Unconditional love

homemade card

I had a rewarding parent moment this past weekend. Malina, who loves to do art, surprised me with a sweet card entitled ‘Thank you for everything in the world card’. It brought tears to my eyes as I read the inside and the kids immediately said, “Mom why are you crying?” I had to let them know that I thought the card was the best thing ever! (Of note I am a super sensitive person who cries at soap opera weddings, graduations, and just about everything else).

So weeks before Mother’s Day arrives I received the best homemade card EVER from my little princess. By the way the only reason that I know that Mother’s Day is coming is that they are advertising Mother’s Day in the retail world like crazy! I had to look and see when it was because there is so much publicizing going on. In our house Mother’s Day will be about nature and picnicking!

(day 141)


A Day in Photos- San Francisco

I love to visit San Francisco. It is a wonderful city. There is so much to do and see, and the people are so real (unlike their counterparts in Los Angeles). Before I go into some of the fun things we did while visiting San Francisco I thought I would start out with some photos I took. Enjoy!


Writing on the sidewalk- North Beach



Golden Gate Bridge

The best view of the Golden Gate Bridge that I saw on this last trip



The Bay Bridge

The Bay Bridge- taken from the Ferry Building

Coit Tower

Coit Tower

SF- Giants

The people of San Francisco love their Giants! (baseball team)

The Palace Hotel

Inside the Palace Hotel- Market Street

Pier 39 Sea Lions

Pier 39 Sea Lions

Fisherman's Wharf Sign

The famous Fisherman’s Wharf sign

Cable car

People on a cable car- taken from a cable car across from this one

The Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts

(day 140)

What is it that I love so much about Santa Cruz?

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

I really enjoy visiting Santa Cruz. This past spring break I was able to see much more of the town and it continued to intrigue me. Max said he enjoyed the town as well, but said there was some “riff-raff” that he had not seen in Monterey.

Inside the surf shop

99 bottles of beer restaurant

It took us an hour to drive up the coast to Santa Cruz from Monterey, a very quick drive. Our first stop was downtown, Pacific Avenue. I loved the independent bookstore, Book Shop Santa Cruz, and walking the streets. I could not leave downtown without buying a Santa Cruz t-shirt from one of the surf shops. We stopped at 99 Bottles of Beer for lunch. Once you have drunk all 99 of the beers you receive a plaque on the wall. If you do this 10 times you receive an engraved brick on the wall, nice! I had a local brew, called Uncommon Brewers Casserly Pale Ale, with my excellent lunch. We wanted to return for lunch the following day, but weren’t in that area unfortunately.

the bathroom chalk board

Of note the bathroom in 99 Bottles of Beer had a chalk board wall. I had to write a quick note, as did Malina, and snap a few shots of what was already written on the walls.

surfer in the ocean

rocky shore

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse

rules of surfing

muscians playing from a van

surf memorial (1)

surf memorial (2)

Santa Cruz is a surfing haven. We made our way to the outside of the Surf Museum, which is located in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point and took some time to watch the surfers tackle the waves. Wow, these are big waves compared to the ones in Los Angeles! And the beach where they paddle out has a very rocky shore. If you don’t know what you are doing you could easily be injured or killed. Speaking of losing lives, I saw memorials dedicated to surfers who have not made it out alive. One other interesting thing that I saw was two guys playing music outside of their van in this same area. The feeling here was one with lots of energy and a little erie!

Posing with the U.C.S.C. sign

We took a quick trip to the University of California, Santa Cruz. I love this campus. It is gigantic and chock–full of nature. We made our way to the bookstore after coasting the highway through campus. We managed to find a few people at the right time to take a few family photos too.

restaurant on the wharf

I finally had a chance to visit the Santa Cruz Wharf, which is the longest pier on the West Coast. (over 2,700 feet). There are a number of restaurants and shops lined along the pier as well as people fishing. In one store I noticed that Santa Cruz was called “Surfing City USA” and made a comment to the cashier that Hunnington Beach (in Southern California) has this title as well. Apparently the two towns had a little legal battle over this very issue.

Sea Lions Hanging out!

a cute sea lion

What I loved the most about the wharf was the sea lions! Parking and looking out at the ocean it looked like there was trash or wood in the ocean (that would be the case at a Los Angeles beach!) In reality it was the tails of the sea lions in the ocean. They were just hanging out. I loved it!!

the boardwalk (1)

the boardwalk (2)

the boardwalk (3)

the boardwalk (4)

the kids with Ryan

The kids could not wait to make it to the boardwalk where all the rides are. We made our way here on our second day in town. Since it was lunch time we ate a carnival style lunch on the boardwalk before tackling the rides. I have a friend who lives in the area, Caitlin, so late afternoon she met up with us with her husband and son. It was actually a funny moment because all the sudden I had a little one hugging my leg and I had to do a head count. I saw my two children in front of me, so who was this? It took a moment to register that it was Ryan! We road some rides with them and headed to the beach to catch up.

carnival games

photo with carnival prize!

Of note Matteo and I rocked at carnival games. We tried one game, two turns, and won. Max (my husband) played four or five games and could not win anything!

On our next visit to Santa Cruz I will try to stay for two nights instead of one so we can explore even more. I know there are great hiking spots and a train that goes through the redwoods nearby.

beach time

what a beautiful beach

(day 139)

The best of Monterey

Cannery Row

Over the last week I have been blogging on and off about our time during spring break in Monterey and Carmel. Before I move up the coast I would like to share a bit more about my time in here with Max, the kids and Lisa’s family!

authenic homes of canners

cannery row brewing company

Cannery Row (2)

The Beach

We spent a nice afternoon on Cannery Row which is where the canning industry was born in 1927. I love all the shops, restaurants, and the beach which was just a few steps away. I really wanted to take a moment to reread ‘Cannery Row’ by John Steinbeck to relive the feeling of those times, but walking the neighborhood I could still feel some of the history.

Le Montmartre French Bakery

Downtown Monterey had a cute little French bakery called Le Montmartre French Bakery with yummy pastries. (Montmarte is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris!) We only were able to visit here once, but we were able to collect quite a few treats.

The Mucky Duck

I walked past The Mucky Duck Restaurant & Bar where I used to meet a friend for dinner and drinks when I was a tour guide staying in town. Such fond memories, and I made new memories at KoKo’s Café- Coffee & Gelato with Lisa and our families too.

Fisherman's Wharf

We made it to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner just before the rain hit. All the restaurants had clam chowder samples on the wharf. I had never seen this before. San Francisco is known for its’ clam chowder, but in Monterey they really show you where the chowder is!!!

Touching a Sea Star

Intereactive Exhibit

A Touching Pool

Feeding show

Last but not least we had a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have been to many aquariums across the state of California and this one is by far the best. I loved all the interactive exhibits, marine life, environment, and employees. We spent a good four hours here from opening time to early afternoon. I would recommend to visit the aquarium from opening time because there are long lines as the day goes on the lines become long. To avoid lines you can also pay for admission before and skip the lines all together.

Everyone enjoyed our time in Monterey and I had forgotten how much there is to do here. To be truthful there is so much to do that we did not have a chance to do it all. So that means we’ll just have to return at some point while the kids are still young!

The Jellies Experience

(day 138)

Pacific Grove Accomodations and Beach Time

the inn

While visiting the Monterey area on spring break we stayed at The Pacific Garden’s Inn. Located in Pacific Grove (one town north of Monterey) it was a nice place to stay. Perks for the inn included a continental breakfast, wine and cheese in the evening, and you could walk to the ocean in just a few minutes! One other nice thing that I liked about our location was that we were really far away from civilization- I spotted deer 3 different times during our two night stay here. Max said the walls were a little on the thin side at the inn, but I was so tired at night that when I went to sleep I heard nothing, as did the kids. I would definitely consider staying here again when we visit the area.

beach time

Lisa and Jack

super Matteo

the kids

We took the short walk to Asilmar State Beach crossing the street and cutting through the Asilmar Conference Grounds after settling into the inn. The path winded down to the ocean and I took the opportunity to take in the breathtaking views. It was a cold day and we were bundled up in winter coats. I actually had on my gloves and could not manage touching the water. The color of the ocean was spectacular. The visit to the beach was memorable and a hightlight of the day.

the Pacific Ocean

walking the path

(day 137)

Why is the ocean so dirty??

trash and cappuccino

I had a chance to visit my local beach in Santa Monica the other day by myself!! It was a beautiful day, somewhat warm but windy (around 70°F), and I was excited to have 2 hours to do whatever. I brought a beach towel and a sweater. First I took a much needed nap, and then I decided to walk the beach for an hour before heading back home.

After spending time at the beach in Northern California during spring break I have to admit I grew spoiled by the cleanliness of the ocean. When I decided to take a walk by the shore the other day I was greeted by what Max calls “cappuccino foam” (foamy creamy bubbles) that rushes to the shore and some trash. It made me feel sad. I was almost afraid to touch the water because it is so dirty (and it was cold). In the end I walked into the ocean for one moment before quickly exiting.

The last time I that I was brave enough to swim in the ocean on the Westside of Los Angeles I had the pleasure of walking to the shore from the water with trash surrounding me. I had to take a shower immediately when returning home. Max was shocked that I had swam in the ocean and commented that I might lose a limb from the experience. My health did not decline, but I did decide not to swim on this side of town again. Not all of the beaches are dirty in Los Angeles, just the ones I seem to frequent! I can drive south or north and find clean water.

So, why is the ocean so dirty? Too many people? People leaving trash? Dirtiness being pumped into the ocean through the drains? I believe it’s a combination of these things and more I am sure. Out of curiosity I checked the “Heal the Bay’s” Beach Report Card and they rated the Santa Monica Pier a “F” and beach where I was a “B”. They collect water samples and run a bacterium analysis and share how clean different beaches are across the west coast. For now my children are banned from swimming in the ocean on this side of town.

more cappuccino

birds on the shore- w/ cappuccino

SM pier in background

life guard tower with blue sky

(day 136)