Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mini reunion

With summer almost over, I need to talk about the second and most important half of our California trip. Family! My parents moved to the central coast about 13 years ago. Now three of my sisters live there with their families, and my youngest brother Ben is going to school there. That's about half of us.

Ellen, Hilary, Me and Kristen

Question: Can you tell who doesn't live in California?
Answer: the one not wearing sunglasses.

Kristen's son Luke. Cutie!

Cousins and best friends:
Elisa, Anna and Brennan

Dominic built a sandcastle at every beach.
The kids added the feathers on top of the towers.

We had good times talking, going to a children's museum and to beaches. One sad note: Avila Beach. When I first moved to California, Grandpa said Avila was the best kept secret of the central coast, where the locals go. Unfortunately someone discovered it, commercialized it, and locals now go elsewhere.

We stayed with Hilary's family and celebrated Dallin's 5th birthday with them. Half-way through the week they went on vacation, so we were their impromptu housesitters.

My sister Kristen, who also has a baby, watched Rachel so Dominic and I could see Ben perform in "The Music Man." Rachel did great. According to Kristen, it's because we both have blonde hair and smell like spit-up. I can't argue with that.

My Grandpa Wight enjoyed his newest great-grandchild. She smiled at him a lot.

We had a wonderful, relaxing time. It was really hard to come back home to reality. I'm glad we went. We really needed the break.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Money saving tips

Disneyland isn't cheap, but we didn't spend like crazy and still found ways to save money.

1) They had an online deal that gave us 5 days for the price of 3. Considering the summer crowds and the baby who needed to eat every 2 hours, we needed all 5 days to see everything.

2) The hotel made a mistake and refunded half the bill. They called and woke us up at 1 a.m. to tell us that our van was taking up 2 spaces and that we needed to move it. By the time Dominic got there 5 minutes later, the lady had already parked her car since our van was within the lines of one space, but she still cussed out Dominic. He complained to the manager that they hadn't confirmed the crazy lady's story before waking us up, so the manager refunded half our money.

3) We brought groceries with us, including bottled water. Even renting a hotel microwave, we saved a lot of money on food and water.

4) Dominic's mom was happy that we could go to Disneyland. Even though she couldn't come with us, she sent us money to buy souvenirs. We told the kids to look around, and then on the last day they could each choose one thing: Samuel chose an Indiana Jones dress-up set (pictured in previous post), Benjamin got a Pirate set, Elisa has a set of 5 princesses, and we bought a book of Disney cartoon short stories. (Thanks, Llama!)

5) Around midnight in the California desert on the way there, we stopped to help a stranded motorist. The poor guy had been waiting an hour, and we were the only vehicle to come by. Dominic helped him change the tire. The guy unexpectedly paid us, and that's what we used to buy the kids' mouse ears. (He gave the money to me, and Dominic told me later that we shouldn't accept money in that type of situation. Oops)

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Where have I been, you wonder? To sunny California, of course! We've actually been home for a week and a half, but I needed that time to re-coup, unpack, and upload all those pictures. I took a lot (with digital cameras, I never run out of film :)

First stop: Disneyland!

Yes, Dominic is still job searching (don't worry, he hasn't turned to the dark side quite yet), but right now we have the time to go, the kids are young enough to believe in the magic, and the boys are old enough to remember the experience. Elisa did surprisingly well, with only 1 or 2 meltdowns. Rachel did great in the snugli and slept through most of it. Dominic was fortunate enough to twist his ankle the first day, so we rented a wheelchair. It cut down on wait times for the rides, and it gave the kids a place to sleep:

Their favorite rides were Space Mountain (Benjamin thought we were actually in space) and Star Tours (Samuel was happy to see that C-3PO and R2D2 are real), which they are still quoting. Lisy liked all the rides she could go on.

The Haunted Mansion did not scare anyone, even Lisy, and they all enjoyed the projected holographic ghosts. Splash Mountain was also exciting, because the animatronic animals were singing to us, according to Benjamin. Pirates of the Carribean was thrilling; Samuel liked to make up stories about the scenes portrayed. The Jungle Cruise was fun because of our funny tour guide, though the kids didn't get the jokes. The boys loved shooting things in Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, but Rachel and I thought it was too loud. All the kids like "Monsters, Inc." movie, and they were tickled that the ride made it feel like they were in the story. For Storybook Land, their favorite part was when we went through the whale at the beginning and thought the rest was only mildly interesting. They loved the Matterhorn and wanted to go again, but we didn't want to wait in line again.

We kept missing the shows, but we saw all the 3-D movies. Their favorite one was the Muppets, which they quoted a lot. I was surprised that none of the children were interested in the characters or princesses walking around. We pointed out the characters, like "hey look, there's Tigger!" and they'd glance up and say, "uh huh."

It was very hot. For example, one day we bought ice cream cones. The moment we left the air-conditioned store, the ice cream started dripping. We discovered that the Bug's Life area in the California Adventure park had several water areas. In seconds the kids were drenched and very happy.

In the end, and I think all will agree that Disneyland is fun and exhausting: