Thursday, January 5, 2012

California or bust

We had such a great time on our trip!

We took hundreds of pictures on a borrowed camera - mine broke just a few days before our trip.  These are the highlights that are probably long and boring for anyone else reading, but I still want to document them for our family journal!

Most of our trip was paid for months ago - we just had to get gas along the way and pay for the food when we ate out.

Day 1 & 2 Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 21 & 22):  
Packing and driving to California

Loved Big Mama, our flat-screen and the laptop with all of our Christmas and Disney movies!
We only had to stop to get gas once and to sleep in the Wal-Mart parking lot (we're so classy!)
Also loved all the dollar store crafts I brought and a table to sit at to do them.

Lea coloring

Adri & Anna up in the "loft"
Day 2 evening:  planned to go to Disneyland for the first evening but it was very windy and so COLD!  We decided to just go for a little walk.  We walked around Anaheim garden walk and got ice cream at a Mexican market.  We played for about an hour on the escalators there (who needs expensive theme parks when there's an escalator!!).

Akayla, Mars & Adri
Anna, Corina & Elli

I'm totally loving Akayla's face in this picture!
yummy ice cream and we were the only white people in the entire market

Day 3 Friday (Dec. 23):

San Diego Zoo

Anna & Lea
Adri, Anna & Corina
Mars & Akayla
trying not to fall off the hippo

Mars, Elli & a sea lion stuck in the ice
Lea in the snow caves

so tired on the way back!

Our day to feed everyone (my parents, Foster, Genelle, Carissa, and Brandon, Ayrial and their 3 girls all came to enjoy California with us so we did meals together for 3 of the days).  We got our food in the crock pot but that plus getting everyone showered and ready for the day took a little longer than planned.

We had already set out late, and the drive to San Diego should have been about 1 1/2 hours but it took us an extra 1 1/2 hours to get there because of a huge accident on the freeway.

Had a great day even though it was shorter than we planned.

Favorites were the huge hippo, the lion and the elephants.

We all drove back and had a yummy dinner of potato soup and bread sticks, and then off to bed!

Day 4 Saturday (Christmas Eve):
Universal Studios

Curious George play area - so fun and no lines!!
typical Ferrara family faces!
favorite ride - the Mummy........Tanner, Akayla, Corina & Adri being Egyptian
Lexy & Elli copying the big kids and making "egyptian" faces
Amora & Mariah - favorite cousins!
Elli with Uncle Foster and Bumpa

Perfect weather and a perfect day!!

Loved running into Brandon, Ayrial and kids right before the studio tour and LOVED the new king kong attraction.  WOW!

Loved holding my sleeping baby and seeing all my kids and their cousins on the tram.

Loved sitting with my whole huge family in the special effects show and going on all the big rides with them afterwards.

Loved that everyone else was going home to be Santa so we had the whole park to ourselves (practically) and got to ride the Mummy, Simpsons, and Jurasic Park several times!

Loved seeing Anna's face when she got off the Jurassic Park ride and begged to go again and again!

Loved going through the House of Horrors with my big kids.

Drove over to Brandon & Ayrial's hotel to eat crock-pot bbq chicken, rolls and fresh veggies.

Loved having my dad read the full Christmas story.  It was our first Christmas with my family in at least 7 years.

Came back to the motor home - kids got to open their Christmas jammies and Christmas book.
We all crashed immediately and didn't even read our book.

I was so tired I almost didn't get out all the Christmas stuff and fill the stockings but Dave talked me into it!

Day 5 Sunday (Christmas Day):
First (and hopefully only) Christmas in Big Mama

we piled the presents in the front seat and all over the floor -
 it  just about made my flesh crawl with all the clutter.....but  I made it through!!!
my cute kids on Christmas morning....
jammies were brown, pink & hot pink
the girls all got these cute flower headbands from our talented neighbor!

We kept things really simple this year because our California trip was our big family gift, but here's the list of gifts the kids received:

Akayla:  a really nice garment bag with her team logo and her name on it for clogging competitions, and $ for clothes

Corina:  The Hunger Games series, and $ for clothes

Tanner:  a very cool sled (that he has not been able to use yet - where's the snow?!!), and $ for clothes

Adriana:  a jacket from Aeropostale, her own straightener, and $ for clothes

Annalisa:  an American Girl doll (Rebecca), and the Justin Bieber movie (Never say never).

Mariah:  an American Girl doll (Marie-Grace the newest doll), and a charm bracelet making set

Elora:  a tabletop easel (marked at $90 but I got it for $9!!), an art set, and a puppet theater with lots of darling puppets (also marked at $90 and I paid $9!!)

Leandra:  cutest cloth doll I've ever seen (marked at $50 and I paid $5), and a toddler purse with all kinds of goodies in it (marked at $35 and I paid $3.50.........I'm very excited about the 90% off sale I found can you tell?!!)

Landon:  hmmmm......lots of hugs, kisses, and clothes!  He's a newborn baby for heaven sake - what else does he need?!!

We also received really nice gifts from both grandparents and from our siblings that had our name this year.
We actually felt very spoiled this year!

We spent a nice relaxing day swimming and spending lots of time together, and at dinner time we went to the hotel my family was staying at for dinner and games.  My mom made a delicious dinner of  salsa beef tacos (not traditional but yummy anyway!), and we were able to have the conference room of the hotel for our family party.  We played a really fun candy-bar game, and we played a short game of Quelf (SO FUNNY!) while the kids played barbies and ran around like crazy people!

We went to bed early so we could be ready for DISNEYLAND the next day!!

Day 6 Monday (Dec. 26):

We found these shirts the night before we left but I never could find anything for Adri and Tanner
My 4 little Minnie's and a Mickey - dresses made by my mama!  She made dresses for 5 of my nieces also!
Such a great day!
Only complains --
*everything takes longer with a double stroller and 11 people
*long lines are difficult with a baby and an almost 2 year old
*I brought shoes that are just a little tight (after the zoo I was already hurting, and by the end of the day at Disneyland my whole body was in pain!).  I've never felt such horrible pain in my feet --- so dumb!  Dave bought me a pair of shoes from Wal-Mart the next morning that were a size too big and the rest of the trip was great!

All of our kids could go on almost all of the rides, and if they couldn't there was a parent switch.

Loved going on Indiana Jones with Mariah and Pirates of the Carribbean with Elli & Lea. 

Brandon & Ayrial took our youngest 4 kids back to their hotel at 8 so we could enjoy some time with our oldest kids and the next night we took theirs home so they could have fun without kids for the night!

Elli just had to have cotton candy - it was the perfect distraction for a long pirates line!!

we ran into Brandon, Ayrial and the girls so we had to get a picture of all the girls in their Minnie dresses
Ambree, Amora, Anna, Mars, Lea, Lexy and Elli

we finally ran into my family and went on the Roger Rabbit ride

time with just the big kids was so fun!
everything was so pretty all decorated for Christmas!
Anna surprised us by wanting to go on big scary rides and LOVING them!!

Loved the Minnie dresses my mom sewed for all the young girlies.  (She's amazing!)
They looked sooo cute and so many people commented on how adorable they looked.
Several people even took pictures of the girls.

Of course we had lots of people asking about our large family, or just outright staring.
Apparently not a lot of people see a family with 9 kids very often.
We did get several comments on how well our children behave and how gorgeous they all are.
I would have to agree - they are the best darn kids!

Loved going on Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, the Matterhorn, and Star Tours with my big kids, and I LOVED holding hands with my husband for a few hours because we weren't carrying or pushing anyone!

Day 7 Tuesday (Dec. 27):
California Adventure/Disneyland

Best way to keep track of all your kids in a big crowd.....matching shirts made by my dear friend Holly
my handsome boys!
love this sweet girl and her beautiful smile!
We've never been to California Adventure so we didn't know what to expect.
I really didn't like it and all of my younger kids wanted to go back to Disneyland.

So Dave took Akayla, Corina, Tanner and Adriana on the Tower of Terror and California Screamin' while I took Annalisa, Mariah, Elli, Lea, and Landon back to Disneyland and went on Pinocchio and Pirates of the Carribbean.

waiting in line for California Screamin'!!
Miss Elli 
I had so much fun with my little girlies in Disneyland!  Elli & Mars
 It could have been scary being alone in the crowds with my 5 youngest kids,
but Anna &Mars were super helpful!!
Anna & Landon

We met up with Brandon & Ayrial to take their kids and after we fed our entire group - including the extra 3 - I stayed with the oldest 4 while Dave took all the other kids back to the RV to watch a movie and sleep!  He wasn't feeling very well so he was happy to miss out on another late night!

eating at the McDonalds right outside of Disneyland
I love spending time with my big kids!  They are such awesome people and they have such fun personalities!

Day 8 Wednesday (Dec. 28):
Sea World

dad says "make your best sea lion face"

the shark encounter was SOOOO COOOL!!

We slept in and didn't get on the road until after lunch, which meant we didn't get to see everything.....but after the long week we had it was really ok.

We got there just in time for the final Dolphin show - loved it!

Walked through the shark encounter - awesome, and got to feed sea lions - kind of gross!

Dave went to save a whole huge row for the Ferrara and Johnson clan at the Shamu show while I took the kids to the Sesame Street playground.

The Shamu show was beautiful and our favorite of the day.

So funny to look all the way down the row and see our entire huge family!

We all went through the whole huge arctic exhibit and then we were done for the day.

It was Ayrial's birthday so we decided to get the kids pizza and turn on a movie in the motor home while Akayla & Corina babysat, and then the adults went to dinner at the Olive Garden - yummy!

Day 9 Thursday (Dec. 29):
Disneyland and heading back home

on the shuttle heading to Disneyland
almost to the front of the Indiana Jones line
Anna really wanted a huge sucker!!

We decided to use our 3rd day at Disneyland to ride just a few favorite rides and pick up souvenirs.

Dave and the older kids got in line for Splash Mountain while I took the younger kids on the Jungle Cruise.  Unfortunately by the time they got to the front of the Splash Mountain line they closed the ride!

We all voted and decided to wait in line for Indiana Jones.
Dave got a parent switch and took Adri and the youngest 3 on a few rides while I waited with everyone else in a 90 minute line.

It was well worth the wait (Mariah's favorite ride of all time!), and by the time Dave and Adri went through the fastpass line the standby line was up to 165 minutes.  Ouch!

Apparently everyone thought the 2 days after Christmas would be too busy so they all came on Thursday.
The crowds were suffocating!

We all had enough, and even though Anna was really disappointed not to get to go on Splash Mountain we decided to go get our souvenirs and get out of there!

It was still a great day and everyone was very pleased with what they bought with their Disney money!!

Day 10 Friday (Dec. 30):
long drive

We only drove a few hours on Thursday night, so we had a long drive ahead of us.

We wanted to get on the road early so none of us took showers, in fact most of us stayed in our pajamas all day - expecting to get home in the early afternoon.

We had to stop a few times, and Big Mama had a battery issue - which meant NO movies, and a much longer drive.

We stopped in Utah and got our battery fixed, but we were stuck for 2 more hours.

I'll admit it - I was really crabby!

Luckily we were able to watch a movie the last 3 hours of the trip and everyone was a lot calmer the rest of the way home!

So glad to be home!!
It's not a perfect house, but it's ours and it's the best place to be!!

good things:
a quiet uneventful morning
getting back to a routine
Corina being 1 of 5 from her hs chosen to go to a leadership seminar this summer


Bingham Family said...

Wow! What an unforgettable trip!!! I can't believe how big your kids are. You mentioned people staring at and counting your family...Brett and I took my three and my brothers five to Disneyland when we lived there. We all wore matching shirts and boy did people count! It was hilarious! I'm glad you got the chance to do such a fun family trip. (come visit us for the next one!!! We're not Disneyland, but we'll try to keep you entertained). Love ya all!!!

Gina Hallam said...

What an amazing adventure you all had :) It was so fun reading about it! Thank you so much for posting about your trip :) Loved the pictures too!! You guys are all too adorable!!!

Holly said...

What a wonderful trip that your family will never forget. You were able to do so much! For some reason, I loved that your kids played on the escalator for so long...awesome! Now I want an RV. lol!