Disneyland: Vacay Days!

Golly gee - I don't know where to start! I guess right after the race - when we walked straight into Disneyland and met up with Steve and Linda and the California cousins!

They were so cute in their matching outfits and enthusiasm! We just had one day with them, so we tried to get to do everything they wanted - and I think we actually accomplished it maybe!
At some point I had enough of being gross and stinky and went back to the hotel to get a shower and changed, I took just a little rest too. The rest of the group got a lot done during that time, but I was more than fine with that. I was just so relieved to be done with the race. Also my knees killed and I didn't mind putting my feet up for a bit.
Afterwards we had a nice Mother's Day lunch, which actually wasn't my favorite meal after all, but we tried. If you notice we are all wearing jackets - the weather was honestly kind of perfect. 60s-70s, which meant that most of the time we needed jackets on, but when the sun came out it quickly warmed up and we could take them off - either way we were perfect, not too hot... although we did freeze a few evenings.
We rode on the refurbed Autopia - it's always a hit with the little kids and the adults that get to ride with them :) We hit the parade and fireworks times just right on this day - Whit looked like he was totally into the parade, but really it was just the kids' balloons in front of him.

The Paint the Night Parade is maybe my favorite parade ever. The floats are so mesmerizing and colorful and beautiful - and that song is still stuck in my kids' heads. In the best way.

We  watched the fireworks from a place we never had before - in front of it's a small world - which  means you don't get all of the effects around the castle, but the good part was that we could see all of the projections that we weren't able to see from standing on Main Street.

The next day we spent the first half in California Adventure so that we could get on Radiator Springs Racers - which we did. Carolina didn't want to go, but we talked her into it (not her first time after all) - she still wasn't a fan.This was Steve and Linda's last day - and getting to see Cars Land and this ride was the main attraction of the day. I wish we could've gone on it once more at night - but it was freezing and the line was still so long.

We spent the rest of our time back at Disneyland trying to get in some of the new "Season of the Force" Star Wars offerings. We got to meet Chewbacca (not Carolina, who was passed out, and quite surprised to see this picture)!
These guys met Boba Fett - and we all met Kylo Ren, who was honestly pretty intimidating.
And apparently I stopped taking pictures at this point - this was probably when I was getting ready to head to my Babes in Disneyland group dinner. We had such a fun, relaxing time - we've only had 2 opportunities to do this!
Ok - last day - always the hardest. Everyone has these mental lists of things you haven't yet done or want to do again, and it seems like we always want to go in different directions. One thing our little family wanted to do was to go check out our room at the Disneyland Hotel as soon as it was ready - this was a major bucket list check for me! We LOVED staying at the Grand Californian, but the original park hotel always intrigued me, and even more so after it was renovated recently. We usually walk through it and check out the pool and other things when we visit, but we have never stayed there. I talked Mom and Dad and Jen and Grant into getting a 3-room suite and sharing it for one night, just for the experience. So at 3:00 we headed out of the parks and over to the hotel! The kids didn't know - it was our one surprise for them. One of the great things about it is that there is almost always a character or two roaming around the lobby/check-in area, so Goofy, Pluto, and Chip and Dale distracted the kids while Poppa checked us in. (Turns out this was the only character Carolina saw while awake.)
I was so dumb not to take pictures of the amazing room/s - but I definitely took a picture of the view. We totally lucked out and got the right side of the right tower - at the top floor (other than the penthouse floor) and could see EVERYTHING! I don't know if you can click on this picture to expand it, but you can see bothparks from Splash Mountain on the far left, Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Radiator Springs, and Screamin' on the far right - plus all of Downtown Disney clearly. It was spectacular.
After just relaxing in it for a bit and taking in all of the gloriousness - we headed back to DCA and finally experienced the Redwood Creek Challenge trail area - which the kids LOVED! Rock climbing, slides, rope obstacle courses, splash areas, a tire swing race. Yeh, it was rad.
Even the GoodYear blimp hung around.

We park hopped once more to finish out our time at Walt's park. That last night was pretty crazy, running around trying to get everything done - which still didn't happen- and and that last look around, no matter how tired and cranky everyone is, just because you don't want it to be over.
The good news was that we had an awesome place to head to - this is a picture of the headboard of the bed. When you push a button on the lamp it plays "when you wish upon a star" and these little hidden lights twinkle on - so magical.
And the view from our room at night was maybe even better than in the day.
The next day everyone else went out to do some shopping in Downtown Disney, and even though it was chilly we gave our kids the chance to swim if they wanted... *surprise* - they did. We basically had one whole pool to ourselves - Todd walked and got he and I breakfast while I watched the kids and we waited until the water slides opened so the kids could try them for the first time.See those monorails? They are actually two water slides. I was surprised that they weren't too afraid of the highest red one, but it turned out to be Carolina's favorite! They weren't ready to leave, but we did have to check out after all :(
The rest of the family had to catch the shuttle to the airport to fly out - but we had a few more hours until our drive to Riverside, so we packed up the car and then headed back to the World of Disney store to finish our shopping.
Of course, on our last pass through the lobby to the car, there was Minnie and Carolina was fast asleep - Minnie shushed us and gave Lina a kiss without disturbing her at all.
I'm starting to think 3 days just aren't quite enough anymore - which is funny, because you'd think it would go the other direction, but no, I need MORE days! I know I could've gotten everything done with just one more day right? But truly the only thing I really regret not doing is taking.any.family.pictures.
We didn't take a single one!
But all in all this was a very magical trip - from the miracle of us all making it there - alive and (mostly) well, to sharing the experience with both sides of our family (14 people in all!) - to surviving a 13 mile race - but 21 miles in all, including the walking the rest of the day! 
When can we do this again?
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