We just got back from our five day stay in California and I couldn’t wait to write up a summary of our vacation! Partly because I don’t want to forget anything, and partly because I just have a deep love for these pictures and wanted to share them as soon as possible.
I took Jameson by myself to Georgia a few months ago to meet some relatives on my dad’s side, but this trip to California was our first official vacation as a whole family. And it was amazing. Seriously, it went so smoothly and Jameson was a perfect angel the entire time. In fact, he got compliments from strangers for being such a well-behaved and happy baby everywhere we went. He made friends everywhere and we had an absolute blast! I don’t even know what my favorite part was.
The whole trip was arranged by Alex’s company as a fun getaway for many of the employees…but we really had the freedom to plan whatever we wanted to do in the time we were there. We actually went a few days early with Alex’s parents (his mom also works for the company) just to give us time to do everything we wanted, and it was perfect.
We left on a Wednesday and took a short flight to California (Jameson slept the entire time, bless his angel baby heart) and spent the afternoon settling into our room at The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna, which was absolutely goooorgeous. The ocean was literally just a short walk down a path from the hotel…you could see it and hear it and smell it and feel the breeze through open windows all over the resort. So lovely.
That first evening at sunset, Alex and I took Jameson down to see the ocean for the first time. I was so excited and ridiculously giddy. The ocean is my favorite place in the world to be and I hadn’t been able to see it for several years (Arizona is not really the best place to visit the beach, ya know?). We half-skipped, half-stumbled down the steep path and finally made it to the sand. I scooped Jameson up and together we hurried to the water’s edge. He was absolutely mesmerized. I was too. Something about the ocean makes you feel infinitely small but also infinitely loved by the One who created it. It is the most wonderful feeling. We played in the waves until the sun was almost all the way down and then went back up to our room to get a good night’s sleep before our big Disney adventure the next day.
It was HOT at Disneyland. We got there in the morning on Thursday (me, Alex, Jameson, and my in-laws who were a huge help the entire vacation) and we could feel the heat already. It was crowded too, but we still got to do a lot of the things we wanted and we had a blast anyway. Some of my favorite moments were meeting Mickey Mouse in his house in Toon Town (Jameson was obsessed. He even kissed Mickey on the nose! And actually all of Toon Town was great…so many fun things there for little kids), going on a few rides with Jameson (his first ride ever was Small World with me and Alex, which he loved, but we also went on the Winnie the Pooh ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, and King Arthur’s Carousel and he loved those too), watching the Paint the Night Parade (sooo amazing! Definitely a must-see!), and playing in the Star Wars Exhibit (odd, but Jameson had so much fun toddling around and exploring all the Star Wars stuff haha).
Day two (Friday) was spent at California Adventure, and I have to say that I think we had more fun there than at Disney. Not that Disney wasn’t great, it was just so crowded and hectic that we had to skip some things I was really hoping we could do (like the Dumbo ride, the Teacups, and The Matterhorn for me and Alex). California Adventure was much more slow paced and not nearly as jam-packed with people so we got to relax a little and do a lot more with Jameson. The best parts from the day were definitely exploring mah girl Belle’s Library, taking Jameson on a couple more rides (another carousal & Flik’s Flyers), going on Tower of Terror with Alex and his mom, and playing on Paradise Pier (which is where I shot one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken of Jameson and Alex). We also got to see a bunch of the little shows that come through California Adventure because there weren’t as many people to crowd the way (the Mickey & Friends show, the Toy Soldiers from Toy Story, the Dapper Dans, and all those other Dapper people I don’t know the names of haha).
That evening as the sun was setting, we walked around Downtown Disney (which Alex says was one of his favorite parts). It was so much cooler without the sun beating down on us, there was live music, and we got plenty of shopping done. 😉 I love all the shops in Downtown Disney (especially the big old World of Disney store and the Lego Store) and it all feels so magical even though you’re not actually in the parks anymore.
Saturday was kind of a chill day for the most part. We went to breakfast with Alex’s parents in the morning, Jameson took a good long nap when we got back to our room (we had to wake him up after the second hour!), and then we spent awhile on the beach. Jameson had the time of his life throwing sand around, walking all over and sticking his toes in the water, and splashing in the waves with me and Alex.
After we got all cleaned up, we headed to a cocktail party hosted by Alex’s company on a patio overlooking the sea (the only work event we had to attend). It was gorgeous and the food was delicious! Plus, Alex’s uncle Andy (along with his girlfriend, Nina) drove over two hours just to spend a little time with us and finally meet Jameson. It was so nice to see them and introduce them to our sweet boy.
After the cocktail party, we all (except Alex’s dad, who stayed behind to hang out with Andy) took a bus down to the docks where we boarded a boat that took us about 6 miles out into the ocean for a whale & dolphin watching tour. We got to see a giant pod of dolphins and one really cool humpback whale, but near the end of the tour poor Jameson got sea sick. 😦 He woke up from a nap about halfway through the boat ride and was acting kind of strange, but we thought maybe he was just sleepy still…it never even crossed my mind that he could be sea sick! He loves being tossed around and he loved all the rides at Disney, but I guess being on a boat is different. Plus he’d been snacking on random food with us all evening so maybe something just didn’t sit right. Either way, it was his first time ever throwing up for real and I felt absolutely horrible. We took him onto the steadiest part of the boat we could find and I just held him and sang quietly in his ear until we got back to the docks. Thankfully by the time we got on the bus to take us back to the hotel, he was back to his normal happy self. He even started greeting people in the lobby, waving and chatting and showing off his favorite shovel! What a ham.
Sunday was really just a travel day. We enjoyed a quiet breakfast out on the hotel patio with the foggy ocean as our view and then packed everything up and headed to the airport. Jameson once again slept for the entire flight (seriously, this kid is a dream) and we made it home safe and sound!
I think what I loved the most about this trip was seeing the world through Jameson’s eyes. Being a parent gives you the chance to enjoy things you’ve done a thousand times before in completely new ways. It is such a gift! I think I actually spent most of the vacation just watching Jameson’s face to see how he’d react to everything around him. And with every bit of joy and wonder and excitement he felt…I felt it too.
Honestly, this vacation was so much more than I could have asked for. I loved getting to share it all with some of my favorite people and I loved spending so much time with my two boys. Showing Jameson the ocean and all the magic of Disneyland and watching his face light up over and over again was truly something I’ll cherish forever. I can’t wait to bring him back in a few years and see how excited he gets to experience it all again!
** One more thing I’ll mention… If you’re traveling to Disneyland with an infant, definitely check out the Baby Care Centers! They have one in Disneyland and one in California Adventure and you can find them easily on the Disneyland app. They’re quiet and air-conditioned and they have the cutest little old ladies there to help you out (at least they were there every time I went inside). There’s places to change your baby, high chairs for feeding your baby, small areas for your little one to crawl or walk around for a bit, and my favorite part was the rooms they have for nursing your baby (or for pumping). The room was darkened and secluded and was filled with these comfy wicker chairs for you to sit in. Perfect for if you need a break from all the hustle and bustle out in the park.