Category Archives: Travel

Our California Adventure

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We’d heard some mixed reviews on the California Adventure theme park. Can you believe we’d never been before? Our “2fer” deal allowed us to go for the day so we decided to give it a try.

We loved it! There were just as many rides for Maddie to go on (if not more) as Disneyland. The “Toy Story ” ride in 3D was the first one we did as a family. I love shooting games and this one was a hoot!

The kids really had a great time. The only bummer was since Grandma Tuki and Melissa didn’t accompany us we had to trade off on riding and even had to forgo the big roller coaster.

But we both took turns riding this one:

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Thrill seeking at its finest.

We could have spent all day in the “Bug’s Life” district of the park, if Warren had his way. Maddie loved it, too.

It’s great to enjoy something you once had lower expectations about. A pleasant surprise.

Disneyland Birthday Bash

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To celebrate Warren’s and Melissa’s (Colin’s sister) birthday a little early (they are one day shy of being exactly 25 years apart), Colin’s mom hosted us for a week long get-a-way to Anaheim.  When asked what she wanted to do for her big 3-0, Melissa didn’t hesitate for a moment: Disneyland! Warren agreed it was the place to be for turning five. We made the trip into a mega, super, theme park excursion. (Posts on the other hot spots we visited to follow.)

Their timeshare allowed us to stay right next to The Garden Walk (where we saw Avatar in 3D IMAX– wowsers!) and .5 miles from the Disney Resort. The four of us being Southern California residents, just by a hair, scored us the “2fer” deal to spend a day at Disneyland and a day at California Adventure. Grandma Tuki and Melissa spent that day at the pool since being Seattlites means they see little sunshine.

What a blast! Despite having to use the stroller for poor Maddie who couldn’t go on many rides, we really enjoyed the day. The stroller was often an advantage, though, thanks to the stroller pass privilege which allowed the person who waited with Maddie to directly board the ride after everyone returned. Good deal.

Ren loved “Splash Mountain” and Madds thought “It’s a Small World” was the best invention yet. Melissa was all set with her princess mouse ears. I’m not going to lie, though. There was whining. But a Mickey Mouse light saber, churros, and plenty of “eye candy” made most of the day fun-filled.

Going to the Magic Kingdom on St. Patrick’s Day was a crowded but fun experience. We’re so glad we could be there with Grandma Tuki and Aunt Melissa!

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A Day at Sea World

As part of our mega theme park extravaganza, we headed down to Sea World San Diego for a day.

We took in as much as possible, including the sunshine. Melissa got super sunburned. But, thankfully, we were able to ride the fake rapids and get soaked to cool off.

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I love this picture. We were baking in the sun during the 30 minutes we were waiting for the Shamu show to start. Our faces tell it all. Warren was anxious to see the orca, skeptical it would ever start. Maddie was screaming and asking to be passed back and forth between me and Colin during the entire show, which she thought was too loud. Colin was weary from trying to keep both kids occupied. And I was hot and exasperated. It was still a good show.

We loved the sea animals and had a great time exploring. Currently, if you ask Warren what he wants to be when he grows up, he’ll tell you it’s an orca trainer. This adventure made his day.

Christmastime at the Los Angeles Temple

We took our monthly trip to the temple, staying at the Temple Patron Apartments with our friends Billy and Ingrid. December is a beautiful time to go because, as with the Salt Lake City temple, the grounds and trees are covered with Christmas lights. What a sight to behold!

All of the kids were excited to see so many beautiful lights in one location. It made attending the temple even more special.

On the Way Home

It’s amazing how 2 weeks can fly by when you’re sick for part of it and you’ve tried to cram in visits with as many friends as possible. We enjoyed so much of our trip to Washington. It was kind of hard to go.

We left straight from the reunion and drove until we got to Bend, OR. Nice town. After driving all day Sunday, with a quick stop at the Historic Logging Equipment Museum, we made it to Colin’s cousin Lorie’s house in Yuba City. There, Maddie was the center of attention as Amelia, Lorie’s youngest, tried to monopolize holding her. They were fast friends after the day at Echo Lake. Hawaiian Haystacks dinner, killer sugar cookies, and time in the backyard helped us last the additional 45 minutes to Dixon, CA, where our journey began.

We stayed the night at a “deluxe” Super 8 that had a swimming pool. The next morning we took the kids in the water because, by 10 AM, it was already 85 degrees.

Before we started driving the remaining 6 hours home, we stopped again at Kelley and Ben’s for some popsicles and good conversation. How can we make you guys our neighbors?

We made it home by 10PM. Overall, the kids did well. I did get sick of telling Renny to stop kicking my chair. And of hearing him say he was hungry (read: bored) multiple times. But the car ride was good for the most part. We enjoyed the time together and since they didn’t cry or scream too much we actually could listen to music and stories, like “The BFG,” read out loud. I hope this trip becomes a tradition that we continue to keep… just maybe not every year.

Family Reunion 2009

The last big event we attended in Washington was the annual Grandma Betty family reunion on Colin’s dad’s side. Since she had 11 siblings, it always makes for a big gathering! Many, many people were there at Lake Wenatchee, as well as way too many yellow jackets. Such pests!

Because we are wusses when it comes to “roughing it” with an infant, we decided against camping there with the other attendees. Instead, we stayed down the mountain in Leavenworth, a quaint Bavarian town where Colin and I started falling in love (a story for another time).

Because we stayed there, we were able to spend the prior afternoon with Colin’s Aunt Pat, Uncle Dan, and many of Colin’s visiting cousins, in their beautiful home in the mountains. We were glad to visit with Jay and Leah, in particular, because we hadn’t seen them since they graciously let us stay with them when Warren was born.

The day of the family picnic was a great opportunity to see how quickly time passes. The kids all grow up so fast. Our funny nephews– no longer little ones– kept us entertained as they ate real, freeze-dried bugs dipped in candy that we purchased for them at a candy store in Pismo Beach. We couldn’t resist trying to gross them out, but they accepted the challenge and actually went for it! Warren even ate chocolate covered ants and was disappointed that we didn’t have a lollipop scorpion for him!

Maddie made sure to vie for the slot of newest and cutest baby. Grandma Tuki felt compelled to show her off almost the entire time, so we enjoyed a little break as she held her.

I love the feeling of gathering as a family. There’s something about that connection that always seems to bring things back into perspective.

Christian Rock Concert

On our way to Colin’s (paternal) family reunion at Lake Wenatchee, we were able to meet up with some friends from college and our days in Seattle 7th Ward. We hadn’t seen them in six years so it was a blast to catch up with them and see all of their kids (who they didn’t have back then) running around with our kids.

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The idea was to meet at Centennial Park in Wenatchee for a picnic and a free outdoor concert. A great summer activity! No one realized that the theme for the night was “Christian Rock.” I knew something was askew when the first song belted out, “The Lord is my shepherd!” with a decent amount of guitar distortion. Suddenly, our group felt a tad out of place.

Now I don’t mean to offend those of you who may be fans of this genre. It’s just that I feel a little uncomfortable when you start mixing the life of the Savior with a rockin’ drum beat. Somehow, when the bandleader describes a moving passage from Luke 2 about the Garden of Gethsemane and then follows it with a sweet electric guitar riff something just doesn’t settle right.

Case in point: the second band to perform was obviously a bunch of talented musicians that knew how to work a crowd. The kids in the audience were already up in front forming their own quasi mosh pit. Even our Warren firmly planted himself front and center and was almost entranced as they sang, “I talk to Jesus.” The band took it upon themselves to utilize the vitality of the youth to further entertain.

“OK, we want all the kids up front to face the audience and show them how to sing this next song!” they summoned from the stage. They proceeded to teach the kids a handy series of movements, not unlike good, old “YMCA,” that coincided with the words, “Oh (hands over head in an “O” shape) my (point to self) soul (touch the bottom of your shoe)…”

Without even a look back, Warren opted out.

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Now, normally, I would encourage him to give it a try since he tends to avoid doing whatever fun activity every other kid is doing. I felt pretty good about letting him be a casual observer for this one.

But we had a great time! It was so nice to catch up with old friends, even if we had to shout over the Hallelujahs.

Gorditos

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One of our favorite restaurants in the Emerald City is Gorditos. “Healthy” Mexican eating, they proudly tout, though it’s home to “The Grande” burrito, whose consumption by one individual is anything but healthful. Oh but they are delicious. Without a doubt, this is one stop we must make before leaving Seattle.

We took Tami, Joe, and their kids here for a goodbye dinner as well as a thanks for watching Ren and Maddie during the game.

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The kids waited patiently, as did the grownups, for the food to be served.

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The dads took care of the ordering, babies in hand. What men!

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“Cesar” was the handy marker used to designate our order. No boring, old ordinary numbers used here.

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One “Grande Burrito,” shown to scale, fed two comfortably. Colin and I always share, each one starting at one end until we both reach the middle. So disgustingly Lady-and-the-Tramp-cute, no?

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And I can’t show her face but I can show her shoes (thanks, Christy!):

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Thanks to the car upgrade we made back in April of this year, we could fit all 5 kids and two adults inside. A picture of Americana.

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And if that burrito wasn’t enough to kill us off we made this when we got home:

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Death by chocolate, or in other words, Lava Cakes from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook. Scrumpdiddleumptious!

Remind me again why we live so far from you guys…

Seattle Sounders FC

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The second main event of our trip to Washington: attending a Seattle Sounders game. Good times. I promise you, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never been interested in soccer before in your life, you’d want to attend one of these.

Before game time, we ate at Ivar’s on the Seattle waterfront along with Colin’s parents.

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Seagulls will eat a french fry right out of your fingers. Nature at it’s finest. We used to eat here before Mariner’s games at SAFECO Field so it’s only logical to make this a regular part of our Sounders experience, as well.

That and the gathering at Occidental Park in Pioneer Square. It’s here that the Sounders’ own marching band riles up the crowd before entering Qwest Field. (Trivia nugget: Drew Carey, one of the owners, agreed to buy into the team only if they had a marching band!)

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There’s noting like taking part in establishing tradition. Who would have thought “geeking out” with the band before the game could be so much fun?

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It was here at the game that we were able to meet up with up with Marc and Deanna. Colin and Marc go way back. Back to the days of roommates and staying up too late playing “Super Mario Kart.”

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These are funny friends.

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Sounders vs. Barcelona— the current European Champions. The best team in the world. The Sounders are nothing to sneeze at but they’re a young team in a young league. No one really thought they’d win this “friendly” game. But it was fun to see them play, all the same.

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Lionel Messi, Argentine soccer player extraordinaire and arguably best in the world, showed off his sweet soccer moves to Colin’s great pleasure. I’m sure half the people there attended the game just to see him play. He did not disappoint.

Final score: 4-0 Barcelona. Alas, no love for the Sounders. Still, a great evening.

Thanks, Tami and Joe, for watching los niños so we could go!

Vacation + Sickness = Bad

Who wants to be around someone who’s leaking snot and sounds like a 60-year-old smoker? Make that 3 somebodies grossly ill. Yes, we were a real live family cesspool pool of germs while in Seattle. All of us, except Colin, though he maintains that he was sick first with sinus problems. Not the same level of yuck, if you ask me.

Warren came down with the virus first, then Maddie was hit, and finally I succumbed. Luckily, we had Warren’s nebulizer and a slew of meds for him plus an antibiotic his doctor called in for us. He was set. Maddie survived, as well, though we did take her to see the doctor Tami recommended, just to be sure. The all-clear was a relief to hear.

Thank goodness we were with Tami and Joe at the time. They took care of us and let me lounge around until the NyQuil wore off. We missed seeing more friends and never made it to many of the sites and restaurants that we love to visit. But that’s OK. At least we were with those we love. Thanks, Tam and Joe, for making us feel at home.