Saturday, October 6, 2012

California Trip, Days 1-3

We've been planning a trip to California for a long time.  9 months to be exact.  Back in January of this year, my sister and I were talking about how fun it would be to go to Disneyland together with our families.  We have talked about this before, but it has always ended with "someday we'll go."  I decided that sometime this year would be the perfect time for our family to go- we have no tiny babies and everyone is at a great age to understand and appreciate what Disneyland is all about.  So instead of letting this conversation end with "Yeah, that would be fun.  We should do it someday," we decided to make it happen this time.  My sister and I started researching hotels and looking online daily for good deals on plane tickets.  My parents wanted in on the fun and decided to come too.

In February, we booked both our hotel and our plane tickets for the end of September.  It felt so far away!  But we got great deals on both things, and are glad we booked our hotel when we did, as prices nearly doubled on the rooms per night just a short month later.

We knew our kids would be thrilled about going, but they do not do well with knowing things months in advance.  Chloe is getting a pretty good grasp on time and how it passes but I knew all 4 of them, especially Chloe and Mitch, would be asking weekly for 9 months when it was time to go to Disneyland.  We thought we'd wait 4 or 5 months and tell them sometime late spring or early summer.  But as time passed, we thought how fun it would be to completely surprise them with this trip.  Ben and I love surprises (how do you think we got 4 kids?? Just kidding).  So early summer, we made the decision to not tell the kids about anything, not even that we were going on a trip.  We were very excited the closer and closer it got.

Chloe is almost 8 and pretty bright (a.k.a nosy).  She almost blew our cover a few times by a little snooping and over hearing conversations, but somehow we managed to pull off a pretty darn good surprise.

On Friday, September 21, the day before we left, I packed the kids suitcases while they were at school, then finished after they were in bed.  We loaded the van that night.  The next morning, on Saturday, the kids knew something was up.  I was showered, dressed and ready by 7:00 a.m., which never happens.  When Mitch saw me he said, "Why are you dressed so early Mom?"  They started questioning what was going on and we told them we were going somewhere fun for the day as a family.  Chloe and Mitchell started guessing where they thought we were going: The Puyallup Fair, a Mariner's game, the Pacific Science Center.  

We ate breakfast, cleaned up, then left the house at 7:45.  We went and picked up a friend from our ward so that he could drive our van back to our house so we didn't have to park at the airport.  We told the kids we were taking HIM to the airport, and then we would go do our fun thing.  A few minutes into the ride, Little Ms. Smart Chloe whispered to me, "Why doesn't he have any luggage if he's flying somewhere?" She's too aware!  A few minutes later, she turned around and looked in the trunk and noticed all of our luggage, and inquired about that.  Some smooth talking on my part got satisfied and quiet again.

When we got to the airport, Ben and I got out and started unloading the luggage.  When I started taking out the kids' car seats, they knew something was up.  We told them that it was us that was flying instead.  They were super excited.  We only told them we were flying to Long Beach (which was true) and when Chloe asked what we were going to do there, we told her "going to the beach!"  That was great news to them!

Standing in line at security.

After making it through security quickly, we had lots of time to spare.  We took the kids to a play place in the airport to kill some time.

It was finally time to board.  The twins have never ridden on a plane and Mitch was just a little baby the last time he did and doesn't remember.  We knew they'd be thrilled about a plane ride.

We rode on Jet Blue airlines for the first time and loved it.  Instead of serving just boring old peanuts and pretzels, they served cookies, popcorn, chips and a few other things.  Yum!

They also have TV's on every seat equipped with Direct TV channels and stations.  It was the perfect way to keep 4 small kids entertained for 2.5 hours.

Jet Blue's "blue" potato chips (said they were made from real blue potatoes.  Never heard of blue potatoes, but the chips were yummy).

Ben, keeping up on the football scores at 30,000 feet.

We landed around 1:00 p.m. and it was HOT in Long Beach.  The baggage claim was outside, so by the time we got all of our bags and got our rental van, we were all sweaty and tired.

In the car, ready to head to the hotel.  Look at all those bright red cheeks.

With in minutes, I turned around to see this.

We were hoping to keep Disneyland a secret for as long as we could, but as we pulled up within a few blocks of our hotel, Disneyland banners started popping up and pictures of Disney characters were plastered all over, including on the buses.  With our hotel only a block away from the entrance, people with Mickey Mouse ears on kept walking by.  Of course, Chloe noticed it all and started asking lots of questions.  (It also doesn't help that she can read).  We unloaded our suitcases into our room, then sat them down and told them the good news- that we came to California to go to Disneyland!  Chloe of course already suspected, but upon having it confirmed, she cheered and squealed.  Mitch kept chanting "Beach, beach, beach!" as that is what we told them we were coming here to do.  The babies were just excited because everyone else was excited.

After unloading, we headed out to do some light grocery shopping and to eat dinner.

We've heard all the hype about In-N-Out Burger, so we decided to give it a try.

I didn't dislike it at all, but I honestly can't say that it was an amazing burger.  And I thought the fries were weird.  But we are always up for trying new things and I'm sure we'll eat there again someday.

We promised the kids after running errands that they could swim in the pool.  That was the high light of their evening.  And we had the whole pool to ourselves!

Day 2- Sunday, September 23

The surprises kept coming today.  We first surprised our kids when we picked up my sister and her family from their airport that afternoon.  The kids had no idea anyone else was joining us on this trip.  

They were thrilled to have cousin Carter there!  We swam again before our second surprise of the day...

My parents got to the hotel around 4:30 p.m.  A car pulled up in the parking lot and my mom rolled the window down.  As soon as the kids recognized who it was, they ran up to greet them.  They were so excited!

 Hugs all around!

It was my Dad's 61st birthday that day, so we headed down the street to celebrate at Tony Roma's.

Amanda and Neil introduced us to their onion loaf.  So GOOD!

Ben and I had picked up a cake earlier and a worker kindly refrigerated it for us until we were ready for it.

The birthday boy!

 The worker at the restaurant was awesome- she provided candles and matches for us. 

 Later that evening, the kids went up to Papa's hotel room to give him his gift, then all the grandkids got a picture with him.  Happy Birthday to my wonderful Dad!  We were glad to be able to celebrate with him on his special day.

My parents and sister stayed on the 4th floor.  Looking over the balcony, we could see right into California Adventure.  You can't see in this picture very well, but Hotel Tower of Terror is just over Mitch's head.

Aunt Amanda gave Mitch an early birthday present- new Toy Story pajamas, in honor of our Disneyland adventure!  Mitch was thrilled and of course wanted to wear them that night!

 The twins were troopers and slept on the floor every night.  They slept GREAT.  Really, really great.

Day 3- Monday, September 24

After eating breakfast at the hotel and loading up, we headed off to the park.  The weather was gorgeous and the walk was short.  We stayed in a great location.

This may be the happiest place on earth, but it has also got to be one of the most crowded places on earth too.  We went during "low season," supposedly, but there was still a ton of people there.  Amazing.  I went to Disneyland and Disney World a number of times as a kid, but I don't remember the crowds or the lines- just the fun.  Vacationing as an adult (as the parents, specifically), is a total different experience.

We went to California Adventure first and wasted no time having fun.  There was lots of fun things to do in A Bug's Life Land.

There were so many rides that the twins could go on.  It was so fun!

 We stood in line to meet Buzz, Mitch's favorite Disney character.  But right as we were getting in line, he saw a cotton candy stand and wanted some.  We told him no and he was too upset to focus on anything else.  He refused to get a picture with Buzz.  I was bummed, but the twins were excited.  It was our first character spotting.

The newest thing at California Adventure is Cars Land.  It is so cool!  It is amazing the attention to detail that goes on here.  Cars Land looked just like the movie.  With it being a new attraction, the lines for every ride there were soooo long.  Above, Papa tries to make the waiting more fun by dancing with Leah.

 While waiting in line for Luigi's tire ride, we got a cute photo opportunity!

After almost an hour wait for Luigi's tires, the ride was not that fun.  At all.  We were super disappointed.  You are supposed to use your body weight to move your tire but it didn't work very well, so you end up just sitting in a tire and moving very, very slowly.  Epic fail!  We did NOT wait in line to ride again.

Mater's Junk yard was a hit and a really cute ride.  The kids loved it.

We spent 3/4 of the day at California Adventure, then in the late afternoon headed over to Disneyland.

Ben has never been to Disneyland before and as we walked into it, after having been to Cali Adventure all day he said, "Now THIS is what I imagined Disneyland to look like."  Cali Adventure is super fun, but Disneyland is so cute and just looks and feels magical.

I've been looking forward to getting a family picture in front of these Mickey shaped flowers for months!

We immediately went and got in line to ride the little train that goes around the perimeter of Disneyland.  The twins loved watching the train come into the station and waving to all the passengers.

Our group on the train

Leah immediately got cozy with fun Uncle Neil and spent lots of time with him this trip.  He is so good and sweet with my girls.  He holds them and plays with them whenever they request it.

As the sun was setting and most of the adults and big kids were on a "big" ride, Amanda and I were walking around with the twins and Carter and spotted Mickey Mouse for the first time.  All 3 kids were thrilled!  I wasn't sure how the twins would react, but their reaction was priceless.  They both ran up and gave him a big hug.  It made their whole day, and it made mine too.

Double hug!

They were so excited to get a picture with Mickey!

Carter was equally as excited as the girls.  He faithfully watches the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show on TV and adores Mickey.

Group shot!  I loved getting my picture taken with the characters too.  Isn't that what Disneyland is all about?

As we were walking out of the park to go home, we spotted Minnie Mouse and just had to stop and get a picture with her.  And I was so glad we did- the twins were so, so cute with her.  They ran to her, gave big hugs, and then with no coaching, Lexi reached up and kissed Minnie on the nose.  It was so sweet.  They did not want to let go of her to leave.

One of our few, if only, whole family shots with a character.  As the week went on, Chloe was not very excited to get pictures with characters.  I was kind of sad for that- she didn't hate it, but it wasn't very magical for her.  The twins and even Mitch were at the perfect age for characters.  They saw them as real and even though Mitch suspected that the characters were people in costumes, he still thought it was super cool.  On some days with some characters, Chloe had zero interest in even meeting them.  Sad for me, realizing we'd missed the magical age for her at Disneyland.

This is a terrible picture, but the princess castle all lit up at night was gorgeous.

The entire Disneyland park was decorated for Halloween.  It was very pretty.  This Mickey pumpkin was a very popular photo spot.

Our first day in the park was a huge success.  And absolutely, 100% exhausting.  We ate dinner at 8:00, then all of the kids fell asleep at the hotel with 5 minutes.  Bring on day two!


Holly said...

I'd forgotten you had this trip planned - can't wait to hear more! Disneyland is magical!

Jami Little said...

So much fun!

Amanda said...

It seems like that trip was a million years ago.....It was the perfect week. I'm glad Mitch liked his pj's, I got carter a matching pair. Let's plan our next Disney trip now....maybe 2015?

CharityB said...

We didn't tell our kids either when we went. So glad you had so much fun!!