travel

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snow!

Posted by lynn on 10 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: family, melina, nalani, travel

snow_cousins

tubing

It’s official. Our kids like the snow as much as I do. Sorry Joey, you’re outnumbered! Last year Nalani had a cold (and was, well, one year old) and didn’t seem too thrilled by all that cold white stuff on the ground. This year, she was the one who wanted to jump on an inner tube ride – over and over and over again – “all by myself.” She didn’t even reach the 36″ minimum height requirement, but the teenage line monitor (and tire pusher/spinner) didn’t care, even when I asked. It wasn’t unsafe. She was just out of my eyesight for a few minutes. And thrilled about it.

sled

snowman

Melina kept to sledding, throwing snowballs at cartoon targets, and helping Daddy, Lucas, and Nali build a snowman for a contest. (They won third place! A snow robot took first.) Lucas and Noah did plenty of tube riding themselves (as did Stacie and I), and the two little Hams romped around in the snow. We absolutely loved Tahoe Donner, and by the time we left even Joey agreed that we should rent a cabin with cousins there next year. My only addition: Next year, I’m getting on skiis again for the first time in 10 years.

oregon road trip

Posted by lynn on 26 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, travel

waterbabes

sarah_me

We did it! We pulled off a fun road trip (almost 30 hours of driving in all) with three little kids and a just-the-right-size minivan. Nine days in all, we traveled from Berkeley to Ashland to Portland to Rockaway Beach (OR coast)–and then back again, with some longer stops at the coast and in Portland. The key was keeping each driving stretch to no more than 2 1/2 or 3 hours, and no more than 5 1/2 or so hours each day.

See more of our favorite pictures in our Oregon Road Trip album.

follow_leader

daddy_poppers_beach

We enjoyed small surprises at every stop. In Ashland we took advantage of a lovely outdoor pool at a sweet, garden-filled roadside motel (cottages, really) called The Palm. We also caught part of a free folklorico dance performance at the Shakespeare stage and got a rocky start to our Oregon brewery tour. (Standing Stone Brewery had a cool setting and bicycle theme, but the beer wasn’t great.)

nali_joy_beach

Beach girl

We spent our first night in Portland at a hotel (complete with a pool looking out towards Vancouver, WA), more as a stop on the way to the coast than anything. It also allowed us to get re-acquainted with Sarah, Kari, and the girls at a much better brewery (Laurelwood) and check out Powells and infamous Voodoo Donuts the next morning. Somehow the kids and I managed to walk past the red-rope line guiders at Voodoo and right in to take our time picking out a bacon maple, rice crispies/chocolate/peanut butter, and rainbow-cereal-on-pink donut before finding a seat on the alley picnic tables. By then the line stretched halfway down the block.

arches

sarah_mina_dusk

The coast was lovely, and with record-hitting, 98-degree heat in Portland was also a perfect-weather (blanket o’ fog burning off to upper-70s by noon) getaway. You’d miss the town of Rockaway Beach if you blinked while heading up highway 101, but it has a small market, nowhere else you can really waste your money, and one of the widest, unpopulated stretches of coast I’ve ever seen–complete with a perfectly-placed rock arch jutting up from the sea on the horizon.

tillamook_icecream

dinnerkids

Kai and Joy spent hours in the sand, mostly kicking and throwing it to their hearts’ content, and without anyone near enough to care. Nalani scooped sand into buckets, dumped, and repeated. Melina and Linnea explored. And we all enjoyed countless games of Sleeping Queens, and introduction to duct tape art (Joy made Melina a purse!), and chill catch-up time.

OMSIarch

HUB

Back in Portland we hit Powell’s again, visited the Oregon Science Museum (OMSI), had brunch at Portlandia-like Tin Shed, explored neighborhoods, and mostly just continued to hang out with Sarah and her family. By staying in her parents’ basement we also got to catch up with Ivona and Don and their two crazy cats, Bob and Zora. Oh, and we found our favorite restaurant ever: Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB), with a great kiddie play area and the beer (Ace of Spades imperial IPA) that for the time being has ruined all other beer for me.

Portland, we’ll miss you!

capitola

Posted by lynn on 10 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: family, kai, melina, nalani, travel

beach

sand_pit

We’ve made a yearly trip to Capitola a part of the Weiss (-Rapoza-Ham) family tradition. It all started when Melina was just three months old my parents rented one of the “Painted Ladies” that stretch right in front of the main beach – and (to harken to a longer-standing tradition) where we once stayed when I was just two or three years old.

volleyball

icecream

As an aside, my two memories of that long-ago trip are playing in the lake water next to the sea (it’s now too polluted for swimming), and winding up in the emergency room with a burn to my side. I ran straight into a hot radiator when horsing around at the house, and the next thing I knew I was lying on a metal cot looking straight up at some very bright lights.

uncle_german

girlies_grandpa

Now that we’re grown with kids of our own, sometimes Joey and I can only manage to get away for the day, but this year we made a long weekend of it and stayed for two nights. In all, we were six grown-ups and six kids. And we moved from the run-down (though super central) Painted Ladies to a house just up the river that actually fits our large headcount. As Melina pointed out, the new house is also “just around the corner and BAM you’re there!” to the ice cream shop.

smores

grandkids2

Besides daily ice cream runs, other highlights this year included a trip to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk (I got Kai to ride the Giant Dipper with me, wheeee!!), s’mores on the grill, plenty of sand-digging at the beach, and a late-evening Pinot Noir flight for Joey and me at the luxurious hidden-garden bar at Shadowbrook. Looking forward to next year, when, with Zoe’s upcoming adoption, the kids will outnumber the older-than-10 set.

congrats, mary and craig!

Posted by lynn on 20 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, travel

partyhat

loot

Over the Fourth of July holiday we packed our van full of gear and girlies for an extended wedding celebration at Asilomar, near Monterey. This was no ordinary wedding. Last January my friend Mary and her fiancĂ© Craig sent a preliminary save-the-date for a series of one-week celebrations hosted at the conference grounds throughout the month of July. In order to keep the celebration both intimate and full of their favorite people, they decided to divide it into four separate celebrations – each with a surprise theme and complete with its own ceremony on the beach.

sundaebar

bedtime

Wow. Then wow again, times three.

We arrived just in time for a private Independence Day BBQ. A looping shuttle took us from Asilomar to a courtyard in historic Monterey that was decked out in red, white, and blue, and circled by a dozen or so carnival booths. We drank delicious wine and beer, feasted on a huge picnic spread, and treated ourselves to the ice cream sundae and pie bar.

us_wine

rosa lynn laney

But most fun were the carnival games: Melina got to try each game until she won. (Didn’t pop three balloons in five throws of a dart? Try again… and again, until you win!) And Nalani just had to stand and look cute in order to win a prize. By the end of the evening Melina counted 24 stuffed animal prizes in all – not to mention a number of silly bands and glow bracelets. (We donated over half the animals to children coming to future wedding weeks, and gave another third to friends.)

bride_groom

ceremony

Other official wedding week activities included a well-orchestrated scavenger hunt on the Asilomar grounds (we had the team with the most kids, so guess where we fell in the competition?), a board game night, a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (complete with a picnic lunch!), and a lavish wine and cheese tasting party at a house they rented across from the conference grounds. Since Mary and Craig treated us to all the main events, Joey and I splurged on two nights of in-room babysitting, so we could attend game night and most of the wine tasting kid-free.

us_wedding

bigtentcrew

The ceremony itself was intimate, unique, and full serendipity – very Mary and Craig. We gathered at a meadow near the main lodge, where roles for the ceremony – everything from usher and bridesmaids to officiant and mother of the bride – were decided by a game of “Wedding Pit” (their invention, surely). Earning the role of “audience,” Joey and I walked along a narrow boardwalk path through coastal woods, then out onto a fog-lit beach a few hours before dusk. The vows were perfectly woven with the week’s gaming theme, as was the rendition of “The Newlywed Game” at the wedding reception that evening.

Congrats, Mary and Craig. We were honored to be a part of your celebration!

playtime at asilomar

Posted by lynn on 20 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, melina, nalani, travel

family

slide

Outside Mary and Craig’s official wedding week events (to be highlighted in an upcoming post very, very soon), we had plenty of time to explore the Monterey Peninsula on our own and hang out with friends. We also got to experience micro-climates even more extreme in the Bay Area, meaning the girls learned the true value of dressing in layers.

joey_girls

swimming

Melina and I especially took advantage of several opportunities to swim. Our very first full day, my childhood friend Laney invited us to her parents house in Carmel Valley to dip in the pool and enjoy the warmer, valley weather. Melina had a blast playing with Campbell (who is actually closer in age to Nalani, but also much closer to three.) It took Nalani a bit longer to warm up to the water, but before long she was also jumping off the side and practicing her kicking as I glided her across the pool.

lounge

hands

The next day we took our chances at the chillier Asilomar pool. It was really chillier times two: the weather was a good 15 degrees cooler (and they sky gray instead of blue), and the pool wasn’t nearly as heated as the one at Laney’s parents’ golf club community. Melina didn’t seem to mind. We just kept moving! By the end she attempted to swim on her own, but we’ll need a few more pool sessions for her to fully take off. Nalani dipped one toe in the water and decided that was enough. But she had fun watching big sis.

wheeee_mina

bridge

The day of the ceremony we joined Laney and family at the Dennis the Menace Playground in Monterey. I have vague memories of this park from my own childhood, and it’s been around since before I was born. The place is fabulous, one of the larger playgrounds I’ve seen and set right against the water. The girls especially liked the big slide made of hundreds of thin red rollers, the lion’s mouth drinking fountain (that was a definite memory-jogger!), and the long wobbly rope bridge.

babygirl

trail

We also had plenty of mellow fun just walking around the gorgeous conference grounds, exploring Pacific Grove, playing games like Sleeping Queens in the Marlin room (designated social room for the entire week), and hanging out with friends old (my fellow BigTenters) and new (for Melina, of the 4- to 7-year-old girl variety). By the end of our four days, our appetite for recreation was sated and we were ready to take on our daily lives once again… at least until the next vacation!

mendocino

Posted by lynn on 29 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: family, friends, travel

goldeneye

goldeneye_retake

Melina has been talking about “the other Julia and Mir… what’s her name again?” since we visited our Mendocino friends last year. For context, neighbors Julia and Miri (ages 2 and 4.5) live down the street from our not-so-new house. Julia and Miranda (ages 7 and 4) live in Mendocino with their parents–and our longtime friends–Milo and Cassandra.

picnic

cheeeeeeese

Much like our neighbors, the Mendo Julia and Miranda love to color and bead, watch princess movies, and play dress-up. Different from our own neighborhood, they do this in their 2-acre Fort Bragg backyard covered with tall grass and bounded by redwoods. A match made in coastal heaven for our own five-year-old craft-loving princess.

running_goldeneye

happy

When we found out Milo and Cassandra were expecting their third in the fall, we decided it was time for another, pre-baby visit. My cousin Michelle lives between Fort Bragg and Mendo, and had offered her guest rooms (just off the barn) as a place for us to stay. As a bonus for the girls, Michelle has two horses, two dogs, and 16(!) cats.

fairies

mina

Julia was celebrating her seventh birthday the weekend of our planned visit. We were told to get ready for a cowgirl party, complete with a miniature horse to pet and a small Icelandic horse to ride. Rounding out the perfect plan, Milo recently started working Saturdays at Goldeneye Winery, our absolute favorite stop along 128, and a spot full of memories from a trip Joey and I took just after we were engaged.

nali

waiting

Our weekend got off to a rocky start when Nalani (not the kid with a history of carsickness) threw up not once but twice within 10 minutes of starting the winds of highway 128. (Note to selves for our upcoming Oregon road trip: Give all children dramamine! And pack plenty of towels and plastic bags.)

horse

daddy_hat

After the second bout she knocked herself out cold and we made our way to Goldeneye, where a sunny blue sky, gorgeous picnic grounds, and Milo carrying a tray of pinot noir tastings awaited. Melina tried her hand at photography, Nalani ran around like a suddenly freed toddler, and Joey and I were in such bliss we completely forgot to take advantage of a discount for a few of our favorite wines.

headlands

headlands_picnic

From there, the weekend unfolded beautifully. The girls played together as well as we’d all remembered, and this year Nalani was old enough to join the fun. Joey and I got to catch up with our friends, and I got to re-connect with my cousin (who, by the way, lives on a gorgeous and hidden 10 acres of land in the middle of the woods).

horses_michelles

michelle

All the girls, especially Melina and Miranda (just seven months apart) had a hard time saying good-bye. “If we were neighbors, we’d play all the time!” Miranda announced. As we left, I said “We’ll see you after your baby brother is born,” meaning sometime next year. Miranda replied with preschool specificity: “See you in October!” And as we drove off, Melina offered, “I want to invite them for a five-day sleepover at our house.” We’re game. But it’s a loooong, windy drive.

hawaii at last!

Posted by lynn on 24 Mar 2012 | Tagged as: family, kai, melina, nalani, travel

See all our favorite Hawaii 2012 pics (two pages).

alohadresses

shaveice

At last I’m getting around to posting about our trip to Hawaii, which we took the first week of March. And, to give this trip some context, at last we actually made it to O’ahu! We scheduled our original trip for the first week of February, but the night before – bags packed and ready at the door – Melina started vomiting. Runny noses on a plane are one thing, but the flu? Within hours we had rescheduled our trip for the soonest date we could afford.

waimanalo

melinakai_lanikai

We happened to pick the week of the crazy rain, or the worst and most persistent set of storms any locals remember having in a really long time. (Joey and his mom kept referencing the flooded room of 1989.) There were flash flood warnings for the island half our trip, a BWA (brown water advisory) when a few sewer lines busted open from heavy rains, and at one point it hailed. Golf-ball sized pieces of ice that were almost deafening – yet oddly mesmerizing – as they fell on the tin patio roof at 6am.

nali_lanikai

lanikai

The rain didn’t keep us from the main point of our trip: visiting family. The kids got loads of quality Grandma Rapoza time, and Nalani had hour upon hour to completely destroy her house, starting with stripping the bottom half of her fridge of all its magnets and pictures, then the coffee table of all its framed photos and trinkets. Most ended up in Samson’s old dog food cart, which Nalani discovered rolls around the house like a toy shopping cart.

cousins

cousins_guavatree

We hung out with cousins (or are they first cousins once removed?) Maya and Zeke: in Grandma’s yard (Melina finally learned how to climb the guava tree!), at Sunday dinner with the entire family at Uncle Wayne’s, at the open market at Windward Mall, and the big kids got to join them to see the Lorax one evening. Melina re-discovered Hello Kitty stores, and has the impression they only exist in Hawaii. (We went to one at Ala Moana and one at Windward with Maya). I’m not doing much to change this, as it makes for another thing to anticipate when we visit Grandma.

kalamas_path

yard

Thanks to a friend’s suggestion we discovered the Waikiki Aquarium, a great deal and size for a morning visit. Thanks to some online research I found an indoor (i.e., rainy day) Children’s Discovery Center in Honolulu, and we also managed our annual trek to the North Shore on our never-ending hunt for Big Waves (even with stormy weather, no luck!) followed by shave ice at Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa. This year we added a stop at Ted’s Bakery for coconut haupia pie. Yum!

kids_grandma

family_grandma

And yes, we did hit the beach. We first attempted it on a gray, scattered showers day, since it was the best we’d had by half-way through the trip. Lathered everyone in sunblock, packed up sand toys and towels, and drove 10 minutes to Lanikai Beach. Walked five minutes down the beach path and onto the wind-blown sand, and it started to sprinkle. “Maaaamaaa! I’m cooooold!” Melina screamed, shivering. Back to the car for a drive, well, somewhere. We ended up at a little-known beach in Waimanalo for close to an hour, just playing on the sand with no sand toys, ready to run back to the car as soon as the downpour came. (It did.)

But, two days before we left, the sun came out and we got to have a real beach day (sand castles, wave jumping, and wet towels) at Lanikai. Hooray! Ironically, if you ask Kai and Melina their favorite things in Hawaii, the beach barely makes the list. Cousins and near-daily shave ice from Island Snow stand at the top. And those are fun no matter the weather.

i’m skiing by myself!

Posted by lynn on 26 Feb 2012 | Tagged as: family, melina, nalani, travel

ella_noah_mina_lodge

top_o_hill

In my effort to see snow once a year and introduce my children to truer seasons than we experience in Berkeley, we took a quick trip to Tahoe last weekend. It’s become a tradition to travel snow-ward with my sis and her family, and this year we decided to take a simple day trip from their Roseville home to Soda Springs. Planet Kids has a pint-sized tubing run, an inner tube ride, and skis and snowboards for little ones to try out, all for the good ole’ price of $25 per kid.

mama_mina_skiis

mina_ella_tuberide

The weather was grand. Loads of sunshine and just a slight breeze. The kind of day that had me longing to be back on my own set of skis. The snow was, well, a combo of hard-packed and slushy and I’m guessing mostly machine made given our dry winter. But beautiful, and beckoning someone like Melina to wander and explore, traipsing through snow and crunching through ice, making snowballs and baby snow people along the way, and falling backwards to make a snow angel.

nali_tube

nali_dada_snow

It took her a bit to warm up to the crowds at the tubing run, but she had fun sliding down the hill, riding the swirly tube ride with Ella, and climbing to the top of a small hill. And then, she told me she wanted to try skis. Sometimes my biggest girl really floors me. She has a tendency towards caution and holding back, so asking out of the blue to try skiing – especially when none of her cousins were – isn’t something I would have predicted. Of course, I was secretly thrilled. She took longer finding boots that “fit” (a size 13 with no socks for my size 11 kid) than she did “skiing” down a small hill with my help and ski-walking along the front of the ski shack on her own. (And by the way that’s right, no socks. She skied barefoot under her borrowed boots.) But she was proud to be “going skiing all by myself!” and had a nice, brief taste of my favorite winter sport.

Nalani, on the other hand, wasn’t too thrilled with the whole experience. Between the bright white cold, her runny nose, her eye teeth coming in, and well, being a tenacious and routine-loving 22-month-old, she was much happier playing with baby dolls and blocks back at her cousins’ house. Maybe next year?

fall visit to new england

Posted by lynn on 21 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: family, friends, melina, nalani, travel

ducklings

naliduck

For years I’d been thinking how fun it would be to head to New England in the fall. A visit with Todd at his Vermont country home, a quick tour of the city I fell in love with at age 14 yet never managed to re-visit, and famous fall colors awaited. About six months ago I realized this was the year. Melina starts kindergarten next, and Nalani still flies free before age 2. The first week of October off we went, just Joey, the girls, and me.

For a fuller view of our adventure, see our New England photo album.

girlsnduck

hancocktower

Our trip proved to be one of the best vacations I’ve had in several years. And I mean vacation. We didn’t expect it, what with the hustle and bustle of Boston (not to mention the shoe-box-sized hotel room, with just two full beds, a porta-crib, a small TV, and the miniest fridge I’ve ever seen), the two very small children (we decided to skip Melina’s naps on non-driving days), the time difference, and the oodles of things I personally wanted to see. But somehow it all worked, and better yet managed to rejuvenate and at moments even relax us. Being “just us,” and just four of us, helped. Nalani being too young to engage in bickering bouts with her big sis also helped. And being a new place for all of us, with plenty of fun things to check out, pushed it over the edge for me. On to the highlights…

buryingground

cheers

Melina realized a love of statues. It started with the bronze representation of the Make Way for Ducklings set in the Public Garden. (She sat on each of the nine statues, posing for a photo on each. Then sat on Mrs. Mallard for a good 20 minutes while Nalani climbed on and off the baby ducks. ) From there it just took off. In Boston and the other New England towns we visited there’s sometimes a statue at every turn. Not so in California. She wanted to know who each one was (George Washington and his horse in the Public Garden, and no it doesn’t say the horse’s name; a metallic man sitting on a bench on Blackstone Street; Molly Stark with a babe-in-arms in Wilmington) and kept asking me, “What’s inside them?”

jumping_girls

museum_water

For our super touristy activity, we took an 80-minute Duck tour of the town in an amphibious vehicle with a guide wearing a jester’s suit. I’d thought Melina would get a huge kick out of a car that also goes on the water. She liked it ok, but the real benefit was to Joey and me, who were able to get an overview of the city with our small children seated next to us in a vehicle instead of dragging slowly behind as we walked. Joey wanted to visit both Cheers bars. The original inspiration on Beacon Hill was much more authentic, both to the show and as a good ole’ pub in which to hang out. Melina got a root beer in a bottle at each, and got to hang out at the bar on a stool at Beacon Hill. We also rode the T to visit the Children’s Museum.

concord_MA

toddskitchen

We did a quick, er, “tour” of the Freedom Trail. Not really a tour so much as following the red line (Mina in the stroller and Nali the Ergo so we could actually get some speed) and quickly looking at graveyards, building exteriors, and monuments along the way. We made it from the Boston Commons to Paul Revere’s House in the North End, conveniently located down the block from the Italian restaurant where we had early, white-tablecloth dinner reservations. (Limoncello – delicious and authentic in a SF North Beach sorta way. And both girls were angels.)

mollystark

mtsnow

I got Melina to go into the Paul Revere house with me just before it closed. Our first in-depth look at a historic site! I was excited to take in all four or so rooms of the 17th century home. Melina took about three looks at the enormous hearth with its blackened floor and large pots, and the tiny furniture (that’s what she remembered after we left “Mama, why was the furniture so small?”), and decided this was the house of a witch. There was no getting her upstairs, no matter how much I tried to reassure her.

swing

girls_VT

After two full days in Boston, we picked up a rental car and headed out of town. We stopped in Concord for lunch and a quick stroll amongst the small-town pumpkin displays and early fall colors. A perfect, crisp-but-sunny New England fall day. We pulled up to Todd’s just in time for dinner (and complete with a recent projectile vomit from Melina, who, we now know for sure, does get car sick when she tries to read on windy roads). The highlight of our Vermont visit was chillin’ with Todd (and super dog Maggie), in his cozy house on his gorgeous 10 acres of hilly land, just outside a small town that unfortunately was badly hit by Hurricane Irene in August. It was great to see how much the residents of Wilmington (Todd included) have pulled together to rebuild their town and their roads. As Todd put it, nobody waited for the government, people just got to work and are still working.

pond

red

The girls loved playing with Maggie and exploring the house and land, including it’s swing that’s been hanging from a tree for who-knows-how-long. Melina had a blast playing the Cyclone! pinball machine Todd hooked up in his basement, and staying up late to eat dinner with the grown-ups on Todd-time (i.e., 10pm). Nalani, as usual, stuck with her own routine. We also got to see some early colors, one of our reasons for traveling in the fall. Todd said the season seemed to be later than usual this year, and also seemed to be less intense, maybe because of Irene. We still got a muted quilt of red, gold, and yellow woven into late summer green, most majestically from a scenic chair lift ride up to the top of Mount Snow. Nalani didn’t appreciate THIS attraction in the least. So little so that she threw a full-fledged tantrum, complete with head-banging screams, the entire 25 minute ride back down. (Fortunately, she was attached to me in the Ergo.)

Our plane ride home was much less eventful. And once we walked through our own front door Melina got to stop saying, “Daddy you keep forgetting we’re not going home, we’re going to the hotel!” whenever Joey used our resting spot for the night as a metaphor for home.

disneyland!

Posted by lynn on 08 Aug 2011 | Tagged as: family, friends, kai, melina, nalani, travel

Last week we took a road trip down to Southern California to visit family, and more importantly, experience Disneyland with the kids. Take a look at all our trip photos on Flickr.

tinkerbell

sisters_n_kids

A few weeks ago Melina asked me, “Are the princesses at Disneyland REAL?” Fantasy and reality walk a fine line for the preschool set. Melina is keenly aware that the line exists, and for the past six months or so has been asking plenty of questions to try to pinpoint where it stands.

grandparents

belle

Once at Disneyland, she aptly pointed out that Tinker Bell and Princess Jasmine were real (as were the many little girls walking around in Jasmine, Ariel, and Cinderella costumes), but Minnie, Mickey, and Goofy were not. They were people wearing costumes complete with headgear, which is also why they couldn’t speak. Logical, right?

first_ride

smallworld

Our first family trip to Disneyland held plenty of fun and discovery for all of us, and by all I mean six kids and six grown-ups. We road-tripped down to visit Cyndie and Rich in South Pasadena a few days early, then met up with my parents and my sis and her family for two full days of Disney fun, complete with a swimming pool at our down-the-block Anaheim hotel.

pool

strollers

A run-down of some favorites:

- Kai absolutely loved Pirates of the Caribbean, which is a standing favorite of my own. All 12 of us rode together before the fireworks on night one, and our family rode again the next day. Melina was scared the first time and kept confirming with me that the pirates were all pretend. By round two she knew what to expect and gave it a hesitant thumbs-up.

naked_toddlers

littlest_cousins

- Melina most liked meeting Tinker Bell in Pixie Hollow and riding the new Little Mermaid ride in California Adventure.
- Joey and Kai both loved Star Tours. Melina rode, too, but wasn’t a huge fan.
- Nalani adored It’s a Small World. She’d been super cranky in the afternoon heat, but as soon as we (again all 12 of us!) got on the boat her face lit up. Through the whole ride she kept saying “oooooo…” and pointing at the musical figures.

family

sisters

- We all (except maybe Nali and Ella) enjoyed the fireworks show from New Orleans square on night one. Far better than our view of bayside fireworks on July 4th from the Berkeley Rose Garden!
- Despite the insane crowds and wait, my parents and I found the World of Color water/light/fire show in California Adventure spectacular.

legos

surf_n_turf

- Somehow Stacie and I got Lucas (5) and Melina (4) to ride Space Mountain. Melina is barely 40 inches tall but by squeaking by a whole world of rides opened up to her. Since it’s pitch black on the ride I couldn’t see her reaction, but as soon as the coaster came to a halt she said, “Mommy, I don’t want to ride that again.” She didn’t mind the roller coaster per se, but didn’t like the dark. Fair enough.

pub

pier

The only real downer was the heat. We Berkeleyites just aren’t used to temps in the mid- to high-80s, especially spending a full day in that full sun. Next visit (which will probably be when Nalani starts asking to visit Mickey, Minnie, and Tinker Bell) will definitely not be mid-summer. Maybe by then Melina will have worked up the courage to brave Space Mountain with me again.

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