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Old 01-23-2013, 03:48 PM   #1
Jaina
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(our kids') California Dreams! (COMPLETE)

Actual Trip Report:
1. Finally IN California
2. Our First Family Disney Day! (part one)
3. First Time in California Adventure (day 1 pt. 2)
4. Big Day #2 (part one)
5. Day #2 - part 2: Disneyland
6. Great Big Day #3! (part one)
7. The Hot Middle of the Day (day 3 part 2)
8. Wrapping it Up in California Adventure (day 3 part 3)
9. Saying "Good-bye for Now."


Pre-Trip:

It is getting close enough that our plans shouldn't change, so I'm finally feeling confident enough to start writing this. It is my first ever trip report, so I hope it doesn't break any unwritten-rules-of-a-good-trip-report!

Trip dates:
February 26th - March 2nd (3 days in the park between 2 travel days)

The cast:
Me (30)
DH (29)

DS (6.5)
DD1 (5)
DD2 (2.75) (and therefore still free!)


On paper it doesn't look terribly responsible for us to be going on this trip, but we have been talking up Disneyland and PLANNING to go for over 3 years now. Since about the time they were this age:

They literally dream about Disneyland. I feel kind of bad that we've done that to them (when we can't afford to take them much yet) but it will make this trip that much more exciting!

The last time DH and I went was in 2009, before DD2 was in the works, and we didn't take the older kids. They were only 1.5 and almost-3, and it didn't sound fun to us... We had a blast ourselves though, other than a further-than-we-expected walk from our hotel, (Quality Inn & Suites Anaheim At The Park - .85 miles to the turnstiles!) which, coupled with us being older than the last time, led to some tired feet!

This time we're staying a little closer, though still low-budget, at the Anaheim Plaza Inn & Suites. I've been collecting Disney shirts in the same color for everyone, low-cost little souvenirs, and mostly, ideas, so I can help things go as smoothly as possible!

Our kids have been excited to go to Disneyland forever, and we've saved up over $500 in their big Toy Story "Disneyland" bank. Between that and part of our tax return this year, we think the good memories and fun time as a family is worth a very low-budget, but hopefully highly enjoyable family vacation!

We aren't sure when we're going to tell them. We talk about it all the time, but they have no idea than in 5 weeks we're going to be there! What do you think would bring the most excitement from kids this age when we break the news? Should we do it a week before? In the car when we realize we're on our way to California instead of Grandma's? (We're a 6-ish hour trip from there) The night before? (We're staying the first night at a good friend's house, and they're young enough that we could tell them that's the reason for the trip...) The morning we GO to Disneyland?
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Disneyland fanatic,(that would be me) wonderful DH, DS (6) and DD1 (5) and DD2 (2.5)!
Disney Trips:
5/86-3 years old-the first one!, 5/89, 5/91, 5/93, 6/95, 5/97, 7/98 (WDW! FBLA Nationals-WDW Dolphin), 5/99, 3/00-Senior Trip, 6/01-first time to DCA too, 7/03, 3/05(double family trip when we were engaged), 12/05 (with girlfriends), 3/06 with DH (8 wks pregnant...), 6/09 with DH, 2/13: 1st trip with our kids! (Trip report, including Pre-trip)) Quick one-day DL only trip with my 9 month-old and friends - 9/11/14!!

Last edited by Jaina; 04-10-2013 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:07 PM   #2
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Pre-Trip (18 days to go!) : The bad news is....

My color scheme for pictures has just been super-tweaked. My husband is feeling a little cheated out of most of the planning and decided he wanted to pick our shirts for one of the days. We're going with same-color for the most part so we can more easily keep track of each other. But I had red, gray, and black ones put together, (almost) which would look nice in pictures across the several days. But he just threw THIS color into the mix:


The good news is that we will NOT lose anyone that day, and I'm glad he got to be part of something too. The other good news is that our tax return just showed up on our bank account, so I can finally buy our tickets and our trip is definitely ON!
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Disneyland fanatic,(that would be me) wonderful DH, DS (6) and DD1 (5) and DD2 (2.5)!
Disney Trips:
5/86-3 years old-the first one!, 5/89, 5/91, 5/93, 6/95, 5/97, 7/98 (WDW! FBLA Nationals-WDW Dolphin), 5/99, 3/00-Senior Trip, 6/01-first time to DCA too, 7/03, 3/05(double family trip when we were engaged), 12/05 (with girlfriends), 3/06 with DH (8 wks pregnant...), 6/09 with DH, 2/13: 1st trip with our kids! (Trip report, including Pre-trip)) Quick one-day DL only trip with my 9 month-old and friends - 9/11/14!!
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:12 AM   #3
Jaina
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Pre-planning with a vengeance! (15 days to go!)

Now that I have most of the details worked out, my mind is spinning with little questions. I get answers to lots of them there, but there are many no one can answer yet. I cannot WAIT until we're 4-5 days out and I can get a serious look at the forecast. You never know what you're going to get, weather-wise in CA in February... I also don't know how my kids are going to react to the "scary" elements of some of the rides. We're trying to watch a lot of them on Youtube (though they still don't know we're going in a few short months...) and their reactions are good so far. We even watched the first half of POTC last night and they all seemed excited.

I am playing with the idea of getting a 4-day hopper (will probably order today!) and getting up Tuesday (the 25th) and telling the kids we're going to Disneyland TODAY, driving for 6 hours, and entering the park in the mid afternoon without any pressure to get on certain rides. Taking a little time for characters and just soaking in the ambiance. I just don't know! It's probably about $150 more with the upgrade and some food for the day...

We have most of our shirts and souvenirs already, which we bought at the Disney Store outlet (and Wal-mart) for a fraction of the cost it would be in the parks. I think we spent a total of about $35 total on these gray shirts that I think we'll wear Friday:

$25 or less on this set (I already had most of the cute Minnie-esque outfit) that I think we'll wear Thursday:

We spent about $25 on these bright little babies. They need to be personalized, but we're still in discussion about what we want to do. I will post pictures when I finish that. (for the .5 people that are reading this thread! ) Hopefully within a few days. We will wear these Wednesday.


And $30 total on these for the kiddos. (Since in February they'll probably be wearing jackets as often as not, right?)


And these are the souvenirs we've collected so far. I'm thinking we've spent about $65, (not counting the blu-rays - another $28-30) which seems like a lot, but really isn't bad!


If we decide on a 4th half-day I'll have to decide on shirts. We already mostly have some black ones collected (that were happening before the neon green...) but we'll see.

We loaded several hundred on a Bluebird AmEx card to use during the time for food and souvenirs, (so if we overspend we're more aware of it!) DH has the time off work for sure, and we're in negotiations about when we're going and coming back. Not until Monday afternoon for sure (1 less day of school DS has to miss) but I don't know if we'll go then or Tuesday morning. Doesn't matter hotel-wise because we'll stay with friends in La Habra the first night or two. I am so excited that this is actually happening! Really hoping we stay well. We all already had the flu this season, so with any luck we're good on that front...
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Disneyland fanatic,(that would be me) wonderful DH, DS (6) and DD1 (5) and DD2 (2.5)!
Disney Trips:
5/86-3 years old-the first one!, 5/89, 5/91, 5/93, 6/95, 5/97, 7/98 (WDW! FBLA Nationals-WDW Dolphin), 5/99, 3/00-Senior Trip, 6/01-first time to DCA too, 7/03, 3/05(double family trip when we were engaged), 12/05 (with girlfriends), 3/06 with DH (8 wks pregnant...), 6/09 with DH, 2/13: 1st trip with our kids! (Trip report, including Pre-trip)) Quick one-day DL only trip with my 9 month-old and friends - 9/11/14!!

Last edited by Jaina; 02-13-2013 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 02-11-2013, 12:11 PM   #4
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Cool PTR so far! I look forward to reading more. My last 3 trips were similar to yours. Probably shouldn't have gone due to money but we went anyways. It ended up working out, and now we are in a far better situation with money this year. I think making memories is very important and you guys will have fun, you can worry about the money when you get back. I know there is a thread on here about penny pinching at DLR and it helped me. Take food with you in a cooler, helps keep food costs down, bring your own water and water bottles so you don't spend $2 on tiny water bottles at the park, I see you got souvenirs before the trip; good idea. I would link it but I cannot find it.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:48 PM   #5
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Where did you find the hoodies? I've been buying little gifts and such too. I'm only taking my 2 oldest boys and leaving presents for the kids at home to open everyday. I bought a bunch of super cheap disney theme candy (15 for a dollar) water bottles 1.99 each, little plastic toys .35 cents at party city, and a few disney movies at sams club for 12.98. I found disney pjs and shirts for them also.
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:14 PM   #6
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Great PTR! How did you decide to surprise them?
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Old 02-11-2013, 04:27 PM   #7
Jaina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markie Mouse View Post
I know there is a thread on here about penny pinching at DLR and it helped me. Take food with you in a cooler, helps keep food costs down, bring your own water and water bottles so you don't spend $2 on tiny water bottles at the park, I see you got souvenirs before the trip; good idea. I would link it but I cannot find it.
Oh, don't worry. I've read all the saving-money threads I can. We will be bringing most of our snacks and some meals in, and maybe buying one meal in the park a day. There will be other trips sometime for a character meal or nicer sit-down dining hopefully!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheChapman6 View Post
Where did you find the hoodies? I've been buying little gifts and such too. I'm only taking my 2 oldest boys and leaving presents for the kids at home to open everyday. I bought a bunch of super cheap disney theme candy (15 for a dollar) water bottles 1.99 each, little plastic toys .35 cents at party city, and a few disney movies at sams club for 12.98. I found disney pjs and shirts for them also.
I got the hoodies at the Disney Outlet store about 20 minutes from us. I love love having it close, but it makes it hard not to spend when things are often rather reasonably priced. (They have a lot of normal Disney store prices and sales too, but they have a huge sale/clearance section).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pesky View Post
Great PTR! How did you decide to surprise them?
We haven't yet. One option is to tell them 2-3 days before we leave so they can be excited too, but the other option on the table is getting up Tuesday morning (the 26th) and saying, "How about we go to Disneyland today?" and getting in the car, driving the 6-7 hours to CA and spending 4-5 hours in the park that evening. I am just super excited, and I know they will be too when they find out we're finally actually going. (The drive doesn't scare us much since we drove from Virginia to Arizona last summer - over 40 hours of car time. Everything else seems easy now. )

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Old 02-11-2013, 04:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaina View Post
We haven't yet. One option is to tell them 2-3 days before we leave so they can be excited too, but the other option on the table is getting up Tuesday morning (the 26th) and saying, "How about we go to Disneyland today?" and getting in the car, driving the 6-7 hours to CA and spending 4-5 hours in the park that evening. I am just super excited, and I know they will be too when they find out we're finally actually going. (The drive doesn't scare us much since we drove from Virginia to Arizona last summer - over 40 hours of car time. Everything else seems easy now. )
Oh, tough call. On the one hand, you can tell them day of and that way they get a good night's sleep the night before. On the other hand, you tell them before, let them have a bad night's sleep from the excitement and nap in the car. Both ways win! I guess it depends on whether you think any of the kids need time to get used to the idea of it happening RIGHT.THEN. (i.e. process time). Some kids just need that and you'd know best!
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:32 PM   #9
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Flashback: My First Trip to the Land

We will be in Disneyland 2 weeks from today! I am so excited! After much discussion (and realizing there were a few other things we needed to do while in Southern California) we decided to stick to the 3-day hopper an I have sworn on my life to just take it easy and let our kids experience their own magic rather than planning much of anything... DH is eager to go with the flow and let them enjoy exploring rather than orchestrating the perfect lineup of rides. This is hard for me, taking my history into account. My family was always the one in line (at least close to) first in the turnstiles, and at rope drop we sprinted for Space Mountain, followed by trying to get on as many rides as we could. He is actually the one that inspired my love for Disneyland, as he was always the one that got itchy and excited to go. Which is funny, because he has little patience for watching parades, waiting very long for anything, or big crowds. I didn't see a ton of those things during our trips; it was all about the rides. We would watch the fireworks from a bench back by BTMRR, because he enjoyed the quiet crowd-less-ness while still having a nice view of the actual fireworks. I think I was an adult before I realized there was a whole synchronized show that went along with them at the castle... Same with Fantasmic!; we've only sat to wait for it once or twice in my life, but watched it from the rails on the Rivers of America quite a few times. And, other than my first time, we never took anyone under 40" (which was about 4 in our vertically-challenged family) because they couldn't get on the thrill rides (our focus), and splitting up was more tedious back before cell phones. So this trip is going to be a first in so many ways for me, though I'm the oldest of 5, and have seen many kids' "first trips."

My first trip happened when I was 3 1/2.

My aunt and uncle were taking all of their kids to Disneyland and convinced my parents to come too. I don't have very many memories of that first trip, but the ones I do have are distinct (and since we didn't have a video camera yet, they are all my own). It was also my first time at the beach (we are from Arizona) and I remember getting swept under a wave and being tossed head over heel for a moment before my young teenage cousin plucked me from the depths (a good foot of water) and rescued me!

I remember riding through this whale on the Storybook Canal boats. It was always a weird memory, because I didn't go on that ride again until I was in high school for some reason.

Another memory is of the unexpected drop in POTC. I remember it scaring me and hiding my face in my dad. My parents said I wouldn't look up the rest of the ride!
The last strong memory I have is of being carried through the queue for BTMR. Apparently I was just a touch too short for it, but they (my relatives) said I would be fine, so we came back a bit later and one of my cousins distracted the CM by getting directions from them and my uncle picked me up and carried me through the queue into the ride. (This was back in 1986) I always thought it was my dad that carried me, but I talked with him about that memory just recently, and he said it was my (very tall) uncle. Interesting, anyway.
(this is my dad, not my uncle)

My parents didn't take me with them on their next trip - they went on an anniversary trip in 1987 and brought me back this baby Mickey Mouse. I was so in love with him!

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Disneyland fanatic,(that would be me) wonderful DH, DS (6) and DD1 (5) and DD2 (2.5)!
Disney Trips:
5/86-3 years old-the first one!, 5/89, 5/91, 5/93, 6/95, 5/97, 7/98 (WDW! FBLA Nationals-WDW Dolphin), 5/99, 3/00-Senior Trip, 6/01-first time to DCA too, 7/03, 3/05(double family trip when we were engaged), 12/05 (with girlfriends), 3/06 with DH (8 wks pregnant...), 6/09 with DH, 2/13: 1st trip with our kids! (Trip report, including Pre-trip)) Quick one-day DL only trip with my 9 month-old and friends - 9/11/14!!

Last edited by Jaina; 02-13-2013 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 02-13-2013, 07:01 PM   #10
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Today has been very Disney-fied!

In the mail we got two very exciting things. One was the 2013 DisneyParks Vacation Planning DVD I signed up for a few weeks ago. The kids are seriously going to love it. We might let them watch it sooner rather than later and break the news. We're still not sure...
The other was some special pixie dust from a member of these boards (scoker). Mickey Mouse, Belle, and Snow White sent my kids postcards from Disneyland with wishes that they would come visit soon. The 6-year knows just enough about the world and how "pretend" works that he was a little unsure what that meant or how it happened, but he took his post card for show and tell today, if that tells you anything. The 5-year-old really wants to write Belle back, and the 2-year-old's card already looks like it came from Australia instead of California, since she's been carrying it around everywhere.

Some very happy kiddos!

We finally decided on the best price on tickets, and our friend ordered 3-day park hoppers for us through her work today. So this (times 4) just came to my e-mail.

I am so excited I'm not sure what to do with myself for the next not-quite-2 weeks!!

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Old 02-13-2013, 07:44 PM   #11
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So excited for you guys. I say try to wait for the surprise as long as possible. We have told our kids every trip and we always regret not holding out for a surprise. We are this year. I'll tell you are plan if it helps. We will start going for drives to random places before the trip on Fridays for a family night. Then the Friday we leave, we will just drive, drive, and drive some more (were from AZ) and when we hit the closest In N Out, we will tell them were we are heading. Then drive right on to Harbor. It's your first trip with the kids so its up to you though. Either way it should be magic.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:46 AM   #12
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I am LOVING your PTR! I LOVE the postcard idea and might be stealing this! We took our 2 girls last year and told them the night before. That worked out really well and they were excited. I took them back a couple of weeks later with some friends and we told them that day as we were leaving and they started crying because they didn't want to go! They were tired and just wanted to be at home! SO, telling them can be tricky.

When I was a kid my grandparents took us a couple of times. They never told us where we were going. They would just put us in the car and start driving. Everytime we would ask where we were going my Grandpa would just say "wherever the car takes us". As we got close and started to see billboards we would get so excited "hoping" that was where we were headed! We were (and still are) a 6 hour drive too.

I'm sure you guys will have an amazing time and I look forward to more of your report!
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:44 PM   #13
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I am LOVING your PTR! I LOVE the postcard idea and might be stealing this!
It wasn't my idea, so I can't take credit, but it -is- a neat idea, and it was really sweet of her to offer!

We're thinking about telling them sooner rather than right before. Sometime in the next few days maybe? We just got some California Adventure mouse ears at the Disney Outlet (pics to come) and we might watch the 2013 planning DVD with them and then give them the ears and tell them we're going in less than 2 weeks. I'm just not sure when yet!
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Disney Trips:
5/86-3 years old-the first one!, 5/89, 5/91, 5/93, 6/95, 5/97, 7/98 (WDW! FBLA Nationals-WDW Dolphin), 5/99, 3/00-Senior Trip, 6/01-first time to DCA too, 7/03, 3/05(double family trip when we were engaged), 12/05 (with girlfriends), 3/06 with DH (8 wks pregnant...), 6/09 with DH, 2/13: 1st trip with our kids! (Trip report, including Pre-trip)) Quick one-day DL only trip with my 9 month-old and friends - 9/11/14!!
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:23 PM   #14
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Glad the kids liked the postcards! Love that your son brought his for show and tell. My daughter kept a journal of the trip and brought it to school. It might be fun for your son and it is a great keepsake.

My daughter does a journal entry every day at school so I just copied that format. I printed out a front cover on card stock and then made enough pages for every day of our trip including the travel days. I put a date line on the top of each page and a few lines at the bottom. Each day she drew a picture of something we did that day and then wrote a couple of sentences about it. It came out great. She has something really special to show at school and I have something wonderful to keep forever.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:31 PM   #15
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Flashback: The Trip Where I Wasn't 7 Yet, and The Trip Where We Didn't Take Pictures.

I know, that seems like a strange title, but it really does matter...

(Check out old Winnie the Pooh!)
My dad has a cousin who lived in Covina, CA, and we visited them and based our touring out of their house when we went in 1989. My little brother was 2.5, and we left him with aunts. My little sister was 5 months old, so she came along. (Not to Disneyland though, we left her with a babysitter my cousin's family knew, and she protested by refusing to eat anything for about 8-9 hours straight...) I think we (me, my parents and my sister) went to Sea World first, which I loved. I still love Sea World, as long as the weather is cool. But it wasn't nearly so exciting back then, and was mostly animal exhibits and a few shows. My dad's cousin, his wife, and their two sons (I think... I don't actually remember if they brought the second boy - they also had a baby girl that they left with the sitter) came to Disneyland with us.


This is important to the story because their older son, my (2nd) cousin, Sterling, was 7, and I was 6. And my only super-strong memory (that doesn't just fade into the other generic memories of Disneyland) was how excited I was to ride Dumbo. It had been closed for refurbishment on my first trip, and I had wanted to ride it so badly! Anyway, I got picked to ride with Sterling, since I couldn't ride on my own (not being 7 yet) and the darn boy would not let me make Dumbo go up or down even once! Little punk... ;-)

I remember enjoying myself immensely though, other than that, and liked watching the little clips of video that our cousins took during the trip. My dad enjoyed them so much that on the way home from California he stopped and bought a video camera of our own.

Which leads us to the next trip:

In 1991 My parents, me, my little brother (now 4 and tall enough to get on Space Mountain, which was essential, apparently), and a foreign exhange student from South Africa (slightly long story) returned to the Happiest Place on Earth. I'm sure that we took a -few- pictures of that trip, but none trickled down to me (and I'm sort of the family record keeper). There might be a few in the family albums, but I don't have any scanned or in my own books! The reason for this is that lovely little (hah. Try HUGE) video camera that we took along. You can find some footage of this trip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XJAvjl6Ga0

It was a good one, and the last time I remember the Skyway to Tomorrowland/Fantasyland being open. I also got to ride the Matterhorn for the first time, which scared me spitless. (Still does; I have to close my eyes when I think the snow monster is coming up).
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Disneyland fanatic,(that would be me) wonderful DH, DS (6) and DD1 (5) and DD2 (2.5)!
Disney Trips:
5/86-3 years old-the first one!, 5/89, 5/91, 5/93, 6/95, 5/97, 7/98 (WDW! FBLA Nationals-WDW Dolphin), 5/99, 3/00-Senior Trip, 6/01-first time to DCA too, 7/03, 3/05(double family trip when we were engaged), 12/05 (with girlfriends), 3/06 with DH (8 wks pregnant...), 6/09 with DH, 2/13: 1st trip with our kids! (Trip report, including Pre-trip)) Quick one-day DL only trip with my 9 month-old and friends - 9/11/14!!

Last edited by Jaina; 02-14-2013 at 10:34 PM. Reason: typos
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