this could go on for days!

I could easily spend hours upon hours on this post. I already have, in general, on this pictures. I took them, uploaded them to the computer, made a picassa album with about 60 some, added highlights to facebook... and now this. Really, vacation pictures are meant to be shared. Just be glad I don't have you in my living room with a projector!

Last Thursday, after finding out we are going to be blessed with another tiny baby girl, we left for California for my cousin Liz's wedding. This was a prime opportunity to see my Skillen (dad's) side of the family without having to travel to Chicago in the winter again. Not that I have to go in the winter, I just have the past three times. Blah! It's just gray! But not California. California is un-gray because it is almost anything BUT gray. A lovely place to visit, especially in the summer.

We drove to Barstow, stayed the night at a hotel that should have been better then it was but was perfectly fine anyway, and then drove the rest of the trip. Above, Ted and Gwenna by a strawberry field during a pit stop. Also, an example of how much I love my camera. It you know how to properly use the settings it can put forth some beautiful pictures.

We stayed in a vacation rental found on Have you used vrbo before? Do you prefer to stay in homes or condos to hotels? If so, I'd recommend vrbo. Here Gwenna shows off her fine talent of rock eating. This girl sure loves to eat rocks. It's kind of inexplicable. She doesn't eat sand or wood chips. Just rocks.

I loved to double doors that opened onto a little cobblestone patio. After my cousin's wedding, Ted and I got ice cream and ate it out there while looking up at the stars. Santa Barbara is far enough away from LA that you can see a ton of stars. Not as many a Flagstaff, perhaps, but it was quite lovely.

The house itself was refurbished from an old carriage house that was part of a larger estate, the manor being two doors down and still standing... and QUITE large. It was decorated in a very retro fashion and I fell in love with the fabric on the couch. Up close you can see the bright foliage and birds. We enjoyed staying here. We stayed with my sister Niki and brother-in-law Andrew and Andrew loved to cottagy smell. Mostly, I just smelled patchouli.

The little "compound" that the carriage house was part of had 3 other buildings and so much plant life. Everywhere you looked there were flowers of strange varieties, odd plants, and indescribable vines growing on wires and up walls. This picture above shows one of my favorite little nooks.

And then there are the hallucinogenic upside down growing flowers. They were trippy... in a double sense of the word. They were NOT to be eaten.

Gwenna loved to play in the yard. Being that we don't have a yard in our little townhouse, Gwenn seized the opportunity to play. One of my favorite parts of our trip was that we were rarely in a hurry to get anywhere. We did a bunch of things but we went at our own pace. The wedding was our only scheduled event and anything and everything else was optional. After Ted's long month of anatomy and physiology during which we rarely had a chance to play this was much needed and timed perfectly. Gwenna is growing so fast and did so many new things while we were away. I'm glad we were all able to experience these things together.

Oh the beach. Gwenna really liked the beach, surprisingly. She's a curious little girl. After she was first lead into the ocean by Ted she could not get enough of it. You'd pull her back up shore and she'd run back towards the waves. This, of course, made her mama rather nervous but we all made it out alive and unscathed. Ted was even able to build a little sand castle and I'm sad I didn't get a picture of it because the camera batteries decided to die after I took a video of Gwenna meeting the water.

The French festival, we thought, was a lot of fun. The music was undeniably french, complete with fun accordion sounds. The food, well, that was also undeniably french and devoured. We did not get crepes because the lines were something to be reckoned with but we did partake of savory beef sandwiches, croissants, raspberry mouse, and roasted corn on the cob... the last of which has nothing to do with French cuisine and everything to do with the novelty of fair food. We LOVE roasted corn on the cob. It's hard to resist.

While at the French festival, we made our first purchase for our incoming daughter. We bought a little fairy hat. If you have never seen a fairy hat, you're not about to because I didn't take a picture. BUT! It's a little sparkly flower with ribbon and it will not be used to a hat at all, but will dangle above her crib and give her fantastical dreams of flowers and fairies. That's just what fairy hats do.

One of the best parts of our trip was our surrey ride down the beach. A surrey (pictured below) is a 4 wheeled contraption that multiple people pedal. This particular model was covered above and had a place for Gwenna to sit, right up front. It was a TON of fun and if you ever have a chance to ride a surrey with your family or friends (they can accommodate something like 8 people, depending on what size you request) I would highly recommend it.

Gwenna was darling in her helmet, worn over her hat (see above). She had gotten some sun that day and I didn't want to to continue that trend. Hence the double head covering. Even though Ted and I had a lot of fun, Gwenna may have had the most fun of all. Any one riding a surrey is a spectacle to be enjoyed but put an adorable baby on the front who waves and giggles at everyone as they pass and you're basically the hit of the beach.

You break with your hands and if you want to go backwards, you have to get off and push. But we are SUPER smart and never had to go backwards. Look (above) how cute my little girl is on the front.

Ted did an awesome job steering. The steering on our surrey was so loose that it was difficult. When we were on the way back to the rental place Ted asked if I wanted to drive but I opted to let him display his amazing talents a while longer.

Here is a cute view of Gwenna waving when we stopped to take in the view of the beach (behind Ted as he takes this picture) and a parasailer who was about to take off. There's so much happening on the beach all the time. It's a visual feast. Boats, parasailers, bikers, crazy tourists on surreys, wildlife, bon fires, oil rigs way off the coast... Tons going on all the time.

Of course we were in SB for my cousin's wedding. It was on beautiful Santa Claus Beach in Carpenteria, California, just outside SB. I had never been to a beach wedding before this and it was absolutely lovely. Liz was so beautiful and she's really awesome girl anyway, so someone that sweet deserves to look that perfect on her wedding day. She and Marty are a great match. I'm so happy for them!

Oh, and if you think they're lovely to look at (weird picture of Marty, but he's a good lookin' guy) they're also both lawyers.

The wedding reception was at the Rincon Beach Club and we were SO well cared for. The appetizers were phenomenal. Little cheeseburgers, tuna skewers, and spanikopida. Truly yummy. It was a treat.

The wait staff brought us a booster AND a high chair AND an unordered kids meal for Gwenna. I thought she'd like to just eat off our plates. But she loved her kid's plate (choked a couple times because she was trying to stuff it all in her mouth at once... nature of a baby, no?) and her high chair was perfect.

We ended up leaving a bit early and missed the creme brule and s'mores (now THAT'S dessert!) but like I said earlier, Ted and I had a lovely evening to ourselves with two spoons and a sky full of splendor.

Before we left, though, Gwenna needed to run around... not that she hadn't been doing that most of the evening. All the servers walking about with food were swooning over her. They were calling her Ted's midget and loving her big eyes, red hair, and cute smile. Gwenna, though, just wanted to be one of the big girls! She followed Marty's nieces and even nephews around like a puppy dog. They were sweet to her, and I appreciated that. She loves kids of any age. Most of them were around DJ's age (11) or a little younger and was determined to keep up. When the girls danced with parasols, she twirled with them. She'd squat down and giggle at them and they squatted down and shaded her with the parasols. It did my heart well to see her playing so happily with all the big kids.

On Sunday we met my Aunt and Uncle, other Uncle, and their friend for brunch. My Aunt JoAnn. She's so much fun. Two years ago (almost exactly) she and her husband and my Uncle Dick came to Sedona and we went on a Pink Jeep tour and to dinner. She's kind of a special aunt to me. We took a three generation picture with her, since my dad passed away a year and a half ago when I was pregnant with Gwenna. I think it'll be a special picture to me and hopefully to Gwenna, later in her life.

We broke the trip in half again, as I believe 8 hours in the car for a baby is a nightmare waiting to happen. Maybe just MY baby. Above, see Gwenna giving her Papa a big kissy at the hotel before we went swimming. Gwenna made friends at the pool, but that should be no surprise to anyone.

And now we're home! And Gwenna's 4th tooth broke through today after we got home. I'm glad it wasn't in the car this afternoon, like her first tooth, several months ago. She's finally filling up that gummy mouth with a toothy grin. What a doll. I sure love my family and after vacation I'm even more grateful for a the fun memories we have to share.


The Browns said...

fun fun! I love those pictures! Especially the surrey pics!! Love Gwenna in the double hats! oh yeah, and good luck with the rock thing. Elizabeth will still occasionally try to clean all of the rocks in our front yard with her mouth! =]

Amy Sprinkle said...

Several thoughts I had while reading this:
1. I would LOVE to sit in your living room and look at tons of pictures.
2. For the short time Buddy was around Gwenna, he was quite the influence (rock eating).
3. Those carts are cool, I saw a bunch in Milwaukee last summer. They look fun.
4. Now, the real question is, which baby wouldn't like the 8 hour car ride, Gwenna or Crowder to Be? I feel I may be doing myself in coming back from AZ by car.

Heather said...

Um, what no pictures of you in the cute dress you mentioned!? Tragedy.

Fun trip and it is always nice to visit Cali.