A Family Weekend in Seattle

A Family Weekend in Seattle

Early flights are never easy for me. Add in my first time traveling with two kids and no morning coffee and we’ve got a recipe for failure. That failure came in the form of my lovely computer left in the hotel room! Thankfully, the kind folks at the Edgewater sent it our way and about five minutes ago Fed Ex delivered it.  Now I’m sitting down writing, life is good.

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So much has been happening in this world lately that has made me want to keep my little family tucked in my home and away from the rest of the evil in this world. While I sat sipping my warm coffee last week, I saw a little girl talk about her mother on national tv who had passed. She explained that although she wanted to fold and mourn she was going to get out and honor her mother by living with the intention of love and happiness. Well, after I watched that I thought the world needs us to spread kindness, happiness, and love more than ever. So instead of hiding in my house, I’ve been trying to honor those lives lost by living with intention to spread love, kindness and happiness. I challenge to do the same.

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Our trip to Seattle was amazing. We traveled there because I was the Matron of Honor in my best friend from College’s wedding! It was so wonderful seeing her marry the love of her life and I’m already ready for them to make some babies!  We spent part of the weekend exploring the city and the other participating in wedding activities.. all full of happiness and excitement. As you can see by pictures, Rosie never left my side and was a total rockstar. Reuniting with my old roomies Anna, Chelsea, Hannah, Lesley and Becca was such a highlight for me and it was so fun to show them what my life as a mom is like! None of them have kids so we shared many good laughs about the truth  of motherhood, birth and breastfeeding. They had so many questions and I was certain not to sugar-coat any of the answers because the looks on their faces was straight comedy. (see below)

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We stayed at an amazing hotel called the Edgewater where our room was directly over the ocean and although that was somewhat terrifying, it made the perfect live storybook for Wyatt. Boats, Cruise Ships, Birds and Paddle Boarders went by as Wyatt sat in excitement and awe over this new experience. I’ve said it a million times but being there to watch your children experience new places  in this world is one of the very best feelings.

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We took advantage of the little time we had to explore and with wet hair, a warm cup of coffee, and a bundled up baby in a front pack we rushed down to Pike’s Place. Wyatt was obsessed with the fish market while I couldn’t take my eyes of the beautiful flowers! Bouquets that would be 40-50 dollars here in California are $5 at Pike’s Market and  I’m still jealous of anyone who lives there for that sole reason. We sat down for breakfast at a tiny little spot overlooking the water and enjoyed hot pancakes and a view of the busy city!

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My Mom and Dad were with us and as always, were the BEST. My parents are unreal… so helpful, fun and spontaneous which Gavin and I love and appreciate. My mom always pushes me to live a little more, attempt what I think is the impossible, and she had 5 babies in 7 years so she is a total rockstar grandma with my babies who love her. My dad is a dreamer, always focusing on the bigger picture so our time together was spent talking about dreams, visions, and how to make this world a little better. Having my parents with us on this trip was such a treat!

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Spending time with my little family is priceless, getting to explore the world with them is even better. If there is anything I’ve learned lately it’s that life is a precious gift… in a single moment it can all be taken away. Every minute I get to live this life with those I love is a gift and this trip was one of the best. Talk to you guys soon

Love,

Stephanie

 

Exploring Kauai!

Exploring Kauai!

Good morning! Hope this post reaches you at a happy time in your day! As many of you know, we embarked on our trip to Kauai and frankly,  I wish I was writing this post with some coffee on the amazing balcony we spent so much of our time on! Life can get so crazy, Gavin has seriously worked his butt off the past 8 months with a new job that has us all working like a team to support one another, so to have some time off to just relax and enjoy life was such a blessing. Can I get an Amen for all those awesome hardworking men in our lives?! Sometimes as a culture we get way to caught up in working and making money and “the grind” we often forget why we are even doing it. Vacation had a nice way of reminding us why we work so hard, to enjoy life with our loved ones, and we did just that!  From the travel, to our activities, to our very simple schedule I feel like we hit the jackpot.

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We flew out of LAX at 9am and with an overstuffed carry-on I was certain we had it all covered, we could have landed on an island and have had enough to survive for a minute, or so I thought. I made a big mistake of packing tons of yummy junk food, practically nothing substantial and we paid for it. The highs of the Cheese-its and Chex Mix lasted a short while then left us feeling depleted and in need of a meal after a 6 hour flight. Won’t be making that mistake again. Aside from the shortage of nutrient rich food Wyatt did pretty dang good. Six hour flights are daunting with a boy his age but he brought his A game, along with a crying minute or two which I have come to accept is bound to happen. An iPad, tons of tractors and books had us constantly playing, then napping hard until we landed and sighed a deep sigh of relief…we actually made it!

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Many of you asked where we stayed, my over generous grandparents own a vacation home there that we have been blessed to stay at since I was a tiny girl, so we stayed for free for 8 days. Their house is along a cliff overlooking the Lihue Marriot, so we are able to get guest passes for the hotel and use all their amenities! Kiddie pool, beach towels and a large amazing resort was perfect for our family. Being a young married couple with one baby and another on the way we are always conscious of our spending and taking away the cost of a house enabled us to do so much more on the island than we normally would have!

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First thing we did we hop in the car and head to Costco, where we stocked up on lots of good food, fish and lunch food. The BEST part about going somewhere is being able to stay with a kitchen to make your own food so you best bet Gavin was out BBQing something delicious every night for us! We ate lots of peanut butter sandwiches and packed healthy goodies which was such a key in being able to travel and explore the island without spending a ton of mula!

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Aside from the hours of relaxing chatting about our passions and blessings, our adventures were the best part of our trip. We wanted to show Wyatt the Island because the last time I was here I was 32 weeks pregnant and the only adventure I did was a casual down to the pool and back up each day! Here are just a few highlights of the things we did as a family:

Paddle Boarding We paddle boarded with little man on the front at Kalapaki Beach and rented two boards $25 and hour and the Kalapaki Beach Boys Rental. This bay was a wonderful place to Paddle Board because it was calm enough to feel extra stable with Wyatt on the Front in his blue Camo Puddle Jumper Life Vest!

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Hanakapi’ai Trail:  We knew we wanted to get some exercise in each day so we decided to head to Hanalei and tackle a beautiful 4 mile hike along the Na Pali Coast. (Directions here)  It wasn’t easy, challenging in fact. Gavin had Wyatt on his shoulders the entire time while my pregnant self followed behind for a good two-mile hike into a beautiful beach. We have done this hike each year we’ve visited, but when you add in a 1 1/2 year old and a 21 week pregnant belly, our steps were much slower and water breaks came often. We ended the hike at this stunning beach where we munched our peanut butter jelly sandwiches and played in the fresh river before putting on our shoes and heading back to the car. We ended with THE best nachos on the Island at Kalypso, a nice treat after a long day on the mountain!

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Hanalei Bay Kayaking:  We took the kayak and paddle boarded the Hanalei River with rentals from Dock Dynasty which is located right off the road with easy parking and good prices! When we got on the river we decided it was best to begin downstream to the beach, with little consideration that we would soon be headed upstream after our time at Hanalei Bay. We got the beach, and Wyatt was able to swim around with Gavin. Hanalei Bay is the perfect spot for little kids because the water is super clear and shallow, with minimal waves. We splashed around then embarked back upstream for the worst experience of the trip! I had Wyatt aggressively trying to get comfortable on my chest to sleep while kayaking upstream with heavy winds. Gavin had to paddle board his up so he watched and said at one point he saw me paddling hard and moving nowhere for at least 30 seconds. Not going to lie it was miserable but once we arrived at the car and treated ourselves to Wishing Well Shave Ice, we were happy we did it.

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We are always reminding ourselves that doing things and showing our kids this amazing earth is vital to their growth as little humans. We have tons of chats about how we will always make an effort to show them different people and cultures and Hawaiians are by far some of our favorite people. Their kind demeanor, gentle spirits and traditions are something I want Wyatt to know and admire just as we do.

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Thanks for following along!

xoxo,

Stephanie

Celebrating The Good In This World at Disneyland!

Celebrating The Good In This World at Disneyland!

There is something very magical about spending a day in a place full of happy people. I laughed as we walked out of the park thinking every person in this world needs a trip to Disneyland to be reminded of what life is about. People of all different ages, races, religions, languages, abilities and stories all together pursuing happiness was the most refreshing aspect of the day. That and it was Wyatt’s first time at Disneyland!

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As I watched his little Mickey Mouse hat being embroidered by the machine, I talked with Gavin about how the memory of this trip will be one we will never forget, and will cherish forever!  Let me tell you, Disneyland through his eyes is far more magical than we could have ever imagined. His little eyes lit up when Mickey came out of the doors, probably thanks to a couple too many hours of watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so I could get something done around the house. In fact he is watching it as I type this now haha! What i loved most was that he was initially shy when meeting Mickey, grabbing his shoe and holding up the line but instead of rushing us, the staff gave Wyatt the time to warm up and made his little meet and greet so full of happiness.

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We were at Disneyland for two days about five hours each day, the reason being we were there for Gavin’s work trip so we waited until he got off each day and then headed into the park! The first day we met up with Gavin’s parents, his brother Zach and his goofy friends CJ and Jace. They were so sweet to do all the kid rides with us and watching them with Wyatt was so special because I knew that it takes some very kind and genuine humans at 18 years old to choose to hang with the baby instead of going off on their own. A highlight of that day was It’s A Small World, watching Wyatt in between his grandparents with a giant bag of Carmel Corn chowing down so happy and safe in good company and good food.

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The second day was just the three of us (four, technically  :), and although we missed the family we really enjoy doing things as a little family.  Gavin took Wyatt and I on all the rides again, and watching the two of them was the greatest. Their mannerisms are so freakishly similar that it’s almost trippy! I am so grateful Gavin is such an amazing Dad to Wyatt, multiple times I turned to see this giant, strong, handsome man turn into this little kid laughing and being super goofy with Wyatt who was obviously eating it all up. We ate too much junk food, and talked about everything under the sun.. then indulged in a massive meal at The Cheesecake Factory before heading home.

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Different trips bring out different feelings and although they are all generally very positive, this trip took the cake as far as reminding us of all the good and wonderful people this world has to offer. The smiles, the happiness and the magical moments are ones we surely won’t forget.

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Have a wonderful weekend!! You guys are appreciated.

xoxo,

Stephanie

A Hidden Gem: Condor Lookout

A Hidden Gem: Condor Lookout

Hey everyone, hope this post reaches you well and you’ve had a good week so far! Getting closer and closer to the Holidays is the best feeling, all my siblings are arriving within the week and nothing makes me happier than having them home.. especially my sister Jenna!!!!  Life around here has been busy busy, but Gavin was able to snag two days off in a row which is a big deal for us so we surely took advantage of it! Sunday we were able to get Wyatt blessed at our Church, a very special day for our entire family. Monday we decided to get out and explore somewhere we have never been, so after searching around on our phones as we aimlessly drove around, we discovered Condor Lookout and began our adventure.

 

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Situated at 3198′ on the crest of the Santa Lucia Mountains, Condor Lookout is located in the Los Padres National Forest between Lopez Lake and Pozo. The scenic drive was about 1 hour on a pretty rough road (thankfully we had 4WD!)  Mid-way I climbed into the back with Wyatt as I was fearful he wouldn’t like the constant jolting but his self was fast asleep so he was obviously just fine. We turned up the country music and thankfully had all day because it took quite a quite to get up to the very top. Once we did,  it was more than worth it.

 

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The uninterrupted 360 degree view was breathtaking and we were able to enjoy it just us three and our dog Tank. We watched as wildlife soared around us with Wyatt pointing his little finger at the birds while snacked on peanut butter sandwiches. We sat in awe, thankful we made the trek because the beauty and freeness we experienced there was liberating.

 

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Coming down the road there was a pretty big area of water, impossible for Gavin to resist in his truck so I snapped a few photos as he went mudding over and over again. One thing i’ve learned is to enjoy these moments with him, sometimes they seem so silly to me but then I realize what is life if we don’t support each other in the little things that we each enjoy?

 

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A long day had us practically starving so we hit up out favorite burger place, Old Village Grill for a strawberry milkshake, fries and a burger. With happy bellies and a tired baby, we reached the end of the day and went on home. We chatted on the way back how we are so grateful for the ability to go explore the earth with our little dude. Showing him these places and discovering them all together make for memories I know he probably won’t remember but we will never forget!

Happy Day!

Stephanie

 

Yosemite In 26 Hours

Yosemite In 26 Hours

Our trip to Yosemite was spur of the moment, quick, and unforgettable. The best part about it all was experiencing such an amazing place with such wonderful people. I decided to do a short post today and include 10 things about our trip! Check them out below! Happy Monday!

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  1. We decided Thursday afternoon we were going to go, and left just 8 hours later.

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2. We were only in Yosemite for 26 hours.

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3. We joined Gavin’s family in a beautiful little cabin in Yosemite West

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4. We did a 3 mile walk around the valley, Wyatt asleep in the front pack for most of the time!

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5. There was nothing sweeter than seeing the valley through the eyes of my 4 year nephew, Jeremiah. Spiders, frogs, cotton, praying mantis, rocks… you name it, he was excited and it was one of the very best parts of the trip for all of us.

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6. We sat in awe as a deer literally crossed the river right in front of us and casually walked within 15 feet. Above is a photo by my brother in law Chris Burkard.

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7. We took advantage of the visitor center and watched a video on the history of the park, well worth the time.

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8. We laughed and smiled the entire time with our family. There was such a happy vibe as we all knew we were experiencing something so special together.

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9. Wyatt went down his first “rock slide” with Gavin.

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10. Gavin and his brother Chris decided on a spur of the moment jump off a massive bridge into freezing cold water.

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Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Stephanie

Love Was In The Air in Tennessee

Love Was In The Air in Tennessee

There is nothing better being in an amazing place, experiencing fun new things. However there is nothing worse then being in amazing place, experiencing fun new things without your whole family. If you couldn’t tell by my Instagram photos,  our favorite person was missing, my husband Gavin. A few weeks ago I told you about his new job and his transition requires him to be there quite a bit so he decided he was going to have to miss the wedding and trip. We missed him terribly and were so thankful for FaceTime. By the end of the trip, Wyatt was looking at any taller male with dark hair saying “Dada” it was quite uncomfortable for both parties and a great indicator that it was time to get on home!! I am typing this post now watching Gavin feed Wyatt peanut butter and my heart is finally whole again being home with him.

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Other than him being gone, the trip was amazing. It began with a 12.5 hour travel day from  San Luis Obispo to Knoxville. I was lucky enough to travel with my brother, his girlfriend Sam who I love, my cousins Grace, Madi and Jordan, all who were more than happy to hold, play and entertain Wyatt. It’s not easy traveling alone with babies but with them it couldn’t have been better, and I’m so thankful for their help!

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A wedding brought us to Knoxville however my newly engaged best friend from college lives just 2 hours away and no matter what my trip plans were I was going to make sure I saw her! Wyatt and I woke up and got in the car the next day, and headed to meet sweet Anna in Johnson City, Tennessee! We got there just in time to watch her as the morning news anchor for the tri-cities, I was SO happy watching her. I watched her all throughout college work her booty off with internships and jobs pursuing her dream and that moment I was able to witness it all come to fruition, I felt like a proud mother haha!

img_3595After, we met up with her Fiance and ate at the world famous Tupelo Honey! We grubbed on fried pickles and sweet tea then toured the town she now calls home. Driving back to catch the rehearsal dinner I reflected on how grateful I am for friendships, and how important it is to nurture them even when I feel like my own world can be a bit consuming.

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Saturday morning we woke up wanting to make the most of the day before the wedding, so I jumped in the car with my sister Jenna and her boyfriend Nick to explore downtown Knoxville. It was THE coolest little place, not at all what I expected. There was a farmers market going on so we got to explore all kinds of little businesses, watch street performers, and play in the water fountain. I absolutely love being with my sister, and her boyfriend Nick is literally the nicest person i’ve ever met so being with them and exploring the awesome downtown made for the best afternoon!img_3715

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We met up with my parents, Lori and Rob Gillespie, Madi Jordan and his parents at a great spot called Bar 5. A room full of chandeliers, great drinks, and delicious avocado toast!

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The wedding was real reason we were there, and it was the most beautiful occasion. First, my little brother Scotty was there from University of Georgia and he was just a dream to be around. His happy spirit, positive attitude and all around fun demeanor had me smiling THE entire night, he just gets better with age. My cousin Jack got married to my Chi Omega Sister and dear friend Macy, the love was so evident and I am so proud of both of them. Their love is a one of those ones that is so pure and real and we are so lucky to have them as friends. Another highlight of the night was seeing my Chi Omega sisters from  my days at the University of Colorado, they could not have been more darling. We caught up, laughed, and I genuinely loved getting reacquainted with each of them.

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I held Wyatt asleep in my arms while dancing around, watched my grandma get it on the dance floor with my brothers as my parents looked on with smiles, and laughed like crazy with my cousins and siblings. It was the best evening, and a great reminder of how much I love and appreciate our family. There is always an amazing feeling in the air when people are brought together to celebrate love, and this past weekend was just that.

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Hope you all have a wonderful week! Leave a comment if you can, I love seeing who is on here reading my blog!

Love you all, and in the words of my adorable niece Georgia, HAPPY DAY!

Stephanie

CHI-TOWN

CHI-TOWN

You know how there are some vacations that just open your eyes to how cool this world and the people who live in it really are? Well, this last trip was one of those. We knew it was going to be a great time but had no idea what Chicago really had in store for us.

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We are not city people, we are a “put us in a small home in the country and we will be happy” kinda people. Chicago changed that for us, the city was epic. The flowers, the cleanliness and the people…the smiles and the happiness that the city exudes was one we were certainly not expecting.

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To start we had pretty much the greatest hosts of all time, my Aunt Stephanie, Uncle Robin and my cousister (cousin+sister) Rachel let us stay at their awesome apartment with a killer view (see below). If you haven’t caught on yet, my Uncle is the manager of the Chicago WhiteSox which is why we decided  it was only fitting to take Wyatt to his first baseball game to watch and support him.

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We got the better end of the deal. We had awesome seats, a ridiculously gross amount of ballpark food and best of all, an after the game field session where my Uncle took Wyatt out to show him what his job is all about. Wyatt didn’t know the field from the bathroom but I can tell you I’m certain he will be taking the photos we took for “show and tell” one day at school.

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It was a pretty awesome first baseball game experience if you ask me! Wyatt was in heaven, he was dancing to the music and eating his fair share of junk food which left him knocked out for a few innings so we were happy with that.

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Along with the baseball experience we got to explore the city. I’ve always loved the idea of Chicago since Kanye West rapped about it in one of my all time favorite songs, Homecoming. Anyways, we couldn’t get over how clean this place was, how beautiful the flowers were and the architecture… never appreciated architecture so much in my life. The Bean, the amazing playground, the amphitheater to name a few, I could go on and on but the bottom line is we want to go back.

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Some of you messaged me about how we also ended up at a Ke$ha concert… long story short our great family friend and her buddy manage bands, so they invited us to a Rae Sremmurd concert (That’s “drummers ear” backwards). It was entertaining and i’ve always had a little ghetto fab in me so we loved the rap concert, not so much the opening act of Ke$ha but we had fun. S/O to my babysitters on that one, having a night out with my hubby and cousin was hilarious and so fun.

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Last, but certainly not the least (in fact maybe the most important of it all) was the deep dish pizza. We all went out to dinner and ordered two HUGE deep dish pizzas, it is the type of meal that has everyone saying “my diet starts tomorrow” and funny story it really did have us saying that. Not only was it delicious then, but 11pm that night it was even better ha ha.

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Chicago was amazing, as Wyatt sleeps and I type this..I realize I’m still half-watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but I’m smiling. Trips like Chicago have Gavin and I talking about how important it is for us to take Wyatt to see the world and its people. Near and far there are so many wonderful places and things to experience and we feel blessed that we were able to experience the good Chicago had to offer .

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