California & Legoland

Last December we decided Legoland needed to happen. And we figured the first week of September would be the best time to go. School is just starting up here so people typically stay put. And California schools would be 3-4 weeks in, and people don’t usually pull kiddos from school so soon after it starts. And we were so right. It was the perfect time to go.

The original plan was we’d arrive in Sacramento a few days before Legoland and hang out with family. Then we decided we’d go a week before. And finally, we went 10 days before Legoland. We left on a Saturday morning and made excellent time. We drive. It’s easier with all of us and our stuff, Melvin, and airline tickets and car rentals are expensive. Especially car rentals that fit four car seats. Not to mention having to fly four car seats. It’s a cluster to fly.

Traveling Mel and Baby.

The 10 days we spent in Sacramento before Legoland was spent with family. We stayed with Bob and Tara, and visited my mom and sister. It was so nice not to have anything to do. We still filled our days with things, but nothing we had to do. Most days were spent around the house, sleeping in and taking things slow without set times. I think that’s what I enjoyed the most. Not being on a time schedule. It was glorious. My entire week at home is spent on a time schedule. Time to get up, time to eat, time to leave, better hurry up and go so we can hurry up and come back… it’s always something. There were no somethings in California.

I didn’t really take many pictures during our stay at Bob and Tara’s. Thankfully Brian did. That was the other nice thing about being down, I didn’t have to keep my phone on me at all times, worried I’d get a call about a kiddo or something important. I once missed a call from a teacher to tell me how awesome Laine was doing that day, and Laine was waiting with the teacher to talk with me… not cool on my part.

Hanging around Bob and Tara’s.

State Capitol.

It was like my elementary school field trip all over again, except now I’m aware of how corrupt government is and don’t have automatic respect for the people in the Capitol. You could feel the corruption in the air. Another bonus of homeschooling, the kiddos aren’t getting America is so wonderful curriculum. Like that time a textbook called slaves workers. Specking of which, I’m reading Lies My Teacher Told Me.

  • A family picture! Super rare.
  • The rotunda.
  • The San Luis Obispo county display. I miss SLO. Still.
  • Bear kiddos.
  • Commemorative seal made by a longtime friend of Brian’s mom. I remember going to the ceremony when it was revealed.

California Museum.

Eh, it was fun. I guess. They could use more exhibits. I really liked the two soda machines. You don’t realize how, um, large people are. Up here, it’s super rare to see heavy people. Not that everyone is running around with a six-pack, and there are pounds that could be lost (raises hand), but it’s rare to see a fat person. I think that’s an offensive word these days? California has plenty. Even kids. It’s a bigger state though… no pun intended. The kiddos enjoyed the museum. I think they liked getting a treat after at La Bou better though. Then it was back to Papa and Wawa’s for an afternoon of swimming.

Cousin Time!

There are times I wish we lived near family, especially cousins since the kiddos are close in age. I never had cousins growing up so the idea of them being close and hanging out, makes me happy. But then I remember we’d have to move back to be close, and that’s not an option. I have zero desire to ever live in California again. Not even San Luis Obispo, even though part of my heart is still there.

Brian, the kiddos, and I met my mom for lunch before hanging out with the cousins. Olivia and Owen had been in school almost a month already, so they had school this day. My sister suggested we meet at a park after school since it was only going to be 85 degrees. I left California for the PNW almost 13 years ago… 85 degrees is HOT now. But it wasn’t too bad; there was shade.


Silly faces!

A weird, random play.

I’m a huge fan of live anything. Specifically musicals but I love it all. It was an odd week performance-wise to be down. I’m obsessive over going to things and getting tickets months in advance, and nothing was on the calendar that was amazing. But I’m not complaining. The play we went to was fine. The theater was beautiful, the set was amazing, and the acting was top-notch. As someone who usually spoils movies for myself by going to Wikipedia while watching the movie (at home, not in the theater), I don’t like to look up anything about what I see live. Even the Book of Mormon, I had an idea of what it was about but I didn’t want to know until I went.

My mom has never been much of a goer. Which probably explains why my sister and I are. So I bought tickets to take her to see the play, We’re Gonna Be Okay at the B Street Theatre. It’s about neighbors—both families with teenage kids—at the height of the Cold War, and they decide to build a bomb shelter together. My mom really enjoyed going and has mentioned she’s going to see more live theater with friends.

September kicked off at Bob and Tara’s. It was Labor Day weekend and we knew damn well not to travel with everyone else so we stayed close to home, hanging out with family. These are my favorite kind of days—nothing days. We had zero plans and just went with things as they happened.

Saturday morning we spent at my sister’s house with cousins. The rest of Labor Day weekend we spent at Bob and Tara’s, before we left for Legoland Tuesday morning.

Swimming and Play-Doh kiddos.

Brisket Brian.

Brian is brisket obsessed. He started smoking meat last December when he finally put together his Traeger after two months. And in typical Brian fashion—his hobby being finding hobbies—it’s currently smoking meat. He has books, watches YouTube videos, and tweaks his process every time to make it better. Also thanks to his smoking meat hobby, I’m officially a vegetarian. I’ve gone through no-meat eating phases before, lasting a year or two here and there. But I’m all in this time. Back in January, he had one of his books open that was describing the cuts of meat in detail and I just couldn’t anymore. I mean, I’ve always known where meat came from and I’ve always had a hard time with it, but I was able to block that part out when needed. After reading the detail, nope. So he smokes meat up here at home for himself. The kiddos occasionally partake but they aren’t huge meat smoking fans.

Brian was surrounded by meat eaters in California. His golden opportunity to smoke some meat. Brisket is his current favorite to smoke. He’s ordered special butcher paper, thermometers, a knife for trimming the slab of meat, rubber gloves to handle the meat… Brian and his hobbies.

This was his shining moment. The dogs were excited. I should point out, this is the same size of meat he smokes at home, for just him. Haha. Our neighbors and his coworkers make out.


LEGOLAND! So much fun. Man, we timed it perfectly. Going the first week of September after Labor Day is the time to go. The weather was perfect, the price was right, and the crowds… wait, what crowds?! We’d ride a ride, and when it ended, we wouldn’t even have to get off; we could go again right away. Glorious. And Baby, she was still two so totally free to stay in the hotel and get into the park. But the trip, what a great family vacation.

We left Sacramento Tuesday morning and made excellent time to Carlsbad. Just over seven hours total, stops included. It helps that everyone on the 5 drives 80 mph or faster. And we even scored driving through LA, barely any traffic. We arrived at Legoland around 4:30pm, checked into the hotel, and left for dinner. The kiddos’ pick, Denny’s. Hahaha. It worked out though, apparently kids eat free on Tuesdays. We went back to the hotel and nosed around before calling it a day for Saige and Baby, while Blaise, Laine, and Brian went to the pool. We all slept well the first night. I love hotel rooms with kiddo spaces… much like Great Wolf, Legoland has a little nook area with bunk beds for the kids. I wish all hotels had this option.

Wednesday morning was all about Legoland. As hotel guests, we were able to get into the park 30 minutes before it opened to all. Bob, Tara, and Genna flew down Wednesday morning and met us at Legoland. We did it up. With no crowds, we were able to visit the entire park. I can’t say enough positive things about Legoland. Everything seemed age-appropriate, rides were fun, staff was nice and helpful, everything was clean, there was plenty of shade, things were reasonably priced… really, no complaints. And the hotel was just as nice. I mean, it’s a kiddo-themed hotel so nice is based on those expectations.

Brian and I went to Legoland back in 1999 right after they opened. Brian’s grandmother lived in Carlsbad and we were down visiting. It was nothing back then. They had a few rides but it was mostly LEGO creations and areas with LEGOs for the kiddos to build. It’s so different, and so much better.

After the park closed on Wednesday, we all went to dinner at P.F. Chang’s. Bob, Tara, and Genna were flying out Thursday morning. It was a nice ending to a perfect day.

Thursday it was just our immediate family. We hit the park again the 30 minutes before it opened to the public. We went to rides we wanted to go on again, and then walked around to make sure we didn’t miss anything. We left at lunchtime to go check out Encinitas. Brian spent several summers as a young kid in Encinitas, hanging on the beach all day. He wanted to see how much it had changed, hoping it hadn’t. It had. I remember being down there with him in 2004 maybe? Even I noticed it’s changed since then. I mean, of course it has. But he had hopes that it would still be an old school beach town. I did look up housing prices though, and not totally unreasonable. Well, comparable to here.

After the Encinitas tour, we went back to Legoland to check out the aquarium. Part of our package deal included tickets so we went for it. I’m not a huge aquarium fan but the kiddos enjoyed going. When we finished up at the aquarium, there was about an hour left before Legoland closed. We went on a few of our favorite rides before calling it a day. Back to the hotel we went…

Blaise wasn’t up for going out to eat. That’s not like him. Sure enough, the poor kiddo had a fever. He was passed out by 6pm. Saige had passed out at 5:30pm, so with two kiddos out—and one with a fever—Brian went and picked up pizzas. We spent the evening in the hotel. We were all asleep by 9:30pm.

Friday morning we were up and out early, not even grabbing the free hotel breakfast. Blaise wasn’t feeling well and we all wanted to be home already. We nixed the plan to stop by the La Brea Tar Pits. Home wasn’t the destination quite yet… back to Bob and Tara’s for two nights before driving back home.

We made great time again. As we got closer to Sacramento, there were freeway signs that said the 5 was closed north of Redding. There was a fire. Awesome. We made it back to Bob and Tara’s for dinner. And laundry time. I didn’t want to have a ton of laundry to deal with we we got back home.

Brian and I started looking online about the fire, hoping it would say the 5 was going to open Saturday. Our original plan was to leave super early Sunday morning and make it home around dinnertime. Yeah, plans changed. The 5 wasn’t opening back up. We decided to leave Saturday, take the 101, and spend the night in Oregon. But not before we had a birthday breakfast for Blaise a day early.

What a painful drive home. It took us nine hours to get from Sacramento to Grants Pass. It usually takes us nine hours to get from Sacramento to the Washington border. And it wasn’t a straight shot. We had to drive through the Redwoods. Once we hit Crescent City, we decided we’d stop in Grants Pass. We were hoping to make it to Eugene. Turns out everyone else traveling wanted to stay in Grants Pass also… I luckily found a room that was ground-level and allowed dogs. We checked in, went right to bed, and left bright and early the next morning. Blaise’s birthday. Poor guy, we were in a random hotel and he was sick, and we still had seven hours left to drive home.

We FINALY made it home. We had been in California 15 days and while we had a fabulous time, home had never felt so amazing. I enjoyed being home, unpacking, and not thinking about the fact that our weekly schedule was about to get crazy the next morning. Everything started that week.

Hotel Kiddos.

Ice Bucket Head Baby.

About to enter Legoland!

Park photos.

It’ll be hard to top this California trip next time we go home. But I’m sure we can find a way.

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