Monday, September 8, 2014

Trip to California

Back in August, our family took a short trip to Southern California, where we met up with my husband's brother, his wife, and their four children. Our kids are penpals with their California cousins, but only get to see them in person maybe once a year or so. Naturally, they were quite ecstatic about this trip.

We left on a Wednesday night after church, took turns driving through the night, and arrived at our first stop on Thursday morning - Six Flags Magic Mountain. Our kids had earned free admission tickets through their "Read to Succeed" program.

My husband's family met us there at the park, where we were from the time they opened at 10 a.m. until they closed at 9 p.m. In retrospect, that really was a crazy plan on my part, but I think the kids (and kids at heart) really enjoyed themselves. In the evening, the park emptied out considerably, and we were able to get onto coaster after coaster without having to wait in line. 

Shortly after that last picture above was taken, while my sister-in-law and I were watching the younger ones in the kid area and sitting down chatting, we realized that three of our kids were missing - one of hers, and my Becky and Anna. We immediately started calling their names and looking around, but there were so many people leaving the park in large numbers at that point, that it was hard. Then my phone rang! A lady on the other end asked if this was Suzanna, and said she had three of my children. As it later turned out, the lost kids had accidentally started following another group after leaving a ride, and walked a ways down the path before they realized they were no longer with us. I teach our kids that if they are lost, they should approach a lady with little kids, and tell them they are lost. So Becky did just that - she told the lady my name, gave her my phone number, and we were reunited just a couple of minutes after having gotten separated. I was (and still am!) mighty proud of her for that. Poor little Anna started crying once we were reunited, but Becky never flinched. She is a tough and smart little cookie!

We got to our hotel rooms late Thursday night, and pretty much just crashed. 

Friday, we got up early so as to have a chance to bathe all the kids, and still get to the clinic in downtown L.A. during the morning, so we could catch everyone before they left for the weekend. 

After we left the clinic, we drove to the nearby American Girl store. This had been the girls dream for a while now, and the place did not disappoint. 

Miriam had been diligently saving up her money since the winter 2012 catalog, so over a year and a half. When I was her age, I never even remotely exercised the restraint and self-discipline that she did, let alone for so many months. Her plan was to buy the "winter chalet" for her doll. At $150, it had a hefty price tag, but she had worked so hard to save up the money, and  I wasn't going to tell her no. Imagine her utter delight when the chalet turned out to be one of the very few items on sale in the store that day! She was able to buy several other items with the extra money, including matching shirts for her and her doll. I think God is awesome not just to care about big, important people and their needs, but also sweet little girls and their wants. Truly, He gives us our heart's desires. 

 Yes, we ended up lugging this massive box around with us for the rest of the trip!

 I love this little sweetie so much!

It was now Friday midday, and we grabbed a quick lunch at Pizza Studio before meeting my husband's family again at the California Science Center. If you have never been, you should go! Admission is FREE 365 days a year, and the place is awesome, especially for kids. 

They all happened to be wearing the same shirts that day

My husband and his brother

My sister-in-law and some of the kids


Near the science center was a fancy park with rose gardens, which our large group quickly overtook. I sat on a bench feeding the baby, with this crazy squirrel getting closer and closer.


It was on this part of the trip that Miriam (who had been unusually quiet and tired the day before) started feeling ill. She spent the rest of the day curled up in the reclined back seat of the stroller, resting and saying that her legs hurt. At first we thought that maybe she was just sore from having walked all over the theme park the day before, but when she started running a fever, we realized she had a flu. In all, it took her almost 2 weeks to get completely well again, the first week of which she was hardly able to walk because the virus had made all the joints in her body so sore.

We stayed the second night at the same hotel again, this time with the rest of the family across the hallway from us. It was pretty wild with all the kids going back and forth between the rooms. I think they all made memories for a lifetime! :)

Saturday, we all slept in, checked out of the hotel, and headed to the beach where we met up with our friend Paul Wittenberger, his wife, and their little newborn baby. 

It's a major production every time

 The safety talk

My nephew found this really cool sand crab that looked exactly like the weird plants that were floating through the water.

We finished the trip with a stop at our favorite fish & chips place before each going our separate ways back home. 

Looking back, I cannot believe how much fun we managed to cram into those three days! There are so many cool places in SoCal, and it's about halfway between my brother-in-law and his family, and us, so it's perfect for getting together there. Hopefully, we will be able to do this again in the near future.


  1. Your little red haired nephew with the freckles is just the cutest thing. I have a fondness for red haired boys as my son is one.

    The American Girl store is awesome (and sooo expensive)! So proud of Miriam for saving up her money. I took my daughter to the LA store when she was 10. As we live in Washington State, we flew down there, but I found a very inexpensive and safe boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, and we had an awesome time. If you ever have the occasion to go again, I would suggest you call ahead and schedule a free personal shopper - makes the trip all that more special. Plus if you ever have the opportunity to have lunch on the balcony in the American Girl restaurant I would highly recommend it, they even have high chairs and little dishes for the dolls. I found people watching at The Grove most interesting. ;)

    If you go to the AGplaythings website they have free patterns for the historical American Girl dolls. I have made the nightgowns for Samantha, Addy, and Kirsten.

    American Girl dolls were a big part of our life for a number of years and at 15 my daughter has now outgrown them. We have saved her dolls and her favorite clothes and other items and packed them away carefully.

    Glad you had a wonderful vacation and that you found the lost kiddos right away. Most terrifying moment for a parent when your child is lost. ~ Traci

  2. I can't stop gigglin'... some people envy your trips, the food that you serve at home since it's quality food, your purchases, your ice cream machine, everything, thinkin' that you have it too good, THEN, in the next comment they claim that your children are malnourished, neglected, unhappy, broken-spirited kiddos who line up for a paddlin' every waking hour for no rhyme or reason.
    Some people are so unbelievably stupid that it boggles the mind.
    Anyway, it seems like a fun trip and your children get to socialize with others as well. Altogether it looked like fun : ) None of you seems like a crushed-spirited, depressed, malnourished or terrified person. I wish all that st00pid talk about your family could just STOP! Stop, stop, stop. Especially from "families" where the father poses wearing one sock on FACEBOOK, saying: "I'm getting rid of my crazy Christian friends", exposing his children to that sight. Isn't that right, Starryeyedkat?
    One day people will leave you alone I know, because you can show them that there is nothing really behind all that crazy talk and you keep continuing to grow and be fruitful and happy.
    I hope lil' miss Miriam is doing better now. She's such an angel. All the best, Zsuzsanna. You always disprove your enemies' false claims.

  3. I love the picture of Miriam and her doll in their matching shirts. If Miriam likes to dress like her doll, there are less expensive options than the way overpriced American Girl outfits. My granddaughter has several Dollie & Me matching girl and doll dresses. I often find them on sale at stores like Sears and Kohls. Of course, you can always make them yourself, but with 8 children, I imagine it's difficult to find a lot of time for sewing. Just thought I would suggest it if you weren't aware of that brand.

    1. I think it is important that children learn how to save and how to manage their own money, so it was a good experience for Miriam to save for such a long time and to spend that money. She alone will be able to judge in the future if it is worthwile for her to buy expensive brand stuff from time to time. Sometimes it just needs to be that exact brand name and no knock off version. When I was young there were certain clothing brands that were popular amongst teens and I worked and saved to get these brands. Today I only rarely by expensive brands, I am not a slave to them.

    2. I agree with Anon, (also with the OP), I admire how Miriam appreciates quality and frugally saves up for her item of desire.
      I kinda would like to bring back the old days, where dolls were hand-molded and hand-sewn, hand painted, hand dressed, expensive and came with a hand painted tea set etc. Where all toys were carefully made and were taken care of. Nowadays kids toss about made in China stuff 2 days after receiving them, and those things are made in sweat shops where they have suicide nets so that the laborers won't jump off the factory. *sigh* By supporting manufacturers, we could revive a few good old jobs, workplaces, habits... people could do the job that is their calling instead of doing 9-5 jobs they hate and buy stuff made by laborers in sweatshops.

  4. What a great post! These pictures are sooo cute and everyone looks so happy! :D It looks like you all had a really fun time - poor Miriam though, it stinks to get sick on a trip :( I hope her new dollhouse and accessories made up for it, you're right, God was looking out for her. He pays attention to every little detail. Love the Anna photobomb in the seaweed picture lol, and that squirrel really does look off his mark! It's nice to put some faces on the people who helped you through your pregnancy as well. Also - that picture of Boaz and Pastor Anderson looking at each other is frame-worthy - too cute! Thank you so much for sharing with us! God bless you all :)

  5. Thanks for sharing your family vacation. I am impressed how much you were able to do in 3 days.How do you keep your energy up?

  6. Hi
    Since you'll seem to have been really close to LA, can you please please suggest a good church in that area. My husband and I are visit LA from the Middle East and we really want to attend a good church there.


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