When we arrived on Saturday afternoon, our first stop was Roy and Sue Seydel's house. Roy, Sue, and Dan worked together at Calvary Christian Academy (CCA) and we felt like they adopted us right into their family, which is so typical of their warm, generous natures. Sue decided to work from home before Emma was born, and she visited our house to tell us that she wanted to babysit Emma for us! What a blessing to us as nervous, first-time parents to have a trusted friend who was excited about caring for our baby while I was at work!
This family has been such a gift to us and so many others. (Left to Right) Cassidy, Miranda, Stacy holding baby Clara, Sue, Ellie and Daniel (on the slide), me, Emma and Hallie (peeking through the window), Dan, and Roy
When Emma was born, Sue's daughter, Stacy, had a baby girl who was just a few months old. Little Ellie was Emma's first best friend!
Ellie and Emma in the olden days
Emma has heard so many stories about her very first friend, Ellie, and she was thrilled about reuniting with her!
All the kids had a great time playing together at the Seydels' house
The following day, we were able to visit with two of Dan's old coworkers, Stacey and Jennifer. Stacey's kids had a birthday party that day, so we joined in the fun! Jennifer was priceless during our time in San Diego - she booked a one-bedroom condo for us through her timeshare and let us borrow her car for a couple of days.
Stacey (left) and Jennifer (right) were Math teachers at CCA when Dan was Upper School Principal there. Jennifer also managed technology for the school and always had great ideas to take them to the next level.
Jennifer's kids, Lily (front left) and Coral (back right) hit it off with our girls at the party
Later that evening, we met some friends for dinner at In-N-Out Burger, which was on Dan's list of restaurants to visit! We met Chris, Judy, Ray, and Peggy at our church, Kaleo, and we attended Bible studies taught by Chris for several years. It was wonderful to catch up in person and see Chris and Judy's boys who are so grown up now! Ray was unfortunately out of town, but Peggy was able to join us for dinner.
(Left to Right) Emma, me holding Hallie, Dan, Ian and Jon (in front), Chris, and Judy. I was sorry I didn't think to get a picture until after Peggy had left.
On Monday, we spent the day at LEGOLAND! We met our good friends, Chris and Adessa, and their kids, Owen and Addie. Chris was also a teacher at CCA and one of Dan's best friends there. Addie (5 years old) has been battling leukemia for the past year, and is now considered to be in remission and only has home treatments remaining! We are so thankful to God! She's back in school and able to go out in public places, as long as she remains healthy, and we had the best time with them!
(Left to Right) Addie (hiding behind Chris' leg - ha!), Chris, Owen, and Adessa, and our family
Emma loved that she could touch, climb on, and play with the LEGO art throughout the park
Hallie, Emma, and Addie became fast friends that day
Hallie was tall enough to ride the jousting ride! She was so excited!
The kids waiting for the submarine ride
On Tuesday, Dan borrowed his friend, Jennifer's, car and visited two schools (CCA and Pacific Coast Christian Prep) where many of his old coworkers are now employed. He got to reconnect with lots of people that day and took zero pictures to prove it. Heh! Instead of tagging along with him, I took the girls to our old neighborhood in Mission Bay to meet my former coworker and dear friend, Kat, and her youngest son, Asher, for a play date.
The girls loved that the park and playground were right on a beach!
Kat's 5-year old twins, Mateo and Alyssa, were in kindergarten that day, but we were happy to meet and play with her 2-year-old son, Asher! Kat, her husband, Burton, and their kids are moving to Japan next month to do mission work. I was so glad that I got to see her before they left the country!
After enjoying the playground, beach, and bay, we walked to the Bahia Resort where they have waterfalls, koi ponds, and exotic birds on display.
Then we ate lunch at one of my favorite places, Rubios!
That evening, we got to join our friends, Jackie and Jessie, for dinner at their house. We attended Barabbas Road Church with them, and Jackie and I got our girls together for play dates when they were babies.
Jackie and Jessie used to live less than a mile from us in Pacific Beach, but they've recently moved to a larger house in El Cajon.
This was Jackie with Jemma and me with Emma in 2014 when we lived in Pacific Beach and our girls were only 1 year old. It was special to have a sweet friend who could relate to my new mom status during that stage of life.
Now these beautiful 1st graders are long-distance pen pals! Emma and Jemma have everything in common and loved playing together.
They are both big sisters, too! Hallie and Jemma's little brother, JJ, are only days apart in age.
We really packed a lot in on Tuesday. After dinner with Jackie and Jessie, we met Dan's friend, Marianna for late night ice cream.
Marianna was Dan's amazing assistant at CCA. She's one of the most generous and loving people we've ever met.
Unfortunately, Hallie began to sound pretty sick that night. She probably caught the cold that had been going through our family, but she also developed a fever and a deep, croup-like cough that plagued her all night.
So Wednesday morning, we hit urgent care at 8 a.m. so she could get steroids. Within hours, her fever was gone and her cough sounded much better.
We ate lunch with my Epsilon Systems department at Wood Ranch BBQ. It was an unofficial celebration of my boss, Ralph's retirement. He still comes into the office periodically, but plans to be fully retired by the end of the year. I've worked for him for 14 years, and he's one of the best Christian men I've met and hands-down the best boss I've ever had! I'll miss him tremendously! (Photo left front to back: Camille, Fatima, Ralph, Hallie and me. Right front to back: Dina, Teri, Jim, Emma, and Dan)
We got to have dinner that night with another of our favorite San Diego families. Paul taught at CCA and he and Dan became close friends. Ann and I got to know each other through our husbands and hit it off, too. Now we have kids similar in age, which makes for fun get-togethers.
I forgot to take a photo this trip, so this is a picture from last year of Paul and Ann with their son, Eli, and daughter, Eva. The kids have gotten taller since then!
Thursday was the only day we didn't schedule with friends, and we spent it at Disneyland!
Our first stop was Star Wars Land and the new Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run ride. Dan waited in line and rode first and we got a "parent swap" pass for me to go through the fast pass line later. We loved the life-sized Millennium Falcon (pictured behind us). The girls wondered why we cared since there were no Disney princesses to be seen.
But there were Storm Troopers!
Inside the Smuggler's Run ride. Pretty cool!
Of course, we rode tons of rides with the girls, too.
Both girls said that "It's a Small World" was their favorite ride. They've updated it since the last time we visited, and added familiar Disney characters in the different countries like Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Pinocchio, etc. It was fun to spot them all!
Hallie continued to hang in there and feel good during our Disneyland day. She may not remember it when she gets older, but she had a blast!
When it got dark, we revisited Star Wars Land to see everything lit up. It felt even more realistic at night.
The girls were beat by the time we left at 10:30 p.m. We put them in their pajamas so they could sleep all the way back to the timeshare.
Friday was our last day in San Diego, and we spent the day at Sea World! It was Emma's #1 request when we told her where we were going for vacation.
Jackie, Jessie, Jemma, and JJ were able to meet us there for a few hours, which made our visit even more fun!
The Orca show was still amazing, although they've changed it a lot since the trainers can no longer swim with the orcas. They showed videos in the background that were educational and interesting while the orcas demonstrated their "behaviors".
JJ, Emma, and Jemma watching an orca after the show
The kids loved the hands-on fish exhibit. They were tiny bottom-feeder fish that would nibble at your fingers. So gross.
Sea World built a section with new kid's rides, which we all enjoyed.
After Jackie and Jessie's family left, we toured all the animal exhibits at Sea World. This was the terrifying glass tunnel through the shark tank!!! It's as close as I ever want to come to a shark!
We packed so much fun and excitement into one week. I think this photo sums it up pretty well.