Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam was a pure delight… seven beautiful days together as a family and enjoyed every minute.  There was so much to do, eat, and see.  It’s hard to summarize or even pick our highlights, but I will do my best.

It started with our wonderful hotel, the Pulitzer.  They arranged an adorable family suite where the kids had a special room and personalized pillowcases.  One of our favorite experiences was a canal ride on Pulitzer’s salon boat from 1909.  The most charming captain gave us a tour of the city while we enjoyed lunch and drinks on this iconic boat.  It was a great way for all of us to get a little history lesson and soak in the city.

Another highlight of the trip was definitely the bikes.  We rented two bikes for several days and pedaled around the city like locals.  The kids got to ride in a cart on the front of John’s bike and I was the official navigator staring at Google maps as we tried to not run into a car or a canal.  It was so fun to hear the kids singing songs and laughing behind me, but poor John had double the work load.  We hopped around town to several different parks, the zoo, restaurants, and even ventured out of town on the last day.  John was definitely ready to turn in those bikes after we made it all the way back to the bike shop, up hill and without a paddle.

A day I want to remember is when we biked to the “I amsterdam” sign.  It was a hot and sunny day.  We got a wild family selfie seen below.  We also tried to see the Van Gogh Museum but the wait time exceeded our kids’ attention span.  I took a picture of Charlotte and Johnny out front so they could tell their teachers they made it to the Van Gogh Museum 🙂  I also recorded them on the “I amsterdam” sign saying our traditional Europe line of “Charlotte and Johnny in [said city]”.  This one was extra funny as Johnny continued to call it “Hamsterdam”.  I still laugh every time; a moment I want frozen forever.

Now onto the tulips… we were lucky enough to catch the tulips a few days before the season ended.  We went to Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in the world, and it was spectacular with tulips as far as the eye could see.  When our kids maxed out on tulips, there was plenty to do with playgrounds, ponds, ice cream cones, etc.  We can now take ‘tulips in Holland’ off our bucket list.

One evening on our way to dinner we decided to walk by the Anne Frank House.  Charlotte had just turned 6 when we took this trip so we tried to keep this part of history age-appropriate.  We took her picture in front of the Anne Frank statue where flowers are laid everyday.  It was a heavy reminder for all of us to realize what bad people can do and to always stand up for what is right.  I think Charlotte got it and can hopefully reflect on Anne Frank’s example throughout her life.

On a much lighter note was our day spent at Efteling.  This place was like a Dutch version of DisneyLand (actually DisneyLand is an American version of Etfeling) minus the obvious brands and crowds.  It was enchanting with a creepy twist that felt like the setting of Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.  There were thrilling rides and great food.  Charlotte and Johnny loved it!  I have a feeling we will be back someday when they are tall enough for the big rollercoasters.

To sum up, I already want to go back.  Amsterdam provided everything from a cultural standpoint to perfect weather and an abundance of family bonding throughout.  We will always have fond memories of this trip.   

Things to remember:  Charlotte sleeping until 11 am the first day, playing Star Wars in the garden, Captain Ohno, breakfast with over-easy eggs, Moana neckless, endless cappuccinos, dinner at L’Invite on the canal, the bike shop, church bells ringing, a new child monitor app, iPads at dinner, dinner at Aggassi, girl hit on a bike, van ride to Efteling while playing hang man, dinner at Venus & Adonis, Johnny falling asleep on my lap at every dinner, girl dressed in bread for the birds in Dam Square, finding a souvenir, our family together on an island in Amsterdam… be still my heart.

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Punta Mita – Spring Break 2018

We followed our heart and took a last minute trip to our favorite spot for spring break.  It was a quick trip but we sufficiently warmed up our bodies and souls!  From the long walks on the beach to a family surf session with lots of delicious food and pool time in between, our family was in Mexico heaven.  This place fills us up with a special kind of magic that makes us love deeper, believe in mermaids, and feel pretty damn lucky to be alive.  Cheers to Punta Mita and all of the memories our family has created in this special place.

Things to remember:  Johnny surfing for the first time, massages at the W, Charlotte running into a friend from school, the surfers below, Johnny saying “oh yeah”, the chef’s margaritas, the hammock, Yolanda and Evelyn, Johnny’s rollover.

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San Diego

San Diego was a quick break from the deep winter in Park City.  The school district gives us a week off in February to ski; we opted to get out of town for some sunshine.  San Diego provided plenty to do with much warmer temperatures.  Legoland was at the top of our list and as it turns out, theme parks are not our thing.  Long lines and crowds make us all a little tense.  We ended up at the beach by evening where we were “free and in the wild” as Wild Kratts would say.  Our next stop was the San Diego Zoo Safari Park where we had an up-close encounter with tigers – a dream come true for Johnny.  We were all amazed by their exotic presence.  Finally, the seals were calling for us in La Jolla Cove – just seals and sea lions being stinky and barking at the sun.  Our kids loved every minute.  San Diego is checked off the list… for now.   I’m sure we will be back to discover more.

Things to remember:  Charlotte and Johnny sleeping in the same bed and Johnny’s cough, the best truffle fries ever, long Uber rides, watching the Olympics at dinner, Four Seasons Aviara, watching Coco together, and ice cream scooper sand toys.

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Christmas in Playa del Carmen 2017

Playa del Carmen is a place we hold dear; it’s where we were engaged and where we spent several of our first holiday seasons.  It took some time to go back, but we found a family-friendly place that was just right … Rosewood Mayakoba.  The perfect combination of Mexico, kids, family, Christmas, beach, ocean, kindness, and the list continues.

To keep with our tradition, Christmas and Santa were a mere accent to seven days spent together in Mexico.  Santa did find us and brought a few small gifts which were quickly forgotten.  Going against the grain with our tradition certainly isn’t perfect, but ultimately we hope the memories of time spent together as a family make up for not unwrapping Christmas presents.  Our fingers are crossed.

The days were simple; walk to breakfast, then beach, pool and repeat.  We attempted to snorkel and after some coaxing were successful at an open water cenote.  It ended up positive, but we only have one picture due to the emotional, hands-on experience.

We also took the kids on their first catamaran experience.  The boat just happened to be named Moana and one of Charlotte’s dreams came true as we “sailed to an island on a Moana Boat”.   We anchored at Isla Mujeres and had a lovely lunch made by the captain/chef.  We were also able to jump into the open water and pretend to be mermaids (or Moana) which made mama’s dream come true as well.

Christmas in Playa del Carman was a total hit in every way!  Our little family continues to grow closer together and these days added a little more to this bond, especially between Charlotte and Johnny.  We’re grateful we can do this in such a beautiful setting.  I guess we must have been good this year… Thanks, Santa 😉

Things to remember:  Rosewood Mayakoba, Charlotte and Johnny’s sleepovers, seeing a coati the first night, outside showers, Johnny saying “oh yeah”, building sand creatures, Charlotte’s talent show, golf cart rides, green juice at breakfast, water taxi to dinner, Santa’s visit, feeding fish, ecotour on the boat, spotting a baby crocodile, the lagoon, massages, spicy margaritas, uno mas, Johnny’s doctor visit on Christmas day, the catamaran, paddle boarding, hot dogs, french fries and nachos on the beach, the hawk, my roundoff back handspring, endless days together without distractions…

Can we please go back?

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Christmas Card 2017

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Dear Santa, please slow it down.

This year’s Christmas card was inspired by Rocky Votolato’s song, “White Daisy Passing” with the lyric “please slow it down”.   We know we can’t keep Charlotte and Johnny 5 and 3 forever, but we asked Santa to at least slow it down a bit.

2017 was a year the puzzle pieces in our family seemed to fit together just right.  We’ve been looking forward to this, but it seemed out of reach during those strenuous “building years”.   Now when we have meltdowns, tantrums, rivalries, or sick days we seem to work through them with a little greater sense of ease.  The days don’t feel as long anymore and often pass too quickly.  The kids are at a special age of innocence and joy and I can’t stand the thought of them getting any older.  We’re trying to hold onto every moment knowing we can’t go back.  In a year from now I hope we will say 6 and 4 are our new favorite ages, but I also hope to soak in every day a little more and cherish each moment a little longer and maybe, just maybe, time will slow down.

Below are pictures from our photoshoot.  We ended up shooting two separate times trying to capture this essence in a picture.  We got pretty dang close.  Thank you, Phillip at Manicproject.

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“Please slow it down
There’s a secret magic past world that you only notice when you’re looking back at it
All I wanna do is turn around
I’m going down to sleep on the bottom of the ocean
Because I couldn’t let go when the water hit the setting sun
Passing white daisies taking turns
Close the door walk into the street
Catching raindrops on your tongue
And for a minute it all stops but it won’t last man
It’s just a passing moment gone
Please slow it down
There’s a secret place that I know where I could dig a grave out and climb underground for good
All I want to do is turn around
I’m going down to sleep on the bottom of the ocean
Because I couldn’t let go when the water hit the setting sun
Passing white daisies taking turns
All those evenings on the back deck of our first apartment
They meant everything but the wind just carried em off
And you can’t go back now just a passing moment gone.”
-Rocky Votolato

San Jose del Cabo (November 2017)

San Jose del Cabo (November 2017)

The sun, the sand, and great friends made Cabo an amazing trip for our family.  There were six adults and five children which made for a perfect vacation ratio.  Both of our kids had one of their best buddies to play with all day while enjoying a secluded beach and house in Mexico.  All the adults were on the same page; wake up with the sun/kids, coffee, apply sunscreen, chase after kids, prevent fights and drowning, more sunscreen, and repeat.  The evenings got a little more quiet as the sun went down.  We were able to enjoy a cocktail and great conversation while the kids continued to play and our dinners went late into the night.  The days blended into one which is the magic of Mexico.  We feel grateful to have friends to do this with and for the memories our kids made at their tender age… This posse abroad is just getting started.

Things to remember:  Sunrises and sunsets, tide-pooling for sea creatures, Flora Farms, Johnny falling in the pond, being off the grid for water and electricity (and running out of both), John motorbiking in Baja, a continual face-off with the waves, secret plans by Charlotte and Pax, adult dinner at Acre (miscalculating the exchange rate by a zero – oops!), 9 Palms Beach, massages, an epic bonfire on the beach, the stars, and so much more where words and pictures fall short.

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Johnny Turns 3

Johnny Turns 3

Our Johnny boy turns 3.  He continues to be our sweet, rough and tough little man.  His tender heart comes out just as much as his desire to roar, tackle, and prove his masculinity.  This is constantly shown with one of his main characteristics; protecting his older sister.  On a daily basis, Johnny will explain to Charlotte how he will punch monsters or bad strangers in order to save her.  He will also defend her wrong doings to us at any point, even if that involved a wrong directed at him.  In all cases, he will take her side.  He will put his arm around her if anything is scary or if she gets hurt.  We can all rest a little easier at night knowing Johnny will protect Charlotte for the rest of his life.  

Johnny is also still extremely affectionate to his mama and wants to protect me as well.  I like to say he’s a mama’s boy or maybe I just enjoy how much he wants me around or needs my help in order to be close or get a hug.  He tells me I’m beautiful and how happy he is to see me and loves to hold hands.  He will tenderly kiss my head just because.  My heart melts multiple times a day with this sweet little man.

We also get a dose of Johnny’s tough side regularly as he turns into a tiger everyday.  Roaring is a way he likes to introduce himself while showing his sharp claws.  He loves to run full speed at me or John and tackle us to the ground.  His favorite game to play is “pinned ya” which is basically rolling around on the ground until he is on top and has successfully “pinned ya” (from a scene in Lion King).  He has brought a roughness to our family which we embrace and has taught Charlotte a few new ways to be tough, get muddy, or take a punch 😉

Another striking characteristic of Johnny’s is his ability to be downright stubborn.  If his mind is made up, there is no changing it.  He cannot be talked into something or talked out of something; it simply has to be Johnny’s idea.  I have slowly learned how to walk away and know there is no winning this situation.  Mostly, I admire this strength and fortitude but it has stretched my parenting skills in a whole new way.  At one point I thought he was going to be the mild one, but this is proving not to be true.  Johnny and Charlotte together are a force to be reckoned with.

Johnny has had a few phases this past year I never want to forget:

First and foremost is his love for Nala, a white tiger stuffed animal named after Simba’s girlfriend in Lion King.  He claims to be her dad and takes very good care of her.  He takes her everywhere and often wraps her in a blanket to hold her.  It is beyond precious and warms my heart knowing whoever is in his life will be very lucky.

Second, his obsession with flashlights.  My goodness this boy loves a flashlight dark.  He has about five scattered throughout the house and is constantly asking “have you seen my black flashlight”.  He likes to pretend to go on a work trip and take the flashlight into a dark closet to hang out.  He even had one by his side during the solar eclipse just in case it got too dark outside.

Third, his love for making pancakes on the weekend with daddy.  He asks several times a week if it’s a “pancake day”.  He is re-teaching all of us how to truly enjoy simple things.

Lastly, singing “You Are My Sunshine” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” (video below).  He does this while standing on a rock, fireplace, or any form of a stage.  It’s adorable and makes his mama so happy (I like to think he does it just for me).

We love and adore our Johnny boy.  He’s completed our family in a way that words can’t describe.  We were excited to celebrate his third birthday on a warm sunny day in September.  Friends and family made him feel oh so special at his tractor themed party (pictures below).  We can’t wait for more with our Johnny!

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