Archive for October 2011

Anne’s 2011 Halloween Band Concert

So, it turned out there was a use for Anne’s interesting-looking Halloween costume. Apparently she needed it for her 9th grade Halloween band concert. Here in all its glory is the video from Anne’s concert. You can see her in the percussion section wearing what looks to me like something that Luigi would wear if he were a woman:

For a 9th grade band, they’re not too shabby although the Halloween music selection isn’t necessarily my favorite. Their 9th grade band teacher must have the patience of Job though. You couldn’t pay me enough money to do that job.

Family Vacation 2011 – Getting Some History

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Last time we were in Southern California we took the kids to the Getty Museum for some culture. This time we decided to take them to San Juan Capistrano for some history education. It was a beautiful sunny day at the Mission San Juan Capistrano and the kids seemed to enjoy it as a nice change of pace after 2 days of non-stop fun at Disneyland.

Posing it up at San Juan Capistrano

Posing it up at San Juan Capistrano

I especially liked the archaeological digs where they found the old foundation and the tanning pits and such. I tend to like to go very slow at museums and read every exhibit while Nancy and the kids can only tolerate about 15 minutes of that before they leave me behind and start exploring on their own. They’re usually waiting for me on a bench somewhere at the end of the tour. If I’m really slow I’ll eventually meet up with a kid that has been sent back to tell me to hurry it up because everyone is tired of waiting for me.

Getting some history at Mission San Juan Capistrano

Getting some history at Mission San Juan Capistrano

That afternoon we decided to go back to the beach again as it was a bit warmer than earlier in the week. Of course the trip was not complete without several stern warnings to me from the other family members to not go into the water with my glasses on. It was still pretty chilly but when you’re from Utah you’ve got to capitalize on your time in SoCal and not pass up any beach opportunities.

At the beach again

At the beach again

Caroline enjoying the beach

Caroline enjoying the beach

Nice beach sunset

Nice beach sunset

Family Vacation 2011 – Disneyland

The classic Disneyland picture...

The classic Disneyland picture…

Over the years our family has figured out that 2 days in Anaheim, one day at Disneyland and one day at California Adventure, is about as much fun as we can handle. Nothing beats the excitement of entering the park on that first morning and nothing beats the comfort of your pillow when you collapse exhausted in bed after 2 full days of fun.

Waiting in line...

Waiting in line…

Sam was pretty happy this time because he was tall enough to ride most all the rides, except for the Autopia cars. Nancy was her usual timid self on the roller-coaster type rides but did make an exception for Star Wars and Indiana Jones. They weren’t terribly excited to ride on Splash Mountain but I was determined to get one of those photos at the end with our whole family in one log so I made it a mandatory part of the trip.

Enjoying the Swiss Family Robinson tree house (yeah, I know it's been changed - it will always be Swiss Family Robinson to me)

Enjoying the Swiss Family Robinson tree house (yeah, I know it’s been changed – it will always be Swiss Family Robinson to me)

It’s fun to go with the kids when they’re young and the “magicalness” of the place seems very real to them, but it’s more fun to go with them when they’re older. “Magicalness” wears off after about 30 minutes and then crying, potty breaks, and tiredness hit home. When they’re older they’ll pretty much go all day long and it’s the grown ups that say, “You kids go off and ride whatever you want while I sit here on this nice bench. Meet back in an hour”.

Not my favorite ride, but Nancy seemed to like it

Not my favorite ride, but Nancy seemed to like it

The other good part about having older kids is that you can say “No way am I waiting in line to ride Dumbo – you take your sister over there and wait with her while I sit here on this nice bench in the shade…” The other good part is being able to say, “You have your own money that you earned from babysitting. Go buy one of those $12 ice cream bars if you want one. Oh, what’s that? You don’t want to spend your hard earned money on a $12 ice cream bar? So, stopping off at the Walmart on the way home and getting a box of Popsicles doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after all?”

Star Wars

Star Wars

Only Sam and Emily were brave enough to go on the Matterhorn with me

Only Sam and Emily were brave enough to go on the Matterhorn with me

Our family has always liked carousels.

Our family has always liked carousels.

Caroline is finally big enough to drive herself!

Caroline is finally big enough to drive by herself!

This guy still needs a grown-up to drive with him.

This guy still needs a grown-up to drive with him.

After one day at Disneyland we spent the second day at California Adventure. The kids enjoyed the various rides – especially the rotating swings ride. I’m pretty good at roller coasters but there was no way I was going on those flying swings so the kids gave me a hard time about it while I sat down on a nice bench and watched them. After about 3 straight turns on the flying swings their queasy stomachs helped them see that maybe sitting down on a nice bench was not such a bad idea after all.

At California Adventure

At California Adventure

Last time we went to California Adventure I got wet on the raft ride and spent the rest of the day in semi-dampness. This time we were much smarter and brought a backpack full of ponchos with us. We hit the raft ride first thing in the morning when the park opened up and there was nobody on it so they let us just stay buckled in the raft and go around again. The ponchos even convinced Nancy to go on the ride and she seemed to enjoy it.

Riding the carnival rides.

Riding the flying swings

Our favorite raft ride

Our favorite raft ride

And finally, the pièce de résistance, a photo of our entire family in one log on the Splash Mountain ride:

Splash Mountain 2011

Splash Mountain 2011

Family Vacation 2011 – The Eyesight Escapade

This year was a “big” family vacation (we alternate “big” and “little” vacations each year). Because I’ve been in school for the past two years, including straight through two summers, I promised the kids that once I graduated we could take a vacation to Disneyland. In our opinion October is the best time to visit Disneyland because it’s not crowded and not too hot. We usually plan it around UEA weekend and just make sure we don’t go on that Friday because it’s filled with Utahns who also had the same brilliant idea.

The first day of vacation we went to the beach in Huntington Beach. The kids like this beach better than the Crystal Cove State Park beach that’s right near the hotel. Huntington Beach has more sand and is more what the kids think a beach should be although I do enjoy walking the bluffs and exploring the tide pools at the Crystal Cove beach.

A one-legged pigeon at the beach.

A one-legged pigeon at the beach.

Unfortunately, I enjoyed the beach a bit too much and waded into the water with my glasses on. I thought, “I won’t go out very far” but a few seconds later a big wave caught me up and swept me off my feet. When I spluttered up I was missing my glasses. A few seconds of scrounging around for them in the roiling sand and froth proved futile and I realized they were toast. What do to? I’m blind as a bat, it’s late in the day, and tomorrow is our first day at Disneyland. There was no way I was going to spend the whole day at Disneyland squinting and not being able to see. My stupid episode with the wave was about to spoil the whole trip.

At the beach

At the beach

I started working the cell phone immediately to see if I could find a place that would make me new glasses. I found a place that was open until 5:30 (it was 4:30 in the afternoon at the time) and would be happy to make me some new glasses – could I tell them my prescription? Uhh, nope. I don’t have a clue what my prescription is. I haven’t had my prescription updated in years. “Let me call you back”, I said. I spent the next 10 minutes in more frantic cell-phone dialing and I finally found a place not too far from the beach with a doctor that had an opening at 4:45 – could I get there in 15 minutes? You bet I could!

We all piled into the car, much to the chagrin of the kids and the annoyance of Nancy, and set off to see the eye doctor. I also called back the optical shop and told them I couldn’t get there any earlier than 5:30. “No problem,” they said, “Have the doc fax over the prescription and we’ll stay open late and make the glasses for you.” Wohoo!

Cold but fun...

Cold but fun…

At the doctor’s office, the kids had to wait in the car in all their beachiness while I took my beachiness into the office and got my exam. About 30 minutes later we dashed out of the doctor’s office with prescription in hand (my eyes have definitely gotten worse over the years) and barreled over to the optical shop where I picked out a new set of frames and waited while he cut the lenses for me. Ahh, the blessings of modern plastic lenses that don’t have to be ground but can be simply cut and framed on the spot. By 6:30 I was the proud new owner of a pair of glasses and we were on our way back to the hotel.

Thanks to Nancy and the kids for being pretty good sports with the whole process when they were all tired and hungry and wet and would have rather just gone back to the hotel. Thanks also to Dr. Joseph Powell for squeezing me in on short notice and Mo at Main Street Eyewear for staying open late for us and saving the vacation!