Monday, March 23, 2015

Knott's Berry Farm

We finished off our California trip with a day at Knott's Berry Farm.  Aunt Megan and her kids skipped school and joined us for the day.  

Right away the kids were naughty and we had them all put into prison.  But that crazy kid up top bent the bars and they all busted out.
 After that exciting start to our adventure, it was time for some rides!  I sat out the first round of "Silver Bullet" with all the kids who didn't meet the height requirements. 
 The  beautiful thing about Knott's Berry Farm on a non-holiday school day is that it's empty.  There are almost no lines for any of the rides.  In many cases if you want to ride a second or third time, you simply stay on the ride.  If there is a person in line behind you, you hop off and run around to get back in the line and are on the ride again in a jiffy.  So that made it easy for us adults who sat out with kids to each get a turn.  Unfortunately the Silver Bullet turned a few too many loops and I just about lost my cookies right off the bat.  Such is life as an adult. 
 Sorry Henry, you've got a ways to go! 

A certain boy in our family has always hated roller coasters and rides of every type.  We knew that this day would be one giant push at his boundaries.  We let him skip most of the first rides.  He and all the other kids did consent to most of the kiddie rides, however.


 Next up:  Side Winder.  A spinning roller coaster car?  That's an automatic NOPE! for me.  Daddy was brave and kind enough to take the girls.

 So, eventually we decided to stop taking "no" from Ezra and we were bad parents.  We forced. 
 Please note that we were not trying to shame or hurt him.  We just know that every time this happens he later senses deep regret for all he missed out on and begs us to make him do it next time.  So that's what we were doing. 

 Too bad this was the one ride where there was a line--giving him time to think about it :)   Twice on rides before this we had sent him into the line only for me to watch him reappear at the entrance while all the others enjoyed the ride.  I was waiting for that act to happen again. 
 While I waited I watched the Xcelerator go time and again.  This was the ride I was saving up my guts for. 
 Oh!  What do you know--there he goes!  And he's smiling!
 He lived to tell me how much he enjoyed it.  And sure enough, once the ice was broken he was able to enjoy a few more rides.  Not the Xcelerator, however.  But boy oh boy, I enjoyed all three times I rode it.  It goes fast enough that you don't have time to get sick.  And by fast I mean, 82 miles per hour in 2.3 seconds.  Breath taking, to say the least.

 We stopped at the candy store in the old town section and shocked the kids by letting them pick out whatever they wanted (they picked candy, not saloon women, I promise.  They didn't even know what these fancy gals were about).  Then we wandered into the one room school house so the kids could say they had been to school that day.

 Look at those respectful boys taking off their caps in school.  Come to think of it, I don't think we told them too.  I guess a few years of schooling has rubbed off on them.
 Next up Aunt Megan really took one for the team when she went on the Raging River Ride with the kids.  As you can see they did not come out dry!
 Poor Mia took the brunt of it.
 The bumper cars were a real hit with everyone--but I mostly managed to get good pictures of Tadd and Nora.  I can't help but be happy looking at these photos!

 I'm guessing he'll have this exact look on his face someday when she's got her driver's permit :)  

 Pretty girls, pretty flowers.

 We all rode up the revolving tower and got a great view of the whole park.

 Then Tadd and I took on the extreme scream.  I have to admit that it was not at all scary.  Being up that high is a little exhilarating, but the free fall isn't bad at all.  The kids were all pretty freaked out watching us.  I think they had the bigger thrill. 
 Sweet Aunt Megan took over Henry duty at the end of the afternoon.  What a blessing.  My arms were happy for the break.  I was even able to go back to kiddie land alone with Nora. 
 I'm not sure how the kids handled it, but they rode on the swings again and again and again.  The very thought of it makes me want to, well, ya know.

 Our day came to a quick close after that.  The park closes early--6 PM on  non-holiday hours.  We had time for one more adventure.  Lucas had been wanting to ride the old wooden roller coaster--Ghost Rider.  I told him I'd go with him.  Not because I wanted to, but I felt like I had to since my brother the roller coaster dude had texted me about it.  My neck reminded me why I shouldn't go on a wooden roller coaster two seconds into the ride.  I had fun, but boy was it rough!
Sadly, the time had come to say good bye to the cousins.  Parting is always such sweet sorrow.  Or something like that.  I don't think the kids saw anything sweet about saying good bye to their cousins!
 Aunt Megan drove her brood through traffic back home and we walked across the parking lot to the Knott's Berry Farm hotel.  I must say that I highly recommend it!  It was a very good deal as the admission to the park comes with the price of the room.  The rooms were large, clean and comfortable.  You get to park for free in their lot.  And when you are exhausted from a day with kids at an amusement park, your bed is just a short walk away.  The next morning we went down to check out their pool.
 They had this great splash pad that the kids didn't use much since it wasn't terribly warm.  The pool itself was large and we had the run of it that morning.  The sun was shining and we knew we had only a few hours of vacay left, making it extra special.  The pool was saline--a great feature!
 We used the camera underwater one last time.

And then it was time to pack up the rental van, visit In-N-Out one last time and head to the airport.  Our adventure had come to an end.  I'd say we packed about as much fun as possible into 8 days.  We enjoyed our time away.  But it's always nice to know that you're headed home to your own bed!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Here Come the Cousins!

The drive from the desert to the San Diego area was, thankfully, uneventful and lacking in traffic.  And then, suddenly, we were there! 

 The kids were so used to swimming their vacation away at this point that they just hopped right into the pool.  I happen to think that they are crazy.  The temps were probably upper 60's and the pool is not heated.  Silly kids.  They obviously didn't care.  Cousin love kept them warm.  At least the boys used wet suits.

We were happy to see Sprocket again.

 Our second day there the girls hung out at home in the yard and pool again.  The boys headed off to the beach to boogie board.

 Not wanting to waste any precious vacation time, Tadd took Lucas and Ezra to a race where Uncle Nathan was selling t-shirts early Sunday morning.  Nathan suggested the boys jump into the kids race--so they did.
 Lucas was kind enough to loan Ezra a bike and Lucas rode on his brand new giant-tire-dealy-whopper.  I have no idea what it's really called--but it's a pretty cool looking bike.  Unfortunately for him, it weighed about twice as much as everyone else's bikes. 

 Ezra managed a third place finish.  Lucas got fifth--even with the severe handicap he gave himself--impressive! 

 That night, Emeber, Ryker and their parents came over for dinner.  I was so  happy to sneak in a quick visit with Amanda!

Sunday night it poured, and we heard it was supposed to continue.  However, Monday morning dawned clear and lovely.  We took advantage of the weather and a school day and had the beach to ourselves. 

 We sure are thankful to Uncle Nathan and Aunt Megan for always being so willing and generous to share their time and their beach things!
 These girls stayed attached most of our time together.  This picture makes me smile.

 Sunshine girl.
 Those two gals planted in the sand are Megan and I.  Pretty puffy clouds prancing across a pristine sky.

Back home to the hot tub!

 Wow, Lucas, it appears you are retaining water at a rapid rate.  You might want to see a doctor about that!
 Ezra has very fond memories of making pancakes with Lucas when we were down a year ago.  All year he's been talking about a repeat.  Aunt Megan was very kind to allow it. 

 Boy got skiiiillls!
 Another repeat is the girls making sure to match every day they are together.  Today is denim shorts and black and white striped tops day.

 All in all, there was lots of play, lots of swimming, lots of relaxing and a very fun time.

 Nursing a wet suit rash and sandy toes.

 Sunday go to meetin' girls.
 Vacation is hard!

 I think I get a picture of Aunt Megan reading to the whole group every single time we are together.  That's one amazing Auntie/Mom!

Taking Henry anywhere is stressful for me.  He breaks other people's things, shatters the quiet calm and makes messes.  He especially liked all the plastic spoons and forks he found in a cupboard right at his level.  Thankfully they weren't glass :)  His pinkie finger thought it was at a tea party.

Thus ended phase two of our vacation.  Thanks again U-Nate and A-Megan and kids!   We sure loved being with you!!!!