Kensie Kate

Happy, colorful design & hand lettering

vacation

our last day in california

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We had one last day in Disney and we decided to spend it in California Adventure. It was definitely busier today, but not as hot. We split up a little, but spent most of the day together. Finley is at that transition stage where she wants to go on all the big rides and enjoy them, even though they scare her pants off. She has to convince herself it was fun and then she becomes ecstatic about going again.

Owen loved watching the Pixar parade.

Let it be known that I am the Midway Mania champion in this family.

If you happen to find yourself in California Adventure, make sure to stop in the Ghirardelli shop. Order the drinking chocolate. Ask for a for a chocolate covered waffle cone instead of biscotti. Then die and go to heaven. (One cup was plenty for our whole family of 8, though we did get an extra to put in the fridge. By morning it was much thicker.)

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The next day, we took our time getting ready, stopped for lunch (we found a fabulous Mexican restaurant right by our hotel), and then headed for St. George. We got there in time for a late dinner. We took my grandparents to Sakura. It is a Japanese sushi and steak house. It is seriously entertaining. Since it is only a few days away, we celebrated Owen's birthday. They brought out this ice cream covered brownie inside of this flower that opened up and had candles and a firework. Seriously the greatest birthday treat ever.

cruising

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It's possible we were super spoiled to go on a cruise the same week we've been in Disneyland. It's also possible that there were kiddos ready and willing to permanently live on a boat.

We went on a Carnival cruise from Long Beach to Catalina Island to Ensenada, Mexico. It was the first time any of us had been on a cruise, but my grandparents (seasoned cruisers) came along too.

We left the hotel and headed straight for the dock. We waited in line for a very long time and then went straight for the buffet. It was then that all the kiddos' dreams came true. Ice cream 24 hours a day.

The cruise was pretty low-key. There were plenty of shows and events available, but many of them weren't exactly family-appropriate.

The kiddos enjoyed the swimming pool, even though it was filled with saltwater and it was pretty darn cold. They spent most of their time in the hot tub.

Sam and Drew really liked the buffet. And the TV.

Ainsley went to a kid's camp and met some new friends.

Owen liked the elevators. He knew what buttons to push and how to get to his room, the pool, and the food by himself.

Finley liked getting to try fancy food. Even if she didn't like the lobster.

The kiddos wore themselves out everyday so much that they would fall asleep at dinner. Owen ordered himself a banana split every night.

We had fun getting off the boat in Catalina and Ensenada. We loved swimming in the ocean in Mexico. Even if Ainsley did swim too far, headed for a riptide, and got chased by the lifeguard.

This boat was not necessarily geared towards families. There was plenty of smoking and drinking. I understand that happens in the casinos, but I did not appreciate our lovely neighbors who decided to smoke something illegal in their room. Their room became "unoccupied." We are pretty sure they spent the last of the trip in the briggs. At least that's what I like to think. I got pretty fed up when their fumes got sucked into the air system in my room.

I was worried that 4 days would feel too short for a cruise, but it actually turned out to be a good amount. I was impressed by the staff on the boat. They take their jobs so seriously.

california adventure

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We had a great day in California Adventure today. Owen especially loved today. He got to dance with Phineas and Ferb and watch Disney Jr. We loved Radiator Springs. As a designer, I was blown away by the attention to detail, even for Disney. The only downside: see that picture of the red rock? That was our view for half an hour while we got stuck on the racing ride. It wouldn't have been so bad, but right as we were getting on the ride, Owen says, "I have to go to the bathroom!" He pretty much hated the ride. Mack scared him. In his words: "The ride said 'watch out for Mack' and I didn't watch out!" The second part of the ride was fast and had a couple of drops. Owen doesn't like any more excitement than A Bug's Land has to offer.

We had great seats for The World of Color show. We loved it. It was a great way to end the night.

the happiest place on earth

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Fun Fact of the Day: I love Disney. It was my dream to be a princess in Disneyland while I went to college. In the same year, I found out I couldn't be a Disney princess because I was too tall and I couldn't be an astronaut because I don't have perfect vision. I was pretty crushed to say the least. Due to the fact that I was only a couple of blocks away from the happiest place on earth, I woke up much earlier than usual. My mom, Owen, and I snuck down to breakfast while everyone else was still dead to the world.

Another fun fact: Owen likes donuts almost as much as chocolate muffins. One year, Owen had a pyramid of donuts instead of a birthday cake. He could not have been happier.

By the time we boarded the tram, I was already busting with excitement. I have mad love for that place.

Very early into our magical day, we made a horrible mistake. We were all very excited and headed straight for Space Mountain. Owen was having a great time and we figured the line was just long enough to prepare him for the ride. We were wrong. Oh, so very wrong. About 2.1 seconds after the ride started, I could hear Owen screaming his head off. Apparently he made Sam hold both his hands and dug his nails into them. Owen was ready to go home immediately.

Damage control was much needed so we took a spin on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Owen liked this much more, though he was still not very trusting of us after the Space Mountain fiasco.

I thought he would be into riding all the big and exciting rides. I was wrong. He was rather wimpy and hated anything dark, fast, or loud.

The rest of the day was pretty hot. We rode a lot of rides and wore ourselves out. At least a couple of kiddos fell asleep during the fireworks.

Every time we go on a trip, Owen falls asleep on Sam's back at least once. And almost every time, I manage to snap a picture of it.

food, the mall, and bed (california day 1)

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We left grandma and grandpa's house in St. George for the long ride to California. We stopped for lunch at Chipotle and it felt like it was 110 degrees outside. Thankfully the car hasn't been too hot. We checked into our hotel and then went for a ride.

Of all the times we've come to Disneyland, we haven't really explored the San Diego area. We went to The Grove Mall (gorgeous place) so we could go to the American Girl Doll store. Once upon a time we had a dog for about 3 months. During that time, said dog chewed the leg right off Ainsley's doll. We finally brought him in for reconstructive surgery.

After the mall, we drove to the San Diego Temple. That thing is huge!

The kiddos are really excited about the hotel we're staying in. There are bunk beds in one room and queen beds in the other. We've actually stayed here before, but the hotel has changed names so we didn't realize that until we got here.

happy birthday ainsley! (beginning of our vacation)

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I loved our family vacation because there was something special for everyone. It can be hard to find things everyone enjoys because there are so many of us. We left on Ainsley's birthday (still can't believe she is 12-years-old) and drove to my grandparent's house in St. George. We left later than we wanted to, and I'm sure my dad was tired from driving so late, but Owen fell asleep before we even got on the freeway and the other kiddos fell asleep at some point. Since it was Ainsley's birthday, she got to choose her seat in the car and what electronic device she wanted for the ride. When we got there, all the kids piled on air mattresses in the living room. We had chocolate muffins for breakfast the next morning because of Owen. Owen is kind of the golden grandchild. He is the youngest on both sides of the family, he got grandma's red hair, and he's named after grandpa. My grandpa bought Costco chocolate muffins for breakfast one time when they stayed at our house and Owen has made sure there are chocolate muffins for breakfast every time since. Thanks to my dad's excellent packing strategy, we were able to fit everyone's stuff in 2 large suitcases and 2 backpacks. This made the car ride much more enjoyable than having things stuffed in everyone's leg room. My mom thought we had packed to many pillows into the car, but everyone always begs for one on long car rides so I insisted we keep them all.