Sunday, November 28, 2004


(or) “How I spent my Thanksgiving Vacation”

Week 16 of LTM

Wow, what a wonderful week we had in sunny, southern California! So many thank-you’s to send to friends, and friends of friends, who were willing to host us during our stay. I have to say, we took the tourist world by storm and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves every single day. Normally, it’s not a vacation until someone gets the stomach flu or we lose our luggage --- this time, pretty much everything went according to plan. What follows is a photo timeline of our eight days, with captions. If you have dial-up, you might want to go get a sandwich right about now …. This could take a while.


Day 1: Leaving Georgia in 60 degree weather and arriving in Los Angeles in 60 degree weather, yet getting to see snow during our layover in Denver. Pretty cool, huh? Unless you live in Montana, and you’re probably thinking, “big stinkin’ deal.”

Later in Day 1: Arriving at the home of our dear friends Kim and Kenny and their boys Jacob, Nathan, Austin and Dylan. Our kids hadn’t seen each other in almost a year and a half …. that’s like a billion dog years to kids at this age! Luckily, they picked up right where they left off and were best buds again within minutes. The boys have been friends since they were five months old, and my girls would have been happy doing nothing but sitting and holding the twins the entire visit. Too bad the twins, at twelve months of age, had different ideas.

“No, they’re not gay. They’re six, and they’re best friends. On second thought, at least we hope they aren’t gay.”

Day 2: Going to the tidal pools to play, and getting a chance to meet Alex and his family. My only disappointment is that I was so busy taking pictures of the kids “enjoying” nature, I forgot to take a picture of Alex and his family! It was great to meet them, though, and hopefully next time we are in Los Angeles we can visit again. (Next time, without coming home with creepy crawly things in Brayden's pocket!)

Day 3: Hanging out on the pier at Redondo Beach.

When Blaine and I lived in Los Angeles from 1996-1998, this was one of our favorite places to spend an afternoon, feeding the pigeons, watching the sea lions, and feeding ourselves. Mainly, feeding ourselves.

As you can see, not a lot has changed! I realize this photo isn’t one of my own children, but I thought it turned out great ….. and no, I’m not stalking total strangers’ children; this is our family friend Nathan, getting up close and personal with his cotton candy. After getting all the kids loaded on a sugar-high, we hit the beach for some shell-collecting, aka ... more creepy crawly things in Brayden's pockets.

Evening of Day 3: We spent the evening having a nice dinner (no kids!) and watching the stand-up comedy routines of Jay Leno and Kevin Nealon. Unfortunately, the Comedy Club of Hermosa Beach doesn’t allow cameras during the show ---- because this is where, if I had it, the photo of Blaine laughing so hard he spit beer out of his nose would be.

Later in the evening of Day 3: This is where, if I had it, the photo of me in a total state of nirvana would be. Cheesecake Factory; chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake. Need I say more?

Day 4: First official “Tourist” day in Los Angeles --- Knottsberry Farm. We spent pretty much the entire day in Camp Snoopy, letting the children ride rides to their hearts content. My only regret of the entire day is not getting a photo of Kendrie on the Pirate Ship ride. You’ve heard the term “squealing with glee”? She took sheer joy to a new level, and wants to know why we can’t have one in our backyard.

"Not as much fun as the Dragon Ship, but still a pretty good time! Blaine and Kendrie enjoy a roller coaster."

"l-r, Jacob, Kellen, and Brayden. Not sure if this was the first, second, or fifteenth time they rode this. It was one of those, "Again, again!" run-around and hop on again rides."

Day 5: Second official “Tourist” day in San Diego --- Sea World. Now, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m 38 years old and I had never been to a Sea World in my entire life. Maybe I just didn’t realize how cool Shamu really was. But we had a great time.

“So, just whose mouth is bigger, a giant whale, or mom’s?”

The extra-cool thing about our California vacation, and Sea World in particular, is that it gave us a chance to spend the day with another of our online friends in person, Andrew and his mom, Kim. Having corresponded via e-mail for over a year, it didn’t take long to make that “in person” connection to them both (and rumor has it that Andrew has a little crush on Brayden, so all told, I’d say it was a successful afternoon!)

"Enjoying the Shamu show. Enjoying spending time with Andrew. Mainly, enjoying the popcorn."

We stumbled upon the dolphin tank at just the right time for public feeding. Brayden was a bit miffed when a pelican, or some other sort of aggressive, flapping sea-bird creature, flew right at her and stole a sardine out of her hand (and at a dollar apiece for each sardine, I was a little miffed, too!) but otherwise the dolphin feeding was a huge hit.

And by now we had figured out the fall weather in California --- shorts and t-shirts during the day, and jackets and mittens at night. You’d think, after our Easter-weather fiasco in Washington DC, that I would have learned my lesson and packed a better variety of clothing options. Nope, I’m still just as ill-prepared, so we wound up borrowing t-shirts from our hosts and buying stocking caps from Target. (I’m just glad they *sold* stocking caps in Southern California!)

Day 6: Thanksgiving spent in San Diego with Kim & Kenny’s family. We slept in their beds, ate their food, drank all their soda, used up probably more than our fair share of the toilet paper (but definitely not their soap, since my kids didn’t bathe the entire time they were there!) and were made to feel right at home. Thank you so much!

“Our combined gang, working on Year Six of a life-long friendship”

Day 7: Squeezing one last tourist attraction into our week, LegoLand! I don’t know who was more impressed with the statues and mini-cities and creatures built all out of Legos at this park (30 MILLION Legos used in all!); the kids or me. Mainly, the kids wanted to know where the rides were. I was a little hesitant, until I discovered they used actual steel and metal, and NOT Legos, to build the roller coaster. Because for my kids, it was aaaaaaalllll about the roller coasters! But I still made them pose in front of the cool Lego-statues.

Evening of Day 7: Being invited back to Andrew’s house for dinner (thank you so much, Doug and Kim!) and s’mores. My kids would have been willing to skip dinner and go right to the s’mores …. They obviously get their lack of will power from me.

Fortunately, Andrew's mom Kim had the forethought to pack three baggies full of marshmallows for the plane ride home the next day, so we were able to leave without full-blown tantrums.

"Have you ever seen such happiness from a graham cracker and chocolate? Wait. Who am I kidding? That's what I look like when I eat graham crackers and chocolate, too"

Day 8: And here’s the only place where the vacation didn’t go as planned. Thanks to inclement weather in Chicago, our flight out of LAX was delayed by two hours. I would have paid a kagillion dollars to have our portable dvd player with us, but we had to entertain ourselves with coloring and endless games of “Mercy” (until the guy next to us gave us several dirty looks and an indignant "hurrumph!" for having such unruly children ….. come on, man, they’d been in the waiting area for over two hours!)

Then, at 1 am, after traveling for over twelve hours, a mere half - mile from our house, Blaine was stopped and given a speeding ticket. I have to take the blame, since he had just asked me what the speed limit was and I told him wrong. I’d offer to pay the ticket, but what with me being a stay-at-home mom and all, I’d have to borrow the money from him and that just seems silly now, doesn’t it?

So there it is in a nutshell. A week of fun and friendship; good times, good food, good friends and great memory-making. Blaine spent today putting up our Christmas lights, the kids “supervised” and I actually got all the laundry done. Tomorrow it’s back to our school routine, with a chemo appointment (and the start of a five-day steroid pulse …. Ick!) thrown in on Wednesday for good measure. Kendrie’s got some serious looking red circles under her eyes; whether it’s being tired from our whirlwind week of activity, or from playing outside all day today, or from crying for thirty minutes when she found out she was given the position of LAST in the bathtub tonight, I’m not sure.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, as well.

Take care,

It’s the weekend. Which means more Bactrim. Sigh.

Remembering how much fun I had making s’mores at Andrew’s house! And holding the twins ... when they weren't frantically crawling away from me. And wrecking Nathan and Jacob's playroom. And going to all those cool places ..... wow, I guess I had a pretty fantastic week!

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