Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Jude Turns Nine!

Turning nine and feeling fine. This fly kiddo celebrated his birthday in late November with a trip to Hapik with his friends.

I'm constantly impressed by Jude's wit, memory, intelligence, affection, and desire to play. If we suggest a game, he's up for it. He's been studying Spanish a few minutes a day for the past year and I am so proud of him. Here's a sentence he put together about our small-headed dog, Zoey, that gives you a good example of his quirky mind: "La cabeza de mi perro es mas pequena que mi mano."

He's still obsessed with Corgis, but also has started loving Shiba Inus. He's pretty much an animal lover in general though, so it's not unusual for me to get a text with a funny animal video, or an animal park he's found online that he wants us to visit.

We gave him sparkling apple juice on NYE and now he's decided he wants to drink that year-round from a fancy glass. I'll allow it. I consider myself very lucky to be his mom and look forward to seeing what his bright future holds.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

A Jude and Mom Getaway to Oregon

I don't get to see my high school bestie, Iris, and her daughter, Wren, very often since they live in Oregon,  so I vowed to plan a trip to spend time with them before the year was over. The kids had a long weekend in November for fall break, and since I had taken Dutch on a solo trip this summer, I decided it would be perfect for Jude to tag along with me. He and Wren are close in age, so that made it even better. We flew out on Friday night so we could spend both days of the weekend with them and then come home on Monday.

Our adventure-packed Saturday started with a visit to Vista House in the Columbia River Gorge. The views are spectacular, but Jude was not thrilled about the drop-off! He didn't think there were enough safety measures in place, lol.

But, have no fear, any place with a gift shop and hot chocolate is alright in his book.

Next up we drove to Multnomah Falls. This place was breathtaking! You could take in the falls from ground level, or hike up to a higher bridge to get a closer look. Jude was adamant he would not participate in that endeavor, but once we got to the bridge he was a great sport. It was loud!

We got caught in a downpour, so we took respite in the nearby Lodge Restaurant. The kids took turns standing by the fireplace to try and dry their clothes! That was unsuccessful, so we all ended up buying Multnomah Falls sweatshirts in the gift shop. Definitely felt like cheesy tourists from that point forward!

From the Falls we drove to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. I was very pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this stop was! We got to explore the grounds and see a lot of salmon trying to swim upstream (not always successfully). We also fed some salmon and the occasional duck that wandered over to us.

When it came time to make dinner plans, Iris informed me that the annual Verboort Sausage & Kraut Festival was taking place that night. As a vegetarian, I don't eat sausage, but how could I pass up a one day a year event in a small Dutch community in Oregon?? I was game to check it out and Jude was a good sport as well. Unfortunately we got there too late for the bazaar, but the food was good nonetheless! 

Sunday's first stop was to the Tillamook Creamery. We took the tour, sampled some cheese, and visited the gift shop, but the kids' favorite activity was taking silly pictures in the Tillamook VW van!

Too many to post, but this one might be my favorite. 

More than ten years ago I visited Iris in Oregon and she took me to Tillamook. We took a funny picture in the van at that time, so of course I had to get the kids to recreate it! 

From there, we trekked down the coast to Florence, OR to see the Sea Lion Caves. Unfortunately the sea lions were not hanging out in the caves at the time of our visit, but the views were still top notch. 

For dinner we stopped in Newport and were so pleased to find that a bunch of sea lions were taking up residence behind the Clearwater Restaurant! Jude was in heaven. Not gonna lie, I was too. I think these creatures are hilarious and I could watch their antics for quite a while. We discovered the restaurant's website has a live feed of the sea lions, so I told Meezy about it and he pulled it up and saw us on the dock nearby. Go check it out - it's fun. Also want to mention that the food was fantastic!

Unfortunately this was the last stop of our amazing weekend and we had to call it a night. I loved this experience so, so much. It was wonderful to have special time with my youngest and of course make memories with loved ones. Take trips, y'all! 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

A Dutch and Mom Getaway to Cali

 AJR has been my favorite band for a while. I love their music, but the lyrics are really what get me most of the time. The sarcasm of Birthday Party, the realness of Way Less Sad, and the optimism of 100 Bad Days; they're all great in their own way. When I found out AJR was going on tour, I definitely wanted to see them. But, life got in the way and I hadn't picked a date/location that would work for me by the time the US Tour was almost over. As summer break was coming to an end, I remembered my intention and checked tour dates one more time. Luckily, there were two options left at that point - one in California and one in Pennsylvania. The PA one was a music fest, so they wouldn't be the main attraction, and it landed on a day I already had dinner & show plans with friends back in Dallas. It was settled, then! Cali, here I come. 

Meezy wouldn't be able to join me because we'd have to set up last minute childcare, and he already had a guys trip coming up soon that required PTO to be used. I decided this would be a great trip for my oldest and I to take together because he loves AJR too, and school hadn't started yet. I had enough miles earned with American to get both our flights covered, so I picked out a hotel and rental car and secured our tickets to the concert. It all came together very quickly, and we were excited to go! It had to be a short trip though, because of work and pre-existing plans, but we'd make it happen!

When we arrived in Cali on Tuesday, we went straight to Newport Beach to eat and sight-see since we couldn't check into our hotel yet. We also took the ferry to Balboa Island and checked out the pier. 

When our hotel room was ready, we checked in and got changed so we could visit the beach, which was only one block away. The water was a little chilly, but we got used to it! A dolphin was swimming super close to shore, so that was a treat to see.

After our dip in the Pacific, we decided to drive down the coast to Laguna Beach to pick out a dinner location. Dutch loves burgers, so Ruby's Diner seemed like a good option. Afterward we went to Gelato Paradiso, which was way more popular than I realized it would be! Bit of a line, but we made it through and enjoyed our dessert before heading back to Newport Beach. Day One was a lot of fun!

Day Two started with a delicious breakfast at Eat Chow, right by our hotel. Then we headed into Anaheim to check out Camelot Golfland. It was amazing! The mini-golf had legit obstacles, and if you're from Dallas, it was reminiscent of Ellen's Amusement Center. That was a lot of fun, but it was actually getting a little hot in the sun, so we headed inside to check out the arcade. Another area where we were pretty impressed. Tons of games, including ones we hadn't seen before, so we spent quite a bit of time there. 

We grabbed some lunch at the Outlets at Orange on the way back to our hotel and then relaxed for a couple hours in anticipation of our main event! Unbeknownst to me when I bought our concert tickets, the site location was at the OC Fair and there was actually a fair going on. So, our tickets got us entry to that as well. We showed up about 2 hours early so we could check out the fair beforehand, and I'm glad we did! We rode some rides and played games and Dutch even won a stuffed animal. 

When it was concert time, we headed in and discovered we had great seats! I couldn't tell when I bought them what our vantage point would be, I only knew they were called "box" seats. We were in an amphitheater, so it wasn't like a suite, but it was a sectioned off area at the back of the first level with just a limited number of seats in it and a rail to divide us from the masses. That actually was perfect for Dutch's first concert because he wasn't overwhelmed by being around a lot of other people, and he was able to stand up by the rail and have a good view of the entire stage. We even had our own server so we were able to order food and drinks and have them delivered to us. Let's hope Dutch doesn't get too used to that for future concerts!

The opening act was Em Beihold, and Dutch likes her song Numb Little Bug. He knows all the words, so it was fun to see him singing along. We weren't familiar with her other songs at that point, so it was nice to find out that we liked a couple more. He kept asking how many more songs she was going to sing, though, because he was eagerly awaiting AJR's performance!

Finally it was the moment we had been waiting for! AJR came on and we got up out of our seats. I didn't sit down for the entire performance from that point forward, but Dutch did take a break for one song before getting right back to it. It feels silly to say, but the concert was amazing. I loved every minute of it. The guys are so energetic and upbeat and fun to watch. They really love what they do and since they write all their songs, their performance is even more convincing. They interacted with the fans directly because surprisingly they were super close to the first row. They even did a stuffed animal swap with one of the fans, because they had actually visited the fair before the show too. Dutch knew almost all the songs, so we were both singing along and dancing and putting our hands in the air and having a great time. It was like 1.5 hours of non-stop smiling and joy. 

I am so, so glad I booked this last minute experience for us and I will honestly cherish these memories for a long time. Take the trips you've been wanting to take, y'all. Get out there and live life.