"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

Panda, Amber, and MLB in “Hot as Blue Blazes”

“Me mind on fire, me soul on fire
Feelin’ hot hot hot
Party people, all around me
Feelin hot hot hot!”
Buster Poindexter

Must see 80’s video – high hair, bad clothes, Hot Hot Hot

Flashback to this past Sunday:
“We interrupt this blog for an important weather report:
It will be as hot as blue blazes this week in sunny Southern California.”

It’s great to be back to the blog after several days away enjoying a frolicking good time with family this week.

MLB popped in for the week, and then Panda (youngest son) came through – with his girlfriend, Amber – for a few days of fun in the “warm California sun.

How hot was it??


But why let a little heat bring you down! So it was 94° Fahrenheit at Disneyland – we were still at Disneyland, right? How can that possibly be a bad thing? You suffer through for the good of the team – and of course the rides, the people, and the “happiest place on earth”:

old school Disneyland, happiest place on earth

Disneyland, hot, Grizzly River Run

    disneyland, cinderellas castle, fantasyland

panda and gf, main street disneyland      chipmunk, disneyland, hot

Rough day for the chipmunk costume, but the “cast member” takes it in perfect stride.

Nighttime at Disneyland – the spectacular “World of Color” water and light show, was AMAZING!

Images are projected onto a giant screen of water. A must see, for sure. We had the added bonus of getting sprayed with water from the giant fountains, and boy did it feel great at the end of the day:

“Brave,” projected on
giant sheet of water!


disneyland, world of color, hot

Must have plaid!!


Panda and Amber at the show.


panda, amber, mj, mlb, disneyland, world of color

Did I mention it was
as hot as blue blazes?

Sandwiched around the day at Disneyland, we spent a couple of days at the ocean.

It wasn’t quite as hot on the coast, but the sun did leave its mark on the four of us. We enjoyed sunning, surfing, boogie-boarding, and a bit of swimming in the warm Pacific water (72° Fahrenheit).

I promise I looked just like Michael Phelps in the water – except for the lack of gold medals, technique, and super-toned body. Otherwise, we could have been twins. No, really!

panda, mj, beach, ocean, father, son

MJ and Panda, chilling on the beach.
Father and son moment. *tears up*


Panda, hlg, beach, ocean

Panda and Amber at the beach.


Before you know it, time has flown by. The sentimental sap in me gets teary-eyed as family goes back home, leaving a melancholy as warm and rich as the fading sunset.

sunset, beach, ocean


What did you do on summer vacation?


  1. It looks like you guys had such a good time, despite the crushing heat. Hooray for you!!! We’re planning to take the kids to Disneyland in the spring, so that Bug can get his Cars Land fix and the girl can go on a REAL rollercoaster and/or any other combination of rides that will make her dad puke. There will likely still be snow on the ground and temperatures around the -15ºC mark around here at that time, so the heat will be welcome :-)

    • It will be perfect that time of year. I’m hoping we’re still here then – Lord willing, with the job search. Email me as it gets closer, I may have some tips for you. Cars Land is awesome, btw! Oh, and there’s “A Bug’s Land” which would be perfect for Bug as well. :)

      Um, -15 deg Celsius sounds colder than a meat locker!

      • Sounds good, MJ. -15ºC is actually pretty nice for early spring. In February we get a few weeks in the -25 to -35ºC range. It does make some things like, say, rapidly chilling cocktails more energy efficient…. That’s about it for silver linings.

  2. Great post! Loved the pictures. That sounded wonderful and I’m completely jealous, but very happy for you. Your son is RIPPED! DUDE!!! Oh…er…ah….sorry ’bout that. I kinda lost my dignified classiness for a moment there. haha. You have that Anthony Bourdaine look goin’. Rock it! Keep havin’ fun in that California sun!

    • It was so much fun. You noticed that I didn’t have my shirt off next to my son, didn’t you. I’m not that dumb. 😉

      Thanks for the compliment on the Anthony Bourdain look-alike. I’ve not heard that, but sounds good to me.

  3. You and Your website seem very yummy!!! I love chocolate!

    your blog is good! I’ll visit again :)
    God Bless You

    • Hey Zeeshan, I get that a lot about how “yummy” my website is.

      I love chocolate too, but I didn’t mention it in my post. You are either psychic or say it ain’t so … a spam-bot.

      Please stop in again, but bring the chocolate next time.

  4. I never knew that you son was called Panda. We always called him your “invisible son” but I guess that was just our pet name for him. :O) Great pics and it sounds like you were having fun. Jealous about the location, not so jealous about the weather. We have had it up in the 100’s here and spend a lot of time inside our house or in stores with A/C to cool down. There is one person missing from all but one of the pictures and I might guess she is the photographer. Isn’t that always the way, the photographer never gets in any of the pictures! I am still trying to figure out if we can come down in October for the girls’ surfing lessons. Are you still up for that?

    • See, he’s really not invisible. I know it doesn’t seem hot here compared to No Cal, but there aren’t a/c’s in most homes (including ours).

      MLB is not a big fan of having her picture taken, as you know; even when she’s not taking pictures. :)

      Will have to figure out a time in October to make it happen.

  5. You are braver than I am, MJ. My daughter and I headed over to Lake Michigan three or four weeks ago…just for the day, and even sitting on the beach…with a brisk breeze blowing across the water didn’t help the 90-something degree day. I much preferred the a/c in the van. :)

    Looks like you and your family had a great week though. The thing I’m most jealous of is the water/light show. I love that sort of show, or just fountains with colored lights…I’m not picky.

    While I’m sorry the oven seems to have shifted west, I’m glad to say it’s been cooler in Michigan for the past week or ten days (71 degrees at 7 p.m.)…and looks like it will stay this way for a while. But we deserve it. We celebrated my daughter’s birthday in a park…for the first time in her life…because it hit the 80 and 90 mark for most of the month of MARCH…it’s been too warm here for too long. :)

    • Oh, I think your bravery at weeks of heat at a stretch far outweighs my going to Disneyland and the beach. Let’s put it into perspective, KK! Though that a/c always calls my name. Too bad it’s not in my house. :)

      Oh, you would have LOVED the water/light show. I can email you more pics if you’d like (I suddenly feel like an old uncle with the 300 slides he wants to show off from his mountain vacation).

      I am glad that you’ve had a cool-down back in the midwest and east. I can’t imagine how rough this summer has been there.

      Stay cool, my friend!

      • Not much bravery on my part. My way of dealing with the heat is to stay out of it as much as possible. This is actually only the second summer I’ve used a/c, last year being the first. I didn’t know it, but I have a thyroid prescription that has to be stored in a very narrow temperature frame, so…I get to enjoy the cooler air, too. :)

        I am loving this June-like weather (NORMAL June-like weather). It’s 57 here right now, but the humidity is 83% so it’s not as comfortable as it could be. However, it beats the heck right out of 80 for a nighttime low.

        Yes! I would love to see the other pictures. Do you have my email address?

        But yes! I would love to see those pictures, Uncle MJ.

  6. What fun! So much heat — how was the humidity? (That’s kind of a big deal to us here in the mid-Atlantic).

    What is it about Disneyplaces (I’ve only been to Disneyworld) that — even just looking at your pictures starts a neverending chorus of “It’s a small world after all” in my head?

    • Unfortunately, HC, the humidity was close to 70%. Kind of sauna-like. But you know, it was still so much fun. We just tried to stay out of the harsh sun as much as possible. Inside the buildings it was so refreshing, and you do go in and out of the heat quite a bit.

      You are too right about It’s a small world, though. We went by it on the train and I had that song in my head for hours. You just can’t stop it! :)

  7. Looks like fun, mj, but I wilt in the heat. You all look so fresh!

    • I’m sure the Baltuck/Garrard Family Storytellers could handle any climate that came your way, no problem. And you’d have the pictures and words to go along with the story!

  8. What a fun week with your family! I’m curious, though ~ why do you call him Panda, but then say his girlfriend’s name AND post pics of him? Does he really think he’s incognito as Panda?

    You are far braver than me, my friend. I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever go to Disneyland if the temps are above 75F. Ever. With the pavement and added people, it makes it about a bazillion degrees in the park! Still, I’m jealous you were at Disneyland since that is my favorite place.

    • Ha, Tameri! No, his nickname has been Panda for quite a few years. He can’t really be incognito.

      Well, my friend, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, never pass up an opportunity to go to Disneyland. It’s my favorite place to go of any place in the world. It really is magical.

      That being said, 75 degrees sounds more reasonable, though!! :)

      • Do you have a pass? If so, we totally need to go so I can do some research for my blog posts. Going by myself is fun, but going with someone else who likes Disney is even better!

        By the way, I haven’t forgotten about the writer’s party I promised you. I’ll be in touch to see when MLB will be in town ~ probably in September since August has kicked my butt. We’ll get this party started, then you can meet some super cool writer folks in the area.

        • I don’t have a pass, but had time left on a 3 day park hopper. I bet you’re one of those super-riders, aren’t you, Tameri?

          That would be cool to meet some people in the general area. It can get pretty quiet not knowing anyone down here, excepting for the tiarraed socialite, Tameri.

  9. It looks like a great time was had by all! Great photos!

  10. Looks like a good time was had by all! Isn’t it cool that your grown kid still wants to hang out with his parents.? Yep, job well done MJ!
    As much as I would love to be a Disney Character, I would only be able to whorl on cold days…a very part time position in Florida & California.

    • It’s the best to have kids come visit. So much different when they’re adults. And his girlfriend was sweet as well. Had a great time.

      As for stepping into a costume- I’m with you on doing it when it’s very cool. It was WAY too hot that day for a costume.

  11. What summer vacation? We’re having a, “Grapes of Wrath” experience here in Oklahoma… the sun has been relentless, until this past few days. With FD traveling on business a good bit AND building that danged cabin on weekends, we haven’t had time for a vacation. We usually slip away for a romantic week or two for our anniversary around the New Year or the Christmas holiday.

    I’m glad you had a great time! I love the photos!

    • Lori, I have felt your pain from afar. Every time I see OK on the weather map, I can’t help but think about how hot you and FD must be there. Don’t know how you do it.

      Hope you get some down time very soon, my friend, and lots of rain (just not flash floods!). :)

  12. Aw, loved the photos, MJ. (especially the plaid one)Your son looks exactly like you. I’ve been to Disney World many times, but never Disney Land! I’m sure I’d love it there. Next time we go to Disney, we’ve making sure it’s during the cooler season, I’m not great at standing in lines feeling like I might burst into flames. Glad you had some quality time with the family.

    • I’m a firm believer that God loves plaid – why else would there have been plaid in the middle of a Disneyland light show, right?? See, that’s just sound theological thinking. hehe

      Yeah, it was too hot, really. If you’re planning it for yourself, it’s best to go when it’s cooler. It was still fantastic, though still, because it is Disneyland after all.

      You need to bring the family out west sometime, Darla!

    • Oh, and yes, my poor son gets that all the time, about looking like me. Poor guy!!

      I’m still waiting for people to say, “Your muscles look just like your son’s!” A guy can dream, right?

  13. The beach looked lovely. Disney? Not so much! Welcome back, MJ!

  14. Love the pics with your blog! I’m a huge Disney fan, but for me, it’s Disney World (I live in SoFlo). We take the whole family about 4x a year–happiest place on earth…HOWEVER, I have never braved the crowds in the summer heat like you. Our big summer trip? We drove up to Tallahassee and spent a week at my oldest son’s house—I love Tally because there is so much to do there, not just the univ. campus but all the museums, the capitol, some great breweries and restaurants, and even a ghost tour or two!! Like you, I found it difficult to end the vacation and say goodbye to my son. Fortunately, I’ll be seeing him again for a bit next week with all my kids. Our last summer blow-out!!! Thanks for sharing the post–reminded me of good family times!!

    • MM, four times a year sounds great. I’ve never been to Disney World. I’ve heard it’s much more sprawling, with quite a few additional attractions.

      So glad you’re getting to spend time with your son, and that you’re getting to see the other kids next week. What a great way to finish up the summer! :)

  15. Your son looks like you. Love the pictures. What was your favorite ride at Disneyland?

    I never really took a vacation this summer. Went down to New Orleans to visit a cousin and up to New York to fete Cooper’s 1st birthday. Just got back from Asheville and sitting in a week-long continuing education conference. Oh! We did go to Arizona for that long weekend, and we did nothing but drink and sit by the pool, so that has to be it. :)

    • My son gets that comment when we’re out together. More a few years ago, when I was, ahem, a bit younger.

      Hmm, favorite ride? Probably Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s super-chill and relaxing. Kind of a long ride, and under ground most of the time, so it feels very refreshing after a long day of LOTS of walking. I’m not a thrill-seeking rider anymore. Are you a fast-ride type?

      You’ve made some great trips, Andra. It’s always great to live vicariously through other’s journeys. Glad you were able to make some small trips anyway.

  16. Dear MJ,
    Sir, you do not know ‘hot’ til the gauge runs up into the triple digits and even the bugs fall dead right before your eyes from heat stroke.
    Oh, sorry, the question was what I did on summer vacation? Well, sweated mostly but I totally enjoyed your ‘hot’ trip with you family. Your son looks just like you…just a bit more buffed up but no one was comparing. Hehe. :)
    Thanks for taking us to Disney, again. (I have to go one day so keep reminding me. Thanks.)

    • What a great description – “… even the bugs fall dead right before your eyes from heat stroke.” You’re right about not knowing how hot it is. I’ve been to Phoenix in August, and other than Vegas in August, it’s the hottest I’ve ever been outside of a sauna!

      Um, yes, he’s QUITE a bit more buffed up, thank you very much! :)

      Have you not been to Disneyland? And you’re so close – what, maybe 5 hours, right? C’mon, Sunshine, you have to go.

  17. What do you mean what did I do? I just went with you virtually on your trip. I haven’t been to Disney World in ages, so I enjoyed that. Did we get sick on the Dumbo ride?

    • Hehe, Barb, I didn’t go on the Dumbo ride. I do kind of get queasy on those twirling rides. I used to LOVE roller coaster, but now I just enjoy the atmosphere of Disneyland. The joy on people’s faces, the sentimental, childlike feeling of being somewhere so special, etc, etc.

  18. Great post and photos and you and Panda…two peas in a pod. Loved this MJ, so if anyone asks where I went this year….I went on a trip with MJ and his lovely family to Disney…whey hey. xx

  19. So glad to see you back, friend. So how were the Disney crowds? We’re planning a trip with the kids at the end of October — while I do LOVE ME some Disneyland, I absolutely hate hate HATE Disneyland in summer. But it looks like you all had a blast.

    Care to explain why your son’s nickname is Panda? There’s gotta be a story there…

    • Thanks, WBFF! It’s good to be seeing my buds again.

      End of October would be a great time to go. Weather should be perfect. It was very crowded, in spite of the heat. Lots of big groups of tourists from many other countries, plus it may have been just before kids went back to school. Still fabulous, in spite of the weather.

      Panda – it’s a nickname that was given to him by his Japanese teacher in high school. He took four years of Japanese, and then took a trip to Japan his around his senior year. The nickname just stuck since then.

  20. I grew up not far from Disneyland. I still feel the magic . . . :)

  21. There now, you’ve given me a little cyber-vacation here at home. We’ve never been to that Disney – Euro Disney is the furthest we have travelled – but it, and your lovely relatives, seem to have made it a week to remember, MJ.

    • I bet Euro Disney was just as fantastic, Kate.

      If you do make it across the pond, you should spend one day at Disneyland. Come on over, and stop by the Monaghan house. :)

  22. I’ve never been to Disney-anything. Isn’t that just scandalous?

  23. Looks like a great time. I have been to the World but never to the Land. Probably very similar, I assume, and we are planning to take my wee ones down to Orlando in the spring for their first time. We also just got back from the beach. Not quite as scenic as SoCal, but still good times.

    • I’ve never been to the World, only the Land, but I’ve heard World is much bigger. Hope you’re able to take the wee ones in the spring. Should be a perfect time to go. Ah, the beach … I bet that’s relaxing for a lawyer, like yourself! :)

  24. Looks like a great vacation! The first photo is absolutely gorgeous. Nice to see so many pictures of you and your family. Welcome back. Are you in charge of doing all the laundry upon your return?

    I spent a week on the same lake I grew up going to and went on a road trip to North Carolina that was full of loud adventures with my two lil’ ladies. It was their first trip to the ocean and a hit. (:

    • You know I love my laundry, Melissa. I wish I could say that even one picture that I’ve taken, compares to the ones that you take. Don’t know how you do it, but you have some great shots. Everyone should check out your site!

      The road trip to NC sounds fantastic. I bet they LOVED it.

  25. Judy Berman says:

    It looks like you had a great time, Michael – blazing hot sun or not. I do not envy the Disney characters who are in costume. My daughter, who works at Disney World, tells me they take periodic breaks. It’s a good thing. Otherwise, they might expire.

  26. Whew, so you weren’t in Jeopardy of any sort, MJ! Good to know you were busy playing Family Guy with Your Wife and Kids, MJ! This F.R.I.E.N.D. was filled with Glee to see you frolicking with The Bold and The Beautiful on Sunset Beach. (And not Jersey Shore!)

    Cheers to more Happy Days with a Full House!


    P.S.: Panda – that’s a cute nickname. Just don’t tell him that. Guys, apparently, don’t like being ‘cute’ in any way. Yeah, mos def from Mars. 😉

  27. Oh, Chipmunks, I wasn’t even thinking about the heat! What a beautiful family – so glad you posted trip pics!

    We’ve hot a pretty blazing hot summer here in Jersey, although right now it’s not bad at all. I’ve spent most of the time resenting Peppermeister for having off 😉

    • I’m pretty sure the thermostat was set on “HELL.” :)

      We had so much fun in spite of the heat. I know, though, that our few days of heat doesn’t come close to what you all went through for most of the summer. Don’t spouses always resent when the other one has time off? Was PM off when you were on vacay?

  28. We take a road trip… we pick a destination, but it’s really a turn around point. We drive in a several thousand mile loop and see everything we can along the way. We definitely prescribe to the journey being the destination.
    On an aside, next March our high school marching band (with the Queen as a chaperone) will be visiting and marching in Disneyland. Very exciting stuff!

    • I love your your road trip idea. That is fabulous. I want to do that now.

      Now we must come see your HS band at Disneyland. I will go for any reason, and that’s a very good one. You’ll have to let me know the date(s). What a thrill.

  29. Disneyland still looked hot. I couldn’t help but feel bad for Chip in that hot costume.

  30. OMG! I’m such a slacker at getting to everyone’s post this summer. UGH! You are much braver that I am. Going to Disneyland in this heat! We were supposed to take the kids before school and decided to wait until it cools down. We will do the unspeakable! We will let them skip school for some Mickey time. Looks like you guys were much more productive with your summer than we were. I’m not jealous. No, not at all. 😐 LOL. But, seriously. Totally happy for you. Your pictures are AMAZING! Did you push everyone out of the way to get in the very front for that watr show?

    • Hmm, Disneyland and a skip day?? Let me know when you go. :)

      It was a ton of fun. And we didn’t have to push to far to get to the front for the water show. We waited in a pack of people for about 45 minutes and got a front row vantage point. It’s weird because you get a fast pass type ticket for the World of Color show. If you have that ticket, you get let in first before non-ticket holders.

  31. “Rough day for the chipmunk costume, but the “cast member” takes it in perfect stride.”
    We have basically done nothing all summer, but we did go to the beach this spring. Oh, and we’re going to the state fair next week! Word.

  32. When we did Disney a couple of summers ago (Florida), it was 104 both days we went to the park. I tried out for American Idol ENTIRELY to get out of the heat. (I did not make it past phase one, and I’d have died if I had. But she scared me by starting off saying I carried a tune very well, when I assured her at the outset that I don’t sing.) But as you say, it’s impossible not to be happy at Disney. And they swap people out of those costumes every fifteen minutes or so, so the anguish isn’t as bad as it would have been a few years ago for the characters.

    • OH MY, Jessie! 104 degrees?? I couldn’t take it. Seriously. In Florida, no less. How did you do it.

      Too bad you didn’t make it to the next phase. Was it indoors also? :)

      Glad to hear they change out the people in the costumes that frequently.

  33. Great post, Mike. Enjoyed the photos. As for “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” (last week), keep an eye on my blog. I’ll be featuring photos from my “Lake Erie Adventure” for the next several posts.

    • Thank you, John. I’ll be looking forward to them. Speaking of that, you’ve dropped out of my Google Reader feed. I was wondering why I hadn’t seen new posts. :)

      I’ll re-add you.

  34. Whoa, MJ! Your pictures of Disneyland make me want to go. Is it really the happiest place on Earth?

    Plus, I envy your completely sunny weather. It’s typhoon season back here so the days of sun tend to be interrupted by bouts of rain.

    And I’m sure you looked like Michael Phelps in the water. 😉

    • I’m totally embarrassed that I didn’t see your comment, Nel! *blushing*

      It IS the happiest place on earth, for sure. You must go if you get the chance.

      How’s the weather right now? Still typhoon-ing? :)

      I can swim pretty well, but I’m no Michael Phelps. hehehe

  35. Looks like you had a wonderful visit with your family, MJ (and a great day at Disneyland– haven’t been there since I was 11 years old!) That screen projection on water looks totally cool. Maybe I’ll get back there one day to see it in person…

    Hope you’re doing well! I’m slogging through old posts right now but should be caught up in the next month or two. 😉

    • Boy Dana, this is the third comment of yours that I missed somehow. ‘Course I’ve been out of the blogging world for a couple of weeks, but your comment is from a month ago. I’m a bad, bad, bad person. *hangs head in shame*

      You have to get back to D-Land sometime. It’s worth the trip.

      I’m doing pretty well, just focused on finding gainful employment. Hope you and your beau are well, also. 😉


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