A Birthday Trip to San Diego

Jan 27, 2016


Without question, January is my least favorite month of the year. It is cold. It is dreary. It is dark. (Oh, how I hate the dark!)

The fact that my birthday falls in January has always seemed like some cruel sort of joke, especially since the thought of growing older depresses me anyway without the gloom to go along with it.

But a few months ago, I had a rather brilliant idea (stolen from an acquaintance), and I broached it with Mike: "You know, I think I might actually look forward to my birthday if I got to celebrate it somewhere warm and sunny." Call it a not-so-subtle hint, but Mike almost immediately started planning.

His first idea was for the two of us to go to San Diego for the weekend. But San Diego is actually a place we've wanted to take our kids for a long time. So we tacked a couple more days on the beginning and end, and it morphed into a family vacation. Because of that, we could give it as a Christmas AND a birthday present. (And although I usually hate it when I have to share my birthday with Christmas, this time I didn't mind in the slightest. The planning included things for me and things for the boys, so it made sense to share.)

The boys opened up the plane tickets on Christmas Day, and they were so excited. Bradley has been dying to fly for so long (he's actually the only one our kids that hadn't flown before, and he took it rather personally).

For the next three weeks, we talked and planned and anticipated. The Christmas decorations came down. The inversion settled over the city. The streets became a slushy mess. But we didn't care. We had a bright spot of sun in our future, and it made everything seem so much easier to endure (which was exactly the point . . . ).

I was anxious on two points the week before we left: that it would be raining the entire time we were in San Diego (the week before was a week of storms) and that we would be throwing up the entire time (it seemed like everyone we knew contracted the stomach flu a few days before our scheduled departure).

But we escaped on both accounts. And we had a truly fabulous time.

Highlights included:

The flight . . . Even though Aaron, Maxwell, and Clark had all flown before, none of them remembered it, and Bradley had never been on a plane at all, and so it was pretty magical. But don't worry--Clark insured that we didn't enjoy ourselves too much.


Legoland . . . Mike and I expected to endure this for the sake of our Lego-obsessed children, but we loved it, too. It wasn't crowded, our kids were all at the perfect ages to enjoy everything, and the apple fries were delicious!


Sea World . . . We spent part of two days there. Bradley and Aaron sat in the soak zone for the killer whale show, and when the first wave came crashing over, Bradley didn't handle it well.


The beach . . . The water was too cold for my liking, but the warm sun on my back was not. I could have sat there listening to the waves crashing on the beach forever. (And actually, my kids didn't seem to mind the cold water one bit.)


San Diego temple . . . I have loved this temple through pictures since I was a little girl. Seeing it in person was breathtaking. (Our kids complained of being too hot while we were there, but it felt perfect to me.)


Mormon Battalion Historic Site . . . We were looking for something appropriate to do on Sunday, but this would have been delightful any day of the week. The tour was fantastic, and the boys loved panning for gold at the end of it.


Meeting the Gardners for dinner . . . No, these friends do not live in San Diego. They live a mere twenty minutes away from us in Utah, but they happened to be visiting at the same time, so why not?


Listening to The BFG . . . At one point, Mike was trying to point something out to the kids, so I turned it off, and Maxwell said, "Please turn it back on!! It is one of my most prized possessions!"


The seals at La Jolla . . . We went early one morning to see them, and it was practically just us and the seals on the beach. Our kids could have gone right up to the seals if we'd let them (we did not).


Giant lollipops . . . We were going to take the boys on the Old Town Trolley, not realizing that it wasn't some 15-minute trip through Old Town, but an extensive two-hour ride through parts of the city . . . and it was going to cost us $130. So we opted for $6.50 lollipops instead.


Of course, we had some rough moments where the kids were all screaming and crying, and Mike and I were threatening to never bring them on another vacation, but when it was all said and done, we agreed that it was 85% good, and that seems like a high enough percentage to do it again.

The ups and downs of traveling with children aside, this trip did exactly what it was supposed to: it gave us a six-day break from winter, the three weeks leading up to it were a little brighter because we knew what was coming, and the week since we got home hasn't been as bad either because we have the memories to lift our spirits (although the icy rain/snow was not a very nice welcome home the morning after we got back!).


And you know what? There are some things I appreciate far more since we went away: our water (it's so crystal cold here!), my hair (it couldn't handle the humidity), our house (staying in a one bedroom condo was the cause of most of our meltdowns).

So I'm glad we went. I'm glad we came back. And I can survive winter. (And I'm already planning my next birthday getaway!)

18 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great vacation! I've done my share of traveling with four kids, and I admit that I prefer to be traveling to family, which I have cunningly scattered about in many pleasing locations. Family has guest rooms, avoiding that dreaded one-bedroom, no escape scenario. I laughed at your description of LegoLand; I've never taken my kids there but my brother and I made a visit when we were both in England (and both adults) and we still had a blast. And then I arranged for my corporate ride to the airport to meet us there instead of at my hotel and they were very confused.

    I hope Clark realizes how lucky he was to get his own seat!

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    1. Oh yes, being able to stay (and visit) with relatives is a major perk to any place. I think we need to spread our families out more across the country. :-)

      For the record, we didn't purchase a seat for Clark, but the plane wasn't full, and so they gave us the middle seat for him. It was awesome. (We weren't so fortunate on the flight home.)

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  2. Oh sounds like a wonderful break up of your winters.

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  3. Hooray! That sounds really fun. January is my worst month, too. So glad you were able to get away for awhile!

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    1. Yes, if you're ever able to manage a getaway in January, I'd recommend it!

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  4. I share having a January birthday with you. My memories from the past include birthday parties canceled because of flu, snowstorms or just being so close to Christmas there was nothing I needed. (except more books) Shopping trips were disappointing because all the sale clothes were picked over. My adult solution includes spending the winter in FL, setting up a Book Lover's book club with snowbirding new friends (no assigned book, just talk about books we love and recommend), mimosas at breakfast book club, and finally celebrating at home in summer on my half birthday often called "A Very Happy Unbirthday " (song stolen from Disney Alice in Wonderland. Happy Birthday to you from an Aquarian from Annapolis!

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    1. I love your coping strategies for having a January birthday (celebrating your half birthday in the summer is a great idea!).

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  5. I Love to see your family in front of the Temple ! You are wonderfull !!!!
    Hello from France !!!

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  6. Oh I wish I knew you were coming! I would have met you at any of those places! We are 2 hrs from Most of those places by my in laws live there so we go often. I'm glad you were able to enjoy some sunshine!

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    1. Noooooo, don't say it! I would have loved to have seen you, but I didn't even know it was a possibility. Next January!

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  7. Looks like a great trip, Amy. I love the pictures.

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  8. We are going to San Diego in March! Give me all your planning tips--did you find discounts for Sea World and/or Legoland?

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    1. You're going to have so much fun! Lego magazine usually has a free children's pass in it, but we ended up buying a packaged deal for Sea World and Legoland (I think Legoland ended up being a little more expensive that way, but the whole deal was cheaper.)

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  9. Maybe next year should be to PA :)

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  10. What a fun trip. Glad you got some sun in. Flights probably aren't nearly as cheap, but maybe next year you could consider a January visit to Texas (we hit 80* this week, just saying...)?

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