tee | shorts | flip flops | hat

We did it. Another trip to Cali is in the books.

Fun? Yes. But I begin this post with ‘we did it,’ because.. holy crap.

1. We lived through the turbulence between Seattle and OC. The flight attendants weren’t allowed to leave their seats the entire trip and I don’t think I’ve ever loved, appreciated or wanted to keep my life more than when trapped inside a shaking metal tube in the sky. My anxiety accelerates thoughts of the Titanic and the impossibility of sinking. And speaking of ocean landings, both kids were, for NO reason, doodling sharks in their little notepads. Nope.

2. We just spent 9 days with the equivalent of two drunk roommates (but in the form of children). Most overused phrases on this trip include: “I caaaan’t walk anymore,” the very similar, “Hold me,” and my personal favorite, “What? What? What did you say? What?” Funny how kids have no idea what you’re saying when you’re giving instructions, but if sugar or fun is involved, you never have to repeat yourself.

3. If you have never traveled through an airport with little kids, you should make it a point to club your own face until you feel like passing out, then go run a triathlon in jeans and a sweatshirt. And don’t eat at any point during the process. Now you have a solid idea of what my Friday morning looked like.

Onto vacation!

Vacations with kids are so yin + yang. It’s so fun to watch their eyes light up when they see a sparkly swimming pool, match gazes with Mickey Mouse or watch fireworks explode over Cinderella’s castle, but it’s so draining to get them there.

The sibling fights.
The heat.
The mental fatigue of staying organized.
The aforementioned walking + carrying of the children.

5 days around Disney = 842 bathroom stops, 92 dizzying rides + 893,684 verbal denials of swords, stuffies, balloons and candy being requested by the kids.

All of that being said, it was so good. The best thing about spending a week+ of solid time with your kids is realizing how their personalities have grown in such a short time. Addison is almost 7. Since our last trip, she has gone from a Halloween loving, thrill-seeking, terror lover to a sweet girl that loves fun roller coasters and Eeyore, but covers her eyes going through parts of the Haunted Mansion. She was even pointing out misbehavior she noticed in other kids. It’s almost like she’s mellowed out and finally learned how humans act. 😉

Breckin is 4.5 and barely resembles his 3-year-old self. This trip will always be remembered as ‘the one where he didn’t need a life jacket anymore.’ He’s cruising right through these small milestones wiu ease. He is also tall and qualifies for almost every ride. He has gone from terrified of anything dark, loud or fast, to requesting the Haunted Mansion that his sister now hates so much. #lifestory Our rule is always to try something before you can love it or hate it. Hyperspace Mountain is a fast roller coaster in complete darkness and a tall, but tiny Breckin was terrified after trying it the first time. This trip he got on it scared and came off smiling ear-to-ear. He has also developed a love for girls and informed us he’s going to marry Minnie Mouse. Addison called him out on choosing Minnie over his original love (a girl from preschool), and he quickly reacted with, “I pick TWO!” It’s a fun, never dull, progression to watch.

I’d be sad if these were experiences we missed on trips we never took.

I’m currently eating no gluten + no dairy + very little sugar, but when I get back to normal food, you will see my own personal growth via churros and dole whips.

Outside of Disney, we ate our weight in delish breakfasts we didn’t have to cook ourselves + sought out some good Mexican food and even snuck in well-deserved beach + pool time.

Fred’s in Huntington Beach has a loud, fun atmosphere and their salsa is some of my favorite. Always good food there. 👌🏼 BJ’s in HB was our favorite dessert spot. The kids had fudge sundaes and I tasted this delicious creation Zac ordered. A skillet peanut butter cookie topped with Ghiradelli chocolate chunk ice cream. I need to stop writing about this now or I’m going to cheat on my diet.

Huntington Beach, Newport and Laguna are our 3 fave spots. HB is just a good area all-around. Newport has gooood shopping, clean eating restaurants and beaches that pelt you with sand when you’re there on the wrong, very windy day. Laguna is beautiful with good restaurants, but has limited parking and not a lot of shade if that’s your thing. We’re hoping to make it as far as Santa Monica next trip.

We got ambitious and, on top of beaches and Mickey, even hit the last Lakers game of the season. It started at 7:30p, so we had one very tired 4 year old by the end and one very enthused + disappointed 6 year old. Addison could care less about her own recreational basketball games, but when those purple jerseys miss a shot or two and lose the game, it’s a tearful and moody ride home. Notables here are: 1. We got free hats that made the kids look like safari tour guides. 2. Breckin would also like to marry each of the Laker Girls.

Overall, lots of fun times and new memories with my 3 favorite people. Here are some more fun times.

Hope you all had an equally as fun spring break!

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Fact: Social media is a lot prettier than real life and this goes for allll of us. I like to keep this space my virtual happy place, but I also like to keep it real. So, on that note, let’s talk about what four full days in Disney does to a person (6 visits in total).

First off, how are my feet still attached to my legs?

Second off, why does everyone and their mom, dad, sister, grandmother, second cousin, uncle and each of their prized mouse ears show up at Disneyland the weekend before Thanksgiving?

Third, nothing makes you more insecure about your intelligence than navigating a theme park in a “parental brain fog.”

And fourth, what day is it right now and what am I supposed to be doing?

If you’re getting my drift, we need a vacation from our vacation. That being said, we are blessed to have access to unlimited Disney + have a daddy who gets unlimited vacation time to do fun stuff like this as a family. And God bless the folks who installed the hot tub at our hotel, because holy crap. The kids swam in the pool while Zac and I tried to bring ourselves back to life in this warm dream machine.

 

The highlight of the trip was watching Breckin scream with excitement + throw his hands in the air (like all the bigger people) as we zipped around on the Thunder Mountain Railroad rollercoaster. He’s a 4 year old party animal. It was also adorable to watch him make heart eyes at Minnie Mouse + Elsa, as he met them for the first time. He watched Minnie walk by several times before meeting and taking a picture with her and each time he would say, “I want to hug her and give her a big kiss!”

 

Addison continues to amaze/confuse us, as she loves the big, thrilling rides. Her favorite is still the Matterhorn (the “Snow monster” ride, as she calls it). I guess there’s something about being chased by a demonized snow monster that really lights her up. It’s nice that she can scale from the Matterhorn + Hyperspace Mountain down to frolicking in Goofy’s rubber playhouse and remain content. We’ll be back to do it all again next year.

 

Here’s some insider info (but not an overload) that will help you if you’re planning a visit to the park!

 

Tips for doing Disney with l̶u̶n̶a̶t̶i̶c̶s kids:

•When to go if you want to experience the holiday feel: This year the holiday season started 11/10. This means Christmas music, seasonal parades and events, cool decorations + holiday versions of all their swag. Plan to hit the park during the week right when this season kicks off or the week to follow Thanksgiving to avoid insane crowds. We put in full days 11/15-11/18 (Wed-Sat) and those first three days were not overly crowded. It got nuts after that. You will spend *all of your time* waiting in lines + fighting crowds over the weekends (and eventually everyday) as the holidays get closer. Don’t do it.

•What to wear: Comfort is key. I sported my Free Runs with everything. Judge away, judge mcjudgersons. Ha. Throw in some black details if you want to coordinate more than you clash. Beyond shoes, think high-waisted shorts and cute yoga pants, and cozy sweatshirts to tie around your waist. I put both of our kids in bright colors so they’d be easy to spot in the crowds. I scored a hot pink Zara Minnie jacket for Addison + a bright green sweatshirt for Breckin at our kids consignment store right before we left and they were perfect.

•What to pack into the parks: This one is easy. Stroller, backpack, phones, camera, ID/credit card, sunglasses all-around, sweatshirts all-around (I like to do one hoodie to go under one coat for the kids), full water bottles (I fill these up at breakfast and keep reusing them), suntan lotion, costumes to go over outfits for the day (I try and coordinate these details with the characters we will seek out that day), multiple snacks, germ spray for hands, I recommend diapers for kids under 5 for emergencies (I speak from experience I wish I didn’t have), brush/hair tie, lip stuff for me and a partridge in a pear tree.

Our kids are 6 and 4 and we still pack a stroller for when they get tired of walking. The stroller basket holds our overflow of stuff + we bring a backpack to hold valuables and that goes on all the rides with us.

•Where to go first: We have two favorite things, one in each park, that we always try to hit first. As it turns out, they are also everyone else’s favorite things. In California Adventure, we love the Cars ride (think joyriding, but you don’t have to drive). Head over to Radiator Springs and grab a fast pass for this one first thing. The fast pass allows you to come back during a one hour block that the pass will specify to wait in an expedited line. By about 11am you’ll be lucky to get a fast pass to ride by dinnertime. By noon they’re usually gone for the day. As for this + all the rides, grab a baby swap pass at the front of the line if you have kids too small to ride and your bigger kid can go again!
In Disneyland, we head straight to sign our kids up to be Jedi’s. Ask any employee to find out where to go for that. You basically get someone to babysit your child for a short time, well-chaperoned, so they can gear up in a robe, grab a light saber + become trained in the moves they will need to fight off Darth. They are then led to a venue where the parents/audience are waiting to participate in a show and use the force. Just like the Cars ride, you’re out of luck if you’re not signed up by late morning, but they take alternates if you want to come back before each show and wait for someone’s spot.

•Disney-inspired gear for your trip + where to stay + even more tips: Check out modernmousedesign.com! This is a fresh brand that was just rolled out with Disney gear + the founders are even available for hire to plan your dream vacation! These are some of the shirts + they are available for the whole family + one of my favorite things is the free shipping! Two of my favorites are the butter soft Meet Me on Main Street sweatshirt (it has long, cozy sleeves) + the soft grey SEA -> DSY tee (it’s available in all major cities, not just Seattle).

PS: Kid clothing is (an automatic) 20% off until Tuesday! Accessories are 20% off Wed + Thurs! Adult apparel is 20% off Fri + Sat!

 

Here are a few more vacation highlights:

Happy Holidays + go get your fill of Mickey. I can definitely say I’m all topped off. 😉

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..continued.

(better late than never, right?!)

Fact: Mickey Mouse has to be sick of us by now. Who even goes to Disneyland 3 times in 2 years? I’ll tell you who: spoiled children and their stressed out parents.

We have a 5-year-old with a “good girl” chart and once she earns 10 stickers, she fills a row and she gets a reward. We initially let her choose whatever she wanted, which turned out to be 100% toys. On Mother’s Day this year she brought me home a special paper that said her favorite thing to do together was to go look at toys, sooo ever since we’ve let her choose experiences vs things. I guess we’re getting carried away with going places instead of buying toys, because we keep finding ourselves in this themepark! But forever memories are made amongst these characters and some of our favorite scenery is along these beaches. And you can’t put a price on your kid fighting Darth Vader. For real.

Little guy can’t fight the force just yet, but he stayed perfectly content watching. We will probably take him back in the fall, as a big 4 year old. We’ll do prettymuch anything for these big brown eyes.

Also, Darth is legit scary when he’s 7′ tall and he’s, in the flesh, deep mask breathing into your face. I freaked slightly while the boys protected me observed and Addison just obliviously smiled for the picture. I hope I’m never in real danger with this group. 😉 Our matching mermaid leggings are a little more compatible with Disney than sci-fi, but they’re still my favorite part of this picture. 🙂 Mine are under $8 and Addison’s are under $10! We also hit the neighboring ride Autopia and Buzz’s Astroblasters ride about 6 times. I expected myself to earn more points by ride 7.. nope.

 

This happy girl just rode Thunder Mountain Railroad + the Matterhorn at least 5x each (and still wanted more). Picky doesn’t even begin to describe her when it comes to clothing, but this shirt completed one of her favorite Disneyland outfits. I got Breckin’s sweet little Flounder shirt, by special request, here. We also did some serious hat shopping. 😉

 

Space Mountain was closed while we were there this trip (I know!), so we soaked up the characters and shows with our Star-Wars-obsessed 5 year old and Toy Story-loving 3 year old. One of the cutest memories we walked away with: mini Jesse + pint-sized Woody meeting Jesse! Purely by accident, we walked up as the last family in line to take pictures with Jesse. This is one of those moments where we were just a little bit less stupid for spending $$ on 3-day park tix. The kids were in twinning Toy Story heaven.

 

If you do nothing else inside the walls of the happiest place on earth, do the parades! They are legitimately impressive + the kids jump around wide-eyed, full of pure joy (which is probably why my pictures are blurry).

 

Here are a few more costume changes + famous faces. Why they wanted Batman/Batgirl costumes in Disney, I will never know.

 

Now, onto beachin’! Life is always next-level good at the beach. We accomplished nothing but time together + tan lines. Long Beach was our last excursion before changing and catching our ride back to rainy (but sometimes beautiful) Seattle.

 

Just good times.. Cali never disappoints. Now take me back to the beach! 😉

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img_9602I can sum up this trip in 8 words: sunshine, Mickey, beaches, palm trees, Camaros + gangster rap (ICYMI on Insta).

With these elements, you cannot keep me away. I’d even be happy subbing chocolate (or grilled cheese) for the Camaro. 🙂 And maybe swapping Mickey for silence. But, I can’t complain..

As you probably know by now, I’m not from Cali, but I’d like to think I do an ok job posing. You won’t find this Seattleite wearing a beanie and rainboots through LAX. That being said, I won’t promise to leave the Seahawks garb at home either. 🙂

A plane ride with two kids isn’t exactly the recipe for awesome. So, as I was bracing for that falling-into-a-pile-of-nails feeling, I geared up with my favorite motos and carried-on my favorite bag. You know, to look just a smidge less crazy in the midst of chaos. The trip from SEA-LAX felt short and kids kept reasonably quiet. We also made it without any potty-related incidents. Miracles do happen, folks!

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From the airport, we grabbed our cherry red Camaro and headed straight to our most important stop. In-N-Out. Animal style.

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Our next stop has been part of my bucket list since about the age of 12: Hollywood Boulevard. And only because, in my head, it was a clean, celebrity-filled eutopia. Nope. I had this famous boulevard pictured as something like the Zack Morris of SBTB, but it was more like Minkus from Boy Meets World. Lots of gift shops, lots of asking for handouts and lots of spidermen walking around in 20-year-old tennis shoes. But don’t get me wrong, the place has a ton of broken dreams history. We walked the celeb squares and saw signatures by everyone from Michael Jackson to Frank Sinatra and everything in between. We even spotted Jimmy Kimmel’s studio just a few blocks from the walk, so I guess I got my celebrity fix. And the kids took a pic with Bumblebee (they call him “Honeyman”), which had them pretty stoked. So, it was a walk worthwhile, but we probably won’t throw any birthday parties there.

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Next up was a bucket list item that did live up to expectation: Beverly Hills. It was everything I pictured – fast cars, class, and high end everything. But most importantly, the home of Josh Flagg from MDLLA. And I didn’t stalk him, I merely located his office entrance. 😉 And took an eyes-half-shut picture in front of it. There’s no time for re-takes with two antsy kids in tow. Not unless you want a meltdown with millionaire spectators.

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It’s nice to check some items off the ol’ bucket list and I especially loved experiencing it with my family. We all soaked up every second of time together in some new scenery. Next up: beachin’ and a whole lotta Disney.

 

to be continued..

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..continued.

Outside of Disney and Huntington Beach, we spent an afternoon in Coronado.

“Go to the island,” they said.

“It’ll be fun,” they said.

Well, feast your eyes on this.

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Now imagine my mellow, slow-pumping, I’m-on-vacation heart jump in speed 10-fold when I laid eyes on the very narrow, very terrifying, swerving traffic-laden bridge we had to cross to get there. I’m not exaggerating when I say we had the best ice cream of our lives, but it brought a new meaning to “death by chocolate.” If you haven’t experienced Moo Time, go get your bucket list right now and pencil it in.

 

I’ll wait.

 

Back? Ok. We also had some insanely good (and insanely huge) pizza at Village Pizza in Coronado. It was amazing; And not like when they say that on “The Bachelor.” It was amazing in it’s original form, like from 10 years ago. While I’m gushing about food, I should also mention the In-N-Out I tried for the first time. I’d probably book another trip to California for animal-style fries and a cheeseburger alone. Why doesn’t Seattle have one of these?!

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Being in Coronado makes a short trip to SeaWorld, so we did that too. I have another bucket list item for you: allowing these fish to eat dead skin off your hands. It’s the best, worst thing and we couldn’t swat our kids off the tide pools. But, we had the perfect trick up our sleeves to lure them off the creepy fish. Whales. What kid wouldn’t gasp in awe at a school-bus sized mammal leaping out of the water? Ours. The answer is our kids wouldn’t. Some of my fondest memories go back to touching and watching whales and dolphins and my offspring couldn’t have been less impressed. Is there a punishment for that?

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We also crashed the Anaheim Packing District with some friends. If you’ve never heard of this, neither had I, but I’m pretty sure it was a dream of mine at some point. It’s basically a mall and the entire thing is a food court. Thai, Mexican, Italian, sandwiches, burgers, ice cream.. you name it and then multiply it by three. As if they haven’t done enough showboating with all the caloric goodness, we were also able to catch a free trolley right off the curb out front. Nothing like cruising Anaheim in true San Francisco style. That’s the Anaheim Packing District.

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Lastly, we spent some time shopping chasing 5 kids around Irvine Spectrum before heading to the airport. I’m looking forward to 2027, so I can go back with a daughter who doesn’t pee the bed and browse the super cool collection of shops.

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I know two little kids that had a blast on this trip. Try some of these places out and let me know what you think!

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