Photos from Before the End

Doesn’t it feel like yesterday was last week? Days. Are. So. Long and it’s an uphill road.

Before the world closed.

Kaili got 100% on her math test, huge accomplishment. For those of you who have been around from the beginning know she had a traumatic birth with a possible a brain injury (Post is here if you’re new). Aside from some struggling in certain areas, she’s thriving. She has had the same teacher three out of her four years in school and it’s been amazing because we love her and she loves Kaili, what more can you ask for?  Unfortunately her teacher is moving away this summer and it breaks my heart to think she might not get to see her in school again.

Sobbing

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Moving on….

We went to the Santa Anita track for a Handicap beer and cider festival. The first thing that came to my mind was that if this was happening in Del Mar, it would be so crowded. It was nice to enjoy betting and drinking without the massive lines. This was the luckiest I have been at the track in a long time and to my knowledge, no horses were injured.

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A photographer came up to us and mentioned  Shawna’s newly purchased Las Vegas sunnies. He said that the reflection was incredible and asked if he could take pictures of the horses through her sunglasses. “Of course I will be your muse”, she replied.

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I made a Caprese board which really is all we need in these trying times.

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My last store run I saw Brie AND Burrata, tomatoes and basil… but there wasn’t any French bread, people are doing it wrong.

This little guy was found out front and all I kept seeing was Franklin the turtles’ best friend Snail.

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snail

 

Remember that show?

One day on the way to pick up the girls from school. This was in the car behind us.

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No thank you. Do not stop, don’t look them in the eye.

And then the beginning of the end started. The weekend called for all of the home fun,  puzzles, scavenger hunts and board games and, and, and…

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I think it’s safe to say the kiddos aren’t heading back to school anytime soon. Since we are in this together I am going to share a couple of  links that have activities for them. Aren’t we lucky with what we have available at our fingertips these days? Imagine going through all this with solely a land line.

At Home Activities

Bouncy Ball Science Experiment

Having available resources helped me tremendously while I was on pregnancy bed rest and I know they will help me through this. Let’s all stay together through these turbulent times.

 

 

 

 

January Wrap up

Everyone was saying how long January seemed, but to me, February came out of nowhere. On January 10th, Averi turned 5 and a half. On the girls half birthday they get to choose what/were they want to eat for dinner. Averi chose Chuck E Cheese, last year it was Islands for mac n cheese, so she is par for course of her dining choices. For someone who can go all day with her shoes on the wrong feet she sure is picky about her food intake.

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The girls have also been getting better on skates. We are trying to urge them outside after homework to practice their skating so the next time we go to the rink, they will be more independent.

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I took advantage of San Diego restaurant week (SDRW) and although each year I am less and less impressed with the choices, I was pleasantly surprised this time. Brian and I went to WaterBar in Pacific Beach for lunch and the view wasn’t the only thing that was sumptuous.

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The fish sandwich I had was truly deliciously messy. Our waiter said that the chef put the sandwich solely on the restaurant week menu but I would purposely go back there just for that sandwich.

Shawna and I also took advantage of the SDRW and had another spectacular meal. You guys, these are so far and few between for me that it’s worth writing about. There was crispy pork belly in a brown sugar maple glaze served with a fuji apple salad. We had crispy octopus with salsa verde and the absolute best dish of the night was the pan seared scallops with coconut black rice in a Thai red curry sauce. This dish was so incredible that I went ahead and tried to make it at home a week later.

Please disregard my awful plating and, imagine how good this was. You guys, so good!

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We also made whole roasted fish bathed in garlic, olive oil, jalapeños and lemons.

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I fed us for a week with this crustless mushroom and spinach frittata.

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The Santa Ana winds stopped for a visit and gave us a couple of 80 degree days. We all took advantage of the warm sunshine.

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And last but not least my baby lost her first tooth.

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Now it’s February and we marching towards more birthdays! Can’t wait to share the fun that is in store!

 

 

Cancun {Part 3}

This was our first Christmas away from our kids which is in part why we decided to get away. I couldn’t imagine just sitting in our living room without them. We woke up a tad gamey on Christmas morning, luckily we had a special in room mimosa breakfast ordered for 8:30. Then we planned our attack to hit up Isla Mujeres. We went back and forth with just hopping on a Catamaran right outside our hotel to cut out the trip off of  the resort grounds and down into town to catch the Ferry. Buuuut, we weren’t keen on being on someone else’s schedule and having them choose where we were going to have lunch. In the end we decided to just do it ourselves. We hopped in a cab and jumped on the ferry.

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Once we were off the ferry they had people renting golf carts. We quickly grabbed one and within minutes we were in ours heading south down the island. Only 7 km long, its an easy trip around the island. Our friend at the resort told us to go to The Joint, a bar that someone he knows, knows someone else that might work there. Or so that is how the story went. About ten minutes into our cruise we unexpectedly and surprisingly ran straight into….

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That was some luck. We parked and went up to this outdoor bar. There were a couple guys playing some Sublime and a local bar dog. Shawna ordered a mango margarita and I ordered the best espresso martini of the entire trip, you guys it was so good. So good in fact that I ordered another to go. It’s legal there, well I assume it was since the bartender put it in a to-go cup for me.

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Not a terrible view to sit with a bevi.

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Once back in our cart we continued around the island. It’s just beautiful.

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We stopped every so often to walk down the the water and then I was able to get some cell service so we stopped at a cemetery and I called my girls to wish them a merry Christmas.

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Once we made it around the island we parked near Playa Norte. This is where there were restaurants and the beaches had chairs to rent. We had a pretty good lunch on the beach and I was very confident that it was el fin of tequila for me on this trip.

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After lunch we walked up the beach until we reached some open beach chairs. We plopped down, set our alarm and here is the best part. Fell asleep.

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We woke to the alarm and headed back to the mainland with plans of playing pool volleyball. But once we were back we ended up skipping it and just sat in the jacuzzi chatting with people.

For dinner we got all fancied up and went for one last Italian meal. Their garlic cream soup was so incredible you could bathe in it. I will see if I can recreate now that we are home. They had a Christmas show that night, once that was over I was beat.

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We woke up on our last day to rain. Once we were all packed we went down to the cafe for breakfast. Our flight wasn’t until later that day so were able to spend a little more time with friends at the pool until it was time to say our goodbyes. The trip home was a piece of cake and we were back in our own bed by midnight. It was a really good trip, just long enough. If we decided to do another all inclusive I would focus more on going where the food and wine is a bit better. But It’s going to be hard to go back to a hotel that isn’t all inclusive, that is definitely the way to go.

Holiday Holiday

Somehow it’s already mid December, I have so much to catch you up on. Currently our Elf, Peppermint Sugarcookie is playing Twister with a few scantily clad and very limber Barbies.

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Every morning the girls give a full report on what trouble he got into the night before.

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Our neighborhood puts on a Holiday party each year. It’s the perfect time to meet the neighbors we never see and probably won’t see again until the next party. It’s also a great time for the girls to see Santa. Averi loves to get fancy for all occasions, she also loves to have her photo taken.

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Our Elementary school put on a Frozen movie night and of course the girls had.to.go. We saw Frozen 2 the day after it came out and that is all Averi can talk about. Frozen Fever. But the movie theater is different than the school auditorium. Drinks were spilled, bathroom needs were constant and the Avester decided she was “too tired” and stayed put even after the lights came on. Yep that’s my kid.

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The next day we spent swimming at uncle Casey’s new place. They decided to slum it for a bit and move to Coronado Island, sigh. The view is awful. And yes it looks cold, but the pool water was just fine….for the kids…and Casey.

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Since all three girls weren’t able to attend the holiday party, we went back to the mall for another visit with Santa and some quick shopping.

As luck would have it, when we went to walk the neighborhood Christmas lights, we ran into Santa again. What a tiring job he has. Luckily he will have cookies waiting for him as a reward, or treat? So many kids and cats, I can’t keep it straight.

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Averi’s teacher held a rehearsal for the Kinder Christmas show early so I could record it. The girls are heading up to WA with their dad this holiday and she’s missing the show. It was both super cute and painful at the same time. The first picture is when they just sat down in the auditorium, the video is 30 minutes later. Wrangling cats, that is another word for teaching Kindergarten.

 

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October

Don’t blink, October is almost over. What the hell happened? I actually had to look back at the calendar to see what we did and it turns out, actually a lot. Maybe that’s why it flew by. We had family birthdays, kids half birthdays, pumpkin patches and an AWFUL bout of lice, not in that order.

We met the family in Old Town to celebrate my mom and uncle Brian’s birthday and my parents 49th <—- (rockstars) anniversary.

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We tried out two different pumpkin patches this year. The first one was near Julian. It had hay rides, cider pressing and a petting zoo.

The second one in Ramona was a pumpkin patch AND a winery. Everyone else is doing it wrong, this is definitely the only way to do pumpkin patches, or any kid activity honestly.

As always, October was a warm month so there was plenty of sunshine and pool days. We had fun weekends at the horse races and finding new hole in the wall bars. A lot of good food came out of the kitchen and the girls had school spirit week. October didn’t lack activities.

 

As we turn the corner we are smacked in the face with the Holiday season and I am not sure I am prepared, how is it almost 2020?

I leave you with this….

Chicago

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I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Chicago, my first time! The day of travel would have been just fine if the plane actually took off and arrived at the gate when it was supposed to, however we had a lot of down time on the tarmac. Dinner reservations were at 8:45 that night so we went straight to the room and back out into the city in search of the restaurant.

Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard was a must do. Unfortunately her flagship restaurant The Girl and the Goat was booked out until November so we decided to try her Asian restaurant Duck Duck Goat. “Reasonably authentic Chinese Food” is what the waiters say when they greet you at the table. The place was buzzing for a late Thursday evening. The space was tight and the volume loud. Sitting almost too close for comfort next to other diners, we ordered off of the “chef recommended” menu. I only have a couple pictures since the lighting wasn’t doing me any favors.

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We started off with the wood fired duck hearts.  The were tender, smoky and served on a creamy bed of garlic aioli. Delicious.

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Along with those we ordered the duck spring rolls, braised pork belly and ended with the   char siu bao. The bao dough was probably the best I have ever had, so light and fluffy. It was all really good. Happy with our decision we moseyed on closer to the hotel to meet a friend for a drink.

The next day we walked out on the river and hopped in a water taxi toward Willis tower.

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Not wanting to wait in line for the sky view we kept on walking to Union Station where I had my first Chicago dog.

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I’ll come clean, I don’t really like hot dogs. I felt that I had to try it and see what all the fuss was about. Eh, it tasted like a hot dog that had too much stuff on it. I won’t need another one.

The rain started to arrive as we were along the riverwalk so we tucked into a winery for a couple glasses of wine. I really dig the vibe of the river front, I can see spending warm afternoons out there listening to music and people watching.

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Cold and ready for a hot shower we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner numero dos.

Reservations weren’t until later that evening so we started at a speakeasy bar called Brando’s. Remembering I am too old for crowds, we weren’t sure if we would be able to stand the elbow to elbow nowhere to sit room. However the happy hour prices and delicious dirty martinis swayed us to fight the sporadic nudges of the flannel wearing strangers. Then a barstool opened up and we made ourselves comfortable until dinner.

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Rick Bayless, he’s my favorite . He was who graced the screens of my early culinary classes and whom I grew to admire years after. Eating at his restaurant Frontera Grill was the first thing that came to my mind when I decided to finally see Chicago. I wish I had a better experience to share but it was just very underwhelming.

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We started with pork tamales and tamarind margaritas. Both were just OK. I’ve had much better in San Diego and our waiter was less than gracious.

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The entrees were molé enchiladas and a fish dish. The fish was better than the enchiladas. If you want really really good Molé Enchiladas head to El Comal or JV’s tacos in San Diego. Can’t be beat.

The best thing we had were probably the plantains, they could have stood to cook a little longer but dipped in crema and molé they were pretty darn good.

 

Unsatisfied we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel.

I had the next day solo, so after lounging in bed with multiple cups of coffee I ventured out. I walked down to Navy Pier and had a mango smoothie along the water. I had some company stop by.

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I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the afternoon so I just started walking along the lake.

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So unreal, just breathtaking! Are we sure this is a lake?

I found myself not far from Lincoln park, I decided that would be my destination and a place to stop for lunch.

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I found a little restaurant outside the Lincoln Park zoo that suited my needs. A glass of rosé and a sandwich. The wind picked up and my toes were going numb, yes I wore flip flops, duh!

I also found that cabs were much easier than ride shares out there, do you guys agree?

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Back at the hotel I poured a big glass of Syrah and submerged myself in a piping hot bath. We were invited to an event at the House of Blues later that night, so with time to kill we went to the hotel bar for a bite to eat and a drink.

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The short trip ended with an open bar, live music, late night pizza and amazing company!

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It was a perfect little getaway. I love being in a new place, it’s one of my most favorite things. Like any place, I could have used a couple more days. If I ever get back there, I have a list ready!