Category Archives: Travel

I can handle this!

I was heading over to Voodoo Donuts for a “Midnight Surprise” for a friends birthday. Brian warned me that I needed to put gas in the car, but I was late, and I thought I could fuel up afterwards. About a quarter mile past the gas station, the car died! A prostitute started walking up to the car.

Gah!

I don’t know why I was so surprised by that, there is a “Gentleman’s Club” right there, I suppose it makes sense. But still. Brian has since pointed out that I have made some assumptions about the people hanging out down there, and that the prostitutes probably would have been helpful if I had asked. But I was a little freaked out at the time, wishing I had kept my AAA membership up to date, and not feeling very open-minded.

Fortunately, I had brought Jack with me in the car. I brought him on a whim, really. I just thought he’d like a car ride.

So here I am in heels, a dress and a wrap sweater, no coat, traipsing down Sandy Boulevard past the hoes at midnight on Saturday night. I consider calling a cab, but I know Jack and I can handle this. Thank God for Jack.

We walk the quarter mile to the gas station and I explain my predicament and ask the guys there for help. They are usually really nice, I get gas there a lot. I guess I’m not usually dealing with the midnight crew, though.

“Nope, we don’t got no gas cans. We loan ’em out and then they never come back. You gotta find your own gas can.” He was nice enough about it, but are you kidding me with this? A gas station without a can?

So Jack and I continue on the 3/4 of a mile to our house. Brian and the kids are sleeping, of course. I change into my running gear, put my debit card, driver’s license, a poop bag for Jack, and the car keys in my pockets. I find a gas can on the side of the house, and miracle! It is already half full, which means there is about a gallon in there. So I think.

Jack and I run the whole way back to the car, me carrying the heavy plastic gas can. I make the mistake of not stopping back at the gas station, because I figure a gallon should be plenty to get the car there. Mile 2 down.

I start to put Jack in the back of the car, but this weird guy starts walking toward us. He probably wasn’t weird, I’m probably being uncharitable. But Jack didn’t like him, so neither did I.

I pour the gas in the tank, worry a bit that the can still feels heavy even when empty.

I start the car, but as soon as I put it into drive, it dies. Again. Start, shift, die. Start, shift, die. I don’t want to wear down the battery, so I admit defeat and head back to the gas station. Sigh.

I call Brian just to commiserate. I don’t really expect him to pack up the kids and come get me. Especially since I have the car seats.  But he’s asleep, no answer.

Jack and I run back up to the Chevron station, “Hi, it’s me again! I found a gas can! Can you fill it up, please?” They greeted me warmly – I think they felt bad that they couldn’t help me before. I reach my hand in my pocket, and there’s only one card in there!

“Oh no, oh no, oh no!”

I show the guy that all I have is my driver’s license. “I’ve lost my debit card somewhere along the way!”

“Wow, you’re really not having a good night, are you?”

Not helpful, sir. 

“All I have is my driver’s license.”

“Ya can’t buy gas with a driver’s license.”

No shit.

“I know, but will you please give me some gas, hold my license as collateral, and I’ll come back and pay for it? Please?”

“Nope, sorry. I can’t give you any gas if you can’t pay for it now.”

I sigh deeply, and start walking back to the car. Mile 2.5. After the 7 miles I ran in the morning, all this back and forth is starting to get really old.

When we’re crossing over the freeway, I yell at the top of my lungs,

“WHAT? WHAT?!???!? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BE LEARNING HERE?!?”

No answer of course, just a quizzical look from Jack.

I’m watching the sidewalk and streets for my debit card. No sign of it. I scour the car, hoping it fell off in the seat. No luck. I retrace my steps all the way home. Mile 3.5. No card. I verify that I hadn’t left it at home to begin with. Nothing.

I wake up Brian, asking him for his debit or credit card. Anything. He groggily wakes up and is a tad grumpy with me until I explain everything. He tells me to go to bed, we can get the car in the morning. But it’s illegally parked in front of a driveway. I can’t leave it there. “Well go to bed, then, and I’ll go get it.”

No. I’m doing this. 

“Seriously Krista, go to bed!”

NO! I start sobbing, barely getting out the words. I’ve been back and forth and back again. I’ve been scared. I’ve been denied service. I’ve scoured the streets for my card. I’m not giving up now! I am capable, and I can handle this!

I collapse in his arms, and cry my eyes out.

“You are capable,” he tells me, “and you can handle it. But you don’t have to. Get in bed, I’ll take care of it.”

God I love that man. 

Brian tells me later, when I described yelling, “WHAT???” to the universe, that maybe the lesson I’m supposed to learn how to ask for help. Maybe so. 

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Rosarito Beach in Baja: a food excursion

Have you ever had a vacation where you just eat the whole time?

I didn’t know that’s what our trip to Rosarito would be when I planned it as a surprise for Brian’s birthday one year. At first, I didn’t want to tell him my plans in case I couldn’t make it work. I had heard about amazingly affordable resort deals in northern Baja, and it just seemed to good to be true. But once I nailed down the details (it really is value-priced!), it had become this big secret, and I decided to keep it going.

A few days before the trip, he said, “I just need to know when we are leaving.” I told him we had to be at the airport at 9 a.m., and he looked shocked. “The AIRPORT?” That’s when I knew my surprise was going to work. I packed for both of us, hid his passport with mine, and off we went!

I had a driver meeting us at the airport in San Diego, and once we got in the car, I showed him a brochure for Rosarito Beach Hotel and he was so excited!

courtesy of Rosarito Beach Hotel

We spent a wonderful four days eating, relaxing, eating, exploring, eating, and enjoying each other. We would have huevos chilequiles for breakfast, then walk around, go swimming, then around lunchtime we’d see a taco stand.

“We should have some tacos, those smell amazing!”
“Yes, but I’m still full from breakfast…. but TACOS!” So we’d eat the tacos. Then walk, swim, relax, explore.

Courtesy of Rosarito Beach HotelThen at dinner… “That lobster looks so good!”
“Ugh, I’m still full from lunch.”
“But it’s LOBSTER!”

Puerto Nuevo Lobster has it's own website, it's that good & famous! You can see the lobster is split and grilled – that is what makes it "Puerto Nuevo Style"

A highlight was a cab ride down to Puerto Nuevo, a hotspot for the “Puerto Nuevo style lobster.” We had the best dinner perhaps of our lives.  $11 a person bought us each a margarita, tortilla soup, salad, rice & beans, tortillas, chips & salsa, and a lobster. EACH! Everything was amazing, but the tortilla soup haunted me. I spent several months trying different recipes and perfecting my version until it took us back to Puerto Nuevo and that fun long weekend we spent at Rosarito Beach.

I hope to surprise Brian with a trip again sometime (or better yet – be surprised by Brian with a trip!), but we’ll always have fond memories of our mini vacation. And every time I make tortilla soup, we get to relive it!

It’s easy to get to Rosarito Beach from San Diego. We hired a car to drive us down, but  once we were there we saw how easy and economical it was to use the buses, so we did that on our way back to San Diego.

Bus from San Diego Airport to American Plaza (transfer to Trolley Blue Line). There is only one bus, so don’t sweat it too much. ($5)

Trolley Blue Line south to San Ysidro Transit Center. (same fare)

Mexicoach from San Ysidro Transit Center to Rosarito Beach Hotel. ($4)

Next up: My tortilla soup recipe!

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A Dam Good Day

I used to enjoy a good Super Bowl Commercial Party – my friends and I would mute the tv during all the cumbersome football, and watch the commercials and half time with glee. That’s “glee,” not “Glee,” BTW.  Brian is always occupied with his annual poker game during the super bowl, so I’m left to my own devices.

But once I had kids, the old Champagne-drinking commercial-watching party just wouldn’t do anymore.

Blessed with gorgeous weather today (seriously – is it really February in Oregon?), we headed eastward to meet up with Dayl and Zephyr for some outdoor play. Other than the snacks we brought and the fuel to get there, it was all FREE family fun!

We stopped first at Bonneville Dam. The visitor center was fairly empty, so the kids could run around a bit.

We didn’t want to be inside too much with the sun shining, but thought the fish ladders would be pretty cool to check out.

Now that is a giant turbine! I was surprised at how interested they were in this thing. They made me read the whole sign, and they had a lot of questions about how it worked.

This video was way over their heads, but they liked being able to push the buttons! Interactive = popular.

Fortunately nobody minded that they were running...

Unfortunately, the ladders were empty. I mean really empty. The guy manning the visitor center informed us that since the ladders were empty, we could see some baby fish in an aquarium, so we headed down to check it out.

No water, and certainly no fish!

Eric thinks he saw a fish in here. I'm not convinced!

After the visitor center, we made our way to the fish hatchery to feed some fish and visit with Herman the Sturgeon, the famous 70+ year-old sturgeon. The Fish Hatchery has beautiful grounds, with pretty ponds and old stone paths. I was a bit paranoid about one of the kids falling in to a pond, but it didn’t happen, and everyone had a great time.

The viewing house at Herman's pond

Herman, in the flesh

Dayl made a new friend, and named him Fred

We stopped for a snack, always a good idea with little ones. Herman's House was a great place for this, with built in benches and awesome fish to watch.

Bring quarters! Several fish-food dispensers are placed around the grounds, and the proceeds go to park maintenance. The fish get all jumpy and active when you feed them, which is fun for the kidlets. We won't talk about the accidental graham cracker feeding.

We had a great time at Bonneville Dam and the Fish Hatchery with Dayl and Zephyr. We had some great discussions about the fur trade, and carnivorous animals, got to play in nature, and spend time with our good friends.

We followed it up with a short hike on the Pacific Crest Trail from Cascade Locks, and then a late lunch at Charburger. Perfect for our non-Super Bowl Day!

~Krista

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Birthday Bliss

“I come to the sea to breathe.”

I once received a notebook from then-Cannon Beach artist and poet Mary Anne Radmacher with those words written on the front. I think of them every time I visit the Oregon Coast. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take just about any ocean beach, but the Oregon Coast is where my compass gets reset, my inner tides get aligned, and where I find myself.

It’s no wonder, then, that I long for the beach on my birthday.

Eric’s school auction was Saturday, preventing us from spending even one night, so a day trip would have to do. And it did!  We were blessed with an amazingly fantastic day. While I missed out on sitting in a cabin drinking wine watching the ocean planning out my goals for the year (I’ll take a raincheck on that activity), I’ll still call it a success.

We went to Gearhart, where a 10-mile stretch of beach is car-friendly. The only reason this is important is because it’s so much easier to deal with kids and sand at the beach at sunset when we can drive right out there and then not have to hike back out to the car after dark. We love Smuggler’s Cove and Manzanita for daytime beach play, but for sunset – we drive out past Gearhart.

Here are a few pics from the day. We were fortunate enough to have my brother Jeff join us, so we put him to work as staff photographer. Thanks, Brother!

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pink light makes me happy

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Eric and Brian enjoying a snuggle on the top of our climbing structure.

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as silly as we want to be

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horses heading south at dusk...

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We stay off the higher dunes so as to not disturb the grasses, but a little bit of duney sand play is usually in order.

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I just can't get enough of silver sunlight on water. It brings me peace like nothing else.

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We parked near this big old tree, I think it must have washed up in the recent storms. Can you imagine this big thing bobbing around the ocean?

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The view south, toward Gearhart and Seaside.

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...and horses heading north at sunset!

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MomStyle Accessory: the big scarf!

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I found this one for sale online, only about $12 and claims to be "Pashmina & silk." Who knows what it really is, but it's a good price!

Good accessorizing can take an outfit’s statement about you from, “I put on clothes.” to “I am intentional about my appearance!”

My winter go-to is a “Pashmina” shawl. I have many colors and different weights, and I wear one nearly every day. It’s such a versatile and functional styling piece that I can hardly walk out the door without one.

Pashmina comes from the Persian word “pashm” which means, “wool.” Pashmina is not actually an internationally recognized fiber, it is a marketing term used to describe different products. Sometimes it is cheaper standard wool treated with resins to make it softer. Sometimes it’s not even wool, but acrylic! Always check labels, as anything with actual wool in it will be labeled as such. Cashmere is the fine wool produced by goats in cold cold high altitudes, and that term is regulated – like Champagne!

I choose a wide shawl instead of a narrow scarf because I can do so much more with it. Since I often use it as a scarf, however, I sometimes refer to it as such. Just know, for the sake of this post, I mean shawl!
I typically start the day with one wrapped around my neck a few times, like a typical scarf. My office gets fairly cold (maintenance is still trying to figure out why the air conditioning comes on at 11 a.m. regardless of the temperature), so the Pashmina gets unwrapped and used as an actual shawl or blanket while I’m at my desk. Our main conference room is always super warm, so off comes the scarf. So versatile!

affiliate linkThey are not just functional, though. I like adding a pop of color, and sometimes I feel like I need something long and drapey to finish an outfit. Or hide behind. You know what I’m talking about! As I mentioned earlier, accessorizing can make all the difference in an outfit.

Here’s my styling tip: Instead of letting the ends hang straight, which kind of cuts across the body, make the scarf longer and hang the edges diagonally. Here’s how:

Here's a typical scarf tie, with the edges hanging straight across. It's fine, really!

1. Hang it from your neck without wrapping it around, so the ends hand pretty evenly in front of you.

2. With each hand, grab the opposite long edge.

3. Pull!

Now your scarf is longer, it’s hanging on the bias so it looks a bit fuller, and the edges are hanging at diagonal angles instead of straight across your body. I think it looks better this way, and you can now wrap, twist or tie it however you like.

See how much longer it gets? I think it's prettier and more flattering!

PURCHASING TIP: Some shawls that have not a hair of actual Cashmere wool in them are marketed as “Pashmina” when they are really viscose. Anything with actual wool in it has to be labeled as such, so look for indications of “70% Cashmere/30% silk” as opposed to, “100% pashmina” which could in fact be anything. For the price, I’m willing to buy and wear other wool blended with silk and marketed as Pashmina, but I really prefer not to wear the completely artificial ones. They pill up easily, and are often treated with weird chemicals to make them softer.

CLEANING TIP: Cashmere can be washed! Put each piece in a mesh bag and wash it in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, with only cold water. Use baby shampoo instead of detergent. Pull them out of the washer immediately so they don’t sit there on each other, and then dry flat. Voila!

TRAVEL TIP: When flying, the shawl can be rolled up as a neck pillow, or serves as a much-nicer-than-airplane-issue blanket.  Or both – just bring multiples!

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Disney Waffles – we can relive the magic at home!

The kids were enamored of the Mickey Mouse waffles we had for breakfast at Walt Disney World.

Magical Breakfast, only $9 at All Star Movies resort at Walt Disney World

On a whim, I just searched Amazon for Disney waffle makers, and look what I found! Why didn’t I think of this before?

Feeling a bit slow now, but I think I’ll order one of these for our Ukrainian Christmas family present. Which one, though?

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The Princess version, in pink. Somehow, I don't think this will be as universally appealing in a few years as it is now.

Winnie the Pooh & Tigger – How cute is that?

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Or the classic Micky Mouse. I think this is our winner!

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ID bracelets add a level of security to traveling with kiddos

When Brian suggested we get oldschool-style metal ID bracelets for the kids when we went to Disney World, I thought, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?”

Simple and functional, and only about $10 each.

We both still have our identification bracelets from when we were kids, engraved with our names, addresses and phone numbers. Mine has a sunshine on the front. Of course.

We ordered bracelets for the kids from MakeMeThis.com. The fronts have their first name, the backs have Brian’s name and mobile number and my name and mobile number. We got both bracelets for about $22 including shipping.

We made the kids wear their bracelets every day on our trip. We talked about what to do if they got separated from us: hold still, remain calm. Our names and phone numbers are on the back of your bracelet.

We never had to use them in the parks themselves – Eric got lost one day at Magic Kingdom, but he was lost, not us. He didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with him wandering around on his own. We were frantically searching for him for hours minutes, and thanks to the awesome and professional cast members, were able to find him fairly quickly.

We did get to test the bracelets on our last day. Brian and I were busy packing up the room at All Star Movies, and since we were so close to the giant Toy Story structures, we let the kids play outside unsupervised. I know, you can judge us if you want. Our scariest moments as parents have happened when we’re in a hurry and not paying close enough attention to the parasites.

Brian got a call on his phone, some guy asked him if he was missing an Eric. “No…” Brian says, “He’s right here…”

Shit, he’s not right here. And he’s not right out there….

Eric had gotten turned around trying to come back to our room from the giant toys (50′ away, btw), and *crying* was looking all around for us. This man asked him if he was lost, and Eric nodded yes, and held up his wrist to show the guy his bracelet. Kid and parents reunited. We didn’t even know he was missing – how scary is that?? But the bracelet worked, dammit – it worked!

Anna doesn’t think her bracelet is very comfortable, but asked us recently what she should do if she’s lost and doesn’t have her bracelet on. So I may look into a girlier version that she’s willing to wear all the time. Not that the bracelet should replace her knowing our phone number, but it can’t hurt.

Here is a prettier version available, it just didn’t seem necessary for our trip, but I will probably get one for Anna before too long:

Prettier version, available via Amazon for about $30

Have you used identification bracelets when traveling with your kids to Disney World or anywhere else? Frankly, I feel safer at Disney World than most places – the staff there really is amazing – but I never want to be complacent about my childrens’ safety.

Safe travels,
~Krista

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