Saturday, December 27, 2014

California Thanksgiving, Days 1, 2, and 3

We just wrapped up Christmas so it seems only fitting that I am finally getting around to Thanksgiving.  The kids had all of Thanksgiving week off so we took advantage and headed to GG's in Orange County.  We decided to either go big or go home and planned an eight day trip.

Norah is horrified that I still make her use a car seat.  Too bad.  The weight limit on that thing is 100 lbs and she's only at 49.

The flight out was not actually too bad.  It was not direct (I think we stopped in Phoenix, maybe?) but we had an ipad.  Plus Norah had several new chapter books that kept her very occupied.  We are entering the world of her reading chapter books to herself.  It's fantastic and she self-entertains for hours at a time.

This one needs a lot more attention.

GG hooked us up and rented a Dodge Caravan mini van for the week.  I am not a huge fan of the mini van but I have to admit it was pretty awesome.  Getting the kids and their gigantic car seat in was a piece of cake and carting everyone around could not have been easier.  BVZ did the driving and is a convert.

First stop was at In-N-Out.  We have one just a few miles from us now, but somehow it just tastes better in California. Norah loves a cheeseburger, protein style.

I cannot get Lou to eat most foods-even (and sometimes especially) at restaurants, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover he willingly put a whole burger down.  When it is a struggle sometimes to get a kid to eat ANY kind of food, even a fast food burger can be a triumph.

GG's house is pretty much Norah's dream come true.  There are all kinds of random treasures to discover, both inside and out.

And there are ducks, pretty much in her backyard.

GG let the kids eat off of her fine china and there was a tv in their bedroom.  I told you--dreams come true.

GG bought Louis this plastic grabber thing.  I am not sure what its intended purpose was, but he used it to poke, prod, pull, and terrorize both people and objects the entire week.  

Sunday morning we were up and out the door to head to the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach.  I am not sure why, but this is BVZ's all time favorite thing to do in Orange County.  It is a fun little venue with arts and crafts vendors and Christmas decorations.  It is fun and visually appealing but I am not sure why he loves it SO much.  We were trying to figure it out and came to the conclusion that the last time we were there was before Norah was born.  We were well rested and walked around drinking wine.

At least there was hot chocolate.

Norah's highlight was definitely the petting zoo.  There were bunnies and guinea pigs and I think a few chickens.  There was a baby guinea pig that did not yet have a name and so the lady asked Norah for some suggestions.  Her only offering was "Ruby S." The lady really liked it so I hope it stuck.  That would be awesome if the Sawdust now has a guinea pig named Ruby.

GG has a piano that the kids loved.  LOVED.  Lou has natural musical inclinations.  Norah does not.

That afternoon/evening was the first of many extraordinary events we would experience on the trip--Medieval Times! First Lou needed a rest.

Now, I had always heard of Medieval Times-the place where you eat dinner with your hands and watch live jousting-but I could not have possibly anticipated what the experience was actually like. When we got there we were assigned a color section and given a crown (clearly we were green).  GG bought the kids light up swords and it was game on.

Thankfully the Middle Ages had a decent Pinot Grigio.

As it turns out we sat in a section designated by the color of our crown and that determined what knight we were there to root for.

The show was a little hard to follow (again, Pinot Grigio), but there were horses, knights, a fair princess, a real falcon, lots of grandstanding, and a benevolent king.

Dinner was really delicious and entirely gluten free--roasted chicken, a baked potato, tomato soup, ribs, and some dessert I cannot recall.  No utensils, so pretty much business as usual for my kids.

The jousting tournament began and after each heat the victorious knight received flowers from the princess, which he kissed and tossed to the loveliest ladies in the crowd.  This one was BESIDE herself when the knight threw one right at her.

Our knight made it to the final round and won the joust.  The knights then fell to the ground and had a tense few moments of hand to hand combat.  Our green knight defeated his enemy and raised his arm in triumph and we all went wild! But then, his enemy got up, overtook him, and at the last possible second, our hero was defeated in a dramatic climax.  Poor Norah burst into tears.  She was devastated and I thought for a minute I was going to have to take her out of the auditorium to pull it together.

It was a once in a lifetime experience.  As in, I loved it and am so glad we did it, but never, ever need to do it again!

On Monday, BVZ and I had the brilliant idea that we should take the kids to Disneyland for the day. GG sat that one out.  Our logic was that GG lives 10 minutes from Disneyland and it would be wrong NOT to take them.  In retrospect I am glad we did it because we had a great day, but I will never, ever, ever, ever go to Disneyland ever again around a major holiday.

We parked and took the shuttle to the park.  It was way easier than I anticipated.

We got there right as the park opened and immediately went to Tomorrowland.  Norah is totally obsessed with Star Wars right now, so we took a chance that she would be into the Star Tours ride. There was literally no line and she lost her mind she loved it so much.  We did not do this ride on our trip two years ago, so I had not been on it since I was a kid.  It has improved a lot since then and was an absolute highlight of the day.

We did a few more Tomorrowland rides and I was convinced maybe the crowd would not be that bad.  But by the time we finished the Finding Nemo submarine ride it was a mad house and stayed that way the rest of the day.  MAD HOUSE.

I cajoled Norah into going on Space Mountain even though she was really hesitant.  BVZ and Lou walked around and we waiting in line almost an hour.  It was way scarier than I remembered and I thought she was going to be really pissed at me for making her go.  She was shaky and said she never wanted to do it again, but admitted she was glad she conquered her fear and it was behind her.

From then on every ride was very long.  I think we waited almost an hour for It's a Small World.

Toon Town was a nightmare.

I regretted only getting one stroller.

This kid never once complained, it was just hard to navigate with her through the crowd sometimes. She was delightful.  Her brother did okay too.

Last time this was Norah's all time favorite ride.  She's talked about it for two years straight and made me promise we would do it at least four times.  We waited in a long line and she enjoyed it but declared immediately after that it was kind of a 'baby ride' and Star Tours is her jam now.

We powered through and got to all of the things we wanted to see, save for a few (like the Jungle Cruise).  We saved Fantasyland for after dark in the hopes that we would catch it at either parade or dinner time.

There were still lots of lines but we hit the highlights (Alice, Peter Pan, Dumbo, etc.) and skipped the ones BVZ finds intolerable (teacups).

At about 10:00 pm we told Norah she could ride one last ride and we would go on whichever one she wanted.  She chose Star Tours, of course.  Lou was in no condition to wait an hour in a line so he and BVZ chilled out in the stroller and I took my best girl on her best ride.

It was even better the second time around.  The "story" was different and there was "way more Princess Leia." She was such a fun and patient kid all day that I told her she could pick out one thing but it had to fit in the front pocket of my backpack.  She picked "a lollipop as big as my head."

Disneyland during the holidays is spectacular but there are too many damn people.  The magic is a bit lost on me because of it.  I look forward to going again but next time it will be in September.  Or maybe February.  We logged over eight miles!

The "after" photo.  I am not sure where Louis is. Maybe the floor.

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