... going to sleep in Las Vegas.
Just returned from our first-ever real and true Love family vacation. We've had plenty of trips to see extended family, or to attend a conference or event, but in all our years of marriage and child-raising, this was the first time we actually got the "oomph" to choose a destination, make the necessary arrangements, and plan for a trip all on our own volition.
Two adults, four kids, one packed mini-van. Beach, boogie-boarding, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, Sea World, and Mission San Diego de Alcala. Two hotels, lots of maps, a couple wrong turns, a couple family strolls. And over three-hundred photos. Which, thanks to my obsessive-compulsive deleting, I trimmed WAY down to a hundred and fifty-ish.
I will now include some favorite shots representing the real and true Love family vacation. In the spirit of "real and true" I will give you the "on-the-surface" explanation as well as the "behind the scene" explanation (in parentheses).
This is the gorgeous view from our motel room where we stayed the first half of our trip.
(Truly a treat to stay in such a fun place. However, I will now confess that due to my extreme snobbery, it took two FULL days of "discussion" between Kevin and me plus one cancellation and one re-reservation to actually make the reservation. Kevin gets a prize for finding the place and for putting up with me.)
Our sweet daughter showing her total delight at the beach. She has had a love for the ocean and the beach since she was tiny. She likes barefoot, bathing suits, running, splashing, digging, chasing birds, and the thrill of the surf. And, by birth, she IS a California girl --- so I guess it makes sense.
(There's really no "behind the scene" for this one except that I forgot the camera for our subsequent beach times including the boogie boarding, darnit!)
Joseph feeding a lorikeet at the Wild Animal Park. So sweet to see my son up close with a bird.
(Frankly, I'm quite shocked that all four of my children didn't run screaming from the lorikeets. They don't have the best reputation with animals of any kind. All went well except I got pooped on not once, not twice, but THREE times. No one else in the family but me. THREE. And once was on my shirt where I had to wear it the rest of the day. Sheesh.)
Obligatory photo of Shamu. Loved the show. They really suck you in. I think everyone leaves wishing they'd majored in marine biology and gotten a job as a trainer at Sea World.
(Do you know that Anheuser-Busch now owns Sea World? I didn't. I don't know who owned it before, but it was kinda funny to see Budweiser for sale all over the place. Come to think of it, it was kinda impressive that with all those people we didn't see anybody walking around drunk. Maybe that's why the park closes so early. I do wonder if beer outsells funnel cake in a place like that.)
John up close with a beluga whale. He was in awe of everything. Joe's favorite was the penguins; Cayna & Bethanie liked the Sesame Street rides; I dug the manatees; and Kevin's favorite moment was finding one of the nine-dollar souvenir cups that someone left behind on a ride. Yes, he kept it. If you had to ask, you don't know him very well.
(I lost count of how many times Bethanie and Cayna were freaked out by an exhibit. There were MANY fits about the Shark Encounter, specifically. Cayna asked repeatedly, and I quote: "Can the sharks burst out of the tank?")
My organic friends and family will be horrified by this, but for everyone else, consider it my best piece of vacation-parenting advice: when all else fails, give the toddler his own whole bag of Cheez-Its.
(Kept him happy and quiet for darn near an hour!)
We saved the roller coaster for last. Cayna wouldn't stop talking about it from the moment she spotted it from the parking lot. I LOVE roller coasters and haven't been at an amusement park UN-pregnant in ages. I was so excited that both Joe and Cayna wanted to go. It was a short ride, and very wet, but I loved it.
(It was also one of the worst times I've had with my son and daughter. I can't get the screams out of my head. "MOMMY! I WANT TO GET OFF! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I'M SCARED, I'M SCARED, I'M SCARED! PLEASE, MOMMY, PLEASE!" We walked off the ride with both of them still sobbing. Holy cow. Maybe John will be my brave one.) If you can enlarge this photo and see it up close you'll note the expressions of sheer horror on Cayna (next to me in the very front) and Joe right behind her.
Loved this moment in real life, love the photo. Leaving Sea World at closing time, having just attended the Shamu show a second time. This photo represents survival! We survived the shark exhibit, the roller coaster, and two days of no-nap for the 20 month-old. My girls are blissful that they got to choose a souvenir and are giving them piggy-back rides out of the park. Kevin and I are pretty excited that we really pulled off a family vacation.
Inside the church at Mission San Diego. Kevin and I were able to enjoy the history of the mission and our church a little (while the girls were occupied with their Big Bird and Zoe dolls, Joe chased John and we only had to say "Shhhhhh" about four-hundred times.)