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.
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.