Traveling to San Diego North County with kids

Remember when I promised a vacation recap from our San Diego trip earlier last month? Well, I don’t know about you, but between the Cubs win and Trump’s win and Black Friday and Thanksgiving and the beginning of holiday craziness and about a bijillion (wonderful) hours of family and friend time… this month has gone by in a complete blur and I haven’t even been able to process all of the fun stuff that’s been happening!

So here are my (very belated) tips for those of you who are looking for a fun place to spend a few days with your little ones – or even by yourselves!

San Diego North County with Kids

Recommendations for traveling to San Diego North County with kids:

  • Stay in North County! We’ve gone to San Diego twice since Clara was born. The first time we stayed downtown – and had a fantastic time. However, this time we opted for an Airbnb in Carlsbad and had a blast. We really enjoyed the beaches and parks and restaurants and the ease with which we could drive around. We traveled with our good friends who also have two toddler girls, and we loved having a rental house with a kitchen and plenty of bedrooms and a pool…
  • Speaking of which, get a rental house with a pool. And pay to have it heated. Our Airbnb host charged us extra $$$ to heat the pool, but it was worth it. San Diego gets a bit chilly at night and never got too hot while we were there, and we never would have used the pool if it wasn’t heated.

San Diego North County with Kids

  • Go to Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas. This beach has a playground, restrooms, and a concession stand. Plus, the beach is nice, too. And while you’re there, make sure you stop by Handel’s Ice Cream shop. They have a bijillion flavors.

San Diego North County with Kids

  • Go to Solana Beach for shopping in the design district. This actually isn’t a kid-friendly activity, but there is a park nearby, so maybe have your partner watch the kids there while you grab a coffee and go shopping.
  • See the sunset over the water. We went to the J St viewpoint. Or maybe the H? It was one of those lettered streets in Encinitas. We were running late and arrived just minutes before the sunset and it was so gorgeous and worth it.

San Diego North County with Kids

Can you believe I didn’t edit this picture?! These colors are as real as it gets.

  • Check out the sea lions in La Jolla. If you get as far south as La Jolla (which is still north of San Diego), stop and see the sea lions lounging at La Jolla Cove. It’s definitely a smelly, but memorable experience! I didn’t love spending too much time in La Jolla because it was fairly crowded and touristy when we were there, but it’s worth stopping for a bit if you’re driving past it.
  • Eat seafood. Lots of seafood. A casual, kid-friendly place is the Encinitas Fish Shop and we also loved Lobster West, both in Encinitas.
  • When you have the choice, always take the PCH. It’s quicker to get between towns using the highway (obviously), but the Pacific Coast Highway is much more interesting! If you have extra time, spend a few hours in each town along the PCH from San Diego to Carlsbad. We didn’t get to do this as much as I would have liked – but there’s always next time!

San Diego North County with Kids

  • Go to the zoo. The zoo is gorgeous, it’s a great place to walk around, you can see some animals and learn some facts, and it’s ranked as the best in the world for a reason! It’s expensive, but worth it. However, pack a lunch. There’s no reason to pay a bijillion (I’m rounding up) dollars for admission and then pay $50 for lunch! It’s worth it to fill the basket of your stroller with fruit and sandwiches and stop to eat a picnic lunch halfway through your zoo trip.
  • Hike around Torrey Pines. We did this the first time we traveled to San Diego and weren’t able to make it there this time, but we loved it! If you’re feeling ambitious you can park at the bottom of the very-large-hill and hike up from the beach, but if you don’t want to walk that far, you can drive to the top and hike around up there. It’s also a beautiful place to watch a sunset!

San Diego North County with Kids

I think that about covers it! I guess my main recommendation is to go to the San Diego area if you have the chance! We loved it and I’m sure we will be back there with the girls in the not-so-distant-future. If you have any questions about things to do, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.

* This post isn’t sponsored, but I did include some referral links for Airbnb. If you sign up and rent a property through them, you’ll get $35 off using the links.

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, and the weekend after it is my favorite weekend of the year.

There aren’t any costumes. There aren’t any presents. But there ARE pies! And family and friend time, of course.

Thanksgiving 2016

This year we didn’t go back to the Midwest and instead spent Thanksgiving with friends here in the PNW. We went to our friends’ house and enjoyed great company and awesome food and had a wonderful time. There were 20+ adults and about 10 kids at dinner, and it was a true miracle because it wasn’t even that chaotic!

Thanksgiving 2016

And then we spent the weekend buying a Christmas tree, watching football, bringing out the holiday decorations, spending too much money online shopping, eating leftovers, and spending time with family members who are in town. Life has been good.

Other things I’ve been thankful for lately:

  • Adventures with my family
  • Visits from loved ones
  • Our awesome city
  • Nothing got taken from our car when it was broken into on Thanksgiving night (wah, wah)
  • Pies
  • Our health
  • The happy-go-lucky attitude of Clara and Isabelle’s increasing calmness
  • Happy memories
  • Workouts
  • Tim’s paternity leave (that is ending this week)
  • We didn’t get into any fights when chopping down our Christmas tree
  • The million things I could name and go on about…  Basically, life is good and we’re all happy and healthy and having a really fun time lately!

Thanksgiving 2016

We had a truly special holiday and I’m just so thankful that we’re making our own traditions and memories here in Seattle with our little family.

Thanksgiving 2016

And now that Tim is going back to work in a few days and our last visitors will be leaving soon (sad!) life will go back to normal. Which means I might post on the blog a bit more! Or quite a  bit less, since I may completely lose all free time and sanity.

Wish me luck.

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Day Trip to Whidbey Island

This past week marks four years since Tim and I tied the knot.

I vacillate between disbelief that our wedding was an entire four years ago, and feeling like so much has happened in our marriage thus far that I can’t believe it’s only been four years since we said “I do.”

We trade off who plans each anniversary. Tim plans the odd number years, and I plan the even number years.

So this year I planned two mini-anniversaries.

Sidenote: I have a habit of planning my perfect day and dragging Tim (and the girls, in most cases) along with me. They’re troopers.

On Monday we hired a babysitter for the girls and drove to Woodinville, WA for a ‘fancy’ lunch at Barking Frog and wine tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend both of these places!

Of course, Tim and I tried a flight of wines and only bought one bottle – of the cheapest wine we tried. Because clearly we do not have refined palates and I’m a sucker for dry bubbly.

It was a really fun day and the girls did well (per usual) with their babysitter.

Family at Ebeys Landing

Then on our actual anniversary, a few days later, we decided to pack up the girls and head out to Whidbey Island for a day trip.

Ebeys Landing

First we took the ferry to the town of Clinton, which is an event in itself. Then we drove to Langley for lunch. We ate at The Braeburn Restaurant, which was fantastic, especially for kids. I love low key places with delicious food, and this restaurant offered a ton of vegetarian options for me and Clara. From Langley, we drove north to Ebey’s Landing, which has trails to walk along and a fantastic view of the water to enjoy along the way.

Fact about me: I love old cemeteries. The fact that there is an old cemetery about a half mile from Ebey’s Landing made my day.

Ebeys Landing

We parked at the beach and walked along the bluffs to the cemetery, where I spent some time wandering around and reading the signage for stories about early Washington residents who are buried there. Then we walked back to the bluffs and continued on a trail to the lagoon until it got cold and dark, forcing us to head back.

Ebeys Landing

The perk of it getting dark really early is that we have the chance to see some fantastic sunsets, but the con (obviously) is that it really shortens our days and the amount of outdoor things we can do!

Ebeys Landing

After our hiking adventure we drove to Coupeville for dinner at Christopher’s, where we had some delicious seafood, especially the Penn Cove mussels, which are local and scrumptious. We were nervous heading into the restaurant, because it looked a little bit ‘romantic’ for our two crazy little ones, but everyone was so nice and they had a fantastic kids menu. (Clara had pasta with marinara sauce and her own piece of salmon!)

We opted to drive the long way home instead of taking the ferry, and we got home tired, full, and happy. The girls slept most of the way – so life was good, indeed.

Day trip to Whidbey Island with kids

If you’re traveling to Whidbey Island with kids, I recommend you…

  • Take the ferry (at least) one way – although it’s a super short trip – so make sure you drive your car on and then go up to the passenger deck immediately!
  • Eat lunch at the Braeburn Restaurant in Langley.
  • Not attempt to do it all in one day. I don’t think it’s really possible to do Langley, Coupeville, and Deception Pass in one day. We managed to do 1.5 of these locations on this trip. A few weeks ago we went to Deception Pass and spent an entire day just doing that. I think Langley and Coupeville are each worthy of half a day and Ebey’s Landing is easily another half day, depending on if you want to hike or just walk along the beach.
  • Make a stop at Greenbank Farm. We didn’t do this, and I’m disappointed we missed it! We’ll definitely be back and will stop to eat some pie and let Clara wander around.

This was our first time to both Woodinville and Whidbey Island (south of Deception Pass, that is) and I can’t recommend both enough, for completely different experiences. We will be going back to Woodinville for more wine tasting in the future, and I’m already mentally planning an overnight trip to Whidbey Island.

… and that about sums up our (anniversary) week! It was a good one.

Posted in family, loved ones, marriage, seattle, travel | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Moving forward

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent way more time on Facebook than I should have over the last several days. Or rather, since the election. It’s been so distracting, and not in a good way. I mean, an HGTV binge is a nice distraction for me, but reading crazy comments on friends’ Facebook walls is not a good use of my time. But it’s hard to look away when so much is being said and debated, isn’t it?

I want to move forward from this election mess chaos.

Ideas on how to move forward after this election

Here’s how I think we can all do that productively:

  • Contribute (financially) to causes we believe in (here’s a list of some).
  • Volunteer our time to help our most vulnerable neighbors.
  • Seek to understand the issues that our fellow citizens are concerned about.
  • Comfort those who are feeling especially vulnerable after the election.
  • Educate ourselves on the relevant issues in our country.
  • Speak out against oppression and injustice of any kind.
  • Teach our children love and tolerance.
  • Be optimistic that our voice matters, our votes continue to matter, and that we can (and will!) enact change in our communities and our nation.

Let’s continue to love one another and accept the differences that make us unique, while still standing up for what is right and good and condemning violence and intolerance – shall we?

I hope your weekend is off to a great start!

Posted in current events, rantings | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

8 mom-friendly pieces on sale at Nordstrom.

Yesterday I spent far too much time on social media, reading angry and hurt messages, and then eating my feelings. But luckily, I have two babies who don’t care about elections, and I had to get off the couch and actually take care of them. Thank goodness for distractions.

But I did practice some self-care. I woke up and walked to a coffee shop by myself (to get a chai latte, of course). I drank some wine with dinner. I wrote in my journal. I talked on the phone.

I also browsed the Nordstrom sale, because life goes on, and even with Trump in the White House, I’ll still be wearing clothes and I may as well look cute – right?

In case you could use some shopping therapy…

8 Fall Staples On Sale at Nordstrom

Here are some mom-friendly items I found for fall/winter:

Booties that are less than $100 (here and here). I’m convinced that a person (me, specifically) can never own too many booties.

And these booties that are a little over $100 but might just be worth it.

My favorite jeans are on sale! Do I need an extra pair? No. But you might!

I’m not sure if this blouse is breastfeeding friendly, because I don’t know what ‘faux wrap’ means, but if it’s breastfeeding friendly, I extra-like it!

This tunic, because I’ve always wanted a tunic and can’t seem to find one that doesn’t just hang off of me. This one comes in petite sizing, so there’s hope it might fit!

I’ve been into one piece swimsuits lately (I guess having two kids will do that to a person), and I think this one is really cute. Is it needed for fall? No…. but I might still grab it for next summer!

It’s a well-documented fact that I can’t say no to anything with stripes. Like this sweater.

A raincoat. Because in the PNW this is a staple item for the fall/winter and I didn’t buy one last year because I was pregnant. This year I’m buying multiple raincoats.

… I’m sure there are many more items but Isabelle just woke up and so I’m back on mom-duty. I will say, though, that just doing some online shopping browsing made me feel a
bit better.

Let’s spend this week doing some fun and light-hearted things and laughing with our friends and family and remembering that we make America great every single day through our kind and tolerant actions. Shall we?

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