The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Days 5 & 6 – San Diego

Last San Diego post! Unless I do a wrap up, which I might later this week on my thoughts. But last day by day!

Day 5 was Tuesday. We hung at home in the morning. I thought there would be a lot more downtime this trip, but there really wasn’t. We had a lot of things planned, and if I did it again, I would do less of the parks, and hit more beaches.

Our afternoon was a whale watching trip! My client friend Stacey suggested it and was going to go with us, but was hit with a nasty cold and couldn’t make it. While it was warm on shore, it was very chilly on the boat. Even though we had dressed for it, the girls didn’t love the wind. We found a spot just inside where we could warm up and get out of the wind, but get outside quickly if they saw a whale.

We saw two whales! One we saw from a distance, so only really saw when it blew water up in the air. The other was just off our boat. We saw him come up out of the water (just a bit, it wasn’t Free Willy or anything) 5 or 6 times? Delaney had eagle eyes and spotted him before I did! It was very cool. On the way back in they gave us the military history of the things we were seeing which I never knew. Loved it!

Day 6 was Wednesday. We tossed around ideas of what to do. I wanted to hang at the condo and just hit the beach and the pool, but we had talked La Jolla and the seals with Stacey and Delaney really wanted to go there. I was surprised, but since she really wanted to we made it happen.

Let’s back up a bit, because I want to make sure I document our whole day. We had breakfast at the Beach Grass Cafe which was just down from our condo. By this point we were almost out of breakfast groceries and I wanted to save the last of our bacon and eggs for Thursday morning. I wanted to wander Solana Beach a bit, so after breakfast we headed towards the ocean. We decided to do a morning beach walk since we hadn’t done one yet, and quickly realized we had walked to our condo! We took the opportunity to run in, hit the bathroom, and change into shorts and a t-shirt since it had really warmed up. We maybe took too much time doing all of that and headed out a little later than we wanted to.

We got to La Jolla and found parking quickly. I did not want to deal with trying to find street parking at noon, so we found a parking garage and went that route. Best $10 I spent that week! We grabbed a quick lunch at Puesto’s (highly, highly recommend!) and then walked towards the beach.

This was our first view and we were oohing and aahing! So gorgeous! Check out those seals!

And then we wandered down a bit and realized you could actually be in the water near them. My client friends had warned us not to get too close to them, so we kept a respectable distance (many others did not).

There were a few adults, and then a mama and baby. They were staying at the far end of this little cove right up until I started taking this video. We didn’t move, we were standing still, but they kept swimming closer to us. We were a little freaked! What we didn’t realize, was that the mama was trying to get her and her baby through to the other side. A very nice (and forceful) older woman got everyone to move and give them space so they could swim past.

Both girls absolutely loved our time here. I’m so glad we went. Traffic was a bit crazy and it meant we didn’t get a ton of beach time, but I know they’ll remember this.

Where mama and baby ended up! (Disclaimer: Delaney took this pic from a distance and zoomed in. People were literally right next to the mama taking selfies, but we stayed farther away. Once that group left, no one went near her.)

After the seals we took the scenic (and faster) ocean route home. We picked up sandwiches and a gluten free pizza for me and headed back to the condo. Got in a little time in the pool, then one last beach walk. It was the perfect last day!

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Day 5 – Legoland

Legoland! I should note quickly before I forget that I used the San Diego City Pass to get a discount on my Zoo and Legoland tickets.

I had tried to do some research on the park, and the girls perused the website as well, but we didn’t have a solid plan walking into the park. We also took our time at home in the morning, getting to the park about 11:00am which didn’t start things off on the right foot. Ride wait times were already climbing! We only ended up doing a few rides though, so that didn’t affect us a ton.

Legoland is definitely behind the technological times. They have an app, and they post wait times for rides, but the times are little wooden placards, so nothing is automated. We got into line for this ride because the wait time out front said 5 minutes. Turned out the line was behind a building and was more like 30 minutes, but the girls had fun driving the little cars.

Miniland! We all loved walking through this area and seeing the buildings done in miniature in legos. It was so cool! They had built quite a few different cities, but we were all most drawn to New York since we’d just been there, so buildings were very recognizable.

The boat cruise was super fun. Our guide was hilarious and kept us entertained with all sorts of funny puns. It was a gorgeously sunny day, so perfect to be out on the water for a bit.

We wandered around the park a bit but since the girls weren’t into the rides we found the Star Wars section and left (but not before we ate two things of apple fries! Legoland had a lot of gluten free options for me!). We were only at the park for about four hours, which after Universal and the Zoo shouldn’t have surprised me. We were all kind of done with crowds and parks.

As we were driving to Legoland there was a U-pick strawberry patch. We’ve never done one, so the girls insisted we stop on the way home. I haven’t been to a u-pick place in a long time, but this place charged by the bucket, and each bucket only got in so many people. We had to buy a big bucket in order for all three of us to go in, otherwise I would have had to pay for each kid. The strawberries were delicious so it was worth it?

We got home about 4:00. I headed out to the balcony with my phone, my book and a glass of wine and stayed out there enjoying the ocean air until 5:30 at which point we headed down to the beach for another hour and a half. We ate a late dinner in the condo of leftovers and mac and cheese. It was nice just to be able to hang out, and not have to research and find a restaurant, and spend time in traffic driving to and from. I feel like we spent a lot of sunsets at restaurants, and it was nice to hit one on our own beach.

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Day 4 – San Diego Zoo

Quite a few people asked us why we were going to the Zoo rather than the Safari Park. (People legit argued with me about it which I didn’t get?) Two words – Giant Panda! Caden has been in love with pandas since she was little. Only a handful of zoos in the US have pandas, and the San Diego Zoo is one of them. We were all beyond excited to see them!

The San Diego Zoo is large, and there are a lot of paths that wind through the park. We tried to map out some routes, but it didn’t work that well. We got lost, we missed turns, and we ended up having to sit down with the map multiple times to see where we wanted to go. We went out to dinner with my friend Stacey that night and she asked how the gorillas were and I had to tell her we missed them completely. Oops!

Another comment on the zoo. Their food sucks. I’ve heard from other San Diego friends that the restaurant is nice, but the rest sucks. Their gluten free options are slim to zero. I saw only one item that was labeled gluten free and it was tofu. Otherwise I had to wait in the 20 minute line in order to ask at the counter for the gluten free offerings, or skip places entirely because there wasn’t a single item on the menu I could eat (or even modify to eat!) It honestly really affected our afternoon because we were all hangry. Even the girls had trouble finding something that they wanted to eat. Beware, and bring your own food.

There were a lot of statues at the zoo. Caden insisted we take a picture at all of them.

The lions were gorgeous. From a picture taking perspective I hated the chain link fence, but from a safety perspective it was all good.

The zoo has 6 elephants I think? I was trying to remember if I’d seen an elephant in the last 10 years but I don’t think I have? And we go to a lot of zoos.

Panda! So here’s what I didn’t know. We hustled through other areas thinking that we’d hang in front of the pandas for a while since that’s what we were there for. But you can’t. You wait in line to get into the area, then they hustle you through. We spent a bit of time in front of this mama panda who had her back to us as she napped, not realizing that the good stuff was just down the way.

With this guy who was more than happy to chill and eat bamboo and put on a huge show for everyone! We should have hustled to his spot, then taken our time enjoying his antics.

This is where we did hang and enjoy antics. I will likely screw this up, but I believe the baby hippo is Tony and the mama is Fiona? They were adorable! The keeper was shooting water and the mama hippo would catch it in her mouth. They were right in front of us and you can see Caden had a front row seat.

I asked Delaney to take my camera in closer to get some good shots! Love that face!

We missed an entire section, so we backtracked because we all wanted to see the giraffes. There were quite a few of them and they were very active! Just after this picture they took off galloping to the other side of their area. It was so cool to watch!

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San Diego Beach Photos

While I took my big camera out to San Diego, I didn’t use it a ton. It’s heavy, and lugging it around gets old quickly. But, I did take it to the zoo (pics coming tomorrow!) and I did bring it down to the ocean once for a beach walk. We were about two hours before sunset with these pictures. I thought I was just about in the golden hour, but I wish I would have looked at them a little closer and then gone back and taken more pictures just before sunset. I love these, but they’re a little bright, I’d love it if the light was a little more diffused. Oh well, they’re ocean pictures!

Sorry for the picture overload! I tried to narrow down a bit at least!

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Day 3 – San Diego!

Saturday morning we slept in a bit! Friday was a long day, so it was much needed. Before we went on this trip I thought we would spend our mornings out on the balcony, sipping coffee and starting our day with the ocean waves. But, we realized that mornings were chilly and windy, and afternoons were much better for communing with the ocean. No morning beach walks or balcony coffee while staring at ocean waves for us.

We met my uncle Scott for brunch at the Poseidon. I’ve met Scott for brunch at this beachside restaurant 4 or 5 times? It’s a San Diego tradition and I was excited to introduce it to the girls. It’s right on the beach, not on a cliff next to the beach like our condo, so the girls ran straight for the sand. They were in heaven!

After brunch we picked up his dog Kaileah (did I spell that right Scott?) and she came with us to look at some of the houses Scott has designed. We were all in need of some puppy time so it was perfect! She gives lots of kisses and loved playing with the girls.

The houses. They were magnificent! And unlike any houses I’d seen before. My favorite was the Tuscany themed houses, that had a darker brown stucco, along with stone. They looked like they came straight from Italy! We were able to walk through two houses that are under construction right now. One was getting the wire nailed on so the stucco could be put on and as I was explaining that to Delaney she said “I know exactly what that is Mom.” My little builder in training.

The second house was two levels, with a theater in the basement and an elevator. There is going to be an infinity pool in front, and Caden cannot stop talking about it. She really wants to live there! I loved the layout, and how it was totally different from any layouts of houses in Minnesota. After Scott dropped us off back at our condo I asked Delaney if it was interesting seeing the houses as they were being built (architecture is one of the careers rolling around in her head). She said it was, but she really would have liked to have seen the blueprints while she was in the house to see how it all matched up. My tiny engineer.

When I was pulling together things to do while in San Diego, I had mentally noted a few beaches that we could visit. But, after getting to our condo I realized we had our own beach right there! No need to visit others! So we hit our beach and spent a few hours taking in the waves, collecting shells, and soaking up some vitamin D. After a few hours, we went to Ki’s Restaurant in Cardiff-by-the-Sea for dinner with an ocean view. We were able to finish dinner just as the sun was about to set, so we ran across the street and captured a few sunset photos.

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Day 2 – Universal Studios

Day 2 in California was Universal Studios – Hollywood! To be fair, I probably wouldn’t have made the trip up to LA if the girls weren’t crazy Harry Potter fans. But they are, and since Florida isn’t on our vacay schedule any time soon, the only way they were going to see Harry Potter world was in California. Since it’s a decent drive and we wanted to get there when the park opened, we went on day two. Since we were still on central time, it was easy enough to get up at 5 and be out the door and on the road at 6:00am. The drive up was not bad! The drive back was another story.

We headed straight back to Hogwarts. I had done some research on the park but not a ton, so I didn’t have a great idea what to expect. I did know to buy the special wands at Ollivander’s, and to do the Forbidden Journey ride asap.

I upgraded to the Express passes and while it costs more, it was worth it. There aren’t a ton of rides, so the lines for all of them quickly climbed to 45+ minutes. You can use the Express pass once per ride. The only rides we did twice were Forbidden Journey and Despicable Me. We were able to use the Express pass when the line was long, and wait when the line was only 25 minutes. If you do use the Express Pass, make sure you announce yourself when you get to the lines. It’s easy to get swept into the regular line, or miss the person scanning passes. Overall, the pass probably saved us 3-4 hours of waiting time?

I realize this is an unpopular opinion, but none of us liked the Butterbeer. It had a weird aftertaste. We bought two, probably drank one and dumped one.

With the special wands, you would stand in front of a shop window and do a spell, and then something magical would happen. Sometimes a plant moved, sometimes a key turned, sometimes we couldn’t get anything to happen. But, they have people stationed at most of the things to help you figure it out. The girls loved this!

They did a really awesome job building the whole Harry Potter world.  Loved the buildings!

Also, I would like to say that Universal does a great job with their gluten free food. People were very knowledgeable, things were labeled, and when they weren’t sure if something was gluten free (the fries) they went and asked. I appreciated that, and my many options.

Our Express Passes also got us close to front row seating for the Animal Actors show! This was so much fun! We all really loved it. And did you know that most dogs in tv and movies are rescued from shelters? We decided Midas totally needs to be in the next Beverly Hills Chihuahua!

We left the park about 4:00. I naively thought we’d be a little ahead of traffic? Only to realize that there really isn’t rush hours, so much as traffic just gets worse as the day goes on. The trip up was 2 hours 15 minutes, the trip back was 3 hours 30 minutes. It was brutal. Bumper to bumper, barely moving for hours. Delaney really wanted to get back in time to do a beach walk, but there was just no way we were going to make it. We thought about pushing through and just getting home, but around Orange County we all got hungry. I saw a sign that said Oceanside 27 miles, so I told Caden to use my Find Me Gluten Free app to find us a restaurant in Oceanside that we could eat at.

Side note – this app NEVER lets me down. It always finds the best restaurants in whatever city we’re in. The reviews and information are always spot on, and I have a good idea going into a restaurant of what I’m going to be able to eat.

So anyway, she picks Ruby’s Diner because they serve breakfast all day and milkshakes and that sounded good to the two of them. The app gave us directions and as we pulled into town I realized the restaurant was in the ocean! Just kidding, it was out on a pier but we all laughed like crazy when we saw that on the map. How perfect?! It was just 7:00 and the sun was setting, so we had the perfect view. Dinner was good, and it was the break we needed after a long couple of hours in the car.


San Diego!

I have been travelling out to San Diego on a fairly consistent basis for the last 15 years for work. My client is out here, so I get out here usually once a year or so these days. In the early years I was out quite a bit for a week or more at a time. I’m absolutely a California Girl. I love the ocean, love the palm trees, love the landscape, love everything (except maybe housing prices and traffic). I’ve long wanted to get the girls out here but a long weekend didn’t seem long enough, and our spring break weeks seemed to be spoken for until this year.

We had an early morning flight Thursday and while we all tried to go to bed early, we were exhausted. I always try to get them to sleep on the plane but they rarely do. I was very happy to look to my left and see this. They both claim they didn’t sleep but I was there, they totally did.

We landed around 9:00am so had the WHOLE day in front of us! Delaney hadn’t eaten much for breakfast in MN and so was happy to see a crepe stand in front of the car rentals. Since we didn’t have plans until lunch, we sat at the bar and they devoured a strawberry, banana, nutella crepe. We grabbed our rental car and headed towards downtown.

When I would work here I had a running path mapped out from the hotel down and along the bay. I love the water and wanted to show the girls but as soon as we parked and started walking, the rain kicked in! Luckily, Sandra was able to meet us for lunch a little earlier so we headed over to Old Town for some crazy good Mexican food and a little catch up time with my friend, who is also my client.

I rented a condo for the week for us in Solana Beach. I prefer rentals over hotels for a lot of reasons. I like to be able to spread out and have a separate living and bed room, and I like having a kitchen so we can make meals if we want to. I know not everyone likes this set up, but it works really well for us.

When I booked this I looked at a lot of different listings. I wanted a pool, but once I realized I could get ocean front, I knew that was it. This is our balcony. We open our patio door and it’s like having our own private sound machine! We’re up on a cliff, but there are steps just down the way and we can easily get down to the beach. The ocean isn’t warm, but that hasn’t stopped the girls from playing in it just about every day. The waves here are big, and if we had wet suits I’m guessing the girls would be boogie boarding pros by now. But we don’t, so they have to settle for chasing the waves and building moats.

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Butcher Jones trail

My girls aren’t the best hikers. The hike we went on last year ended with me piggy backing one then the other back to the car. Not so fun, so this year we headed out in the morning and chose a hike around a lake (Saguaro) that wasn’t very long. It was the perfect hike! We hiked out 20 minutes, stopping for water breaks along the way and some snacks, then turned around and hiked back. Delaney even saw a snake on the trail! The scenery was gorgeous, with the mountains in the background and the lake in front of us. Highly recommend this trail!

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Go jump in a lake

It got really hot on Wednesday, so we took the pontoon out for an evening cruise after dinner and headed towards a spot on the lake that we knew was over 20 feet deep. A perfect swimming hole. I’d already showered so I was out for swimming, but my dad jumped in with the girls. At first they swam with life jackets, but they’re strong swimmers so I let them take them off and they did jumps off the side of the boat. They had so much fun we did it again the next night!

We also took a ton of slo mo videos which I will not bore you with again here, but were so crazy fun to do. The girls were so happy and had so much fun jumping and doing cannon balls and just giggling in the lake, this was absolutely the highlight of the week for me.

Three stooges.

Annie knows who gives out the best snacks on the boat.

Check out that smile!

I should probably darken this up a bit and make it into more of a silhouette, but what can I tell you how happy I was when I looked at the back of my camera and saw this? I just kept snapping as the girls ran off the pontoon and jumped in, and I caught the sunlight just right here. Love. this.

This was Caden’s version of the Statue of Liberty.

Delaney doing a cannon ball.

It was also our annual “Put the dogs in their lifejackets and make them swim in the water so they know what to do if they go overboard” drill. Midas was THRILLED.

Lark sat on top of Midas for the rest of the cruise.

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Paddle Boarding v2017

Also known as, my parents bought another paddle board so all three of us could be out at the same time!

First things first, we’re back home. The girls had their end of year softball tournament on Saturday, so we headed back Friday night. It is incredibly difficult to be on vacation for a week, then have to be at the ball fields at 8:00am. Most of our girls were half asleep. But! They woke up for the second game and we won. We lost the next game and were out, but it was an amazing season. Couldn’t have asked for better kids or better coaches to play with. I had a blast this year, but will readily admit I’m a little nervous for 10U. It’s kid pitch and the rules change, and it’s going to be a whole new game.

Back to the lake! Tuesday we headed out on the paddle boards and good thing we did. Wednesday was HOT and the next two days were windy, so it was our only day out. We tried to paddle across the lake, but there were a lot of boats and jet skis pulling tubs and skiers, so I made us head back (You can see exactly how Caden felt about that in the third picture). The lake is very clear right now (zebra mussels apparently) and it’s WAY freaky to look down and be able to see the bottom, or at least very tall weeds. Caden headed in, then Laney and I paddled down the shoreline of the lake. Again, a little freaky to look down at the bottom of the lake, but also way cool since it wasn’t as deep. Had a great little chat with Delaney as we paddled too.

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