Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2014 Southern California Trip: Malibu and Santa Monica

This past February, my brother invited us to join him and his family, my parents, and my sister and her family at Disneyland. They'd all booked a deal through AAA for 5 days at Disneyland and 5 nights at Disney's Paradise Pier hotel. He said if I wanted to join them it would be around $2000 to add a room and tickets for us. Oscar and I went to Disneyland on our honeymoon on a budget of only $700, including our airfare, so I knew we could plan a much more reasonably priced vacation. Of course prices are higher than they were 8 years ago, but I was still able to find some good deals and plan our trip for well under $2000, including our airfare and rental car. We booked the trip in November, so it was nice to have several months to get everything planned. I'm the type that has almost as much fun planning and anticipating a trip as I do taking it. In fact, I'm miserable taking an unplanned "let's just relax and have a good time" trip. Trying to figure out things to do while I'm on vacation drives me nuts! I'd much rather have too much on our itinerary and then cut things out if I need to. Whatever I've missed just gives me a reason to come back and visit again.

Since Mike and Lia each have children in school, they planned the trip over mid winter break in February - Wednesday the 12th through Monday the 17th. Unfortunately that meant I had to miss working during Valentine's Week, our biggest money maker, but I wasn't going to lose the chance to take a vacation with my entire immediate family. We hadn't done that since I was about 9 (when we also went to Disneyland).

Oscar's days off are Sunday and Monday, so as long as he needed to request Wednesday - Saturday off, we figured he should take the Tuesday off as well and have a full week off work plus two weekends. He also ended up requesting the following Tuesday off since it was considerably less expensive (nearly $200 a piece) to fly back on Tuesday the 18th than to fly back on President's Day. This made for a 10 day stay in southern California, but lucky for us, Oscar's grandparents, Bill and Karen Flinders, live in Burbank, CA and are always happy to welcome visiting family into their home.

Before we boarded, we were allowed to take our stroller to the gate with us, but Southwest wanted us to have it checked and tagged for retrieval purposes. Oscar stuck the matching retrieval tag on Ty's onesie. Cutest luggage ever!

Our flight to Burbank had a stop in Oakland, CA, and Ty got to enjoy having his own seat on the plane. No one wants to sit near an infant, but he barely cried. He'd only recently learned how to sit up, so he sat and played with his toys most of the time with a Boppy in front of him to prevent him from falling forward. He nursed on the way up and was incredibly well behaved. We got many compliments from the flight attendants saying he could fly with them anytime. He didn't get his own seat for the flight from Oakland to Burbank, but the man sitting next to us was very kind and didn't mind at all being near a baby.

We did have one major issue with Ty that day; he got very little daytime sleep. He'd had a small nap in the car on the drive down, but he desperately needed more. He normally naps between 3 and 5 hours a day. He's a great napper when he has a crib or pack-n-play, but he struggles to sleep anywhere else, particularly when he can't be in the darkness. He got about a 20 minute nap in Oscar's arms, but that was it for the entire time from arriving at the Seattle airport to going to bed that night in California. I'd attempted to walk him to sleep in his stroller for an hour at the airport, but all he gave me were droopy eyes, no actual sleep. He was exhausted and incredibly grumpy by the time we arrived in Burbank, and he was very hot. He was already coming down with a cold before we came, and the lack of adequate nap just made it worse and brought on a fever. The next day he slept all day like a newborn would, wanted to nurse all day long, had no desire for solid foods, and was completely uninterested in interacting with people (which is normally his favorite activity). Fortunately that next day of rest really did the trick, and he was back to his sweet self by the time we met up with my family on Wednesday.

Ty initially seemed much better after a night of sleep, so we made the drive to Malibu to take the small hike at Point Dume Natural Preserve. It was so nice to actually leave the cold in Seattle (it had even snowed the night before) and enjoy the warmth and sunshine of southern California. Our entire visit was nice and warm while Seattle had plenty of cold and rain. There have been so many times we've attempted to go somewhere warm and leave the cold at home, but we've never had any success. Either where we're going ends up also being cold (like when we went to Disneyland on our honeymoon at this exact same time of year), or Seattle/Utah ends up also being sunny and warm while we're gone. 
The hike at Point Dume is short but beautiful. This point is actually where Tony Stark's house is digitally rendered in the Iron Man movies. Oscar pushed Ty in the jogging stroller while I took pictures.

Because Ty was still recovering from being sick, he wouldn't eat the solids we'd brought and insisted on being nursed immediately. Normally I'm not the type to just "whip it out" anywhere, but I'm not going to turn down a sick baby that's thirsty, particularly when breastmilk is loaded with antibodies to help him fight off illness. I figure the more of it I can get into his system, the better. I find getting myself ready and getting Ty latched is the most difficult thing to do discreetly, but fortunately I had a loose shirt on, and Oscar was there to hand Ty off to while I got myself situated. Once he's eating though, there's really nothing to see. It surprises me how many public places ban or have banned breastfeeding when the baby pretty much keeps you covered. Sure there are more revealing outfits that would leave you more exposed while nursing, but then that's the fault of the outfit, not the breastfeeding. 

We had some more plans for the day, but after seeing that Tyler was still quite sick, we drove back to Burbank and had fun playing games and celebrating with Grandma and Grandpa Flinders. They're 54th wedding anniversary was on Tuesday the 11th, only 6 days before our 8th anniversary. They taught us the game Farkle while we taught them Guillotine, Mille Bourne, and Quiddler. Fortunately Ty was back to his sweet self by the next morning and had fun crawling around the living room. He actually pulled himself to stand for the first time on their furniture.

Oscar and I were both surprised when Tyler was born with light red hair, though we knew immediately who he must have inherited from. Great Grandpa Flinders has had that color his whole life. With how much hair he's lost and how much hair Tyler has grown, the two of them are about equal now.

When I first saw the pic on the right, I laughed my head off. It's baby Tyler and Great Grandpa both struggling to get up, one due to age and one due to youth. They're even in the exact same position - one knee up, one knee down, each leaning on an arm for support.

On Tuesday we went back to Malibu to check out El Matador beach. It wasn't a terribly pretty day, but the rock formations are beautiful. We spent about an hour just walking along the beach. I would have liked to have my flipflops, but since the short hike down is steep and slippery with cliffs, plus I was wearing my baby on me, I opted for the tennis shoes with more grip. 

Mmm! Salty
Comcast Baby
Oscar gave Ty these pieces of sea kelp to play with. He looked very fierce holding them. "You touch mommy and I'll beat you with this seaweed!"

Afterwards we drove down to Santa Monica to see the Getty Museum. We brought the stroller, but I wish we'd used the carrier instead. It was very difficult to steer with all the people walking down the aisles, and Ty gets really upset being in a stroller that's not moving. Most of the time one of us was pushing an empty stroller while the other carried Ty.

There are beautiful views of the city when you take the outdoor walkways and the tram that leads to and from the parking lot. If you look closely you can see the Santa Monica LDS temple about 5 buildings in on the right. They also have some interesting vegetation to check out.
We ended up spending more time on the outside than on the inside since it was easier to push the stroller that way. Fortunately there were some sculptures and pretty gardens to walk through.

And the next day we drove down to Anaheim to meet up with my family at Disneyland. We actually booked a night at the same cheap hotel we'd stayed at on our honeymoon. Although I knew it wasn't a great hotel, I figured we'd end up hanging out with my family at Paradise Pier most of the time anyway, so we'd only need to go back to our hotel to sleep. 

We arrived around noon and stopped for some lunch at Tiffy's Family restaurant while waiting for our hotel to let us check in. I'd ordered a dish that included mashed potatoes, which Tyler really liked. This was a bit surprising since up to that point he hadn't liked any potatoes except for sweet potatoes. After giving him a few bites, I let him play with another spoon while I ate some food myself. As I was eating, he took his adult sized spoon, put it in the potatoes, and shoved an entire spoonful in his mouth! This was especially surprising since Tyler always resisted spoon feeding and had never attempted to spoon feed himself before. He was barely self feeding with finger foods at that point, let alone spoon feeding. Since then I've tried giving him potatoes and other foods to self spoon-feed, but it never makes it into his mouth. He just plays with it and gets it all over himself.

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