half moon bay, part 2.

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Before we headed home, we made one last stop at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. I have been wanting to come here for awhile because everyone raves about the tidepools. Unfortunately, the best tide would have been at 5am. We considered this, but decided it didn't fit in with our relaxed schedule. So, we waited for the second lowest tide in the late afternoon. It was still really beautiful, even if we didn't see much. There were plenty of teal green sea anemones, that squish close if you get to close. And the little pools were crawling with hermit crabs in some areas. Eliza was fascinated by them, and the idea that they look for shells to live in. She kept trying to offer them new shells she found. 

Most of the beach was closed off because there was a massive group of elephant seals! They were all laying out in the sand, almost blending in if you didn't stop to look. They were so close! After we spent some time in the tide pools, we took a walk in the wooded reserve, which was majestic and eerily beautiful on it's own. The trees form this tunnel to walk through, and when you circle around the path you can see the entire coastline. 

It was such a nice trip. I hate to say things like, "Oh, it's the last time we will do..." But, let's be honest- in a way, it is. I have no doubt that we will still travel and do fun things after baby sister arrives. But, hey I've done this before. I know that adding a baby changes things. And, that's ok. Not to mention that, yes this really is the last trip we will take as a family of three. I just kept thinking that this is the last time we will sit in some cozy beach cottage while three-year-old Eliza chases after some cat, and we all lay around and relax in this exact way.

I have been trying to spend special time with Eliza. Luckily, my classes finished a few weeks ago, and things have slowed down quite a bit. I thought that I would want to pack in all of these wild and fun activities for us to do before the baby came. And, we have done a few- a movie at the theater or a trip to the zoo. But, it turns out all I want to do is be home with her. We spend our days playing at home, baking sweets, doing art projects. Today we painted fish scales with celery stamps, one stick dipped in paint in one hand, while chomping away at another. Last week we baked cookies and she said, "Let's save one for Papa, and we can eat the rest," and scrunched up her nose with mischief. Earlier this week, we made bread in a bag and Eliza called it "Smoosh Bread," and smothered it with Nutella for her after-dinner treat. And, some mornings are spent preparing baby items or deep-cleaning the house, while I listen to her bubble and squeal in her room. She's everything. She's everything I could have ever wanted in a daughter. I want this baby to come so badly... But, I don't want this special time to end. 

It's crazy to think that we will be adding this second, little human to our family. It's crazy to try and imagine Eliza as the "oldest child." It's crazy to think of answering to the whims of another baby, and filling our home with additional life. None of this is negative, not in my mind. But, it is still... crazy. I know I wouldn't have it any other way. I know that I want Eliza to have a sibling, and to see our family grow. But, I just have no possible way of imagining what that's going to be like.

I guess it's pretty similar to how I felt when it was time for Eliza to come. You just have no earthly idea of how to imagine what it will be like to have a baby. And then she came, and it was just everything. And, you have so much love you can't even handle it. I've been spending a lot of time looking back at pictures or things I wrote when she was born. Happiness. And joy. And extreme, profound love.

I think Eliza can sense that she's coming very soon. She hugs and kisses my belly all day, and never hesitates to declare, "I love our baby." Sam has been tirelessly working on building Eliza a new bed, and helping to get the house prepared for this little one. He is the perfect partner, and always a devoted father. And, me... I'm just in awe of the fact that there is now a fully grown baby inside of me. And my mama memories of infant joy are all flooding back- peaceful nursing, sleeping cuddles, and those tiny noises they make. Gimme that baby.

Baby Sister,
We are so excited to meet you. 
You are loved. 

half moon bay, part 1.

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For Father's Day, I surprised Sam by planning a little over-night getaway to Half Moon Bay. We had been talking about doing one last mini trip (not too far, in case I went into labor) and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it happen. Planning trips is not my thing. Sam usually does that stuff. So, even navigating Airbnb was a challenge for me. Also, there was nothing available- like nothing within two hours of us. I was lucky to snag this place in Half Moon Bay- a location that we had yet to explore. And, I think it turned out to be one of my top three family trips we have taken. We took it slow and easy, and just relaxed. 

I booked this little, tiny beach house through Airbnb. It was perfect! It was fenced off from the tenants, with a private entrance, and a deck and garden with a fireplace. The house had everything we needed, including a huge bed with a second bed in the loft. It also came with the best, most well-behaved cat- whom Eliza named "Goldie" and paid ample attention to. She would try and play with it and chase it around, and Goldie was so chill about it. Eliza loved climbing up and down the stairs, and made a nest for her babies up in the loft. 

We spent the first day exploring the town. I had always assumed that Half Moon Bay was pretty similar to most of the hoity-toity beach towns down there. But, we were pleasantly surprised to find out how rural it felt. For lunch we had sandwiches at the San Benito House Deli, where they serve fresh sandwiches if you are willing to wait in line for them. The Deli is located in a beautiful old hotel, with a garden area to eat in. We were a bit hangry by the time we got our food, but sitting in the shade of flowering trees and eating a good sandwich can make you forget. Also, Eliza made a friend with a little girl, who was possibly from Spain. It was so interesting watching them parallel play because they couldn't obviously communicate, but they were so similar in everything they did. Eating and climbing and picking flowers. After lunch we walked over the the Feed Store to say hello to the baby chicks- which made Eliza very happy.

We explored some of the shops, and grabbed some baked goods, before realizing that we were all exhausted. When we showed up at the cottage, we were so delighted that we ended up just getting some r&r for the remainder of the day. I lay in bed propped up with my massive pillow, Sam watched the Warriors game, and Eliza chattered happily, playing up and down the loft and in and out of the deck- close on the tail of that golden cat. "Goldie loves me," was repeated quite often. 

For dinner, we decided that seafood was a necessity. In the end, I let Sam pick since it was his Father's Day trip and all- and we ended up at Barbara's Fishtrap. It honestly didn't look like anything. But, YES. It was amazing. I have never had calamari so perfectly cooked and tender. Sam and I split a massive dish of cioppino, and Eliza was so excited to see us all wearing plastic bibs. 

I had a nice night planned, where we were going to make fancy s'mores around the fireplace on the deck. But, when we got home, Eliza and I cuddled up in bed and I fell asleep so hard, I don't even remember how it happened- when Sam woke me up later that night, the fire had already died and I was so sad that I missed out that I downed half a key lime tart and passed out again. We all three slept in that massive bed together, which means I got to wake up to that sweet, little face next to mine. "Where's Goldie?"

The next day, we drove down the street to Poplar Beach. We had the craziest Half Moon Bay weather- perfectly sunny the entire time we were there. That morning, we ate the fancy s'mores for breakfast, but didn't last long on the deck because it started to get so warm! We read so many reviews, and got to many warnings about how foggy and chilly it is in the Bay. But, we were lucky enough to see quite a bit of sun. Eliza flew her first kite, and had a good run the very first time. Sam spent most of the rest of the time trying to get it back up again, and Eliza and I played in a pit that someone had dug in the sand. She loves to create. She built "cakes" in the sand, and decorated them with seashells and stick "candles." She was also very serious about learning how to use wet sand to create shapes. We left with a bucket of seashells, and little pink- mostly Sam.

Then, we found Café Capistrano. I saw reviews on Yelp, and thought it would be fun to try since the menu looked so similar to some of the food we ate on the Peninsula on our honeymoon. And, oh! It exceeded all expectations and we would gladly drive down to the Bay any day, if only to eat lunch. The waiter, a young kid from Mexico, seemed pleased that we knew all the dishes. And, we were pleased when they arrived and they were, not only completely authentic, but super fresh. Without a doubt, get the Poc Chuk and Panuchos. 

After lunch, Eliza fell asleep in the car immediately. So, Sam and I drove up to a trailhead and took a nap in the car. We haven't done that in forever, and it felt so good...

More to come!

grandad's visit.

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At the end of May, my dad came out to visit. I love having visitors, especially my dad. And, he was extremely understanding given the circumstances- cramped quarters, an 8-month pregnant hostess, and a grandchild who suddenly turned into a total mess. Eliza was so wound up all week, and full of extreme toddler emotions. It was kind of horrible, to be honest. And, I was too exhausted and round to be able to do much about it. But, luckily, my dad is really good at just going with the flow. We still got to do some fun stuff, eat good food, and hang out. That's what dads are for- to hug you even when you're at your worst. 

We did spend a beautiful and relaxing weekend at Camp Liahona Redwoods. I love this place so much, and I knew that I wanted to take my dad when he came to visit. It just reminds me of everything he loves, and of all his stories of his scout days. The lodge is surrounded by a massive deck and majestic redwoods that makes it seem like you are staying in a tree house. Eliza chilled out the second we got there, and we spent the weekend playing and lounging. We made warm soup for dinner, with homemade biscuits. And, polished off those biscuits for breakfast while hanging out on the deck watching the blue jays. It was a lovely trip.

My dad always seemed to know me so well, and I look forward to his visits every year. Not only for the fun things we plan and do, but because we talk and listen to each other so well. I hope to always keep that. Love you, Daddy.

eliza's third birthday.

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In May, Miss Eliza turned 3! Three!? My baby girl is three now. These pictures make me smile so much, because you can see every bit of color that this girl brings into our lives. She has so much personality, it literally bounces around the room. Everything she does is a production, carefully thought out and full of theatrics. She performs at every possibly moment, and loves to create and add sparkle to anything she can. With such a big personality, comes big love. She loves with all of her heart, and is the most loyal and caring three-year-old you will find. She loves each and every one of her toys, and every single picture she has ever painted. She loves her family and she loves her friends, and would do anything to make them happy. She flashes that smile, and scrunches up her face with excitement, and you know that she's loving life.

We love you, baby girl!

Eliza decided, months in advance, that she wanted a mermaid birthday party. I decided to make it easy this year, and just throw a little get-together at the beach- minimal decorations, a bit of food, a piñata, and an entire beach to entertain the kids. I was so proud of myself! But, then the forecast said rain and we were forced to move the party to our (tiny) house. So, I had to pull together some last-minute mermaid magic. And, if I do say so myself, the party ended up being pretty darn magical. 

Except for the pre-purchased items, we pulled this things together in one night. We fit 18 kids, and their parents, in our little home and it was straight up wild. I stressed a little the night before about not having enough to entertain these kids, but in the end they just needed each other. Eliza was just so incredibly happy to have all of her friends under her roof. She wore her Halloween mermaid costume to greet her guests, and immediately dragged them off to play.

I found some random balloons for the mantle, and added some branches I clipped off of a nearby tree. I used the piñata as a centerpiece. Eliza really wanted a mermaid piñata, but I just couldn't find anything around that wasn't really creepy. When I came across this "3" piñata with shiny, pink fish scales on Amazon, I felt like it was fate. I painted a few signs to put around, and couple of gold scaled table runners. We displayed the Anna Bond mermaid print, which was a birthday gift for Eliza. And, I splurged for the Meri Meri mermaid plates and napkins, because- how could I not? I even strung up a ton of iridescent bubbles to make a hanging curtain above the food table, but we didn't manage to get a picture of that.

Sam was in charge of the cake, and quite possibly took 8 hours to make it. (A little detail-oriented, much?) But, oh! It was so pretty, in the end! So thank you, honey. We also served croissant sandwiches (because Eliza said they looked like "she-shells"), and a few fruits and salads.

I put together a little mermaid make-over table, which was just darling to watch unfold. We painted nails, and applied face sparkles. There were pearl necklaces and sequin crowns. But, the biggest hit were the metallic tattoos! These kids (boys and girls!) were covered in shiny tats by the end of the party. Eliza had an armband on each tiny arm, and one around each ankle. It was so much fun to see their eyes light up when you peeled back the wet paper. And, those suckers are strong! Her friends were decorated for weeks, and I had to use baby oil to get the remaining bits off in time for Sam's brother's wedding photos a couple of weeks later. They were so cute.

We sang to Eliza, and I loved watching that little grin as all eyes were turned toward her. After the song, she was hesitant to blow out the candle and so Vance, the little boy sitting next to her, did it for her. She looked at him, slightly upset, for about 5 seconds before she decided that cake was more important and yanked off the candle, ready to cut that cake open.

Since it was still raining, we couldn't even take the piñata outside. So, Sam and Chris strung it up on a broomstick and we let the kids whack at it in the living room. Toddlers/pre-schoolers hitting in a piñata is pretty much the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen. In the end, Sam had to take it down and smash the daylights out of it, before stringing it back up and letting the oldest kid hit it open. All the tattooed mermaids/boys came a runnin' and filled their bags with candy and goldfish crackers. Such pure happiness!

We sent our guests home with favor bags- always my favorite party item to make. I gold-embossed muslin bags, and Eliza helped me fill them with seashells, mermaid stickers, bubbles, and a seashell candy necklace. It was the craziest couple of hours, and when the house cleared out it looked like the after-math of a toddler frat party- empty juice boxes in every corner of the house, sparkle tiaras littering the ground, pink cake crumbs trailed across the floor, and a very happy-drunk birthday girl. 

We are so grateful for amazing friends who make Eliza feel so special and loved! Happy (late) birthday, Eliza Roxie!

Ps. Eliza is now obsessed with birthday parties. The spring/summer around her are packed with party invites. She loves to pick out gifts, and see what the theme is. She has already decided what her party will be next year- a pineapple birthday party. (I don't know where she gets this from?) She meticulously makes requests for the details of this pineapple party- it's apparently going to be good!