Monday, September 23, 2013

Best Summer Ever {2013}: California Love

FINALLY! We're in California and JAM and I are so excited. This trip was definitely WAY overdue. My uncle and his family live in Cali, but more family members flew into town from Chicago to stay with him. For those of you who don't know, I have a HUGE extended family. It's been 4 years since I've been home to Chicago and most of my family resides there so I've been yearning to have a little family time. My grandparents flew in to celebrate their 50th anniversary with us, and my aunt and her family flew in as well with a few extra cousins in tow. Like I said in my 50 years post, my grandparents spent their anniversary in the Philippines and renewed their vows in their hometown. However, the kids and grandkids stateside wanted to celebrate with them as well so some of my family members headed to the west coast and planned a little surprise party for my grandparents.

All we told them was that a couple Cali family members was going to have dinner with us at my uncle's house. What they didn't know was that we contacted some of their college friends who lived in the west coast too! Surprising to us, they all contacted each other and they coordinated to show up all at the same time! I had my grandma answer the door when the doorbell rand and she couldn't believe her eyes! A handful of her friends from nursing school were waiting on the other side of the door with open arms. The 50th anniversary party was a hit and my grandparents reminisced for days with their long lost friends.

It was a great time for us cousins as well since it's been 4 years since we've all been together. I'm the oldest of 15 grandkids so most of my younger cousins are JAM's age oddly enough. He had a ball reconnecting with them. No matter how old we all get, when you have a bunch of us in a room together, we're all a bunch of 5 years olds and there's no stopping us ha ha. Being typical Filipinos we spent a lot of our time playing basketball in the backyard. Having JAM being an only child, it was nice to watch him bond with my little cousins. It gets him out of the house from watching TV and playing video games all day to enjoy the beautiful Cali weather. When I was a kid, my mom couldn't keep us in the house so it's a shocker that it's like pulling teeth to get these kids to get a little fresh air. JAM enjoyed learning how to play basketball and goofing around with my cousins day and night. We even spent a few nights doing some cousin bonding before bed by gathering around the fire pit to make some s'mores. Can you believe half of them have never made a s'more? Most of them are 6-10 years old and they never made a s'more?! Madness I tell ya!

To continue the celebratory mood, we celebrated my cousin's 15th birthday as well. Times like this I feel a little old even though I know I'm not haha. Joanna is one of the first cousins I started to babysit when I was younger so to celebrate her 15th birthday made me feel 80.  She's definitely a foodie so it wasn't a surprise that most of her birthday requests consisted of visiting various restaurants and making dessert stops. We started off the morning in typical high school girl fashion, by visiting the outlet malls. It's almost a sin not to visit Ontario Mills while in Cali. For the top birthday request, we visited our infamously family favorite spot, Newport Seafood Restaurant. If you're ever in the San Gabriel area, definitely give this place a chance. You won't regret it. As usual, our family filled up two tables and we definitely got stares from our "neighbors" when the food didn't stop flowing out of the kitchen. Thank God for whoever invented the lazy susan. You definitely had families like ours in mind when building that great creation.

To end our night, my cousin wanted to walk around Downtown Disney. I probably haven't visited Downtown Disney since I was 10 years old. Let me tell ya, from a parent perspective, it wasn't as fun as I remembered. Simply because JAM wanted anything and everything he saw every 5 steps we took. You swear I was the biggest Debbie downer at the stomping grounds of the "Happiest Place on Earth". It was fun to watch JAM's eyes light up though when he saw all the Disney characters everywhere he looked after seeing them on TV for 7 years. If only he knew what was to come next.....

When was the first time you visited Disneyland?