The City By The Bay: Thanksgiving 2014

At least six months ago we started talking about our Thanksgiving plans. Typically we take a big trip. A week long somewhere far from home, somewhere that requires jackets and gloves, hats and boots and reservations for our Thanksgiving meal.

Lucas spent his first Thanksgiving in Florence, Italy! Two years ago we went to Vancouver.

Last year we moved the week of Thanksgiving so this year felt like a “make-up” of sorts. We renewed Lucas’s passport, applied for one for Lola and started daydreaming.

I don’t if we got too busy or couldn’t quite agree on a destination, but we dragged our feet until the week before and then with what felt like out of our budget and limited options we decided to stay local-ish. We drove to San Francsico!

Todd grew up and went to college in the Bay Area and knows the city well  and I fell in love with San Francisco on my first visit some 18 years ago and it continues to dazzle us both.

We had no agenda and had the greatest time. Wednesday was my favorite day; we left our hotel at 10:00 AM, headed for Ghirardelli Square. Along the way we stopped to play at two parks, wandered through Chinatown, window shopped, found a darling card and gift store called Lola, where we had to pose for photos, watched Lucas & Lola devour a croissant, found a man and his son catching and releasing Dungeness crabs, gazed at the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, enjoyed ice cream and took a sunset cable car ride back to our hotel nearly seven hours later.



IMG_7672But then again, Thursday was pretty spectacular too! I took Lucas ice skating for the first time at Union Square and he was amazing. My sister-in-law and two nieces, who live in the East Bay joined us. Apprehensive at first myself, as I hadn’t been on skates in a very long time, I was most worried about Lucas. He fell a lot but he was so determined and never once whined or utter the words, “I can’t do it.”. I am so proud of him and he, of course can’t wait to do it again! We both had permagrins for the 90 minutes we were on the ice and as long as we stopped to say hello before circling the rink again, Lola and Daddy enjoyed watching us from the sidelines.
IMG_7711 IMG_7720
IMG_7713Friday, we walked half-way across the Golden Gate Bridge, as little legs couldn’t make it the entire (1.7 miles one way) way and there were no parks or croissants along the route. After that, my in-laws, who also live in the East Bay came into the city for lunch and we watched the Christmas decorations go up in our hotel lobby.


IMG_7920There was more exploring, a shopping spree at NikeTown, some not so great restaurant recommendations and I’ll spare you the details and frustrations of our horrific road trip there and home with a certain rear-facing little person who hates being in the car.

It was wonderful to get away, especially to a favorite city and as a family. I hope you and yours had a lovely holiday too.

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Seeing Chicago Through A Child’s Eyes

It’s been a month since our mother/son trip to Chicago. What an amazing five days! I have always known Lucas was an extraordinary child but this trip proved it ten times over.

Since his very first airplane ride at only two months old, my son has been a great traveler provided I have his favorite snacks and activities and a full battery on the iPad. This I knew going in to this trip together, but what surprised me was the amount of patience he exhibited as we waited. We spent a lot of time waiting, from a two hour delay at the airport and long lines to enter most attractions to Uber cars and taxis, we waded through throngs of people at the breakfast buffet each morning at our hotel and waited for our names to be called at restaurants, we waited for it to stop raining so we could go back outside and have fun, we waited and waited and waited. I have decided my five-year-old has more patience in his entire body than I do in my big toe.

momsontriptochicagoLucas also behaved well throughout our trip and when other children around us were falling apart, kicking, screaming and carrying on and getting reprimanded, he kept it together. He also asked pointed questions about our surroundings, wanted to know everything he could about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (it wasn’t because a cow knocked over a lantern, by the way) and the meaning behind the different colors that lit up the skyscrapers at night. Lucas also let me take as many photos as I wanted of both him and the sights.

Chicago is perfect for children and it was a lot of fun seeing my little guy in such a big city. We didn’t walk as much as I would have liked but only because little legs can’t walk very far. We took our time getting from here to there and stopped a lot along the way to shop or eat or meander through a park.

There is so much to do in Chicago and we tackled a lot! From meeting Sue, the best-preserved T. rex on display at the Field Museum, eating stuffed pizza at the famed Giordano’s, running through the water pads at Millennium Park, taking goofy photos at “the Bean”, enjoying incredible views of the city from the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower (now known as Willis Tower), spending hours at the awesome Children’s Museum at Navy Pier and having a lot of down time in our hotel room. We shopped a little (I kind of went nuts at the Nike store) watched very little TV, and talked a lot, mostly about the upcoming school year and how much we missed home and our precious little Lola.

momsontriptochicagoLucas may have dragged me to the Lego store at the beautiful Water Tower Place more than once but I’d buy him all the Lego in the world if I could. I’m grateful for the bonding time I had with my son this summer and look forward to taking an annual summer trip with him. 

Where to next year?

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Just The Two Of Us

I began daydreaming about a mother/son trip when I first saw the Expedia Find Your Storybook advertisement on TV. The one where the mother is reading her son a bedtime story and simultaneously on an awesome adventure with him.

…where villages floated on water and castles were houses, dragons lurked and giants stood tall and the good queen showed the boy it could all be real.

And then Lucas and I started butting heads.


He’s five, so not listening, pushing my buttons and being defiant come with the territory. But I know that there’s more to it than that because when it’s just the two of us, he’s super.

Lucas has been very patient and understanding of my now divided time between him and his six-month-old sister but he doesn’t quite understand how much his Lola truly needs me right now.

I get it.

He misses me and being the center of my attention and this has been demonstrated by him asking more than once, “Can’t we leave Lola at home and go do something, just you and me?”.


I miss him too.

It has been particularly challenging now that it’s summer and he is not in school for a large portion of the day. We play a game of Uno or Connect Four in between diaper changes and bottle feedings. I’m constantly running back in the house to listen for cries while I should be focused on our game of Ring Toss in the backyard.

We’ve had some awesome mother/son dates, which for some reason are growing increasingly harder to schedule and since it’s summer, I really want to make an impact, leave an impression, do something grand with my son. And yes, put the mommy guilt at bay for a while.

So, with only two more weeks of vacation, what better time to get away, just the two of us? I’m hoping our mother/son trip becomes an annual tradition. This year we are tackling Chicago and leave Thursday. Lucas and I are both bursting with excitement over getting away and creating our own adventure, one that will include Navy Pier, Millennium Park, The Shedd Aquarium and deep dish pizza all without his little sister.

The idea of visiting the Windy City came from my desire to go there and all that it offers children. I’ve been to Chicago several times and I’m looking forward to seeing it through the eyes of my son.

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I have sipped wine at Les Deux Magots cafe in Paris, climbed a pyramid in Egypt, laid like broccoli pool side in Hawaii, marveled at the Grand Canyon, sounded like a fool using my broken Spanish in Cabo San Lucas and got caught in the freezing rain with my three year old in Vancouver.

Growing up overseas gave me the travel bug and I have always loved it!  I believe wanderlust is a wonderful thing. But vacations can be different and I’ve taken many kinds of trips… there are girl’s trips, couples retreats, action-packed tourist attractions rich with history, two-fer destinations, where you get to see family and friends but also the opportunity to explore a new place, road trips, camping excursions and good old fashioned long weekends.

Who doesn’t love vacation? If we are lucky we get away a couple of times a year and it’s never enough. Vacation recharges us, makes the everyday bearable, gives us something to look forward to, get in shape for and save up for. Vacation is glorious!

13 Things I Love About Vacation (in no particular order):

1. No schedule.

2. No laundry.

3. No meal planning, grocery shopping or cooking!

4. Hotels.

5. Room service (on occasion).

6. The experience to see, do and try new things (food, culture, environment or activity).

7. Being on vacation means my family is all together and we’re bonding.

8. Getting to meet new people and possibly making lifelong friends.

9. Procuring souvenirs or small trinkets that will forever remind us of our time away.

10. Making lasting memories.

11. The opportunity to take great photographs.

12. Being out of touch for a while. I don’t know about you, but I rarely watch the news or pay attention to headlines when I’m away from home and I try to unplug too.

13. Finding inspiration to create, write, laugh, let go and just be. 


Taken Labor Day weekend, 2013 – La Jolla, California

I love this passage from Wanderlust For One:

Travel is not just recreation. It is re-creation. Through travel, I come face to face with the unknown and the unfamiliar disrupts the familiar. Travel throws me off balance while helping me to find it again. It reawakens my childlike wonder and reaffirms my sense of self. Travel makes me approach my life with a fresh perspective. It deconstructs my cozy, comfortable existence and teaches me…

What do you love about vacation?

This post was written for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop Prompt 2.) List 13 things you love about vacation.

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All My Bags Are Packed

I’ve only been once before and it was over four years ago, but once again, I am about to embark on a journey of a lifetime and I can’t wait. There was a large part of me that didn’t think I’d ever be back here.  

robe, slippers, warm socks,

I had a relatively good time the first time around, although I had no clue what to expect and nothing to compare it to. All I remember about my last visit was feeling equal parts petrified and excited and so much love.

hair dryer, hair ties, face wash, make up bag,

I pulled up my old check list as I tried to recall what I brought along last time, what I actually needed and what I could have used but didn’t have.

favorite snacks, phone charger, books and magazines for any downtime,

I had friends remind me and did some research on the Internet.

important documents (health insurance card, per-registration papers, birth plan), pen and paper, prescription medications,

It’s a rare occasion when you don’t know exactly when you’ll be leaving or how long you might be staying.

mementos from home, a present for big brother, my own pillow,

Where I’m going, there is no need for a reservation, ticket or passport. Turns out  my destination is just 2.58 miles away from my house, but this is a trip that will change my and my family’s lives forever. I’m ready!

and one very special going home outfit.


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The Year That Was

I love new years, fresh starts and having a calendar full of blank pages just aching to be filled with fun activities and new memories.

I also enjoy looking back on the year that was and 2013 was a big one for me and my family. Here are some of our highlights, many of which I have shared here, click on links for posts you may have missed.

I discovered Cardio Barre and became obsessed, attending classes two to three times per week through May.

My first infertility post ran on SheKnows. The column ran for six months and still helps woman today.

I submitted a piece I wrote called We Are Enemies to Listen To Your Mother in Sacramento.

I auditioned for Listen To Your Mother and was selected to be a part of the 2013 cast!

We were kicked out of the house we were renting because of our dog and moved into a two-bedroom apartment.

On St. Patrick’s Day, I had my second egg retrieval.

My girlfriend and I attended a Sweet 16 NCAA basketball game… U of A (our alma mater) vs. Ohio.

In order to detox, I drank a smoothie a day for the entire month and went on a strict no buying program!

We transferred one embryo and it worked!!

I met my sister’s boyfriend for the first time.

Charlie Pasta turned one year old!

Lucas turned four years old!

I saw Mumford & Sons and Beyonce in concert.

Lucas went to his first baseball game.

After the better part of five years, my sister and I finally sold our parents house in Tucson.

I celebrated my 41st birthday.

We spent Fourth of July weekend in Santa Barbara.

I made it to 12 weeks!

I saw Justin Timberlake and Jay Z in concert and to date, it was one of the best!!

My husband and I celebrated our sixth anniversary and we found out we were having a girl!

Lucas spent three nights with his grandparents while Todd and I were in Monterrey.

Lucas and I spent a fun beach day with Robin and her family in San Diego.

I graduated from my fertility doctor’s office.

Letters for Lucas turned four years old!

We spent Labor Day weekend in La Jolla.

My dear friend, Nichole flew down from Sacramento for one night to join me at a Dave Matthews Band concert.

We lit sky lanterns and remembered our parents six years later.

I saw Katy Perry & Friends in concert with my sister.

My sister and I took Lucas to visit my aunt and uncle in Dallas.

We moved into our new house!!

I saw Justin Timberlake in concert again!

I made it to the critical 32 week point of my pregnancy.

Lucas started going to preschool four days a week

We hosted Christmas in our new house.

I calculated that I walked 365 miles this year!

I’m looking forward to all that lies ahead and wishing each of you a brilliant 2014!

new year

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