Wow this summer has gone by so very quickly! I cannot believe it’s *almost* fall. Before summer completely slips away, I thought I’d share a few of our weekend road trip (and other miscellaneous) photos. It’s amazing just to see Liv’s transformation over these two months! She’s already two inches too big for the pjs in the ‘nana’s house’ pictures at the bottom of this post.
This summer was our summer of weddings – we had the privilege of attending four (4!) in June and July alone. Let’s start with Kevin’s cousin Anne, who married her sweatheart Alex.
Such a beautiful wedding! Also full of those rustic, organic details that are so pretty and popular right now (note: I did not make that cake at right but I thought it was so pretty).
Two weeks later we traveled up to Monterey (in the greater San Francisco area) to witness the vows of Madelene and Joel.
The grounds of the chapel were absolutely beautiful!
And check out this handsome fella. I met Jack, a friend of ours’ new baby, for the first time.
This also happened to be the weekend of our five year anniversary, so we took an overnight trip to SF to celebrate (read more about our must-sees here).
Next up were a few days at Camp Powell, a summer camp that Kevin grew up attending and one that he volunteers at now. Liv was old enough this year to run around and to play in the mountains, too! Here she is with daddy and there’s a pic of Kevin entertaining all of the kiddos at campfire. His character was a Scottish ballerina. Amazing.
The following weekend we headed back to the bay area for Nick and Clare’s wedding, an adorable couple with a beautiful backyard reception that I can’t wait to share more of. Hoping to post more on the dessert table that they designed once I track down those pictures…
Here are a few photos from a weekend brunch at our house! Had to share this picture because it’s a perfect time lapse moment, we can retake these three little munchkins sitting on our porch again in a few years and admire their fast growth.
Liv and her buddies.
Back up to Santa Cruz we go! Let me take a moment and introduce you to my hometown. Before leaving for college ten years ago, these were my stomping grounds:
Beautiful. I love going back to visit.
Here’s a picture of that pier stretching all the way out to the water, this shot is taken on the walk from my parents house down into the village of Capitola.
And once you enter the village, you’ll come across a beautiful lazy river that meets the ocean (just. don’t. swim in it). That green restaurant on the water is where I worked as a hostess in high school.
Just across from that restaurant is this shot:
With brightly colored vacation homes lining the sand and another picture of that pier that I shared above.
My sister traveled up to Santa Cruz with me on this particular trip, here we are walking through the Capitola village.
My childhood home was actually further back in the hills of Santa Cruz, but it really is nice to be so close to the beach these days! When we visit nana and papa we try to walk down to the village at least once for appetizers, a glass of wine or a stroll through the shops.
Speaking of nana’s house, here’s Liv playing with her grandma in the morning while I’m at work (yup, when I travel for work I travel back to my hometown, so Liv gets to play with nana a lot!). She’s become quite the little photographer, and check out that morning hair (I’m pretty sure she’s also drinking her breakfast smoothie out of a plastic restaurant-style ketchup bottle. Must have forgotten the sippy cup.)
Liv’s getting ready for Europe!
Last wedding of the summer was for Katie and Danny, you might remember the cake project for this special day.
No trip to SC is complete without a trip to Harts Fabrics! I adore this store. Picked up that little stack on the right for a future project.
I don’t know how I missed it, but we had two different sets of cousins in town plus friends from AZ with their brand new Emmett and I don’t have any photos! Ah well, that’s enough weekend for now.
And finally, this friends – this is Kevin’s latest project/adventure and one that he traveled out to Iowa for in July. More to come…
Happy Labor Day!
PS More weekend fun (and other random family adventures…) here.
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and I need your help. We bit the bullet, booked those non-refundable tickets and are now making car, B&B, ferry, train and packing plans for a big Europe trip!
The good news is that we’ve had a little reserve stash of miles and cash set aside for a little while to make this happen (we didn’t know where we’d go or what we’d do, but knew that we’d like to try for one more big family adventure before expanding our family again. The adventure we embarked on before Liv came along included Australia, New Zealand and Thailand). And we’re not expecting to dip into our home renovating fund or savings accounts, so we’ll plan on sharing our budget travel tips here as well.
The bad news is is that I’ve become engrossed in research – but we don’t have much time! So if you have been to one of the three countries on our itinerary, I would love to hear your thoughts on must-dos, where to stay lists and any tips that you might have. We haven’t even narrowed down which cities we’ll see in each, so we are all ears!
The plan is to start in Ireland, spend a week touring and driving at our own pace as we visit the countryside, the beautiful castles and the amazing coastline. Then we are off to Spain (by taking a short flight from Dublin to Barcelona) for another week of traveling via car to see the beaches, visit the local markets and mix & mingle with our new Spanish friends (fingers crossed) over tapas and wine. Finally, we’ll cross over to North Africa via ferry (a 30 minute ride from the south of Spain) to tour Morocco for six days. Ah, I can’t wait.
We are excited and thrilled and can’t believe that this is coming together (pinching ourselves that we managed to make it happen amidst it all). We’ll be moving slowly, staying at family friendly B&Bs and through apartment rentals (we plan on using this awesome site to help us) with a focus on enjoying our time with Liv and as a family, and not stressing about every museum or famous site.
But I’ll admit that I’m a little stressed… we are getting a late start on the planning part of this adventure and if you have any experience with these three countries (we’d hate to find out we left a city one day before a huge festival in Madrid or missed a very cool hike in Cork…) – feel free to email or share in the comments below!
Tags: Europe, Ireland, Morocco, Spain
Posted in Family & Friends, Travel, Travel Adventures | 17 Comments »
I mentioned a while back that I travel quite a bit for work. The plus is that I have the awesome opportunity to work from my home office 90% of the time. The downside being that I do pack up my office, Liv and myself for a week every month/every other month to travel up to the Monterey Bay area (Northern California) to touch base with our corporate location. BUT Liv travels with me! How fun is that? And she gets to play with her grandparents while I’m at the office (I hail originally from Santa Cruz which is in the Monterey Bay area).
Over the past six weeks alone I’ve made three trips up to Northern California and back down to San Diego (for various work, weddings and family related events) and it occurred to me that I might share a few tips that I’ve learned over the past year and a half (and 40+ flights!) on traveling with an infant and then a toddler solo. Feel free to share your thoughts and your own tips in the comments below! Let’s get a little group think going on the best traveling dos and don’ts with kids.
1. Carry as little as possible. I’m sure this is true across the board, but when traveling alone with a baby carrying the bare minimum is really a plus. I can say with a slice of humble pie that I’ve been that crazy lady wheeling carry-ons, a diaper bag, individual brown bag sack lunches, baby on hip, stroller filled with my laptop and camera bag, coffee perched in one hand, boarding pass in the other while hurriedly weaving my way down to a various gate. Stressful.
About five flights in as a new mom I figured it out. Now I always check my one carry on (and it’s always one for a reason, see #3), take advantage of priority family boarding and bring just one small bag with me on board (sometimes two if my destination calls for my camera). We’ve really nixed toys, reading materials for Mom, pack n’ plays (though I do try to arrange one at my destination, otherwise we co-sleep) and travel high chairs for a very simplistic load. But I haven’t given up my brown bag lunch, coffee, diaper bag and laptop case, I’ve instead consolidated them into one easy solution.
Here we are at my parents with my travel/diaper bag. I worked with Etsy artist ThreadBeat to customize a herringbone patterned messenger bag that fits my laptop, notebooks, a few board books for Liv, snacks, lipgloss, keys, a change of clothes, a paci for take off and landing, a spare diaper, a small pack of disposable wipes (for everything), a loose scarf that acts as an impromptu blanket – each with their own little spot. The bag is usually quite stuffed when it’s at full capacity! The best part is that when we arrive at our destination the messenger bag transforms into a briefcase.
And the most important customization? Pockets on the outside large enough for a sippy cup for Mom and one for Olivia.
Traveling can get a little stressful (long layovers, bumped flights) and my travel coffee mug (with extra snug lid) is a necessary treat. Sometimes I swap out a skinny thermos for an even tighter lid on long, cross-country flights when there will be lots of marching through airports and plenty of Starbucks.
2. Be prepared. My favorite flights are the Southwest one hour hops with a plane that is less than half full. These are the flights where the attendants happily let me bring my Combi Cocorro on board (gushed all about why I love this guy for toddlers and traveling here) and I’m able to schedule a flight around Liv’s nap time. When she’s hooked into a car seat there’s a 50-50 chance she’ll be snoozing for the trip and that can make all of the difference! Note: falling asleep happens during take off and the rise in elevation – don’t miss the opportunity to offer a pacifier, sing soothing songs softly and drown out light.
I have yet to buy a seat for Liv and when she’s a lap child flights tend to take on a new challenge entirely. When I suspect she’ll be riding with me for a long flight I avoid nap times like the plague because sleeping while sitting while on Mom’s lap is out – and a whiny, tired toddler makes the entire flight tougher on everyone. Thankfully traveling is becoming second nature to Liv and she doesn’t mind the change of scenery so much.
These days I realize that catching up on my latest This Old House and Martha while in flight is a thing of the past, so instead I pack useful travel tools such as toddler-friendly books (best, easiest toy! we can flip through the same board book five times picking out first shapes then colors then animals then counting the animals…) to keep us all entertained.
3. Pack like a pro. This is two fold: it’s extra important for me to have an organized checked bag as it is for my carry on to be well-stocked.
I’ll start with the carry on. As mentioned above, my staples are minimum but mandatory (nothing like being stuck in a city overnight without a few bare minimums). For Liv, that includes: change of clothes, diaper, wipes, snack trap with dry snacks, easy meals (string cheese + cheerios + apple slices), board books, paci (for take off and landing to help her ears – suckers, a bottle or nursing works equally well depending on age), sippy cup full of water (can be switched out with milk at destination but not while flying since liquid will inevitably end up on Momma). For me: light scarf (impromptu blanket – no jacket necessary since lugging child + car seat down airplane aisle = sweat), similar snacks to Liv, travel coffee cup (I fill it with water once on my flight to rehydrate and to avoid little plastic cups on the seat tray with swinging toddler arms), light make-up (what I could survive with if my bag didn’t make it).
Oh, and of course my favorite accessory. Have I ever introduced you to my purse for the last two years? It’s an iphone case + wallet (best invention ever – until it slips out of your bag during landing and is left on the plane floor) and it’s this plus a lip gloss in my back pocket. That’s it these days. Other odds and ends can go in the diaper bag or purse or briefcase or whatever else I’m toting that day – but because this wallet makes me carry just the bare minimum, it’s pretty much what makes getting out the door for me possible hands free:
Items I avoid in my carry on: toothbrush/paste (if I get stuck in a city overnight the hotel will have these staples), gooey snacks (most fruits, yogurt, etc that result in sticky hands, faces and clothing ), bags or purses without shoulder straps, games that require noise or moving around, crayons (that roll easily from a tray).
Next up is my actual checked bag. I limit myself to one piece of checked luggage because even the short distance from the car to the gate check-in area and vice versa can be quite a bit of work for a mom with a stroller, carry on and one piece of roller luggage. Any more and I’d surely tip over.
My checked bag usually consists of work-related outfits as well as down time/casual wear and sometimes even dresses for events and what not so I try to pack strategically. One outfit per day, one or two extra just in case. One pair of long jeans with heels and another shorter version with flats (jeans and blouses are work appropriate, thank goodness). PJs, toiletries, curling iron, a couple of rolled summer dresses. On top of that is a layer of Liv clothes and a few more toys, I purchase disposable diapers at my destination and we use the snack trap and sippy cup all week from the flight for Liv’s eating utensils (though sometimes I throw in a soft spoon or kid’s plate/tupperware, too).
I’ve developed a little packing trick that makes it easy to see that I have everything that I need and to find a certain item in a jiffy. On my frequent trips I always pack the same item in the same place. Always. PJs are upper left corner, tops upper right. Miscellaneous tanks, camis, belts in the lower right and shoes in the lower left. When Liv is fast asleep at night in our room I can reach into my bag in the dark and find my pajama pants easily! Items are stacked, rolled or wedged in, outer wear is draped across the top.
You’ve all heard of the color rule, right? Sticking to a few different shades (such as blues and greens) so that everything in your bag goes with everything else? Well I’m not that packing savvy but I do tend to stick to brown or black. Black shoes, black belt, black jacket, or the opposite. I don’t think we’re nearly as matchy-matchy today so matching brown pumps with a black cardigan is really no biggie to me, but if you’re nervous of over packing choose one and stick to it.
As far as airport-friendly accessories, this is the set up that I roam airport terminals with.
Our BOB stroller easily holds the toddler Combi car seat (with the safety harness and all), delivering us quickly to our gate destination. I gate check the stroller and sometimes the car seat (when there’s no room for a freebie seat) and bring Liv and my tote down the aisle. This awesome car seat is light enough for me to carry and snap in too, if that allows.
There you have it! My thoughts on traveling with a baby and how easy it can be! Just a few steps that help to make traveling slightly less stressful – then it’s time to enjoy the ride .
Here we are on our first cross-country trip. This was back when I could carry Liv around the airport in a sling! (A huge plus when a baby can’t yet hold her own head up.)
Any travel tips to add? We might have a pretty lengthy plane trip coming up and I’m in need of a few successful strategies for keeping an 18-month-old happy for hours on end in a confined space .
Posted in Family & Friends, Favorites, Tips & Ideas, Travel Adventures | 10 Comments »