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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Summer 2017

Summer 2017

Summer… the days were long but the season passed by too quickly.  Not sure where all of the hours went but most of them were spent outside at Mellor Ranch.  We would start off with a bike ride and jog down our road to see Romeo, the donkey.  Most days we ended up in swimsuits to play on the grass, swim in the creek, or go to the pool.  All meals, including breakfast, were eaten outside.  We mastered sunscreen application in record time.  Bed time was very flexible for the first time.  We took a break from most structure and thoroughly enjoyed the long days.  Charlotte and Johnny attended Deer Valley Camp a couple days a week where they did hikes, funicular rides, and activities outside while I had a moment of being an adult.

One of our favorite events of the year is the annual hay cut.  We all get to participate in daddy’s hard work from cutting to raking and finally baling.  Johnny was just a step behind on his own tractor.  John got 200 bales this year which went to our old horses Monty and Hook.  Mellor Ranch was happy.

A few memories and highlights from summer:  John’s mom (GrandmaB) passed away peacefully at the age of 91, the bond between Charlotte and Johnny became even stronger, Swaner Preserve rainbows, John’s flip from Slip and Soar, digging for worms, hay cutting, another cover photo op of Prissy, 4th of July with our neighbors, Johnny starting to wear underwear, Charlotte getting her ears pierced, the pool, two nights of camping at Ferron while John was in China, early morning hot air balloons, planting some new trees, the solar eclipse, and last but not least, the first day of kindergarten for Charlotte and second year of preschool for Johnny.

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London and Paris 2017

London and Paris 2017

We adventured to Europe with Charlotte AND Johnny for the first time; a monumental experience for our little family.  The kids and I took the direct flight to London to meet John after a long work week.  We were able to spend a weekend in London and then Paris for the rest of the week.  It was probably our favorite trip as a family so far.

The trip started off with a pretty flawless flight to London and of course we were all so excited to see daddy after a week away.  (John met me after Customs with a coffee in hand:-))  We enjoyed London’s beautiful parks and great food!  Our most anticipated moment was seeing Lion King live at the Lyceum theater.  We all loved it!  Charlotte danced in the aisle and Johnny, in a moment of complete audience silence, shouted out “Scar is not nice” for everyone to hear.  The kids had their own room connecting to ours and they woke us up at 3 am the first night when they broke into their minibar for a jet lag party with KitKats, Sprite, M&Ms, etc… all memories we never want to forget.

Highlights from London:  The swans, a phone booth, The Lion King, Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, break dancers in Piccadilly Circus.

Below are pictures from London (Paris follows):

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After London, we found our way to the lovely city of Paris via the Chunnel (not sure the kids totally understood the awe of being on a train under the ocean).  Paris did not disappoint any of us.  We visited a new park every day and planned our meals accordingly.  The weather was warm and sunny but not too hot.  We could wander for hours with the kids while stopping for gelato, a carousel, or to pet the next cute dog.  The parks, food, weather, and the people made five days in Paris feel magical.  Of course, there were meltdowns and Johnny was asleep in my arms by the time we finally made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but we thoroughly soaked in Paris on a new level.  Experiencing this together as a family makes it oh so special and I hope we never forget some of these memories.  

Highlights from Paris:  Arriving on Mother’s Day, the top of the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Tuileries Garden, Jardin d’Acclimatation, Mr. Pistachio, two cute kids named Charlotte and Johnny.

Below are pictures from Paris:

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