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
Thomas!
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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.

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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!!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

Romance in the Mountains :)

A room with a patio

We tend to stay in one of the fireplace suites on an upper floor when we do our ~annual trip to Resort at Squaw Creek. This time however, we were in a room on ground level that gave us access to a little patio and another way in and out of our room. Woot!

Mike and I had drinks out there our first night and lunch the next day – what a treat to be out in the fresh air, gazing at the mountains while Cam slept! It also proved to be a great place to put on sunscreen without spraying our entire room. And Cam decided dipping in and out from behind the sheer curtain and looking out the sliding glass door were both very fun activities (kid entertainment is priceless right now).

There’s also just something about leaving the back door open for a cross-breeze, am I right?

Grandpa visits

My dad lives about 90 minutes from the resort so was able to join us on our second day for an afternoon at the pool. Cam recently started swim lessons and it is amazing the difference it has already made in his comfort around the pool. Every time we walked by he would shout “pool! pool! pool!” excited to get in and swim.

There is a waterslide in the kids pool and my dad decided to use it as his way to get in the water. We asked Cam if he wanted to go down the slide “like Grandpa” and he said yes. Mike went down with him and I was sure we’d lost our confident little swimmer right then… He did not look pleased coming down the slide at all. Mike handed him off to my dad as soon as they entered the pool, to avoid getting Cam any wetter than necessary, but Cam was done. He wanted out of that pool and into mama’s arms. I swaddled him up in a big towel and sat on the steps with him for a while. Thankfully we were able to convince him to get back in the pool with Mike signing the song they sing to kick off swim lessons to. He happily splashed around in the water for the remaining of the afternoon.

Date night

Aside from spending time with my dad, another huge perk was him agreeing to watch Cam while Mike & I went out to dinner. We love the steakhouse in the resort and used to splurge there once every stay. Obviously as parents now, we retire to the room for the night as soon as Cam goes to sleep. However with my dad here, we were able to leave him with the monitor and head out for some wine and steaks. Ah, it was so nice to be there again and took me back to so many past amazing stays we’ve had at our favorite place.

Golf course walks

While Cam and Mike napped the next day, I popped in my earbuds and walked the golf course. We love visiting during our anniversary weekend because it is still off season so it isn’t too crowded and the golf course isn’t actually open to play; meaning it makes the perfect makeshift trail to get a nice, paved walk in. I did about a 30 min loop and then rolled out my mat for some yoga. Despite walking and yoga being the 2 things I do most regularly at home, it still somehow feels indulgent to do them when away. (And the glass of wine I had while reading my book after yoga was actually indulgent so a great afternoon overall!)

Breakfast buffet celebration

We’ve visited this resort a lot over the past few years and we have the things we like to do – mainly where we like to eat – down pat at this point. It’s like:

Arrival dinner? Sandy’s Pub.

Take out pizza from the village one night.

Drinks in the lobby in the late afternoon.

Chocolate croissants from Sweet Peas to start the day / chocolate covered Oreos from Sweet Peas to end the day.

Coffee and a hot tub sesh most mornings.

You get it. We know what to do when we visit here. But, despite, having all of these little rituals, visiting annually in May (off season) means we have to be flexible because we never know what will be open and what is going to be shutdown for the season. On this trip more of the restaurants in the village where closed than we’re used to, so we had to expand our repertoire of eateries at the resort for our actual wedding anniversary. Since Cam would be with us we decided what better than a breakfast celebration (typically his best meal of the day!)?

We paid the $35 a person for the buffet breakfast at Cascades and ate our weight in pastries, fruit, and bacon. I think Cam enjoyed it, making friends with the waiter and yelling “Hi, John!” when he passed by. Plus eating as many chocolate croissants as he could handle. It’s crazy to think at that time 3 years ago we were getting ready to get married..!

Bike rides & ice cream

Later in the afternoon, after our breakfast buffet, we rented bikes and rode about 20 minutes over to the village. As mentioned, there weren’t a ton of stores open (even the Starbucks was closed in the afternoon!) but there was a general store that had POPSICLES. We found a little bench outside of a (closed) wine bar to sit and eat our treats. What fun!

More pool time

We spent the last of our anniversary – our last day there – with another trip to the pool. This pool is legendary with its valley and mountain views and I really never get tired of it. Cam is also just so cute splashing around, having the time of his life; it feels like a moment we’re all truly on vacation and disconnected from the day to day.

The fancy daybeds aren’t bad either. 🙂


When we were driving to Tahoe I asked Mike if he was a mountain or a beach person. After a lengthy chat – one that you would only have on a long car ride – we agreed that we are both definitely mountain people. We’ve been together for over 10 years and I actually didn’t know this for fact about Mike until this trip. After so much time together, I always love learning new things about each other. Although, I don’t think either of us were very surprised given how much we love our mountain getaway here.

Escape to the Central Coast

Time is whizzing by over here. Mike’s parents came out to California to stay with us for 6 months back in October and we’re suddenly down to the final few weeks. To make up for a canceled trip (omicron) we had planned to San Diego, we recently rented an Airbnb down in San Luis Obispo for an extended weekend. Since we knew we’d be spending a decent amount of time at the house, given traveling with a toddler, we sprung for a place with a hot tub.

When we arrived on Friday evening we happily also discovered an amazing array of different fruit trees, a spacious deck, and gorgeous, minimalist house that had a modern, sleek vibe vs. the outdated, mismatched feeling of other Airbnbs. There was also plenty of space for Cam to run around and push his little baby (soooooo cute) in a toy stroller we have for him.

After settling in and putting Cam down for the night, we cracked open a bottle of wine and jumped into the hot tub. Cheers to the freakin weekend!

On Saturday we woke up early and lounged around, getting FULLY hooked on Love is Blind. Mike turned it on out of pure curiosity and 30 seconds in we were like, no this is gold. It’s so unbelievably outrageous we binged half of season one throughout the weekend, even roping Mike’s parents in on a few episodes (ah, the Barnette/Jessica/Amber triangle!!!). Of course the half of the fun is the commentary we all shamelessly provide while watching these people make one of the biggest decisions of their lives in a mere matter of weeks.

Anyways!

Since days revolve around things like naps and places to play, we didn’t do too much planning for the weekend. There was a park showing up on Google maps that was only a 7 minute walk from where we were staying, and then, past that, after another 7 minute walk, a brewery. Perfect, phase one of the day – pre nap – was planned!

Our 7 minute walk took about 27 minutes because Cam pushed his little stroller the whole way there but this park was pure delight. It was huge, with tons of paths and spaces for us to explore. There were tennis courts, baseball fields, disc golf, a little kid playground, and a big kids play area that had a Zip-line (!) and a fake grass hill, which locals brought cardboard to slide down. Overall, it was a masterpiece.

After playing for an hour or so we walked to a trail that took us to Beat the Drum brewery; another gem! We got there right after opening and, I think, because it was a little windy out, we had the whole patio to ourselves; perfect for Cam to stroll around. Their menu was limited but had a variety of potpies. We ordered beers and warm, comforting chicken and Mac n cheese potpies and enjoyed the afternoon.

Cam took a nice, long 2 hour nap back at the house while we hot tubbed and then napped ourselves. Luxury. We explored downtown a bit in the late afternoon, strolling by the restaurant Mike and I ate at right after we got engaged 4 years ago! Unfortunately it was too chilly to stay for long. That evening we cooked dinner at the house and binged more Love is Blind. A really wild Saturday night. 🙂

Sunday was slightly better weather so we decided to venture down to Avila beach. On our way there, we popped by the iconic Madonna Inn to show Barb & Dan all of the pink madness. Which, Cam was not really a fan of for some reason, so off to the beach shortly after it was. Fun fact: Avila beach has swings and a slide so it great to do with little ones! Cam would have played on the slide all day but we convinced him to come hang out on a picnic blanket with us, where he played with some new dinosaur toys by ducking them in plastic cups of ocean water, saying “WAWA!” “RAWR!”

That afternoon we went back to our magical nearby park and spent at least an hour “racing” down these two side-by-side, long slides. Cam loveeed crawling up the hill and then speeding down them by himself, with one of us at the bottom waiting to catch him. It was so fun and had to count as at least a small work out with all of our laughing and climbing.

That night we stayed in again, cooking dinner at the house and playing games after the babe was asleep. When we originally booked this weekend away, there was a slight sense we were just paying money to do the same thing we do at home somewhere else. Which, to some extent is what we did, but it was really nice to change up the scene and be at a different pace for a while.

Monday was sadly the last day of our little coastal escape. After a morning dip in the hot tub (thanks Nana and Papa for watching Cam!), we packed up and headed to the park for one last play. It was such a great weekend, full of quality time together and a great way to connect before Barb & Dan head back home. We know Cam will miss his Nana and Papa a ton (as will we!) but we are really thankful for the time we’ve been able to spend together and this special trip away together.


Russian River

We recently spent an extended weekend at the Russian River with my family, staying at an airbnb nestled in the trees. Overall the weekend wasn’t the sunshine and river splashes I think we were all expecting, but it was still a nice retreat away from the everyday.

Mike, Cam, and I were the first to arrive and, after unloading our car, we explored the house. There was an eccentric vibe that isn’t my flavor (real question: how many pinecone decorations are too many?) but fine for a getaway. Besides, there was a hot tub and a pretty epic patio that made you feel like you were in a treehouse, so I can’t complain.

…Speaking of said patio. While we were waiting for the rest of the fam to arrive, Mike and I poured 2 glasses of wine and had a dance party outside with Cam. It was so fun and now I am convinced every vacation needs to start with wine and a dance party. Whose with me!?

After everyone arrived and we navigated the bustle of unpacking, we put Cam to sleep. Somehow I remembered to buy another white noise machine (a much cheaper and more low key than the one we have now in Cam’s room) and it was a savior. For $20 we didn’t have to be too psycho about people making noise while hw was sleeping (all parents with young kids know what I am talking about rn).

We decided that although we were on vacation, we wouldn’t be eating out on our trip. I am thankful that everyone in our family who can be vaccinated is – so we can see each other safely to that extent. But because of the variant, it isn’t worth the risk of being seated next to someone who isn’t vaccinated. This meant a huge Costco haul to stock up on nomz and an easy, meaty, cheesy Kirkland lasagna for dinner that first night. Then it was time to hit that hot tub and fully kick into vacation mode.

Before bed we started The Ice Road, Liam Neeson’s new movie on Netflix, which took us 3(!) nights to actually finish (but was so, so worth it).

We woke up the next morning and I was like: coffee please. Despite not eating out, a quick in and out trip at a local coffee shop was something we all felt comfortable with. With one key requirement: masks!

“Vaccines are safe!” “Wear a mask!” I must have lost at least a few folks by now… I’m not trying to be overly political here but obviously feel strongly about people protecting other people from covid. Which brings me to my story that, the first coffee shop that we went to – which was organic and looked AMAZING – had a sign posted saying they believed masks and vaccines are a personal choice. Ummmmmmmmmmm…?

Listen. The vaccine thing? I can see where it is scary. I’m fully vaccinated but I get that it is a bigger deal to some people. WEARING A MASK THOUGH?! C’mon. It is like the simplest thing to ask of each other. Ugh. As you can imagine, we made the personal choice to pass on that coffee shop and “vote with our dollars” at a place that supports safety, science, and public health.

One of the appeals of staying on the Russian River during this crazy time was having a built in outdoor activity in close proximity; the river. Our airbnb offered kayaks, floats, and a wagon to enjoy the beach and water. Leading up to this vacation, I was excited at the prospect of lounging by the river and kayaking down it. Sadly it turned out to be a pretty cold few days up there, so being outside near the water wasn’t too appealing. But, even more of a disappointment was the rocky beach near us. On the house listing there were pictures of this gorgeous sandy beach; a beach perfect for Cam to play in. In reality the beach we had access to was rocky and hilly. Not great for a little one. I contacted our host and she mentioned if we walked out more, the sandy beach typically would have been there but given the drought, the river was damned and that spot unavailable. Waaaaahhh. 😦

Not having access to the beach we thought we would – coupled with colder than expected weather – did make the vacation feel a bit reminiscent of 2020 Shelter in Place days. Although we tried to make the best of it by going for a lot of family walks around the neighborhood, taking full advantage of having grandparents around to watch Cam while Mike and I went hot tubbing, and hanging out on the patio. I was even able to sneak in a yoga session one morning out there on our treehouse patio.

On our last day the weather finally warmed up a bit. We all decided to attempt for an afternoon at the beach, despite the rocky ground. We loaded the wagon with blankets and a mega umbrella. I had the diaper bag and waters and snacks. And we lasted about 15 minutes down there. Ha. Cam wasn’t feeling it at all so my mom and grandma took him back to the house while Mike and I, determined to kayak at least once, hit the river!

While I’m typing this, I realize this was the first activity Mike and I have done alone since Cam was born / the pandemic. (What a doozy of a combo, huh?) It was such a blast being out there together. Particularly this shallow section we paddled through that was close enough to the overgrown trees and plants that we felt like we were on the Jungle Cruise (foreshadow).

We ordered pizza, made a salad, and opened a bottle of wine on our last night there; which is the ultimate vacation bookend if you ask me. After finally finishing The Ice Road, we splurged and “unlocked” Jungle Cruise on Disney Plus. I love love love love Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson – ever since his people elbow days, okayyy? – and Emily Blunt is also just great, so I was really excited about this. (Also, maybe like a lot of people after pausing “normal” life for sometime now, I am craving going to Disneyland again and somehow this filled that void a tiny bit.) Obviously no spoilers but I do recommend!

Our last morning there was a flurry of family photos All Together, packing, and cleaning. I will say the one downside to an airbnb is you often have to do chores at the end of your stay. We all hugged and kissed goodbye and hit the road back home. ❤


Want more? Read about our other family vacations to San Diego and Solvang

Cam’s first Tahoe retreat ;)

We finally did it! We made it to Olympic Valley near North Lake Tahoe with our little guy.

If you know us, you know the resort there is a special place. We had plans to go last year to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary but they were derailed because of covid. Nevertheless, we made it for our 2 year celebration!

This was Cam’s first road trip and we were nervous about how he’d do in the car for 4+ hours. Amazingly he was a champ!! He skipped his morning nap the day we left which ended working in our favor since we fell asleep literally before we turned off of our street and slept for the next 2 hours. Hallelujah.

When he woke up we were already halfway there. We quickly stopped for some iced teas, a bathroom break, and a diaper change and were on the road again.

Pulling up to the resort was such a relief. One, because we made it there in record time and Cam was great the whole way; and, two, because we were finally baaack and it was so good to be there.

The view from our room

By the time we checked in and unpacked, it was close to Cam’s bedtime. We did our normal routine but realized we forgot a book to read to him before going to sleep (!) cue the now-tradition of buying him a new book wherever we go for a vacation. Which I feel like is the best souvenir for a child anyway.

After, Mike and I ordered a to-go pizza, opened a bottle of wine, and …worked! Hah. Not the most romantic start to our vacation but we had to tie up a few things before putting up our OOOs for the following Monday and Tuesday.

The next morning Mike woke up early to hit the pool for some laps. He’s done this in the past, and I would join him at a more reasonable time – coffee in hand and ready to hot tub. Of course now that we have little Camaroni, I was up doing the mom thing instead of sleeping in. 🙂 After feeding Cam breakfast and jamming out to some Pat Benatar on the radio (which, side note, we didn’t even know the rooms came with a radio but Cam INSTANTLY found that remote and loved turning it on throughout our stay), we headed down to the pool to join dada.

Sadly the pool’s heater was broken. Happily Cam is the best baby in the history of the world and was fine hanging out on one of our laps so we could (in shifts) enjoy the hot tub. Which is our main hobby. Ask any of our friends.

After some tubbing, we packed up and excitedly DROVE TO MY GRANDPARENTS HOUSE. They only live 45 minutes from where we were staying and haven’t met Cam yet because of – you guessed it – the pandemic. It was so heartwarming for them to finally see him. And for me to finally see them. The last time I saw them was my baby shower in February 2020, right before we knew how much the world was going to change…

We ordered enchiladas and chatted and watched Cam scoot around and it all felt so normal and wonderful.

Cam and his Great Grandma. Yay!

Back at the resort later that afternoon, a very exciting milestone happened. Cam took his first steps!!! Now he is a walking machine and we keep saying he knew to take those first steps in a special place.

We woke up on Sunday with no set plans, aside from another morning hot tub sesh. Then it was all about finding baby/kid friendly things to do. We spent some time outside on a grassy patch with a bunch of games and ran around with Cam. In the past, this area was largely ignored but now I see us frequenting it.

Giant baby-sized Jenga

We made pitstops for naps back in the room. When it was warm enough, we took Cam to the pool. This mostly consisted of Mike holding Cam so only his toes dipped in and me safely (warmly) staying poolside, sitting on the edge instead of actually going in the water. We also went all out for a wayback playback and had drinks in the lobby! This is something Mike and I used to love doing and, since it was between snow and summer seasons there, everything was relatively calm so we felt comfortable with Cam running amok in the lobby while we sipped.

We did the standard take out thing for dinner that night but also had the absolute pleasure of watching Ellen’s gameshow, Ellen’s Game of Games. I had no idea this existed but what.a.gem.

Monday was our 2 year wedding anniversary (!) and I am already ready to renew our vows as an excuse to have a party with all of our loved ones again.

We celebrated with a bike ride and lunch out, both firsts for us since Cam has been born. We rented bikes and a trailer and hit the path to lunch. When in motion, Cam did great in the trailer. But the second we stopped, he was not happy about it. We are hypothesizing that his helmet was just a little too big for him and might have taken more muscle control than he has yet developed to hold that little head up. (One particular bump all but proved this theory correct when, after hitting it, we checked on Cam and he was leaning completely sideways unable to pull himself back up. So sad but so funny.) Nonetheless we made it to lunch and enjoyed a nice meal on the patio.

We wrapped the afternoon with another trip to the pool and a round of drinks in the lobby. And then it was boxed mac n’ cheese and leftover pizza for dinner. Maybe next year Mike and I will go out for a fancy dinner to celebrate our anniversary but even if we don’t, I don’t think I can ever complain about quality time spent with my guys.

On our last morning we grabbed coffee and bagels and headed down to the lake. One of the benefits of waking up early on baby-time is how empty things are. We had the whole lake to ourselves and leisurely strolled along, talking, what if we move here one day…?

We found a little park and pushed Cam in the swings while looking out at Lake Tahoe. It was the perfect way to end a great family vacation. We can’t wait to go back!


Read about the last time we visited here.

Vancouver

After flying to Toronto for our close friend’s wedding (gorgeous!!) we stopped in Vancouver for a few days on the way home to celebrate my birthday.

We took the train from the airport to the Four Seasons, our blissful home base for 3 days where we treated ourselves to an upgraded full suite room. I’ve heard getting a full suite is a good idea when you have kids, so after they fall asleep you can close the door and enjoy a glass of wine together (or whatever you fancy). Obviously this wasn’t the case for us this trip but, let’s just say we were practicing for when this babe gets here!

We dropped our bags and dashed to happy hour in the lobby, splitting the calamari and a flatbread. I also ordered a cucumber mocktail that was so good I didn’t mind the missing alcohol.

Next we actually hit up the gym…! Usually if we use the gym while away it is in the morning, but when you’re pregnant – and happy hour is over with one good mocktail – it’s not a bad way to spend an hour. Shoutout to the Four Seasons for providing complimentary workout clothes for both of us.

The plan was to originally go Mike & Ashley style and do a food crawl that night, but the time difference caught up with us and we opted for dessert and HGTV back at the hotel before turning in for a early bedtime.


I was still on east coast time on Wednesday and woke up at 6:30am ready to start the day. Bundled up, we walked to Nemesis, Vancouver’s #1 voted coffee shop. I ordered a black tea that had a mild, nutty toasted flavor. It was so good – and usually I don’t have that much to say about a tea’s flavor profile – plus the perfect companion to the chilly walk down to the harbor.

We hopped on an aquabus for a quick jaunt across the harbor to the Granville Public Market. Oh how glorious this place is! We arrived right when it opened at 9am, making our experience a lot more enjoyable as there weren’t huge crowds. There are so many good food stands that we decided to scope the place out before making any purchases. In the end we did a morning/breakfast food crawl sampling a fresh berries; splitting an egg, spinach, and cheese bagel; and then indulging in lattes and donuts from Lee’s.

We explored the island and walked off our hearty breakfast after, being sure to also buy a little onesie for the baby. So fun and cute! Then is was off to the main adventure of the day: the Capilano suspension bridge.

Looking pretty nervous on our first crossing!

This basically is like it sounds, one big suspension bridge over a river that gets you from one side to the other. The set up on either side is pretty cute and made me feel like we were in a little winter wonderland. It wasn’t very crowded when we were there either, and the holiday lights were already up so it felt extra magical.

Once you cross over the main bridge, there are a set of smaller bridges going between various trees. There’s also the cliff walk, which is just a narrow pathway close to a granite slab. If you have a fear of heights, this probably isn’t the place for you!

While there, we had a very romantic lunch in the cozy cafe. We were the only ones in the place so it felt intimate, particularly with the fireplace and twinkle lights.

There is a convenient free shuttle back to the city (and great to rest after so much walking). As an afternoon pick-me-up, we went back to the same dessert place from the night before, called Thierry, for coconut drinking chocolates; basically very rich, thick hot chocolate that became our obsession in Vancouver.

After a lot of walking, foot massages sounded like a great way to end the day. We found a place called Queen’s Feet and for $40 we each got a 50 minute reflexology foot massage. Not bad if you’re okay with a no frills spa experience, which, at that point, we were.

In true Canadian fashion, we wanted poutine for dinner. Opting for a slightly healthier – and likely trendier – version, we went to Meet, a vegetarian place in Yaletown. I ordered a side of guac with it and a sparkling water + splash of grapefruit juice beverage. I’m (obviously) loving places with good non-boozy options.

After our gravy, fries, and cheese curds, we walked back to the hotel for more HGTV and macaroons in bed! (So.much.HGTV. …but also so fancy with those macaroons.)


We kicked off my birthday with croissants and hot chocolates at Thierry (again). I wrapped up my first trimester blog post and hit publish. Then is was time for a quick photoshoot to try to get a cute picture of the bump for our instagram baby announcement (I know, I know, soooo millennial).

Lunch was at Burgoo and it was the coziest soup and sammie spot. We each got grilled cheeses and tomato soup. Major comfort food on a chilly day.

Walking was our main way of getting around, and one of my favorite things about the city. We averaged 15,000 steps every day we were there. After lunch we walked down to the harbor for tea and cake overlooking the water. Pretty romantic!

On a whim, we rented bikes after and toured Stanley Park. Unexpectedly the bikes were electric which was great! It’s fun just to crank up the speed on a hill and fly up it.

Totem poles in the park

Mike made dinner reservations at Hawksworth and I went full American ordering a steak and fries for dinner (both were delicious). For dessert we got candy cap ice cream and learned after that is was actually mushroom ice cream (better than it sounds).

We ended the night back at the hotel with, you guessed it, more HGTV. 🙂


We walked to breakfast the next morning and then got one last fix of liquid chocolate at Thierry.

In summary: walking, cozy meals, and gallons of chocolate pretty much summed up the trip. Cheerrrrs!

Honeymoon: St Barts!

When we booked our honeymoon, St Barts was the destination in my mind. Disney World and Saint Martin were great, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t wait to get on the island that is littered with celebrities and take in all of the pure luxury it had to offer.

When we stepped off of the ferry we took between the two islands, the difference between Saint Martin and St. Barts was obvious. Instead of having to rent a car like we did in Saint Martin, our hotel had already arranged transport for us. A shiny white van was waiting to swoop us up when we got there. This wasn’t your standard carpool minivan either; it was all tan seats, A/C blasting, and a cooler of Evian water sitting there, perspiring, waiting for us to crack a bottle open. It was let us help you with your bags and is it too cool in here? Too hot?

Honestly it was so nice (and yes, I realize I am still talking about a minivan), looking back, I’m shocked they didn’t have something more outrageous for us; like flavored oxygen tanks to make breathing more pleasurable. (which… if they did, I would have opted for pineapple flavor, obviously).

We arrived at Hotel Christopher after a fairytale-esque drive across the island, with everything all bright and pristine and smaller than what we’re used to in the states. Naturally the staff greeted us with welcome cocktails and directed us towards a changing room, where we got in our bathing suits to enjoy the pool while we waited for our room to be ready.

We dipped in and out of the pool, alternating between reading, chatting, and huge iguana sightings. At some point we spilt a délicieuse lunch of freshly baked bread, creamy burrata, truffle ham, kalamata tapenade, and artichoke hearts. Drooooool worthy.

Eventually, we were “Sir’d” and “Madam’d” to our room, where we read some more and dozed off on our patio. When we woke up (slightly burnt from sleeping in the late afternoon sun) I was ready to explore the island!! We felt a tinge of cabin fever from being at the hotel for so long and wanted to go into town for dinner. Unfortunately, the location of our hotel didn’t allow for easy walking; something we didn’t even think to check when we booked. Our options were to take a €30 cab into town or to eat at the hotel restaurant, which admittedly looked really nice in it’s own right. We decided to stay and enjoyed burgers and peach cocktails by the sea. Not a bad plan B!

The next morning started with a hunt for chocolate croissants and coffee! Part of the reason we picked St. Barts for our honeymoon was to experience the laid back island vibe with a bit of European flare. In other words, I was really looking forward to the cafe scene!

Sadly the chocolate croissants were sold out by the time we picked a place… wah, wah, waah. 😦

Instead we ordered iced cappuccinos and grilled ham & cheeses (because why not?) and spent the afternoon exploring different beaches around the island. Highlights included: baby goats we spotted; our picnic lunch; and the incredible clear, blue, and warm ocean – which was perfect for hours of swimming and long walks on the beach. 🙂

It was a blissful day that we ended with a trip to a local store for breakfast the next morning (having learned not to rely on the cafes after all) and getting a pizza to go for dinner. It was so simple but sharing a bottle of wine and pizza back at the hotel was one of my favorite moments.

The loot

On our final full day there, Mike wanted to go surfing. We packed up the rental car with hotel-provided beach towels and an umbrella (luxury!) and set off to find a broad to rent. We ended up at St. Jeans for the entire day. Mike was able to surf while I lounged on the beach; reading, snacking, and WATCHING PLANES TAKE OFF AND LAND.

As the afternoon was winding down, we went for one last swim to a platform you could sit on in the middle of the deeper part of the sea. We ended up meeting another vacationing couple. After chatting for a while, we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up for a drink later.

Delighted and drowsy from a day in the sun, we went back to the hotel to shower and change for our last dinner there.

Word to the wise, if you find yourself in St. Barts and you want to go out for dinner, MAKE RESERVATIONS! Many of the restaurants base their food ordering for the day based on the number of reservations they have that night. So despite a place not looking crowded, they might literally not have food for you to eat there. We experienced this at 2 restaurants we attempted to eat at, which was frustrating but we finally hit the jackpot with a canceled reso at Bonito.

Bonito is an open restaurant up on a hill that overlooked the harbor. The food was very French (read: very good, very small portions, and very expensive). It was a lovely last mea. The fancy atmosphere fitting the occasion.

After dinner we met our new friends for a beer and, of course, instagram handle exchanges to stay in touch (hiii, Jenna!;).

We had an early departure the next morning back to St. Martin for our last night before flying home. Overall St. Barts was as exquisite as you can imagine. I’m glad we went there for our honeymoon – a trip of a lifetime – and indulged in all the island has to offer.

Mike on our last night in Saint Martin, with a parrot he walked right past a few times before noticing