Family outings

Ice skating

Posted in Celebrations, Family outings, Leah, Molly on February 8th, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

The girls were invited to an ice skating birthday party, and had a great time. It was during free skate at the rink nearby, which we get into free as part of our Columbia Association gym/tennis membership. So, I decided to go as well since we don’t go ice skating that much. A fun time was had by all.

Ice skating

The Last Jedi

Posted in Family outings on February 5th, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

As usual, I wanted to see the new Star Wars movie as soon as possible, but our schedule would not allow that. I managed to avoid spoilers for a couple weeks, and then we finally headed to the theater with Grams to watch The Last Jedi. And the movie was well worth the wait.

The Last Jedi

Christmas tree

Posted in Celebrations, Family outings on December 24th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

As usual, we headed to Greenway Farms to cut down our Christmas tree. We’re very busy, and really only had one day that was convenient to get a tree. That day turned out to be cold and snowing, but we didn’t let that stop us. We quickly found a great tree. It’s a Norway Spruce (a first for us).

Christmas tree

Christmas tree

Christmas tree photobomb

Christmas tree photobomb 2

After finding our tree, we got a picture of all four of us amongst the beautiful snow covered trees.

Snow covered trees

The next day, it was time to decorate our lovely tree. After our trip to Harry Potter world at Universal this summer, the girls wanted the first ornament on our tree to be Harry himself.

First ornament

Molly is a goober.

Goober

Decorating with attitude

This year Leah got to put the angel on top. She was a bit scared to go this high on the ladder at first, but she overcame her fear and accomplished her task.

Angel on top

Here’s our fully decorated tree complete with presents.

Christmas tree

Fall photoshoot

Posted in Family outings on December 22nd, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Back in October, we found a lovely Saturday for a photoshoot. We headed to nearby Centennial park to take some pictures near the lake.

Heart hands

These sisters love each other.

Loving sisters

Well, that face didn’t last. This is my favorite picture of the set, as it shows their personalities so perfectly.

That look

Much of the purpose for this shoot was a picture for the Christmas card. This one was the winner for the front of the card.

Piggy back

We even got a picture with all four of us thanks to a tripod and a remote which allowed me to get out from behind the camera.

Family pic

Jen’s favorite shot of the bunch.

Back to back

And a bunch more shots.

Centennial Photoshoot

Piggy back

On a bench

On the ground

Molly sandwich

Look up

Harry Potter Halloween

Posted in Celebrations, Family outings, Leah, Molly on October 31st, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment
Harry Potter Halloween

For Halloween this year, we all went with Harry Potter costumes (which I am very excited about). I am Remus Lupin (possibly my favorite character), Molly is Luna Lovegood, Leah is Hermione Granger, and Jen is a Quidditch fan.

Harry Potter costumes

Harry Potter costumes

The girls really got into character. They even had a wizard duel.

Wizard duel

And they cast their spells. I don’t think they’re trying to hurt each other, given the smiles on their faces.

Cast your spells

On Halloween day, the girls had a Halloween parade at school as usual.

Halloween parade

Halloween parade

Then they had their class parties. And perhaps even took some time to learn something afterward.

As evening approached, it was time for some serious trick-or-treating. This year, Molly’s friend Grace joined our crew of trick-or-treaters.

Trick-or-treating crew

We trick-or-treated for about an hour.

Trick-or-treating

Jen handed out candy this year while I walked around with the girls. We didn’t have very many trick-or-treaters visit us early on, so we thought it might be a light Halloween. But eventually they showed up, totaling 139 trick-or-treaters this year.

Trick-or-treating

After returning home, Grace really wanted to keep going. Leah was done, but Molly agreed to go back out after thirty minutes of warming up and eating candy. So, Grace, Molly, and I headed back out to a street further than we've been before. This was later than we’ve trick-or-treated before, and Molly learned that late-night trick-or-treating can be awesome as folks are trying to unload candy. Every time someone said “just take a couple handfuls” she was very happy. She ended up filling up her pumpkin twice by the end of the night.

Six Flags again

Posted in Family outings, Leah, Molly on October 30th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

It may have taken us a long time for finally go to our local Six Flags, but it didn’t take long before we headed back again. Six Flags had a Bring a Friend Free day, and Zach and Stacie were kind enough to offer to bring us. So, after church we headed there for fun again. After lunch, our first stop was the Ragin Cajun.

Six Flags again

The dads got to ride as well, though we were relegated to the car after the kids.

Dads too

The ride Leah most wanted to ride again was Wonder Woman. Jen and I were again happy to stand by and not ride this high spinner.

Wonder Woman

We rode lots of other rides, but I didn’t get pictures of them as most of them were the same ones we rode before. Molly continued loving roller coasters, and even added one beyond what she’d rode before. She was worried about riding Apocalypse (it’s a standing coaster), and said she didn’t want to ride it. Then Stacie bet her a dollar to ride it, and she of course did. She ended up saying it was her favorite ride of the day, and we ended up riding it a second time on the way out.

We left the park right as Fright Fest was starting, and our girls were ready to get out of the park then. Lots of zombies and other scary folks start wandering the park terrorizing guests, which was not their idea of fun. Next time we may have to leave a couple minutes earlier to avoid them entirely.

Thanks so much to Zach and Stacie for bringing us along.

Putt-putt fun

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Leah, Molly on October 28th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

In September we had visitors from a far away land. Emmie, JJ, Aunt ‘Chelle, and Uncle J flew up to spend a couple days with us. While they were here, we went for a fun outing of putt-putt. We split into two foursomes, with the girls requesting me to accompany them while JJ and the other adults made up the other foursome. There was some intense concentration.

Putt-putt

Jen putting

The girls had fun golfing, but also got a bit of time to relax while waiting on the other group to catch up.

Relaxing on the green

It was fun!

Golfers

Silly golfers

The putt-putt course is right next to Rita’s, so we had to stop in for a treat.

After golf treat

Old friends

Posted in Family outings, Trip on October 22nd, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

After spending Friday at the beach, it was time to leave L.A. However, rather than head back east, we chose to head south to see an old friend. Bill’s my best friend from high school, and he now lives (with his wife, Lauren, and daughter, Sloan) in San Diego. So, we though we could spend an extra day in California to see him. This was tough, as the girls started school that week and Bill’s family was flying in from Hawaii Friday, but we were determined to make it work.

We planned to leave very early Saturday morning, hoping to get to San Diego in time to go to the zoo around when it opened. Sadly, Molly didn’t feel well before we even got in the car. She felt sick the whole way, and we had 4 vomit stops along the way. Given how hot it was, we decided taking her to the zoo was a bad plan. Instead, we headed to Bill’s house to hang out and let her rest.

Amazingly, after we arrived and she got some time out of the car, she was fine. We hung out at their house for a bit, and got to meet Sloan. Since Molly was doing better, we decided she could handle going out and doing something. They live right off the beach, and the girls were begging to go back to the beach, so that’s what we did. We figured if Molly relapsed, at least it wasn’t far to get back. She didn’t though, and we had a lot of fun at the beach.

San Diego beach

The girls enjoyed playing with Sloan. They may be much older than her, but Sloan has much more beach experience than them, making her the beach expert of the bunch.

Kids on the beach

Kids on the beach

Sloan on the beach

After the beach, we got cleaned up and headed to a local pizza place (which our girls were really pushing for).

Pizza time

Old friends

We had intended to get a hotel room that night. Since hotels in San Diego are expensive, I’d been trying to grab a deal last minute on Hotwire. But Bill and Lauren were very kind and offered for us to stay with them instead, despite the fact that they’d just gotten back in town the night before. Bill and I even got to go on an early morning run together for the first time since high school cross country.

Then we got ready and headed to the airport, ready to get home Sunday night after a long but very fun trip. The girls at least got the next day (Labor Day) off before starting school on Tuesday. The timezone change right before starting school wasn’t ideal, but we managed.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Posted in Family outings, Trip on October 21st, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

OK, I guess this post should be titled Universal Studios Hollywood as we did explore the whole park, but honestly, the part we were really excited about was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Thursday we skipped the beach and drove to Hollywood to go to Universal Studios (and Molly again got carsick on the drive there). The girls were decked out in their Gryffindor robes and Harry Potter shirts that Jen made them (and I’ve got a Harry Potter shirt as well).

Universal Studios Hollywood

We got to the park when it opened and headed straight to Hogsmeade. As there weren’t many people there yet, the conductor of the Hogwarts Express motioned our girls over to talk about the train and take a picture.

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express

It’s Hogwarts!

Hogwarts

We then got in line for the wand choosing experience at Olivander’s. It was really cool. They pick one child from each group and replicate the wand choosing experience (like in the Sorcerer’s Stone). Sadly the wandkeeper did not choose one of our children, but the show was still really cool. After the experience, you go into Olivander’s where you can purchase a wand. We opted to wait to do so, but had fun looking at all the wands (can you identify the wand Leah is looking at?).

Olivander's

Harry Potter world is so fantastic. Part of the fun is using a special wand (you can buy them there, but we already had one that we borrowed from Aunt EA and Uncle Scott) to make magic. Three are lots of places around Hogsmeade that have spells for you to do. If you say the magic words and move your wand in the proper motion (which is actually quite hard to do), things will happen. Here Molly was making some Quidditch balls fly around.

Magic

Leah managed to unlock the magic hidden inside this window with Alohomora.

Alohomora

We did this a lot all over Hogsmeade, and it never got old.

They had a lovely a cappella performance of Harry Potter songs (some from the movies, some new) by these students and their toads.

A cappella

We rode the Flight of the Hippogriff a couple times. It’s a small, family-friendly roller coaster, but it’s still a lot of fun. And there was hardly any line.

The most impressive ride in Harry Potter world was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It’s a hybrid ride - part simulator, part practical. Your seats are moved around by by a giant arm, sometimes with screens simulating flying on a broom, sometimes being surprised by giant dementors. It’s a lot of fun. And even better, the line goes through Hogwarts castle, making it the most fun I’ve ever had in a line. I rank this as definitely the best ride at Universal.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

The morning was nice, but as it approached noon, it started to get really hot. So, we got a couple Butterbeers. Molly has the soda variety (similar to cream soda) while Jen has the frozen version. Both were delicious.

Butterbeer

We explored some of the shops in Hogsmeade, all made to be like those in the films. One of the best was Honeydukes, where the girls were very excited about the chocolate frogs. We didn’t get anything at that point, though we came back later for some treats.

Honeydukes

We then left Hogsmeade to check out the other parts of Universal Studios. Unfortunately, it started to really get hot (like around 100 degrees hot), which made walking around and standing in line outside tough. We went to the Special Effects Show, which was fun and indoors, where we learned about how they do different special effects in movies.

Then we went on the studio tour, which rides through many of the places Universal shoots movies and TV shows. Here’s a city hall, notably used in Back to the Future.

Studio tour

The studio tour was more than an hour long. It included lots of the individual attractions that are separate in Orlando (Jaws, Fast & Furious, King Kong, Earthquake, and more). It was somewhat fun, but again, it was hot and we would have skipped lots of the parts of it if we could have.

We wandered around a bit looking at rides but deciding their lines weren’t worth the wait in the heat. We tried to get the girls to go on the Jurassic Park ride to cool off, but they clearly had the water turned up due to the heat, so everyone got off completely drenched. None of us was looking forward to that, so we skipped it.

We tried and failed to get ice cream a couple places, and decided to head back to Hogsmeade instead for a treat. We bought those treats at Honeydukes, then found a table in the Three Broomsticks (which is air conditioned) to eat them. Molly loved her chocolate frog, though she would have preferred a different card than Lockhart. Leah had a giant lollipop that she still hasn’t finished.

Three Broomsticks

In addition to the packaged treats, Honeydukes had some fresher options in their glass counter. When I saw they had Butterbeer fudge, I couldn’t pass it up. It was wonderful.

Butterbeer fudge

We then rode Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, which was a lot of fun. It’s a simulator ride, and has all the fun silliness of the Minions. Then we headed to the WaterWorld show, which was pretty good. We at least got to sit in the shade, though the bursts of fire weren’t helping the heat.

As our day was coming to an end, we went back to Olivander’s to buy the girls wands. They’ve wanted them for a long time, and we told them they could each get one as a toy/souvenir. They both chose to get replica wands of characters from the films. Leah chose Hermione’s wand, and Molly chose Luna’s wand (technically, Luna’s second wand). Sadly, they only got to use them a couple of times before it started raining (you can see the ground is already damp).

Wands

As it got close to park closing time, it started to rain. This left us with a choice to find a place to hide and hope it passed, or try to leave before the rain got bad. We were hungry and it did not look like it would blow over quickly, so we chose to leave before it got bad. Sadly, it quickly got bad. And as you might expect, it was a long walk to get out of the park and to our car. Soon, we were completely drenched. After such an exhaustingly hot afternoon, ending with a long hike through a downpour was a bit too much for Jen. She was not amused.

Not amused

Between the heat, the downpour, and us not being into much of the stuff outside of Harry Potter world, the day definitely had its problems. In my opinion, the awesomeness of Harry Potter world totally made up for all that. Jen may disagree with me.

The beach

Posted in Family outings, Trip on October 20th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

A cool thing about staying in a house by the beach in L.A. is that you can easily interleave beach vacation days with the theme park vacation days. The girls loved the beach, and we ended up spending a lot of time there. You already saw some of our beach fun on Sunday and Monday. After Tuesday at Disneyland, we were back on the beach on Wednesday.

Back to the beach

The house we were staying in had a couple of boogie boards, and Molly was excited to learn how to use them. She took to it quickly, despite the continual threat of being bowled over by the waves (they were pretty big). She left me in the waves many times as she glided toward the sand.

Molly boogie board

She had me come out with her as her coach, telling her which waves to let pass and which to try to catch. Plus, I could give her a little push off when she tried to catch one for a bit of extra speed.

Boogie boarding

Boogie boarding

Chris (my long time friend and boss) joined us on the beach for the boogie board fun.

Chris boogie board

Boogie boards

Molly and Chris even got to do some fun side-by-side boogie boarding.

Boogie boarding with Chris

Leah asked to try the boogie boards once, but changed her mind when she got part way out and found the waves crashing on her. Instead, she preferred the sand. She loved building sand castles (this time with lots of tools).

Sand castles

Thursday we went to Universal Studios (more on that in the next post), but Friday we were back at the beach again. Molly again wanted to play in the water, boogie board, and be active, and I was happy to join her. Leah, on the other hand, is discovering she prefers the calmer version of the beach like Jen. In addition to sand castles, she loved reading in a beach chair under an umbrella, just like her mom.

Reading on the beach

We rarely go to the beach, but we may need to make an effort to go more. These girls love it.