Beach to Mountains P2 | Tahoe

Somewhat wildly, we decided to drive to Tahoe the day after returning from Maui. It was a lot of travel but Cam was a champ (not a surprise). We arrived just in time for check-in (always a treat when you don’t have to wait for your room to be ready) at our annual anniversary spot. Like last year, we booked a room on the ground floor with a patio. Unlike last year, there was still a lot of snow! In mid-May!! California has had a cold, wet winter. Even as I type this – with June next week – it is still unseasonably cold out.

Little Olaf

After some light unpacking and an obligatory tiny snowman build on the deck, we hit the lawn game area for take-out beers and dinner. Ah, it was good to be back in our favorite place.

Knowing there was still so much snow, we brought our sled and spent the next morning pulling Cam around and plunging down whatever hills we could find. It was a good hour or so of fun but the sun was SO BRIGHT reflecting off of the snow, we didn’t last long out there.

Cam’s like, I need sunglasses too!

No fuss though. This just meant extra pool time! The water actually wasn’t freezing and I surprised myself by going in up to my waist. …Okay, okay, this was mostly out of necessity when Cam threw his toys past the stairs where we were nicely (warmly) hanging out and Mike wasn’t there to get them for him. Shortly after a very sweet girl around 10(?) took over the responsibility of gathering scattered thrown toys for him instead. I believe they called it “playing…”

With Cam entertained (and Mike back to supervise), I made my way to the hot tub to soak and read. After all, it was Mother’s Day weekend.

Similar to where we stayed in Maui, there was a free shuttle that took us from our resort to The Village, a scattering of shops and restaurants, and also where the 1960 Olympics were hosted. Mike was on a mission for after-season sales before he went snowboarding the next day. And after some rack browsing, we happily sat down at Tremigo Mexican restaurant and tequila bar. Mike and I have been to practically every place in the village, having come there for the past ~10 years, but since we usually go during the offseason, Tremigo hasn’t been open and this was our first time there. What a gem! We got Cam a popsicle, we ordered 2 frozen margs, and chatted over sips and chips + salsa. Probably one of my Top Ten favorite ways to spend an afternoon!


We also implemented another new practice this year; hot tub swapping. One of us would do the bedtime routine with Cam while the other got to enjoy the hot tub and the next night, we would switch. Mike made small talk during his sesh and told another younger couple, “I’m here celebrating my wedding anniversary. …But my wife is in the room. We have a toddler so have to take shifts for the hot tub.” Enjoy joint hot tubbing while you can, young ones! 😉

Mike hit the slopes the next morning while Cam and I got a special visit with my grandparents. They live about 45 minutes away so were able to meet us for lunch at Tremigo (my new favorite spot)! They also watched Cam after so Mike & I could actually hot tub TOGETHER. Cam absolutely loves time with Grandparents and was talking about “Gigi and Grandpa” for a few days after.

love this lady!

That night Mike and I had fondue for dinner and I was gushing the whole time about how romantic it was to be in the snowy mountains, eating yummy melting cheese and bread together, toasting 4 years of marriage.

On our last morning, we celebrated Mother’s Day with a decadent buffet brunch. Cam is a big morning eater and I think he actually ate more than I did at this one. We left feeling full and so happy that we could experience such a memorable 10 days together – from the beaches in Maui to the Mountains in Tahoe.

Happy Mother’s Day, mama! Thanks for this huge hot cholocate, and everything else you do

Want more? Read about our other trips to Tahoe:

Cam’s first Tahoe retreat 😉

Shirley Canyon Hike

Romantic getaway [Squaw Valley]

Friday Favorites

White Christmas

Tahoe Birthday Festivities!

Beach to Mountains

Amazingly, we could go on 2 trips to Hawaii within months of each other this year. What a dream and a tradition I wish was sustainable… Back in January, Mike was about to start a new job so we planned a few days in Maui. The trip we just got back from was planned late last year when our friends Lauren and Ian offered the 2nd bedroom in their timeshare-Esq Hawaiian vacation to us. (Yes they did have to sit through a timeshare presentation. No, they did not walk away with a timeshare.)

Cam watching the planes before takeoff

Post-pandemic, I’m a little surprised when vacation plans actually go through and I still don’t fully feel like we’re going to make it until we are at the airport. I’ve also acquired a nonproductive superstition of not starting to pack until the night before a trip – just in case something happens… Too sad to have to unpack!

We made it, though! Funnily enough, we stayed directly next door to the villas we were at in January. The 5 of us immediately went poolside for noshes and drinks. That night was Boys’ Night Out, which meant Lauren and I were left in the hotel with a sleeping Cam, a bottle of champs, and takeout to enjoy on the patio. Not bad. Also, the Boys brought us home dessert, some famous haupia pie.

Our first full day was jam-packed with activities. We kicked things off at Surfing Goat Dairy farm with a mini tour of the property and a lesson on how to feed goats! Not surprisingly, Cam loved this. Having worked up an appetite, a flight of goat cheese and pizza were in order before our next destination.

Falt palms when feeding goats!

Up a winding mountain was Maui Wine, a gorgeous estate with lush grass, curvy old trees, and beautiful views. We ordered flights of wine and truffle chips, while Cam happily played trains. A highlight here was the pineapple champagne, made from – you guessed it – pineapples instead of grapes. Yum.


On our way down the mountain, we saw strawberry picking and had to stop for our #1 berry monster, Cam. I would highly recommend doing this earlier in the day as most of the ripe and ready strawberries seemed to have already been picked by the time we got there. Nonetheless, it was fun picking the berries we could find while looking over the ocean. Cam whispered to me every few bushes, “Oh, mama?!? Look, a good one!!”

We also scored some farm fresh eggs here that served us well for breakfast sandos the rest of the trip.

LOVE strawberries

For Girl’s Night, Lauren and I took the very convenient free hotel shuttle to Whalers Village. We ate at Leilani’s On the Beach and watched the sunset over a shared Cesar salad and fresh pasta. Romantic. 😉 After we started walking along the beach to see what we could get into next and, a tiny bit tipsy, decided we needed a Jumping Picture… There we were, our phones crammed in the sand on self-timer, counting down and jumping every few seconds to try to score the perfect in-air silhouettes. We never nailed it. But, the 15 or so photo-scroll of our attempts is pretty funny (to us).

The next day Cam woke up with a fever and was just not himself. Uh-oh. He took a long morning nap (not normal) while we watched the F1 race and hoped he would wake up feeling better.

Sadly he still wasn’t himself after napping, so we opted for a mellow afternoon beachside. We packed up our beach blanket and a few sand toys and walked the short distance to the sea. At first, he was content just playing in the sand while Mike and I took turns dipping in the ocean, but after a while, he decided he too wanted to put his toes in the water. Overall it was probably the most pleasant thing we could have done – playing in the salty waves – with an unwell babe. He loved throwing rocks in the ocean. And, very excitedly, we got to see a huge sea turtle gliding her way through the surf, poking between stunned tourists wondering out loud, “A real sea turtle!”

Cam seemed to be on the mend later that afternoon and we knew a shuttle bus ride would be something he loved! We jumped on the free shuttle again (seriously, such a great perk) for dinner at Monkey Pod. Best happy hour. Best Mai Tais. Cannot be beaten.

Waiting for the bus
The coolest play structure to climb while waiting for a table

We thought we were in the clear and Cam was all better the next day. He woke up with a ton of energy and we had a great morning at the pool. But after his nap, we noticed the undeniable first signs of pink eye: eye goop. He had also been complaining about his ear hurting and we were flying home in 2 days… High altitudes and ear issues didn’t sound like something we should mix. Off to Urgent Care it was, where conjunctivitis (pink eye) and a double ear infection were confirmed. Darn.

(Cute aside story from the doctor visit: as she was asking how his appetite was, we mentioned he hadn’t been eating normally and really only had ice cream that day. Cam promptly chimed in with his little tiny voice, “um, I think I also had some cucumber.” As if to say, don’t throw me under the bus, mom and dad! I had some greens today, too. Mike and I have been gushing over this since!)


Happily, Cam was feeling better after a dose of antibiotics and we were able to enjoy our last day there. We had our morning coffees by the pool, fully taking advantage of the shallow, ankle-high water to lounge in and walk around with Cam, since he couldn’t get his ears wet. Then, while Cam had his afternoon nap, Mike and I were able to go on a lunch date, sitting seaside and sipping on Mai Tais together, chatting about some exciting new things on the horizon. Huge shout to Lauren and Ian, who not only watched Cam during our date but who were also incredible with him the whole trip; zooming cars, picking him up when we wanted to be carried, and sitting in the back of the van when he only wanted to “sit with Lulu!”

For dinner, we epically put together a meal using our leftovers – buttered edamame, mountains of French fries and onion rings – and the remaining few ingredients in the fridge for a salad, paired with grilled sausage, onions, and peppers. I think “leftover dinners” should be a new thing on the last nights of vacation…

fam dinner

On our last morning, we made one more trip to Urgent Care to confirm Cam’s ears were better and that it was okay to fly. Luckily we got the go-ahead because we had the mountain part of our vacation planned next on the mainland. Stay tuned for part two!

can you find the pineapple?

Where Mickey lives!

Last month we celebrated Cam’s birthday in Disneyland! We drove south on a Wednesday afternoon and somehow the estimated 6-hour drive took us 9 hours. Which, I guess actually isn’t too much of a surprise considering the multiple pitstops we made, one including a long runaround at a park for Cam to burn some energy…

We stayed at the Clementine Hotel, which was only .7 miles away from the parks, and at least half the price of staying at a Disney hotel. The Clementine was clean and still monetized Mickey, with little splashes of Disney throughout, so it felt good enough to us. We opted to stay in a 2 bedroom suite because my mom, stepdad, and little bro were excitedly joining, too.

After a takeout dinner and some HGTV (mine and Mike’s favorite hotel TV), we all went to sleep dreaming of Disney…


On Thursday, we woke up early to get there for the “rope drop” (or when the park opens, as we learned through watching Disneyland Influencers on youtube). Instead of lining up for the classic picture with Mickey’s face behind us in the grass, we went straight to the RIDES, saying we would come back for the picture later (we didn’t).

Cam hasn’t had much experience with rides, so we were a little apprehensive about how it would go. First up, we went on the Astro Orbiter, and Cam loved circling around in the little rockets. Good sign!

Next, we, unfortunately, misstepped with Astro Blasters (yes, I am googling the names of these rides…) and Pirates of the Caribbean. Both of which were “too dark and scary.” A fair assessment of both of those rides as an almost 3-year-old, in my opinion! Sorry, Cam!

We took a break after Pirates and grabbed lunch at Bengal Barbecue. The best food place in Disney if you’re asking me! We all got skewers with rice, hummus, and veg plates which felt pretty elite for amusement park food.

Jungle Cruise was after, which Cam enjoyed, and veered us back in the “rides are fun” lane. We got pineapple ice cream in the tiki room after and Cam LOVED both the ice cream and the tiki room. All the electronic birds singing and dancing were the biggest hit. We have the cutest video of him just going crazy during the performance. The best!


The highlight of the day came next, though, when Cam was able to DRIVE at Autopia (still googling ride names). Ah, it was so sweet to see Cam excited to “drive dada” while on this ride. His smile was ear-to-ear the whole time.

We adventured to Fantasyland next, intending to ride only Dumbo but being derailed by both boys requesting to “ride the ponies” (merry-go-round) when they saw them. After finally riding both, we were all ready for some pizza; an appetizer for Mike and me before our special date night dinner (foreshadow!). Then we ended the day on a high note, riding the Casey Jr. Circus Train. This was especially exciting for Cam, who is enthralled by all things trains right now. I think I will always remember the feeling of his tiny body snuggled into me on that ride, pointing and delighting at all of the sights.

We walked back to the hotel after to bathe Cam and then left him with my mom so Mike and I could go back to the park! Once back in the action, we used our Genie Pass to check out the new Star Wars ride; Smugglers Run. Overall I was NOT impressed but I’m sure there are plenty of people – who are bigger Disney and Star Wars fans – that disagree…

What I was a fan of that night was DINNER. Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to eat at the Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside the Pirates Ride, and I was finally able to do it. Mike and I ordered glasses of sparkling wine and cheers’d a successful first day in Disney! The ride was actually closed while we waited and I can’t decide if that is disappointing or lucky…

We rounded out the night with some rides that Cam was too small to go on and then walked our tired selves home to catch some rest before Day Two.


On our second day, we went to Califonia Adventure. Quick Pro Tip for potty training parents: you can’t bring the potty training bags for mini toilets into the parks with you. (We had to give up a basically brand-new bag of those expensive little liners. Sob.) Anyways. We knew CA Adventure would be exciting because Cam LOVES the movie Cars and Lighting McQueen.

We kicked off with a triple whamming on the same ride, Luigi’s Rockin’ Roasters. Then it was time to meet Lightening and Mater IRL. Cam still talks about this.


We grabbed tacos and margs for lunch before slowing things down with the Ariel ride a few times (you can’t beat short lines with kids!). Cam had a successful Stroller Nap (as he did the day before in Disney – major wins), and Mike and I were able to tuck ourselves in a quiet corner and enjoy a beer. We tried to do the single rider line for Radiator Springs Racers but the line was barely moving and we knew our window was small with Cam sleeping.


Even though it wasn’t the weekend yet, the park felt way more crowded than the day before. It was also the first weekend of the Food & Wine Festival, which I’m sure didn’t help with crowd control. We ended up leaving earlier than I thought we would but spent most of our day there fully immersed in Carsland, which was exactly right for celebrating Cam’s birthday!

Mike and I were able to go back again for some late-night park action that night, where we went on Radiator Springs Racers and the Incredicoaster, both so fun and thrilling!

Overall we walked close to 70,000 steps split between the 2 days (what!), rode a total of 19 (unique) rides, and took (seemingly) hundreds of pictures. One amazing vacation with our best little dude.

Oh, and we met Iron Man. Mama’s favorite superhero. 😉


Want more? Read about mine and Mike’s first trip to Disneyland here, and our honeymoon is Disneyworld here.


We recently escaped winter in California – which is very cold this year – and spent 5 days on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Years ago Mike and I spent 2 nights in Honolulu on the way back from Australia but we had never been to Maui together and heard many recommendations that it was the best island for kiddos. We stayed at Honua Kai with some friends who also have a 2 y/o. Our accommodations were insane. The villa was so nice, with a huge patio for us to all lounge on and a great pool just steps away. In my opinion, traveling with toddlers justifies spending a bit more on lodging because you are most likely going to be there more than you would sans little ones.

We certainly splurged for this stay but it was one of my favorite parts of the trip! It was very special to get away to a gorgeous destination and stay somewhere equally as plush.

Instead of posting my normal day-to-day recap, I decided just to highlight a few of my Hawaiian favorites. Read on!

Selfie on the patio

The Beach

What is a tropical vacation without sand & sea? Cam and I spent one-on-one time down at the beach while Mike figured out some surfing logistics. I had a blast with my little dude digging in the sand and occasionally dipping our toes in the water. It is so fun to hang out with him, chat, and see the world through his eyes.

On another day we went to explore Baby Beach as a group. As it might sound, it is perfect for kids because of the calm, shallow water. It felt more like a lake than the ocean, it was so sedated. Here the dads built sand tunnels – eventually getting very serious about it and extending one all the way down to the shore – while we walked along the shore and played in the water.


So Much Swimming

Similarly to beach time, pool time is a given when traveling to a tropical destination. There was the great pool steps away from our villa but also a few other pools throughout the property. Of course, the best one was the one with the waterslide. Cam absolutely loved flying down the slide. Every time he splashed into the pool at the end, he immediately exclaimed, “can I do it again?!” We must have done it 20 times in a row. No exaggeration.


Date Night!

Our friends offered to “baby monitor watch” for us so we could go on a date at Duke’s, the restaurant on the hotel property. (Expect Cam wasn’t actually fully asleep when we left so they ended up doing some real babysitting instead; poop diaper change included – thanks, guys!!)

It was great to dress up and go on a proper date with appetizers, a few rounds of mai tais, and fresh fish entrees. We were also lucky with the table we sat at, scoring one right next to the live musical entertainment. Ah, the rum, the breeze, the mellow tunes. Loved it all.


The Maui Butterfly Farm

We adventured out one morning to check out the Maui Butterfly Farm, where we could hold caterpillars and be up close to a bunch of butterflies. This place was on the pricey side but I loved that we actually got to experience butterflies landing on our fingers and hands.

There was a fruit stand next door that looked great to check out for some local noshes but we were approaching naptime so had to hurry back, blasting kidzbop on the way to keep them awake. Nothing says parents of toddlers like vacationing in a minivan listening to the same song on repeat because your kids don’t like anything else. (For those wondering, our hit song was 24 karat magic… “Put your pinky rings up to the MOOOON”)


The Hyatt in Maui

Ok, this was one of my favorite things to do and it was free so, even better! Every morning Hyatt staff members feed the lobby penguins. We went over to watch them waddle around and snack on fish. Then decided to stay and explore the grounds. Strolling beachside, we saw flamingos, ducks, and swans up close. It was so much fun! (Maybe more so for me than Cam…) I highly recommend this if you are looking for something new to do with kids.



Toward the end of our trip, we made it to Monkeypod, a restaurant that came highly recommended by a few friends. Oh, wow. What a hit! I can now confirm they have the best mai tais. Happy Hour was legit. There was a great vibe. And the kids got free noodles and cheese!!

Obviously, we came back the next night too.


We had a blast in Maui. It was the perfect vacation with Cam and our friends. On our last day, as we were packing, it started pouring rain (for the first time during our stay) and I knew the island was crying because we were going home. 😉

Until next time, Maui, Aloha!



New Years is seducing to me. Steeping myself in both reflections from the past year and the aspirations of the future is a sweet spot I can’t resist. Who was I this year and how am I going to be better next year?

In the spirit of reflection, I started 1:1 therapy in the summer. It’s been about 6 months now and I’m finding it to be unlocking. I know this is the work I need to be doing right now. Absurdly summed up, I am trying to figure out more of who I am and what I believe vs. what I may have been conditioned to think. An important part of this for me is trying to align my actions and behaviors with my values, especially now being a mom.

Moving on to something lighter; where did we go this year? what did we see? (Sidenote: scrolling through the home page of this here blog, I have essentially stopped posting any recipes… aside from one honorable effort this year, Mango Salsa!) Before my in-laws left after an extended stay with us, we spent a long weekend in San Luis Obispo. Cam wasn’t even 2! It is so crazy how much he’s grown and how expressive he is now.

Next we were off on our annual trip to Tahoe to celebrate our anniversary, with my dad as a special guest one of the nights so Mike and I could go on a date.

Over the summer we took our biggest trip overseas to Spain to meet up with Mike’s family (my recap posts are here and here). A few months later, we were back with Mike’s parents in Canada, complete with an amazing cottage weekend with some of our closet friends and all of our kiddos.

Lastly, not too far from home but still worth a blog post was our fun weekend away to Monterey to visit Thomas the Train and go see cars race!

In between all of the noteworthy trips, we continued to chip away at our home renovation – finally installing new carpets in both bedrooms (my biggest joy! Sayonara shag rugs!!). Cam started at a Montessori school and has learned so much, it is incredible. He seems to really love his teacher and his friends and we could not be happier about that. We’ve also been lucky that my mom has been able to continue to watch Cam 1 day/week. It’s our favorite day to have him home while we work, and for him to get in some Gogo time.

We’re both still primarily working from home. This means we spend a lot of time in our main bedroom/office, where we sleep and where both of our desks are. Every morning we have to check in on meeting schedules and who “gets the room” but, to me, these are minor inconveniences to the valuable time we get back not commuting to and from an office on a daily basis.

When we weren’t traveling in 2022, we spent most of our time just hanging around town. Cam loves “walking baby” so we often walk together – us pushing his stroller and him pushing his baby’s stroller – to get coffees, teas, and pastries; go grocery shopping or to the framers market with the wagon. We got a bouncy castle this summer and had a lot of playdates in the backyard. With things feeling more “normal” (read: pre pandemic), we’ve had some really fun times with friends actually inside their homes and ours!

Excitedly we also got a kitten, Pumpkin, towards the end of 2022. He is the cutest cat like dog ever, who actually plays fetch with us and LOVES just being in the same room as everyone. Cam is thoroughly obsessed with him. When we come home from being out, he excitedly calls out “oh, Pumpkin!? We missed you!!” Pretty cute!

Overall it’s been a stellar year. We’re well, growing, and learning. We have so much love in our families and community. The things that matter most.

I think like a lot of us, I’m not into resolutions that much anymore. However, I do like the idea of having a single word as a touchstone for what I want the year to primarily be about… I’m still turning one over in my head before solidifying it so more to come here. 😉

Happy New Year!

Best Weekend

Last month we had the best mini getaway. It was mid October so felt Fall festive, with crisper weather and Halloween just around the corner. Our first stop was a surprise for Cam to meet Thomas the Train in Santa Cruz. Cam is obsessed with Thomas right now so when tickets went on sale for a special Thomas & Percy Halloween takeover, we knew we wanted to take him.

We told Cam we were going to see the trains but didn’t tell him THOMAS would be there. Bundled up, with thermoses filled of coffee and tea, we drove over the windy hill to Roaring Camp, where they went all out with the Thomas Takeover! Right upon entering you see a blow up Thomas and other train friend characters. The highlight for us, of course, was seeing Cam’s face when he first caught a glimpse of Thomas and all things Sodor. I will never forget it. He stopped in his tracks with this little coy smile spread across his cute face. (When I was telling my dad about it later, his Cam-voiceover was, “okay, my parents are cool.” I’ll take that and run with it.)

Cam got to “meet” Sir Topham Hatt. He played with trains on tracks (that we had to rent by giving our IDs – they weren’t messing around). There was a pumpkin patch for every kid to take one pumpkin; a souvenir Thomas bucket that the kids lunch came in; a firetruck to get in and explore, and the actual main event, the train souped-up as Thomas and Percy!! Well worth it.

Cam wasn’t too sure about Sir Topham Hatt irl

Our original plan basically ended here. We were going to ride the train and then drive home after during nap. BUT, instead, we continued down South for a gifted trip to us in Monterey! Our neighbors won free tickers to a race at Laguna Seca and one night stay at a hotel nearby from the radio!! They already had plans that weekend so asked if we wanted to go instead. Cam loves cars and racing right now – plus, free night stay in Monterey? yes every time – so we were excited and thankful they thought of us.

We arrived at the racetrack, not fully sure what to expect. But scored free upgraded parking and a VIP golf cart ride down to the event, so we were off to a good start.

Not only did we get free admission tickets and a complimentary hotel stay, we also were upgraded to the “wine experience” (maybe we should be calling into the radio more often, with these prizes, y’all…). Again, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect and, since we were with Cam, weren’t sure we would even be able to enjoy it together. Lucky for us, the wine experience area was directly next to the kids area (parents must have been involved with this placement…) and with our wristbands, we had in and out privileges.

This meant I could go in for a glass of wine and a snack, come out with my loot and stay with Cam while Mike did the same! We were able to toast together and watch Cam play with the race car ramp they had set up in the kids zone. Wins, wins.

We also had the opportunity to see a F1 car do a few laps around the track, which was so cool to see and experience. We are still into Formula One over here and spend many weekend mornings lazily watching races. It’s fun because Cam is also into and will say cute things like “I want to watch race car” or “that blue one is my favorite.” All of this to say, Cam LOVED seeing the race cars on a real track.

After a lot of excitement, it was time to go check in at the hotel, Casa Munras. The hotel seems unassuming from the outside but is actually a super cute spot with a pool (still heated to 75 degrees) and a tapas restaurant that you know we had to check out.

After sorting ourselves out in our room we decided to go full vacay mode and take a dip in the pool. The weather had warmed up a bit throughout the day and it was heated so why not? Cam enjoyed bobbing around in the water for about 20 minutes but then started shivering and it was time to get out. We had dinner reservations at Estéban Restaurant for 6pm but our day was running ahead of schedule, so instead arrived at 5:30pm. We were pleasantly surprised to find out there was still 30 minutes of happy hour!

After mojitos and an array of tapas (and some reminiscing on our summer trip to Spain!) it was time for bath and bed for Cam. Conveniently, our room was within baby monitor range of the pool (this was actually HUGE and something I want to start requesting when able in upcoming travel). Mike and I were able to enjoy around drink by the pool while watching Cam doze on the monitor. A great end to a great day.

Before we went to sleep, I was sure to figure out what nearby would be open for breakfast early the next morning. Not having a solid morning plan when you’re away from a kitchen with a toddler is a non-starter. Happily, across the street from our hotel was my ideal spot, a cozy organic cafe: The Wild Plum.

Sure enough, we were there bright and early (the benefit of not sleeping in anymore is missing the brunch crowds on the weekend)! I ordered a stack of pancakes with berries – so fluffy and yummy! Our waiter was also very kind and gave Cam a free refill on his oatmeal, after he demolished his first serving.

The park scene near us also DID NOT disappoint. We were walking distance from Dennis the Menace park, which is incredible. It is right on a lake that had inflatable swans you could rent – we might be repeating this vacation during the summer to try them out. There were multiple play areas, including a maze, a small sailboat, and a baseball field. It was the best park we’ve found since our trip to San Luis Obispo earlier this year. We spent the rest of the morning running around and exploring before going back to the hotel to pack up.


Before we drove home, we rounded out the weekend trying out a great brewery, Dust Bowl Brewing. There was a food truck option for lunch and Cam loved zipping around the picnic style tables we were sitting at. Mike and I were just content enough with our beers to not really care if other people were judging our loose parenting style at that moment… 😉

The food was simple but so incredibly good. The location and atmosphere couldn’t be beat, and either could the company. Our favorite time is family time (cheeseball) and it was great to spend such a fun time together. Thanks, Ally & Rob!!

Still drooling over these chicken tacos…

Want more? Read about other trips to Santa Cruz and Monterey here and here

Canada, eh?

Cam’s third international trip is in the books! We’re back from 2 weeks of visiting Nana and Papa in Mississauga, a neighboring city to Toronto. Coincidentally while we were there, we missed a heat wave here in California so it turned out to be a great time to be away. The weather was nice almost our entire trip, with just a few hits of rain (which Cam actually loved) and a touch of humidity in the afternoons.

Anyways! Moving on to more than the weather.

First thing was first. After arriving and settling in, it was time to check out the new splash pad across the street from Mike’s parents house. Splash pads are seemingly everywhere there and I am envious. They are so fun for kids and adults alike. Sadly there is no way California could pull off such constant water usage, being as drought prone as we are.

As to be expected, Cam loved running around in all the different water features. By the end of our stay he was a regular pro, even using a little bucket to carry water from the splash pad over to the park to build sand castles.

We worked the first 3 days we were there and were pretty slammed with meetings and a ton of to dos. Despite a jam packed start, Mike and I were able to go on a date! Sometimes it’s weird to think how easily we used to be able to go to dinner just the 2 of us… Now all the is required is a 5 hour flight to grandparents (or having my mom come to our house). 🙂

When we finally able to close our laptops and kick into vacay mode, it was time for Canada’s Wonderland. This was Cam’s first trip to an assessment park so it was extra exciting! It was also the last weekend of summer and heading into a holiday weekend – which meant it was very busy and the lines were long. In the end, Cam only rode 3 rides but it was still fun hanging out at a theme park all day. The waterpark was particularly at hit for Cam (and the craft beers and burgers a hit for us adults).

On Friday we traveled south to our friend’s family cottage on the Great Lake Erie to celebrate Mike’s birthday! The last time we were altogether was at our wedding in 2019, so it was extra special to be there with them. Piling on the special was the fact that we all have kids now!! Ah, there’s nothing like being on vacation with a group of parents and young kids… you just fully get each other, ya know? No one’s meals are eaten hot anymore, conversations are clipped, late nights and endless drinks are replaced with decent bedtimes and lots of water. How times have changed. 🙂

Joking aside, of course it was great to see Cam and the other little ones play together and get to know each other! We packed a lot of things into a few days; including an afternoon at the beach, visiting a small zoo, taking wagon walks for ice cream, and a classic Canadian birthday dinner of poutine and butter tart desserts to celebrate Mike!


We extended our holiday weekend and took an extra day off to visit Mike’s great aunt. On our way we stopped at my favorite spot, Oakville. Nestled on another Great Lake, there are boats for Cam to look at and obviously water to throw rocks into. Plus, there is TriBeCa coffee that has the yummiest medium roast and chocolate croissants. Big wins all around.

After snacking and soaking in the lake breeze, we drove to see Aunt Barb. It is so heartwarming to see your baby with family!


We worked the rest of the week but were treated to lovely dinners by my mother in law on the deck, walks around the marsh when we could, and – Cam’s favorite – duck feeding!

Mike & I were also able to steal away for one more trip to Oakville and have a date night. Per a locals recommendation, we ended up at Verace. Manhattans with a melon, arugula, and prosciutto appetizer to start and house made rigatoni and wood fire pizzas to indulge in after? Yes, please. More, please.

To close, I have to mention my personal highlight of the trip: Cam starting to say “I love you” unprompted to us. HEART MELTED.

One morning he snuggled into bed with us, greeted me with a raspy “hi, mama.”

“Hi, baby.” I replied.

“I love you, mama.”

Waaah. The best thing I’ve ever heard. ❤

I love this behind the scenes shot of us all trying to get a pic of the kids

Want more? Read about our other trips to Canada here and here.

Seaside in Spain (part 2)

This post has taken me a bit longer to get published that my first recap of our vacation to Spain but here we go.

The main reason we planned this trip was to meet Mike’s family – namely Wendy, his sister, and her 2 kids – in Javea, a town a little north of Alicante. Since Cam was born um, the month a global pandemic was declared, he has only met his cousins briefly on a layover Wendy and family had on their move to Australia at the end of 2020. So, it was exciting to finally get all of the cousins together for some quality time!

We arrived in the late afternoon and pretty much immediately walked down to the seaside for dinner. We ate most of our meals off of the Arenal Promenade, which had a bunch of trendy beachside cafes and amazing views of the Mediterranean sea. Noteworthy were the duck and guac tacos (I heard, Mike and Wendy spilt these); a great pad Thai Mike’s dad and I both ordered for dinner one night; an amazing breakfast deal that included a hearty meal, a coffee or tea, and a juice for under 10€; and my one (how?!) Negroni I indulgently sipped on one lunch.

Back at the airbnb, we were spoiled with another amazing pool. The shallow end was completely separated from the deep-end by a footbridge, which was perfect for kids! We still had to watch Cam closely because he doesn’t know how to swim but being able to let him walk around on his own was nice for us and him. Plus, we didn’t have to worry about him going into the deep-end. Instead he just threw toys through the pillars of the bridge, instructing us to “go get it!”

Andy, Wendy’s husband, arrived from Australia the day after we all did. Despite his jet lag (and maybe a bit of ours still…) we decided to go for a Parents Night Out! Our tagline is lost on me now but it was something along the lines of: 2 drinks and your drunk, time for bed! (But catchier, I swear. Or maybe we had already had our 2 drinks and thought it was catchy…)

Much to all of our surprise, we stayed our past midnight. Wendy, Mike, and I actually doing 2 rounds of tequila shots in addition to our cocktails. It was so fun catching up with Wendy and Andy after YEARS of not seeing them.

For the next few days we alternated between spending time seaside (the little ice cream shack there getting a lot of our attention); splashing in the pool; hunting for a cafe that would serve me iced coffee with more than one ice cube (seriously, how do you order iced coffee in Spain?! I never nailed it); loving all of the cousin play time (and all of the adult wine time); hitting up the local grocery store (“masymas!!!” said over and over again every time we passed it) for goods like berries, bagels, and treats; navigating traffic circles; and trying to get around with our so-so Spanish.

Wendy recommended The Beach House for brunch one day and it was one of my favorite places of the whole trip. Located right on the sea, there were gorgeous views. The restaurant itself was dreamy with great food. Wins all around.

After noshing on chocolate croissants, smoothie bowls, and scrambled eggs, we bobbed around in the sea for some time. Cam was loving the waves and splashing around in the shallow shore. The water reminded me a lot of our honeymoon in St. Barts – so blue, warm, tranquil, and amazing!


We loved the Beach House location so much, Mike and I went on a date there while Cam stayed back at the house enjoying the pool with his cousins, Nana, and Papa. (Real perks of vacationing with family is being able to steal-away for a few adult only activities!)

Mike and I spent an hour standup paddle boarding. Being out in the middle of deep, unknown water (the the sea or ocean) tends to freak me out but I surprisingly felt comfortable almost the whole time we were out there; despite the waves getting increasingly rougher and falling off the board. After burning some calories out on the sea, we went to lunch before heading back. It was such a nice time to connect one on one during our vacation.

After packing up and putting Cam to bed on our last night, we played the game we bought for Ella’s birthday outside on the patio. Shortly after all the kids were tucked in bed so we could enjoy one last glass of wine in Spain before flying back home.

We had to wake up at 4am to be to the airport in time for our early morning flight. I was so relieved that we didn’t have any flight delays coming home but let me tell you, it was a hard day of travel. Cam spelt even less on the flight back, it was an hour longer because we were traveling east to west, and we were running on about 4 hours of sleep. I was able to finish House of Gucci (so good!) and watch The Eyes of Tammy Faye (so crazy!) (in between giving Cam snacks, playing play-dough, apologizing when he through little puff balls at people – proclaiming “oh! bouncy ball!” every time – taking turns walking up the aisle with him, and just generally willing the hours to tick away faster than they seemed to be on that flight).

Aside from a long and tiring trip home, our time with family was wonderful and we’re so thankful that we were able to take this trip!

Seaside in Spain

We’re back from spending 10 days in the southeast of Spain. Now, the time change is affording me a few hours in the early morning to write about it. Here we go!

Via an eleven hour flight to Madrid and a quick one hour flight to our final destination, Alicante, we had about 16 hours of travel from San Francisco. This was Cam’s first overseas trip and the longest flight he’s been on (Mike and I were also very out of practice because of the pandemic!). Since we took a redeye from SFO we had high hopes that he would sleep at least half of the first long flight to Madrid. Instead he slept for a total of 3 hours (!!!) the.whole.flight. Needless to say, Encanto was pretty much on loop for that flight. Plus, snacks. So many snacks.

We finally arrived in Alicante and drove about 15 minutes, a welcome short distance after long travel, to check into our amazing airbnb. The place we booked had a little waterpark pirate ship feature in the kids pool area that we were excited about. Traveling with Cam obviously meant we would be spending more time at our accommodation vs. out on the town so it was great to stay somewhere with something exciting for him.On our first night we found a small beach shake restaurant and cheers’d the official kick off of our vacation over cava, spicy potatoes, and jamon with melon.

After a rocky nights rest – time zones! – we didn’t have the best luck finding a place that was open for coffee the next morning. Instead, we walked the marble paved beach walk for longer than desired before finding the one single cafe that wasn’t still closed. Complete with a small spattering of smokers and espresso drinkers starting their day; we could barely communicate but managed to order coffees and whatever pastry they had available.

After exploring the town a bit, it was time to try out the kids pool! Sure enough, it was a hit with Cam! The water was shallow enough that he could walk the whole area on his own (with us closely tailing him), there were slides, a splash pad, and fountain that he loved going in with Mike. There was also an infinity pool that was gated off with lounge chairs, a bar, and hot tubs! We spent some time there too, discovering that the ice from our finished mojitos made for great entertainment for Cam. 🙂

After a fun afternoon swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, we were able to sneak in a nicer dinner, with Cam even napping in the stroller for most of it. Full and feeling festive from fresh fish and paella, we weren’t quite ready to end the evening so decided to grab a beer at the poolside bar and dip our feet in the hot tub instead. It was probably my favorite night in Alicante, complete with Cam making friends with another niño by speaking some Spanish back and forth with him. All in all, the pools at this airbnb were spot on.

Overall though, we found the location where we were staying to be sleepy. We loved being right on the sea and all of the small playgrounds that dotted the streets (something that is true of a lot of Spanish towns we later realized) but it wasn’t exactly an energetic town. There was a small strip with a few restaurants but aside from one lunch (that I shakily ordered for take away in my less-than Spanish; “yo como la casa?” (yes, Mike reminded me that translated to “I eat my house” but, nonetheless, my sentiment did land)), the food wasn’t spectacular. We couldn’t find a proper supermarket either, which made breakfasts back at the airbnb interesting and patchwork…

We rented a car on our last day in Alicante and set off to explore a neighboring town, Elche. Specifically, I was eager to check out the Palmeral of Elche, a seemingly oasis of palm trees from what I could tell online. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite figure out where we should actually go to see all of the palms. I read about a museum, a park, a garden, and an old canal system and thought we could go there to piece together what looked fun. That wasn’t the case and we couldn’t find out where exactly we should go, despite lots of Googling and looking at Maps. On top of that, it was a holiday and basically everything was closed. We were aimlessly walking the ghost town streets, hoping to eventually find something that looked intriguing and, honestly, bickering a bit along the way. Finally, we stumbled upon an open pastry shop that set us right. We ate our sugary treats on a bench facing a pretty fountain and started to feel a little better about the day.

We never found exactly what I was looking for – which, in fairness, I’m not sure if I was searching for a museum or canal ruins – but we did find the most amazing park shortly after our pastries. There were so many fun and new things for Cam to try out that the day didn’t end up being a total bust.

Next up was driving to Javea to meet Mike’s family! On the way we stopped in Alicante proper, which turned out to be a welcome adventure in a more bustling city than the small, tired town we had just spent a few days in. We immediately found a cafe with decent coffee and the best avo and tomato toast (again, ordered in rocky Spanish…). We also walked around this cute pedestrian area, Calle San Francisco, that had giant mushroom statues and tiny toadstool houses for Cam to explore. The vibe in the city was a lot more lively and we had so much fun exploring.

Luckily, Javea was also a great town to be in – I’ll write about our days there soon!

Want more? Read about the last time I was in Spain here.

Mango Salsa!

Summer is here and we’re enjoying the few extra hours we have of daylight. I pick Cam up up daycare around 4pm, come home, and almost immediately start making dinner. Mike and I joke that we have “senior hour” dinner because we often are finished eating before it is even 6pm.

After dinner we’ll usually go on a walk with the kitchen a hot mess until we get home and put Cam to bed. Then it’s like dishes, floors (anyone else hear Encanto in their heads there?), clean the counters, pick up books and blocks, and maybe have time for a show together before getting ready for bed. It’s a busy season over here! Sooooo this flavorful mango salsa is great to make in a big batch and spice up dinners all week.

From fish tacos to scooped onto any chicken ya happen to have to a salad topper, you will love this versatile, quick-to-come-together, punchy salsa. Try it today (and then tomorrow, and then next day…)!

You’ll need:

  • One RIPE, juicy mango
  • A bunch of green onions
  • One tiny baby red onion
  • Some pickled jalapeños (more or less, seeds or no seeds, depending on your heat tolerance)
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

First, roast or grill your green onion to really bring out its flavor – I quickly roasted mine for ~5 minutes on a hot, hot 450 in my toaster over

While roasting, start to skin and cube your mango (Godspeed on slicing in the right, meatiest direction first:) and dice your red onion

Cool and chop your green onion

Mince your jalapeños

Mix altogether with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt

Let sit for at least 5 – 10 minutes for the flavors to get aquatinted

Add to everything.