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LANDING IN SEATTLE

friday morning we went to breakfast with great grandma and grandpa, helped clean up around the house and headed out. we stopped in portland to stretch our legs and grab some taco’s at por que no? then we were off for seattle. the drive took forever. between stopping for lunch + gas + jacks new game of i have to go potty every 9 minutes, i thought we’d never get out of the car. we got in pretty late. we drove a few neighborhoods to check out some houses on our list and headed to the hotel.

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saturday morning we headed to pike place market for some 10am mac and cheese at beechers then wandered the city with the kids. henri and jack were both in desperate need of shoes so we stopped into nordstrom. that and the anniversary sale they’re having lured me in. the kids love the city and ava was telling me how much she likes having everything so close. i was shocked, she’s always the one saying how much she loves the country and asking me why i would ever want to live in a city. i guess she’s coming around to the idea.

DSC07174DSC07194DSC07213DSC07217DSC07211for lunch we went to serious pie. we ordered the sausage and roasted pepper + fried egg and arugula + buffalo mozzarella and basil. the crust was amazing! the kids loved the mozzarella and of course jack ate all the sausage. its a cute little place downtown and the table was perfect for our family. seattle restaurants are much smaller than the ones back home but everyone seems really accommodating and always stores our giant double stroller.

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we did some house hunting and let me tell you its left me depressed. the one house we saw online and sent our application in right away was already taken. another house we looked at was in terrible shape. tiny + expensive, smelled like animal urine and was falling apart. oh and it turned out to have another family living in the basement with a shared laundry that had a quarter machine attached to it. icing on the cake was the cemetery RIGHT next door. as in nothing between the house and acres of graves. i walked through and talked to the owner who was showing it to another couple at the time. she was so kind and helpful and said to let her know if i wanted an application. an application?? no!! i want to run like the wind, thats what i want!! not to be a total bummer, we do have a few houses to see on monday and i’m really hoping some new ones pop up. wish us luck. we need it! so far henri’s allergies + asthma are great! ivan not so much.

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OREGON SAND DUNES

we headed down to florence in search of good mexican food. unfortunately what we found was not good. the few times we’ve had mexican food on this trip the first thing out of our servers mouth has been warning us the food was spicy. i laugh and tell them we are from arizona. we would go visit my moms family in wisconsin every summer and they thought everything was spicy. taco bell was spicy. growing up in az our babies are raised on spicy food. jack can handle it just as well as i can. we’ve been sadly let down on our search for good mexican food and i’m a little worried that just might be our future in seattle.

 

after lunch we headed over to the sand dunes. they’re full of beautiful drift wood. the kids had the best time building forts. it was such a fun + unique beach. where else can you find giant logs that you can drag around and won’t get splinters? perfect for kids and perfect because no one is swimming in that freezing water. ivan got some work done while sitting on the beach. the kids had a blast and i got to watch them come up with some really fun creations.

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NEWPORT, OREGON AQUARIUM

today ivan’s grandma took us to the aquarium just a few towns up in newport. jacks finally at the age where he can understand what i’m pointing at and isn’t just looking at my finger. he was a little nervous at first. especially with the otters and sea lions that kept swimming towards him. we assured him they couldn’t get him and he got so excited showing us the “big” ones and the “baby” ones. the older 3 really love animals and are so intrigued by sea life, there couldn’t be a more perfect place to spend our afternoon. my favorite part was the otter feeding and the shark tank you can walk through, the sharks swimming behind glass all around me makes me just nervous enough but still entertained. we took a little ice-cream break between exhibits and a little squirrel decided to join us.

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we went to lunch after at the chowder bowl. she told me our kids were the most adventurous with trying new food of any of her grandkids. that made me happy, sometimes i feel like they’re living off the same three meals. i love that they get to spend this time with her and really get to know her. i love that she loves spending time with them and goes out of her way to spend and entire day with them and make it special doing what they like. we are so luck to have great grandparents for our kids. mine had all passed before i got to meet them. i feel so fortunate that my kids get another set of grandparents to love them.

DSC06765DSC06755we took the kids to the beach after and collected broken sand dollars. henri and his puzzle loving self likes to try and piece them together. this was the first time we’ve been to the beach in oregon and i wasn’t freezing the entire time. it actually wasn’t windy at all. we walked over to toppers, the local ice cream store. because ice cream two times in one day just seems like a good idea on vacation.

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we are thinking of heading up to seattle this weekend. i’ve been searching for a house and found a few we like. if you know of any send them my way. or if you know of any family friendly areas or neighborhoods to avoid let me know. i’d love any help i can get!

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OREGON COAST

sunday morning we decided to head from portland to the coast. ivan’s grandma has a beach house overlooking the water. she has family members coming and going all summer long and we were so lucky that she had a break in guests just in time for us to visit. we usually come every year and enjoy our time here so much. its absolutely beautiful. the weather is pretty cool so i’m typically in a jacket. which is always nice coming from the hot az summer. i feel so relaxed here. there’s something about looking out your window and seeing the ocean, it just doesn’t get any better.

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we headed up to depoe bay, just a few town north of where she lives, for caramel popcorn and whale watching. its one of my favorite traditions and i look forward to it every year. the caramel popcorn at ainslee’s is the BEST i have ever had. to be honest i don’t like caramel popcorn from anywhere else. we only spotted a few whales. usually we have better luck.

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we headed back to her town and grabbed some pizza on the way home. the kids love the pizza place because its two stories and we always sit up top overlooking the ocean. we got home and decided to go for a walk to burn off some energy. there’s a winding road up a mountain behind their house. the kids did a great job hiking it, jack too. part of me never wants to leave and the other part wants to settle in seattle. could life really be this relaxing if you lived here or is it because we are on vacation? i’m learning a lot about myself like i like extremes one way or the other. i want to be slap dab in the middle of this city. no car, walking everywhere or in the middle of nowhere, preferably over looking the ocean. anyone else feel that way? i hope i’m not the only one!

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PORTLAND

we’ve visited portland probably 5 times now. i’m always up and down about this city. some visits i love it and some not so much. this time i had a list of places to eat + visit. i wanted to make the most of portland and we definitely did. let me tell you i love portland. coming from san fransisco it seems so clean + less crowded. there are neighborhoods that are so cute and some you want to avoid. we got in just in time for dinner at porque no? before we got there ivan said he thought i was setting us up for failure. coming from az its really hard to find mexican food we love in another city (besides mexico) but it didn’t disappoint. the chips and guacamole are really good + fresh. we got a few different tacos but ended up loving the carnitas. the line went pretty fast and i think its worth the wait. ivan said they were some of the best taco’s he’s ever tasted.

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we spent the 4th of july downtown. a lot of the stores + restaurants were closed but we still had so much fun. we had lunch at lardo. we loved the bahn mi. the kids grilled cheese was the best i’ve ever had. i kept taking bites off their sandwiches. we walked up to jameson square. the kids wanted to get in the fountain and to be honest i did too but we didn’t have our suits on and i knew they’d hate being in wet close the rest of the day. instead we headed over to salt & straw to cool off. again we waited in line but it went pretty fast. i got the strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper +  sea salt with caramel ribbons. ava’s was really good too she got cinnamon snickerdoodle.

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we decided to head back to the hotel to change into our swimsuits and find a lake or river to swim in. unfortunately non of them were close enough and from what the locals told us the willamett is not clean and you definitely don’t want to get in it.  so we made our way over to powells books. ava was in heaven. that place is huge. we could’ve spent all day there. i loved the cards they had hanging off the shelf giving a overview of some of the books. some were even written by kids her age which i thought was so great. we were hoping to make it to pok pok for dinner but it wasn’t open so we went to a pizza place called sizzle pie instead. the pizza was pretty good.

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ivan looked around for where to watch the fireworks and decided the best spot would be the waterfront downtown. the kids had so much fun and kept telling us this was the best 4th they’ve ever had. we’ve decided we love portland and with any city it is what you make of it. i think we did a great job making the best of all portland has to offer. amazing food + super cute downtown + friendly people. the kids are getting used to all this walking. that makes me the most happy.

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REDWOODS

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we headed to the redwoods today. this was on ivans bucket list. i had never been either. we both didn’t know what to expect and its actually pretty easy to pass up if you’re not paying attention. for some reason we both had it in our heads that it would be this grand entrance when in fact its not. just park entry signs and trails. the tree’s on the other hand are magnificent. huge, tall + beautiful. we actually all stood inside one with plenty of room to spare.

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i saw a huge sign that said beware of ticks and i know how silly it sounds but i worry about ticks and the diseases they carry every time we travel to wooded areas. so everyone had their pants tucked in their socks + shirts tucked. we did a check once we left, we were all tick free. of course henri lost one of his nike’s on the trip so he had to wear avas saltwater sandals with socks. i cracked up laughing every time i looked at him. is it just my kids or do everyone else’s kids forget their shoes all the dang time? i’m not even sure how you could leave somewhere without your shoes on.

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we had so much fun walking through the forest. we came up on a stream and skipped rocks for a while. the beauty and nature that make up the pnw is what draws us here more than anywhere else. its stunningly beautiful. the hikes are always more fun with so much to see. we saw a group of elk on the side of the road on our drive up. all just laying there while cars piled up to take picture. such a beautiful area and we are grateful to call the pnw our home now.

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24 HOURS IN SAN FRANSISCO

we spent right about 24 hours in SF. while i think a good 3 day trip is the perfect amount of time for adults, you can get a lot covered in 24hrs with kids. the kids did great walking, better than i expected. i put elle and jack in the double stroller. initially i was hesitant about pushing it around the city but it wasn’t bad. i even took it through chinatown. we alternated between the double stroller and the ergo + backpack carrier. i was surprised at the restaurants and how accommodating they were with our big stroller. we had such a great time and i’m so happy the kids got to see the city.

 

24 hrs in the city

3pm late lunch at house of nanking- its a MUST! we stumbled upon this place over 10 years ago and its still just as good.

walk through chinatown

ghiradelli and walk down to the water to get a glimpse of the bridge

walk down to pier 39 to see the sea lions + alcatraz

trish’s donuts for a late night snack, head back to the hotel

breakfast at dotties or mama’s. la boulange if you don’t want to wait in line

walk over to mr. holmes bakehouse if you’re at dotties. they open at 7 and sell out quick. i got to the door to see a sold out sign. tears

if you’re at mama’s watch the ladies do tai chi in washington square park. also a great place to let the kids play while your significant other stands in line.

walk over to union square and ride a trolley

lunch at boudin, because its an SF staple (although i have to say pike’s place chowder wins hands down for me)

walk down chestnut street in cow hollow and window shop.

lay on the grass at great meadow while the kids run around. you’ll have a great view of the city + golden gate bridge

drive over the bridge on the way out

 

if you have extra time

seward slides

giants stadium tour- i’ve never done this but a friend who lived in SF said its awesome and kids love it

walk the golden gate bridge

blondies pizza

shopping in union square

coit tower

painted ladies

crissy field

tour alcatraz

 

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SAN FRAN

we decided to keep heading north this am. we made our way to monterey and then santa cruz. we didn’t stay long in either place before deciding we were ready for sf. we drove through farm land for what seemed like hours. i had never seen mass farms like that. we saw a fruit stand and decided to stop. everything looked delicious! i grabbed a few apricots for the drive. i washed them off in some water from my water bottle and handed ivan one. immediately he spit it out and said ughhh. i asked if they weren’t ripe. he said no taste it. i took a bite and i’m not kidding it tastes like bug spray. i spit mine out and tossed the rest in the trash. i’m so glad my kids didn’t eat any.

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my first time in san fransisco was when i was somewhere between henri and ava’s age. i remember just falling in love with it. my dad was telling ivan and i the other day that i wanted to give every homeless person we saw money. he said he thought it was the first time i really realized some people didnt have a place to call home. i’ve been back more times than i can count and i fall in love a little more each time. i love the big city. i love the culture. i love the energy. San Fransisco

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i wasn’t sure how the kids would do or what they would think of this city. they’ve been to seattle + portland + vancouver, so they know what a city looks like but we always have our car with us. they’ve never come on any of our walking only trips. we were not about to drive around this city anymore than we have to, so we left it at the hotel and walked. they did great! aside from not liking a few smells they didn’t complain. they loved walking and i love getting them outside moving. it also gave us an idea of what seattle will be like if we get rid of my car.

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first stop after checking in was lunch at house of nanking. i highly recommend you go! its another one of those restaurants i dream about. i tell everyone to go and i have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love it. just tell your server if you have dietary restrictions and have her order for you. make sure you get the sesame chicken! we loved the beef dish too. we finished up dinner and headed towards fisherman’s wharf.

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we grabbed an ice-cream sundae at ghiradelli and sampled chocolate too. did you know they hand out chocolate at the top entrance? you can order there too. the bottom entrance had a crazy line, while we didn’t wait at all. we walked the wharf and grabbed warm donuts. sugar overload! the sea lions had gone south for the summer. there was one lonely guy left sitting on the dock. the kids were coming up with all sorts of stories of why he was there. we watched a performer for a minute. the kids really got a kick out of all the street performers.

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SANTA BARBARA

we headed up to santa barbara this morning. but first we grabbed breakfast at bagel shack. my favorite is the old mans on swiss. it’s become the kids favorite too. then started on our drive. we are learning a lot about each other this trip. like jacks bladder is the size of a peanut. he likes russian nursery rhymes even more than kinder egg videos. the ones he watches are so weird and use marvel characters in their videos, making them almost frightening. like a very robotic captain american in wheels on the bus. jack is relentless he will say the same thing over and over and over. if he doesn’t like my response he just keeps going. elle doesn’t stop talking. not even when i ask her to stop so jack can fall asleep. she insists on finishing her story. like a compulsion. its comical. she’s also always happy + singing. ava can read a book at warp speed. i don’t think there are enough quality books in this world. she’s read every single one at least 12 times. henri is content sitting in the back alone. i think he likes hanging back from the chaos. all that aside i’ve been told several times i have great kids, making all this insanity a little easier. i laugh cause we are only 3 days into this journey but we’ve done the bulk of our driving 2 of those days. anyone whose been cooped up in a car full of kids knows what i’m talking about.

 

we got to santa barbara in time for a late lunch hoping to beat the crowd only to find out our favorite mexican food joint, and was julia child’s too, la super rica taqueria is closed on tuesday + wednesday. the owner was there cleaning and he recommended another taco shop. it wasn’t nearly as good. so disappointing. so we headed over to the beach to let the kids play and burn off some energy. a group of guys were playing frisbee and doing all sorts of tricks, keeping ivan and i entertained.

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we kept on our drive stopping at el capitan and pismo beach which was covered in fog. reminding me of oregon. we decided to find a hotel near san luis obispo to crash for the night. we are thinking big sur tomorrow then sf. we still aren’t sure where we want to be for the 4th. san fran with their amazing fireworks show or a smaller town? maybe even bend oregon?

p.s. totally unrelated to this post but ivan made fun of me for buying these shoes aaaand i’ve gotten more compliments on them than any other shoe i’ve ever worn. so booyah ivan! they’re so comfy. get yourself a pair.

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HEISLER PARK + ORANGE COUNTY

jack woke up bright and early, probably due to his late nap and early bed time. i was dead tired so ivan took him down for breakfast. from what i hear he did a lot of yelling and spilled his o.j. all over the table. jack’s day didn’t get much better after that. he’s having the hardest time with this move. luckily we can all make light of it and try to cheer him up. there was a lot of “no jack” and “come here jack” today. we went to heisler park, our favorite beach in the o.c. we like to think of it as our secret beach. it’s never crowded. theres great parking + an easy walk to the water. plus bathrooms! we met an older couple at the beach, the husbands name was jack and the wife jokingly said i say “no jack” a lot too. i half laughed half buried my head in the sand. you know that embarrassed feeling when you realize everyone is watching you chase around your wild 2 year old. he’s a crazy one. he loves hard +plays hard + sometime is just plain hard. back when he was in the hospital i begged for him to be healthy. to be able to change his diapers + give him a bath. he was on life support so we weren’t able to touch him, if we so much as moved a tube it was life or death. i prayed for him to be here. i said i’d take screaming all night. id take the hardest baby in the whole world. so these tough times are still sweet. we laugh them off. we look at each other like, it could be worse. i’ll take the terrible two’s over what could have been.

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we had lunch at our favorite corner in costa mesa. it has a pizza place + chinese food + taco shop all in the same area, with outdoor seating right out front. we all order from a different place and sit outside in the warm sun. the kids love it and so do we. we hopped back in the car and elle + jack fell asleep. we headed over to south coast plaza to do some shopping. ivan surprised me with a new purse and we took the kids down to the carousel. which they loved! for dinner we had din tai fung. they finally opened their o.c. location. if you haven’t been, GO! ivan took the kids back to the hotel and my sister met up with me so we could do some more shopping. we were supposed to meet up today with the kids but her little girl was sick so we decided it was best we didn’t.

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initially we were going to stay for a few days so we could hang out with my sister and her family. now we are trying to decide what to do. stay here another day? spend a day at disneyland? head up the coast to a new beach town? i’ll let you know where we end up.

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