Archive for July, 2009

A Date in Wine Country

July 29, 2009

Since we’ve been here, we’ve met two of the sweetest and kindest babysitters.   Mal and Elizabeth, we love you guys and will miss you like crazy when we return to Atlanta!!!  Cole especially loves them to pieces and never looks back when we go on an occasional date night out.  Cole has told Mal that she’s his “best girl”, and the first time he met Elizabeth, he was picking flowers special for her – something that until then had been reserved just for the Mamma.

On this day, Mal took the boys to the beach, and we giggled like little kids as we left Montecito in a little cloud of dust!  Chris rented a brand new red Mustang convertible, and we had a BLAST!!!  Here’s one of my favorite “self portraits” – literally peeling away into the Wine Country!!

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Our first stop was Roblar Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Roblar means Oak Grove – beautiful, knarled oak trees are scattered throughout the vineyard.  We enjoyed a late brunch (they’re equally known for their gourmet food – Yum!) and had a great time sampling away!

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After Roblar, we went to Bridlewood – both an equestrian ranch as well as a winery.  I loved the mission-style architecture, something I’ve really become drawn to since we’ve been here in Santa Barbara.  This first image shows the tree-lined drive – I stood right up in the convertible, and got some of the hood of our beast in the photo!  :)

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Our last stop was Firestone Vineyards – a must on our list because they include Cabernet in their tastings – my favorite!!  All in all, we purchased a nice collection of wine and are shipping back to Atlanta so we can enjoy and remember our fabulous day in Wine Country!!!!

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We’re beginning our preparations for returning home, and hope to get one more post done before it’s time to ship my beloved computer!!

Till then, hugs to all!

:)   Kristin.

Skaters are Born -

July 22, 2009

On the last day of Surf Camp a few weeks ago, Jack wanted to buy a surfboard and bring it home.  I knew we were in trouble.

I figured that maybe learning how to skateboard would kinda be like surfing on wheels back home, so I was lucky to get them into a local Skateboard Camp that’s taught in a great Skate Park right on the beach. Jack was all over it.  Grant wasn’t so sure, but was willing to give it a try.  Turns out, they were both hooked day one.

It was a great camp – one of those Mommy times that you just have to take a deep breath and let go, knowing they’re geared up and protected as well as possible.  Well, all but their butts, which could have used a bit of padding every now and then!  But I knew it would be awesome for their balance and self confidence – and so my Skaters were Born!!

This camp was only one week long, and Jack had been on a skateboard on our driveway a few times, but Grant’s never been on one until now.  I was amazed at how far both came in such a short time.  Check them out!!

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Grant got the coolest skateboard ever.  Since he had never skateboarded before, we had to buy one for him.  There’s a very cool Skater store here – formerly a Baptist Church, now converted into the “Church of Skatan” – a little intimidating from the outside…

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But in actuality, it’s a great store with super helpful Skateboard dudes working there.  New boards get pretty pricey, so they suggested a used one – and we ended up with a cool one that’s been very well used and loved.  It was all broken in, and Grant could ride and turn easily on it – he had a blast and I had so much fun photographing them!  His smile always kills me -

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Grant always finds an alternative way to do things :)  Soon after these shots were taken, tons of kids started riding on their butts too!!

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A few days into the camp, the instructors brought tough-guy stencils and fun spray paint – so Grant made his even more unique than it already was!

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Here’s Jack cruising down a pretty steep ramp – another time I just had to take a deep breath and let go.   Hard to do sometimes-

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This portion of the Skate Park is really steep and scary – Grant again found an alternative way to have fun!

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Check out this move!  Way to go Jack!!

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Cole was looking pretty studly too in what he loves to call his “Rock and Roll” shirt and Church of Skatan cap!

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One of the Camp Instructors helped him look even more “rad” by positioning his fingers so he could sport the cool-dude look -

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It was such a blast for the boys that they’ll do one more Skate Camp next week, our last week here!!!  They’re surfing again this week, and I hope to get a few more shots to post shortly.  Next up, images from a day date with my #1 Guy – last weekend we went for a tour in Wine Country, stopping at several vineyards for tastings!!  Chris rented a red convertible 2010 Mustang – and we had the best date ever!!   Can’t wait to share!!!

:)  Kristin.

A trip to Yosemite

July 19, 2009

I had no idea – of course you know that when you visit a National Park, it’s going to be an adventure.  But I had no idea Yosemite would be as breathtakingly beautiful as it was.  It was being as close to heaven, literally, that I’ve ever been!

Okay but the adventure of getting there?  Not so much.  My poor husband had to pretty much peel me off the ceiling – I was literally clinging to the arms of my seat for dear life as our trusted but 10-year-old minivan chugged on up the hairpin turns, carrying us up to an altitude of over 7,000 feet!  Our ears are popping every few minutes, and all I can think is how awful for us to treat the old girl this way in her ripe old age!?  How is she  gonna carry us safely back without her brakes burning out?  My hubby’s the best – handling me as well as our old van beautifully.

The side of the road drops away into a canyon, there are no guardrails to speak of, and we finally find ourselves going through a tunnel that’s, no joke, a mile-long through one of the mountains.  And then, suddenly, all of the anxiety’s over.  You’re so blown away by the sight before you that you don’t look back.  My fingernail marks are left in my armrests, and they never return – because it’s not about the journey anymore – it’s about the destination, and you’re rewarded more than you ever thought you could be.  Just look at this view -

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It’s hard to see it, but can you see the waterfall off in the distance in the first image, over towards the right?  It’s “Bridal Veil Falls”, and our next stop was a hike to its base, across the valley you see here.  It was incredible.  The air was so dry here, and you could feel the mist sprinkle your face while you looked up at the falling water – unbelievable.

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Here’s Cole taking a better look!

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Mommy looks a little funny all up-close and in-your-face apparently.

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So the one thing I was hoping to catch, not so up-close-and-personal, was a bear.  We searched the whole day, and finally caught a glimpse of one tearing the bark off a fallen tree in search of a little snack.  How cool is that???   He’s kinda cute for something that could tear your skin off as well!

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It was right after we saw this fella that we got to the highest elevation of 7,000 feet – just look at the view -

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This rock on the left is called “Half Dome” and people actually hike up a path off it’s back –  I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw them myself – a guy on our side of the canyon had a telescope pointed right at its top – and you could see all sorts of people running around up there.  I’d never make it.

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I’ll stick with my crazy guys.

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Down there?  That’s the Valley that we walked around while viewing Bridal Veil Falls.  Just a measily 4,000 ft. elevation.  That’s nuthin!!  

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Here are our great explorers-  

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And Jack’s expression says it all – it was just awesome.

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On the second day of our trip, we celebrated Cole’s THIRD birthday!!!!!  I can’t believe it – he’s growing up so fast.  We knew it would be another busy day of exploration, so we didn’t waste any time singing and having a candle for him to blow out – we improvised since it was breakfast, and they decorated a plate and put a candle in his Blueberry muffin.  Gotta love it!

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(Just in case he forgot, I was already wishing for strong brakes for the ride home!)

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The chocolate letters were evidently the best…

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Happy Birthday, buddy.  We love you.

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On this day, we hiked along a valley of tremendous Sequoia Giants – I tried to capture their height, but pictures just don’t give them justice.

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Maybe this helps give perspective -

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Hard to see in that last shot, but Cole’s not going anywhere this day without his Birthday Present – a stuffed bear that hangs on his neck – it was his discovery buddy and I had to grab a shot.  His name is “Bearie” – I know – my kids aren’t that creative when it comes to names!

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The Park had recently had a fire, so the boys had fun leaving their “mark” on a fallen giant with sooty sticks -

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Another fallen giant – never seen anything like it.

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The big guys had fun hiking around with their handy-dandy watch/compass/magnifying glass/walkie-talkie gadgets!  Way fun.

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I wanted to include some shots of the rest of our journey home – California’s scenery is incredibly diverse, with so many beautiful hills and mountains.  It’s so gorgeous I can’t even tell you.

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Stay tuned — up next, images from this past week’s Skateboard Camp that the boys went to – loved it so much we’ll do it again our final week here!!

Love to everyone back home!

:)  Kristin.

Whale Watching!!!!!!

July 9, 2009

Okay – so I’ve always, always wanted to go whale watching – so forgive the loads of images you’re about to see.  My sister, brother-in-law, and 3 precious neices visited us for the 4th of July weekend – and we had the best.  time.   EVER!! 

The Santa Barbara Channel is literally the best place in the world to see the great Blue Whales, the largest creature to ever live on this planet – and that includes dinasaurs! Crazy!!  The best time to see them is July – Nov, so the moment I knew my sis was coming, I wanted to plan the trip around their visit.  I was so thrilled that they were up for it!  Here we are taking off -

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Here’s Ella – she’ll be 7 soon, and I’ve never had a hug as tight as hers.  She can squeeze the stuffing out of you, and leave your heart full.   Love those curls -  

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First, a cruise through the harbor – here are some Sea Lions that just love to hang out on this buoy!! 

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Gotta admit I was a little worried about 6 little kids on a choppy whale watching trip – didn’t know if they’d be excited or totally wiped out.  These images say it all – they all have adventurous little spirits – I love it!!  Here’s Ella, Jack and Grant out in the FREEZING wind as the waves kept spraying them – screaming and cracking up the whole entire time -

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Once we got way out there, we got a glimpse of our first Big Blue.  They’re so big that they don’t show much as they surface.  What you can’t see of them you hear – a loud spray as they push air out of their blowholes!  Too cool!!

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We also met a curious Humpback that was all over us – kept following the boat, and giving us a show.  I was over the moon -

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Here’s Bryan (Uncle Fry) with my littlest neice, Eme – she’s just 2 months older than Cole, and the sweetest little thing.  She smiles all the time.

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The Humpback knew we were watching and even did a trick for us!   I was so happy to be right there with my camera!  A huge tail slap right there next to us!!!  From this,

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To this – in one millisecond.

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Sprayed us all.  Too cool.  He even waved goodbye with his gorgeous tail -  

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The cruise brought us all the way to the Channel Islands, about 20 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara.  They were beautiful – check out this Sea Lion perched on the tip of the rugged rock looking out over the ocean -

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The captain even brought us into the mouth of this giant sea cave!   

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On the way back we ran into a Pod of Dolphins – there were literally over 100 of these guys playing in the waves all around the boat – they followed us for quite a while – we could see mommies with little babies jumping beside them – I’ve never seen anything like it. 

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One of the fun things we did during their visit was attend the first “Concert in the Park” Series, a free open concert they have every Thurs night right off the coastline.  We packed a great pesto chicken dinner, complete with wine and chocolate brownies, kicked back, and enjoyed great music.  We all had a blast.  Here’s Cole showing off some of his “moves” -

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And hanging with Aunt JJ - 

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And here’s Daphne.  She’s quiet and has the sweetest heart.  Daph loves Green.  And noone can wear it as beautifully as her. 

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I think this is my favorite image ever of the cousins together!! Thanks, Jan, for capturing the friendship and energy of our awesome family.

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More to come soon!  This coming weekend we’re planning a trip to Yosemite – can’t wait!!!!  

 

All my best,

Kristin. 

I have lots to catch up on!!  A posting about my sister’s visit and the best 4th of July ever in a bit  - for now, images from our prior weekend trip!  

We kept Disney a secret from the boys – figured a trip to The Reagan Library would be completely lost on them otherwise (well, even more than it already was!).  Actually, Jack and Grant got a lot out of the experience and they were able to learn much more about the Cold War and watched as Reagan pleaded to “Tear Down This Wall”.  We even got to see a portion of it – first the free side,

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And the stark difference on the opposite.  Amazing how ‘nothing’ can say so much.

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We even got to board and tour Reagan’s Air Force One -

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The boys thought that was way cool.  Cole?  Not so much.  Too busy lovin’ on his French Fries -

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Love this one of Grant, patiently waiting for the French Fry feast to wrap up so we could go explore some more! 

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The next day we drove down to Manhattan Beach, close to Disney – figured we’d tire the boys out in our effort to keep the surprise a surprise as we pulled into the hotel.  It actually worked — they didn’t have a clue till the next morning!!  Cole enjoyed some one-on-one time with Daddy -

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Jack and Grant were crazy men in the cold ocean – even shivering, they stayed in till the end of the day.  They made a new little friend – a cute little seal who swam right up to where they were jumping in the waves!!!!  I was so lucky to grab a shot!!!!!  He just popped his little head out to look at the boys – Check it out!!!

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And here they are still freezing as the sun was setting, only quitting when we told them it was time for dinner!! 

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That night the guys were totally wiped out – so they got a great night’s sleep before our 2 day surprise adventure in Disneyland!  Although I lugged the camera all over the park, I was too busy going on all the rides with the boys and rarely had a chance to grab a shot.  I did get this horribly underexposed one of the boys visiting Mickey – it’s crazy-grainy after my attempts to recover as much as I could, but I don’t even care – I’m so happy to catch the wonder on Cole’s face as Mickey touched his little nose.  He was in awe and in heaven. 

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I also had a chance to watch Chris and Jack as they literally went from 0 to 80 mph in something like 2 crazy seconds – this was Jack’s first upsidedown roller coaster ride – “California Screaming” at the California Theme Park across from Disney.  He’s officially a coaster junkie now – actually Grant too – their favorite ride was most definately Space Mountain.  

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Grant sat this one out with me -

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And this image of Cole in his stroller says it all – we played our hearts out at Disney!!

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