Traveling With Kids – Legoland – Water Wars

Water Wars

seems like a goodOk, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

How many times have I said that?

We said we would go on a water ride at Legoland.

But it was cold and windy. It was about 4pm.

Still the youngest had so wanted to do something watery. But walking around with wet clothes, for hours and hours, not my idea of fun. It might have been his, however. Despite the weather, he had not given up on his dream. So we waited until the very end when we decided it was time to go play in the water.

Specifically, let’s get in a big water fight.

IMG_3417The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world knew better. No way she was going to get wet. Or cold.

And cold and wet, no way in hell.

I can’t say I was that keen either, but a deal’s a deal. He’d been patient (mostly, at least as much as a 7 year old can be patient), and we’d all done what we wanted to do, so now he got to do what he wanted to do.

The ride he chose was called the Splash Battle. Basically, it involved us boarding ships armed with water cannon and go around soaking the other ships and anyone walking by.

IMG_2061 (2)A super fun experience on any other day, but today, almost no one was on the ride. So, I honestly thought I’d be able to make the youngest happy by taking him and his brother on it AND remaining largely dry.

How wrong was I?

It all went according to plan at first. We boarded the ship. There was only one other sorry-looking dad and his 2 daughters in another boat. No way we’d even get close to them. And, although there were water cannon all along the pathway, aimed at the ships, no one was going near them. I mean, who wants to get wet? And cold?

IMG_2062How smug was I as we rounded the first curve all dry and stuff? The boys seemed happy that they could shoot their water cannon at stationary targets, targets that did not shoot back.


But then,  as we rounded one turn, we came in range of the shore-bound mega cannons manned by evil teenagers who spawned from hell. I sure as heck didn’t see them there when we boarded. I have no idea where they come from. None. One minute it was all fine and the next…

Well, they proceeded to soak us all to the skin. Throwing buckets of water on us would made us less dry. They hosed us down like firemen putting out a blazing inferno.

The youngest laughed and laughed as we were doused. The oldest did his best to hide from the deluge. I thanked the stars I’d given the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world my camera and phone to protect. She, sitting all dry and cute on a bench, just smiled at us. And waved.

If it had been hot out, it would have been amazing. We would have had epic battles with other ships, soaked passers-by, gotten wet and been happy to do so.

IMG_2064 (2)But as the wind started to blow, as we got off so wet that my clothes were basically a second skin (and believe me, that’s not a good look for me), the boys dying to do it, again, as I shivered and shook and I dripped on the shoes on anyone who stood near me, I realized that deep down, I knew there was a chance we’d get soaked on this ride and I did it anyway. That’s parenting, my friends. That’s love.

Or stupidity.

Is there a difference?


Has anyone else had an experience like that? Riding a ride that would make you sick so your child could have an amazing experience?

Has anyone ever refused to do that?

And hey, if you like this blog, please share it. Or print it out and hug it. Either is good.


Traveling With Kids – Legoland – Bricksburg

The City of Bricksburg.

lego movieThe only thing the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world wanted was to see the set from the lego movie, the place where everything is awesome.

The layout of Legoland, I swear, is designed to confuse and disorient people. I won’t say we got lost, cuz, you’re never really lost, but we sure got turned around a bit. It was after striding past the same weary father sitting on a bench, his eye twitching, his stroller of twins wailing, that we realized we needed help.

So we found an employee older than us. Older than the boys grandparents. Older than the park and lego itself, I think. Anyway, he led us to the location, kinda slowly. But it was right by where Legoland had their only mascots posing for pictures.

Now, you have to understand, the boys are terrified of mascots for some reason I cannot fathom. Clowns, I get. Zombies, I get. James Woods, I get. But mascots?

The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world took the youngest by the hand, while I pointed out how pretty the sky looked to the oldest. I don’t think he was fooled at all, but we all made our way past the monsters that looked like Emmet Brickowski and Wyldstyle (have I spelled that right?) No meltdowns occurred.

Plus, unless I’m mistaken, the boys were kind of ok with it all.

Hmmm. Maybe the mecca of Disneyland can be in our future!

IMG_0204 IMG_2059 (2)Inside the sound stage, they had set up the whole of Bricksburg and oh, momma, was that a site to see. It’s “more than 1200 LEGO models made out of more than three million LEGO bricks. It took a team of ten Model Builders more than 2000 hours to assemble and a team of four Model Builders six weeks to reassemble.”

All glued as God and President Business intended (I assume, cuz I kinda rooted for PresBiz and I know he would have wanted it that way.)

IMG_0218The guide gave us a quest, too. To find Batman, Wonder Woman. That goof, the Green Lantern, and Superman. We found them all.

IMG_0203And saw Emmet dancing, saw the micromanagers battling the inhabitants of Bricksburg, saw the bunk couch that Emmet built, … OMG so much was in there.

IMG_0205The youngest ran around and around the display like I used to see the Indians do when they attacked John Wayne. Don’t see much of that anymore. He looked mesmerized by all that had been done.

And the oldest, he went to every dIMG_0197isplay, every world, and told me about who was in it, what was interesting about it and why I should care. He seriously needs to be a guide some  day.

IMG_0208 However, he said, as he stared wide-eyed at the great ship the Sea Cow, “I want to be a master builder. I wish I could do this as my job.”

Hey, anything is possible,IMG_2056 (2)

But I think the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world enjoyed it the most. She marveled at the Bricksburg bridge, the life-sized workshop set up where every brick had a place, the way this place made her boys’ eyes light up. If you go to Legoland for any reason, see this exhibit.

Then, we were almost done.

It was time to make the youngest’s wish come true.

Deeper Into the Land of Lego

Legoland pt 2

IMG_0099With all the things to see and do, the youngest chose to go into the video game building and play xbox 360 games with his brother. A game they could have played at home. Oh sure they got to sit about 2” from a 40” screen, but the prettiest girl in the world and I had to shake our heads.


A video game they could play at home?

The prettiest girl in the world put a 5 minute mommy limit on that!

So we went to … the very next building beside us. A place where robots are built. Wait, not robots, Joe!!!! It was the Lego Hero Factory. Where they, ah, build robots. No matter what the boys call them.

IMG_2024 (2)We all gathered around a round table. Inside a deep box built into the table was all we would need to create a ‘robot’ that could crush the world. No one seemed interested in building one that would save the world. No. First order, build one that would beat everyone else at the table. Next, crush the world.

The oldest built his with incredible speed. Like a master builder. Like he should do this for a living. And, if you think about it, it doesn’t make any difference if I built the world’s greatest robot (and I totally did!), if it was destroyed in the factory by a lesser, but more quickly built bot. This is a lesson the Russians taught the Germans in WWII.

IMG_0101The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world built, well, a pretty one. Color coordinated. Balanced. Good use of contrasts. The youngest, well, he ended up not building anything. He went over and took a completed one from another table.

It was then that I realized, I was far from the smartest one at the table.

Then we were off to the park, proper. We spun in the spinny ride while the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world took pictures. It was sort of like the Disney teacups so naturally I said we’d go so fast and spin so much that we’d make everyone else sick.

IMG_2030 (2)It never occurred to me that I could make them sick as well until I stumbled off the ride like a drunken frat boy, all dizzy and trying not to fall on my face.

God help me if I’d have made them sick!

But it was a good test ride. If they could survive that, then the others wouldn’t be so bad. Or so scary.

IMG_2033 (2)I think we were all a bit dizzy with what to do next. The oldest wanted to hit the rollercoasters and DEFINITELY go on the mummy ride. The youngest wanted to get wet in the worst way. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world wanted to see the set of the lego movie and me, I wanted this to the best adventure ever.

People blurred around us as we stood debating –  A large family dressed all in the same t-shirt. A little one bundled up in stroller like it was winter in the Yukon. A dad walked by with his young girl wrapped around his leg and clinging on for life. A mom held her too-young-to-go-on-that-ride son and pointed to their dad on a roller coaster. He waved widely as he zipped by.

Smells wafted all around us as we made our way through the park. Popcorn that I can no longer eat, buttery and all popcorny. Fried onions and hot dogs. Cheezy warm pizza. Charring meat. Coconut sunscreen. All things I can no longer eat.

Then we hit the first real disappointment.

IMG_2032 (2)See, in all the videos and ads, they don’t show the lineups. We’d talked to the boys about this, but seeing one, standing in one for a half hour, well, that’s a whole other level of realization.

It’s frustrating to inch along while other people shriek with fear (or glee) on a ride you really want to ride. Like now.

It’s worse, though, when, after waiting 20 min in line, the ride breaks down.

That’s exactly what happened on the project X rollercoaster. I stood by, waiting for my camera moment, (not cuz, like, I was scared or anything… I’m not scared, really, I’m not), but when they declared a technical difficulty, that the rollercoaster was out of commission, the Prettiest-girl-in-the- world decided it may be time for food.

It was now noon.

We’d been there for 2 hours and basically done 2 rides, built some robots (ok, ok, Hero thingees!), played video games and gone beserk in the toy store.

We only had 4 hours left. 3, after food.

Things would have to change if we had any hope of seeing what needed to be seen. And doing things that needed doing.


Land Of Lego

Legoland pt 1

Would it meet expectations? Would it be all the boys hoped for, dreamed about, sang about?

A lot of people decided to see Legoland on this cold, grey day. More would have come if it was sunny, but the lineup to get into the parking lot was not that bad. Took 20 minutes depending on how you count where the line actually started.

IMG_2014 (2)We looked out the window at the legomen built by the side of the road. People-sized lego. One had a snake. the boys like snakes. One had a legoman taking a picture of his three lego buddies and in his viewfinder, they’d lego’d his three friends. IN HIS VIEWFINDER! That’s attention to detail!

As we inched forward, we planned what we would see first, which way we’d turn to get there, what ride they were most excited to go on, what thing they were most excited to see. By now, the boys were all gigglie and excited and ready to explode like air bags out of the car.

We parked in the preferred parking for $10 extra dollars. My thinking was, at the end of the day, literally, I would likely pay a billion dollars not to have to walk any farther than I had to on sore feet. I try to go for a walk every day, but this would be the first time in a LONG while that I would walk for hours and hours and hours.

But experience told me three things. Wear good shoes. Sit whenever you can, even if it’s on a spiky fence railing. And shave off any walking distance you can.

The boys leapt out the car like sled dogs waiting to pull a sled. The prettiest girl in the world and I got out, took the backpack and a very deep breath. To their credit, the boys, unlike some little kids all excited and stuff, did not race across the parking lot. They walked with us. Even stood still for a picture, though, as you can see, still is a relative word.

IMG_2016 (2)I would have preferred sunshine, to be honest. A lot of it. Not only was I wearing a layer of sunscreen so thick I could have scraped off a layer and covered a schoolbus full of children. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world tittered at me when I put it on, but I’m an indoor Joe and burn easily so I didn’t want to take a chance.

Plus we had all dressed for warm weather. See. Shorts. T-shirts. Awesomely cool hats.

No coats or hoodies. Oh, they were back at the hotel, but in the backpack, ah, no.

So, first stop, get some hoodies!

entrance to legoland (800x600)We bought the tickets, $300 worth, and I gave them to the oldest so he could present them to the ticket taker person. I said they’d ask, could I see your tickets, please, sir? And he was to reply, in his best English accent, why yes ma’am, I have them right here.

First disappointment, she just said, “tickets?” which totally threw off the oldest. He replied, “Errr, yes, umm, I, err … tickets!” Then he thrust them at her, head down.

I told the agent what I thought she’d say and she smiled and told the oldest that he had something on his shirt and when he looked down, she flicked his nose. And old trick but it made us all laugh.

All the lego workers, (at the risk of giving any spoilers) were amazing and friendly and awesome.

IMG_0096 (800x600)Then we found two hoodies for the boys in what was called The Big Store and all the boys (me included) went a little bat-sh*t crazy at all the lego we could buy (I mean, they had a hobbit hole lego kit for the love of Gandalf!!!!! Who would not want to buy that?!?!?!)

The prettiest girl in the world dragged us out and the youngest chose the place he wanted to see first.

Was it the coolest ride in the universe? Was it the more awesome lego structure (which for me was the HUGE Einstein face)? Was it food or a bathroom or something where one brother got to spray another brother in the face?

It was something I never expected.

Heading Towards Where Everything Is Awesome

Heading Towards Where Everything Is Awesome

IMG_0600It was the goal of the whole trip. Legoland. So, first day, we geared up to see that wonderland.

We buttered ourselves from head to toe in sunscreen. We put on shorts and short sleeved shirts. We packed swim trunks. We were ready for the hot SoCal weather.

Only one problem.

The sky was grey. A heavy grey. And surprisingly cold. Like Vancouver cold.

It didn’t really matter. The boys were excited. I was excited. We were going to legoland.

mormon templeWe hopped into our less-than-speedy Galant, and drove north. Along the way we spotted a shining Mormon temple impressively rising towards the sky, all white and full of pointy bits. The youngest said he was happy God made him alive.

I thought that was a pretty deep thought for early in the morning.

We discussed what heaven would be like. Apparently, according to the oldest, I can have a cloud island. Kinda cool. I told them I thought heaven would be where I’d meet everyone I’d ever loved and lost.

prez businessAs we puttered along the highway, we played ‘what would you rather?’… to be able to read minds or predict the future? To be invisible or to fly? I love playing that game. I love hearing how the boys’ minds work. Would you rather be a lion or a tiger? Why? Would you rather be President Business or Batman? Oh, really?

We drove past two horse racing tracks. Past a lagoon of some sort. Over a lake that had no water whatsoever. Into valleys and beside great hills and ridges.

For some reason, I thought San Diego would be flat like a pancake. For some reason, I expected it to be developed and suburbanized all the way to LA. I was wrong on both accounts.

rainHowever, as we took the road to Legoland, the road called, wisely enough, Legoland rd, a bit of rain began to fall and it occured to us that we didn’t have any rain-gear or warm clothes with us.

Who needs such things in SoCal?

Apparently, we do.

Was this a horrible start to what HAD to be the best day ever?

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

zombiesWhile you cannot plan for every eventuality, every bump in the road, every tsunami warning that shuts down beaches and highways, every zombie apocalypse, there IS a defense against most occurrences.

Leave plenty of time!

In fact, this would be my #1 item on any top ten list on how to make a vacation a success (and you just know I’m working on a list exactly like that.)

IMG_3371We’d left our home with the Rav4 stuffed with kids, bags and expectations. We had to get to the Bellingham airport, take a quick flight to sunny San Diego, pick up our car and find the hotel. Then on to Legoland, Seaworld, the Zoo, the Midway Aircraft carrier, and the safari.

All booked and checked and double checked.

That left only a few hurdles. We had to cross the border. We had to arrive at the airport on time. We had to hope that our scale was the same as the airline’s scale and all of our baggage was under weight. Then, I thought, the rest would be a breeze.

borderOf all of those things, only one had me really worried. At the border crossing , we had to present signed and notarized paperwork saying that we could take the children to the US.

Now, you have to understand that at the border, you have no rights. None. No avenue of appeal that’s reasonable. You’re subject to rules and regulations and, sometimes, the mood of the guard. To date, all but one of my experiences has been positive, but this was a new thing for me. Bringing children.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want it to be easy to take children to Dubai where their mother can never see them again. But if we couldn’t cross, the whole great epic adventure would come to a stupendous halt. And the boys would be crushed. They’d spent months believing that it wouldn’t happen, that something would come up to derail it.

So, it was with trepidation that we pulled up to the booth. The boys had heard that they have microphones everywhere and could hear everything you said. So it was like they were in church with nuns hovering behind them waiting to whack their hands with heavy wooden rulers. (Note to self: foster this belief in the house!)

The guard asked the usual questions. Do you have any fruits or vegetables? (hell, no, we don’t even have any in our fridge.) What’s the purpose of the visit? Where are you going? One time when I crossed the border I hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before and when asked that question, the destination vanished in my mind. I ended up looking like a guppy gobbing water bubbles as I searched my mind for the answer.

However, this time, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world was sharp as a sharp thingee and answered all the questions to the guard’s satisfaction, presented her paperwork, did her best to look innocent and honest, and we were allowed through.

First hurdle passed. We’d read that the border wait was 30 min. We, therefore, assumed a bit longer than that.

It took, what, 10? 15 min?

microphonesThe boys burst into conversation as we roared onto the highway towards Bellingham airport, confident they were beyond the microphones. The traffic was light, the weather was great, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world knew the way.

That left us with a small problem, we were WAY ahead of schedule. The flight left at 4ish. It was noon.