Taking California. Again.

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Going on a family trip to Southern California may not have been the best thing for my diet, and it certainly was not the best thing for my workout schedule, but it was great for my soul, so it all balances out, right?

Going into this trip, I felt like I needed to get out of Las Vegas… like, yesterday. I am not a winter person. At all. I enjoy the winter months from Thanksgiving until New Years, and as soon as those winter events have come to an end, my brain moves into summer mode. So in other words, this trip came at a much needed time. Between a memorial service for my great grandma in San Clemente, and my husband needing to take care of some business in Santa Monica, this trip just fell into place perfectly.

We spent the first portion of our trip at the Ocean View hotel in Santa Monica. Directly across from the beautiful beach/Santa Monica Pier, and right up the street from the Third Street Promenade, we couldn’t have asked for a more prime location. I have seen master bathrooms larger than our hotel room and the walls were so thin that it sounded as though each passing hotel guest was standing in our room… but when you can open your balcony doors to the smells and sounds of the ocean, you are quickly reminded that there really isn’t much to complain about.

When my husband tended to business and meetings during the day, I took my son on long walks on the Santa Monica bluffs over looking the ocean. When my husband was done working, we strolled through some of the most stunning beach neighborhoods that I have ever laid eyes on, we spent time on the beach as the sun set, and we went to some of the most delicious restaurants in the area. We did have a breakfast incident in which Liam threw his sippy cup at my coffee cup, sending coffee all across the table and into my lap… But hey, after the mess was all cleaned up my avocado/mushroom/goat cheese omelet was so great that it was impossible to care too much.

As beautiful as Santa Monica was, after several awful nights of sleep due to Liam waking up from all of the noises outside, the second half of our trip was welcomed with open arms. Moving on to stay with my god mother in Irvine, our family fell nothing short of being totally and completely spoiled. Upon arriving in Irvine, my husband and I were hitting our parenting limit. Liam had been great for most of the trip, but after the bad nights of sleep and a terrible experience with him (involving 10 too many hysterical fits) at a restaurant that day, we were in great need of a break. Little did we know, my real life fairy god mother and her dear husband had already planned on babysitting Liam for the night so that we could go out to an ‘adult’ dinner. Who knew how relieving a two hour dinner could be! We found a lovely restaurant down the street, shared some delicious sangria, then came back to a sleeping baby and the good company of my amazing God mother and her family.

The following day, we attended a lovely memorial service for my great grandma in San Clemente. At my cousin Kelly’s beautiful home overlooking the ocean, the family came together to remember our great Gammy and to celebrate the long life she lived. Liam found joy in chasing a bunch of the little girls around the house, while simultaneously draining my husband and I of the small amount of energy that we had left.

Returning to Irvine that night, my god mother had one more grand surprise up her sleeve: a hot tub date for my husband and I in her backyard. Not only did she create the loveliest ambiance of candles and light fixtures surrounding the hot tub, but she also put Liam to bed AND treated us like royalty, bringing us drinks and Liam updates as we enjoyed the peace of the perfect California night.

Heading home on Sunday morning, we were feeling relaxed, thankful, loved, and pretty freakin stoked about the lack of traffic. Our trip was everything we needed it to be. We got to relax, my husband was able to secure some important meetings, we were able to spend quality time with our loved ones, and Liam was better behaved than we’ve ever seen him be on a trip. The year has been off to an interesting start to say the least and it has already presented its fair share of challenges. However, sitting in the comfort of our home, relaxed and refreshed, I can’t help but to feel as though we are one very blessed family.

Cheers,

T.W.C.

 

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A Cali Baby is a Happy Baby

 

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     Our last family trip to California took place last year when our son was just two months old. We were new parents full of impractical and ambitious ideas as to how the vacation would go. Long story short, we spent almost the entire vacation stuck in our hotel room, completely overwhelmed by our cranky colicky newborn. This time around, we could not be more excited to fully experience southern california with our far more alert little man.
     Initially this trip had been planned as a family vacation over six months ago. As the time came closer however, my husband was asked to travel to the same area for business, so we figured we might as well extend the trip. An entire week away from home with a one year old whose favorite activity is testing the word no to the fullest extent. “Patience”, I told myself repeatedly as I mentally prepared for the trip. As I packed a weeks worth of baby diapers, toys, sippy cups, outfits, beach supplies and more, I prepared for every situation that could possibly occur. Back up outfits, backup blankies, backup wine, backup everrryyyything.
      First obstacle to be tackled: car ride. My son has hated his car seat since he was about 4 months old, so it was safe to assume beforehand that the 4 hour car ride would not be his favorite thing. I made sure to have snacks, juice, and toys within reaching distance. Between that and his nap, we made it to the halfway point without a problem. Luckily, we stopped off to visit my grandparents, which gave my son the perfect amount of time outside of the car to “reset” before heading out for another two hours on the road. This was the first time that my son ever met my dad’s parents, and I couldn’t be happier to have been able to share my son with them. We spent the entire visit playing on the same floor that I used to play on, with the same toys that I used to play with as a child. By the time we loaded our family back up into the car, we ALL needed a nap time.
     Finally arriving at our first hotel in Newport Beach, we couldn’t have been happier with our beach front room. The best part was that there was a balcony connected to the room that my son seemed to think was the best thing that ever happened. A major joy of hotel traveling is that there are so few items in hotel rooms that they are pretty much “baby proofed” before you ever get there. So between the baby proof room and the balcony, our son was one happy camper… and we all know that a happy baby makes for  two VERY happy parents. 
     Day number 2 in Newport, we decided to set up shade on the sand and have a relaxing beach morning. Relaxing.. not so much. About 15 minutes into our adventure, my son lashed out at my husbands soda can, cutting his finger on the edge. Blood.. was.. everywhere. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we came with no bandaids and there was no lifeguard on duty. As my husband ran back to the hotel, I sat on the beach trying to hold a cloth to my sons wound as he flailed around, unable to understand what I was trying to do. By the time we got the bandaid on, all of us were exhausted from the entire event and we decided to head back to the hotel and find a more baby friendly activity for the day. 
     The trip continued on, and we quickly discovered my sons newest development: screaming. Boy oh boy does that kid have a voice. I wouldn’t mind if the screams were taking place in private… I could handle private screams. But of course, his favorite place to scream is in the middle of restaurants exactly two minutes after our food arrives. He stuffs his face with as much food as he wants, then the second he’s done, he begins screaming and throwing his body around. There was not one.. not two.. not three.. but FOUR times on this trip that I had to leave the restaurant early with my son while my husband grabbed our tab and to go boxes. It was a little chaotic, but by the end of the trip I can proudly declare that we were masters at handling “the scream”.
     Our trip was full of visits with family members and friends that I haven’t had a chance to see in far too long, food that was so amazing that I was in shock when I hadn’t gained 10 pounds, and beach front hotels that made a girl feel spoiled. Driving around by myself with my son in LA while my husband was working was stressful and challenging, and by the end of the trip, I felt as though I should have won a trophy for conquering the California roads. The trip certainly had it’s ups and downs, but bumps are to be expected when traveling with a curious one year old. All things considered, it was a beautiful trip with my favorite two humans. And I mean… crawling into our own bed at the end of it was pretty great too.
     We have been going to SoCal annually since before our son was born, and I hope to make it a tradition that lives on… Three years down, many more to go.
Cheers,
T.W.C.