After another enjoyable train ride to the pumpkin patch, this fall excursion is making its way up the tradition list. Only two hours from home, it makes for a nice day trip with a stop in Flagstaff for dinner before heading home.
D has grown up quite a bit from last year’s visit. I found a couple photos to showcase just how much she’s grown over the last year. Her excitement was no less abundant, however.
Still loves Smokey the Bear
2013 – First ride on a steam engine
2014 – Watching the pines go by
A laugh with Daddy
Getting ready to leave the depot
Relaxed in anticipation
With Mommy at the patch
Filed under Family, Travels
I’m not really sure how I came to enjoy camping. Growing up, I can count on one hand the number of times we went camping as a family and, somehow, most of my memories are of dirt and the yet-to-be-mastered art of peeing in the woods. In college, a group of friends would take advantage of long weekends and head to the outdoors. Those memories are much more positive. Of course, in college, you can sleep, eat and pee just about anywhere.
As an adult, I’ve become more picky in my camping spots – cannot be in loose dirt and needs to be near water and/or trees – but I find my outdoor time soothing to my soul. Being a native of the Pacific Northwest, I have a particular fondness for the sound, smell and shade of pine trees. Add rain to the mix and I’m perfectly content. This was my bliss last weekend. 90 minutes from home, we were in the pines and rain – a welcome change from another long, hot summer. The best part? My 4-year-old loves camping as well. When we asked her what her favorite part of the trip was, she replied “Peeing in the woods.” That’s my girl! We’re getting her started early and preparing her for a nice long camping road trip next summer.
When we were kids, my sister and I would go off to church camp every summer for one week. While we were making memories, my parents would pick a year to transition our rooms to “big girl” rooms. Since my sister and I are five years apart, they happened at different times, and we didn’t know when it would happen. We would just pick out the colors and bedspread at some point and they would do the rest. What a great feeling to come home to – a new little space of our own.
That’s what happened yesterday for my daughter. D and I went for a week to visit my parents in Washington (photos to come) and when we came home, her little space was transformed into a little girls room. Thanks to my amazing husband and daddy, she got a new bed AND a pink room.
The bed was handcrafted by T. We knew about it and knew what it was going to look like, but he spent the entire week finishing it, painting it and installing it. I have to say, it is one strong and durable bed. He added a rack below to hold baskets that were previously taking up precious floor space. I’m still amazed at how he can picture something in his head, draft the measurements and build it – especially something he’s never built before. It turned out great, D loves it and it will remain a special piece of furniture for her. Here are photos of the progress (into the wee hours of the night) and the finished product – sleeping girl and all…
This year marked our 4th annual 4th of July visit to B & G’s (aka Papa and Gigi). I’m not really sure how this trip became a tradition, but it’s something we have looked forward to every year (even if it isn’t our only CA trip of the year). There are always the simple, “traditional” things we do each time – pool, beaches, parks, walk to Mag’s Donuts, clam chowder at Sabatino’s, Farmer’s Market, fireworks show from the balcony… And then we always add something new to the trip – keep things lively. This year we visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. It was D’s first visit to an aquarium and she quickly discovered her favorite animals – sting rays and sea otters. I, personally, would second the sea otters and add jelly fish to the top of my list – especially the jellies that have lights. Nature sure is amazing and I’m convinced that tropical fish were designed by Crayola.
Besides the aquarium, this trip’s highlights were celebrating B & G’s 50th wedding anniversary, a little early, with a nice dinner at Gulfstream in Newport Beach; watching D’s confidence in swimming grow stronger each day in the pool; watching the strong surf at the Wedge and playing in the sand, seaweed and tidal pools in Little Corona. So fun!
Here are some highlight photos from the trip:
Jumping in is the best part
She swam the entire length of the pool with her trusty kick board
Laughing at the seagulls running in the waves
Building sand castles at the Wedge
Watching a penguin swim from below
Admiring the color palettes with Gigi in the Tropical exhibit
With Papa and the Penguins
Getting a close up view of the sting rays
Family photo at Newport Beach Civic Center
Celebrating B & G’s 50th Anniversary
Someone loves her Papa
Somehow, chores are more fun on vacation
Filed under Family, Travels
Last week we celebrated our little girl’s 4th birthday. There was a birthday party with many friends at the park, Grandpa and Grandma’s traditional birthday visit and, of course, the late night building, painting and finishing touches on her gift – a cedar playhouse. We had our eyes on this house since it made its debut at Costco before the holidays. With her love of playing “family”, “restaurant” and general pretend, we knew she was the perfect age (and kid) for it. I’m thankful to have a handy husband who loves to build and can easily envision the final results because he certainly put his personal touch on it. Here’s a photo of the actual playhouse from the company website…
…and here’s our house (model included)…
Birthday morning surprise
Added the flower boxes
Serving window side – replaced the chalkboard with a hanging plant
A silly welcome
Inside – just need to add chairs and a rug
A happy homeowner
With pretend food, a shopping cart and mom to check her out at the grocery store, this house has already provided hours of entertainment for this little one. She’s in it every day. And with the hot weather now here, T even installed an “indoor” light so she can play in it in the cooler evening hours. Well worth the time and money to make it our own and keep the play outside.
True Food Kitchen Website
One of my favorite places to eat here in the Phoenix area is True Food Kitchen. They embody my three favorite things in a restaurant – healthy, delicious and relaxing. Sitting out on the wrap-around porch, sipping “The Natural” and enjoying light fare puts me in a perpetual summer mood, whether it’s August or February. You know, that feeling of being on vacation with only thoughts of “I have no place to be, I may as well stay here and have another”.
True Food Kitchen Website
Well, you can only imagine my excitement when I found I could bring a little piece of that bliss home with me. No, not the wrap-around porch, although that would be my preference. I’m referring to their delicious ginger soda drink called “The Natural”. It’s refreshing, yummy and easy to make. I found the recipe on the Phoenix New Times website after a quick Google search and I was very pleased with the outcome. I make it one glass at a time instead of by the pitcher since the Club Soda will lose its fizz quickly – just a word of caution. If you like ginger, this drink is for you!
½ cup Agave Nectar
1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finally chopped
1 cup Sparkling Water
Ginger Soda (pitcher)
½ Cup Ginger Syrup
3 Cups Sparkling Water
1. To make the syrup first peel the ginger
2. Next grate the ginger on a cheese grater
3. Measure out the Agave nectar (1/2 cup)
4. Measure out the Sparkling Water (1 cup)
5. Place the agave nectar, ginger, and sparkling water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until your house fills with a strong smell of ginger, about 1 hour. Let cool.
6. NOTE: you can refrigerate this mixture for up to 1 week
7. To make the soda: By the pitcher, combine ½ cup syrup with the soda water. By the glass, combine 2 teaspoons of the syrup with soda water
8. Pour over ice and serve cold
Lessons. New lessons, old lessons, lessons that bear repeating. Lessons that come from my nearly 4 year old daughter. I think these are the lessons I love the most. Those that come without judgment or purpose; those that come from just living and observing. Just this past week alone, I’ve put into practice two lessons that I learned from watching my daughter:
Take off your shoes and run barefoot through the grass.
We are lucky (and invested) desert-dwellers who have nice soft grass in our backyard. D has repeatedly walked through the door after school this week, taken off her shoes and socks and run free-willing around the yard yelling, “wahoo!” The other day she said, “mommy, take off your shoes and run in the backyard with me.” How can I pass that up after a day inside in heels? What a simple, yet relaxing way to start off the evening! We ran around for about 5 minutes waving our arms and being goofy. It was the best 5 minutes of my day.
Look forward to the simple things.
D is a child who likes to know what to expect. In the morning during breakfast, we usually talk about what we’re going to do after school. I’m always so delighted to see her excitement when I pick her up and she asks, “can we go to the park now?” or “are we going to the library?”, after having been to both a zillion times. Last night, T and D had a rare night at home without mama and it was planned that they would go to McDonald’s for dinner. The minute she walked in the door at school, she told all her teachers and friends about her plans and how excited she was to have chicken nuggets (it’s a rare treat, indeed). She had a great day filled with anticipation. I loved that about being a child – getting excited over the little things. My little thing now? I get to come home and spend time in my child’s world for a while. A world that’s simple and very present.