January 2008

California, here we come…
After weeks of excited waiting, we finally left for California on January 26. We flew into Santa Ana (Orange County), and then drove to San Diego. It was SO great to get there, see the sun, and not have to wear jackets. (…As you'll see, we weren't quite so lucky on those fronts on the upcoming vacation days.) We had a FABULOUS stay at the Pacific Terrace Hotel; if you're ever in San Diego, we highly recommend it.

Waiting (…and waiting) for Dad to go get the rental car

Our own 'California Girls'

"Yea! We made it!"

Some cool palm trees at the airport

January 27 – Day 2
The forecast called for rain, so we decided to wait until the next day to visit the San Diego Zoo. As luck would have it, the day ended up being sunny and nice… not true for our day at the zoo. :-)

The girls on the balcony outside our suite. We had an ocean-view suite, a fabulous view, and the incredible luxury of falling asleep (and waking up) to the sound of the ocean. …Now that's MY idea of a vacation!

We spent the morning on Pacific Beach, where our hotel was. The girls loved "treasure hunting" on the beach!

The morning was cold and damp, but we still and an awesome time on the beach. Oh, and get used to seeing our jackets; we had them on pretty much non-stop during our visit. :-) It was funny how many people saw Troy's jacket and stopped us to tell us they either were from Iowa, or somewhere near there… Or to ask him about the Hawkeyes. We met some really great people from the Midwest because of his jacket! :-)

(Also in grayscale format)

After a while, everyone got brave and went wading in the ocean, which was VERY cold!

Troy's footprints on the beach

After walking on the beach, we walked out to the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. The girls were afraid to walk on the pier. There are small gaps between the boards, and you can see down to the ocean… which really freaked them both out. (By the way, if you're looking for a unique experience, Crystal Pier has cottages on the pier, so you sleep OVER the ocean. Very cool!)

View to the north of the pier. (Our hotel is the three-story building just before the relatively high-rise condo building.)

View to the sorth of the pier

There were so many beautiful bird of paradise plants that it became almost a game we played… who could find the most plants. Or, as Jenna called them, "those bird plants."

After we got back from the pier, the sun came out, and the girls played babies out on the patio.

Awesome view from our suite

Some more views from our suite…

Because the forecast had intially called for rain, we decided to go to Balboa Park that day, to hit some of the indoor things. The San Diego Zoo is in Balboa Park, plus 15 museums, gardens, parks and other amazing things – and this beautiful fountain. It's an amazing place.

We decided to go to the Science Center first. The girls went to play in a younger-kids play area (ages 6 or so and under). They teamed up, and pretty soon had "accumulated" most of the toy food from the area to put in their own cart. They had quite the method going; Emma was the muscle and would "find" food that some poor, unsuspecting two-year-old had left for a millisecond, and put it in Jenna's "get-away" cart.

The girls check out their looks in the silly mirror

We were pushing our luck by skipping nap, which was pretty tough for Jenna. She had NO desire to smile for the photos of us by the fountain.

She wouldn't even make a silly face, which is usually her favorite!

Troy and Emma outside the Air and Space Museum

After Balboa Park, we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in Gaslamp Quarter. Can you tell Jenna was still tired? :-)

Even though it was cold that evening (in the 50s), the pool and hot tub at our hotel were both heated and so warm that we got to go swimming

Can you tell that swimming was one of the girls' favorite parts of vacation?

Off to the zoo
We spent a rainy day at the San Diego Zoo on January 28. In spite of the weather, we had such a great time! …If you've never been there, it's an amazingly beautiful place. And the highlight for all of us was getting to see the koalas and pandas… and even a panda BABY!

A view of the surf from our suite, before heading out to the zoo. It was definitely a gray day – very windy and rainy. In fact, it was warmer in Des Moines that day than it was in San Diego! The storm front that went through while we were there brought more rain than any other in the past year!

Troy and the girls outside the zoo. The rainy weather (and the fact that we went on a Monday) meant pretty limited attendance that day. In fact, it pretty much felt like we had the zoo to ourselves. :-)

All of us, right before it started to rain – again. :-)

A not-very-good view of the baby panda, who was sleeping far up in a tree. We had to be very quiet throughout the whole panda exhibit. Pandas don't like loud noises, so talking is only permitted if it's a whisper.

Daddy panda, who was asleep every time we saw him

Big sister panda

She loved eating her bamboo, which we said was kind of like her panda "didi." (Translation for you non-Reeds: that's what we call our dogs' rawhide treats.)

Emma with her new mommy and baby panda, on top of the double-decker bus, waiting for our tour.

Jenna with her baby panda

The flamingoes

The hyenas waited out the rain by taking a nap in their cave. An interesting trivia note on them, the warthogs and some other animals… the Disney animators visited the San Diego Zoo to study the animals before doing the sketches for the Lion King. So, the animals in the movie are based on the animals at the zoo!

This elephant put on a show for us when we went by. She used to be in a circus and was rescued. The zoo is building a great new seven-acre Elephant Odyssey exhibit, due to open in 2009.

Troy and Janna on the Skyfari

Emma and I on the Skyfari

A view of amazing collection the trees the zoo has, from the skyfari

Polar Bear Plunge is a cool exhibit as well. We all liked watching this bear work on his sweet potato like a didi, too.

Emma and Jenna on the cool polar bear sculpture in the exhibit

Silly girls

Not to be outdone by the girls, Troy climbs on the sculpture, too

The girls in the cave by Polar Bear Plunge

Is this zebra laughing at Troy climbing on that polar bear sculpture? …Maybe. :-)

There were several peacocks that roamed around the zoo

Jenna and I do our best imitation of the zoo's 10-foot-long albino Burmese python, for Grandma Reed/Mema. (…Who, for those of you who don't know, is DEATHLY afraid of snakes)

Troy tries to give the snake a kiss, to show Mema

We LOVED the koalas. All of them but one were asleep while we were there, curled up under their heat lamps. …As cold as it was that day, I can't blame them! :-)

This koala was eating, and eating…

And eating some more

The girls tell the zoo good-bye

Our (very tired) girls do their best elephant impressions in front of the zoo's cool elephant topiary

Sure, as soon as we got back to the hotel, the sun came out! :-) …We all relaxed watching the sunset over the ocean from our suite's balcony.

Another beautiful sunset shot

A quick family shot on our balcony

Troy and the girls

The girls and me

Emma took a few photos of Troy and I

Jenna took this photo of Troy and Emma

The sun settting over Crystal Pier was beautiful, as we walked to dinner that night at World Famous …which came highly recommended to us, and was totally fabulous!

Bye-bye, San Diego
After an incredible time in San Diego, we left for Anaheim (and Disneyland!) on January 29. Even though we were on our way to Disney, Jenna cried for an hour when we left, she loved San Diego so much!

The girls catch a view of the ocean before heading to breakfast

A final view from our balcony

We took one last walk on the beach. They had just combed the beach, so the sand was extra soft!

The girls loved going "treasure hunting" again, and even found a big sand dollar! Here they are on the strech of beach right in front of our hotel – and suite.

Remembering the occasion

We also got in one last swim before check-out

On the way to Anaheim, we stopped for lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in La Jolla. (The girls had fallen in love with their fabulous mac-and-cheese and wanted to have it again.) Troy liked driving by the Symbolic Motor Car Company dealerships, on our way. Do you think they would have let us take a Lamborghini or Bentley out for a spin? :-)

That night, we visited Downtown Disney, for some shopping

The cutest Minnies ever!

Outside the World of Disney store, the second-largest Disney store in the world

Downtown Disney has two of the girls' favorite stores – Libby Lu…

…and Build-A-Bear

At the Lego store, Jen wasn't so sure what to think about the seven-foot Darth Vadar… even if he was made of Legos! :-)

The Happiest Place on Earth
The girls were most excicited about our last stop – a visit to Disneyland on January 30. We were Disney troopers, there when the park opened… and closing it down 10 hours later!

The girls outside of Main Street USA, and in front of the Mickey Mouse – and Tinkerbell – garden. Jenna was a little sad that morning, and not quite sure about having her photo taken!

More sad Jenna…

Hugs from Dad make Jenna feel better

Sleeping Beauty's Castle in Disneyland is a little different than Orlando's Cinderella version

We hit the Buzz Lightyear ride first, where you get points by shooting at targets with a laser gun.

…Of course, Troy annihilated the rest of us – with a score over 10 times more than mine! :-)

Next we went on the new Nemo ride, which was worth the very long wait!

Jenna loved driving on the Autopia ride!

Troy and Emma liked it, too!

The highlight of the whole vacation for Jenna was getting to meet Ariel – who is her FAVORITE princess! She told us over and over again, "Ariel told me she liked my shirt – and she gave me 'ssage!" (She rubbed Jenna's back during the photos.) Very cute!

Jenna loves the story about how, on our last Disney visit – when she was only 21 months old, she was picking out a toy at the Disney store, and immediately started yelling, "Air-e-o! Air-e-o!!!!" We had no idea she even knew who that was! …And Ariel has been her favorite ever since then!

Our two little princesses

Then we moved on the Princess Fantasy Faire, to get to meet even more princesses, and watch the Royal Dance

The Royal Dance show

Emma, while waiting… and waiting… and waiting to meet the princesses. I think we waited around an hour to finally meet them, and were with them about three minutes. :-) …Emma was pretty bummed, because Cinderlla left about two minutes before we finally got in to meet the princesses, but she was a trooper!

Emma with Mulan. (Jenna sat this one out; she wasn't quite sure about meeting the princesses yet.)

Jen got a little braver when it came time to meet Belle

The girls favorite was meeting Princess Aurora (aka, Sleeping Beauty). She was so wonderful with the girls, and got HUGE smiles from them!

After a ride on the Disney Railroad, we headed over to Toontown to go on Gadget's Go Coaster, one of the girls' favorite rides of the day. We needed a little time for our stomachs to settle after that, so walked through Mickey and Minnie's houses. Here Emma is on Minnie's bed.

The girls even got to meet Minnie!

Then we headed to Fantasyland, to the ride the girls were most excited about riding – Dumbo!

Silly girls!

Then the girls went on King Arthur's Carrousel, where we had a serious Emma melt-down. (On Dumbo, Emma didn't let Jenna "fly" Dumbo – making him go up and down – so to make Jenna feel better, we let her choose her horse first on the carrousel. She chose the "girly" pink and purple horse, and sent Emma into a tailspin!)

Jenna and her sad sister

We then headed to another ride the girls had been looking forward to – the Mad Tea Party ride!

Troy's stomach was still rolling from the back-to-back Dumbo/carrousel combo, so the queen of motion sickness took one for the team and joined the girls on the ride.

The girls knew I was worried about getting sick, and teamed up to get our teacup spinning as quickly as possible, which they thought was VERY funny!

The girls loved meeting Alice, from Alice in Wonderland

Alice gave one of the ducks a little snack

This duck loved getting a popcorn snack, courtesy of Troy

Jenna was didn't like the idea of taking a photo outside of Sleeping Beauty's Castle

All of us outside Sleeping Beauty's Castle

The photographer saw Emma's shirt and asked her if she'd like Tinkerbell to "magically" land in her hands in the photo

After a ride on the Monorail, dinner at Cafe Orleans and a visit to Tarzan's Treehouse, we went for a ride on the Sailing Ship Columbia, which was Troy's favorite thing of the day!

The girls had a great time ringing the ship's bell

Before going to the parade, we got in one last, very crazy ride of the day – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The girls both liked the zero G's, and it was both girls' favorite ride of the day!

Troy and the girls wait for the Dreams Come True Parade

Emma finally got to see Tinkerbell, when she made her appearance in the parade!

Belle was on the Beauty and Beast float

Ariel was the star of the Little Mermaid float

Alice and the Mad Hatter joined some other crazy characters on the Alice in Wonderland float

The Lion King float had some great characters, too

Cinderella was a highlight of the grand finale princess float

Mickey and Minnie were on the princess float, too

The Mickey and Tinkerbell garden that we saw on our way in had a really neat lighting effect. The twinkling animated lights followed a path to Tinkerbell, then through her wand, "magically" lit Mickey.

The Disneyland "star" on the walk of fame outside Disneyland

Jenna Update

We found out that Jenna will soon be moving to the next room at her school. It's the four-year-old room, and I can't believe our baby is already getting that old! She's definitely ready, though. A couple weeks ago at school, she was frustrated, because only the letters the class was reviewing were out for them to play with – one of which was J, for Jenna. So, she took an upper-case G, turned it upside down (to look like a lower-case e) and told her teacher, "See!!!! Now, I have an E for my name, too!" :-)

Emma's birthday party
Emma had a great seventh birthday party on January 19.

Emma's party was an "almost" slumber party, so the girls came in their p.j.'s, with their sleeping bags, pillows and favorite stuffed animals.

The girls had a good time just running around and being crazy in the basement

Madisen and Ashley were crazy on the slide

Just like always, Jenna LOVED playing babies

The girls did crafts – making sparkley picture frames and comfy fleece pillows

Say "cheese," girls!

Emma and Kara

Emma and Courtney

Emma and Ashley

Emma and Allison

Emma and Madisen

Emma and Jenna

Emma opening Allison's present

Emma opening Kara's present

Emma opening Madisen's present

Emma opening Courtney's present

Emma opening Ashley's present

After having pizza and playing, the girls got to decorate their own cupcakes with sprinkles and candy

Then it was time for games. First, the girls put all of their stuffed animals in a pile, were blindfolded, and had to try to find their "friend"

Then, we played "musical pillows."

Just before it was time to go home, all the girls climbed into their sleeping bags to watch "High School Musical: The Concert"

Tired Jenna!

Beach Day
Jenna loved dressing up for her beach day at school on January 18.

Jen loved wearing her Ariel swimsuit cover-up… and Ariel t-shirt and shorts underneath!

Silly face time

Emma Turns Seven
Our biggest little girl turned seven on January 16.

Emma with her presents

I'm not sure who was more interested in opening presents – Emma, or Joe

Emma had a Tinkerbell cake

Make a wish!

Fun at the Playground
Emma and Jenna had a great time playing with their friends at the Playground in Ankeny.

Emma and her friend, Madisen, had a great time on the slides

Hattie and Jenna had a great time, too


Back to 2008

Email us | Troy tamaifeld@yahoo.com | Jami jamimaifeld@hotmail.com |

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