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Friday, February 28, 2020

Eucalyptus Grove Holiday Photos with Sierra Solis Photography

It's crazy what one talented lady with a camera can capture in the span of 20 minutes. Sierra did an amazing job capturing our constantly laughing, constantly on the move family. I especially love the photos of the boys together. Thank you, Sierra! 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Parker's 7th Birthday Weekend at Great Wolf Lodge

[The birthday crew ready to hit the water slides]

A few months ago I asked Parker what he wanted to do for his 7th birthday. He told me that all he wanted to do was hang out with his cousins and play video games. Since this was a big party year (we only have big parties every other year), I decided to give Parker what he wanted but BIGGER. We booked two suites at Great Wolf Lodge and invited all of Parker's boy cousins for a weekend of swimming and gaming. We asked everyone to keep it a secret but in the weeks leading up to the party the boys kept slipping up and giving Parker hints. By the time his birthday rolled around he pretty much knew what was going to happen but that didn't put a damper on his excitement. Keep scrolling to see photos and videos from our weekend at Great Wolf + my honest review of our experience.

Happy 7th birthday, Parker! Keep being the brave, funny, compassionate boy that you are. We love you!

[Thanks for the recap video and for coming along to help out, Tania!]

The Family Suites have 2 queen beds and a pull out couch. We booked two and each was about $275 a night. We paid for late check out on one of the rooms so the boys could swim a little later the 2nd day and we wouldn't have to rush to pack and check out. The comfort of the beds is just so-so but these boys hardly slept so it didn't matter. 

As soon as we were checked in and everyone changed, we hit the water park. The first thing you notice when you enter is the aggressive chlorine smell. I get that this is an indoor waterpark but holy moly it was strong. My nephew, who is sensitive to chlorine, developed some small spots on his skin after swimming. Definitely pack goggles if you have some. We established a meeting point with the boys and let them run wild. I mostly stayed in the little kid area with Harrison. 

I don't have a ton of photos from the water park but you can see in the video above that there is a lot to do! There are multiple water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, play structures for big kids and little kids, it goes on and on. The kids swam for roughly 4 hours before we rounded them up for dinner. Tip: Don't forget to return your pool towels! Great Wolf charges $15 for every unreturned towel. We had a mix up with the towels since I checked them out under one room and the kids returned them under another room. Luckily, customer service was able to reverse the charge for me without too much hassle.

We knew from personal experience that the hotel's food is 1. not tasty and 2. expensive, so we let Parker pick somewhere offsite for dinner. He picked In-n-Out (his favorite) and throughout the meal, the boys discussed that snacks they needed for g-fuel (that's gaming fuel for you bots that don't know anything about Fortnite).

There's a very large Target down the street from Great Wolf. We took the boys and told them they could pick out whatever snacks they wanted. This is what they picked. Not pictured: about 3 gallons of Gatorade chilling in the mini fridge.

While the boys settled in for a long night of gaming, Harrison did his best to distract them. Can you believe they stayed up until midnight playing Fortnite and Roblox? I took Harry to the other room around 8 PM to sleep. 

The next morning I went downstairs to grab coffee for me and Tuan and donuts for the boys around 8 AM. BIG MISTAKE. The line at Dunkin Donuts was crazy long and only got longer as I stood in it. It took almost 45 minutes to get coffee and donuts. This is reflective of the service level throughout the property. 

After breakfast, the big boys went swimming for another 3 hours and Tuan and I took Harry to the arcade where we spent $10 for a tiny plastic backscratcher. Yay for prizes!

Late check out was an additional $60 but worth it for these kids to get to play a little longer. Here's the crew sad to leave. We headed back to my sister's house for pizza and cake with my whole family before heading back to San Diego for dinner and cake with Tuan's family. So much to celebrate, so little time.

Even with Tania's help Tuan and I were so tired after just a couple of days with 7 boys. We're never having anymore kids! I think it took me 2 days to recover from all the fun. At the end of the day, only one thing matters though. Parker had fun and made some great memories with his cousins. He's already asking when we will be going back again. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Harrison's first visit to Disneyland!

Disneyland has always been a special place for us. Before kids, Tuan and I were annual pass holders and would go whenever we had a free weekend. We've celebrated birthdays and anniversaries at the parks and have collected a lot of "celebration" buttons over the years. So much has changed with both parks since the last time we visited two years ago and we had a great time exploring all the new additions through the eyes of our little first timer. Thinking of taking your baby for their first visit after the COVID-19 scare is over? Read my post from the first time we took Parker, all those mom tips still hold true. 

Thank you, big gray rain clouds, for keeping the crowds at home and the lines short. 

[Harrison's first ride was Astroblasters and he loved it!]

Between strategically timing our fast passes and the rain, the ride lines were short all day. Woo hoo! Honestly, I think that was the biggest factor to making our day a success. It's tough to keep a baby entertained while standing in place! If you do happen to get stuck in long lines during your visit, a great way to pass the time is with yummy snacks. Harry noshed on apple crisps and pret els.

[Biggie doing biggie things like climbing into every nook and cranny he could find.]

[Cousin crew!]

[My attempt at getting a photo with Tuan sans children. We failed.]

One of my personal highlights was getting Parker to ride this rollercoaster and a few other "big kid" rides with me. He is so brave now! After he grows a couple more inches he is going to be my roller coaster partner, something Tuan is not able to do since he gets terrible motion sickness.

Harrison enjoyed the rides but he loved the open play spaces the most. The playground at Goofy's House in Toon Town is a great spot for littles to play and explore.

There are so many dining options at Disneyland but I always seem to find myself back at Pi   a Port. Their chicken fusili is a crowd pleaser and I discovered this new salad. 

[We couldn't resist the slinky dog ears. Long bodied dogs have a special place in our hearts.]

Parker's new favorite ride is Gri  ly Bear Run in DCA. We went 3 times because there was basically no line. My shoes were completely soaked through and I had to buy new socks but it was worth it to see how happy he was! Ponchos are an absolute must for this ride unless you want to be walking around in wet clothes.

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is another open play space that I adore. The boys love to climb all the rocks and structures and you can often spot Chip and Dale hanging out. On the day we went, C&D came and played Red Light, Green Light with the kids. 

We waited until evening to visit Star Wars Land and holy moly it was mind blowing. As someone who is not a big Star Wars fan, I could appreciate the level of detail that went into creating this truly immersive experience. We waited about 40 minutes for the Millenium Falcon ride which was fun and interactive. Afterwards, we walked around and checked out the rest of the displays. Ama ing! No one does experiential marketing like Disney so I'm not surprised that many guests end up paying $200 for a custom lightsaber or that there's a 3 month waitlist just to buy said lightsaber. 

We have 3 more park hopper days on our passes and I can't wait to go back after we kick the coronavirus' butt. Stay healthy, mamas!