Summer

First Three Weeks of our Summer Staycation

San Diego kicked off our summer staycation and we really haven’t stopped. When you are home with two toddlers, finding new and exciting things to do are a must. For both them and you! I have been trying to make the most of living in Southern California, and I think we are on track to a great summer.

Strawberry Picking

We started off with strawberry picking. A must-do when you live in Southern California.This is our 2nd year picking strawberries. The ever popular Underwood Farms is where we usually go. Our morning is spent playing around the farm and then the berry picking begins. Having grown up on the East Coast where every fall, we pick apples, I was worried my kids wouldn’t get to experience such a thing. There is something so great about picking your own fruit right off the vine.

Los Angeles State Historic Park / Chinatown

In the heart of Downtown and Chinatown, lies the newly renovated and expanded LA State Park. We actually lived in Chinatown when the boys were born. In the short amount of time since they were born and now the park has transformed into a fantastic park in the middle of the city. It is wide open, great for flying kites or having picnics. They have a ton of events, including movies in the park. When you live in a city, kids love any open space where they can run free.

We took them back to Chinatown and showed them our old apartment. Visited spots we used to frequent when they were babies. It was incredibly touching to listen to them ask questions like “did we play at that playground when we were babies?”  Being back with the boys bittersweet in many ways. I don’t know how we survived that first year, yet cannot believe how fast this is all going.

Los Angeles State Park on our Staycation Toddler looking out at Los Angeles State Park

Gene Autry Museum

I have lived in Los Angeles for a very long time and I always snubbed my nose at this museum thinking it was just about cowboys. I am so sad I was such a snot. The Gene Autry is an incredible museum and fantastic for kids.

Right now on view is Play! An amazing, interactive exhibit for kids. Play chronicles toys and games over time and across cultures. My kids were obsessed, as was I. It was a lesson in how far toys have come, yet how much toys and what kids like to play, have stayed the same.

The rest of the museum was just as cool and family friendly. One of my guys is obsessed with all things “old-fashioned and from a long, long time ago.” Seeing relics from early old west days, seeing how our history has unfolded, made for a fantastic day.

Toddler riding a horse at Gene Autry Museum Toddler Panning for Gold at Gene Autry Museum

KidSpace Children’s Museum

The best part about this museum is its outdoor play. They have a mini Arroyo where kids can splash around. It’s set amongst the trees providing a ton of shade and enabling city kids to play amid the trees.

Another fantastic aspect of this museum is how interactive it is, in unique ways. There are various climbing towers in bright vibrant colors, mimicking raindrops or a bird’s nest. Kids can dig dinosaur bones, play in the physics forest, touch various items in the nature exchange. There is a ton to do at KidSpace.

Toddler digging for dinosaur bones at Kids Space Museum twins climbing raindrop at Kids Space Toddler playing in Arroyo at Kids Space Museum

Beach Days / Pool Days

Of course summer isn’t summer without ample time spent by the water. We are fortunate enough to live by the sea. Our favorite beach spot is Annenberg Community Beach House, given how easy it is with kids. But we still have a list of other beaches to hit this summer and the rest of our summer bucket list to complete.

 

 

 

 

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

summer vacationI was completely taken aback when I realized the other day was the first day of fall. I couldn’t believe that autumn was already here. It’s not that the two major signs weren’t there; September and school. But I still felt like it came fast.

Our summer was filled with swim lessons, beach days, ice cream, late night runs around the yard, all the things summer is supposed to be made up of.  This was also the summer of travel for our family. The boys are already pretty seasoned travelers given their few years on this planet, but this year we were packing in three big trips over the course of the summer.

Destination 1 – Massachusetts

Our summer began with a Cape Cod vacation.  We always try to head to Massachusetts every summer, and thankfully have made it to the Cape each year. To me, Cape Cod epitomizes the American summer vacation, when family and extended family, fill up their cars and head across the bridge to the island.

Our summer vacation began with the annual family 4th of July party where the boys ran endlessly with their cousins and watched their first fireworks. Some were magical and others, one might not exactly call magical, but still a big hit with the under 6 crowd. At the end of the night plans were made for the week ahead.

My parents rented a house and filled it with their grandkids.  Every morning began with the cousins running around outside, imaginations flying. Each day was filled with an activity that you can only be done on the Cape (or at least in my mind). We went clamming, and crabbing, went for ice cream and they had their first gummy worm, checked See a Lighthouse off their bucket list, went to the beach, the marina and fairy hunted in the forest. And of course had our sunset picnic, juice for the kids and wine from a jug for the adults.

summer vacation

the pooping dog
the pooping dog

summer vacation summer vacation summer vacation

Living so far from family, these trips to the Cape mean more every time we go. The boys absolutely love being with their family, cousins who chase them, Uncles who let them eat as many chips as they want, Aunts who plan adventures and more cousins who play whatever they want giving me a break for the much-needed glass of wine. It is these vacations the nostalgia of my childhood gets to be re-lived through my children. I can’t wait to go back.

Destination 2 – Northern California

Our next trip was up North to Kris’s family reunion. What made this trip so special was the boys were meeting for the first time their great-grandmother. Grandma Bobby is their only great-grandparent and we were excited for them to finally meet. She is an extremely important member of our family and it felt emotional when they finally met.

This was a whirlwind week-end, full of less than ideal travel hiccups, but mostly a fun-filled three-day trip. We hadn’t been able to go to the last two reunions because of work and then infant twins, so we were surprised to see how much Kris’s family had grown. It’s hard to keep up when everyone lives far away and has busy lives, but I think the kid count tripled since the last reunion.

The boys had a blast running around the yard with the “bigger” kids, bouncing in the bounce house, making art with their big cousin. And it was so fun for the adults to catch up with each other in person. Plans are already in motion for the next reunion.

summer vacation kidskillcoolness

Destination 3 – Colorado

Our last trip came at the end of the summer to Estes Park, outside Denver, Colorado, for a wedding. This would be the boys first wedding and between the cake, the dancing, more cake and more dancing, they have determined, weddings are where it’s at. The days leading up to the wedding were filled with everything that childhood dreams are made of. The boys had their cousins and an endless supply of family and friends to play with. They played outside in the fresh mountain air, climbing rocks, looking for wild life, dipping their feet into clear mountain streams. At one point Kellan declared he wanted to live in Colorado. I couldn’t blame him, it is heaven for a child.

summer vacation summer vacation summer vacation

So here we are, at the start of fall and as I think back to our summer vacation, and everything we did, it is so clear that the best parts where when we were with family.

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