A little bit ago I stayed up all night packing, literally all night.
And finally in the negative degree morning hours,
 we carried the spoiled, sleeping kids to the chilly car and headed South.   
As we drove away from our house I ran a quick checklist in my head making sure we didn't forget anything.
I closed my heavy eyes just as Dean pulled onto the freeway.

And woke up four hours later here. 

On the road to Disneyland!

Because the ten hour drive across three states wasn't going to be long and miserable enough, we took a side trip to Calico Ghost Town.
Although overpriced and chintzy, Calico holds a charm for Dean and I - 
and we just can't help ourselves. 

Calico has been a family tradition since our first visit on our Honeymoon.   
And now here we were back again in 2013 with seven crazy kids. 

(plus one) My adorable lil niece Sophie came along with us to keep the kids in line. 

The shop keepers along the street must have radioed ahead warning each other of our crew.

People scattered, streets emptied, store fronts closed, townsfolk took cover in the local bar.     
It really was a ghost town. 

We walked around in the abandoned mine shafts and rail track, 
Until a half dozen tour buses pulled up and we had to behave ourselves. 

Lauren was approached by a man and woman from Korea who said that their son wanted to take a picture with an American girl.
As you can see it was a thrilling moment for the kid.

And yeah, one or two children went missing, but they were eventually found. 

We tried to leave these two behind on purpose, 
but they somehow found their way back to the car.

And then,
 just like that, 
...we were on the road again.

Somewhere in the Nevada desert, I saw this sign

and fueled by just four hours sleep,
all I read were the words, "children" and "abandon them." 
After eight hours in the car ... sounded pretty good to me.

By some small miracle we finally made it to California! 

My brother had arranged for a few of us, (my siblings and parents) to all stay together at a rented house,
 sharing in the expense and combined chaos. 
Some arrived by aeroplane, some arrived by motor coach -
and some stayed back at home to keep the fires going. 
But by nightfall, all of the slackers rendezvoused at the little house on Sonya Place.

That first night the kids ran up and down the stairs, inside and outside,
 like hopped up field mice. 
All the adults stood exhausted each of us wondering;
  "how are we going to do this?"

So here is how we did it - 

 A "HOW TO" guide of sorts. 

"How to survive with sixteen kids at Disneyland!" 


*Get an early start!
Wake up at 7:00 a.m. pack the strollers, the jackets, the food, the drinks, the tickets, 
the cameras, the Tylenol, the kids - 
and chances are the D-train will leave promptly around noon.

*To heighten the anticipation, on the tram ride over, 
tell the little ones that Disneyland is closed. 
Watch their little smiles turn to tears - SOOO much fun!  
And for the big kids, simply tell them that Justin Bieber was just sighted on "It's a Small World" 

*If you can, bring along the big guns (grandparents) Nobody really messes with them.   

*Don't let four year olds carry their own ticket. 
yes, it's cute...but the hundred people behind you in line aren't so amused.  

Hit up the Jedi Training Show! 
By far the most worthwhile half hour at Disneyland.   


"The force is strong with this young Padawan."
"defeated the dark side you did"

"too short for a Storm Trooper, you are" 

*Moving along; don't waste your time waiting in line to meet the characters.

Who am I kidding, we waited in every line

*And make time for little girls to meet their personal hero.

and big girls to meet their true loves...

And let big boys pretend to be both a hero and a lover. 

*If your child is too small to go on the new Cars Ride... 
let a trained professional deliver the bad news.  

*Take a break once in a while.
Hitch a ride,
find some shade...
play virtual games while in a real amusement park,
chill out on a crowded bench,
and kick up your feet!

*Give the kids enough time to make those crucial calls to their stock broker.
"you got to be kidding me!"

"sell! sell!"

*Remember that "some" in your group can get cranky and demanding...
so just indulge them and go on the Peter Pan ride. 
... right Wes?!?

*It might happen that on a dare, your teenage daughter will ask a handsome Disneyland worker for a hug
But don't worry, the worker will cautiously ask; "is that your Dad?" 
and then just suggest they self-hug.
Smart kid! 

*Be prepared with a plastic poncho for Splash Mountain.  
Sure, some may tell you that you look "ridiculous" (and a little frightening) -
pshh...they're all just jealous.

*Good news! feeding a family at the park can be simple and convenient!
Simply drag yourself to a local grocery store each night, stock up on junk food in bulk,
  haul it around with you all day, fight off all the grubby little hands... and finally,   
distribute out all the home-crafted goods to the "starved" kids...

And try to ignore all the Heavenly smells of Churros, roasted turkey legs, and corndogs. 
"PB and J anyone?"

*If you are worried about your kids running off and getting lost ; 
just threaten them within an inch of their life to stay by you.  
Works like a charm.

*Prepare yourself for pouting.

Some have perfected the pout! even at Disneyland ~
(Splash Mountain closed? who heard of such a thing?)

*Get dancin while the dancin is good!
This chick had more moves than a Jello salad. 

*With such a large group one option is to divide and conquer...  
or use the buddy system, 
or don't be afraid to just fly solo. 

*Bring along nutritious snacks. 
Big handfuls of delicious, emulsified neon colored, cheese infused snacks.

*Be sure to enjoy the nightlife.
Yeah the kids are miserable and tired... 
either that or straight up crazy! 

*Another good idea is to send the kids home with a responsible adult of your choosing.

Say goodbye to your little sweethearts, promise you'll be there to tuck them in...

and then without kids in tow...


Disneyland just got real! 

*Be flexible if you can. A day off from the park might be a good idea. 
Especially if things look like this at 9:00 in the morning. 

*A few hours in the swimming pool and the warm sun...
and you'll wonder why you bothered with Disneyland at all. 

*Even better, A few minutes at the beach...
 and you'll wonder why you bothered with anything but the beach. 

*At Disneyland there are cherished picture opportunities everywhere.
On a garbage can...

waiting in line...
on a ride...
or just enjoying each other's company. 

*Above all, remember to relax and enjoy! 
You are at  DISNEYLAND after all! 

And finally -
My #1bit of advice... 

Be sure to pack it up and head home, right before you lose your marbles ~ 


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