacuzzi. It was like a siren calling to my tired muscles. After thoroughly enjoying the jacuzzi we finally made it to bed. We woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to experience Walt’s original magic kingdom.
As mentioned Ramada Maingate at the Park is within walking distance of Disneyland. I think a lot of hotels in Anaheim use that tagline- within walking distance!- but Ramada Maingate is true to its claim. Our room was one of the further back in the hotel, and when I tracked the time it took for us to get from our room to Disney property it was .18 miles. From our room to Main Street USA was just a little over 1/4 mile. We couldn’t have asked for a more idyllic location.
The other perk that really came in handy at Ramada Maingate was the free complimentary breakfast. Each morning they had a huge spread of goodies. The rotated the items each day. During our stay we were presented with bagels, muffins, sausage gravy and biscuits, cereal, fruit, juices and coffees and hardboiled eggs. The breakfast room is central to the hotel, and guests are encouraged to make their selections and enjoy them around the tables by the pool. David and I preferred to stop into the breakfast room on our way to the parks each morning. Since Ramada Maingate is so close to Disneyland I was usually still munching on my bagel by the time we got on property!
I would definitely recommend Ramada Maingate at the Park to anyone looking for a hotel that is truly within walking distance to Disneyland that features a lot of little extras for free. Don’t take my word for it, though. Let’s let the pictures do the talking…
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our California Adventure. I’ve got fabulous food pics to share as well as some very harsh criticism of the California lifestyle. Oh, and I’ve also got some funny pictures of David after 5+ glasses of wine…I wonder if he’ll let me share?!
Disclosure: My accommodations at Ramada Maingate at the Park in Anaheim, California, were provided at a discounted rate in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own. I promise to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…so help me Mickey
My face has been covered in freckles for as long as I can remember. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Staumann, used to threatened to pick the freckles off anyone who misbehaved in class. She always said I was lucky– I already had freckles. She’d have to draw the freckles to pick off the other children. (Sadly teachers aren’t allowed to threaten freckle-picking as punishment anymore. What has the world come to?)
My mom used to reassure me that my freckles would fade as I got older. She said she had lots of freckles when she was little too, and that they disappeared when she grew up. I’m not sure how much older I need to get, but I’m still covered in freckles to this day.
When Luna came home from her foster mom’s house one of my favorite qualities were the pink pigment “freckles” on her nose. Her foster mom said her nose would fill out as she got older. Well, I’ve heard that story before, so I knew there was a chance she’d have a cute pink nose for life.
Luna’s nose did fill out as she aged. Her entire nose turned black, except for one pink spot on her right nostril. Luther got into the habit of making fun of his precious granddog’s unique features (even though I told him it was bad for her ego). He would exclaim “Abby, what’s on her nose?!” every time he saw Luna over the past 20 months. For the first 18 months I would freak out, worried about the well-being of my precious princess. It’s just been during the last few months that I’ve been able to roll my eyes at Luther’s trickery. There’s nothing on her nose. In the words of Lady Gaga, she was born that way.
Last night Luna and I were upstairs getting ready for bed. I went to kiss her pink freckle and REALLY freaked out. There was nothing on her nose. No pink spot. No pigment indicating her youth. I quickly snatched up Luna and carried her at arm’s length downstairs.
“LOOK!” I exclaimed, thrusting her towards David who was getting ready for work. “Notice anything different?” I asked.
David didn’t notice the missing spot right away, but once I pointed it out he was heartbroken. Our little girl is growing up! I’m not sure when the freckle disappeared. I’ve tried to go back through my pictures, but there’s evidence of the pink pigment as recently as last month in our moving pictures.
When did my little dog girl grow up? And WHY, at the ripe age of 22 months, does she get to leave her freckles behind, while I remain spotted?
Last Friday the HamFam packed up Hamsaps House and headed east. We travelled a whopping 5.5 miles down the road and planted our roots in…wait for it… Stow. That’s right. David, Luna and I are officially Stowbillies!
The new and improved Hamsaps House is fab. It’s a 3-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath condo in a private community close to my work, the grocery store and the bike and hike trail. We have a yard, a little deck and a two car, attached garage. David and I keep laughing at the sheer amount of space we now have– I keep forgetting rooms exist until I stumble into them! Although I’m happy with our new place I am oh so glad the move is OVER.
I dreaded moving. The physical act of moving isn’t the problem– it’s everything leading up to a move that gives me the heeby-jeebies. I just don’t like being stuck in a state of transition. I thrive on routine, so moving doesn’t do much for my mojo. The week before the move was actually the worst for me. I bit the bullet and packed up our whole kitchen the Sunday before our move. That meant I couldn’t cook or bake for five days. While some people might welcome that kind of kitchen break with open arms it created a ton of stress for me!
Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about the actual move. David and I hired Family First Moving and let them do the heavy lifting (literally!). I had heard of Family First before and always recognized their purple trucks. I requested a free Quick Quote from their website about a month ago and one of the owners, Theresa, responded to my request within 24 hours. Theresa was friendly and took the time to answer all my questions. She recommended I hire two movers and estimated it would take 4 hours for them to move us after asking some questions about where we live and what kind of furniture we have. I really appreciated Theresa’s recommendation and felt like she cared about me as a customer before I even booked with her company. Even if moving is miserable at least we were working with friendly people!
Fast-forward to last Friday. I woke up early to take Luna to daycare and to make one last donut run to our favorite little shop in the Falls. The movers were scheduled to leave their office at 8 a.m. Ross and Eric from Family First Moving arrived at the House formerly known as Hamsaps around 8:15 a.m. We started off with a walk-through of the apartment. From there Ross went over the paperwork with me and had me select my insurance coverage. One of the benefits of working with Family First is that they include property damage insurance, which is an elective coverage for moving companies. After we got through most of the paperwork Ross explained their terms, ending with the condition that they had the right to leave the job if it became a hostile environment. I half-smiled as he read that line and told him not to worry– Hamsaps House was the opposite of hostile. We bought them donuts as a peace offering!
Ross and Eric immediately set to work. It was SO nice to not worry about going up and down the stairs at our old apartment, or about someone getting hurt or breaking something. David and I were able to finish cleaning as the guys moved everything downstairs and loaded it into the truck. By 10:30 a.m. the apartment was empty and we were ready to head to the new Hamsaps House!
David and I had very little to do once we arrived at our new digs. We showed the guys around and from there I started unpacking the kitchen. Every now and then the movers would ask where something went– either because it was a piece of furniture or because they couldn’t read David’s handwriting. There was a little confusion when I proclaimed: “The kitchen chair goes in the den!” but all in all things went swimmingly.
Ross and Eric finished up a few minutes before noon. They asked us to walk through the condo to make sure everything was where we wanted it and to make sure we were satisfied with their work. Our total move ended up taking 4 hours and 15 minutes, which was impressively close to the original estimate. After we signed off on the paperwork and paid the guys they headed back to the office.
David and I kind of sat in shock for a moment. It wasn’t even noon and we had completely finished moving. The convenience and professionalism of Family First was unmatched. They truly made the moving experience
tolerable pleasant for us. Because we had such a great start we were able to work all through the weekend and the new Hamsaps House is already starting to feel like home.
Stay tuned for a tour of the new Hamsaps House!
*Disclaimer: I received a discount from Family First Moving in exchange for an honest review of their services. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and were not influenced in any way.
This past weekend was supposed to be the epitome of productivity at Hamsaps House. We were going to clean! We were going to organize! We were going to pack! We are moving in 10 days, after all. This upcoming weekend is super busy, so we knew this was our last weekend to really focus on cleaning and packing up our current apartment.
Alas, a long week at work paired with the fear of busyness soon to come left us crippled Friday-Sunday. This past weekend really was my ideal weekend, except I didn’t accomplish a single thing I was supposed to accomplish.
Instead of rewarding my procrastination with a blog post about my fabulous weekend I’m going to present you with a list and a stern warning. Below are all the things you should NOT do two weeks before you move.
1. Do not come home from work on Friday and immediately take a nap. Even if it’s the first time you’ve laid next to your husband all that week. Even if you barely slept the night before because you were worrying about work/moving/if Luna is getting enough nutrients in her diet. Even if the dark clouds cast the perfect afternoon-nap shadows outside your apartment window. Whatever you do, do not come home from work on Friday and immediately take a nap.
2. Do not start a fabulous book on Friday night and stay up until 1 a.m. reading the first 200 pages. Luna will be annoyed by your reading light, anyways.
3. Do not workout Saturday morning for the third day in a row, partly because you’re on a health kick but mostly so you can read the latest People magazine.
4. Do attend your friend’s fabulous bridal shower– but do not commit to doing your sister’s makeup after you’ve had 3 glasses of wine. Yes, the makeup will turn out fabulous, but you’ll get sucked into pictures, then eating delicious Old Carolina BBQ, then hanging out with your husband and parents all night.
5. Do not go to bed at 10 p.m. on Saturday night. For goodness sake, all you did was eat and drink all day!
6. Do not sleep in until 11 a.m. on Sunday. Do go grocery shopping when you wake up, but don’t come home and make homemade waffles. Mhmmmm. Waffles.
7. Do not ditch packing to go to the dog park. Even if the sun is shining, even if it’s 80 degrees outside and even if your Boston-Terrier/Shih Tzu begs you, do not go to the dog park.
8. Do not come home from the dog park and make a huge batch of soup. There are boxes to pack and closets to sort through!
9. Do not decide you need to make dessert, and whip up the most delicious chocolate chip bread pudding you’ve ever tasted. (For those of your salivating along at home I’m going to make the bread pudding this weekend for the Bend and Snap Dessert Party!)
10. Do not ignore the dishes and the dirty kitchen and the packing to lay on the couch and watch Tangled.
SO there you have it. Everything you should NOT do two weeks before you move. These items may be the components of a fabulous weekend, but they will do nothing for your productivity and sense of accomplishment.
Luna growled under her breath as the apartment door opened. Was David home already? Oh crap, I thought as I grabbed my iPhone/alarm clock/life source to see what time it was. The clock read 7:02 a.m. My alarm had not even gone off yet.
“Honey, I have some bad news,” David mumbled as he walked into the bedroom. My heart sank. He was home early with bad news: he must have been fired.
I rolled over to look at my disheveled husband.
“What baby? What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I lost my wedding ring,” he confessed before slumping on the bed.
If anyone knows David they understand the gravity of this statement. It’s not the “wedding ring” part that’s the most upsetting to him. In fact, you could replace the word “ring” with a number of objects, including but not limited to car keys, sunglasses, wallet, phone, iPod and slippers. It’s the “lost” part of the statement that caused the most upheaval.
David hates to lose things. When he thinks something is lost major panic ensues. My normally calm and collected husband morphs into a raging lunatic. He stomps around the apartment, mumbling under his breath and throwing inanimate objects out of his way. He balls up his fists and curses the day he was born. I’ve learned to handle these meltdowns by staying out of the way, and taking the infrequent opportunity to mutter: “David, your Romanian is showing.”
To anyone who thinks I’m exaggerating about the degree of drama when David loses something I dare say bite your tongue. I’ve only see David cry twice before this incident. Once when we talked about moving out of Alliance (pardon my snicker), and once when he lost his car keys at a Halloween party. The man didn’t cry at our wedding, and he doesn’t shed a tear at the end of Toy Story 3 (which forces me to exclaim ‘You have no soul!’ as I blubber through Andy and Bonnie’s final play scene every time we watch the movie).
I didn’t understand how David could lose his wedding ring. His ring fits his finger perfectly and has to be physically pulled over his knuckle to come off.
David explained that he took his ring off at work every night (something I did not know) and left it in his locker. He realized around 2 a.m. that his ring wasn’t in the locker. He was afraid it fell out in the break room but he didn’t hear it because he had earplugs in. He worked himself into a tizzy, then sent himself home early to see if he left it in the apartment somewhere. The ring was nowhere in sight.
We both searched all day for the ring. David said he felt hopeless– he knew he took it off at work and he was convinced someone stole it. I tried to be optimistic but Eeyore wouldn’t hear of it. Oh bother.
So how does the case of the missing ring end? Was the ring stolen and gone forever? Or did I buy David a replacement ring to make up for the lost token of our love?
Fortunately this story has an undramatic ending. David found the ring at work that night– wait for it– in his locker. Actually, it was “in a crack in his locker” …whatever that means.
Surprisingly I wasn’t upset when we thought all hope was lost and the ring was gone forever. I think our New Year’s resolution to buy less stuff has made me feel less attached to tangible objects. The ring is just a thing. Plus I think David’s dramatics helped frame the situation for me. Losing a piece of metal is nothing compared to losing a job.
Oh, and I may or may not have spent the day dreaming of a vow renewal ceremony in Disney World. See– even the darkest situations can have a happy ending!
Like my dear friend Carrie, I too was going to post a weekend recap of Hamsaps House today. Then I realized there wasn’t much to say, and I didn’t take that many pictures.
Here’s the Twitter version: I napped. I cleaned. I basked in the sunshine. My dog got sick, my husband fell asleep. I stressed out like WHOA about moving.
Sounds fab, right? In case you came here today looking for something more, I present you with this fun little survey I ripped off Carrie’s blog. For the record I did have the decency to delete her answers and write out my own. I know, I know. My literary genius amazes me sometimes too.
Animal Kingdom Lodge