Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween is almost upon us....

One of my favorite holidays is almost upon us. I love decorating for Halloween and seeing the kids (my own included) all dressed up in their Halloween costumes trick-or-treating is a blast. I also love to make Halloween crafts, I guess it is partly because I have a little more time to make Halloween decorations, more than Christmas decorations once the Christmas season is upon us.

This week's challenge at ScrapTiffany was Halloween.  A little while ago Jenni Bowlin offered a Limited Edition Vintage Halloween kit, that I snapped up the morning it went on sale (it sold out within a couple of hours). It paired perfectly with a 7 Gypsies Receipt Tray that I bought at Studio Calico, a bit of last years Color Me Daisy Halloween kit (vintage postcard and Pink Paislee papers) and some mini letters by My Little Shoebox. With that mix of products, I created this to hang in our house for the Halloween season.

Check out the other fun things the ladies made at ScrapTiffany today and visit again on Friday for even more Halloween inspiration.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vacation Finale - San Diego Zoo, Old Town and Heading Home

Day 7, Friday, October 15th, 2010

Last night I sent a text my friend Stella to get some breakfast recommendations. We didn’t have plans for Friday so we decided to go out to breakfast.  She sent me a few suggestions, and we picked the Broken Yolk in Pacific Beach.  We got there about 9:00 am and it was busy. We had a really good breakfast. We both had omelets with home fries.  Nicholas and Jackson ate the muffin that came with my breakfast with pancakes and bacon.

It had been sprinkling since we woke up and we weren’t sure what we were going to do. Mike thought we should go to the zoo to keep the kids entertained. Kids were free for the month of October so we headed over. 

We got to the zoo and even though it isn’t really that far from the water, there was no sprinkling. It was cool but not wet. 

Here are some of my favorite shots from the day. I had some animals that really liked to pose for the camera...

I think this sleeping Koala Bear is so sweet...

Look at the bears eyes...

The leopard was named Princess or something like that, she loved to pose.

The giraffe's were cool. Some of my best poses were in to the sky, and were too washed out, but I like this one. At the Phoenix Zoo all the food spots are up above so they don't have to bend down like this.

Love this kangaraoo

Kissing camels (they really were, the one in the back though had some gross stuff coming out of his mouth that turns some of the better shots of the front two into something less than pleasant)\


Nicholas walked a lot of the zoo on foot....

Frogs/toads near the elephant exhibits

This elephant was dancing, with her trunk bouncing back and forth....

Yes this is the kid that will not wear shoes and socks. He is just like his mama, hates shoes. I know there were people looking at us like we were crazy.

Spacing on what animal this is, but many of them were happy to pose for us.

This is probably one of my favorite shots from the day. Right after this, the lion got up on a rock and strated making all kinds of howling and roaring noises, I would have photographed it but his butt was to us, so nothing great to look at, but cool to listen to.

Nicholas was interested in the tar pits.

Another model, I mean cooperative animal.

Hills do not slow my boys down.  Jackson is peeking back at Nicholas and me, happy he isn't walking.

The gorillas came right up to the glass viewing area.

These minature alligators didn't move, they were like statues.

It looked like they were posing for us.

Nicholas checking out what is going on...

This monkey was talking to another one right below him...


This was really cool but everyone was trying to get the picture of this hippo with its eyes and ears above water and it's huge body below the surface. This was the best I could get without people in it.

There is something just weird about how these turtles look swimming.

This lizard is looking right at me.

Looks like the tortoise is as well.

We stayed until the zoo closed and then decided to go straight to dinner at Old Town. Old Town Mexican Café had been recommended by both my friend Stella and Scott and Lori. So even though it looked packed we decided to try it. It turned out there was only a 10 minute wait that ended up being less than 5 minutes. We had guacamole and chips with margaritas.  For dinner the boys had tacos and quesadilla and Mike and I both had combos with Mexican beers.  

Towards the end of our dinner the Mariachis came in to the area to play and Jackson loved it.  He was whipping his head around to watch them and giving them big cheesy grins.

To burn off dinner we walked around Old Town before heading back to the hotel.  

We got back early enough to let the kids just chill out watching Disney shows while I started packing us up.  We got the kids in bed around 9:00 and Mike and I talked about next year’s vacation. We decided after this trip that the boys are ready and more importantly we are ready to take them to Walt Disney World next year. So I checked out pricing so we can start saving.

Day 8, Saturday, October 16th, 2010

We got up around 7:00 and got ready and finished packing. We were going to grab Einstein’s for breakfast but there was a huge line and it was a bit cold to sit outside. So we headed over to the Red Marlin for breakfast. We had the buffet breakfast and were in and out of there pretty quickly. We loaded up the car to get on the road and were on our way around 10:30. We stopped quickly once and made it home around 4:00.

It turned out to be easier than the boys than we expected. Taking kids is definitely a different vacation than the old days of late nights, fancy restaurants and going as fast or slow as we feel like. Everything is at their pace, but they were very flexible and good little travelers. So I look forward to many more vacations with my little family. 

Now that we are home, Nicholas asks us at least once a day if we had fun in California or Disneyland. He is still talking about the trip a lot a week later. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Vacation Pt. 3 - San Diego Trains, Gaslamp & Sea World

Day 5, Wednesday

After racing around each day to get to a theme park we needed a break from that. We slept in and took more time to get moving. We decided to eat breakfast at the Red Marlin, the hotel restaurant. We missed the fact that they had a buffet and ordered off the menu. We all liked our breakfast, even though it was pretty expensive for omelets and pancakes.

We were low on a few things so we headed over to Target after breakfast. We weren’t able to do laundry at the Embassy Suites so we were going to run out of socks for the boys and Mike didn’t bring many long sleeve shirts for the cooler weather.

After our shopping side trip, we headed over to Balboa Park and spent a few hours at the train museum. Nicholas really enjoyed all the miniature trains and Mike really enjoyed taking him there. 

When Nicholas sees a railroad crossing sign (he calls them traffic lights) he gets really excited, so he was super happy to get to see one up close.

Jackson and Nicholas played with the kids trains for a while too.

Mike showed Nicholas the Tehachapi area, (Nicholas even know what that is from watching videos of trains going through there). Someday we will take him there. 

In the picture it really does almost look like being there.

We spent a lot of time in the room with all the little town replicas. I loved to see all the details, like the cars driving through the McDonald's drive through (they really moved).  

And how they had incorporate Halloween throughout the display.  They even had a candy train that had cars carrying candy.

It was getting late and we hadn’t had lunch so we headed over to the Gaslamp Quarter.

We ate lunch at Tin Fish a restaurant we stumbled upon right on the train line next to Petco Park.  Nicholas and Mike could watch the trains while we ate. The food was good.  I had fish and chips which were really good, the boys had a quesadilla and Mike had fish tacos. The Landshark beer was perfect to wash it down.

We had a few birds eat with us. They could not be shooed away.

After lunch we walked around the Gaslamp Quarter. 

And watched a few more trains

We headed back to the hotel around 5:00.  This was the view from our hotel room. We were right on the marina. We only had a bit of sun on Wednesday. The rest of our time in San Diego was overcast.

We headed to dinner at Café Japengo in La Jolla for sushi.  I hadn’t been there since I used to travel to San Diego for work a few years ago. There was a bit of a wait, but the boys were pretty patient. Fortunately, they did have a kids menu, so the kids had their usual chicken fingers and fries. Mike and I started with Duck Potstickers and then shared a few sushi rolls (Fifty-fifty roll, Hawaiin Special, Spicy Tuna and Philadelphia Roll) which were all yummy.

And here is my favorite face again...

The boys fell asleep on the way back to the hotel and went down to bed easily.  Mike and I didn’t stay up much later either.

Day 5, Sea World

A really nice thing about the San Diego portion of our trip was that we didn’t feel like we had to rush out of the room in the morning. We slept in a bit and got ready.  We went to Einstein’s for bagel sandwiches and coffee for us and muffins and milk for the boys.

We were on our way to Sea World by 9:30. Our hotel was pretty much right across from Sea World and we easily made it by the 10:00 am opening even after getting turned around finding the entrance.

Mike and I hadn’t been to Sea World in about 20 years so it was like being somewhere for the first time. We saw the wild artic exhibit with the polar bears and walrus's  

This bird was riding around on the walrus's backs.

I love this kid....

The penguins were awesome to watch..

In the shark encounter Nicholas kept shoving me to keep moving when I was taking pictures. Without a flash and low light most of the pictures didn't come out great, but I did get a couple.

In the next aquarium exhibit, these frogs were cool, but the glass was so fogged up it was hard to get a great picture of them. They looked like they were wearing some cool wet suits.

We headed to our first show, with the Sea Lions

We weren’t sure how Jackson would do at the shows since sitting still is not something he is interested in.  But it wasn’t crowded so we waited until it was almost show time and got a seat. Once the show started he was fine. The show was cute, with just a lot of little skits.

We took a popcorn and pretzel break after the show and then it was time for Shamu. This show was a bit more crowded. The boys did fine; Nicholas needed to sit on my lap to see. He seemed to enjoy the show. We all really enjoyed the Shamu show. It is just incredible what these whales are trained to do. And I was so happy I had bought my zoom lens before this trip, or I would never have gotten shots like this from as far away as we were.

After Shamu we wanted lunch but so did everyone else, so we went to the star fish area and then through a couple of the aquarium exhibits hoping the lines would go down. Nicholas would touch the water but not the star fish. He is hit or miss on this, sometimes he will at the aquarium we go to by home, but not today.

I had a fascination with the turtles on this trip. They were amazing to watch swim.

Of course what would a fish tank be without Nemo? Nicholas loved this.

I just loved the colors of some of the tanks. I was playing a lot with the camera settings to try to get them right for these conditions. Some turned out much better than others.

The lunch lines didn't diminish so we finally braved the lunch line.  Mike took the kids to a table while I waited in a really, really long line. Right when I was at the front waiting to get the last of our entrees, Mike came to find me and told me we had to leave. Nicholas had dumped lemonade on himself and was having a complete meltdown. He was crying and saying he was sorry, and wanted to be changed. We haven’t had to change the kids while we were out in ages, so we had no spare clothes. So I abandoned lunch at the front of the line and we went back to the hotel.

We were going to try the Corvette Diner for lunch, but then decided to just go to the hotel restaurant, the Red Marlin. It was almost 3:00 by this time.  We were able to sit out on the patio, and since it was so late Mike and I just shared some steamed clams and a cheese platter appetizer and had a glass of wine for me and beer for him. The boys nibbled on their kids meals.  It was actually a nice break from the park and much better food than we were going to have at Sea World.

We headed back over to Sea World about 4:30. The park was only open until 6:00 and it was emptying out. We missed all the rest of the shows, but we managed to get through all the other exhibits.  We spent some time at the dolphins, and I even got to pet one.  

We visited the batrays/stingrays and Morrey Eels. Mike pet a batray. Nicholas remembered getting splashed by one at the Phoenix Zoo and wanted nothing to do with them. There was a cave to walk through with the eels and they were quite strange looking. Fascinating and creepy at the same time.

We watched the sea lions get fed and bumped into Jackson’s speech therapist, Jill and her family.  The sea lions were super loud and entertaining.

We finished up by walking through another aquarium then headed out. Boys were done. And yes, it was cool and Jackson refused to wear shoes and socks. After putting them back on about a dozen times all week, we had given up. If he was in the stroller the shoes and socks were off. If he didn't fuss we figured he wasn't cold.

We thought we would try Phil’s BBQ tonight, but again the wait line was huge.  So we decided to head over to La Jolla and have fondue at another place I had been to a few years ago, Forever Fondue.  This one was a bit tough on the kids. They both had fell asleep in the car and were a bit sleepy when we first got there.  There was no kids menu for our picky eaters. So we had to make due for them with the snacks we had in our bag and a basket of tortilla chips the restaurant provided.   

My favorite part of eating out for fondue is the appetizer and dessert.  Mike likes the main course because of all the sauces.  We started with salads and then shared Cheddar and Smoked Gouda Cheese Fondue.  Our main meals were a mixture of seafood, chicken and steak and vegetables.  For dessert we had Milk Chocolate Fondue, Nicholas did like the pound cake that came with it, but not in the chocolate (he doesn’t know what he is missing).

The kids fell asleep on the way home and were again easy to get to bed.

Next up the San Diego Zoo and coming home....