Friday, October 16, 2015

California 2015 Part 6 - Visiting Baby Easton in the OC


Day three found us in Orange County, California. 
Some pretty special people live in California. First we saw relatives on my side, now it was time to visit relatives on Justin's side of the family. 

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And so we showed up on Cousin Easton's doorstep, because we'd heard rumors that our newest relative, born in July, was really adorable. We had to find out for ourselves. 

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Yeah, I'd say the rumors were spot on! 

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Paxton was probably the most excited about meeting Easton.
Because for a short time, the attention of his Big Smothers was diverted elsewhere.

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Easton is such a sweet baby!

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And very easy-going too, I'd say, because he put up with the Smothers quite well. 

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And also the worst of the Smothers, myself. 

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This sort of thing is hard on me. Makes me want another baby so bad. 
{But that'd also mean a fourth c-section, so don't worry folks. See? I can be reasoned with.} 

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Easton, meet your favorite uncle. 

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Uncle Todd & Aunt Rachel welcomed us into their home for pre-dinner drinks. 
So I have to ask, have you been looking past the people in the photos?
Yeah, you know you have. 

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I took as many cell phone photos of their home as I did the baby. 

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As you can see, they have a knack for furnishing and decorating a midmod SoCal home!

Todd started out his career as an art teacher, and his creative side shows the second you walk in their home. Like this painting he did, hung against the backside of the fireplace that he added some cubist depth to DIY-style. Impressive, isn't it?

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My photos don't do it justice. While I have a cottage-cluttered--chic-too-much-Pyrex-and-thrifted-crap sort of style, I really adore the modern thing too. Especially the minimalist side of it. It's against my nature to be minimalist, but that's why I admire and appreciate it in other people's homes.

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And Uncle Todd has a very thoughtful side to him, filling his home with things that really mean something.
That acrylic box on the lower right? That's a piece of the Berlin Wall he sought out. 
I mean, for me it's good enough to go to Goodwill and buy someone's used junk because it looks cute, but apparently others they seek out pieces of history to bring home. 
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And I didn't go out into their backyard because hot, but I did take a photo.
Look at what the drought has done to the grass! Just kidding, that's overexposed sunlight. 
#hot #somelikeithot #idonot
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It a fit of jealous rage, Justin and I are conspiring to send Easton a lot of toys at Christmases and birthdays. 
It's not fair for parents to have such a gorgeous, uncluttered home. Needs more Legos to be stepped on! We're going to be Easton's favorite aunt and uncle too, he deserves spoiling.
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Just kidding. Easton already has a playroom.
And anyway, he's too little to smear their walls with yogurt or peanut butter.
That stage comes later.
Maybe I do want another baby. 

Easton also has a sweet nursery. Todd made this USA decor, quite fitting as he's a July 4th firecracker baby and his mommy is a history buff and teacher.
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His little room is adorable!

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Okay, I could go on and on here, but we had to get on with it. 
So we followed Uncle Todd & Aunt Rachel out through the neighborhoods of Orange County, their pretty and easy drive to work...

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Which is Orange Lutheran High School!
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True Story: Justin and I visited OLHS when we were on choir tour from Denver Lutheran High school in 2000! Just before we started dating. The campus looked completely different back then! It was shocking, but they've had two remodel/building projects since then. {Because parochial schools in OC can afford those sorts of things.}

Todd & Rachel met in college at Irvine and both started out their careers here at OLHS. They both started as teachers, and have quickly worked their way up into admin positions. 

So we got a little private tour of the campus...

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Sander and I did theater in high school together, but it looked nothing like this. 
Their performing arts center--remember this is a high school--made me jealous. 

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I realize our own local Lutheran high school doesn't have the same ability {funding} to create such an impressive arts space, and to be fair we're not a few miles from Hollywood either, but man...OLHS clearly holds their arts departments as valuable as the sports departments. And that's a rare thing in the high school industry. Or at least it seems. Well done of them.

Now this is an open-air cafeteria. You would never see one of these in Colorado. 

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What is happening? Where are the pro sports teams? This can't be a high school.
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Okay, enough high school photos.
I'll give myself nightmares.
Who am I kidding? I already have nightmares about high school.
I wake up on a regular basis reminding myself, No, Heather, you did graduate.

The real reason for our outing was to get dinner together. So we followed Easton and his parents to the old town (?) Orange area. Typical cute old town America, what with the boutique gift shops, antiques, old churches, and a fountain. 

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We had dinner at one of the two new concept pizza restaurants within 1 block, which does personal pizzas Chipotle-served style. Seeing as this is a new trend on the west coast, we can expect this sort of thing soon too. {It was really good! I don't remember the name of it.}

Nor do I remember the name of the ice cream place we visited after pizza, because Todd insisted on treating us. But the name isn't important...
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What is important is that this place wins both Most Unique Flavors as well as Most Crazy Ice Cream Making awards. Because not only did they have beet & goat cheese ice cream, but they make it one the spot with liquid nitrogen. 

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And? It was the best ice cream I've ever had to date. I'm not just saying that.
You want the name of it now, don't you? Too bad. I can't remember it.

Thank you for the ice cream, Uncle Todd & Aunt Rachel!

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The next time we see our baby cousin Easton will probably be next summer. He'll be huge!

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I miss those people.

So now onto Part 7.

Beaches? Check.
Cousins? Check.
In-N-Out? Check.
Disneyland? We were seriously bracing ourselves.

Cheers,
Heather

See more of our California 2015 trip:
Part 1 - Santa Monica Pier
Part 2 - The Getty Center
Part 3 - Erickson Family
Part 4 - Crystal Cove State Park Beach
Part 5 - Downtown Disney & The Super 8 Disneyland
To Be Continued...


Saturday, October 3, 2015

California 2015 Part 5 - Downtown Disney & The Super 8 Disneyland

Disneyland was a big fat dirty secret.
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A secret we kept slipping up on. But thankfully, the kids had no idea what Disneyland really was. Next time we go, if we want to keep it a secret it will be really hard. Everyone--from grandparents to the TSA lady who checked our tickets at DIA--asks, Are you going to Disneyland? when they hear you're California bound.

Everyone. Except our kids.
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So when we showed up to the Super 8 on Disneyland Drive with a Disneyland themed lobby, we thought our kids would start to put two and two together, but no. They'd heard of it, but didn't really know what to expect.

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The Super 8 was literally one street down from {one of} the Disneyland parking lots. Since it was a Disney area hotel, it was pretty nice for a Super 8. Hotels around there have a lot of competition. Despite being September, the Super 8 Disneyland was booked full. We met families from places like Australia who'd come to visit Disneyland. It's a small world after all. Everyone there seemed happy. It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small, small world.

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In the morning, free donuts, in the evening, Disneyland fireworks can be viewed from the pool. {I can't believe residents of Anaheim put up with fireworks every night at 9:30 p.m.} We watched fireworks from a pool for three nights in a row.

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So now you know where to stay next time you head to Disneyland, yeah? For the three nights we stayed there, the kids hit up the pool every day. I enjoyed it myself after D-Day itself as my feet were killing me, but that's another post, forthcoming.

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We were scheduled to meet the California based Sander/Eklund side of Justin's family that evening, and the next day was D-Day, so we took it easy and decided to stroll Downtown Disney. I'm glad we did!

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Though the monorail runs to Downtown Disney {DD}, it's really just an elaborate outdoor shopping mall with lots of Disney {obvs}. You can park for free in the lot for 3 hours.

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You've ever been to Vegas or something to shop? It's a lot like that. Not your typical mall, but all the best stores putting their best foot forward. Plus, Disney themed restaurants and shops, like the Anna & Elsa store.

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Yes, we hit up the Lego store. Because Legos and air conditioning.

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I think my kids were assuming that this was what everyone meant by Disneyland. I let them believe what they wished...

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The Lego wall. I could have spent a lot of time here planning Lego projects.

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I caved and allowed my kids to pick their own small bucket of Legos out for themselves.

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This has resulted in hours of entertainment since our trip. Best 3 x $8.99 I've ever spent. Also a good way to stock up on windows, doors, and wheels.

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If this trip had been all about me, I would have spent the day here:

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But it wasn't. So we spent the day here. And then a bit of pouting when I refused to pay $69.95 for a scratchy, cheap Elsa dress!
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No way, little lady. I promised her to I'd sew her a nice Elsa dress for her Halloween costume this year, but I would not buy that. Plus, I had a little set aside for Disneyland souvenirs for each kid, and I didn't want to spend it before we even got there.

The best part of going to Disneyland in September was that they'd already prepared for Halloweentime. {I can't wait to share the Haunted Mansion ride with you, they completely redo the ride for Halloween each year!}
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I refused to buy them these too.

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We really only came to DD because I hoped Starbucks there would have the You Are Here Disneyland mugs, but unfortunately not. You have to go to the Starbucks inside Disneyland. Oh well. {Biggest. Starbucks. Ever. though.}

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I'd neglected to properly sunscreen myself and got a decent burn that day. I'm used to sunscreening my Swedish skin here in Colorado. We're a MILE closer to the sun and have 300+ days of sunshine a year. Why did I forget that in also shines bright in sunny L.A.? Oh well.
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Now that I've flashed you my sunburn, I think we can wrap this up. Anyhow, that was Downtown Disney. We had lunch there and then went back to the hotel to get ready to meet Justin's brother and his family.

Just so you don't have to scroll back up, here's that adorable photo of my kids and parents again, in the middle of HOT Downtown Disney!
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Cheers,
Heather

See more of our California 2015 trip:
Part 1 - Santa Monica Pier
Part 2 - The Getty Center
Part 3 - Erickson Family
Part 4 - Crystal Cove State Park Beach
To Be Continued...




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