You know what’s fun?

Vacations.

You know what’s even more fun?

Vacations without children.

You know what’s the most fun of all?

Vacations without children where you meet up in California with your parents and all of your siblings (who also left their children behind).

Basically, I recently had the best weekend of my life.

My sister and I left our children in the capable hands of our husbands and flew to California. The main reason was so we could witness Ben and Haley get sealed in the temple. We added a couple of days to our trip to make sure we were really able to live it up. I cannot put into words how glorious this trip was, but here are some highlights.

Our first full day there was spent with Ben and Haley. My parents were off at zone conference for the day, so we were in charge of ourselves. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was rain, rain, and more rain. We decided to see a movie and get some lunch. After lunch we had a friendly game of laser tag.

Then we went back to my parents’ place to play some games. We wanted to play Rook but didn’t have any cards so we got creative and used Rummikub tiles:

My parents made it home just in time to cook us a delicious dinner. Sarah suggested we eat outside on their patio. In the cold. And the rain. I kind of thought she was kidding, but she started carrying food outside, so we braved the California cold and enjoyed a damp meal. We made Sarah sit in the spot where water kept dripping and didn’t allow her to be in the picture to teach her a lesson:

The next day Sarah decided to drag me and Ben out on a hike. We hiked a volcano apparently, but there was no sign of volcanic activity. We did finally see some blue skies, though!

Later that day Jacob and Abe joined the party. Sibling reunion!

Jacob was dying to see the tide pools, so we headed down south to see some sea creatures.

It was so nice to be able to roam around on slick rocks and not have to worry about children falling all over and jumping into the ocean. We didn’t realize we should have been worrying about Sarah who stepped right into a pool of water. Jacob started laughing mercilessly at her and in so doing didn’t watch where he was going and landed a tennis shoe-clad foot right in the same puddle. Karma.

We didn’t have a long time to spend at the tide pools because we had to head over to Escape Game SD where we had booked an escape room.

An escape room means you get locked into a room and you have to figure out clues and puzzles to unlock doors to free yourselves. The site said to arrive 30 minutes early. Being the obedient people we are, we did just that…only to stand around outside for 30 minutes until our actual scheduled time arrived.

That gave us plenty of time to take some pictures. We were doing the superhero room, so Abe practiced his superhero poses:

Then we all adopted our superhero alter egos:

We saw the picture and wondered what superhero my mom was channeling, so naturally we all took a picture to tease her:

Hulk Ben caused a small earthquake:

We finally entered our escape room. We had 60 minutes to solve all the puzzles.

We escaped victorious and it only took us 33 minutes. This means the next time you find yourself locked in a strange room, you should hope we are all locked in there with you…though really the only scenario in which I can think of that you would find yourself locked in a room with all of us would be if we purposely locked you in that room just to prove how quickly we could get you out…in which case you would probably be wishing you weren’t with us.

We ended the evening laughing and laughing over a steak dinner:

Most evenings we played games late into the night. Quirkle is my Mom’s new favorite game: 

Saturday was temple day! The girls decided to get up early and get a blow out at Drybar:

Then we met up with everyone for doughnuts before making our way to the temple. The temple was beautiful. I hadn’t been inside the San Diego temple before, so I was excited to see it. The ceremony was very nice, and we were all glad to be able to be there:

 

My parents have told us that they love to take their missionaries to the Tequila Factory (of all places) for meals. We wanted to experience this, so we went there for lunch. Each meal came with unlimited champagne! Just the thing to entice Mormons to eat there right after attending a temple session!

The boys were going to a BYU game that evening, but we still had the afternoon to kill. Someone suggested we take advantage of the beautiful weather and go play a little frisbee golf. I think throwing a frisbee is so frustrating, so I doubted we would have fun. Oh, me of little faith.

Frisbee golf was definitely a highlight. Most of us were predictably horrible at it, but what we hadn’t anticipated was the diehard frolfers that we encountered on the course. Nothing could have prepared us for the seriousness that some people have for this “sport.”

These people have equipment. They have pre-throw stretches. They have wind ups. They have good luck stances. They kiss their frisbees before each throw, for crying out loud. There is a whole frisbee culture I had no idea even existed. I don’t know if I’ve ever loved anything as much as these guys love this game. I’m dying to go back just to sit on a bench and people watch for an afternoon.


After golf the boys went to the game and Sarah, my Mom, and I went out for ice cream:

Ben made the mistake of telling us that at his job at Amazon he has to lead morning meetings. The meetings include stretches, goal setting, and cheers. Ben led us in one cheer and everyday after that we begged him to lead us in more. He rarely submitted to our demands.

Our last day there we took some pictures outside:



We hadn’t yet made it to the beach and it seemed criminal to be one mile away and not visit, so we went there before we left.


Then we had a delicious lunch at Gregorio’s:

All too soon our trip was over. Dallas was our designated driver home from the airport. I was expecting a curbside pickup but got something much better:

I was glad to see my babies and a slightly frazzled Dallas who I think came to appreciate all I do a bit more while I was gone.

This trip was so much fun. I was able to eat in peace. I could get ready in the morning uninterrupted. I slept in! I stayed up later than was prudent, but it didn’t matter because I didn’t need any patience the next day because I didn’t have to deal with children! Also, it’s amazing how perky you are at the end of the day when you haven’t spent all your mental energy reminding little people to stop licking the grocery store floor or some other such nonsense. We’re already trying to figure out how we can swing another trip like this…and invite spouses.

I was remarking to Sarah about how we just have a great family. We all get along and love being together. I so hope my kids will come to view their siblings (and parents!) as some of the greatest blessings in their lives.

I know I have.

Brooke (after a couple especially trying days where she was having a hard time getting along with siblings): “Don’t be surprised when you see a lot of improvements in my behavior around Christmas.”

***

Madison: “Mom! I look just like Mickey Mouse!”

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Me: “Brooke, smile!”

Brooke: “Why?! So you can capture my embarrassment that I’m stuck up here and can’t get down?”

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Apparently. And blog about it, too!

***

This is more of something a kid does than says, but I’ll include it anyway. Apparently when I read books, I often use my thumb and pinkie to hold the book open. I have never realized that’s what I do until Madison started protesting anytime I situated my fingers any differently. Now when she’s reading books, every time she turns the page she has to take time to similarly hold the book with those same fingers in that same position:

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***

Spencer: “Madison, you’re a midget.”

Spencer’s friend: “Spencer! You can’t call her a midget! You’ll hurt her feelings!”

Caroline (matter-of-factly): “It’s okay. She doesn’t have feelings yet.”

 

After our beach days we’d bring the kids home and dump them in my parents’ jetted tub. They loved the bubbles:

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Madison: “Mom! This is so exciting!”

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Then it was time for books, bedtime snacks, and bed:

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We counted ourselves lucky the mornings that Grandpa fixed French toast for us:

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We were also lucky every night when my parents provided dinner:

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We went to a discovery museum with my parents and had fun discovering:

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We had to go on a walk to punch some trees. My parents learned there is a certain kind of tree that has soft bark and it doesn’t hurt if you punch it. We tried it out and they were right!

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All too soon our vacation ended and we had to say good-bye.

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I didn’t think my kids would ever stop hugging Grandpa long enough to get in the car:

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We had such a fun time. It’s nice knowing that if my parents can’t be close to us, at least they are close enough that we can go visit and have a fantastic time. We’ll be back!

We spent almost the rest of our vacation at the beach. The kids never tire of jumping over waves, looking for shells, chasing birds, and playing in the sand. It was perfection.

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Brooke made a pretty impressive hole:

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One afternoon it got really foggy for a couple of hours:

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We stopped for some fast food in between our beach hopping:

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Finger Dallas joined us on the pier:

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A curious onlooker noticed Dallas’s shenanigans and asked if he could take a picture of all of us:

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Have I mentioned lately that Madison has gotten a bit of a naughty streak in her? I caught her in the act of ruining Brooke’s life:

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The next day of our vacation we were on our own because my parents were busy with a zone conference all day. We decided to check out a kids’ science museum in San Diego.

The kids spotted the Lego area right off the bat and could have spent the entire day in that one spot:

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After making Lego creations the kids had fun exploring the rest of the museum:

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We made an arch:

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Then we removed the keystone:

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We left the museum and saw Santa:

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After the museum we drove closer to an aircraft carrier that we had seen from a distance:

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We also stopped by La Jolla beach to see the sea lions:

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