The Evenflo Sibby in New York City!

This post was sponsored by Evenflo as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received the Evenflo Sibby Travel System to facilitate my review.

We took the Evenflo Sibby, available at Target, to New York City and it was the perfect stroller for the trip! It is lightweight and has a little Ride-Along board on the back that a second child can ride on. Knowing my Lola, I was so excited to have a place for her to take a break with all of the walking we were going to do in the city.

Here we are trying Shake Shack for the first time outside of the Museum of Natural History! It was so good!! Junie was happy as a clam in the Sibby, even without the carseat part. I did not want to fly with it or deal with it on the subway, so I left it in the car at LAX.Evenflo Sibby - Kara in the KitchenI gate checked the stroller, so I took it through security with June in the wrap on me. I was able to close it up with one hand by myself, walk through the metal detector, and then open it up by myself on the other side. On the subway, we tried to take elevators as much as possible (P-U), but there were times where we had to carry it down the stairs. I would carry the bottom rung and my mom would carry the handles. Packed down with my beefy baby, diaper bag, and water bottles, it was quite the work out! I was so grateful for the times that people would offer to carry it up or down the stairs for us. New Yorkers are so friendly!  Evenflo Sibby - Kara in the KitchenHere is what the stroller looks like with the car seat inside of it. It clicks in with one click and lifts out easily as well. I like the shape of the carseat handle, it rests easily in the crook of your arm. With this configuration, you have to lay the stroller back a bit more. Junie slept in New York City with it flat quite a bit. There is mesh in the back so I could see her and make sure she was nice and cool! We got so many comments on that little white fan while there!! People kept saying they wished that they could have a little fan of their own :) I bought it here on Amazon (affiliate link).Evenflo Sibby - Kara in the KitchenOn top of the Empire State Building with my girls! My mom is taking the picture because she is scared of heights and didn’t go anywhere near the edge :) I had another mom ask me in line what kind of stroller this was, she had two young boys and loved the Ride-Along feature! It was great because the girls would ride it and then hook it back up so I didn’t kick it. The only thing I wish the stroller had is longer or adjustable handles. I am 5’7″ and I felt like I had to hunch over a bit to reach the handles while Lola was on the Ride-Along board. Other than that, we are loving the Sibby! Evenflo Sibby - Kara in the Kitchen

LEGOLAND California in the KIA Sedona

As an Official LEGOLAND Blogger, I received free tickets to the park for this trip. I also received a KIA Sedona to drive in partnership with DriveShop. As always, all opinions are 100% mine. 

We were so excited to go to LEGOLAND for the first time! My girls are the perfect age for it. They especially love Heartlake City, which is where the LEGO® Friends live. They had to get a picture with all of the girls:LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comWe had a fancy new KIA Sedona to drive down in! This one had the rear DVD entertainment system for the girls. We loved it! Around Santa Barbara, my mom and I were commenting on what a quiet trip it was since the girls had headphones on. Just then, Lola YELLS from the back, not realizing how loud her voice was! It was hilarious :)KIA Sedona - karainthekitchen.comI caught Matt rocking out with it’s sweet sound system to some Boston :)

We were there for the unveiling of the brand new Freedom Tower in Miniland, USA. It’s their version of One World Trade Center in New York City and is the tallest LEGO® tower in the United States! It is made up of over 250,000 LEGOS!LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comThey had a brass band playing the national anthem and Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty walking around on stilts. Lola wasn’t too sure about them, see her grabbing onto Ada’s dress in the picture? ;) LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comThey loved the live show in Heartlake City and then talking to the LEGO® Friends girls afterward.LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comIt really is incredible what they can create with LEGOS!! LEGOLAND - karainthekitchen.comWe had such a blast, even with new little baby June along. She slept and we tried to keep her cool. The water park was excellent and clean. It’s worth it to buy the reusable cup and fill it up at the Coke machines throughout the day :)

Knott’s Merry Farm!

This post was written in collaboration with GigaSavvy. All opinions are 100% mine!

I am SO excited to go to Knott’s Berry Farm at the end of this month! I haven’t been since I was a teenager, and Matt & the girls have never been. From November 21st-January 3rd, Knott’s Berry Farm becomes Knott’s Merry Farm! Snoopy & the Peanuts gang put on a show on ice,

Merry-Farm-2015-Homepage-Rotator-SnoopyOnIce Santa is there,

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and snow falls in Calico ghost town as music plays and lights twinkle! 2015-Merry-Farm-Snow-Homepage-Rotator

Not to mention the rides, train, and festive treats! It sounds completely magical and I can’t wait to go.

Season Passes to Knott’s are a perfect Christmas gift! Check out the info here: 2015 Season Passes

Our 9th Anniversary in Carmel, CA

We were hosted for this trip. As always, all opinions are 100% mine! 

For our 9th Wedding Anniversary, Matt & I left the girls with my mom and drove up the coast with Maverick.Carmel, CA - karainthekitchen.comWe started our Carmel getaway with a delicious dinner at Will’s Fargo.Carmel California-1-2Built in the 1920s, it used to be a roadhouse named the Carmel Tavern. Since 1959, it’s been a steakhouse, serving up classic fare in a rustic setting. It just underwent a renovation, while staying true to its roots, and I am excited to see how it looks now! Carmel California-1The French Onion Soup & Goat Cheese Ravioli were my favorites. Then they surprised us with a sweet anniversary message on our dessert!  Carmel, CA - karainthekitchen.com That night, we were privileged to stay at Holman Ranch. I can’t tell you how peaceful it is up there! It’s amazing how deeply you sleep when your children are safe and sound with Nonnie ;) Carmel California-1-3

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Family Getaway at the Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel, CA

Last month, my mom, husband, girls, and I drove up the coast to stay at the Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel. We were so excited for a little getaway and had the most wonderful time! Upon arrival, we were greeted with Martinelli’s and gourmet cheese from a local cheese shop. I was immediately in love!Travel to Carmel California  karainthekitchen com 1If you’ve never been to Carmel, it is the most charming little coastal town. It’s the perfect home base for your vacation because Big Sur, Monterey, and Pebble Beach are all nearby.

Interesting facts about Carmel:

– There are no addresses in Carmel. To give directions, you tell people between which streets you are located. Because of this, you will see many homes with names.

– Because there are no addresses, residents must go to the Post Office to get their mail. It’s the social hub of town!

– There is actually a law on the books saying that you may not wear high heels over 2 inches high! Insurance people were worried about accidents with the cobblestone roads and uneven roads from tree roots :)

– Every bed and breakfast serves a continental breakfast.

– There are no commercial hotels in Carmel. Only homey, mostly family-owned Bed and Breakfast-type properties.

– There are also no chain restaurants in Carmel.

– Clint Eastwood was once Carmel’s mayor!

– Carmel is devoid of neon signs, expect to see lots of beautifully crafted wooden signs instead.

– There are no traffic lights either!

Carmel is incredibly dog friendly as well. We wanted to bring Maverick but the weather stopped us from doing it. A wet dog in a car is not the best, so we will just have to make another trip to beautiful Carmel with Maverick in tow next time!

Breakfast in the lobby consisted of authentic French pastries, yogurt, juice, and fruit.Carmel #KarainCarmel - karainthekitchen.com (1 of 1)-3I settled for the pain-au-chocolate, of course.Travel to Carmel California  karainthekitchen com 1 2The girls sitting in the children’s sized antique wingback chairs in the lobby. Ada deep in thought, Lola happy as a clam :)Carmel #KarainCarmel - karainthekitchen.com (1 of 1)-2Hand-painted mural that welcomes you into the Hofsas House:Carmel #KarainCarmel - karainthekitchen.com (1 of 1)-18Carrie now runs the hotel that her grandmother (pictured below) started. As a child, Carrie would visit her grandmother and help her by taking guests up to their rooms. She always knew she would end up here, it was just a matter of time. I love stories about family and multi-generational bonds! Carrie went the extra mile and really made us feel like family during our stay.Carmel  KarainCarmel  karainthekitchen com  1 of 1 4Look at the beautiful ocean view from our balcony:Carmel  KarainCarmel  karainthekitchen com  1 of 1 6

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Ada’s First Disneyland Trip

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Matt & I took Ada to Disneyland for the first time! It was 5 days before her 3rd birthday, so she was still free. Yeah! We dropped Lola off with Nonnie in Santa Maria and continued down the road in terrible traffic to Long Beach, where we stayed the night with Matt’s college buddy Steve. He treated us to dinner & his mom runs a regular B&B! She had little water bottles & snacks out for us, then made us crepes for breakfast, and made sure that we had snacks in our bag to get us through our day. Thank you so much Williams! We love you guys!!

So it turns out that their neighborhood is where Ferris Bueller’s house is! I freaked out a little bit and had to have my picture taken in front of it in true geek fashion :)

Ada was so excited! She had played the Disneyland Explorer app on Matt’s iPad so she was excited to see everything in real life! It’s free & fun, great marketing Disney ;)

She thought the tram was a blast…we were joking that we could go home after that!

We brought the stroller for her and told her that was the only way she could go on rides, if she rode there in the stroller. She really wanted to walk but we knew she would get way too tired and might get lost in the crowd. We are so glad we brought it!

I definitely recommend getting there early. We were at the park by 8:30 AM and it wasn’t even crowded. We were able to go to City Hall and tell them it was Ada’s first time. They gave her that cute button and she wore it with pride! Along with the two pins Steve gave her :) She was one accessorized little Cinderella! We saw Chip first and got a picture with him. Ada immediately had to wrap her little arm around him like they were old pals. She says he was very soft :)

Our only plan was to stay calm and relaxed so that we didn’t have an overwhelmed, crying child on our hands. We just walked leisurely around and let Ada decided what looked like fun, instead of pointing at every single thing and trying to get her on every ride.

The first ride we went on were the Astro Orbitors in Tomorrowland! Don’t watch the video if you get motion sickness, I’m talkin’ to you Aunt Lizzie!

Then we made our way over to the Teacups because word is that Fantasyland gets really busy the later it gets. I used the app Mousewait on my phone and it told us which rides had the shortest wait. The only bummer was that it sucked my battery dry.

This picture is right after Matt accidentally bonked Ada in the head with the camera :( She took off running and he reached out to grab her and forgot the heavy camera was around his neck.

She was not happy about it!

Poor girl!

Once we got into a giant purple teacup, she was magically healed!

Then to try and pull out the Sword in the Stone:

She gave it her all!

Look at the tongue action!

She ultimately concluded that she needed Papa’s help and that it was just for big kids to pull out.

Ada’s #1 favorite ride:

It’s A Small World!

Look at the wonder in her eyes!

She was singing along with the Christmas carols and waving to all of the dolls:

I must say that the Christmas version is much more enjoyable than the original. This was the first time I’d ridden it since I was a little girl…I think my parents took us on it once and that was it! While in line we saw Meridia from Brave and Ada got to wave to her. We also passed Cinderella and she waved but Ada was disappointed that she was in such a hurry. We told her Cinderella needed to go potty :)

Enter Frontierland around noon! We laid the stroller flat and put the shade down so that Ada could take a nap if she wanted. She ended up just laying back because Billy Hill & the Hillbillies put on a fun show she couldn’t sleep through! It was perfect for her to decompress and relax as we hung out. Frontierland is incredible at Christmastime. They had a huge area for kids to play reindeer games, make Christmas cards, do crafts, meet Santa & Mrs. Claus, and listen to the show. This is where I found these little nuggets of fried goodness:

MONTE CRISTO BITES! I was so happy. The best Disneyland lunch in bite-size form!

Now over to California Adventure. The only ride I cared about going on was Tower of Terror, my all-time favorite! Ada & I waited for Papa to go on the ride and had a snack. The child swap is incredible. The second Matt got off a ride, I was given a pass and went to the front of the line. Genius!

While we were waiting for Papa to get off the Cars ride…

suddenly a dance party began in the middle of Cars Land, and the cast members were trying to get kids to come out and dance with them. A ton of older children around us said no, and when she got to Ada, she just ran out and danced her little heart out with no hesitation!

So happy (note the glass slippers have been traded out for comfy shoes)!

Then, Lightning McQueen cruised right in front of us! He was talking and thanking everyone for being there. Ada was big on waving to everyone :)

Getting into the evening (notice the little bags under her eyes), we asked Ada if she was still having fun. Her response:

She made friends all over, in every line we waited in. This was for Mater’s Tractor Ride and we all laughed SO hard on it! We were heavy with the 3 of us so it whipped us around really fast! Ada giggled the entire time.

Her second favorite ride was Ariel’s Grotto in CA Adventure. After riding it, she said, “The Sea Witch was SO mad! She was like, grrrrrr!” And made the expression below:

Last ride of the night for Ada girl…King Triton’s Carosel on the Boardwalk.

After all of that, I was ready to head home. Matt insisted that we stay for the World of Color show so we did & it was brilliant! Like the waters of Bellagio in Vegas x 1,000,000.

All day long, I went on any ride that spins with Ada. Matt says he can’t handle them, so I did them all. After World of Color, he says, “Babe! The line is so short for California Screamin’! You have to go on it!” I said no, I was ready to go home, but he talked me into it. I do love that roller coaster…normally. After splitting a churro with Ada and being so tired, I wasn’t really feeling it. But I went against my better judgement. It was awesome until I got off the ride. I said we are going home now! I had the worst headache and decided that I just needed sleep. We get to the car and Ada falls asleep immediately. As we’re pulling out of the parking structure, I tell Matt he has to pull over NOW. He pulls straight into the AMPM and I run inside looking for the bathroom. No bathroom to be found! I ran into a room that turned out to be a closet and threw up on the floor :( I hear a teenage valley girl’s voice behind me say, “Uhhh ma’am, what are you doing?” I turn around, mortified, and say, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t find the bathroom in time…do you have any napkins?” She rolls her eyes at me, no doubt thinking that she’s the one who has to clean it up later! She brought me some towels and I cleaned myself up and RAN to the car. We continued to an Albertson’s where Matt went inside to buy me Saltines and 7UP. I threw up again in the parking lot and a random lady is sitting in her car and asked if I was okay. It was just easier to tell her I was pregnant instead of, “Oh, I just ate a churro and went on a roller coaster and don’t have the stomach I used to since having children.” She was very sympathetic with the pregnancy claim ;)

So: aside from the last events of the day, Disneyland was a raging success! Ada loved everything and still talks about it.

My Packing List for Disneyland:

– baby wipes

– Purell

– change of clothes (she was not about to take her princess dress off, but you never know)

– comfy shoes

– extra panties (she’s been potty trained for a year, but excitement can get the best of any kid)

– sweatshirts/cardigans for everyone

– blanket to hang over stroller during nap time & to keep warm at night

– water bottles

– snacks for waiting in line (clementines, grapes, fruit snacks, crackers, Steve’s cookies!)

– Advil, Excedrin, etc. for mom & dad :)

It was so much fun sharing the magic of Disneyland with my daughter! I can’t wait until Lola is old enough to appreciate it too, I think we’ll go again right before Lola’s 3rd birthday.

Turning 30 With The Monterey Bay Aquarium!

For my birthday weekend, Matt & I drove up the California coast and spent the weekend in the Carmel Valley and Monterey. We got a late start, as usual :) I was really proud of myself for not forgetting a thing for the girls or us, though! My wonderful mom watched the girls and they were in heaven having a sleepover at Nonnie’s house.

After the 3 hour drive, we could not have asked for a more welcome sight! We pulled into the Quail Lodge and it was so peaceful. They just underwent a huge renovation and it shows.

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Loved the giant tub and tiled shower!

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This is the breathtaking view the greeted us when we woke up:

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I wished we could have stayed there forever!

From Carmel, we made our way to Monterey (about a 20 minute drive). We went to The Monterey Bay Aquarium, which turned 30 this year — just like me! They have a one-of-its kind exhibit called Tentacles that opened in celebration of the landmark birthday. It is all about cephalopods and has the most incredible installations.

They put up these tentacles outside that blew in the breeze and reminded me of Ursula :) Evidently they made people talk and speculate about what was going on at the aquarium while they tried to keep it under wraps.

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This special series of exhibits is the first of its kind because cephalopods are known for their mastery of camouflage and hiding. I can’t believe what a great job they did making every species visible!

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You are led through exhibits and I especially loved the history of sea monsters and creatures.

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They have an interactive cephalopod selfie station where every time you make a different face, it changes your coloring into different shades one might use to disguise itself. So much fun!

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Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon 2013 Recap

On the year anniversary of my first marathon, I’ll post my recap of last year’s Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. Congratulations to all of you who ran it today! I am insanely jealous & hope that I’ll be running it again next year. It just wasn’t in the budget this year and I have a pinched nerve in my back right now. Lovely :)

Last Saturday, I ran my first half marathon ever! It was amazing. It was a gorgeous course running from Santa Ynez to Solvang (30 min. from my hometown). I ran with my cousin & friend, and we stuck together the whole time! I keep thinking that when my children look back on this picture, it will be neat to see the gas prices waaaaay back in 2013!
Rach forgot her bib in her mom’s car, so she got a random bib 2 minutes before start time! It was so funny to hear people at the aid stations give us water and say, “Great job, Kara! Go Roxanna!” It’s her sexy running alter-ego :)

Before the race & scenery along the way:

We got stuck in the porta potty cube of death before the race! There was a big square lined with potties on three sides. People were lined up in all directions, it was madness. We ended up in a line that was actually 4 lines merging into two. There were probably 200 runners waiting, and we all were saying there was no way the race would start on time because there were so many of us still waiting. WRONG. They started anyway. And we still had to check our bags because we didn’t want to lose our spot in line! So here I am crossing the start line, running while putting my phone in my armband and hooking up headphones!
The residents along the course were AMAZING! We saw a woman walking a turkey, people sitting in lawn chairs cheering us on, but the best were these people:

Sitting at the end of their property, in the back of their pickup truck with their dogs, waving an American flag. They said, “God Bless America!” as we ran by and I was so happy to be home. You just don’t see or hear that sort of thing in Santa Cruz!

Lindsay, Matt, & the girls met us at about the halfway point in Los Olivos. I could see the big flagpole for about a half mile, and it really gave me a burst of energy knowing that they were there waiting for us!

I ran up and saw Ada cheering, “Go Mommy, you can do it Mommy!” And Lola didn’t know what was going on until I kissed her cheek :)
I didn’t think I was going to be in the picture below…

I was feeling pretty amazing after scaling Corkscrew Hill to Josh Groban’s Awake. I felt like I was in a movie! The golden rolling hills, the oak trees, the green lines of vineyards…it was so beautiful. I absolutely loved running with Jessica and Rachel. It was so good to know that when one of us was weak, another would be strong and lift the others up!
So there was this bison, a very protective mama! She charged Rach when she went in for a picture, and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen! She moved SO fast and everyone running was cracking up. I wish I had a video!

I LOVED miles 4-9. I was in my groove and my calves had loosened up. By mile 10, I needed a potty break and so did Rach. We stopped and then continued on, my hips and pelvis hurting more with each step. I’ve worked so hard since having Lola to get my shifty hips tight again, and I feel like all of my hard work held up until mile 10. My body was exhausted, and I had eaten all of my Skittles & Shot Bloks. It felt like all of my ligaments just relaxed and I could feel my bones moving and rubbing against each other.
At the 11.5 mile mark, I saw a sign with a hot pink shirt on it. I thought, “Hey, I have a shirt like that.” Then I realized that Rachel’s pic was on the poster next to it! It was my awesome sister-in-law, Kandie! She made a poster and came at the point where I wanted to quit. If it weren’t for her at the bottom of that hill, I probably would’ve walked up it instead of run! Sorry for the big sweaty hug, but I was so happy that you came out and surprised us…we needed it at that point!
I wasn’t mentally prepared for the hills at the end. I looked at the elevation map and thought once I made it past Corkscrew Hill, I was home free. Do not discount those rolling hills those last 3 miles! They may look small but they are no joke. I was getting goosebumps and felt like my legs were going to give out at the tops.
I kept saying to myself, “You run 2 miles in your sleep. You run 2 miles in your sleep.”
When I finally rounded the last half-mile (worst of my life), I could hear people cheering and knew the finish line was close. I first saw my Nana & Bobba, which was a surprise because they were driving up from a long week of serving at the Los Angeles Temple! I know they were tired and it meant so much to see them there! I almost burst into tears. Then Matt lifted Ada over the railing and she ran across the finish line with me.

What a perfect way to end a race. See Bobba in the background? :)

She was smiling and waving at everyone cheering us on. I have a future race buddy on my hands!
She loved wearing my medal & almost snatched one of her own!

The three of us, after completing our first half marathon together! My hot pink compression socks saved my calves…and made me stick out in a crowd. Matt said he was looking for my socks! They are miracle workers.

Afterward, Rach & I took advantage of the free massage booth. That should be a part of every race…best feeling ever! I walked (slowly) away with a bruise on the top of my left foot, and my right pinky toe is still numb. My knees and ankles are starting to feel back to normal.

Ada wanted to ice her feet along with Rach :)


Then we headed to Kay’s Country Kitchen in Old Orcutt for the best breakfast food in the West. Seriously. Matt and I split the BAGS Omelette and Texas French Toast. I ate my full halves of everything. Matt says he doesn’t like me running half marathons because I eat all of the food he was planning on finishing for me!
I finally got my big Dr. Pepper that I was dreaming of the whole run.

Our gun time was off because of the porta potty debacle, but my official chip time was 2:57:27.5. I am happy with that because I wasn’t out to set a record, I was out to push myself to finish and never stop. Not bad for having surgery 44 days previous! I feel so empowered and strong after finishing this race. I am so grateful for a strong body and for a will to push forward and work hard. I am so grateful for a Father in Heaven who gave me this body, this beautiful Earth to enjoy, and these wonderful people I get to call family to support me in all of my endeavors along the way.

We decided that this needs to be a Mother’s Day Weekend tradition, so I am excited to run it again next year with more friends and with this experience under my belt! Thanks for a wonderful time Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon!

Birthday Birthday Birth Month!

Last month, I turned the big 3-0! Pretty cool. I found this book in a cute little British shop in Santa Barbara & felt it was appropriate and hilarious.

As I was looking at it, a man walked over and picked up the 70 one. He said he was going to a friend’s 70th birthday party soon and thought it would be a good gift. He said, “You’re 30?” I said, “Almost!” His wife then said, “Oh, that’s depressing. You’re so young!” I’ve had a couple of comments like that regarding 30, so that’s cool. I guess I’m still young? What’s in an age anyway?! Birthdays are an excuse to celebrate and eat cake :)

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Thank you to everyone who made my birthday wonderful! I am so grateful for my family and friends. They’re the best.

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Avila Beach Break

We took a mini vacation up to Avila Beach last week thanks to Matt’s aunt & uncle! Thanks you guys!

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The girls and I had a blast exploring the property while Papa was at work. San Luis Bay Inn would be perfect for a family reunion!

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It was perfect because I cleaned my house and then we left. So when we came back on Friday night it was all ready for Ada’s bday party on Saturday morning because these two little loves couldn’t destroy it :)IMG 2771

We were so excited to have a little getaway at our favorite beach. It was so beautiful because it was freezing cold and the moon was full. We are used to being there at least once a week in the summertime so this was a really nice change of pace.

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One night, my mom came up and met us at the new Ocean Grill for dinner. I shared the filet and scallops with my mom. The filet mingon was good, but none of us were impressed with the scallops. For the price, it was very surprising that no bread or salads were served.

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The day we checked out, the girls and I went to lunch with Matt at Firestone Grill then headed to the Mac store to see if the keyboard on my lappy can be cleaned. Short answer – no. Not unless I want to spend tons of money.

I asked Ada if she had any change and she goes, “I’m just a kid!” Then I said, “Well you usually have a nickel in your pocket or something.” Then she came over and showed me her empty pockets.

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Me in Apple drinking Dr. Pepper…which is what was spilled on my keyboard by a certain 2-year-old.

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Pottery Barn at Christmastime is one of my most favorite things! Ada really took a liking to that fluffy bird ornament. And Lola thought that the basket was for a baby to sleep in :)

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We love Avila & SLO…so happy that they’re in our backyard!