Summer’s Over

I’ve been away from my little blog for awhile, ok a long time, but I’m ready to start telling you what’s going on with my family again. We’ve been super busy and enjoying summer so I thought I’d recap what we did.

We’d been at the theater for awhile.

Colette finished 4th grade with great grades, lots of awards and a wonderful job at recital. She had a really good year.

Really good hamburgers in San Juan Bautista

The Monarch Cove Inn is really nice

We love Shadowbrook and even took their vintage taxi there

We went to Capitola for vacation and had a really nice relaxing trip. Usually our trips are pretty structured but we just relaxed and Colette slept a lot, we all did. Colette also found a love for Pizza My Heart and they have gluten free pizza now so we could all enjoy it. She would have eaten there every day.

Colette found filters on my Instagram

We found a great place that has gluten free cones

Colette loves seafood & Jeran loves the portrait option on his iphone

After a few days in Capitola we went over to Monterey and relaxed some more. We went to the aquarium and ate more ice cream, we ate way too much ice cream on this trip. But it was nice to take it slow and just spend time together.

Kool-Aid died hair

We’ve celebrate a bunch of family birthdays and did crazy things like dye my daughters hair red. She’s been wanting to do this for a couple years and I finally gave in since she really needed a hair cut anyway.

Rockets at VBS

Even on vacation Jeran worked on his dissertation

We had VBS and dance intensive the same week, and then more dance the next week too. But the week of VBS was crazy. Jeran was at Google for a mapping training and then he came home for a day and then headed to LA to defend his dissertation. We survived though and Jeran was almost done with his paper.

My crock pot died so I upgraded

One day my crock pot just decided to not turn on, it was dead. So, during Prime Day I got an Instant Pot. I’ve only made 1 thing so far but it was pretty good and I’m sure with this busy school year coming it’ll get a lot of use.

Waiting for Superior Dairy to open

We made a family trip to Hanford to eat ice cream. Last year when we tried to go it was so busy we gave up. This year we went super early and the kids played outside while we waited.

17th Anniversary

My little wizard at Universal

My parents wanted to take Colette to Universal since she likes the Harry Potter series now. They had a great time and spoiled her a lot. This girl is so lucky she got chose by the Dragon Heart and got to pick her wand out at Olivander’s. I think I’ll ask Colette if she’d write a post about the trip. While they were in LA we went up to Napa to celebrate our anniversary. We had a great time and really enjoyed our tour at Schramsberg winery.

1st day of 5th grade

School started today and I’m sad to get back to the schedule. I like the lazy summer days with nowhere to rush. But I know this will be an exciting year. Jeran’s almost done with his dissertation, it needs to get published, and then he’ll be Dr. Ott. Colette has a lot of dance and we’ll be off to celebrate my nephews first trip to Disneyland soon. We’re having some Disney withdrawls, last year we had a pass and went 22 days. It was a little crazy and we stayed away for the summer but I have a feeling it’ll be a Disney year again, we just can’t stay way too long. I don’t think we’ll go that many times again. So that’s what we did this summer. I hope you had a great one too.

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What Have We Been Up To?

It seems we’ve had something going on every week since my daughter’s birthday. So, I thought I’d just recap what we’ve been up to.

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We went to Disneyland for Colette’s 9th. The whole family came, aunties, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, from both sides and of course the cousins. She loved having everyone at Disneyland with her. Colette loves Tsum Tsums so I decorated our room with a tsum banner and made he a little birthday surprise bag full of tsum tsum treats. We also made favor bags for everyone that came and delivered them the night we got into town, of course they had a tsum tsum theme too.

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Jeran and I tried out the Old Town Clovis Wine Walk. It was fun, a little warm though. If you every do a wine walk wear flats and bring a tote bag. I saw a lot of women with really sore feet at the end of the night. The bag would be nice to carry the papers around that get punched at each location, plus you might want to pick up some info on a winery and you need somewhere to put all that stuff.

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Colette gave her first presentation at school. They had to do a report on a family member, that as recent as possible, immigrated to America. They did Google slides about the country they are from (Colette did Portugal) and had a show and tell about their family. It was a lot of work for a 3rd grader but she loved setting up her slides and she presented so well, I was really proud of her.

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We threw my sister a baby shower. It was a Neverland theme. So we had Pirate, Indian and Mermaid tables. It came out really cute and I got to make the dream catcher for my centerpiece. We weren’t sure if she’d be able to attend since she’s on bed rest. So, we set up a hammock and Sarah got to recline through the event. It was a nice chance for her to get out of the house, besides doctors appointments.

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We took off to Morro Bay for a 1 day trip just to get out of town for a little while. We went to the aquarium, had lunch then ice cream and headed back home. We hit horrible traffic, because of that we actually stopped at Jack’s Cafe. We always talk about stopping there. It’s just an old roadside restaurant (the James Dean memorial is there too) but it was a perfect stop for us, we needed to get out, and the food wasn’t bad.

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Last weekend Colette auditioned for her studios mini competition team. She’s been part of the Jumpstart teams that stay local and anyone can join, but they’re starting some mini groups that travel and her teacher wanted her to try out. We’ll soon see if she made the team.

So we’ve been a little busy, but it’s been fun too.

Velocity Convention

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A little while ago a few of the younger dance teams at our studio were invited to come along with the big girls to a dance convention. Usually the younger girls stay local for competitions, but this was different. The Elite teams were going to compete but the younger girls were just going along for the experience and the convention. This would be 2 days of dancing. Colette was lucky, she would be in an age bracket that only danced half day. It was a good introduction to the experience, but still 4 straight hours of dancing is a lot, I wanted to make sure she really wanted to do this.  Needless to say she was ecstatic to be invited and insisted we go. We booked our room at the Anaheim Hilton and started researching dance conventions. I found there isn’t a lot of information out there about dance conventions so here’s what I learned this first time around.

  1. Book your room at the convention site. We did this just because we weren’t sure what to expect but this really is the best.  You can get to the early call times easy and also get your tired dancer back to the room fast when the day is done. Our team didn’t compete but for the ones that did it’s a really long day with classes in the morning and competition in the evening. It’s just easier to be close to your room, and dance supplies.
  2. Dress for success. I got Colette a couple new outfits, she needed them anyway since she’s grown since the beginning of the school year. I let her pick out something that made her feel confident. And she rocked her black and hot pink outfits all weekend.
  3. Be consistent. Everything I did find online about conventions mentioned keeping a similar look the whole time. This way the teachers remember you. So Colette had a color scheme and a hairdo that was always the same. She had double dutch braids that kept her hair out of her face but also was different. Most girls didn’t wear braids so she stood out a little more.
  4. Be comfortable. Wear something you can sit on the floor in. Since Colette was in the mini sessions, most moms stick around and watch, and there are not enough chairs in the room. Just camp out on the floor, you’ll probably get a better spot this way too.
  5. Bring snacks. Your dancer will be hungry and only get minutes between sessions. So, bring drinks and easy things to munch.
  6. Pack a picnic. Another thing I learned before hand was lunch at conventions are a nightmare. They don’t get a lot of time and the options are not the best. We could have done without this since Colette’s classes only went to noon the first day at 1 pm the second but I think the picnic was the best idea I had. My husband is gluten intolerant and Colette should stay away from dairy so I packed 2 picnics. The first day we had a Mediterranean chicken picnic with a rotisserie chicken, hummus, olives, tomatoes and pita chips or gluten free matzo. The second day we did a charcuterie platter with cured meats, olives, pickles and gluten free baguettes. It was really simple and it didn’t require much refrigeration, we did have a fridge at the hotel otherwise this would have been hard to do. It was also nice to know what we were going to eat. All we had to do was find a space for our lunch. No arguing over where to eat and no waiting,which was great because Colette was starving.
  7. Have Fun! Since Colette had half days we got to spend some time across the street at Disney and got Annual Passes since we’ll be in Anaheim a few times this year. You’ll probably see a lot more Disney posts because of the AP. We also hung out at Downtown Disney with Colette’s best dance friend, eating junk food and buying tsum tsums.

It was an adventure and we all enjoyed it so I’m sure we’ll be doing it again next year.

How Not to Feel Old on Your Birthday

Every year when my birthday comes around my Grandma asks, “Do you feel older?” I usually say not really, but this year I can say I feel younger.

Early birthday dinner at the School House in Sanger

Early birthday dinner at the School House in Sanger

The Monday before my birthday my daughter and husband didn’t have school/work and Jeran decided we should go skiing. We haven’t been since before Colette was born, probably 9 to 10 years ago. I wasn’t very good then so I was pretty worried I’d be awful now. But Jeran was excited, he’s a great skier even though he doesn’t think so. We left Superbowl Sunday to head up to China Peak. This is a great day to travel if you don’t mind missing the commercials, I mean the game. No one was on the road and the resort wasn’t full of people. I’ve only ever been there on Saturdays before when everyone else is trying to fit it in too. We checked into our room and were surprised to find out we got an economy room, that meant we had to share a bathroom like it was camp. Colette was really confused by this but eventually thought it was fun. The only problem was she got up in the middle of the night and I had to take her across the hall. If we had had a bathroom I could have slept all night. That night we had dinner at the lodge. It was nice and everyone who was at the resort was either eating dinner too or at the bar watching the game. After dinner we got some s’mores kits at reception and headed outside for our treats. I think Colette ate more marshmallows than ever before.

 

Monday we got up early and headed to the day lodge for breakfast. We would soon find out that the Monday after the Superbowl is the day to go skiing. Just families with little kids seemed to be there, even in the hotel. The ski classes were packed in the morning. Colette took a 2 hour beginners class and did great. We watched her as I went up and down the longer beginners hill. I was starting to have fun and thought I didn’t forget too much. Soon it was lunch and then Colette was back for another 1 hour class. This time the classes were much smaller and almost everyone who showed up for one had a private lesson. We took this chance to get on a lift and actually try to ski. Well I stink at it. I was worried the whole time and certain parts were really icy. It took me forever to get back down. I wish I was better, Jeran has so much fun, I think I just need more practice 8+ years is too long. We finally made it back and we picked up a tired Colette ready to call it a day. We sent Jeran up to actually ski a little while we packed up our stuff and got out of the sun. We were tired and ready to come home.

Ready to hit the bunny hill

Ready to hit the bunny hill

The next day we all woke up tired and sore. Colette of course bounced back right away, she complained he legs were a little sore, but she was proud of how well she had done and the aches weren’t much. Jeran and I on the other hand took a few days to get back to normal, but, when my birthday came I felt great! So, I’ve learned how to not feel old on my birthday. Go skiing, or some other exhausting sport, 3 days before your birthday. Have fun, play hard then go home and feel like a really old woman. But, right before your birthday the aches and pains will go away, you’ll just remember that you can still (insert crazy activity here) and you’ll feel younger than ever, or at least younger than you felt a couple days ago.

 

Cautiously Courageously Yours,

Liz

“BOND”ing in the Alps

Riding the gondola up to Piz Gloria

Riding the gondola up to Piz Gloria

Recap of our Mediterranean Cruise & Trip to Switzerland Day 12

We were ready to make our trek up the mountain. We checked the view on our tv to see if it was a clear morning. One of the stations showed the mountain webcams so you could see if it was a good time to make the trip up. You don’t want to make it all the way up and not be able to see the amazing view. We had chosen to go to Piz Gloria, it’s not the tallest mountain, but that was one of the reasons we decided on this location. I wasn’t sure how Colette would do just looking at the scenery. I had a feeling she’d hate the gondola ride up and then be bored once we got to the top. So, Piz Gloria was perfect. At the top is a revolving restaurant. I thought we’d get up there and once she was bored we’d have a snack and still be able to enjoy our time there. You’ve probably seen this restaurant if you’ve ever watch James Bond. It’s the building on the very top of a mountain in “On Her Majesties Secret Service”. There’s also a Bond museum there too.

Colette shocked me, she loved the gondola ride. She enjoyed looking out and I enjoyed it more too because she was having such a good time, I really don’t like heights. I shouldn’t have been surprised, we learned on this trip that Colette loves flying, not the food though, she tells everyone that, so a gondola was  no big deal.

We made it to the top!

We made it to the top!

We took a bunch of pictures and enjoyed the cool air and then made our way to the Bond museum. Jeran and I had a good time, Colette was bored though, she’s never seen James Bond, she knows that daddy likes the series but that’s about it. She did enjoy all the things you got to play with but she was ready to go and check out the gift shop as soon as possible. So, we went up to the gift shop looked in at the restaurant, we weren’t hungry yet, and headed back to the gondola to ride down to Murren. Turns out the gondola was broken. I wasn’t too worried, which is sort of weird for me, but it stressed Jeran out a bit. He was worried how he was going to get us back down safely. We couldn’t make the hike down, some people did take that option though. All we could do was wait. At least we were stuck on the top of this mountain that has a restaurant, store, museum and bathrooms. I think that’s why I was ok with it. People work up there all the time and there must be safety measures, we would be ok. So, I convinced Jeran we needed a snack in the restaurant and we relaxed. But once the announcement came that the gondola was working again Jeran stuffed us into the gondola with all the other anxious passengers. I was smashed into that thing and my feet weren’t even flat on the ground,there was no personal space on this ride down. The gondola was maxed out but we made it to Murren.

 

Exploring a mountain town

Exploring a mountain town

We didn’t get to stay in Murren long but we did get Colette her first pocket knife. It is a beautiful little town. Before we knew it it was time to ride the gondola all the way back down. We made it safely and then took a ride around the lake to visit St. Beatus cave. Colette did great on the gondola trip, but not so good with a cave. Apparently the girl likes to be up high and not deep in a mountain.

 

On our walk up to the cave entrance

On our walk up to the cave entrance

We made our way up to the cave and took way too many pictures, it was gorgeous. It was pretty busy and we had to wait for a tour. They have German, French and English tours. The guy who sold us tickets said they translate all the tours into English so we could go on the next one. Well, that wasn’t true we ended up learning about the cave in German and French, we didn’t get much out of it but it was still nice to see. Actually this is how I expected most of the trip to go. I didn’t expect everyone to speak English everywhere. I was glad they did, but if we had had a harder time communicating our trip still would have been great. Actually once we got to Switzerland it was harder to communicate with most people, because they would speak in German first, when we didn’t answer right away they would cock their heads and try French, we’d then say we speak English and they’d stop for a moment and then switch to English. I guess we looked like we belonged. Colette hated the cave she complained the whole time, but once we were done she headed to the play area and had a great time. This was the only thing Colette really complained about the whole trip. So we won’t be doing any more caves for awhile.

 

Jeran was really happy with his meal

Jeran was really happy with his meal

We had way too much ice cream on this trip

We had way too much ice cream on this trip

I had done some research on a nice traditional Swiss restaurant the was gluten free sensitive. We found Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen. Jeran was in heaven. He loved everything and then we had to had the movenpick ice cream, because for some reason we couldn’t stop eating ice cream on this trip. The restaurant is great, but busy, we didn’t have reservations but lucked out. Reservations are definitely recommended. It was a great way to end our day of exploring.

Swiss Family Adventure

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Recap of our Mediterranean Cruise & Trip to Switzerland Day 11

We were ready to spend the day in Ballenburg, this is an open air museum that shows what life was like in Switzerland long ago. It’s a huge park with trails that take you all around looking at homes from different times. They also have a lot of animals and hands on activities for kids. This was more of a local tourist attraction and didn’t seem to attract a lot of foreigners, which was nice because we got to do what other families who live there do with their kids. When we bought our tickets we also purchased a book that explained all the exhibits. This was really good because since this place appeals to mostly local families a lot of the information at the exhibits are in German. We wandered the trails looking at merchants, shop keepers, lace makers and farmers homes. We learned about traditional Swiss music, animals, crafts, wandered through gardens, visited a saw mill and saw charcoal being made. Every once in awhile you’d get a chance to try something.

Being a Pioneer in Switzerland

Being a Pioneer in Switzerland

It was a really nice way to sample historic Switzerland. As we wandered around we noticed there were a lot of nice resting spots with fires going. They had bbq stations set up and families would bring their lunch and relax before moving on to the next adventure. All the bbq areas were really popular and making us hungry. Soon we found the kids play area with swings and a carousel. This area was really busy. They have a few restaurants around the park but the one at this site was packed so we went to the hot dog stand instead. Colette had a hot dog Jeran had bratwurst and I had fondue brot it really was just yummy melty cheese in the middle of a baguette. When we were ordering Jeran called the bratwurst a brat and the girl behind the counter looked confused and asked again what he wanted. Apparently we were being too American because brat sounds a lot like brot and he almost ended up with just plain bread. After lunch Colette was tired of hiking but found a lot more energy to play. We let her explore for awhile and then she rode the carousel. Soon we started to walk back to the entrance. It had been a fun but warm visit and we went to the shop and treated ourselves to some ice cream, Colette was excited to find they had here favorite, stracciatella.

 

Water play at Lake Brienz

Water play at Lake Brienz

On our way back to Interlaken we stopped at the town of Brienz. Jeran remembered a few places his family had purchased wood carvings before and we found a nice shop and bought a couple wooden toys and a puzzle nativity scene. We wandered down the Lakeshore Promenade and Colette played with the water features, ok all three of us did, they were really fun. You could pump water up from the lake and watch it run through buckets and trays and change it’s flow. We stayed for awhile and then headed back to Interlaken, we were really hungry after a day of play.

Yeah mac & cheese

Yay mac & cheese

We decided to eat at Das Alpes Colette had Swiss mac and cheese which was good, it had potatoes in it. Jeran and I both had rosti which is swiss hash browns usually smothered in something yummy. We’ve tried to make it at home before (click here and see the recipe I’ve tried) and our last try was great but it was fun to have the real thing. We sat at Das Alpes eating our rosti and watching the paragliders land in the park as we discussed what we would do tomorrow.

Italian Road Trip

Our road trip snacks are the same everywhere

Our road trip snacks are the same everywhere

Recap of our Mediterranean Cruise & Trip to Switzerland Day 10

It was time to leave the cruise ship and head off on our road trip to Switzerland. I was the most nervous about this part. On the ship everyone speaks English, they make sure you get everywhere and Jeran could eat safely every meal with no worries about gluten. Now we were headed on a real adventure. We carried our bags off the ship and headed out into the rain to find the Hertz office to pick up our rental car. It was quite a trek from the cruise terminal to the monorail we needed to take to get to the rental office. While we were getting monorail passes we ran into our Scottish friends again. The girls were so excited to sit together on the train. It was great we ran into them too because we ended up using their phone to figure out where we needed to go. For some reason we couldn’t get Google maps to work but it was fine on their phones. The girls said good bye again and we were off… to wait in line again. A lot of Americans were waiting at Hertz to get their rentals and head off on an adventure. I was sure we were going to end up with the smallest car imaginable, soon a van pulls up and we’re told to go out to it, it couldn’t be our car, it’s way too big. No, we were being taxied to the mainland location where other cars were parked. So we headed off to the parking garage and when we get there we are given a beautiful Mercedes station wagon. Apparently it had come from Switzerland and we were lucky enough to be returning it. In all of our vacations I always expect the worst, Mr. Bean car, but sometimes we’re lucky, and end up with the Mercedes. Thankfully we figured out how to change the nav to English. I think we would have been really lost without it. We were off. We drove through Italy and had a lot of toll roads. I knew we would have a couple but there were a lot, I think we spent 10 euros on tolls. So if you ever drive in Italy make sure you’re ready for toll stops. Soon we stopped at an AutoGrill bought a few presents and road food and then kept going.

Colette was so excited to get a Happy Meal

Colette was so excited to get a Happy Meal

We decided to stop for lunch in Lake Como. It was a little bit of a detour but we needed to get out. We stopped to look at the lake, we couldn’t explore too much we needed to keep going, then found a mall and had McDonald’s. Colette was so happy with her Italian Happy Meal. Jeran got a salad, since it’s the safest option for him there and they gave him olive oil and pepper for his dressing. The little olive oil bottle was so cute. Soon we were back on the wet road and leaving Italy. The drive was beautiful, once off the freeways. I think one of the things Colette will never forget is all the tunnels. Switzerland has tons of tunnels and they are really long. There was a lot of work on the tunnels we were using but there was also a lot of signs to let you know what was coming up. If we ever drive in Italy or Switzerland again I’d study the road signs before we go. We weren’t always sure what the signs meant, but with the nav and Jeran’s great driving everything went well. We were getting close to Interlaken and had to take a mountain pass to get there. I wasn’t sure how we’d do with this part of the trip. Colette gets car sick and I don’t care for heights. It all went fine and we were enjoying the curvy ride, but just as the road was straightening out, Colette got sick. All I can say is always have ziplocks ready. She was worried we’d be on winding roads again but that was it and we were almost to our hotel.

 

Can you find us on our balcony?

Can you find us on our balcony?

We stayed at the Royal St. George. This hotel is beautiful and one of the best parts, BBC. Colette was so happy she could understand the shows, even though I think she really liked watching the French and Italian game shows when we were in Venice. After we explored the room, Colette and I love hotels, we checked everything out, then went out for dinner. Switzerland is expensive, and eating there is a big part of it, but everywhere we ate was really good.

Yummy pizza & risotto

Yummy pizza & risotto

We chose Da Rafmi for the first meal there. Colette wanted pizza, so we saved the Swiss food for another night and had a really nice meal. The manager was great and came to talk to Jeran about what he could eat. We showed him the gluten free cards I had printed off and they made him a risotto that was really yummy, and gluten free. Colette and I shared a pizza and then we headed back to our room to wind down, and watch some BBC.

It had been a really great day. Everything had gone much better than I expected. We were ready to explore more tomorrow.