Monday, August 10, 2009

California Dreamin'

Well, we are (reluctantly) back from our vacation. We had a great time. It's nice to be to the point where the kids can do things for themselves, and it is really a vacation, instead of just a change of location, but still having to do all the feeding, cleaning, entertaining, etc. Jerry and I were talking last night about him not wanting to go back to work, and me not wanting vacation to be over, and I asked him what his favorite part of vacation was.

"The beach." was his reply. "What was your favorite part?" he asked.

"Not having to cook. Or clean. Or do any of the usual things." Was my reply. He just laughed and called me practical. I suppose it was just the opportunity to fully enjoy all the things that we did. And being around an uncle that the girls dote on just made it better. They constantly wanted to be around him, hold his hand in the parking lot, sit next to him in the booth at the restaurant and so on. I'm sure that it probably got tiring for Aaron, just like it does for me, but it gave me the opportunity to have some closeness with Jerry without a lot of maneuvering to do so.

So here's the post vacation synopsis:
We didn't particularly want to get up super early on any day of our vacation, so we scheduled afternoon flights. This put us into California a bit late, so we checked into the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat, and visited Aaron's place for a small birthday celebration for Gracie. Aaron had found these super cute cupcakes for the girls - lots of icing and lots of smiles!

Since our first full day was a Sunday we headed to the Santa Monica pier, figuring that the traffic would be lighter than on a weekday. We took in the sights of the pier, and then the girls rode the roller coaster with Aaron and Jerry. Gracie was aching to put her toes in the water, so we walked along the beach for a while - getting a bit sunburned in the process, because we failed to apply the sunscreen we had just bought before heading to the beach. The water was nice and warm on our toes, but after we were done the sand on the way back to the boardwalk was super hot! After a quick lunch we stopped by Old Navy on the 3rd street promenade and got us some flip-flops so our next beach adventure would not be so painful!

The next day we were feeling pretty roasted, so we headed to the California Science Center for a nice, sun-free, air-conditioned day. It had lots of hands-on exhibits, and we had a really good time. The only down moment was when Maggie realized that she had lost her purse. I had tried to convince her to leave it in the trunk of the car, but she had insisted on bringing it with her. Luckily, an honest person found it and turned it in with her souvenir money intact. Hopefully she learned a valuable lesson - time will tell. At the end of our visit we stopped by the gift shop, which was filled with neat items. We got the girls and Aaron the old-fashioned whirly-copter things, and they flew them around before we got into the car. We headed back to the house, and I made chicken and dumplings for dinner while Jerry, Aaron and the girls went swimming at his neighborhood pool.

The next day we were ready for some more beach fun. We headed to Zuma Beach, which I had read about in a magazine, and was supposed to be a very clean, family friendly beach. What that article didn't say was that this beach faced the north currents, and it was COLD!!! The lifeguards were wearing jackets! Still, it was a very sunny day, and literally, within minutes, Gracie was buried in the sand. Aaron and his friend Jason were with us, and they had brought boogie boards. The girls and the guys braved the waves - they were pretty tall. After a few waves, Maggie got hit by a big one and toppled off her boogie board - a traumatic experience for her, to be sure. She was soaked, and spent the next 30 minutes warming up on the blanket, swearing she would never go in the ocean again. Eventually I convinced her to take a walk on the beach with me, and pretty soon she was wading in the waves again. On the way home we stopped at a seafood place and Jerry got to enjoy the fresh seafood that he so rarely gets to have (being married to a seafood-hater.)

The next day was our Disney day. We got up earlier, but still didn't make it to Disneyland until around 11:00. Back in 1986 my family had gone to Disneyworld and had gotten five-day park hopper passes that never expired. We only used four days of those passes, so I brought them along with us on this trip to see if we could use them. They said we could, so Jerry, Aaron and I got into the park on day five of those passes (they cost $81 for five days in 1986. The price for a one-day pass that day was $97 dollars!) We only had to buy tickets for the girls, so that made this the cheapest Disney vacation ever!!! We really expected a crowded park and long lines, but it wasn't bad at all. We used Fastpass on the two really crowded coasters, but even the Matterhorn was only a 20 minute wait. Maggie and I walked right on to the teacups while Gracie, Jerry and Aaron rode that one. I think we rode everything we wanted to. The girls even tried Space Mountain - Maggie loved it, and declared it her favorite, but Gracie found it a bit scary. We hit Denny's on the way back to the hotel, and it was 1:30 in the morning before we got back to the hotel.

The next day we didn't do anything. We hung out at Aaron's house - the girls played with the dog, Booker, we all played a card game, "There's a Moose in the House!", did a little laundry, took a nap or two, the girls went swimming with Aaron again, and then we had a nice dinner and some ice cream before we headed back to the hotel to pack up for our return trip home. A nice relaxing end to our vacation. I don't think any of us wanted it to actually end though. I guess that's the mark of a good vacation!

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