Posted in anxiety, escape, family, fun, happiness, kids, Life, Musings, People, random

Vacation Brain

So, today, at 2:00 p.m., we leave for our long awaited trip to Tahoe! I am so excited! We had to postpone going in February because it has just been dumping snow in the Sierra-Nevada’s, but things have mellowed out (fingers crossed!) and we should be good to go now.

Anyway, according to my reservation, I have been upgraded to a suite, which is SO cool, because at the last second my older daughter decided she wanted to go. I am really looking forward to a couple of days with both my kiddo’s! You have no idea. We never really do much as a family now that Aisley is out on her own…she’s 21 and doesn’t have much use for her 8 year old sister. So, this will be cool. Well, hopefully it will be. We do have a five hour car ride to get through.

Anyway, I should have been preparing all week for this. I should have been cleaning and doing laundry and packing, but…true to my ADHD nature, I haven’t done shit. So today, while I work, I will also be doing laundry and trying to leave the house in a decent state. I have Cinamon coming over to house sit for me…maybe I’ll just offer her some money to do some cleaning while I’m gone.

So, we are going to be up in the snow, skiing and snow-boarding, sledding and hot tubbing, and we’ll probably take a trek into South Lake Tahoe so that my 21 year old can gamble a little for the first time ever! I’m just really excited to be getting away. I need it. This year got off to a rough start for me, and I’m ready for some fun. Trust me, pictures will follow.

In other news, this bout of anxiety seems to be relinquishing its hold on me, bit by bit. I think, when you are going through something like I have been going through, you begin to fear the anxiety so much that it creates a new kind of anxiety- anxiety about anxiety, if you will. You become nervous about it coming back, and therefore continue the cycle. Sort of a horrible self-fulfilling prophecy. You know, I have always been a tightly wound person. No one would ever describe me as “mellow” or “laid back”. That just is not who I am, no matter how much I wish it was. I am trying really hard to learn to accept myself the way I am, to not strive for an ideal that just is not me. There is plenty to love about who I am, and I need my own love right now, very much. So I am trying to change the running conversation in my head to one of love and positivity rather than despair and disappointment. This is no easy task. But like every hard thing I’ve gone through, I have no doubt I will succeed, and be better and stronger for it.

And that is how I know I am on the upswing- when I can see a glimmer of hope, find some excitement for the future, then I know the worst is behind me. I am going to go into this trip with no expectations and lots of love for my beautiful kids and myself, and just let things unfold as they will.

When I get home, I have some pretty big plans. I can’t wait to share them all with you. In the meantime, may your weekend be blessed, may you be surrounded by people and things that make you happy, and may you love yourself madly. Talk to you soon!

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Posted in adventure, Blogging, escape, family, fun, kids, Life, travel

Vacation Recap: Days 2 & 3

First of all, did you know that, in the world of a seven-year-old, free breakfasts at hotels are a REALLY big deal? Yeah, neither did I. I mean, aren’t all breakfasts free when you are seven? No matter, though, the free food at both of our hotels was a major bonus for Camryn, so it was a great way to get her out of bed a little earlier than she may have otherwise.

We said goodbye to the Quality Inn in Pismo, with its free breakfast, awesome pool/hot tub situation, and giant mud pit out back, and headed out about 9 on Saturday morning. I stopped at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf because I’d always heard about it, but never seen one. It was fine, nothing to get too excited about. And we made one final stop at the Butterfly Grove in Pismo, which was awesome. The really silly thing about that is, we have a Butterfly Sanctuary here in Pacific Grove (basically, a resting stop for Monarch Butterfly’s on their annual migration) but could I ever be bothered to stop by in the past 25 or so years? Of course not. Everything is cooler out of town. And by the way, it really was pretty amazing. The first thing we saw were two Monarchs who appeared to be…um…well, they were either fighting or getting it on, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t fighting. Camryn thought it was cute that they were “hugging” and we left it at that. Just beyond the Butterfly Grove is a really nice campground (empty due to flooding from the recent rains) and just beyond that is the beach, so we got a nice little stroll in before we hit the road.

The drive to Santa Barbara was really nice, it was sunny, traffic was light, and we came in on the Cabrillo Highway rather than 101, so I got a different view than I would’ve otherwise. I drove in through a canyon, and, even though I wasn’t that far away from home, the difference in the way the place looked- the palm trees everywhere, the flowering trees…I could tell I wasn’t home anymore. It was kind of thrilling!

sb zoo

We were way too early to check into our room, so we went straight to the SB Zoo. I haven’t been to any zoo’s in my life except for the one in Fresno, where I grew up (don’t tell anyone that’s where I grew up!) and it was so long ago, and my memories of it were just that it was SO FREAKING HOT there. This zoo was chill as could be. Perfect temperature, amazing views, not too crowded. Cam and I sat in front of the Gibbons for at least half an hour, watching them groom each other and swing around on ropes. Although it isn’t a huge zoo, it is a wonderful place. We fed the goats, went through the Eew! room (all the scary/venomous/poisonous creatures), played in the kids area where you can make music, slide down a grass hill on cardboard, and climb in a “spiderweb” made of rope, and Cam even did some crafts! We stayed for a very long time. By the time we left, it was well past check in time, and we were ready for a swim.

ramada pool

Our room at the Santa Barbara Ramada was really nice. The pool there was much bigger, and the pool area was much, much nicer, but the hot tub was a lot smaller. We hung out by the pool until we were starving, and then I was feeling lazy, so we just went to the IHOP across the street. Listen, if you aren’t in the mood for pancakes and you aren’t eating meat, IHOP might not be the place for you. Actually, it’s just pretty gross in general. But the service was good and all that, so it was fine. If I would have ventured just a little further down the road, there were several other places that I could have experienced, but I didn’t, so live and learn.  We hit the sack early and woke up bright and early for our third day down south.

moxi

On day three, after our second free breakfast, we again headed out about 9, and made our way to MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Science and Innovation (I think that’s right, anyway). It got talked up big time on all the travel websites for Santa Barbara, and sounded like something Cam would enjoy, so I purchased tickets the night before, and that was our first stop of the day. Because I am a paranoid freak about parking, we got there super early, but snagged a coveted spot right out front, and, rather than just sit there for 45 minutes and wait, I decided we would take a little walk. Boy am I glad I made that call! We were a block away from Stearns Wharf, and I hadn’t even known. So, we took a nice stroll around the AWESOME neighborhood, down the wharf, and got back to the museum just in time for opening.

The museum was great and Cam had a ball- they have pneumatic tubes that you can put a scarf in and try to watch where it goes in the transparent tubing, to see where it comes out. They have magnets and sound booths where you can make your own sound effects, and more stuff than I could possibly explain (mostly because I don’t really know how to.) The best part was the rooftop level, but not because of all the cool stuff up there- it was the views that I was super impressed with. Man, Santa Barbara is a beautiful city. One of the prettiest I have ever seen.

sb natural history

After a quick lunch at a pizza place next door, we headed to the Natural History Museum, which was offering discounted prices due to construction. This museum was right next to the Mission, and I am so annoyed that I forgot to stop by there. In my defense, after spending hours at two museums, I was just ready to drop, and my GPS took me back to our room a different way, or else I probably would have. Anyway, the Natural History museum was great- in many ways, a lot like every other Natural History museum you’ve seen, although they did have some really cool Chumash relics- like, a TON of them. Lots of little dioramas of daily life in ancient Native settlements, which I found fascinating. I think Camryn was most impressed with the blind owl she got to meet, as well as some type of snake she was allowed to touch (both were alive, and I don’t know the story of either thing).

We left there, stopped by the grocery store for a few things, and headed back to the room for a final evening of swimming. The pool and hot tub were deserted Sunday night, which was great for us, and we stayed out there forever, finally heading back to the room when the wind picked up. We had leftover pizza for dinner, watched a movie, and went to sleep.

Overall, I will say this- had I been alone, or with one of my friends, there are a lot of different things I would have done that I didn’t do on this trip. But the things we did do were PERFECT for a kid on vacation with her mom, and we had a ball. The smartest thing I did was make sure our rooms had a pool and hot tub- if that had been the only thing we did all weekend, Camryn still would have had the best time. She rated our vacation a 10 out of 10, and I got a LOT of hugs and “I love you, mom!’s” while we were there. It was good to be the good guy for a few days, at least!

And now we are home, and I need to recover from my vacation, and find my routine all over again…I can’t wait until it’s time to take another trip!

*** All of these photos are from Google images. I can’t get mine to upload to my stupid computer***

Posted in adventure, Blogging, escape, fun, Holidays, kids, Life, living, parenting, travel

Vacation Recap, Day One: Pismo

pismo

I am writing this from a hotel room in Pismo at 5:15 in the morning, and I have this to say- the number one time that my bizarre sleeping habits get on my nerves is when I am away from home. It doesn’t matter what time I go to sleep (although, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that I was asleep by probably 8 last night) I always wake up between 4:30 and 5. This is fine when I am at home, but when I am not, it can be a little…limiting. It’s not like I can take off and go exploring. I have a seven year old who is a bit of a night owl, and I know she was up late because I finally threatened her life at 11 last night if she didn’t put the Kindle away and try to sleep. Also, I am writing this to the smooth sounds of Larry King and some other guy, pedaling some type of credit repair scheme on an infomercial. I can’t find the TV remote, and I don’t know how to turn it off.

On the plus side, I had the presence of mind to bring my Starbucks Via Instant Vanilla Latte packets with me, so I don’t have to go without coffee or drink the awful crap they give you in these bargain hotels! I have heard horror stories about using the little coffee pots anyway, and even though they might not be true, I don’t generally want to gamble on that. Another good thing is that my trusty little laptop seems to be working okay so far, so I get to write this while I let Cammy sleep. Hey! I just found the off switch for the TV! I am so happy! I have a hard time writing with background noise. Ah, that really is better.

Okay, so here’s the recap for day one: I had a chiropractor appointment at 9:30 yesterday, and I had to go, so I went to that real quick, hoping that whatever he did to me didn’t make my lower back hurt even worse than it already did. As an aside, I will tell you that my back was REALLY hurting yesterday morning, after my first night in my brand new bed which was a terrible bummer, but…the doctor told me to give my back a few weeks to adjust. Anyway, naturally, whatever he did to me made everything a thousand times worse, and then he put some long strips of black tape on my back, which I have to leave there for several days. I was determined to let none of the deter me, though, so on I went. I got my car washed and vacuumed, and got my oil changed like a responsible adult, went home, grabbed our stuff, and off we went, stopping for gas real quick on our way out of town.

Literally, within 30 minutes, Camryn was asking “How many more hours til we get there?” Which confirmed for me that I had made the right call in deciding to stick closer to home on this trip. But all in all she was a good sport, eventually just covering her head with my sweater and taking a light snooze. I just enjoyed the drive through farmland and rolling hills, feeling a little bit thrilled with the scenery and the Spanish names of all the little towns I passed by, like Santa Margarita and others I already forgot. Anyway, we rolled into town about 3 o’clock, and had no trouble at all finding the hotel.

The hotel. Oh, God, this is so funny. There’s this thing that happens in my brain whenever I am at a hotel that is somewhat sub-par. I imagine my mother there with me, being outraged about whatever thing is just not right. So, anyway, I booked the room online, and of course, they showed pictures of the sparkling blue pool, and the neat, cozy rooms. What they didn’t show, however, was the back row of rooms (where I am staying) that have an expansive view of…wait for it…a GIANT mud pit, with a rather quaint, meandering mud river flowing through it. There are tractors, also, placed artfully around in the mud, and in the distance, there is just a peek of a lovely RV village. The version of my mother that I carry around with me is disgusted by this. Luckily, if anything, I find it amusing, so no biggy.

quality inn pool

We dumped our stuff in our room, and headed out to find food. I don’t know where anything is in this town, so I picked a place out of the little book they leave in hotel rooms, and we headed there. Unfortunately, I missed my turn, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I found myself right in the little downtown area quite by mistake, and I rolled right into a public parking lot, where we decided to just walk around and see the sights. There were the usual salt water taffy places, and surf shops, and kitschy little souvenir stores- all stuff I could see any day of the week at home, but of course, it was all much more interesting because it was somewhere new. As we searched for a place to eat, I saw a young couple eating what looked like fresh potato chips, and since the original place we were going to eat at was called “Chipwrecked”, specializing in homemade chips, I asked where they’d gotten them. Sure enough, the place I had been shooting for was right there across the street! Lucky again!

The restaurant is tiny, and there was only one person working behind the counter, but we waited, placed our order (I got the bella bella, a Portobello sandwich, Cam got a grilled cheese) and then proceeded to wait some more. The poor lady working hadn’t planned on it being so busy, and we weren’t in a hurry at all, so I just hung out in the sun outside. The food was really good, the chips were good, but the best part was that there were tons of dipping sauces for the chips that you could try. I got the loaded baked potato, which I realized a bit too late had bacon in it (Meatless March, remember?) and the beer cheddar ( one dip and it had so much beer in it that I almost called my sponsor…another oops.) but they were both really good. I didn’t keep going with the beer one, but I’m not going to lie, I finished the one with bacon. Cam tried the brownie batter dip- it was really good with the salty chips, but she just ate it plain. I mean…we’re on vacation, right? Live it up, kid. By the time we finished eating, the place had cleared out, and I got to chat with the woman behind the counter- turns out, her name is Sarah, she’s the owner, and I’m pretty sure we are best friends now. Totally unflappable woman, with big dimples when she smiles, and from the looks of it, lots of loyal local customers who were more than happy to wait for their food. That tells you everything you need to know, in my opinion. Solid place.

chipwrecked

Oh my gosh, these Latte’s are clearly working their magic on me. This is a long ass post. Anyway, after that we came back to the room, put on our suits, and hit the heated pool and massive hot tub for about two hours. It was awesome. Cam found some kids to play with while I just soaked, and I didn’t even have to worry because the pool was only 4.5 feet deep. When we were done, I ran Cam to McDonalds for more food (I was still stuffed) and I told her “I’m so tired…I’m just exhausted…but in a good way.” And then the light bulb went off over my head. “I’m relaxed!! That’s the word I was looking for!” To be honest with you, that’s not a word I use very often in relation to myself. I guess that is what vacations are for, right?

Well, if you made it this far, congrats! I left out the part where we went to the beach, but now it’s in here, so…yeah. I’ll be checking in again soon for part two!