Our Christmas vacation plan was to visit New Zealand this year since it is a lot shorter flight from Thailand than from the U.S. With our decision to consider moving to Southern California when we go back to the U.S. this summer, we decided that it would make more sense to spend some time there to see if we really like it.
The holiday was a combination of house shopping, site seeing and family time. We rented a house for five weeks in Huntington Beach, about a mile from the ocean. I was there the full five weeks, but the family the middle two and a half weeks. The reason that I went early was to scout out some locations before the family arrived, and I planned to stay afterwards in case we found something and I needed to be there to wrap things up.
After we arrived, we discovered that Nalin's idol and obsession, Ariana Grande, was performing at the Pasedena Playhouse's performance of Snow White. Tim took Nalin and Aleena to the show, and waited with them after to get a photo and autographs. This was a huge deal for Nalin. She told us before we left that she would meet her idol on the trip, but we cautioned her that the chances were very unlikely. Perhaps she has a bit of her mother's luck, because it worked out for her.
On New Year's Day, Jacob and I went to the 2013 Rose Bowl to watch Stanford battle Wisconsin. The Rose Bowl Stadium is a fun place to watch a football game. The San Gabriel Mountains provide a gorgeous backdrop for the stadium. The game was competitive until the final few minutes as Stanford forced a turnover to secure the win. Fortunately Jacob is thin, because we were in bleacher seats and the two rather beefy Wisconsin fans were taking up their seats and most of mine.
On the whole we probably spent seven or eight days looking at houses in Irvine and the San Diego area. The housing market in Southern California is experiencing a shortage of inventory (not a lot of houses for sale), which made looking a bit more challenging. One thing is for certain, the houses in Southern California are much more expensive than back in the Midwest. Yeah, I know, no surprise there.
Home shopping with the kids can be a challenge. As we entered just about every house that we looked at, Nalin would exclaim in a loud and excited voice, "this house is great, we have to buy this house!" She would then proceed to run up to find "her" bedroom in the house. A few days we left the kids at home and shopped by ourselves. It was a lot easier to talk to the agent without the constant "dad, come look at this" or "mom, I want this to be my room."
Of course, it seems like no trip is complete without a trip to an amusement park or three. This time we visited Disney California Adventure, Legoland and Six Flags Magic Mountain. We visited Disney on the day after Christmas, and it was packed. It was cold and a bit rainy on the day we visited Six Flags, but the lines were extremely short, and Jacob and Nalin loved the roller coasters. It is nice to walk on some of the biggest attractions with no line at all. Legoland was also bereft of a crowd, making the park a lot more fun.
We also visited the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which was a lot of fun. I splurged for preferred viewing for the cheetah run, and was rewarded with some pretty nice photographs. The good thing was that we were very close and we had an unobstructed view. Being that close actually made it more challenging to focus on something moving so quickly. In order to get some nice shots, I focus locked on a spot that I knew the cheetah would pass. As it approached the spot, I held down the shutter release ( I was in burst mode) to get as many photos as possible. It worked, as they ran the cheetah twice, and I got one or two nice photos for each run.