Explore: ROAD TRIPS!!!!

California here we come… right back where we started from…
Whether that made you think of the OC theme or the old 1920s song… that was our theme for the first half of July! Two California trips almost back to back and we got to explore all sorts of things!

Is this real life?!?! Muir Woods, I think I love you…

Our first trip was for a friend’s wedding (more thoughts on weddings in a post to come… I need a little more time to process my thoughts on it first…) and we got to explore a part of California that was brand new to us as a family. We’ve gone to the LA and San Diego area in the past, but never to northern California. While I’ve been to San Francisco a long time ago, I’m pretty sure I’d never gone to Mill Valley, just outside the city and the views were stunning. I was obsessed with Muir Woods and the adorable town. We stayed in an adorable Air BnB close to the wedding venue and the best part of it was that it was right alongside this tiny creek and wooded path. We had fun exploratory walks with the kids and one morning I got to do some outdoor yoga with my soul twin- one of my oldest high school friends. It was fun to see my four year old get excited about the water and the mountains and the bridges we crossed and it was fun to see my one year old toddling around and exploring all these new places. In the middle of Arizona’s almost unbearable heat it was nice to escape somewhere where it is perfect weather to be outside all day in nature. It made me extra excited for the fall to get back to exploring some more hiking trails and parks and other outdoor options. To be honest, I had braced for more meltdowns given all this new stuff, but the kids did really well and so did us parents! We did have a sick kiddo one day, but he stuck it out through the wedding and was sweet as pie- he awoke the next day feeling much better and asking if he could try again to have some cake and dance at the wedding. Poor guy! He was really heartbroken to find out that weddings are kind of one time deals.

1 year old vs. 4 years old… just as obsessed with the goofy piano in toon town…

We had an extra surprise for the kids on the way home from the wedding- thanks to one of my wonderful college friends working some magic, we were able to take a day at Disneyland. My son was in total disbelief and shock when we woke him up early that day and told him we were going to visit Mickey. It took him about 30 minutes for it to really register that this was real life. We had a crazy, packed day that included lots of exploring in new ways. The last time we were at Disneyland, little man was just over a year old and had no idea what was going on. It was basically a Disney trip for hubby and I with a cute little hitchhiker int he baby carrier and the only thing that really registered for him was his giant stuffed mickey doll and the parades. This time, he knew what was going on and had big opinions on what he wanted. It was the first time we planned our day around bathroom breaks and how we could get one kid or another to take a stroller nap. We had adventures on the attractions little guy was tall enough to ride (a surprising number! Some maybe he wasn’t ready for… if he never rides Splash Mountain again, I’m sure he will blame me during the therapy sessions…) and took our time exploring little things we might not have noticed in Toon Town. And the carousel is an attraction I have 100% neglected at Disneyland (because… you know… they exist other places), but our son told us it was the coolest carousel he’d ever seen and that it was one of his favorite parts of the day (because… of course it was…) Our daughter was still more or less just along for the ride but she had a lot of fun on some of the rides and absolutely adored the tiki room (she busted out dancing) and the delicious food options. We ended the day in the most perfect way with the most magical fireworks experience right in front of the castle. Once again my son looked like he was in a bit of a tired shock with how bright and beautiful it all was and it was the best to hear him quietly say “wow” and “whoah” over and over again. He also explored all the little trinkets and toy shops throughout the day as he searched and searched for his one souvenir. He pointed out items I would have never noticed and made it fun just to window show with him because everything was exciting and beautiful and ignited so much joy.

Just a few short days after we got home from our Disney adventure, it was back to exploring nature- this time at the beach! My son had been begging to go surfing and his adventurous spirit shone brightly as he fearlessly rode a few waves… on the boogie boards alongside his cousin (his version of
“surfing”) and he spent a lot of time exploring how the waves would bring down certain sand castles and just wash over others but leave them standing. He dug holes and drew pictures in the sand and
just loved running around the beach and climbing along the shore and hunting for cool rocks. My daughter was also fearless and a total water baby. She ran among the waves and even when she fell flat on her face  she just got up laughing and then ran in for more. She loved finding different shapes and sizes of shells and had a very hard time leaving the beach to take a nap because she wanted to keep exploring and experiencing the sights and sounds of the ocean. Last year she was just this baby blog who mostly hung on my hip and nursed and that was wonderful and peaceful but this year it was so exciting to watch her interact with her surroundings and take part in what has become our family vacation tradition. I loved it so much.

A few days ago I posted on my instagram account about the joys of stealing time for a few “mother daughter dates” while my son was at Vacation Bible School. I think what I said in that caption applies very much to how I felt about our time at the beach- “I spend a lot of time feeling sad about how fast my kids are growing up- it’s nice to see glimpses of the fun we get to have together as they get older” We got to do things on these California trips that we couldn’t have done in the same way last year. And we’ll get to do new trips and other activities together as a family as they get older. And I’m excited about that. The beach vacation included time with my nephew and some of my siblings and my mom and stepdad and it was fun to recognize that my own mother remembers when her kids were the age her grandkids are now and running along the beach… and while some things are the same- they will still run into the waves and boogie board… she might miss other things… like the way sandcastles are no longer things of wonderful but an acceptance in the futility of work that will be washed away (my brother’s words more or less) but she gets to explore the joy of this experience in new ways with her kids at the ages they are now- not just in getting new grandkids to bring along, but in sitting with her son on the beach as they read books together, and in being able to pack lunches without worrying that they will end up covered in sand in two seconds which is a part of my current life stage.

So I’m excited to keep exploring new places, but also to continue to revisit the old and keep exploring the way my relationship with them changes as my life changes.

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