Feb 25, 2016

Global Winter Wonderland 2016

Last year, Sacramento welcomed an outdoor light display, called Global Winter Wonderland, at the California Fair Grounds (aka CalExpo). It was a really cool experience and a great way to celebrate the holidays. And the organizers brought it back to CalExpo again this year, with new displays for the holiday season. 

Except we weren't able to find a time to go, between our vacation to Hawaii and London being gone so much because of the school vacation schedule. I was pretty bummed. Until I learned they had extended it an extra weekend in January. The final weekend was the second weekend in January. Cameron was scheduled to go hunting, but I was determined to go and take the girls anyway, without him. We weren't going to miss it just because he couldn't go. 

It also turned out there was a health expo at CalExpo that weekend, so I decided that I would take the girls to the health expo first and look at what was available for kids. Unfortunately, there wasn't much. I'd hope for youth sports organizations to be there, dance studios, etc. I saw one martial arts booth and two gymnastics booths. I did take info from one gymnastics booth as they were good interacting with the girls and talked to me about pricing. But they are more expensive than a place I have researched that is closer to our home. The other gymnastics organization had a larger booth set up with things for kids to play on, but the girls working the booth seemed uninterested in interacting with the kids that were playing or speaking with parents about their center. We didn't stay at the health expo as long as I had expected so we had some time to kill before Winter Wonderland opened for the evening. 

I had originally planned on walking from the health expo to where Winter Wonderland was, mainly because I didn't want to pay the $10 parking fee twice. Of course, it started drizzling as soon as we were done with the Health Expo, so we piled back into the car and parked as close to Winter Wonderland as we could without exiting and going through the other gate. There still would have been a bit of a walk involved. And we started to walk it. Luckily, a police officer stopped and asked us if that was our lonely car parked in the other lot. When I explained that it was and why, he said to go back to the car and exit - he'd tell the cashiers at the other parking entrance to let me in for free. And he did. And they did. I was very appreciative of that officer going above and beyond for us in that moment. 

Of course, while we were waiting for Winter Wonderland to open, Cameron called. He'd given up on getting his Elk hunt due to the deep snow conditions and was heading home. He was hoping we hadn't bought our tickets yet. We hadn't. He'd be home late that night and we promised the girls we would go the next day, Sunday, which was the VERY last day. Trust me, it took some convincing to get the girls to leave. London even shed some tears. 

To make it up to them, we made sure to arrive at opening the next day and purchase tickets that included unlimited carnival rides. It helps those tickets were half-off. The girls had a blast riding all the carnival rides. They especially loved one of the obstacle courses that ended with a long slide down. 

Before we actually took in all the new displays, we hit up the carnival food for a quick treat as well. The few bites I had of the strawberry, whipped cream and powered-sugar covered funnel cake were delicious and oh so worth the calories. Sydney wasn't a huge fan of it, but she's not a huge sweet person in general - unless it's starbursts or skittles. London and Cameron, on the other hand, took care of most of it. 

London also used some of her allowance money to play a carnival game - Shark Fishing. We dind't have enough cash for Sydney but the Carnie let her play any way. Each girl won a stuffed fish. They still love those fishes too. 

The displays were much more whimsical this year, taking you through the four seasons,included fairies and mermaids, as well as underwater life and exotic animals. London was in heaven with all the mermaids. 

Once again, I loved the display's use of everyday materials to create different effects. The giant octopus was made of etched and detailed glass dishes, while the Beehive used vials of colored water. I hope they come back again with other displays next year! This would be a great tradition. And I'd make sure not almost miss it again. 

Feb 23, 2016

A Trip to the Snow

Akk, I'm so behind again and not for a very good reason. For this post I simply needed to remember to ask Cameron for the pictures as they were all on his phone!

Any how, the day after the chicken massacre, we had planned to take the girls to the snow. With the drought here in California, trips to the snow have been rare. We're finally getting some good rain and snow this year and London had been begging to go and play in the snow. With the holidays behind us, the first weekend of January seemed like the perfect time to go. 

We piled up into our truck and drove the two hours East toward Tahoe. We stopped a few times in hopes of getting a sled, but apparently all roads that lead to the snow had been depleted of their sled inventories. Apparently, we weren't the only ones taking advantage of the wet and snowy weather. 

Before going, we'd looked up snow parks online. All of them were charging an arm and a leg for a family of 4 or 5 to go and some of them wouldn't even let you use your own sled. We knew the girls wouldn't last long enough to warrant such pricing, so we did the next best thing - we stopped at a rest stop just past the first ski resort and two snow parks. 

And I'm glad we did. The snow parks were beyond crowded and you could see the long lines waiting to go down the one hill at each. The rest stop was also busy with people playing, but not nearly as bad.

The girls had a blast, though Sydney couldn't decide whether she liked warm hands with gloves on or cold hands without gloves. She had us taking them off and putting them back on the whole time!

And I hate to say it, but this was Sydney's first time playing in the snow, ever! The last time I'd been up in Tahoe when it was snowing, Sydney was 3 months old. She stayed inside the cabin with friends while London and I played and went sledding. 

Since we didn't have a sled, we made do and made a snow slide on a small hill we found. We could see a great sledding hill just behind it that others were taking advantage of, so we hope to return this season with a sled. 

Unfortunately, the snow was too dry to make a good snowman, or even a snow ball. But it was great to make snow angels in, which London squealed with delight doing. 

The only sad part about the whole trip was the amount of trash left behind by others enjoying the snow. We picked up as much as we could walking back to the car. Worse, the one trash can near the restrooms was overloaded. But the worst moment came on the way home when we stopped for some water at a gas station near a snow park. 

I was in the last row of the truck, waiting with the girls. A car pulled up next to us and a lady gets out and places a bag full of trash off to the side in the snow! She then proceeded to get back in her car and play on her phone while her tween-aged daughter got in her snow gear and they waited for her husband to return with a sled. 

I mentioned it to Cameron when he got back and he went and picked up the bag just as the lady was getting back out of the car. She admitted it was hers and quickly tried to say she was going to throw it away. Cameron not so kindly offered and did do it for her - that's when she saw me in the back. It was worth the dirty look I received from her. I can only hope it taught her a lesson and showed her daughter the proper way to treat nature, but I also highly doubt it at the same time.