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 spent 10 days in the southeast of Spain and the time change is affording me a few hours in the early morning to write about it. Via an eleven hour flight to Madrid and a quick one hour flight to our final destination, we had about 16 hours of travel to get there 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, we didn’t have the best luck finding a place that was open for coffee the next morning. We walked the marble paved beach walk for a while before finding the one single cafe that wasn’t still closed, complete with a small spattering of smokers and espresso drinkers starting their day.

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.


New Years

Another year is wrapped and it’s difficult to grasp just how quickly it went by. 2021 was spent in various degrees of lockdown – just like 2020 – and adjusting to “the new normal,” but with science and the vaccines on our side, we were able to do a few more things.

Notably we stole away for vacations to Tahoe and the Russian River. We traveled on a plane for the first time since NYE 2020; back to Canada to see Mike’s family and some of our closest friends. Cam has been able to meet a lot more family and friends, and although most of our visits are still outdoors, all of his grandparents have been able to snuggle him this year!!

Mike and I are both still working from home and, with a lot of flexibility and patience, managed to keep Cam home with us for the entire year. Thank goodness for supportive jobs/companies and GRANDPARENTS! We’ve continued our home renovation – slowing chipping away at the seemingly endless list of things to do – and, although not fully complete, truly love our little home. Cam moved into his own room earlier in the year, after we painted most of it and attempted to wallpaper one accent wall…

We spent our first night away from Cam. I won an award at work (which, for some reason, feels uncomfortable to mention but I’m fighting through and marking it down in history here;). I (finally) started investing money in the stock market. I kept a big, beautiful plant alive for the entire.year. I made some new mom friends at a local park and am still amazed at the intense bonding being a parent can spark in people.

We had a neighborhood taco party mid summer that I still think about – such fun! Halloween was also another great success on our street this year. Mike & I love being apart of this sweet community that always looks out for each other and also knows how to party.

I’ve read exactly 2 books this year, which is a record low (waaaah), but have also fallen in love with audiobooks and the We Can Do Hard Things podcast, so don’t feel completely intellectually out of touch (or am I just saying this in the hopes that I believe it?). I think I’ve done a decent amount of yoga and walked one mile almost every day, which I am counting as a win given that I have a small child!

Cam moved back to our room in October when my in-laws came for an extended stay. He will go back to his room after they leave but for now, Mike and I are spoiled with extra baby cuddles in the early morning hours. I know Cam waking up in his crib next to us, shouting “mama, mama” until we scope him up and snuggle him cozy in-between us in bed will be lifelong favorite memory of mine.

In a far more materialistic update, I finally made the switch to a completely white bed set – sheets, pillowcases, duvet cover – and I am loving it. It feels like we are sleeping in a luxury hotel every night. Plus a cute baby. 🙂

It’s been a whirlwind of a year. Mostly spent at home, sometimes feeling so slow and tedious, we didn’t know if we could stand another afternoon in the confines of these walls… although, looking back, even those memories have their own charm. Like the hot summer day when we couldn’t think of a thing to do so we sat in our camping chairs with our feet in Cam’s baby pool. That was it. That was the activity of the day. Something so mundane it might not have even registered on my memory scale if the world as we knew it hadn’t been so hazardously flipped. But here we are. Thankful for each breath and every memory; mundane to momentous.

Mom & Dad’s first night away

Whew, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and post something. Since our trip to the Russian River in August, we spent a month in Canada – where Cam met Mike’s parents for the first time (!) and we were able to see some family and close friends. Mike’s parents flew back home with us and will be staying here until March. It’s a full house over here, complete with starting a bathroom renovation and trying to navigate life somewhat returning to normal after so many months of covid.

All of this to say, it’s been busyyy.

Excitedly, Grandparents staying with you means… built in BABYSITTERS! Mike and I were able to steal away just the two of us for the first time since before Cam was born. Whoo!

We took an ease-in approach to spending our first time away from Cam and booked one night at the Hotel Los Gatos, about 15 minutes away from our house. (This came at the great encouragement of our friends / neighbors who urged us to abort our original plan of staying at the hotel down the street from our home and stay somewhere a little nicer, with a little more distance, to disconnect more. Thanks, Ally & Rob!)

We checked in, dropped off our overnight bags, and walked to an amazing craft cocktail bar Soda Works (another recommendation from Ally actually – love good neighbors!). Here we indulged in boozy, bourbon-y drinks and a great charcuterie plate. Sharing an app and sipping on drinks brought me back to so many great vacations we’ve had (like Portland and Chicago and Sebastopol). Mike and I really thrive in trendy restaurants. 😉

Of course we hit up the hot tub when we got back; and even took a dip in the pool. Fall in November, folks – still warm enough to swim!

We had dinner reservations at the hotel restaurant Dio Deka, an upscale Mediterranean place. In true date date fashion, we spilt a bottle of wine; ordered and spilt spanakopita, lamb chops, orzo, and French fries. It was all so satisfying and delicious, I almost didn’t noticed the 2.5 hours (!!) we were there. Albeit a little longer than I prefer for dinner, I’m glad we dined here as it came highly recommended.

Being new(ish) parents, we were the most excited about sleeping in!!!! After dinner, we lasted for exactly 5 minutes watching a Friends rerun before crashing …ONLY to wake up a few hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Waaaahhh. My well-rested dreams were dashed. I think I finally fell asleep again around 3:30am, only to wake up just before 6am. What?! I refused to get out of bed that early when I didn’t have Cam there commanding my attention and needing blueberries and waffles. Mercifully I was able to get a bit more sleep (until 9am, which is basically 1pm in “non-parent time”).

We had a lavish morning of coffees and breakfast sandwiches by the pool, and then another soak in the hot tub. It was so.glorious. and the perfect end to our first time away from Cam. Not surprisedly, we missed our little guy and were happy to return home for snuggles and love.


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.

Checking in!

For those keeping score, I’m loosing in the battle of consistent blogging this year…

As always, life is busy. A lot of our meals lately have been easy ones that aren’t worth a recipe readout. We’ve also been trying our hand at Blue Aprons, generously gifted to us, so I’m not experimenting much in the kitchen.

We’ve fallen into a nice routine around here and, despite still dealing with covid-19, I’m trying to stay in the moment and really appreciate every day. A sliver lining of the pandemic that I’ve mentioned time and time again is all of the extra time we get to spend with Cam. While we don’t have any immediate plans to send him to daycare, I know eventually he will go and I’ll be missing the days where I could sneak a cuddle in between meetings.

Extra time with my mom, who helps us watch Cam 3x/week, has also been a highlight. Right now, our weeks look like this:

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, my mom comes down from 10am – 4pm to be with Cam. Mike takes the morning shift from 7:30am – 9am, while I work; and Cam usually naps from 9am – 10am. We all break for lunch together around 12pm and it is a flurry of dishes and stealing bites of food between Cam wanting one of us to practice walking with him (a back-breaking task that Mike bears the brunt of). Around 4pm I shut my laptop and go for a walk with Cam. This is one of my favorite parts of the day. It is a nice way to decompress from working and, since we’ve adjusted Cam’s seat to face outwards, he loves looking at cars, people, and dogs pass by.

Tuesdays and Fridays are more about survival than feeling accomplished. Mike and I alternate shifts between working and watching Cam. Tuesdays are chaotic and leave us both feeling pretty worn out by the end of the day. Fridays are less crazed because we both work “scattered hours” – me in the morning and Mike in the afternoon – and catch up on emails and to dos after Cam goes to bed. The solid time blocks working or watching Cam means less context shifting throughout the day, which makes it seem more manageable. Plus by this point, we’ve made it to the weekend!

A note that almost every day starts with Cam waking up early and then, after I feed him, snuggling between us in bed and watching a few episodes of Trash Truck while Mike and I try to catch a few more Zzzzs. Some people might be like, screen time (!) for a one year old (!) but I’m like, mama needs more sleep. Besides what is a better way to start the day than baby cuddles?!

A big update is, after weeks of prepping and a tortuous experience with wall papering, Cam moved over to his own room after he turned one! His first few nights were tricky but now he seems to be used to the transition and sleeps well in there. We themed his room Adventure, with an emphasis on mountains (think: I will move mountains) and I loveee it (even with our shoddy wallpaper job).

Even though California is mostly open again, we’re still hesitant about eating out. We have, however, discovered getting take out and sitting on a little grass patch inside a round about is a close second. It’s located near a bunch of restaurants so we have a lot of choices. Plus it almost feels like eating out since we are away from the house and around people; just very distanced and in the middle of a traffic circle…… ha. Honestly though, with a baby, picnics seems soooo much easier than trying to confine Cam to a highchair.

We’re also still loving Sundays at the Farmer’s Market. Often we will grab coffee on the way there and then beeline to a French pastry stand for sweet treats, enjoying them – you guessed it! – picnic style at a big, open, sunshiny field in the same area as the market.

I’ve also started a lovely Sunday tradition of virtual yoga with my friend Lauren. Since the start of the new year, we’ve joined a Google Hangout, rolled out our mats in our respective locations, and flowed to something on Youtube. So far we haven’t missed a single session and I hope we don’t anytime soon. In life before covid, I doubt we would have lasted this long – likely getting swept up in other plans. But, with less to do, it hasn’t been hard to get in the habit of making our yoga date every week. It’s just such a nice way to start Sundays and gives us some built in time to catch up every week. Win-win.

We celebrated my 2nd Mother’s Day (!) and I have to say, it is niiice to have another day – besides your birthday – that is all about you. Highlights from my day were sleeping in; coffee and bluebs muffins upon waking up; a family walk; hot tubing and reading (two favorites); and a virtual wine tasting with my mother in law. It was perfect and full of delicious indulgences.

The most exciting bits of news is that Mike and I have both received 2 doses of the covid vaccine now! We’re actually in Tahoe right now, our first time taking a vacation since the pandemic, and it is really nice to get away with the peace of mind that we’re both vaccinated.

Stay tuned for a recap post of our time spent here, celebrating our 2 year wedding anniversary!!

Cam 9 – 12 months

OUR BABY IS A ONE YEAR OLD!

I generally find it hard to believe that a year and some change ago I was preparing for a c-section to meet our little Camaroni.

This post rounds out a year of Cam updates on my blog; his first 365 days documented here every 3 months or so. In a way, these posts have been how people have gotten to know him. They have served a dual purpose: an artifact for us and a close to real-time way for friends and family to read about what Cam is like.

March 2020 will always be a standout month for us. It is the month we became parents. Of course it is also a time that bears significance for the world…

Life is (still) different from what we were used to. And because of that, Cam’s first Christmas was just the 3 of us. I can explain it as wonderfully weird. Weird because we didn’t imagine friends and family being physically absent during Baby’s First Christmas. Wonderful because … it was Baby’s First Christmas! We managed to incorporate a few family traditions while also sampling new tastes for the holiday.

You know we had to get matching jams to sleep and wake up in on 12/25. I remember my sister and I opening new jams on Christmas Eve (matching before it was trendy, mind you) so there were sweet ties to the past doing this with Cam. Mike and I also prepped his mom’s famous Land of Nod bread to bake for breakfast.

In a pandemic plot twist, we were actually able to join a tradition we typically miss. Most years we are in Canada for Christmas and I miss opening presents with my stepdad’s family on Christmas Eve. In 2020 though, everyone was virtual. (I might need the family to set up a computer for me to join from afar in the years to come.:) Cam was spoiled with sweet gifts while Mike and I indulged in a charcuterie.

Christmas charcuterie!!!? Sounds like a new tradition to me.

On Christmas we woke up and opened more gifts, munching on Land of Nod and sipping coffee. Of course this was all before 9am because kids wake up so early! Hah. The next few days were spent cozied up watching Christmas movies (all THREE of The Santa Claus movies in rotation), getting endless Cam cuddles, and generally enjoying the magic of the holidays with a little one.

Excitedly Cam was able to meet his cousins a few days later (!!!) when Mike’s sister and her family had an overnight layover in San Francisco en route to Melbourne. We met them outside and stayed distanced at a park near their hotel. What a strange time. Overall we were grateful that we at least got to see them but it was hard when Ella wanted to hold and play with her baby cousin and she couldn’t. How do you really explain what a pandemic is to kids? Waaaah.

Over the holidays, Cam was waking up almost every night around 8pm. What!? Since we didn’t have work the next morning, we broke the Parenting Rules and let him come downstairs to watch movies with us but we knew the habit couldn’t last.

It turns out he had outgrown his early 5pm/5:30pm bedtime and could hang for about an hour longer. Since then he’s stuck to a mostly consistent schedule of waking up between 6am – 7am, taking his first nap 2 hours later (between 8 – 9am) for about an hour and then his second/last nap 3 hours after (between 12pm – 1pm). He goes to sleep for the night 4 hours after he wakes up from his last nap, which is typically around 6pm. I love having him awake for the extra hour because it’s usually the only time all 3 of us spend together (aside from the weekends). It’s actually hard to imagine life pre-pandemic and how long day care/office hours were. If Cam went to day care – like we had planned before covid – I would have dropped him off at 7am and picked him up around 5pm; leaving about one hour to spend with him all day. The positives of the pandemic are very few and far between but spending so much time with Cam is at the top of our list. (I think I write that in all of these updates.)

We had some really nice weather in the early part of the year – even by California standards – and were able to walk to a local park and have a few picnics. Soaking up the sun on a sprawling blanket? Count me in every time. And twice on Sundays when it includes a trip to the Farmer’s Market for pastries (which has become a family favorite).

Cam experienced his first Inauguration Day and, whew, what a slice of history. Obviously he didn’t know what was going on but it was a really emotional day for me. Such hope for his future and our country. God bless!

Around this time, Cam also discovered we have stairs. He LOVES to climb on everything. Mike’s parents (Nannie & Grandpy) got him a kid-sized chair that he scurries up on – smiles huge at us like “look at me being so big and the cutest ever” – and tries to get up on the couch.

Cam has a few party tricks now. My favorite being when we say “YAAAAAY!” he starts aggressively clapping. He takes clapping very seriously and has the look of pure determination in his eyes as he slaps his little baby hands together.

It tickles me that we don’t even call it clapping though… I will literally say to him, “can you do ‘yay?'” and that is his cue.

Ya know how they say you learn what your babies different cries mean? Cam doesn’t really cry that much but he does his “baby grunts” and we (kind of) know what each one means. There is the low, throaty excited grunt. And his quick, almost squawk like I-want-this-grunt. He also sometimes just shouts really loud but closes his eye when he does it. Like he knows, this is going to be real loud and I’m ready for it.

Recently he’s added pounding the floor with both hands and making …gorilla noises? to his lofty hand gestures. Mike and I often join in the pounding which cracks him up, and then, in turn, makes us laugh.

Since we’re still working from home, we decided to unconventionally hang a swing for him in our room. Under other circumstances, it would have gone outside but sometimes when we’re double booked for meetings, we need to put Cam somewhere that he can’t really move from – and that he enjoys so our colleagues don’t hear him cry (or frustrated grunt) while we are trying to present. Luckily Cam loves the swing and it dose the trick every time. He’s joined many Upwork meetings swinging peacefully behind me.

Aside from swings, Cam loves; Trash Truck on Netflix, goat cheese (still), watermelon, pureed soups or food with a bit of spice to them, playing with cars and trains (complete with the “buuurrrrummm” sound), typing on dad’s keyboard, mom’s snuggles and silly antics, being INDEPENDENT, bath time, and going on walks, especially if there is a pitstop at the park for a ride in the “outside” swings.

Recently, Cam went from his signature army crawl to mastering the regular, on all fours crawl, after lots of practice with my mom. He has started to pull himself up on everything and has done a few seconds of free standing but isn’t quite walking. He likes books but is a speed reader so you have to talk fast.

Cam continues to be a good sleeper, aside from a 6-7 day rebellious stint he played where he would immediately pull himself up to standing the second we put him in his crib and start crying and crying. It seemed to come on out of nowhere and gave me a good scare that my easy sleeper had vanished. Luckily he’s back into his regular good-sleeping grove, more or less. I have a theory that he sleeps way better if we give him a big portion of oatmeal for dinner… Keeping the oats in full stock over here!

He’s just the happiest, sweetest little baby and I feel like the luckiest person to be his mom. I love you.