Friday, July 29, 2011

Hot Sun in the Summertime: Our Southern California Vacation

We just completed our first vacation with baby and toddler- it went well. We drove to Southern California, and it only took 7.5 hours. Graham slept for the first 4 hours. We stopped in Buttonwillow both ways, one of the highlights being their Starbucks with a drive thru. Graham cried the last 45 minutes of the drive south and Spencer discovered he really likes his ear being touched. We stayed with my Aunt in Orange County and used her lovely home as our base camp. We visited the Huntington Library, Arts and Botanical Gardens and the babies enjoyed our stroll through the gardens, the galleries not so much. We were able to view some key pieces and briefly tour the first floor of the historic home before it was clear it was time to go. That evening we had a lovely visit with our friends the Turners and Gwen enjoyed playing with their kids. We went to the LA Zoo with my sister and her family. There we met her 3 foster boys who are amazing. It was an incredibly hot day, and we were thankful for the misters around the park, and had to indulge in ice cream. The highlight of the LA Zoo was the Orangutans in the Red Rainforest and the new Asian Elephant enclosure. We met up with Spencer’s sister at the Orange County Fair for yet another hot day walking around on a blacktop. We saw the animals (including 3 week old piglets), went on some amusement rides (Gwen is a fan of the Ferris Wheel), and drank Orange Julius’ and ate roasted corn. The highlight was probably the Elephant ride Gwen went on with Spencer. And the grand finale: we went to Disneyland, for yet another very hot day walking around on a blacktop. Have I mentioned we walked a lot in the relentless Southern California sun? Overall Disneyland was great, but man it was hot and crowded. We were there for 10 hours and Gwen went on Dumbo, the Storybook Boat Ride, the Circle D Coral (petting Zoo and cabin with coloring), visited with Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, and Tigger (after a one hour wait!), went on the Winnie the Pooh ride twice with me and a third time with Auntie B who met us there for the second part of the day)- it was the only ride with less than a 30 minute wait), It’s A Small World, we then hung out in Toon Town for a bit before Spencer and I went to dinner at the Blue Bayou without the kids! This was the highlight of our trip. We have always wanted to eat there, and with Auntie B watching the kids for an hour we could have a little much needed respite. After dinner we saw fireworks, followed by the Carrousel, and then shuttle back to the car. We have pledged to never go to Disneyland in the summer again. They really need to limit the number of people they want to accommodate if they are to succeed in maintaining the happiest place on earth experience. The other takeaway from Disneyland: Gwen is easily amused and entertained, she doesn’t need an extravagant outing. Two cute observations on the long drive down I-5: the first water tower she saw she said, “Hey! There’s a lighthouse.” And on the drive home, “Look there’s the ocean.” We assume she said this because you can’t see anything beyond the horizon in the nastiness that is the Central Valley. Overall we had a lovely time and are so pleased with our babies for being such great little travelers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Staycation and Crawling!

Staying home with the kids, every day is like a staycation (except I don't get to sleep in). Spencer took the week of the 4th of July off and we had a mini vacation at home (Staycation!). We celebrated the 4th of July at Sunnyvale's State of The City BBQ at Washington Park, which was very nice and family friendly (which I htink is why we haven't been in the past). Followed by an evening BBQ at friends house. Gwen even got to do a few sparklers in our backyard. Tuesday we had our passport appointment for me to renew mine, and the kids to get theirs. Now next time Spencer has a business trip we can tag along (if not Paris, maybe Ottowa). The appointment went so well (just 30 minutes), so since it was only 9:30am we decided to go on an impromptu trip to the SF Zoo! It was a lovely trip and Spencer got to see the baby anteater riding on his Mama (even though he is almost as big as her!). Wednesday we had our first Music Together class, and Gwen and I decided to go by ourselves and leave Graham home napping with Daddy. Thursday we went to the Academy of Sciences which was awesome! We almost got a membership we were so excited by the place. Their Discovery Cove for Preschoolers is really nice. Friday Gwen and I did a Mother Daughter outing to the Library and then Hakone Gardens in Saratoga (followed by strawberry ice cream for her and ice coffee for me at Big Basin Cafe which reminded me of my beloved Aroma Roasters. Gwen met friends everywhere we went, and I think she enjoyed being out with just Mama. It was so nice to have Spencer home and he was able to get some of his projects done around the house, and spend some quality time with the kids. To give Daddy a break form the kids, I took them to IKEA to get Gwen a little table and stools for her room so she can have her own up high play area in her room, and Graham can play on the floor. But I don't think he will be confined to the floor for much longer since he can pull up, stand unassisted holding on with one hand, and this week, started crawling. His crawling is kind of a Zombie crawl (dragging his body with his arms without enough grace to be called an army crawl). Or he gets on all fours rocks back and forth somewhat propelling himself forward. And he can go from laying on his back or stomach to a seated position. Combining all these efforts he is 'crawling' and yesterday moved around the whole living room in a large semi-circle. Watch out- here comes Graham!