Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Vacation Recap

I'm not even getting into HOW far behind I am on scripture study and reading General Conference Talks. Not even going to go there ...

But let's see ... you probably want to know how vacation went! Yes?
Well, you're getting the report anyway. So there!

Friday, Michael stayed home from work and we ran last-minute errands and got everything packed (so when the kids got home, we just had to have them unpack their lunch pails, go to the bathroom, and jump in the van).

Then we drove down to my mom's and spent the night (Going down, we really spread out the traveling, which was nice).
From there, we headed down into California ... hit In-N-Out Burger (first time!) and stayed over at Michael's aunt and uncle's (with most of the rest of the family) that night.
THEN, we drove down to Anaheim and checked into the hotel.

I can say that we weren't terribly impressed with the Hotel del Sol ... we had to change rooms, in fact, because the air conditioner was BROKEN. Poor us. But it was nice to have family in the same hotel. It'd have been nicer if the pool had been open a bit later ... we only went swimming once ... and soaked our feet on another night. The last night we stayed there, we got back and changed into swimsuits ... and got to the stairs JUST as they had locked up the pool. *sigh* So the kids and I did showers instead.

The kids were surprised to go to Disneyland and California Adventures. They loved it, though ... even though Bruise was too short to ride California Screamin', the BIG roller coaster (I rode it with my brother-in-law, since Michael's not a fan of roller coasters.) ... Bruise DID get turned away ONCE from the Indiana Jones ride ... but we stuffed a couple Kleenex in his shoes and he was FIIIIIINE. (Bucket did not care for the Indiana Jones Adventure at all, really).
Bruise also REALLY loved the Twilight Zone Hollywood Tower of Terror. Bucket wasn't wild about it, but did go on it a second time. I'm talking Michael into going on it next time. I think he could handle it. ^_^

The one BIG thing that wasn't good was that our first memory card in the DSLR camera stopped working. So ... Michael's taking it to the IT guys at work today. If nothing else, I'll mail it to a digital image recovery place in Rexburg (I've heard good things about them ... and they have a 95% recovery rate for a lot less than the company in Dresden). I'd really, really like those pictures. I cried myself sick about it after we got home ... but I got a blessing and feel better (and was reassured in the blessing that things will work out).

Also, while we were out of town, a boy in the neighborhood found the spare key and got in out house. Didn't take anything, really (Well, a condom. Probably expired, really. Whatever.) ... It was really weird. But he came and apologized (after I'd gotten off the phone with Staples, who told me that if an SD card goes, there's no hope ... which I know is NOT true. But I cried anyways).  ... Now, when he saw that I'd been crying, he visibly blanched. He did apologize, saying that he wasn't thinking and didn't know what he was thinking.
Instead of berating him, like Michael thought I might ... because, really, I was VERY IRKED ... and hormonal and tired ... I was calm and told him that he NEEDS to think. That he's in control of his actions. That he has an incredible potential for good ... and that he needs to use it. And I asked for a hug, which he gave me.
He was quite abashed ... and I really, really, really hope that this makes him think and make better choices.
That and the fact that he's working in our yard for free for the summer. Our yard is going to look AWESOME.

It could have been way, way worse. Nothing was missing, really. Nothing was damaged.
We had lent the guns to a friend while we were gone. We didn't have any money lying around (I had a $5 bill in a jewelry box. It's still there). I'd already put the external hard drive with the kids' updated baby pictures and all into the (fire-proof) safe ... There wasn't much that could have been taken easily.

So, yes, we were VERY BLESSED.

Also, the other worrisome thing about the trip was that the transmission started to act up. My van doesn't like to shift a whole lot after a LOT of driving. But, after we got home, I had the transmission flushed. We'll see how that helps. But, like I told Michael, if I got an ulcer, we'd know why. :P

Where was I? ... Disneyland, that's right!
Here's a bit of what all we did:

  • We did almost EVERYTHING in California Adventures.
  • According to Google Maps on my phone, we walked about 16 miles total that first day.
    I can believe it, due to the five blisters that I ended up with. Youch!
  • I also got a crazy bad sunburn on one of my shoulders. Dad C was shocked, since he WATCHED me put on a ton of sunscreen. It's mostly all healed now. It still feels all dry and leathery in comparison to the rest of my skin.
  • Bubbles got a sunburn across her little nose and cheeks. It's about all faded now.
    She also ended up with Prickly Heat ... so I felt like a crap mom.
  • The kids chose their souvenirs: Bruise wound up with a little (cheap) pirate sword at D-land. Bucket got a little Princess Leia dress-up doll kit (with little plastic dresses and different hairstyles). I got Bubbles a stuffed baby Pegasus (from Hercules) wrapped in a blanket. I got a hoodie.
  • Bruise and Bucket got picked to be in Jedi training! They had a great time. Bruise dueled with Darth Vader and Bucket battled Darth Maul.
  • We met a lot of the princesses: Snow White, Merida, Cinderella, Tiana, Aurora, and Jasmine (Snow White and Jasmine are, sadly, on the malfunctioning SD card. And Jasmine is Bucket's current favorite). We also met with the fairies, Rosetta and Tinker Bell ... two of Bucket's favorites (Silvermist was the missing one of the trifecta). We also got to see Chip and Dale, Brer Fox, Duffy (the Disney bear), Donald Duck, and Aladdin. (Aladdin is ALSO on the other SD card. *sigh*)
  • We really could have used another day or two in order to get through all of Disneyland. And we didn't do Radiator Springs, since it was SO, SO crowded (and Bubbles was too small to go on many rides, poor gal).
  • We did make sure to hit Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion ... those are dealbreakers for me.
  • We shared Dole Whips (yum) and beignets (yummm!!!) ... Cafe Orleans is a bit spendy, but the servers were so, so nice ... and the dipping sauces for the beignets were so good. There's a Creme Anglaise (a vanilla-creme sauce. They described it as a "liquid creme brulee") and a raspberry cloutis ("clew-ee"), which I wanted to drink through a straw. Very good.
  • The kids loved going on so many rides ... Splash Mountain was one they really liked. As was the Grizzly River Run (you can't NOT get splashed/soaked on that one). 
  • We watched the Aladdin musical show. VERY GOOD. The genie was GREAT. And the scenery and costumes ... I mean, there wasn't anything NOT to love about it. Even Bubbles had a great time. And she's a little with a little's attention span. She clapped, even.
  • We also met Mickey Mouse ... and Bubbles was ENTRANCED. She waved to him later, when the parade was starting (we were in line for "It's a Small World," which she enjoyed).
  • The characters are all so great ... very in character. Rosetta declared, in a Southern drawl, as she signed Bucket's autograph book that Bucket's dress (her Princess Aurora dress) "It's PINK and SPARKLY, so she's dressed like ME!" ... Tiana was so hospitable. Cinderella was so gracious. Aurora was sweet. Merida ... she was wonderful, and quite taken with Bubbles, "the wee babby!"
  • The kids and I went on Goofy's Flight School roller coaster. It's VERY jerky (unlike the smooth speed of California Screamin' ... yes, I'm spoiled forever now). The kids were in front of me ... and I had a single rider next to me.
    "Hi!" I chirped. What?? I'm friendly, okay?
    "Hello, luv," he replied.
    "...Where are you from?"
    "I'm from the UK."
    "Oh, cool! Which part?"
    Turns out he was from Scotland and works for Disney in Florida. He did NOT care for that roller coaster, which made me feel better about it's not being in my favorites, either. And he worked to control himself ... though I heard many "bloody!" things.
    And he rescued my ticket holder when it fell off my lanyard.
    Michael's lucky that I'm so faithful ... ^_^
  • I think Bucket's favorite ride was Soarin' Over California ... It's a simulated flying/hang-gliding ride over California vistas, over a huge, curved movie screen. It was a great ride.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, and the Jungle Cruise were closed when we were there. Sad. But we'll just have to ride those next time.
  • Bubbles really liked ... well, anything. We didn't take her to World of Color, she stayed with Mom and Dad C for that ... but she would have liked it, I think. She loves anything with music (like Ariel's Undersea Adventure and It's a Small World) ... and seeing Mickey.
And that's most of what I really remember about Disneyland.
(Michael, if you want to share anything, go ahead!!)

Then, we packed up and headed south to Carlsbad to LEGOland!
We actually stayed at the resort ... and I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend it!

The hotel itself is designed and decorated with kids in mind ... I mean, the elevators alone ... If you're staying on the ground floor (Kingdom themed), you have to ride the elevator anyways!
(If you check my Facebook, I have a short video of it!)

The pool is VERY nice. Bruise, Bucket and I went for a little splash-about while Bubbles and Michael relaxed in the room.

The buffet is a little expensive, but VERY good. The food choices are great ... There were MUSHROOMS!! And I barely ever get to eat mushrooms since I'm about the only person in this house who likes them. So, don't judge me if I gorged myself on mushrooms. And Vegetable curry ... and all sorts of other things (Though, next time, we will try the other two restaurants in the hotel -- the cafe and the lounge). The toilets have a kids' training seat built into the lid ... The decorations are great ... Really, I can't think of anything we DIDN'T like!

Bruise and Bucket LOVED having a TV to themselves. And lights in their bunks.
When they got to the room, there's a little safe for them to open. Inside were chocolate coins (which I knew about) and they each got a new minifig (Series 10): Bucket got Medusa (which was the one she wanted most of all) and Bruise got a skydiver.

LEGOland is smaller than Disneyland ... so we were able to do just about every ride (except for a couple that were closed, the water park -- closed, and a few that we skipped) and the Sea Life aquarium in the two days that we were there. And LEGOland is geared primarily for kids ages 2-12, so Bruise and Bucket were tall enough to go on ALL the rides, including the roller coasters.

Michael was thrilled to be there and see all the LEGO sculptures. We did the factory tour and the kids got to play in the splash park(s) in Pirate's Cove.

After the rides at Disneyland, Bruise and Bucket were a little jaded (because the Disney rides are generally longer) ... but the wait times at LEGOland were not bad at all ... and the Pirate's Reef ride made up for it.
It's a short ride, don't get me wrong ... you go up an incline, come down FAST ... and you WILL get wet. No matter where you sit.
When we got in, there was already about an inch-and-a-half of standing water in the boat. (Felt SO good to my flip-flopped feet after how many days of walking around parks!) ... And, when we finished, the only spots that WEREN'T wet were where my back and butt were against the seat and between my thighs, since I sat with my knees together. The rest of me was SOAKED. So I was REALLY GLAD that I had worn light layers, including leggings, instead of jeans. And that it was a warm, sunny day ... since that helped me to dry off quickly.

Like I mentioned, Bubbles couldn't go on a lot of the rides (she's NOT 36" by a long shot. Yet), but she and Michael had fun looking around at things. And she LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the aquarium. She waved to all the fish ... we think her first real word might end up being "fish." She's getting close ... "ffffsh!!!!" But, then again, it might be "hi!"

We bought our souvenirs before the aquarium ... then picked them up right before we left the park. Michael got two LEGO sets (Y-wing and the LEGOCity Pet Store). Bruise got the LEGO Kingdom chess set and an Iron Man 3 set. Bucket got two stuffed LEGO Friends animals (the grey cat and the brown horse), and ... um ... two Lego Friends sets, I think? Michael gave her an amount to spend ... and she really used it well. We got Bucket a little stuffed panda with a Lego block embroidered on its foot pad and a little Duplo set (polar bear and penguin). I grabbed a hoodie, a bag, a magnet, a couple ice trays, and a DVD for the kids (they still don't know about that, though. Shhh!!). Lots of LEGO loot.

The drive home, after getting out of the aquarium, was LONG. We took off around 4 and drove. Got caught in LA traffic, which was discouraging.

Michael: Why do I even TRY to get up to 60mph? (as we're going around 20 and maxing out around 40mph).
Me: Optimism.

He's so lucky to have me.

As I mentioned, the transmission wasn't wanting to switch gears easily ... so that was nervous-making. But we prayed. And prayed.

We grabbed dinner at McDonald's and filled the gas tank ... and kept driving. I fell asleep around 11 or so. We pulled over at a couple of rest stops so Michael could get a nap (but he couldn't, since Bubbles' car seat is RIGHT behind the driver's seat, so he couldn't recline it much).
We traded off driving when we got gas next. I grabbed a Cherry Coke and drove from around 4am-6ish ... Then we traded when we got gas (and breakfast at IHOP while the van rested a little and I tried not to cry or throw up ... Yeah, I don't handle stress well. I just wanted to be HOME).

We decided that we weren't going to go through Brookings (Michael would like to go there sometime and check out a job site that his company has worked on ... This was NOT that time, though. Poo.), but that we'd just head straight home on the freeway.

And we made it home ... around 3 PM. We checked out the house, figured out that the neighbor kid didn't steal anything, unpacked, started laundry, started loading pictures, got the kids ready for baths and bed ...

We made it to Sacrament meeting on Sunday ... and I went home afterwards ... Bubbles was tired ... and I almost fell asleep three times during Testimony meeting. So, Michael drove us home (the kids were in Primary and he wanted to be at EQ), where we took naps.

Monday, we took the kids out for frozen yogurt (since Bucket was Student of the Month) ... and I was sick with a cold ... and had JUST lost my sense of smell and taste.
Tuesday, my cold got worse and is starting to get better ... moving from my sinuses into my chest. FUN! But, at least, I'm not throwing up due to all the mucus ... so that's a benefit, right? And I don't think I'm running a fever anymore, like I was last night.

So ... just wish us luck on getting all the pictures off of the one SD card ... And that my mom and I get healthy again FAST. I hate being sick. It makes me grumpy. And that Bubbles' heat-rash clears up totally. And that the one neighbor kid turns his life around. Because ... I get the feeling, after meeting him, that he's a good kid. And he needs to KNOW that he's a good person ... and that he's capable of controlling impulses.

... I'll try and get caught up on scriptures and talks soon. It might not be today, though.

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