Road Trip!

School was out for both Topher and myself the first week of  May! Yay for us!  We had decided a while back that once Semester was over, we wanted to take a little trip together.  But more importantly, we wanted to Grace on her first trip. Our planning was a little sketchy and we didn't actually decide exactly where we were going to go until 4 days before our desired departure date. :)

We decided a trip to the West Coast would be a lot of fun, and we'd throw in some stops along the way.  We headed out the morning after Topher's last Final and drove to Vegas.  My awesome sister lives there with her adorable 3 boys and elusive husband (haha, he just works a lot), and so we stayed with her that evening and played with her family the next morning.  We mostly just relaxed; watched t.v., ate good food.  Grace loved chasing the boys around and once caught she loved hugging and tackling them.  
Emily took us to this great park that her neighborhood had- the Splash Pad- just a really fun park, but all the toys are water toys.  Everything sprays, squirts, sprinkles, spews, or dumps water and it is a lot of fun.  I was so excited for this! I thought Grace would love it, and I figured I'd like it to, because let's face it, Vegas doesn't have the most comfortable climate.
But, I was very surprised to see that Grace hated it!  
The second she saw it she was whimpering and struggling to go the opposite direction from the park.  And the moment she got a drop of the cold water on even her toes, she went berserk.  She screamed and cried, collapsed in a heap on the ground...it was hilarious and sad, and also just down right disappointing.  We determined Grace is a big scaredy cat when it comes to anything not medically related.  I mean, how come she can handle open heart surgeries, cath labs, blood draws and oral medicines but not a Splash Pad???
After the Splash Pad and some lunch we headed out and continued on our way to Sandiego.  The drive wasn't too bad.  We had actually made a DVD for Grace, just of pictures.  Pictures of her, her parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course, more her...and she loved it.  Toph added music to it, and she watched the 30 minute DVD about 4 times in a row before she'd get bored.  We got to Sandiego that evening around 9:30/10 and got nice and rested.
The next morning, OFF TO SEAWORLD!!!!  
Because of Topher's being in the navy, we were able to both get in for FREE!!!! It was wonderful! We all had a lot of fun, and Grace even enjoyed seeing quite a few of the animals.  She loved to point at all the sea lions, and Toph says she really ejoyed watching all the Dolphins swim by.  I wouldn't know, I was the 21 yr. old hanging over the waist high wall, trying desperately to touch one.  I was successful by the way.  In fact I was the only person in the entire crowd surrounding the dolphin exhibit that ever got the dolphins to swim past me and let me rub them from mouth all the way to tail fin!!! wahoo!! I even had one that looked like it was going to eat my hand...hmmm
The shows were fun, and luckily it was an overcast day and school was still in session, so it wasn't nearly as crowded as we had thought it might be.  
Topher surprised me by saying I could do the Dolphin Encounter if I so desired...of course I very much desired!!! So we paid the outrageous amount of money and I was able to get up close and personal with not one, but three beautiful dolphins.  (It was supposed to just be one, but ours kept misbehaving, so we got to meet three :) )
It wasn't quite what I had expected, no swimming with them or riding on their backs or jumping up in the air or anything like what you see in the shows.  Instead, a fairly grumpy trainer telling you to "Stay against the wall!"  "keep your hands at your side"  "smile for the camera! ok, now hands down!! back to the wall!"
But it was definitely a lot of fun and I'm grateful my husband loves me so much to try and appease my giddy 10 yr. old love of dolphins. 
Half way through the day we went to Coronado Island to go the rather large Naval Base there.  It was such a nice base and we especially loved the Navy Pride store.  To be frank, we went a little crazy there.  But, we had to show our appreciation for SeaWorld! No?
We then headed to the private military beach, so Topher could use his new boogie board.  It was overcast, and 6 at night, so we actually had the entire beach to ourselves.  It was pretty cool!  
Topher was probably the only person in the water on the whole island!  (It was pretty cold).  But, maybe because of the lack of people, or maybe just because Topher is so cute and fish-like...a grouping of 4 or 5 dolphins thought it would be really fun to swim with him while he body surfed the waves.  I'm serious!  At one point he came back to shore yelled at me to look out at the waves, and right there where topher had been catching waves, dolphins, jumping in and out of the water, swimming right there with Topher!! So, I got to touch the dolphins for an enormous fee, and Topher got to surf with them....for free. :)
Instead of going to a fancy restaurant as originally planned, (it was too late, and we practically used the whole travel budget for me to do my Dolphin encounter ;) ) we drove around trying to find what I was in the mood to eat.  After stopping in the parking lot of a few places, and then determining that no, this would not hit the spot, we settled for KFC.  Which is strange because I really don't like KFC.  But, surprisingly, it hit the spot.  We got a ton of food, went back to our Hotel, (which btw was ON the harbor, you looked out your window, and you were on the water, and there were boats, a rock's throw from the window.  My rock's throw, not topher's.  He can throw a lot further) and ate KFC on the bed and watched T.V.  It was a really fun, relaxing and wonderful night.  
The next day was Sunday and we left relatively early to drive to Los Angeles.  Topher's sweet, hospitable, wonderful and adorable Aunt & Uncle and kids live there and we had to stop and see them to make our trip complete.  (Thank you SO much Kristen & Tyler!! You guys are wonderful!)  It was Mother's Day so we went to Church with them and I thoroughly enjoyed one of the talks on Motherhood, it made me realize just how important every mother is, no matter how different from one another, and no matter their mothering style/techniques.  They are all special.  Even me! yay!  We also got extremely delectable red velvet cupcakes.  Uncle Tyler says they're famous in California, and I thoroughly enjoyed mine, but I'm not sure I enjoyed eating it as much as I enjoyed watching Grace shove her face in it. :)
Grandma and Grandpa had also been in the area for the past week so they were at Church with us and accompanied all of us to the Beach right by Santa Monica Pier.  It was a lot of fun for Topher to get another chance to boogie board, and my Dad, his wife Karen, and their little girl were even down there, and were able to meet us at the beach as well.
I haven't mentioned it yet, but Grace also hated the Beach.  When we went to the private military beach, she screamed as soon as she saw the ocean and was hysterical if you ever tried to touch her toes to even the sand.  It was the same situation here at the beach in Los Angeles and she just could not handle the waves, the water, the sand, nothing.  However, my Dad made it his goal to get her comfortable and spent probably a good 30 minutes going up and down in the sand and water, trying to make it a game for her.  She didn't think it was fun.  Not at all.  But we did go from a screaming hysterical Grace, to a Grace that could tolerate it.  Not love it, or even like it.  But tolerate it....while holding her breath. :)
Aunt Kristen made us delicious meatball lasagne, home made key-lime pie!  And they got us to-die-for cream puff pastries and an awesome Mexican Breakfast, played games with us and even made us sleep in their bed!  It was a lot of fun to spend time with them and their ADORABLE kids, play games, laugh and eat awesome food. 
Monday after breakfast and some directions, we began our trek home again.  (We stopped at Trader Joe's btw...can I just say i LOVE Trader Joe's!?) We thought that Grace had done so well for 4-6 hour drives, why push her limit with an 11 hour drive home?  So we determined to drive to DisneyLand where my sister Emily was, pick up her house key, and stay in Vegas again that night on the way home.  She said to call when we got there and she'd come out of the park to give us the keys...
But then it happened....
we drove under the sign, just the sign to the parking Lot! It said "Welcome to DisneyLand!"
And then I lost all control.
"Topher!! We should go to Disneyland!"
"Buggy....no.  We can't go to Disneyland"
whining and moaning and gnashing of teeth ensued
"but please Topher! We're already here, and it's DISNEYLAND!!!"
Long story short, Topher couldn't resist my feminine charm.  And we went to Disneyland!  My sister and her family were there.  My dad and his family were there! It was so fun!  
I love Disneyland.  I love Disney World.  It truly does make you feel like a kid again. Ahhhhh.
But for all of you that are thinking we are crazy and insane for taking our precious Grace to the most child infested place on Earth, fear not.  We did go prepared.  
We both had Lysol in EACH pocket.  We sanitized before and after each ride.  We lysoled children that came close.  We lysoled nephews that looked in Grace's direction.  And 75% of the time, we had Grace in a cocoon of safety...her jogging stroller
It was a lot of fun, and Grace really only went on three rides, which we deep sanitized, and none of which she actually enjoyed.  Something about darkness and water, scared her a lot. :)
But we had a blast and Grace was an angel and I'm so glad we went.
After a fun filled day at Disneyland, we left at 8:00 and headed for Vegas! Got there around 1:30 in the morning, slept, woke up at 7:30 and left at 8:30!
Got home after a long and grueling drive where Grace wasn't so great, and then I went straight to a concert with my beautimous sister Dacia! (This also was a lot of fun...but perhaps more details at later date...this post has already become extremely lengthy...)  (and pictures to come)