Thursday, March 23, 2017

California Spring Break: Day 2

Considering we were adjusting to a 2 hour West Coast time change, we knew that some of us would be waking up rather early.  My husband is in this category.  I am not.

Madeline was actually the first one up..AT 4:45 AM.  She acted as our alarm and turned on the light next to her bed (which was more like a spotlight).  I pleaded with her to go back to sleep.  Jon couldn't go to sleep, so he went for a walk.  He said on his way back to the room (sometime in the 5 am hour), he was walking down the hall, heard a thud, and a kid screaming.  So even though our day started early, I'd say it was a better start than others had.  My dad went for a walk around 6, and said there were over a dozen dads on laptops in the lobby (and it was a Saturday).  The rest of us got dressed and twiddled our thumbs until the hotel breakfast buffet opened at 7 am (9 am Texas time).  We (ok, I) wanted to be first in line, because the only thing grosser than a buffet is a buffet in a hotel packed with kids (judge away, angels).

I didn't have high expectations for the breakfast buffet, but it was outstanding: every breakfast related egg, carb, fruit, smoothie and drink combination you can imagine.  Andrew, our breakfast expert, was in heaven.  And he ate most of what you see in this picture.

After breakfast we had 1.5 hrs to kill before the park (which was literally feet away) opened.  We packed up, and let the kids play in the lobby.  After announcing the night before that "there was no way my kids were touching that Lego pit", I was overruled by the three other (crazy) adults I was with.  

 We took pictures with the Lego pirate.

The kids played on the Lego pirate ship for awhile while us adults sat and drank our coffee.  

The park opened at 9:30 and we were off!

On day #2 we hit the Star Wars jackpot!  A new Star Wars exhibit had opened a few days before, and Andrew was thrilled.    We haven't let him watch the "real" Star Wars movies, but he's read tons of books and has seen the Lego Star Wars movie 89734839 times.  He knew what all the exhibits were, and couldn't contain himself from one place to another.  Video here.  Side note: You might notice I was starting to lose my voice.  This had never happened to me before (shocking, right?).  We all said it must have been the amount of times I was yelling "Andrew"  because the kid was like a hyperactive  butterfly going from one thing to the next (and was like this the entire trip).  

At the center of the park was Mini Land USA.  There were replicas of San Francisco, New Orleans, DC, Las Vegas, NYC and others.  We took our time looking at the models, because one was more impressive than the next.  To get an idea of the size, look for people in the background... Jon.  On his phone.

We rode a few more rides.  

 Madeline built and raced a lego boat.

After lunch outside, we had seen it all and decided it was time to head to Anaheim.  The middle seat looked like this for the hour long drive, myself included.  

Since we planned our trip only a month before, most of the hotels in the area were sold out.  The Disneyland hotels aren't anything special (like Disney World) and were ridiculously expensive, so I ended up finding a condo within walking distance to the parks on AirBNB.  It worked out GREAT!  We got a 2 bed/2 bath condo with a kitchen for less than half of what a "moderate" hotel would have cost.  I'll definitely look into this option when we travel in the future.  Having a kitchen, living room, etc is so nice when traveling with kids.

We checked in, and Andrew got busy working on a Lego set he picked out at Legoland.

That evening I wasn't feeling that good, so I stayed back and rested while everyone else went to Mass and the grocery store.  We were able to call in an order from The Cheesecake Factory, and my dad and Jon walked a block to pick it up so we could eat in the condo and not have to worry about a busy restaurant.  We ate dinner, and went over our plan for Disneyland the next day.

Sidenote: If you've been reading here for awhile, you might remember the HOURS I spent planning our Disney World Trip a few years ago (Go to November 2013 to read those).  The planning made the trip easier, but this time around, I did not have it in me.  Nada. Nothing.  Maybe I'm becoming less uptight??? (ok, maybe not).  There was not a spreadsheet to be seen this time around (shocking).  The week before we left, Jon took the reigns and spent every evening/night working on a plan for us. So  THANK YOU, my sweet husband, for taking over.  

ANYWHOO.  I went to bed early, and the rest of the group headed to the roof of the condo building to watch Disneyland fireworks.  

We all crashed and needed our beauty sleep, because when Jon Kleckley is in charge of a day in a theme park, you better be well rested!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

California Spring Break: Day 1

About a month before Spring Break, Jon and I were discussing something fun to do with the kids.  I suggested Lego Land/Disneyland in California, and after lots of discussion, he agreed!  The big kids are at the perfect age for both, so while we had the opportunity to go we wanted to take advantage of it.  Gerilyn and Kenneth graciously kept Preston for us (he isn't the best traveler and still needs naps). While "mommy guilt" got ahold of me big time, it ended up being the best decision (sorry, P....we'll make it up to you later).

We decided to not tell the kids about the trip until the morning we left, because we wanted to see their reaction.  Packing and preparing without them knowing was a chore, but SO worth it!  P had gone to Bryan the day before, and we told the kids he was going to Granny Camp.

We left the Friday before Spring Break started.  We woke them up early and had three envelopes with clues in them.  The first had a picture of a plane, the second was a picture of the state of CA, and the third was a Disneyland brochure and Lego mini figures.  You can see the video here, but needless to say they were excited (and so were we)!

Andrew's "but what about Preston" face...rub in the guilt. :)

As we were getting dressed I couldn't find Madeline.  Turns out she was already buckled in the car, ready to go.

They had quite a few questions as we went through security.  As we passed through Andrew said, "Did I past the test?"

My parents decided to tag along with us, because you know there was NO way GiGi was missing Legoland!  They showed up at the airport and surprised the kids.  Not going to lie, their reaction was a little underwhelming.  It's like they knew they were coming.  Maybe because Andrew thinks Poppy's office is at the airport?  They were still happy to see them, though!

This one could hardly contain his excitement about flying on the plane.

They were both such easy travelers.  I had filled their backpacks with workbooks/colors and other time consuming things, so the three hour flight went by fast.

Let's play guess what's in the giant backpack....anyone??

Two carseats. #dadlife  

Ready to roll!

We took the scenic route from Orange County airport  down to Carlsbad (where Legoland is located).      The weather and views were amazing!

We stopped in San Clemente for lunch.  Our two youngest travelers had ants in their pants.  They just wanted to know when we could get to Legoland.

We ate at a restaurant on the pier, outside because the weather was fantastic.

After a nice lunch we drove the rest of the way to Legoland.  And y'all.  This child could hardly contain herself.  She is Lego obsessed and it was a dream come true!  The excitement on her face made it all worth it.

Make that TWO of them that could hardly contain themselves...

Our first stop was to the Ninjago area.  By the time we arrived it was mid-afternoon on Friday, and the park wasn't crowded at all. We rode a Ninjago ride, where you use your hands to launch various objects at villains.  One of my favorite things about these kind of places is that you get to act like a kid, no matter what your age. 

Next was a visit to Heartlake City (cue more excitement).

Lego Friends: The real thing.

Lego Friends: The lego-built version.

The Lego Friends put on a cute little show.

The girls in the audience were invited to dance along, and sister was ALL over it.  Video here.

At this time, may I present the first of this vacation's "Jon, get off your phone" picture.  Yes, there's more.  At least this time he had my dad as an accomplice.  (Side note: One of my funniest vacation memories as a kid was when my Dad's cell phone, which was literally the size of a brick, died in Disney World.  Since none of us had a phone, we couldn't find him for 3 hours.  We eventually found him at a payphone.)

I'm giving them both a hard time, but they really did try to not be on their phones.  It was Friday afternoon, so I'll forgive him. :)

Some rides are not made for 6'5" people.  Jon almost tipped us over during a pleasant ride thorough story book land.

 I'll go ahead and spare you the repetition, but just assume any model you see in pictures was made of small Legos.  It's hard to describe the amount to detail and work that must have gone into the park.  Most of these models are 8-10 feet tall.

 This was the cutest Lego Duplo park.  Preston would have loved it.

The Lego City area had these cars that the kids could drive.  

The park closed at 5, so we walked next door and checked into our hotel.  We had heard that the Legoland hotel was a destination in itself, and that was SO true!  This place was so cool (and of course, legos everywhere).

This was behind the check-in desk: Hundreds of Lego mini figures!

Next to the lobby was a walkway filled with Legos.

The hotel has various themed rooms.  We ended up with a "Kingdom" themed family suite.  This bunk bed area was for the kids. 

The living room area had a safe.  There was a scavenger hunt to get the code to the safe.  When we opened it, there were Lego sets for us to take home.

The main bedroom


Living Room area

We unpacked and headed to dinner at Bistro West to celebrate my Dad's birthday.  The head chef was trained in New Orleans, and the food did not disappoint!  The kids were troopers.  They were exhausted, but rallied through a nice dinner.

The waitress brought my dad a wonderful birthday dessert.

Andrew was ALL over it.  He insisted he wanted "just a bite" (which in 5 year old language means I'm going to eat the whole thing).

We got back to the hotel and my mom and Madeline got to work on the scavenger hunt.

This was a little snack/coffee shop.  If you look *very* closely you'll see a bar, complete with LOTS of liquor.  

And I'm going to take this time to discuss a very important observation from the Legoland Hotel: By this time, it was around 8:30 at night.  And the parents looked MISERABLE.  Except for Jon and I of course, because our adult:kid ratio was the envy of every family in the hotel, and we did NOT have a toddler (Most of the families had babies/toddlers.  Bless them.)  My dad said he had never seen so many 4 and 5 year olds in his life.  And mind you all of these children (including ours) were either crying or running around/screaming like they had just ingested a bag of sugar washed down with a 2 liter of coke.  

This was a play area in the lobby.

Fire pit by the pool

Next to the pool entrance was this figure (about 3 feet tall).  Never thought I'd see Lego cleavage.

On the way back to our room, we passed a dance party that was being hosted by a Princess and Knight.  This was actually pretty cute, until previously mentioned Princess said "Hey everybody, let's do the worm!"  Because you know what a germaphobe parent loves?  Their kids rolling around on a carpet where shoes from petri dishes (also known as children) have trampled around an amusement park all day.  Gross.  Regardless, it was a fun way to end the evening.  Check out Andrew's dance moves here.

We headed back to the room and crashed hard, which was a good thing considering the west coast time change!