Monday, July 31, 2017

Santa Cruz Beach Day

I'd been contemplating for weeks on how to fit in a summer road trip to visit my bestie in LA when she beat me to the punch and drove up to Santa Cruz for the weekend instead. And she just so happened to pick the BEST possible weekend because my sister was in Monterey for a conference and was able to come meet up with us as well. It was like all the stars aligned and I got to hang out with some of my favorite people in one of the most beautiful places on a gorgeous summer day. You can't ask for much more than that.

On Friday we headed out bright and early and after a three hour car ride and approximately 5,487 "get me out of here!" requests from Ez we got to the beach around lunch time. Santa Cruz has the best beach for littles because there's a calm, shallow inlet where they can basically run wild without getting tossed about by giant waves. An important consideration when there's one parent vs. two wildlings at the beach. 

We spent lots of time splashing, building sand moats, catching up, chasing sea gulls, and just generally enjoying each other's company. Once the kids were good and worn out we walked along the boardwalk for a bit taking in the sights and buying souvenirs. It was so hard to say goodbye after such a great day but thankfully I've got lots of fantastic memories (and pictures!) to tide me over till our next visit. Love this group of people so much!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

San Francisco Sisters Reunion

It's crazy that my sister's visit already came and went three weeks ago. It's one of those things I was looking forward to all year long, and it seemed so far away, and then all of a sudden it just snuck up on us and flew by so fast. Thankfully we already have another visit set up next year to look forward to.

One of my favorite parts of Bianca's visit was that we were able to meet up with our other sister Anna in San Francisco and have a mini sister reunion (3 out of 5 of us). The weather was perfect, the company was great, and we were in one of my favorite cities. It was a perfect day all around. 

A few highlights:
  • Ez's enthusiasm for trolleys and street cars hasn't diminished one bit and he was so excited to show them off to not one, but two aunts. A very special treat.
  • So much water everywhere. You can bet that Declan tried to climb or squeeze through every wall separating him from the ocean. Thankfully the walls won that battle. 
  • Discovering a new to us part of town on a detour to the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Ez insisted on being carried like a little baby by Auntie Anca until I called him out on it and then he shyly demanded to be put down and played it off like the big boy he is. 4 is such an inbetween age - half big boy, half baby, all bittersweet. 
  • Freshly made donuts on the pier. ALWAYS a must.
  • After the trip we showed Ez the photo of him in front of the trolley and asked "what's that?" expecting him to say "trolley", instead he said, "that's Mr. Ray!" (Bianca's professor). If you look very closely (5 photos down) you can see that Mr. Ray is indeed inside the trolley. Very perceptive and it also shows what a liking Ez took to Mr. Ray, making sure to share all his mini Thomas trains with him whenever he came over.
  • And best of all was the catching up and sister talk. Definitely a day I'll cherish for a loonnnnng time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Birthday Getaway: Reno & Tahoe

Joe and I have a tradition of doing a joint birthday getaway ever since 2012 (our first birthday together). The only exception was 2015 when I was less than one month postpartum. Here's a little walk down memory lane:

2012: Vegas (pre kids - bottom right)
2013: Santa Barbara (bottom middle)
2014: San Francisco (top right)
2016: Pinecrest (top middle)
2017: Reno/Tahoe (left)

As you can see, aside from 2012 when we didn't have kids, this was our first kid free birthday trip in a lonnnng time. Much overdue, you could say. Reno has been on our bucket list since we moved to Sacramento so that was the first stop on our getaway, followed by North Tahoe the next morning. 

We got to Reno around 10:30 in the morning and explored the "biggest little city" while killing time until we could check into our hotel. We lost some money gambled for a bit, hit up a buffet complete with mimosas, walked along the river, and gambled a bit more. Our hotel was called Whitney Peak and it's one of the few non-smoking, non-gambling hotels in the city, which I highly recommend if cigarette smoke is not your thing. We settled in and caught up on Game of Thrones (we're already behind again - #parentlife). Then it was off for dinner and a show. We ate more sushi than two people should possible be able to eat. I'm talking SIX rolls...and not small ones either. It may be awhile before we eat sushi again, but it was so, so worth it. Afterward we saw Cirque Le Noir, which is an acrobatic show with former Cirque du Soleil members. I think Joe said "Wow!" about a million times and I bit off all my nails, so definitely a must-see if you're in Reno. Afterward we wandered around sipping margaritas and trying our luck at the slot machines one more time (spoiler alert: we're not lucky). Even though she took most of our money, Reno was the perfect start to our birthday weekend. Scroll down for part two, Lake Tahoe.

Sunday morning we checked out bright and early and headed down to North Lake Tahoe (about 40 minutes away) for a kayaking adventure. I haven't spent much time in North Lake Tahoe, but after our visit I can already promise we'll be back. It is easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and I'm counting Hawaii in that assessment. The water was the most beautiful clear turquoise right along the shore, and a deep dark blue that let you see all the way to the bottom of the lake further out. Being surrounded by pine trees, and snow capped mountains in the was too pretty to put into words and these pictures don't do it justice. Expert tip: get there early because the parking lot fills up fast in the summer and then you have to take a shuttle (thankfully we got a spot). We explored the rocky areas near the beach for a bit and then we got our kayak and paddled up the shore until we came to the wise conclusion that it was much easier to just let the lake take us where it wanted while we relaxed with our feet in the water, taking in all the sights. After a few hours and a very awkward capri sunburn on the bottom third of my legs we headed back to shore and reality. The only consolation to leaving was that we've already decided we'll be back with the kids. I could easily have spent a week right there at that beach and I know the kids will love it just as much. 

Thanks for following along on our birthday adventures! I have a feeling next year's will top them all since we'll be going to Germany for my sister's wedding. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

California State Fair

Living in Sacramento there was no way we were gonna miss out on the State Fair this year. We chose to go on my birthday, not so much because it was my birthday, but because it was the coolest day of the week at a nice and chilly 92 degrees ;) 

Last year we went to two county fairs and Ez loved watching the dirt bikes and monster trucks so we were expecting him to be even more excited this year. Unfortunately he's developed a strong aversion to loud noises since then so he wanted nothing to do with the monster trucks or dirt bikes, and even though Declan sat through the mini monster trucks at the county fair he thought the dirt bikes were too loud as well. Both of them took refuge at the kid museum display and would have settled in there for the long haul if we didn't drag them off to check out other parts of the fair.  

So while dirt bikes and monster trucks didn't make the cut this year, here's our favorite fair highlights:

Declan: the Nasa space shuttle tunnel in the kid's museum area, running toward any and every body of water he could find, and the free balloon he got from the carnival games (and immediately popped)

Ez: spotting the monorail, winning carnival games, watermelon slices bigger than his head, and the giant lite brite (80s youth flashbacks right there!)

Me: all the carnival photo ops

Joe: lobster fries (so SOOO good!)

What's your favorite part of the fair??