California vacation recap

Whew! I’ve been home from our family vacation for over a week now and I feel like things have finally died down enough that I can sit and blog about it. Being gone for a week was great, but coming home and trying to get back into the swing of things can be a little challenging when you have kids. We came home to a stinky house (thanks to the half full garbage left in the kitchen), an empty fridge, a stack of bills, and a very lonely, scared kitty cat. Poor Muffin probably thought we had abandoned her for good. After the initial airing out the house and restocking of the food was done, it was time to unpack, catch up on laundry, coddle the cat, and settle back into reality. Easier said than done!

Vacation was great, and it was our first real family vacation to visit my extended family in southern California. So while our goal was to have fun and get out of the house and our state, we also wanted to keep the focus of the trip on the importance of family and spending time together. The last time I visited California was 7 years ago, when Ayden was only 3 1/2 and I was pregnant with Lily. In the past, trips like that were always just Ayden and myself flying with my parents, and my husband Shayne always had to stay home and work. As a self-employed tattooer, taking time off work isn’t easy, and back then money was a lot tighter than it is now. Simply put: we could never afford a vacation until now. This time around, it was just us- our little family of five, vacationing together. It was amazing that we were able to work it out to where daddy got to come with us all and take a much needed break from work. It was also Lily and Harper’s first time flying, and they were meeting their great-grandparents for the very first time.

Just being in California at my grandparent’s house was enough of a vacation for us. After all, they do have a pool. Sunshine and a pool…what more could you need? We didn’t even consider doing Disneyland- that would have been at least another $500 for all of us, plus the crowds and waiting around in the heat just didn’t sound like much of a fun time (and we have a baby). My kids didn’t even ask about Disneyland, and I wasn’t too sad about it. Amusement parks are fun, but my kids aren’t crazy about them, so it wasn’t an issue at all. Needless to say, we spent a ton of time swimming, and in the span of just one week my kids turned into quite the little swimmers. It’s amazing the difference having an entire pool to ourselves made, and how they were able to gain confidence in the water without being in a crowded public pool, lake, or water park. I’ve got some cute little fishies now!


Notice that Lily is swimming with a shirt & sandals on- by day 2 she was a little sunburned and her toes were blistering from rubbing on the bottom of the pool.

In between spending time with the rest of the family, we headed to Huntington Beach, just the 5 of us. Lily had never seen the ocean before. (Neither had Harper, though she really wasn’t into it). We didn’t swim, since the water was freezing and the waves were too powerful, but just walking in up to our knees and letting the waves hit us and almost knock us over was so fun! Ayden got hit with a pretty big wave and went completely under one time and that was enough ocean for him. The day started off pretty cloudy and windy, but then it cleared up and started getting hot. We didn’t have a ton of beach stuff with us and I didn’t want to buy a bunch of crap that we couldn’t fit in our suitcases to take back home, so we stayed for a couple of hours and then headed back to the house for some relief from the heat (yay, pool!) The sand was scorching hot and Harper had had enough of the scary waves.

 Looking too cute in her little sun hat. She hates it, but finally let me keep it on her head.

After the beach, we were starving, so we hit up In-N-Out on the way back to the house. You can’t visit California without a couple of obligatory trips to In-N-Out! I had forgotten how good it was, and you better believe I finished every single bite. Even Lily, my little bird who pecks at her food, ate all of her burger. I lost a bet with her on that one, which meant mama had to do a cannonball into the pool. I can’t believe I lost the bet, but I have to admit that it was pretty fun, since I normally don’t get my hair wet in the pool. 

All of the swimming and beaching was fun, but we also wanted to check out a museum or something educational of sorts. One day, we jetted down to my uncle’s town of San Pedro with him and hit up a fun little aquarium. The kids love learning about fish, whales, and other sea creatures!



After the aquarium, we picnicked in the park. This was a pretty chilly day and we actually had to buy the kids some hoodies, since I didn’t bother to pack any with us for the day. I forgot how windy it gets when you’re that close to the ocean (It was literally just beyond the houses in the background).
We also wandered over to this awesome museum and historical site called Fort MacArthur, which is an old US Army post. I remembered going there once as a kid and I wanted to take Ayden and Lily this time because I knew they’d be fascinated by it. There are tons of tunnels and galleries you can walk through and look at that are full of historical exhibits and displays- it’s really quite amazing to see all of it. If you’re interested in wars and American history, you should check out this place. Unfortunately, I left my purse in the car, so I don’t have any pictures from that part of the trip, but you can check it out on their website!
This pic was straight up stolen from my husband’s Facebook page 🙂
On our last night in California, we all climbed up on the roof of my grandparents house to watch the Disneyland fireworks. There’s a balcony on the back of the house, so you just have to step over a little ledge and you can easily climb up on the roof- something that got my dad and his siblings into a lot of trouble as kids, haha. The fireworks go off every single night around 9:30pm, and you can see them perfectly from the rooftop. I remember watching them as a child up on that same spot on the roof, so I just had to go up there as an adult to see the view again. It was absolutely terrifying for me! I guess my anxiety is much worse than it used to be, because I could not wait to get down from that damn roof just as soon as the firework show was over. The kids loved it though, and of course they were being closely supervised by adults the entire time. I’m glad they have that memory ingrained in their minds now too. This is the house my dad grew up in, so I have such wonderful memories of being there in my childhood, and now my children do as well.
Our first family vacation was a good one, and while it was so great seeing all of our extended family, it was also so nice to come back home.
You can read a little about our trip home here where I shared my fear of flying. Traveling is fun, but it’s also exhausting when you’re the mom! Am I right?
That’s all for now 🙂