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…

july15

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?

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?

Arizona fun

As you know, William and I spent my spring break in Arizona with my little brother Justin and his wife Dana.  We are so grateful to be able to spend time with them, and had a blast, as always.  And Arizona? The weather there was amazing! Mid-seventies all week.  That’s the kind of weather I could live with forever!

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William, too.

Justin and Dana’s backyard is awesome.  They have a swimming pool, orange trees, and a putting green.  Seriously.  William loved playing with the oranges and golf balls.

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I was happy to be able to dress William in his tank tops one last time before he grows out of them.  We’ll need to get bigger ones for summer in St. Louis.

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Hello, baby arm rolls!

And that Uncle Justin sure can make baby William laugh!

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Big thanks to Justin and Dana for hosting us. We wouldn’t have wanted to spend our spring break any other way!

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We love you!

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What have you been up to lately?

Linking up with Katie and Erin!

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?

Puerto Vallarta Wedding

Thanks for all your well wishes on my post from yesterday.  I’m definitely starting to feel better.  Still coughing a lot, but on the mend, for sure.  And when I look back at pictures from the weekend, I can’t help but smile as my brother’s Puerto Vallarta wedding was just absolutely beautiful.  Not just the beach, the ocean, the sunset, but truly the coming together of two people, two families so in love and ready to start this new chapter in their lives together.  While there’s probably over a thousand pictures from the weekend, I’ll leave you with a few favorites to bring a smile to your face on this lovely Friday.

beautiful sunrise, palm trees, & ocean waves

sunrise mexico

jonny, me, & baby itz – LOVE

jonny linz

my dad and poppy – two very handsome, intelligent men – and my little stinker brother justin photobombing in the background

poppy dad

jason & amy’s new blended family with three smiling children

jason amy family

the remaining photos were taken by the infamous Stephanie Cotta Photography

the bride & groom’s first look

jason amy wedding

jason & amy – so happy, so in love, so beachy

jason amy

my wonderful parents who are still so obviously happy and in love after 35 years

mom dad

two gorgeous beach babes

jacob audrey beach

and me with my baby bump during another beautiful sunset

linz beach

plenty more photos to come… including a maternity beach session!

Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

29 Weeks Pregnant | Sick On Vacation

Oh hey there!  Long time, no blog.  Sorry about my disappearing act; that was not my intention at all.  I took my computer to Mexico, but didn’t even turn it on one time.  I did Instagram a couple of photos, and that’s about it.  I shall have plenty of photos and posts coming recapping our wonderful trip and my brother’s wedding, but for now let’s get started with my 29 weeks pregnant bumpdate post:

29 weeks

Baby Itz: 29 Weeks

Baby’s size? Butternut squash.

Maternity clothes? Loving them, as always! Though I did buy a new bikini (not maternity) in a larger size for our trip and totally rocked my belly bump!  Pictures to come.

Stretch marks? Nope, but I am starting to get that very faint dark line underneath my belly button (the linea nigra).  Itz funny because when my mom saw it she told me she had it with both of her boys, but not with either of us girls.  My sister Stephanie said she had it with Audrey, but not Jacob (both of her pregnancies were very mixed up according to all the old wives tales!).  Funny how that works!

Sleep: Sleep has been terrible lately, but mostly due to me being sick, not pregnancy.  Though the frequent pee breaks are definitely from Baby Itz sittin’ pretty on my bladder.  My sleep lately has been interrupted by nose blows and coughs.  Blah.

Best moment this week: Seeing my brother Jason get married in Puerto Vallarta!!!

Miss anything? Not feeling sick. Sorry that’s the theme of this post.

Movement: Baby Itz is totally swimming around in there.  He seemed to really love Mexico and the sun as he was super active the whole time.  Lots of people did plenty of belly rubbing including several Mexican employees at the resort who proved to be the first strangers to rub my bump. Oddly enough, it actually didn’t bother me.  Maybe because they were just so happy and jovial about it, and it seemed like it was more part of their culture.  They were very hands on with the kiddos, too, always patting their heads and whatnot. Lots of love!

Food Cravings: No cravings.

Anything making you queasy or sick? Nothing specific, though Thursday evening (the night before we left – great timing), I got really sick for about an hour and then it passed and I felt better.  It was very strange.  My friend at school who is six weeks ahead of me texted me in the morning saying she was sick (unbeknown to her that I had gotten sick, as well).  We always joke that we are “pregnancy twins” because our pregnancies have been very similar (and very easy), so it was even stranger that we were both ill Thursday night.  Come to find out, TEN people from school called in sick on Friday morning. Some nasty short-lived stomach bug went around, and nasty it was!  I think that hit my immune system hard because I felt fine the following two days, but then got sick again starting on Sunday and it hasn’t left me yet.  Thankfully itz not in my stomach anymore, just in my head and chest.

Gender: BOY BOY BOY!!!!

Labor Signs: None, not that I would know what those feel like anyway!

Symptoms: You really want me to list?  Burning chest, sore throat, runny eyes, runny nose, severe coughing, fever, back pain, and overall feeling like garbage.  I actually had to take a sick day yesterday when I was supposed to go back to work due to my fever. I believe my fever is gone, but some of the other symptoms are still there.  Back discomfort is worsened due to the fact that I can’t workout being sick, and I’ve been saying from the beginning that my back is always worse when I don’t move a lot.

Belly Button – in or out?  In, but itz getting suuuper close to popping out.  I can actually stick it out if I push my belly out far enough haha.

Wedding Rings – on or off? On!

Happy or Moody? Not moody, but not happy I’ve been so sick! Wah!

Looking Forward To: Getting over this sickness! Have you had enough sickness talk yet? Ugh, sorry.  I’m over it, too.

Have you been sick this winter? I feel like everyone has been sick at some point this year! Ugh, and if not – kudos to you! Stay healthy!