Picture overload ahead. You've been warned.
We spent the last week of June in California, on our first major family vacation. The whole trip was planned around my best friend from college finally marrying her person. Bree and I have been friends sine 2008... so a trip to California has always been high on my to-do list. It was sort of like a dream come true for this trip to actually happen.
Although, I really can't claim that it started as a dream come true. We ended up missing our 7 am flight out of Kansas City when we got to the airport and were greeted with hour plus long wait times just to check luggage. We got to the front desk 5 minutes before our plane was to depart. After exploring our options we ended up taking a noon flight to Las Vegas and then driving the 4 hours to Los Angeles. It was a long day trying to keep everyone happy and in good spirits. We met up with Bree and Joe for dinner and drinks and it was a LOVELY escape from the car. This time last year was the last time we got to spend time with them, so it was great to catch up and provide them a break from all things wedding. After dinner we parted ways, and found our way to a mall. In our haste to get out the door I forgot to bring any shoes other than sandals. Knowing what our trip would entail, we had to stop and purchase another pair of shoes. We finally pulled into our home away from home, a 2 bedroom beach house, late that night with two sleeping kids and an amazing view.
Girlfriend LOVED this ride.
We loved the A/C.
And she's out.
Wednesday we woke up and hustled to get out the door. Bree hooked us up with tickets into Disneyland. Which was amazing. I've never been to any Disney park so as a 27 year old, I was excited. Rob was excited.. and when we walked down Main Street and Grace saw Mickey, she was excited. Unfortunately Grace is still too short to ride most of the rides available at the park. But we rode two as a family of 4. And Rob and Grace got to ride a couple more by themselves. We ate one crazy overpriced brunch, met Mickey and some princesses, watched Beauty and the Beast and left with some souvenirs about 5 hours later. It wasn't too hot, compared to Kansas humidity, but the lines for rides were getting long and we started worrying about Brooke sitting in the stroller in the sun doing a lot of waiting. So we called it a day and left early. From there we drove down to Encinitas... following the coast to the Scotty Cameron Gallery. Since Rob has picked up golfing as his favorite hobby, he has also started collecting Scotty Cameron items and this was one of the highlights of our trip for him. He walked in as they were restocking for the next day, so he walked out with a pretty good haul and still hasn't stopped talking about it. We drove back up to Long Beach, where we were staying, after that and decided to walk a few blocks to dinner. Craft beer and good food. Plus the weather was nice and cool.
The Santa Monica Pier.
Thursday after gathering our items from the beach house and loading the car back up we headed for LA. The 30 mile trip took well over an hour, but we were able to park close to our final destination and walk Hollywood Boulevard before hopping on our bus tour to see Beverly Hills, Sunset Avenue and all sorts of random celebrity related places. The kids were super restless making the bus tour not our favorite part of the trip. We hopped off for lunch at the First Farmer's Market. Rob found some Brazilian grub and I sampled his while munching on a plain old salad from the pizza place I got the girls lunch at. We walked around a bit before hopping back on the bus to finish out the loop. We originally planned to hop on another route and head to China Town but the kids made us change our plan. So we drove out to the Santa Monica Pier not realizing there was a free concert there that night. Traffic was chaotic and at one point we questioned the weight limit for the pier. But we were able to squeeze through the tight spaces, stroller and all and make it to the end of the pier. Being from a land locked state... I can't ever get over the views of the beach. We ended up eating dinner at the Mexican restaurant right there at the end of the pier. Which was a bit chaotic... all the signs said "DON'T feed the seagulls". Unfortunately a certain one year old can't read... and loves to throw food to her fur-brother at home... so clearly, that was a rule we had a hard time following. After dinner we played in the arcade for a bit before an epic meltdown from Grace made the trek back up to the car a huge ordeal. We could tell our kids were done at that point... so we hopped back in the car to head to our hotel.
A real live Snapchat filter was applied.
I mean LOOK AT THEM!
Photo cred-- Apartment 3 Photography
Saturday was WEDDING DAY! Rob dropped me off at the venue at 9:30 and like a saint had the kids ALL day in a small hotel room (that was destroyed with Cheezits, cookies and countless other messes). Meanwhile I spent an hour in the makeup chair, and came out looking like a snapchat filter. Then another hour getting my hair done. The ladies also did quite a bit of setting up and decorating... so we all helped with that throughout the morning. Finally 4pm rolled around and it was time to get those two married. After a 25 minute ceremony, tears were shed and they were married! Pictures and other wedding festivities ensued before it was time to dance, drink and celebrate. It was such an amazing day and I've never left a wedding knowing two people were so meant for each other like these two CLEARLY are.
Sunday we got up, checked out and headed over to Bree and Joe's house to drop off our gift, brunch and to say goodbye. I HATE saying goodbye and definitely shed some tears as we pulled away. I'm so thankful we were able to be there and celebrate with these two lovely people. After leaving CA we drove back to Las Vegas. Rob had a work conference back up perfectly to this trip. So the plan was for the girls and I to stay one night with him in Vegas before heading back to Kansas. Another place I'd never been. Plus the hotel Rob was booked at was the Bellagio. Which was an entirely different experience on it's own. After checking in and freshening up we headed out to walk (!!! it was like 120* or something stupid..) to dinner. Right across the street from the Bellagio is Planet Hollywood and Gordon Ramsay Burger. We are fans of Gordon Ramsay, so that was a must. Thankfully it was only a 40 minute wait. Which gave us enough time to walk the Miracle Mile Shops and scoop up some souvenirs. The kids had a bit of a rough time waiting for dinner, but short of having to walk out front with Brooke, we somehow made it and it was absolutely worth it. After dinner we went back into the shops to get Rob some shoes he had been looking for forever and happened to find. After watching a thunderstorm in the middle of the mall we headed back outside. The only other thing I really wanted to cross off our list while in Vegas was to watch the fountains at the Bellagio. So we walked back across the street just in time for one of the evening shows. Both girls were entranced. Even though it was only roughly 8:30 at that point, we called it a night. Vegas isn't very stroller/kid friendly and things were starting to get crazy crowded. After getting the kids to bed I noticed Grace was a bit warm and running a low grade fever. She ended up sleeping through the night... but..
Passed out at Wahlburgers.
THANKFUL to be back in Kansas, finally.
Monday morning she woke up not feeling it at all. Which was AWESOME because it was also travel home day for us. We didn't leave until Monday evening... so after a high-priced breakfast, the girls and I headed out by ourselves. Rob's conference kicked off that day, so it was just us. I knew I wanted to eat lunch at Wahlburgers, we had a short 15 minute wait so we ran over to CVS for bottled water (that I later had to chuck at the airport... because of course you have to buy the $5 overpriced airport water) and pull-ups. Honestly y'all, I liked the Wahlburgers burger better. It was so juicy and the sauce was amazing. So after scarfing some food down we hightailed it back to the hotel room to finish gathering things and make the trek down to our rental car. My shirt that day "Jesus loves this hot mess" fit in every single aspect. I finally got everyone loaded, in time for Rob to swing by and give one more set of hugs and kisses before we pulled out. The rental car people must have felt bad for me traveling by myself with two kids, a stroller, two carseats, two backpacks, two suitcases... because they kindly offered me a ride over to the terminal instead of the shuttle. They dropped us off curbside and by the time we got through security and bags checked we had 2 hours to spare. By that point mama was basically done... so we ate some more overpriced food (seeing a trend here?! Vegas is overpriced. Period.) and sat on the very dirty floor before loading into the airplane. I felt bad for the young man that plopped down next to me, but he stuck his headphones in and luckily after a short fuss right after takeoff Brooke fell asleep. Grace watched some cartoons before crashing out herself too. On the way off the plane I had a nice lady offer to help me by carrying a bag and holding Grace's hand. We got all our luggage and another kind soul helped me get the luggage to our shuttle. And thankfully Rob had parked in the Parking Spot lot which meant they delivered me, the girls and all of our crap straight to the truck. Praise all things holy. I did shed some tears on the way home just because I was so overwhelmed and tired.
I am SO glad we were able to make this trip work. Some moments were stressful and didn't go as planned, but all the memories that were made are absolutely priceless. I'd take two stressful travel days if it meant several days of glorious vacation anytime. But I may have to put my foot down on flying alone with the kids anytime soon.