Newsletter: April 2010 Archives



We decided to spend Easter Vacation with John and Courtenay, camping on the beach in Southern California.  It had only been a month since we had gone to Disneyland and both James and I thought the trips were a little too close together.  We didn't feel like we needed another vacation quite so soon.  On top of not really feeling the need to go on another vacation, the weather report for the week was extremely grim.  It was supposed to rain 3 of the 5 days we were there and we almost called the trip off.  Luckily, we decided to go ahead with it -- rain or no rain.

We pulled out Tuesday afternoon after spending the morning with my Alannah, my first roommate in college, and her family.  It was so good to see Alannah and to chat with her for a few hours.  I wish we had had more time together!  The wind as we drove South was absolutely amazing.  Our car usually averages about 21-24 miles to the gallon, but with the head wind we only got 14 miles to the gallon on the way down there.  I pretty much had the gas pedal floored the whole time.  We stopped in Barstow that night and woke up early the next day to get to Legoland when it opened at 10:00 am.


When we went to Legoland in November they gave us free return tickets that expired on the 31st of March.  So the kids and I decided to go again this trip and just hit the few rides we missed last time (James didn't want to go very badly).  The park wasn't nearly as enjoyable this time, it was much more crowded and really none of the rides there are worth standing in any sort of line for.  We only ended up riding about 6 rides this time.  The boys had a good time, but I think that that may have been our last trip to Legoland for a long time (or ever).  It's just not worth the money.  If you can get in free then do it, but I would never pay their full prices.


Our day at Legoland had been overcast and dreary.  With rain in the forecast, we really wanted to get to the campground and set up the tent before it started, so we left at about 4:00 pm.  At 4:30 the skies completely cleared, the sun was shining and the wind began to die down.  We got to the campsite, set up our tent and enjoyed a grilled dinner of hotdogs with John and Courtenay.  James tried to get us to the beach that night to watch the sunset, but we were all too slow and missed it by just a few minutes.  We went to bed that night and it rained from about 2:00 in the morning until 6:00 or so, right before we got up to get ready for our day at Disneyland.  I think I was the only one that actually got wet in the rain, because I had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom (it wouldn't be a camping trip if I didn't have to pee every single night whether I had anything to drink the evening before or not!)  Courtenay may have been up too, but at least she has the excuse of being pregnant! 


The sun came up bright and warmish for our day at Disneyland.  James and I had even bought the kids rain coats and umbrellas before leaving because we didn't want them to be miserable in the rain, but we never used them the entire trip.  I was expecting Disneyland to be extremely crowded because of it being Easter Weekend and all, but the weather forecast must have scared a lot of the people away.  We were able to ride pretty much everything we wanted to.  We noticed on our last trip that Seth and Jacob were both centimeters away from being tall enough to ride some rides they had never been on, so we put taller shoes on both of them this time.  Jacob was able to ride Star Tours, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.  He liked Star Tours ("Is this almost over Mom?"), he loved Splash Mountain ("That was totally awesome!"), and he did not like Big Thunder Mountain ("That ride almost made me DIE!!!").

Seth was able to ride the Indiana Jones ride for the first time.  The wait in line was a little nerve wracking for him.  He was totally worried about "looking into the Eyes of Mara."  He had his eyes closed almost the entire ride.  We got him to open them twice, once at the beginning and then again at the end for the boulder scene.  The boulder scene really is the best of the whole ride and I think he liked that part.  He says he's not going to ride it again until he's 10 years old though, so maybe it was a little too intense for him.

James and John left Courtenay and me at Disneyland for a few hours while they went off to have a culinary experience in Los Angeles.  They ate at Phillipe's, which is the home of the original French Dip sandwich and the went to Galco's Soda Pop Stop, which is a store dedicated to sodas of all kinds.  I think that store has something like 140 different kinds of root beer.  I thought James would go to town and buy a bunch of soda, but he only came out with about 10 or 12 bottles.  The boys had a good time, but they said that the food may not have been worth the three hour drive back and forth to LA. 

While they were gone, Courtenay and I, had lunch (Court got some Gluten Free pizza that she said was pretty good), watched the show at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon and had an ice cream dessert.  Then we watched and danced along with the parade, rode Small World, went to Toon Town and then watched a guy make caramel apples in the candy shop on Main Street.  It sounds like a lot, but we took our time getting places and just enjoyed the nice weather and the magic of Disneyland. 

That night everyone was pretty wiped out. I broke one of my most important Disneyland rules, which is to eat earlier rather than later.  We didn't have dinner until after 8:00 pm.  We were actually going to leave the park and eat dinner on our way home, but Seth (and John) really wanted to see the fireworks.  So we decided to stay and eat in the park.  Seth fell asleep in the stroller as we walked to get our food :| , luckily he perked up again after eating.  The fireworks were awesome as usual and we had a great spot to watch them.  Jacob slept through them, but Lia thought they were pretty cool. 

We didn't make it back to the campground until after midnight.  I had the inspired idea to bring everyone's jammies with us to Disneyland and we put them on the kids before we left the park, so when we got to the campground all we had to do was slide the sleeping kids into their beds.  I think Courtenay wished she had brought her jammies too, she was pretty tired and swollen from walking around all day.


The next day we just spent chilling in our campsite and playing on the beach.  It was a beautiful day!  I took Lia and went to get groceries while the rest of the group spent the afternoon burying each other in the sand and playing in the water.  Both Jacob and Seth were wet and had sand in all their cracks and crevices when they got back.  After we got back from the grocery store, I put Lia down for her nap and enjoyed a peaceful couple of hours, sitting in the sun and reading.  It was pretty close to heaven!  James and John grilled some fish tacos for a late lunch/early dinner and then we headed back down to the beach to watch the sunset. 


I thought it would be fun to stage an Easter egg hunt in our campsite for the kids.  John and Courtenay took Seth and Jacob on a hike while I hid the eggs.  Lia thought the eggs on the ground were pretty interesting and ventured out to pick up a few of them.  When she realized that they had candy in them she got really brave and even walked over grass to get a few.  (She hates grass and will not touch it at all if she can help it!).  The boys found the eggs pretty quickly and I let them have the candy for their car treat on the drive home that day.


We drove to St. George on Saturday and stayed the night there before continuing home the next day.  We were able to listen to the Sunday morning session of General Conference in the car as we drove.  Stopping in St. George was really nice.  We left at about 10:00 am and pulled into our driveway just before 2:00 pm.   We unpacked the car and then went over to James' mom's house for Easter dinner.

The trip was so fun!  If I did it again, I'd leave out Legoland and spend more time at the beach (I'm not sure I could leave out Disneyland though;)).  I liked having all of our busy and tiring activities at the beginning of the trip so that we could be more relaxed at the end.   The beach was beautiful and the weather cooperated quite well.  We were all very glad that we didn't cancel it!!  


We just got back from our second trip to Southern California in just a little over a month and I realized I haven't even blogged about the first trip yet.  I'm going to just cover February and March in this letter and then hopefully have another one up for our most recent trip and Easter in a week or so.


I convinced (whinned, pleaded and guilted) James into buying annual passes for Disneyland again this year and we decided to make our first trip at the end of February.  We left on Wednesday night, stayed again at the fabulous Whiskey Pete's hotel outside of Vegas.  I think the kids believe that a stay at Whiskey Pete's is a mandatory stop in any trip to Disneyland.  It's a crappy hotel, but for 25.00 a night you can't complain too much.

We rolled into Disney about 12:00 in the afternoon and walked to the park.  The weather on the first day was GORGEOUS.  It was about 70-72 degrees and sunny, I think it was the best weather day I've had at the park for a while.  We planned on spending most of the day in California Adventure, but we had to get Jacob's picture taken for his annual pass in Disneyland.  Since we were there we rode Buzz Lightyear and Star Tours and then headed over to California Adventure.  We rode Toy Story Mania, and a couple of other rides but the kids were unusually tired so we left the park fairly early and went to get some food.  Later that night I picked my mom up from the airport so she could join us for the rest of the trip.

I wanted to make this trip a little more memorable for the kids so I concocted a Disneyland Detectives hunt.  I worked on it for hours and hours and bought props and made a cute bag and everything.  I was a little obsessive about it for at least 2 weeks leading up to us leaving.  It was AWESOME!

We did the hunt with a family from our ward, who have kids the same ages as ours and who happened to plan a trip to Disneyland at the same time as we did (the red-headed boys in the pictures are theirs).  We all did the hunt together.  I had made up rhyming clues and placed them in envelopes.  Each clue led to a ride or place of interest in the park.  Along with the clues, the kids got props to help them get into the spirit of things.  (Swords, bandanas, eye patches, etc.)

We spent 4 hours riding some of Disneyland's greatest rides, having treats and snacks, and when the hunt was over, the big prize was that the boys got to go to the LEGO store in Downtown Disney to pick out a Lego.  They were so excited that they practically ran all the way to the Lego Store. The hunt was a big success and I am thinking about trying to market it somehow, but I'm not sure where to start with that.  If any one with kids ages 3-10 (or older if they are good sports) wants to try it out, send me an email. It was totally fun and definitely a unique Disney experience.

Friday evening and into Saturday we got rained on several times.  The rain came in short bursts about once an hour, so it wasn't awful, but not the most fun either.  We were still able to enjoy the parks and they were much less crowded due to the rain.  It was fun to share this trip with my mom and our friends.


March was a quiet month for us.  We spent our time doing normal things, school, work, joyschool, playing, cleaning, cooking, church callings, etc...


Lia finally decided to walk a little bit and has steadily improved over the last month.  She still crawls a lot of the time because it is faster for her, but she's making good progress.  She has also started talking quite a bit and the words are almost decipherable.  I was actually a little bit worried about her speech, because she seemed to be quite a bit behind where the boys were at her age.  I finally told James about my concerns and of course the very next day she started making more and more comprehensible words.  I'm not concerned any more, if her speech keeps improving at this rapid rate she'll be talking in full sentences by the end of the summer.  Lia has amazing hair.  It is so long and thick.  When it is wet it reaches halfway down her back.  She hates letting me style it though, so she has bed-head almost all the time.  Luckily, it doesn't get too tangled so when she does let me style it, it's not a painful ordeal.  Lia also discovered books over the last few months and will pick one up, crawl over to which ever adult is closest, snuggle into their lap, and proceed to tell the story to us in baby talk.  Her favorites right now are The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.


Seth and Jacob have been enjoying being brothers lately.  They play so well together and are such good friends.  When I tell people that Seth is homeschooled, the question I get most often is about socialization.  I don't really worry about it because he has Jacob to play with.  I don't think Seth would have any trouble fitting in with other kids his age and I think that he is better at talking to adults then some kids are.  We still love our school at home.  I am glad that we worked really hard at the beginning of the year so that we can take school a little more easy now.  Seth learned about his body and ocean life in the last two science units.  History is one of his favorite subjects and we are starting a unit on Ancient India, which will be interesting for me too since I know practically nothing about India (ancient or modern).  We re-registered with the Virtual Academy to do second grade with them next year.  I am looking forward to it.  I almost wish that we could just keep doing lessons during the summer.  I plan on doing some sort of summer bridge type of thing, but it would be easier just to keep on going and not have to have such a big break between grades.


Jacob continues to be a delight.  He has a wonderful imagination.  I told him about St. Patrick's Day and wearing green, and he went to his room and picked out his outfit for the occasion.  He wore it to his St. Patrick's Day preschool party too.  It was so hilarious.  (By the way, Jacob calls those electric green jammies his "Booger Suit". Isn't that great?)  Jakes wants to play outside a lot and is happy that the weather is turning warmer.  I think a swing set is high on our list of things to purchase this year, both boys would love it.  I love Jacob because he is content in whatever situation he happens to be in.  He plays well with Seth, but also plays equally well all by himself.  He can find things to do whether he's indoors or out.  He has a caring and tender heart.  I hate to chastise him when he does something wrong, because he takes it so seriously and acts so hurt when I do it.  Luckily, I don't have to do it that often.


I almost forgot to include a little blurb about the Lego party we had in March.  Seth is a little obsessed with Legos right now, and of course Jacob is too since Seth is.  They invited their friends over to build Legos, watch the new Clutch Powers Lego movie and just have fun.  We decorated with Legos and tried to find Lego fruit snacks and candies, but couldn't find either anywhere and so settled for Easter candy instead.  We had pizza during the movie and a Lego building race.  Each of the boys got a new small Lego set as their favor/prize.   It was a lot of fun and Seth is already looking forward to his Lego birthday party that is coming up in the oh-so distant future!  ("When is my birthday again Mom?")

That's it for this letter, I'll be writing another soon to chronicle our beach camping trip over spring break.