Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Universal Studios

Have I mentioned that we just love Cali?!  The kids were even excited to walk down the street to the nearest Starbucks for some breakfast and coffee.  I guess when it's a gorgeous view with tall palm trees, it's easy to see the appeal!

We even ate our breakfast on a little park bench outside and just enjoyed the calmness of the morning.

A little while later, the rain came in, so we all bought umbrellas.  We were so impressed with Universal Studios from the very beginning.  All of this outdoor mall area wasn't even inside the gate.  There were so many fun stores, and thankfully plenty that were selling hoodies.  
Welcome to Universal Studios!

Mama doesn't like to get rained on.  We were sure hoping that the rain was about to go away.


By the time we made it to Harry Potter World, it was gone.  

This place was SO cool!

We waited an hour just to get inside the castle!

At least there were lots of neat things to see, like the entrance to Professor Dumbledore's office.

This was my favorite room, though.  All of the paintings moved and talked!

It's hard to see, but Harry, Ron and Hermoine were all there, too!  The ride was amazing.
Thank goodness, since we waited for 95 minutes:)

Next up, Springfield--home of The Simpsons.  I'm not even a Simpsons fan, but I could appreciate how elaborate this was.  They had recreated the whole town--very cool!

There was the Krusty Burger, Moe's, and basically every type of lunch you could think of.

After our delicious Italian lunch, we decided to venture to the lower lot.  Who knew we would encounter this great view along the way?

Such a fun afternoon!

We found a real transformer, talking to a crowd of people...

and were so intrigued that we decided to do that ride first.  It was awesome!
Lila's favorite of the whole day.

We walked over to Jurassic Park next and Lila begged to ride the water ride through all of the dinosaurs.

I'm so glad that I went with her AND that we didn't get soaking wet when we flew down into the the lagoon!

We decided to go back up to the higher lot, in search of a show and more rides.

We made it just in time for the Animal Actors, where we saw all sorts of animals perform on command, from cats and guinea pigs, to dogs and birds.

From there, we went to ride Minion Mayhem.

Too bad my littlest minion wasn't on the trip. She would have thought it was really funny...well, the ride, but not the waiting in line!

Like a lot of the others, it was a 3D experience.  Far out, dude!

Before the night was over, we just had to go back and do the roller coaster in Harry Potter world.

It was only a 15 minute wait, so were were on it in no time.  Roller coasters are even better at night!

We ended the night with dinner in Margaritaville.  The kids were so wiped out and so were we!  Lila was this close to falling asleep at the table, but her desire to have the guy on stilts make her a balloon animal was strong.


We made sure to buy a few souvenirs on our way out and said goodbye to Universal Studios.
Such a great place!

Less than five minutes after we left the park, this little girl was out cold.  Her brother soon followed suit.  A good, long day, spent making lots of memories.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Santa Monica Boulevard

 Jackson turned 10, we celebrated all day, 
and then hopped on a plane early the next morning for his epic 10th birthday trip.

By 7:50 am, we were bound for LA!
The airplane was really awesome, too, and everyone had their own TV.  Wow!
When we landed, it was raining...

but by the time we got to our hotel room, the sun was out.  What a view!
Hello, California!

We ate lunch in the hotel and then went outside to check out the beach a little closer.  
We were SO ready to soak in some quality time with each other.
 
The kids were immediately drawn to the rings.  

They had a blast running, climbing...

swinging...

spinning...

and hanging upside down like little monkeys.

All four of us were amazed at how deep the beach is in Santa Monica.  It's beautiful!


I loved being able to hang out with this precious girl.

Daddy and Jackson were all smiles, too.
We were all in awe of the huge waves and gorgeous ocean.


I think he's pretty pumped about turning 10!  Right after this, I asked Lila if she would like to touch the Pacific Ocean.  She said, "sure!" and ran off to do just that.  Since it had just stopped storming, though, the waves were big and really unpredictable.  She happened to stick her hand in the water just before a huge wave hit the shore.  And it got her!  She was soaked from the waist down.  Oops!

Thank goodness were were near our hotel--she and I ran back up so that she could change pants and shoes.  We met the boys back at the playground, where these two ninjas tried out their skills.

Then we walked over to the Santa Monica Pier--such a great place!

The clouds started rolling in, though, and very soon it was sprinkling.  Oh well. Back to our hotel.

Lila really, really wanted to take my picture inside the lobby.
Her artistic side was getting antsy, I think, so I obliged.

A half hour later, the rain was gone, so we went right back to the pier.  First things first, the roller coaster!  You get to ride it two times in a row, too.  Bonus!

After that, we all rode the ferris wheel together.  

Such a fun way to see the beach and shoreline.

The kids rode the roller coaster, and then hopped on the big, rocking ship.
Lila was all in, her brother was not so sure!

We stayed at the beach as long as we could.
Late afternoon is always our favorite time of day at the beach.

Very soon after that, we were at dinner with Leslie and Aunt Glenda!

We enjoyed our visit with them so much, and Jackson even got another birthday dessert.


It was an evening filled with lots of laughs with our sweet family.
The perfect way to end our first day of Jackson's birthday trip.

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