Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Northern California

After Hollywood we drove up to Northern California to search out some places where Grandma (Mary Lou) grew up with her family.  She was born in San Luis Obispo so we only drove through there.  Then we drove to Santa Cruz where Jason remembers going with his family when he was younger.  It is absolutely lovely there! It is a holiday destination for many people and because it was the end of Spring Break there were a few people there!  We went and walked along the beach and also tried beach volleyball which was lots of fun!  We even tried swimming in the ocean water but it was freezing!  Not like Aussie beaches (even in Spring)!!! Later we had extremely yummy fish and chips on the beach like back home and we also all tried some clam chowder which apparently is famous to San Francisco which was devine!!!

That afternoon we drove up to Saratogo where Jason remembers his mother and her family had a house there!  We found the house and Jason and a few children asked to go through the home.  The residents were very friendly as they remembered Jason's Grandma and his Uncle Bob as they bought the home off him.  It was very nice of them to let him walk through and reminisce. Then we kept driving north through to San Francisco so we could drive across the Golden Gate Bridge!  I didnt except to feel so cool driving across it. After seeing the bridge in so many movies it was actually quite weird to see it in real life - very sureal!  Then we drove to Oakland to view the temple there which was absolutely beautiful! 
That night we ended up in Fresno very late ready for Easter morning with the Speil Family!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Most people who know me know I love my movies!  Well mainly just romantic movies and I have a little fascination with stars and things they get up to and mainly hoping they are lovely people as they seem SO we had to add Hollywood Boulevard to our holiday.  I knew that Hugh Jackman had just recently had his star added to the walk of fame and I really really wanted a photo with it!  - The day we went was really weird and I expect it is like it all the time! There were sooooo many tourists walking up and down stopping and looking at stars and trying to take photos.  There were soooooo many people trying to get you to buy things from their store or take tours with their company.  Also soooooo many want to be actors dressed up like famous people trying to get you to take a picture with them!  And when you did they wanted $2 or a higher donation.  I couldn't really believe it.  However I accept that's what life is like there. It felt like a true rat race  and I think it was the only time in California that I was truly worried we would lose one of the children, lucky we had our Aussie t-shirts on that day as I could see them very easily.

For awhile there it looked as though we wouldn't find Hugh's star.  We walked up and down for ages and then finally checked on the internet where his star was...of course it was right near where we had started....  we had taken a wrong turn at the beginning!  

I think Hugh Jackman is gorgeous and a talented actor but I mainly like him because he is an Aussie, seems like a fabulous father and most importantly and loyal and loving husband!!! Don't shatter my dream please Hugh!


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Sacrifice brings forth blessings!

On our first Sunday in America we planned to visit Santee Ward in San Diego where a friend of ours is currently serving his mission - Elder Chris Douglass.  I had absolutely no idea that it was 2 hours away from where we were staying in Anaheim.  So on the Saturday we had a decision to make with our family... leave Disneyland around 9 pm and then drive down to San Diego that night or stay until 11 pm and get up early at 6:45 am and drive to San Diego.  Of course the majority wanted to stay at Disneyland as long as possible!  So after an early early rise for Jason we started for San Diego just to attend a ward to see an Elder who wasn't even expecting us or not even part of the family I was really questioning whether this was worth it.  But Jason was determined and he had all the tough work of driving so I kept my mouth shut and didn't complain as most of the children went back to sleep.  Unfortunately we got a little lost but I was able to get us back on track (which is rare for me which is why i must add this sentence) As we were back on track I just said a passing comment like 'whew Heavenly Father must love us today as he helped us get back on track!' - then Matthew replied from the back - 'Mum that doesn't make any sense - Heavenly Father loves us all the  time!!!' - how true.

So with about 10 minutes to go a few children started getting ready for church slowly in the back of the RV while Jason was still driving!!! It was quite funny actually - we kept passing Jason food and toothbrush and things like his tie so he could be ready.  Anyway in the end we made it with 1 minute to spare so I sent Jason and most of the children in while I continued getting ready in the RV parked out the back of the weird situation.

By the time I had arrived in the chapel I noticed Elder Douglass - looking strong, confident and happy and then asked Jason if he had seen us.  Jason replied that he hadn't and that he was about to help the Young men pass the sacrament so for sure he would see us....but no he didn't.  He was focused upon serving others and fulfilling his assignment at that time.  Later after the meeting he mentioned to us that during the closing hymn he turned around and saw us and was absolutely gob smacked!  He couldn't believe that we were there to see him in his own ward!  It was such a lovely day to spend with him and attend classes with him and hopefully it helped him as much as it did us.  It was great for my boys especially Michael seeing someone they know serving a mission for the church.

So then comes our blessings.  It had been such a rushed day that I wasn't really prepared for much but the Bishop and his family invited us over for lunch and also Elder Douglass and his companion so we were able to all catch up and spend some more time with each other.  The Bloomfields were so generous and friendly that my children were all very happy to play with them and could of stayed there forever.  Heather the mum even took some of my kids to the park so I could rest and catch up on a little sleep.

Jason and Elder Douglass

Then the next night we all caught up again at the Drive - In and watched the Croods.  The children were all really happy to be together again.  The Bloomfields had chairs, blankets and even snacks for us all - they were just so helpful and lovely!  I hope I can remember such generosity and hope to repay them one day or if not them try to remember what it is like to travel and to help others in a similar situation!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Are you guys Mormons???

On our first day at Disney California Adventure we spent about 2 hours waiting for a 'Lightning McQueen' ride so it was a very very long time for most of us especially Daniel.  We sent a few children off to do single rides here and there to make it more interesting for them but it was a very long wait.  I really wanted to do this ride for Daniel and have a family experience together.  We played a few games in line and had lots of munchies and quite a few people talked to us as we had a our AUSTRALIA tee shirts one with TEAM ELLIS on the back.  So everyone wanted to know what Team Ellis meant.... The best family ever!  Anyway one family leaned over the railings and asked if we were Australians...ah yes!  And then wanted to know if we were Mormons and I was like YES!  How on earth did you guess that?  - She mentioned we looked happy and excited together and our tee shirts made us look like a great joyful family.  Wow that made me feel be recognised as Mormons when we weren't really in an ideal situation.  I also felt like we must be doing something right as a family!  Obviously not everyone can afford to take six children on a memorable trip to Disneyland and General Conference but I am hoping the time and effort Jason and I have spent to get here will really help us cement a loving family built upon the teachings of Jesus Christ and help our children understand our family is forever.

Loads of Theme Park Photos

Universal Studios

 California Adventure and Disneyland

Sea World

Monday, 1 April 2013

Theme Park Crazy

Friday 22nd - Universal Studios
So excited to get go to our first Theme Park.  I think we were spoilt as there were not many people there compared to other days at other theme parks.  We all went to the Water World show which was absolutely fabulous and Joanna loved it so much she wanted to hang around and get a photo with some of the actors.  Then Daniel and I went off to some small rides and characters to meet while the others went through the Haunted House....later I found out that Jordyn didn't want to go through...don't think i would like it either!  - When I saw Curious George Daniel and I raced towards him!  He looked so cute and fuzzy....Daniel was so excited to meet him!  I think all the people inside the characters do so well as they are so great with the kids and act so well and loving around them.  It makes the children feel so loved!  Later in the day we all caught up together and did some simulator rides like Simpsons and Transformers which I thought may be pretty weak but I was really really impressed they were sooooo good! I don't even like the Simpsons but I think that would have to be my best ride there!  I loved the Mummy ride as well.  During the day the 4 children paid for their own character pictures and I couldn't resist a picture of Daniel as little Anakin Skywalker!  That night we went for a walk around Universal City which is so big and loud to anything we can imagine and we ate tea at Johnny Rockets which is where Jason and I had our first date (in Sydney of course) so that was fun to reminisce with the children.

Saturday 23rd - Disney California Adventure
Woohoo finally at Disneyland after all the hype and talking about it we were there.  When you arrive at Disney you can go through the main area and either go to Disneyland (the original) or go the other way to Disney California Adventure.  We choose Disney California Adventure which consists of smaller areas with lands such as Bugs Life, Hollywood Land, Paradise Pier (Mickey Mouse stuff, and Toy Story stuff) and of course CARS LAND.  We were so excited to have Daniel there....he didn't know where to look.  For those of you who do not know he is an avid Cars fan!  This land was sooo well done and just like the movie - I couldn't resist getting a few mementos especially a drinking fountain of one of the Cozy Cones. We chose to go right up the back and start with Radiator Spring Racers with fast cars riding around the mountains just like Lightening and Sally do in the first movie. The actual ride was fabulous but we were really disappointed that they weren't characters cars from the movie. We also waited 2 hours for this ride....Crazy I know but it gave us a chance to organise the day and work out what we needed to do and what we wanted to do. It has been so great having Michael and Raechel being a little older as they can take other children off to do rides or go on the Single Rider side so we they can get a few rides in before we all go as a family! Then we all went to see Lightning McQueen!  Disney obviously know what they are doing as the car was life sized and voiced activated and talked to us all and gave Daniel special attention.   It was a gorgeous moment! So for the rest of the day Jason took the big kids off to do the thrill rides and Daniel and I spent time with the smaller ones and we caught up during the day for a few shows and that.  I really really loved the Hollywood Tower Hotel ride!  Very fun and unexpected moves.  We stayed until 11pm as there was so much to do but we felt like we fit in all we wanted!

Monday 25th - Sea World
So after a two hour drive on the Sunday to get to San Diego we visited Sea World!  I was blown away by how amazing all the shows with the animals were!  The killer whales were absolutely incredible and I couldn't believe that they could train whales to do that sort of thing.  I thought the original Shamu was alive but apparently it is the name they give the star of the show at any one time.  I thought it was hilarious at the end when the trainers encouraged them to splash everyone with their tails. There was also a baby whale calf which was so adorable swimming with mum and dad.  The dolphin show was spectacular as well and like something from Cirque Du Soliel.  Not that the dolphins were doing all the twirls and spins there were just so many acrobats and divers you didn't know where to look sometimes. - The big children loved the Atlantis ride and the Mantra roller coaster.  Daniel and I were really surprised to see Seasme Street characters at Sea World but loved the children play area with all the characters appearing from time to time.  My big kids appeased me and had a photo with Elmo and Big Bird!  I was very grateful as it was very very cute!  Jason couldn't be persuaded to join us!  We had a fabulous day and I think I really enjoyed this world as it was a little smaller and we seemed to have more time to do everything.

Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th - Disneyland
Back to Disneyland and we went to the classic Disneyland side.  I was overawed about how many people there was.  It is spring break here in America so that could have added to it but people I talked to said it can be this busy all summer and spring.  It definitely scared me a little!!! Jason wasn't worried at all. I loved all the extra addition of the Star Wars characters as Disney had bought the rights since the last time we were at Disneyland.  Took the children to my favourite ride first - Space Mountain!  Loved it fun.  Again bi kids went off with Dad and I looked after Daniel chasing the little rides.  We saw Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore and Tiger and then went to Cartoon Town to visit Mickey and Friends.  We waited for over 45 minutes just to be with Mickey....I couldn't believe how long it was.  Every now and then I asked Daniel if he wanted to see him and he did so he did well waiting.  As you line up for Mickey Mouse you go through his house with a few interesting things for the children to do like sit in his chairs or play in Pluto's kennel so that keeps everyone interested for awhile.  As we were waiting I was thinking that they should have more than one Mickey and we all go through different rooms to see him...and lo and behold that's exactly what they were doing and it still took 45 minutes! However it was totally worth the wait! The people  inside Mickey Mouse must be saints as they would get so hot inside the costume and annoyed at crazy parents who want heaps of photos...but as each child comes up they give that child undivided attention and a cuddle and love.  Daniel was so excited to see him and Mickey cupped Daniels face and they had such a lovely moment together I was nearly crying!!! - We saved Minnie mouse for the next day!  (lucky she was only 20 minutes but still as gracious and lovely and cute as good old Mickey)

I couldn't believe how much all the children enjoyed watching the parade of Disney characters which of course was at such a high standard of colour and costume! To be so close to these what seems like live characters is so exciting for the children.  However the fireworks that night was absolutely amazing!!! I was really really impressed.  They did fireworks to stories and music and lit up Sleeping Beauty's castle...It was fabulous!  Then later that night there was also more amazing talent of the lights on the water with Mickey beating the evil Ursula from Little Mermaid.  Obviously Disney know what they are doing but it is just so good!!!

Before entering Disney on the last day we wondered through Downtown Disney and thanks to relatives and lots of saving the children have quite a bit of money to spend (more than they are used to anyway), so Matthew and Jordyn saw these fabulous shops where they could make and stuff their own teddy bear or build and create their own remote control car.  Obviously the shops are set up where the bears and cars  have additional extras so they cast around $60 but they had so much fun making them and they seem to be really good quality so I hope they love them forever.  Joanna chose to get her hair styled like a rock star  at Studio Disney 365. Her hair and a little makeup with face jewels looked amazing and last for four days.  She was treated really well and they made her feel like a princess.

Throughout the last day we wondered back and forth through the both parks and getting children to choose what they wanted to do and where to go. We saved lots of time sending children with big ones and going on the single rider sides just to save time in lines.  We had about 4 incidents of rides broken down for awhile so that put a dampener on the day but overall so worth it of course.  The main reason I wanted to go was for the World of Colour - a light presentation on the water with more amazing colour technics.  This was on California Adventure side with 2 shows at 9pm and 10:15pm.  we were able to get special "fast passes" for the late show so you don't have to wait around for ever saving a spot but as it got to 10:20pm they announced they were having difficulties (at least they didn't say cancelled!) the poor kids were so tired and I was literally forcing them to stay awake to watch this.  Then another announcement - I think I nearly froze just hoping it wasn't cancelled and lucky just 2 minutes later it started.   AND boy was it worth the wait!!! I do not have enough adjectives to describe how much i enjoyed watching the amazing water and jets and colours all to Disney music and pictures from Disney films.  It was spectacular! We visited most things we wanted except for Star Tours (broken down twice) and the Grizzly Peak section of California Adventure. I was also a little disappointed Jason and children missed out on seeing the Aladdin spectacular musical as I thought it was absolutely fabulous! The genie was hilarious. Overall  we were just so excited to be there!

Friday 29th - Universal Studios
So our last day at a major theme park, we were excited to get going.  However it was a lot colder than last time we visited here so we didn't really go on any of the rides or shows with water. I also went back to RV and had a short nap which was extremely useful to have close by so I could do that.  We saw some other shows that we missed on the first day that was great to see such as the Special Effects show and the Animal Actors.  - It was also the day to finish our souvenir shopping which is also fun.  Jason and I came back around 8pm and let the big children finish off some rides and then they called us when they were ready to come back to the car park!  So that side of having the RV everywhere we go is extremely useful but every day at each theme park it cost us $20 to park the thing!  Crazy....$120 just in parking to enjoy some rides!  But when you add it all up it was way cheaper than using the shuttles from the RV park as we had 8 people that may have charged up to $5 each for.

One Minor Regret - Unfortunately we didn't realise Fast Passes at Disney were free!  If you lined up early enough you could have saved hours in lines and waiting to make sure you get a seat for a show. We assumed there were additional costs considering Universal and Sea World and the theme parks in Australia, fast passes cost extra.  - After talking with a few others though we considered that we we may not have saved heaps of time as each ride or show had fast pass booths at various sections all over the theme park that only opened for the pass at certain times that weren't predetermined, by the time you make sure you are there at the right time to scan your ticket you may not actually be guaranteed a fast pass for the ride you want.  People mentioned most fast passes were all gone  9am and which we never arrived at any park at that time as we were trying to catch up on sleep from the night before.  Lets hope our knowledge will help any others wishing to go to Disneyland!