Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla

A few weeks ago, I went on vacation to San Diego, California.  The sun was shining and the weather was warm; I couldn’t ask for anything more.  I was excited to spend time outside and relax.  We stayed at The Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla.  It was perfect and completed our stay!  We learned that it is the seaside town’s oldest original hotel, built in 1913. You would never know it was over 100 years old though, as it’s been renovated and looks very new.

The rooms were nice; they were clean and spacious with plenty of storage space. The hotel had a quaint living room area complete with a fireplace.  The valet parking was clutch.  We didn’t take the car out too much as we spent most of our days walking around outside.  We had an ocean view room.  Waking up to see the ocean is amazing.  (Especially coming from this midwest girl!)  What’s even more amazing, though, is that the Grande Colonial is literally a two minute walk from the beach!  The location was, by far and away, the very best part.  Not only was it a skip, hop, and a jump away from the beach, but it’s located right in the heart of La Jolla.  We were able to walk to lunch and dinner, explore the town, do some shopping, and soak up plenty of sunshine!

If you’re familiar at all with La Jolla, then you probably know about the seals.  It was fun to watch these blubbery animals.  We were able to get pretty close to them and get a good look.  At first, I did not think they were the most attractive animals.  I mean, they are large blobs who don’t move too well on land.  But after watching them, I decided they actually are pretty cute.  Their faces sort of resemble dogs as they both have whiskers.  It was comical to watch the seals “walk” to and from the water.  In the water, they were much more graceful than out of the water.  And there were a couple baby seals who were just adorable!

While there is a lot to do in California, what I was looking forward to most was simply being outside in the sun and walking around.  You know me and you know how much I love walking.  Actually, the Grande Colonial has a partnership with La Jolla Sports Club where you receive a complimentary guest pass.  I wanted to check it out for a workout, but we spent the majority of our time on our feet walking around.  Exercise definitely wasn’t lacking in the fresh air!

linking up with healthy diva today

During my short stay, I was able to see firsthand how majestic the sunsets are.  It’s one thing to see photographs, but it’s extra amazing to witness the sunset and literally watch the sun go down.

There’s something very calming about listening to the ocean, too.  In a world that too oftentimes feels rushed, chaotic, and out of control, standing by the vast water, looking into the sunset, and focusing on just being at that present moment is a very surreal thing.  We all need more moments of peace like this in our lives; I know I do.

Have you ever visited San Diego?

A New Appreciation for the Outdoors

I’ve always loved the outdoors.  When I was younger, a great majority of my time was spent outside.  We walked to and from school, came home and had a snack, went outside to play until dinnertime.  My family used to go camping every summer.  Now, as an adult, I still love being outdoors.  It centers me.  It relaxes me.  It rejuvenates me.

William has also always enjoyed the outdoors, but I think our Colorado vacation really sealed the deal.  He’s learning to appreciate the outdoors and nature now that he is getting a little older.  One of my favorite pictures from our trip:

smelling flowers

Smelling the flowers.  Whenever he sees flowers now, he has to smell them.  It’s the cutest thing ever.  After he smells them, he proceeds to pick them and rip off every single petal, but it’s still adorable.  Being outside keeps him entertained forever!

I’m not going to lie, I’m usually much more of a beach person.  But I didn’t get sick of these mountains or beautiful views once while on vacation.

colorado mountains

How could you?  Gorgeous!

I know we got back in town over a week ago, but I’m going to share a few more snapshots from Colorado that haven’t yet made their appearance on the blog.  Plus, it lets me relive a little bit of our vacation.

Like these two smiling babes:

aud colorado morning

It’s never too early to go outside, jammies and all.  Good thing William’s babysitter was willing to do anything and everything for him! (Thanks, Audrey!)

I think William misses waking up in the same house as his cousins…

jacob reading colorado

They literally took care of him.  Jacob would read and Audrey would do everything else.

But William always makes time to snuggle his momma…

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Cutest little smile I ever did see!

More adventures in the town of Durango:

big bear

Big bear, little bear.

My adventurous little baby… Not scared of anything!

adventurous

Flexible, too! 😉 He wanted those rocks in the water so bad!

One morning while my parents watched Audrey and William, the rest of us went for a white water rafting adventure.

white water rafting

It was a pretty calm trip with not a lot of paddling as our guide did most of the work.  It was still fun to be on the river though!  The kids jumped in which was impressive considering the water was 45 degrees!  Brave little ones!

And then all of a sudden our adventures in Colorado came to an end. We boarded a tiny plane, and headed back to St. Louis (well, Denver first).

mom airplane

‘Til next time, Colorado!

And just in case you missed the other posts from our summer vacation:

Have you ever been to Colorado?

Working Out in the Mountains

It’s no secret that the high altitude of places such as Colorado elevate your heart rate and make you huff and puff a bit harder than if you were at sea level.  We stayed in a three-story condo while in Durango, Colorado.  Some of my family members complained that they were out of breath each time they climbed the stairs.  I said it felt like I was getting in mini workouts all day long, so I didn’t really mind.

I definitely felt the elevation when we went hiking.  Granted, I had an extra 25 pounds on my back since I was carrying William, but still.  Especially going up the mountain, my heart rate was so fast and I was breathing really hard.  It’s amazing the workout you can get in the mountains!

One quiet morning, I decided to sneak out while William was napping.  I jogged to a nearby set of stairs at the resort and went to climb the stairs for my workout.

stairs colorado

Oh baby, it was tough!  I think I lasted about 20 minutes which was plenty for me.  I alternated the way I climbed the stairs.  First, I jogged each step as I went up, then the next time up, I stepped on every other step which adds a new dimension.  I couldn’t go as fast that way, but my quads and calves sure were burning!

My dad went out for a walk and snapped the photos of me.

colorado stairs

Then, apparently my dad turned into my trainer because when I had enough stairs, he told me to follow him.  He led me to a giant hill and made me run up it.  I had to side step on the way down, so I didn’t bite the dirt… which I was close to doing!

hill colorado

Just for fun and so I could take a break at the top, I did a couple of cartwheels.

cartwheel colorado

And if I wasn’t already tired enough, I tried out my split jump.

split jump colorado

I was tired by the end.  We headed back to the condo, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do just one more handstand while in Colorado!

handstand colorado

Working out in Colorado is a big game – so much fun to play around while being active!

Do you workout while on vacation? What do you do?

Sow’s Ear

Why is food always better on vacation?  It doesn’t matter where you are, it just seems like every meal tastes better while on vacation.  For me, I think it has to do with all the eating out at restaurants since every dinner was eaten out.  Or maybe it’s just the mere fact that I’m on vacation and everything seems better.  It could very well be that meals are enjoyed with fabulous company on vacation.  Either way, food is good, so for today’s edition of What I Ate Wednesday, I’m sharing some delicious highlights from my family’s Durango, Colorado vacation.

Breakfast is one meal we never went out for.  Probably because it was hard to get 15 people moving so early in the morning.  My dad is the one who usually made breakfast, but there were a couple mornings that Stephanie cooked some eggs and toast.  Usually I was busy scarfing down my breakfast while keeping an eye on William, so the only photo I took of breakfast was Monday morning.  My dad fixed me quite the plate and my mom watched William, so I could enjoy the meal.

breakfast

Scrambled eggs with salsa and cheese, turkey sausage, apple slices, banana slices, steamed spinach, and toast with butter and jelly.  Talk about a filling breakfast!

Most lunches were eaten at the condo in between our daily activities.  Since I’m more of a snacker, I rarely made a plate, and instead, noshed on everything that was taken out.  This included turkey and cheese, chips and salsa and guacamole, vegetables and hummus, and chips.  Nobody ever went hungry.  On Monday, when everyone had left besides my parents, William, and me, we headed to the town of Durango.  After walking the streets and shopping the stores, we stopped at The Irish Embassy Pub.

irish pub

My dad got the classic fish and chips which my mom called right when we walked in the restaurant.  My mom and I went with salads – the chopped salad for her and the buffalo chicken salad for me.  The salads were huge and everything was wonderful!

Dinners were definitely a highlight of the trip.  My parents generously treated us to absolutely amazing dinners.  And my family likes to eat!  We’re talking appetizers, entrees, drinks, and desserts!  More than that, it was awesome to be together with everyone.  Sometimes during the day, only a part of the big group ventured out together.  Our summer family vacations are so special since we don’t all live in St. Louis.  We cherish the time we get to spend together.

One of the most memorable dinners from the vacation was at the Sow’s Ear on my parents’ 37th anniversary.  It was the only night we got babysitters for the kids and had an adult only evening.  (It was also the only night where I took pictures of all the food.)  My dad gave a heartfelt toast to my mom to celebrate their anniversary.  They’re such an amazing example of true love and the best parents I could ever imagine.

mom dad toast

And then we feasted.   We began with one of each of their appetizers:

sows ear appetizers

  • Duck Confit Spring Rolls: sesame lo mein, sweet chile coconut sauce
  • Root Chips: house-made beet, russet, & sweet potato chips, caramelized onion goat cheese fondue (my favorite!)
  • Southwestern Crab Cakes: roasted poblano cream, crispy tortilla pepita slaw, ancho lime vinaigrette 
  • Cornmeal Dusted Calamari: roasted tomato coulis, lemon basil aioli

Our entrees:

sows ear dinner

I don’t remember what everything was, but I assure you it was all amazing, and we had very little leftover.  The steaks, ribeye, filet mignon, salmon, and sides were delicious.

As if we weren’t full enough, dessert was ordered and shared by the table:

sows ear dessert

  • My parents, still so madly in love after 37 years
  • Warm chocolate chip cookies and homemade vanilla ice cream
  • Milk chocolate flan (I’m not sure if that’s exactly what it was called, but that’s what it seemed to be) with dried cherries
  • Cheesecake

Literally, every bite was eaten.  We all held our spoons and passed the plates around and around.  Occasionally, somebody would get yelled at for hogging one particular dessert before it made it around the entire table.  I can’t help that I love dessert.

williams family

What a special evening it was to celebrate my wonderful parents!

Have you eaten out lately? Where’d you go and what’d you have?

Durango to Silverton Train

One thing my family likes to do during family vacations is stay busy.  We went hiking.  Our latest adventure included the Durango to Silverton Train.  It was a great way to see some beautiful sites, explore the town, and make memories by having new experiences.  In our group, there were nine adults and six kiddos.  Doing anything with that large of a group is sure to make an adventure.  We drove a short distance from our resort in Durango, hopped on the train for a two and a half hour ride to Silverton, ate lunch and walked around the town, boarded a bus, stopped at Molas Pass, and headed back to Durango.  It was a busy day, everyone was worn out by the end, but it was an experience we certainly couldn’t have had in St. Louis.

When we first got to the train station, we had a short wait.  The area was covered in rocks, and if you know anything about the children in my family, they love rocks.  They pick out “special” rocks to save, ask every adult to hold them for later, and love searching and sorting for the biggest, shiniest, and coolest rocks.  Although William is just 15 months old, he, too, joined in on the rock collection fun.

rock train

Look, Momma! A rock!

We put all the rocks in a pile “for later,” and the excitement peaked when we heard the train approaching.  I got a quick picture before the adventure began, and we were on our way for William’s first train ride.

train colorado

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad winds through spectacular & breathtaking canyons in the remote wilderness of the two-million acre San Juan National Forest for an unforgettable year-round adventure. Experience the adventure of traveling by a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive on the same tracks miners, cowboys and settlers of the Old West took over a century ago. Relive history with the sights and sounds of yesteryear for a truly spectacular journey on board the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

The train ride was fun with countless spectacular sites.  Everyone’s eyes were glued to the outside, and between all of us, probably hundreds of pictures were taken.  We stopped a couple of times, and of course Stephanie captured it perfectly.

river

Like I said, every sight was spectacular.

Linking up with Katie and Erin.

When we stopped in Silverton, we were ready to get off.  The town was quaint and bustling with people ready to eat, walk, and explore.  We snapped a quick photo of most of the group (sorry, Dana and Justin, you missed this one).

train

We walked around before finding a restaurant that could accommodate our large party.  We ended up at the Shady Lady Saloon which was built in the 1880’s and was the last brothel in Silverton.  The last madam, known to the trade as Jew Fanny, permanently closed her professional doors in 1947.  The food was mediocre, but it filled our bellies and we still had some time before the bus came.  We walked some more and ended up on a rooftop of another restaurant.  Arm wrestling and other shenanigans took place.

justin dad arm wrestle

The bus driver suggested stopping at Molas Pass on the way home because of the view.  He was certainly correct, and we stretched our legs, snapped some photos, and took in the fresh air for a short time before getting back on the bus.

yaya pops

William with his Yaya and Pops.  So lucky.

With the beautiful view in the background, I had to attempt a handstand.  It had been far too long since I’ve gone upside down somewhere cool.  Not the best, but it worked:

handstand colorado

What kind of adventures do you go on during vacations?

Hiking in Durango, Colorado

Our first full day in Durango, Colorado was awesome!  The weather is perfect – not too cold, not too hot, and it just so happened to rain during nap time.  No big deal.  We started off yesterday with a family hike.  I absolutely love staying active while on vacation, and to do it with family is even better.  This was William’s first time in the mountains, and he did great!  Ok, so he didn’t really have to work hard… or at all, but I know he enjoyed all the fresh air and beautiful scenery.

hiking durango

Babywearing for the win!  I’m loving this Ergo 360! So easy to use and so comfortable for both of us.  The total hike was about three miles and took just under two hours.  Not bad for hiking with six little ones.  We went downhill first, and the hike back up was definitely challenging.  This altitude thing sure puts your fitness into perspective.  We are all in pretty decent shape, but were huffing and puffing at some point.  Not to mention this sack of potatoes on my back…

babywearing hike

…who caught a little snooze during part of it.

Before we began, Justin gave directions to the kiddos.  Basically all he said was, “No running and stay behind me.”  Necessary rules for hiking.

There wasn’t a bad view in sight.  Everywhere we looked was gorgeous.  Stephanie captured it perfectly.

durango colorado

Picture perfect.

And to top it all off, we were all together.  All four of us siblings.  Stephanie posted this picture on her Instagram and wrote, It’s a pretty incredible thing to have the relationship that the four of us have with each other… It has not always been without fights (oh, the days when we were little and my parents had to deal with all of that), but there is not a single thing we wouldn’t do for each other. I am so thankful for my parents for instilling in us the importance of family and for bringing us all together on these vacations.”

hiking family

Do you enjoy hiking?

We’re in….

Yesterday was a very busy day because…

We’re in…

durango

Durango, Colorado for my family’s summer vacation! Follow along our adventure on my Instagram (@itzlinz).  There’s an absolutely, ridiculously hilarious video that you must check out!

Our day began with a noon flight.  The family all met at the airport.

jackson audrey

Always fun with my little munchkins!

We all boarded the plane, and shortly after, my mom, Yaya, brought out her healthy snacks that she packed for everyone.  She sure knows how to travel!

mom audrey

Audrey (and everyone else) was definitely a fan of the turkey sandwiches, roast beef sandwiches, nuts and dried fruit, apple slices, snacks, and a few pieces of candy.

William was due for a nap and fell asleep on his momma for just a short time.

sleep airplane

So peaceful.  I tried giving him a couple bites for a snack when he woke up, and thanks to his lovely active gag reflex, he threw up all over me and my nephew Jackson.  It was disgusting on its own, but even more so dealing with it on the plane.  My mom helped me get him cleaned up and Stephanie changed him while I tried to wipe myself and Jackson off before changing shirts. Oy. Note to self: next time pack an entire extra outfit, not just a shirt.

The second flight was on a tiny plane and it was the most turbulent flight I’ve been on in quite some time.  Not only that, they ended up having to circle for about 45 minutes in order to avoid some bad weather.  An hour flight turned into an almost two-hour flight.  William slept for the majority of it, but we sure were glad to finally touch down.

Once at the airport, we collected ALL of our luggage… which was a lot.  My mom sorted out the details at the rental car company while we kept the kiddos entertained.

luggage

From the airport, we went to the grocery store to stock up for the week.  One of my sweet friends let me borrow her Ergo 360.  This was the first time I’ve used it, and I loved it!  I knew William was tired, so I wore him on my front, but I practiced at home with having him on my back and he loved it!  My little mini me HAD to have her baby doll wrapped up, too, so we went out to the car to figure out how to make that happen (and prevent a meltdown).

babywearing

We love babywearing!

It started drizzling on the way to the condo, but there were TWO bright rainbows!

double rainbow

Every view we saw was beautiful and I’m so excited for this year’s summer vacation!  More adventures to come.  I’m not sure of the frequency of blogging during this trip, so be sure you’re following me on Instagram to keep up.  Otherwise, I’ll update you when I can!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Are you or have you taken any vacations this summer?

Working Out in Scottsdale

I love working out and I love being on vacation, so it only makes sense that I love working out while on vacation.  To me, vacation is all about checking out new cities and being away from “normal” life.  When I was in Arizona, I was able to get in a few workouts.  Working out in Scottsdale made my spring break trip all the more fun!

Justin took me to his CrossFit box: Camelback CrossFit.

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One word?  AWESOME!  The box was super clean which I didn’t even think was possible for a box.  It’s fairly new, so all of their equipment is in excellent condition.  Justin and I attended a midday class which meant it wasn’t very crowded.  The owners / coaches were clearly incredibly knowledgeable and safety was their top concern.  Since I’m not a CrossFit regular, they helped me make modifications and provided assistance when necessary.  Even being a newbie, I instantly got the community feel from this box.  People were supportive no matter what their fitness level was.  During the workout, the handstand push-ups were obviously my favorite.  And the wall balls sucked.  End of story.

PS: If you’re in Scottsdale, you should definitely check out Camelback CrossFit.  New members can take a class for free!

Dana took me to her gym for a hot yoga class.

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I always think it’s fun to take classes from various instructors, and this one was great. It was a tough workout that included lots of chaturangas and upper body work.  I told Dana to strike a pose for a photo, and she rocked a strong headstand:

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One day while William was napping, I decided to go for a quick jog.  And by quick I mean short. 😉  I busted out one mile. At the beginning, I glanced down at my watch to check my pace.  I made it my goal to beat nine-minutes since I was just running one.

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Missed it by three seconds! Argh!  It still felt good to run though!

So those were all my formal workouts, but I did take William on a few walks and Justin and I went to the park one day to play.  And by play, I mean me and Justin.

I tried out crow…

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But Justin did it way better!

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So strong!

Handstands and cartwheels are more my style…

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Weeeeeeeeeee!

Do you like working out on vacation? What do you like doing?

We’re in Arizona!

Hello from Arizona!  Yesterday was my first time flying alone with William, and to say I was nervous is a huge understatement.  Luckily, everything went fine, William was awesome, and we made it to sunny Arizona!

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I packed a million toys to keep William occupied on the plane, including several new ones.  He loved looking out the window, and since our flight wasn’t full, I was able to bring his car seat on the plane. I still held him the entire ride, but we used his car seat as a toy carrier and he was able to choose what he wanted.  A couple hours into the flight, this happened:

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Oh, sweet sleeping baby.  He slept for almost an hour, and then we touched down.  I hope our flight home goes as smoothly!

We’re more than just a little excited to spend a few days with Justin and Dana.

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Even William is saying, “Yaaaaay!” and cheering!

Not many plans are in the books, but Justin talked about taking me to his CrossFit box, and Dana wants to show me her gym.  Workout while on vacation?  Absolutely!  We’ll also spend lots of time outdoors, William may get to swim for the first time, we’ll go on plenty of walks, eat delicious food, and we will visit this lovely lady.

William has only flown twice in his life: once to Ohio when he was just twelve weeks old to see Justin and Dana get married, and now to Arizona.  Justin and Dana are pretty special and totally worth traveling for!

justin dana march15

See? How fun are they?

Have you ever been to Arizona?

Tips For Flying With A Baby

A couple weeks ago was William’s first airplane ride as my family headed to Ohio for my little brother’s wedding.  To say I was a bit nervous to fly with a newborn is right on.  Luckily, we had a direct flight lasting only an hour and a half which was perfect for my little two and a half month old baby.  Here are some general tips for flying with a baby:

tips for flying with a baby

Travel with family (or friends… or anyone who is willing to help).  While I understand this may not always be possible, if itz a choice, definitely choose to travel with people who are willing to help.  Jonny and I traveled with my entire family, so there were more than enough helpers which was fantastic!  Changing William’s diaper became a four-man process: my mom changed him while my grandma held his binky in his mouth and made sure it didn’t fall to the gross airport floor, I handed my mom the materials (diaper, wipes, and new outfit because of course William had a blowout right before we boarded), and my dad threw away the diaper.  Now could any one of us have done it on our own? Yes, but itz much easier with teamwork!

Dress baby in a lightweight sleeper. This was my mom’s suggestion, and I’m glad I listened because there are so many germs in airports and airplanes that anything you can do to keep them off baby is important.

Pack extra clothes! I packed an extra onesie, romper, and sleeper all in the diaper bag.  We ended up needing the sleeper right away, so two would not have been a bad thing. Also, someone told me to throw in an extra shirt for me in case I were to get spit up or pooped on.  I ended up not needing it, but it was a good suggestion.

Get your baby to suck during take off and landing.  This could mean nursing, bottle feeding, or sucking on a pacifier.  I intended to nurse during takeoff, but William was sleeping, and you know what they say – never wake a sleeping baby!  I did make sure he had his binky in and was sucking, just in case.  I ended up nursing him mid-flight.  He stayed up to play for a bit after, and then fell asleep again for landing.  I believe the sucking helps with possible ear pressure/pain just like many adults chew gum.

nurse

Take your car seat and stroller. Not only does this make getting through the airport easier when you already have a large load, it also helps to keep the germs away as people are less likely to touch the baby when he’s strapped in.  You do have to disassemble everything and take the baby out while going through security though. That’s the only downside.  Also, if you have any hanging toys on the car seat, take them off prior to security. When they put the car seat on the belt, they turn it upside down which means that toy touches that nasty belt with who knows how many germs.  You can wheel your stroller all the way to the plane. You leave it right before you get on, they take it, and then they bring it out to your as your get off at your destination.  Easy peasy.

Allow more than enough time. New mommas know – nothing with a newborn is easy or fast.  We got to the airport about an hour and a half early and needed every bit of it.  Going through security takes longer since you do have to disassemble the stroller.  And if you’re lucky and your baby poops before the plane, you’ll need to change him too. You just never know with a baby and if you have plenty of time, you can always walk the airport.  After all, babies love movement and itz better to be moving before you’re sedentary throughout the flight.

Hopefully these tips will help making flying with a baby just a bit easier.  After all, a happy baby makes for a happy flight!

william smile3

Mommas – what would you add to the list?