Summer 2009

Posted August 8, 2009 by lcolwill
Categories: Family, Nathan

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…is coming to an end. I can’t believe that it is already August and school will be starting in just a few short weeks.

This summer has been extremely busy for us all. Nathan has spent a week at Aunt Donna’s, attended Vacation Bible School,lost his first tooth, taken swim lessons, and enjoyed the many field trips that his daycare has taken. I have been busy at work with lots of summer time training for teachers. Steve is still keeping busy with his photography business.

But one of the most exciting and fun things that has happened is that Nathan has learned to water ski! He really loves it and is really pretty good at it. This all started at the Smithson Family reunion over the July 4th weekend. The first night down there, he just informed me that he was going to ski. My first thought was “yeah, right”! And, much to my surprise, the next morning  we took the first boat out and he learned to ski. My cousin, Randy, has a boom on his boat that allows the little ones to actually ski beside the boat using about a 3 ft rope. This worked wonderfully. I think Nathan’s record that weekend was about 30 seconds.

The adventure continued the next week when we came to the lake house. The Colwill’s just recently added Sea-dos to the property, so we were able to tie a rope to the back and continue practicing. Again, most of the time, his runs were typically 30-45 seconds long. But he was getting really good at getting up.

Then we decided to take one last little “hoorah” for the summer and came back to the lake house for a long weekend. Thursday morning, you would have thought that no time had passed from the last time Nathan skiied. He picked up right where he left off. By Friday morning, he even started getting his own rope and could put his skis on by himself! Not always without frustration and tears, but he would stick with it and get it done. I was really, really proud of him, since he tends to shy away from things that are difficult for him.

And just when I thought we were doomed forever to 30 second runs, everything clicked. Nathan is now skiing like a pro in runs about 5 minutes long. And at 8 mph, that’s a long time. Here is a video Steve put together of our outing on Friday afternoon. Enjoy!

Visit for more pictures from the summer.


Spring Break 2009 – Final Thoughts

Posted March 20, 2009 by lcolwill
Categories: Family

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So here are some final thoughts on our trip.

If I had to do it over again, I would forgo Legoland. Not that we didn’t enjoy it, I’m just not sure it is worth the cost to get in for what it offers. Plus, 2 days is NOT enough for Disneyland. There were parts of both Disney parks that we didn’t even see. However, if it weren’t for Gary living in California, I’m not sure that I also wouldn’t be saying that I wished we had gone to Disney World versus Disneyland.

We went during our Spring Break which is about two weeks prior to California’s Spring Break. Which is considered off season for both Disneyland and Legoland. Because of this Disney was running most of it’s shows only on the weekends and one or two days during the week. So if you didn’t go on the right day, you didn’t get to see the show. They were doing this despite the fact that the park was extremely crowded and lines for rides were at least an hour long. I don’t remember this being the case at Disney World when we went the same time of year, two years ago. If this is their off season crowd, I don’t want to come during the regular season.

One thing I would do the same however, is allow for a day of rest. I think after going to the parks for two days, kids really need a break on that third day. I think Nathan would have been a bear if we had tried to do it 3 days in a row.

One interesting thing about this trip. Nathan was much more into playing than riding. Two years ago, he wanted to ride pretty much everything. This time around he was much more interested in finding the places where he could play. Again, a little frustrating considering how much it cost to get in. But we had a good time and that’s all that matters, right? 🙂

All in all it was a good trip, but I’m glad to be going home.

Spring Break 2009 Day 5

Posted March 20, 2009 by lcolwill
Categories: Family

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Day 5, the last day of our Spring Break trip…not including the drive home.

We spent day 5 at Legoland. Nathan and I had checked out the website the night before to see what all he might want to do. Luckily for us, he didn’t remember much of it the day of. Because if you spend any time at the exploration areas, you won’t get through the whole park.

Legoland is really geared towards younger kids. This is evident by the fact that they have play areas (with legos, of course) for the kids while a parent waits in line. This was awesome! It is also evident in the fact that the bathroom facilities were also a little smaller, something you don’t see outside of primary school campuses. If you have children older than 8-10, I recommend picking a different park. While they have some roller coasters and “adventure” rides, they just don’t measure up to the larger theme parks. 

Legoland really has two different sides to it, not geographically, but in the way you can spend your time there. It has the play and explore side, and the ride side. Being true to the way the rest of the week went, Nathan wanted to spend most of his time, playing and exploring. This was a little frustrating to me considering the amount of money that we had spent to get into the park, but Steve kept reminding me that he couldn’t do those things at home.

We did have a good time, although I think Steve and I were a bit too tired of walking to truly appreciate it. Nathan really enjoyed playing in the Dino Dig, where he got to dig through sand looking for Dinosaur bones. He also enjoyed playing with in Fun Town. I was impressed by the Miniland, which included replicas of New York City, San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington DC, Vegas and others all made from legos. It was really pretty cool. And the attention to detail was amazing.

Nathan’s favorite part of the day was one of the play areas. I can’t remember what it was called, but it consisted of nerf balls and air canons. He ran around in there for a good half hour before we told him it was time to go. If you are an adult, enter at your own risk! Apparently any adult entering becomes an instant target.

We finished the day by driving to Oceanside to eat dinner on the pier. We knew there was a restaurant called Ruby’s. I was hoping it was seafood. It turned out to be a 50’s diner. But it also turned out to be pretty good.

So all in all, not a bad day.

Spring Break 2009 Day 4

Posted March 20, 2009 by lcolwill
Categories: Family

Tags: ,

So day four was a day to kind of rest up a bit, change locations and hotels, and possible go to the beach.

Gary and the kids met us for breakfast, which was really nice. This time Chris and Pierre (sp?) were able to come. And this time I remembered to get a picture. I just wish Natalia and Vickie had been with them.

We then started the drive south to Carlsbad, CA, where we were staying for the last part of our trip. It was only about an hour drive and the traffic was not too bad. However, the closer we got to the ocean, the foggier it got.

We stopped at a “scenic overlook” only to discover you couldn’t see the ocean. But Nathan had fun feeding the squirrels some crackers, so it was a good stop. We also discovered as this stop that the coast was a lot cooler than Anaheim.

The fog was really interesting. It almost seemed like there was a wall that was holding it back. Where we were standing was bright and sunny. Yet where there was water the fog was very dense. It did, however, move inland a little later. And it remained oceanfront for the duration of our stay.

So we got checked in to our hotel and on the way to the room, Nathan noticed some children swimming. So of course, he wanted to go swimming too.  We got him ready and let him play in the hot tub. Afterwards we did go to the beach for a bit. We found one with a playground and let Nathan play. However, it was too cold an foggy to stay for long.

We ate dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican food restaurant called Garcia’s located in Carlsbad Village. We found it looking for another place, but I’m glad we stopped here. The whole place probably didn’t sit more than 50 people.It was family owned, and boy was it good. It was probably the best meal I had the whole trip.

Even though this was our “day of rest”, we still all hit the sack as early as possible and worn out.

Spring Break 2009 Day 3

Posted March 20, 2009 by lcolwill
Categories: Family

Tags: , ,

We spent Tuesday, Day 3 of our California adventure, at Disneyland. Since this was their “off season” I was unprepared for the massive amounts of people. I would hate to see it during their busy season. But despite the business we had a full, fun day, anyway.p1020757

We walked in the park and saw none other than Mickey Mouse! And Pluto! They were on main street taking pictures with the fans. Our fan, however, had no desire to take pictures with them. Later in the day we also saw Goofy. Same deal. I have great pictures of them, but none with Nathan. He is not a big fan of the over sized walking characters.

The one thing we knew we had to do today was the Jedi Training Academy. So we headed towards Tomorrowland. On the way, Nathan and I stopped to ride the rockets while Steve went on to get us a good seat for the show. Nathan loved being able to make the rockets go up and down. Personally the spinning made my head hurt. I think I must be getting old. I used to love rides that spin. Now, not so much.

Then we headed to the Jedi Training. Steve had seen most of the previous show so he was able to give us a heads up on what was going to happen. At the Jedi Training Academy, a Jedi knight choose children from the audience to join the training and become Padawans (Jedis in training). A few minutes into their training with the light saber, Darth Vader and Darth Maul show up to challenge the Padawans and invite them to join the “dark side”. Each Padawan gets to fight either Darth Vader or Darth Maul. And of course the Padawans are too much for the evil duo and chase them away.

So we settled in to watch the show. The show started and they began picking children to participate. They kept picking and picking and Nathan was still beside me. He was jumping and shouting trying to be as excited as possible. I was really starting to worry that he wasn’t going to get picked and I was going to have a crushed little boy on my hands. But just before they finished…they picked Nathan! He was like the next to the last one they chose. Boy, was I sweating it.

p1020871Anyway, he ran up there without looking back to get his Jedi robe and light saber. He did the training like a pro and got to fight Darth Vader! He now has a certificate that says he is an official Padawan. I took video of the whole thing, so you can watch for the edited version coming soon!

The really funny part about all this is how serious he takes this. He left there believing that he was a Jedi Padawan and had “the force”. He told me later in the day that the training didn’t work because he tried to use the force and it didn’t work. I told him that maybe he was like Luke or Anakin and that he had to learn to use the force. He’ll grow out of this one day and not be crushed when he is not a real Jedi, right?

After we did the Jedi training, we headed for the Astro Blaster ride. This ride was inspired by Toy Story 2. It is an arcade type game where you go through and shoot the targets in order to defeat the evil “Zurg”. You can twist and turn the car while you shoot at the targets using your laser guns. It even keeps score! It was quite fun.

Other rides for the day included Autopia (the cars), the Tea cups (one of Nathan’s favorites) and the Mark Twain’s steam boat. We also spent time in Toon Town and Tarzan’s Treehouse.

We scoped out a spot for the fireworks early on. Two things that Disney does really well in my opinion are parades and fireworks. The show was not disappointing. It was quite spectacular.

I was going to try to take  a little video and a few pictures of the fireworks, but I had a full memory card! It is the first time that I have owned this camera that I have filled up a 2 GB card. I think it has something to do with the 20 minutes of video I took at the Jedi training.

All in all it was a really good, but tiring, day.

Nathan’s favorites…the Jedi Training, of course, and the Tea Cups.

Spring Break 2009 Day 2

Posted March 17, 2009 by lcolwill
Categories: Family

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So it is day 3 of our Spring Break trip and I am sitting on a bench in Disneyland waiting for the fireworks to start and waiting for Steve to bring back dinner. So how, you may be asking yourself, am I preparing this post? Did I really bring my computer to Disneyland? Most of you who know me know that would not be too far of a stretch. But no, I did not haul my laptop around Disneyland. I am typing this out on my iPhone using the WordPress app.

When I first downloaded the app I really wondered why I would use it. Well I have found why. You can blog from anywhere.

But I digress, this is supposed to be a post about the second day of our trip.p1020694

On Monday we went to the Disney California park. First I must explain our approach to this type of vacation. We typically let Nathan set the pace. I figure there is no sense in fighting a grumpy kid all day, so we let him sleep until he wakes up. So by the time we got up, ate breakfast, showered, and got to the park, it was about 11 o’clock. We headed straight for Soaring.

For those of you who are not familiar with Soaring, this is a hang glider simulator. It take through several areas around the country. It blows “wind” in your face and even pumps in the smell of oranges when you pass over the orange grove. It is a very cool ride.

We got our “fast passes” (tickets that let you jump line) for later and stood in the general line. We stood in line for about 45-60 min, were about to board the ride, when they announced that they were having “technical difficulties” and asked everyone to come back later. Not a good way to start the day. But the up side is that they gave us another fast pass to use any time we wished. So later in the day we got to ride Soaring twice in a row without much of a wait at all.

p1020695After Soaring broke down we headed to the Brother Bear Adventure area. Nathan had quickly spotted this play area on the map. Here we climbed rope bridges, slid through log slides and climbed rock walls. Well, Nathan did anyway. I did do the rope bridges and, boy, am I feeling it today. 🙂

The rest of the day filled out with the Mulholland Falls rollercoaster, playing on Donald’s boat, and riding the Monster’s Inc. ride. It was a pretty full day.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot! The parade! That is one of my favorite parts of Disney parks are the parades. This one was the Pixar Parade. It included characters from Bolt, The Incredibles, A Bugs Life, Monsters Inc., and Cars. It ended with one of my favorites, Mater.


One funny thing happened during the parade. The characters from the Incredibles were riding on Segway type scooters. Just as they were doing their thing in front of us Elastic Girl’s died. They eventually had to push it off the road. They then made Mr. Freeze get off his and walk so that she could ride his. So I guess we know who is important there. (While I have seen “The Incredibles” I have no idea if those names are anywhere close. :-))

After the park closed we headed to Downtown Disney. It was very crowded and most restaurants had a 2 hour wait. So we headed back towards the hotel and ate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co around the corner. Nathan feel asleep before we left the restaurant. It was a very full day!

Nathan’s favorite part…the rock climbing.

For more pictures of today’s activities, check out the photo gallery.

Spring Break 2009 Day 1

Posted March 16, 2009 by lcolwill
Categories: Family

Tags: ,

p1020638So yesterday we spent the day at Santa Monica Pier with Gary, Steve’s twin, Natalia, his wife, and kids, Micheal and Brian. I was really glad that they were able to hang out with us. We had a good time.

If you have never been to the Santa Monica Pier and you come to the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend it. It has a fair type atmosphere with carnival rides and games along with street vendors. And not too bad for families.

We walked the length of the pier, watched some of the street vendors sculpt, engrave, perform balance acts and sing then headed for the rides. Nathan rode the “bumper cars”. They reminded me of an air hockey game. They were inner tubes that floated across the floor. Nathan LOVED them and rode it 3 times. We also rode the ferris wheel which gave us a great view of the beach.


After the rides we hit the beach! The sun was starting to get low and we wanted to get pictures of the pier. However, the lighting wasn’t really right and we wanted to go see some other things so the pictures didn’t turn out great.

Nathan was dying to get into the sand so we stayed at the beach for a while and just let him and Brian play. We came upon this area that had rings and balance beams. Nathan had a really good time with these.

Then we saw what appeared to be an area where they practiced for the circus. 🙂 I know that’s not really what they are doing, but I have no other way of describing it. They were practicing juggling, balancing acts, acts of strength, etc. It was fun to watch.

And then to our surprise, Gary Bussey appeared. It was just kind of weird and he seemed a little out of place.p1020687

Then we were off to Venice Beach. Natalia really wanted us to experience “muscle beach”, but we were apparently too late during the day. While we got to see where people come to play basket ball, volleyball, and lift weights, there was nobody there to do those things. So we let the kids play on the playground and left. But I can say I’ve been to Venice Beach. 🙂

To see more pics of our trip check out the link in the photo gallery.

More to come…