Tuesday, December 6, 2016

the beach


The beach will always be magic to me. We went from one magic place to another on our trip to California and I'm so grateful the beach was last. The three days we spent in Oceanside were slow and easy. We woke up when we wanted to, ate giant bowls of cereal, the girls played with their little princess figurines for an hour or two and then we packed a picnic and headed to the beach. I think the beach brings out the best in kids. Lou was in her element digging in the sand for hours and doing what she loves best...collecting. Minnie is my little fish and would romp around in the waves as they lapped up onto the sand. With a bucket and shovel the girls were set for hours and it was heaven just snuggling with William under the beach umbrella, watching my girls do what they loved.

We stayed in a cute little condo just about a half block from the beach. Unfortunately the tide right next to the condo was incredibly high the entire time we were there, so we had to walk a ways in either direction to get to a decent beach. Once we were there, we plopped ourselves down for a good few hours so it was always worth the walk. The heat was a bit much when we were at Disneyland, but I was so grateful for such warm weather in November once we hit the beach. The temperatures had cooled quite a bit in Salt Lake before we left so it was a nice last little taste of summer before winter hit Utah for good. The one strange thing about it all was how early the sun would set. It was literally dark there by 5:00, and the first day we walked home from the beach by the light of street lamps. Sitting on the beach and watching the sun set was a dream.

Robert's friend Jordan and his family happened to be staying at his wife's family's place in Oceanside the same time we were there and one night we met up with them for dinner at Ruby's at the end of the pier. We were somewhat of a scene with our 6 wild little kids, but it was still so nice to be able to visit with them. It's funny because we live about 5 minutes away from each other but yet we end up actually hanging out with them when we are on vacation. We decided to meet up with them the next day at the beach close to their beach house and it was even nicer than where we'd gone the day before. It was much quieter and Minnie and Lou played so well with their cute kids. There were also lots more shells to be found on this quieter beach so Lou, Will and I took a little walk up and down the beach to collect some and toss them in Lou's bucket. 

The last night we headed to the pier at sunset and the girls loved watching the surfers and the waves from above. I did too. Having Julia was nice because we kind of had our own personal photographer to take family pictures. Sadly, though, I feel like I didn't get her in as many pictures as I would have liked. I cannot say enough times how nice it was to have her with us. She helped me cook dinner, did dishes, held William when I needed both my hands, and just made my life easier. If you can't tell, I am a major proponent of bringing sisters on your family vacations.

It was hard to come back to real life, especially when it involved a 10 plus hour drive. We had our tires rotated before we left on the trip and the car was so shaky on the way down. On the way back we decided to have them fixed at some podunk little place in California and decided to eat lunch at the Pizza Palace next door. It was the only option. I would have chosen something else if I could have. You would have too if you'd seen the exterior of this place. I was terribly skeptical, but it turned out to be quite a decent pit stop. Julia got the girls some arcade tokens and they won themselves some fake tattoos and a few Tootsie Rolls and the pizza wasn't half bad either. Bless that Pizza Palace. And bless personal DVD players that kept our kids quiet for the majority of the drive. And bless sisters who sit in the back seat with your kids and situate said DVD players when the discs need changing.

I am just dreaming of a warm beach right now looking at these pictures as I sit in my chilly house with a few inches of snow laying on the ground and icicles hanging from my roof. But I do have a newly decorated, delicious smelling Christmas tree to my left, giant chocolate chip cookies in my kitchen waiting to be devoured and Christmas coming in just a few weeks to look forward to. I guess I'll survive.

a surprise trip to disneyland


On Saturday night (a few weeks ago), Robert and I put the girls down for bed and got to work packing suitcases, situating the car and organizing snacks and entertainment for our drive the next day. This surprise trip to Disneyland had been months in the making and it was like Christmas Eve for me that night, thinking of how the girls would react when we told them we were headed off on an "adventure". We had everything tucked away in the basement the next morning and we all woke up and went to church as usual, but after sacrament meeting I told the girls we needed to head to the car. Minnie was so confused. At first they were both super bummed they weren't headed to primary, but once we got home and all the bags emerged and started to get loaded into the car it was a whole new ballgame. Minnie asked about one million questions and it was all I could do not to spill the beans.

I'd somehow convinced Julia to come along with us on the adventure and so we swung by and picked her up on our way out of town. The girls figured we were headed to the cabin, but after a few hours in the car kind of changed their tune. Minnie did guess once that we were going to Disneyland, but I kind of just let it slide by like I had all of her other guesses. It was our "grand adventure" and we just left it at that. 

The excitement began to wear off after a few hours in the car, but after a long 10 hours and arriving at our hotel, the girls were satisfied with the adventure being a night at a hotel and a swim in the pool the next day. We stayed at a Wyndham right by Disneyland so there were Mickey Mouse posters and Disney parphenilia all over the place, but besides pointing it out, the girls didn't seem to think too much about it. 

The next morning we quickly ate breakfast and then headed out on the shuttle to Disneyland, and somehow even at this point the girls had no clue what was going on. It wasn't until we got really close to the gates that they actually figured out where we were. It was pretty sweet to see their faces light up. Disneyland! I'd shown Minnie a few YouTube videos of some of the rides in the past and she'd talked to me every other day about how much she wanted to go on the Ariel ride and how much she wanted to meet all the princesses there. This will probably go down as our best surprise ever as parents and I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, me or the girls.

I had been researching "how to do Disneyland in two days" for weeks and had our entire itinerary planned out. We got there right before it opened and I was ready to hit the ground running. Unfortunately, Robert accidentally left our Ergo baby carrier on the shuttle and by the time he realized it, the shuttle was long gone. He called the hotel and they gave him the number of the driver. We'd already gotten through the super long security line so he had to go out again and go wait for the shuttle to come back. Julia and I stood in line with the kids to enter the park and after waiting a few minutes in that insanely long line, I realized Robert had taken my ticket so we couldn't get in. So, we went to the back of the line again and by the time we got to the front again, Robert had gotten the Ergo but the security line was even longer than it had been before so he still wasn't through that one. On Disney's website it had said that it was supposed to be a "ghost town" that week. I'd hate to be there during busy season. Anyway, once we got to the front again we just stood to the side and started letting people pass us. I was huffing and puffing and just so frustrated that my plan was foiled, and Julia was the voice of reason that told me I needed to get my feelings in check or else I was going to ruin the entire day. It was hard to hear because I just wanted to be mad, but it was good to hear and I just let it roll off my shoulders and went on our merry way. I mean, I can't say I didn't bring it up a time or two more, but for the most part I let it slide. #ihaveissues

We ended up having such an amazing day and having Julia there was so awesome, not only because she talked me off a ledge at the beginning, but because with her we were able to use fast passes and stroller passes to be able to go on all of the big fun rides that Will and Lou couldn't go on. She helped manage the kids, divvy out food, carry the backpack, etc. etc. It was a dream come true. There were actually a lot of rides there that I had never been on. All I can remember doing at Disneyland when we went when I was young were the big rides. I never remember really meeting characters or princesses or spending too much time in Fantasyland, but it seemed like that was most of what the girls wanted to do, and it was pretty sweet to see how excited they were to meet all of their favorites. Ariel was high on the list and we finally got around to seeing her later in the day. We also saw a little Tangled production that was really cute which the girls loved. Disneyland is so awesome. Robert also hadn't been to Disneyland before so it was really fun for me to be able to show him some of my favorite rides, like Indiana Jones and Star Tours. The other awesome thing about Disneyland is that you can take babies on a ton of rides. Will went on probably half of the rides with us, which was so fun because we could all go together.

We went to California Adventure the next day, which I had never really spent much time in. It was so much more fun than I'd anticipated. We were only going to spend half a day there and then head back over to Disneyland, but we were there past dinner. We went to a production of Frozen they have there, and it was amazing (in spite of a few technical glitches). The Ariel ride didn't disappoint either and with the way it was set up we got to go on it twice back-to-back. We got Mexican food near the little pier for dinner and there was a live all-women mariachi band playing that the girls danced to for awhile. We then headed back over to Disneyland, and although it was election night and I was feeling all sorts of emotional about all that was going on, we didn't let that damper our evening and capped it off with a ride on Splash Mountain. The kids were totally wiped out by the end of the two days. Lou kept finding places to lie down and eventually fell asleep so hard in Robert's arms that when we tried to wake her to meet Minnie Mouse, I honestly thought she'd passed out. We could not wake her up. It was pretty funny.

After two long, super hot days at Disneyland, it was nice to head to the beach for a bit to end our trip. I've included a few pictures here of our time at the beach, but I have a bunch more I'll share in my next post. 

Here are a few Snapchats I took during our time at Disneyland to give you a sense of our time there. Gosh, it was so much fun!