Family Travels

I love reading, because it allows you go places if only in your mind. When we travel, we experience and learn about the world first hand. What a wonderful gift to give your child. All too often in this world, we are living in virtual reality instead of actual reality. Stop living through someone or something else and live your life to the fullest. I know families who "skip Christmas presents" and go on a family vacation instead. They are giving their children the lesson of valuing time with family and memory making rather than materialism. And after a year has passed a celebratory event, ask your children what they remember about a birthday, Christmas, or any other holiday. They will probably not be able to remember what gifts they received, but will be able to recall a funny anecdote or the people who came to celebrate the day with them.

"The best gift to give your child is a happy memories." Dr. Clayton, Doctor of the year 2004.

One of our top "classic" family vacations is to sunny Southern California. We spend a day in the Magic Kingdom--"The Happiest Place on Earth"--Disneyland. We meet some of our favorite Disney Characters and ride on phenomenal rides that bring big smiles and lots of laughs. I can't help but giggle every time I go on the Indiana Jones Ride. F.Y.I., if you have small children that need to be attended by an adult while you enjoy rides like Thunder Mountain, be sure and pick up a parent pass that allows the parent and one other guest to get in the express pass line. For years, we had no idea that Disney offered this wonderful amenity for parents. Also, right when you enter the gate, get your fast passes right away. The ride times are scattered throughout the day, but you will likely have an earlier time if you don't wait until the afternoon. Disney offers 2 fast passes per guest per day.

Safety tip: Go to the Salvation Army store and have dog tags with names, medical, and contact information engraved on them for each of your small children. This would be a life saver, if your child gets separated from you--heaven forbid. You may also want to coordinate colors. We chose hot pink for the girls and camo-pants for the boys. It helped tremendously in spotting the kids for head counts every five minutes.

We stayed at the clean, convenient, and very nice Annabella Inn right across from Disneyland. We walked to Disneyland, enjoyed their fine pool, and were very comfortable in their rooms. We were impressed with their newly remodeled bathrooms.

What is vacationing without experiencing fine food. If you are anywhere near Newport Beach, driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, you need to stop at The Crab Cooker. You won't find better crab, fish, coleslaw, sour dough bread, cheesy potatoes, and clam chowder anywhere on the West Coast. They even rival the famed and fabulous Gladstones for Fish in Malibu. The prices are very family-friendly along with the atmosphere. They serve fresh fish on paper plates and your clam chowder in a paper container. Words can not desribe the savory and satisfying food served up at The Crab Cooker.

Another must food stop is at In-n-Out Burger on our way to the California Coast in Barstow. In-n-Out Burger serves up quality, quick food at inexpensive prices. Their chocolate shakes are creamy, the hamburgers top notch, and shoestring fries a must accompaniment. We love In-n-Out. Two thumbs up from Groovy Mom.

"Take me out to the ballgame! Give me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks. I don't care if I ever come back..."
My husband, two oldest children, and I went to a L.A. Dodgers game. What is more American than baseball anyway? I love the sights,the smells, the whole professional baseball game package. You really can't get the same effect anywhere else--vendors calling out, the seventh inning stretch, the announcers with baritone voices, hot dogs with relish, and enthusiastic fans.

After Disneyland, Crab Cooker, a night at the ballpark, it is time to relax by the ocean, play in the sand, and just soak up some sun. Don't forget the sunscreen for children over 6 months. Children under 6 months need to be shaded and wear a hat.  Bring water, but remember to take all trash out with you. Find seashells, make sandcastles, splash the day away that is what days at the beach are made of.

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