Our Southern California Adventure

Yes, madness struck, and we decided to take our 5 children in our white minivan and drive from the Willamette Valley, OR to Anaheim, CA! The boys spring break was the week before and after Easter, which was late this year. Thus, it fell mostly after the end of Tax Season, when we can actually go places. This won’t happen many years, so we figured we’d better take advantage of it.


On the way we explored the California Redwoods a bit.




Also, we spent an evening as guests at a royal tournament. Well, sort of. Medieval Times was a big hit with the kids – and the adults! I’m super glad we did it! We had to switch to a later time, so we were all pretty exhausted by the time it was over around 10pm after a day of travel. But the adrenalin from briefly losing Phinehas was enough to keep me wide awake until we made it to our vacation rental house in Anaheim.


The rental house had a pool! The kids were so excited to swim in it that they kept asking to go back to the house  the first two days that we were at Disneyland. Michael said, “I feel like I’m forcing these kids to go to Disneyland!!”


Mostly the Disneyland experience was just fun, but Judah learned a new skill:


We made the trip with our friends, the Shaws. Their daughter Ariana was celebrating her birthday during the trip, so here’s a couple pictures of the kids eating pink cupcakes in celebration!


To the little girls’ utter delight, the house came stocked with dress up princess dresses!


Breakfast time! Michael made breakfast most days.


Snow White’s Grotto


Space Mountain! I went, too, but someone had to take the photo! Ezra’s so tan, you can’t see he was feeling a little green. Of the kids, he’s the most susceptible to motion sickness, we discovered. On the ferris wheel at California Adventures, it appeared that Judah has a mild case of acrophobia.


Needs no explanation. I haven’t done roller coasters or thrill rides much. And I have to admit to being pretty nervous as we crested the top before the big drop! But it was fun! I’d love to do it again!


Here it is, folks, family of 7 at Disneyland! Hats, water bottles, double stroller, the works!


Waiting for the parade! We discovered that we are parade watchers. The kids loved them, so we  made sure to see both the one at Disneyland and the one at California Adventures. We might have seen the one at Disneyland about 3 times, because we were walking past it several times, or catching the tail end on our way out or something. The kids still break out singing the theme music: “It’s a music, celebratiooonn!” Ezra bought himself an enormous jaw-breaker. He still has it.



Monica brought a little book to get autographs from princesses, but we never found any just wandering around. And it was so crowded that the line to see them at the Princess Pavilion was always much too long for any of us (including Monica) to want to wait in line for. So that was a bust. But at least she got one from The Mouse Himself:


For Easter we drove to Oxnard to visit my Aunt Kay and Uncle Jerry. They invited our entire party (4 adults, 8 kids), valiant people that they are! It was a very pleasant Easter, and after the delightful Easter dinner, we took the kids to the beach nearby to enjoy the sun and sand. Afterwards Aunt Kay provided an Easter Egg hunt, for all of the little people.



Disney California Adventures near the Soaring Over California ride, which was really very enjoyable! The switch pass deal that they do for families with young children is really remarkable. Michael took Phinehas to Judah on it the first time around, but I couldn’t bring Elena, so I waited in the shade (and called my mom!) until they were done, then I was able to take Phinehas and Monica on a second trip, while Michael and the others moved on.


Phinehas loved any ride that involved driving! Also going on things with his dad.


We caught a showing of Aladdin at California Adventures, also a hit.


Toontown with a bunch of goofs!


The Roger Rabbit Ride



All of the kids received money from Michael’s parents to spend on whatever they liked on vacation. Ezra and Phinehas both bought bubble guns, among other things. Here’s Ezra entertaining some complete strangers with his new toy:


The storied Dumbo ride: for which 2.5 minute ride (or something close to that) you wait in line for at least 35 minutes. I think we waited for close to an hour. I kept going past it thinking we would go when the line got shorter, and finally I realized it never would. But Phinehas desperately wanted to go on it, so what can you do?



Since we were traveling with friends, I thought we would have all sorts of full family photos at Disneyland. But we never got around to it! Here’s one partial family photo taken by complete strangers. Phinehas hates to have his picture taken.


This might be our one and only Disneyland Extravaganza, so I figured it was worth spending time and money making sure that the kids wore only photo-worthy clothing. Of all of my pre-trip planning, this might have been my best idea. Were we ever so hot, red- or sour-faced, bored, tired, goofy, or just generally disenchanted, the kids were always nicely dressed. Smile



So, was it worth doing? Yes! I’m glad we made the effort! Did we discover that we are not hard-core Disneyland adventurers? Yes. Even our kids questioned the wisdom of standing in line 80% of the day for a few minutes of excitement on the various rides. The rides were fun, no doubt, but I think we discovered that we liked shows as much or more. I would like to go again someday though, provided:

  • We went at a VERY un-crowded time of year. Going when some of the LA school districts were on Spring Break was… well… never again. Fun, but never again.
  • Our youngest is potty trained and tall enough to go on most of the rides, and the oldest are old enough to be pretty much unsupervised all day.
  • The youngest don’t need naps to make it through the day and can travel without strollers.
  • Belay that, on the stroller –it would be worth bringing one just to have something to carry all of your water bottles, snacks, and other paraphenalia. And even older kids can need conveyance sometimes for unexpected reasons.

By the way, the Shaws were great traveling companions. Not only are they easy to get along with, flexible, and fun loving, but their kids and ours are set at about the same noise level. That way we didn’t suffer embarrassment because our children were loud and boisterous, while theirs always talked quietly and read in their spare time.  Nope, pretty much all of the kids were high-octane. And if having 8 noisy, busy children around for 10 days straight doesn’t sound like a vacation to you – well, a vacation isn’t necessarily meant to be restful, now is it? 

I had three epiphanies as a result of our trip:

  1. We are not as unwieldy as I tend to think we are. We can go places. We can do things. Even with 5 kids, we can go out and have a good time!
  2. If we are are willing to drive to So-Cal to go to an amusement park, which cost a very pretty penny, we should be willing to spend a comparatively small amount to take advantage of more local entertainment/enrichment opportunities!
  3. I should go shopping with Monica more often. She and I explored Main Street USA looking for the perfect earrings for me on our last night at Disneyland. We looked at every single earring available, and she provided sound judgment and a fun shopping companion. 

Yes, madness struck, but we survived and thrived!


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