Thursday, December 29, 2016

California

We got to take our first trip back to the mainland in September. Dan's brother Zach tied the knot to the beautiful, wonderful, kind, perfect-for-him-in-every-way Ashley, so we got to spend an amazing almost three weeks in California! We were able to visit with both our families, sight-see, road-trip, adventure out to the zoo and Disneyland, celebrate with Zach and Ashley, swim in Grandma and Grandpa's pool, and Dan and I even managed to sneak away for a little weekend getaway. It was packed full of fun and flew by.  I'm so glad we were able to go! I would have to say that if there is a downside to living in Hawaii, it is the distance from family. It really makes you appreciate and enjoy the time you do get to spend with them.



We kicked off our trip by spending a few days with Dan's family. I think the best part was finally meeting my first-ever niece, Stella! Dan and I are both the oldest, so despite already having three kids of our own, I have never been an aunt until Stella was born. And I didn't even get to meet her until she was almost a year old! (That whole distance thing can be a bummer sometimes.) But it was so wonderful to finally be able to hold her and watch all four girls play together!




Everything is more fun at Grandma's house! Even chores!



The next leg of our trip we spent in Anaheim, where we met up with my parents, my two youngest brothers, and grandparents for a few days of Disney fun. It was perfect! I love Disneyland in the fall, and this was everything that makes it wonderful. The weather was perfect, the crowds were at a minimum, and the park was decked out in all its Halloween glory! We got to ride all the rides, never had to wait longer than 40 minutes for a ride or to meet a character, and London was finally big enough to ride the fun rides! It was awesome. The girls are still talking about their favorite things almost four months later. Win!










Isn't this the most perfect picture?!


An Asian tour group formed a line to take pictures with our girls. Look out Disney Princesses, ya got competition! My grandparents snagged this one of them with some of their fans.




An unsuccessful attempt at a family photo...















London and her favorite ride--the monorail!
All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to my family. My mother was going through cancer treatment at the time, and it has been hard being 5,000 miles away. I felt pretty useless, but being able to spend a few days with her and giving her the joy of her grandkids was a balm for my heartache. I wish it could have been longer, but we had a wedding to get to! We drove up to Sacramento with Dan's family and then the festivities began. Dan and I finally got to meet Ashley, and the rehearsal dinner, sealing, reception and open house (whew!) were absolutely beautiful. It was a wonderful weekend and my heart was so full seeing Zach and Ashley look so perfect and happy. I'm so grateful we can keep adding to our families as we get older. Congratulations again, you guys!

All nine nieces! [photo cred: Kali Poulsen Photography]


[photo cred: Kali Poulsen Photography]

Right before she spit up all over him! [photo cred: Kali Poulsen Photography]

Is this a great picture of these handsome fellas or what?! [photo cred: Kali Poulsen Photography]








 


[photo cred: Kali Poulsen Photography]

[photo cred: Kali Poulsen Photography]


Pooped out.


Dan's parents took us to the Santa Barbara Zoo! It was so cute and the girls had a great time. We got to watch them feed the penguins and the elephants, and WE got to feed the giraffes. We also got to rock climb! Which was fun, but scary. All in all a great zoo trip!




 

 


That's as far as I got before I started freaking out...

Dan was a little more successful.




After the zoo, Dan's parents took the girls home with them and the two of us got to take a quick trip to Solvang. The town of Solvang was originally a Danish colony, and now they work hard to preserve the history and heritage of their past and culture in the town. There is lots of traditional food (ableskievers!), interesting shops, museums, and fun quirks. It was so fun to be able to spend some time together kid-free. Thanks, Dave and Carrie for the most amazing birthday present! We love you guys!






Me and the Little Mermaid Fountain. The author of the original Little Mermaid Fairy Tale, Hans Christian Anderson, was Danish. They even have a museum for him!

Windmills everywhere!



In love with all the old windows!






The giant red clog! It took us forever to find this town landmark!


 

We visited this Everhoj Museum. This beautiful building used to be the home of artists. Half of the house is a museum on Danish culture and history, as well as the history of Solvang. The other half is an art gallery.


The front door!


Danish Alphabet

The original owner of the home was a sculptor, so he designed their art studio to have these giant doors to bring his sculptures in and out.


Loved this doorknob!




Abelskivers a la mode. It's life changing!





It was a great vacation, full of fun and relaxation, and lots of memories. But I have to say I was excited to come home too. Hawaii ain't too shabby, and it's always nice to feel like you're coming home.

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