Morning Hike in Point Lobos Park, California

Last week we took a trip to California to visit family. One of the highlights of our trip was a morning hike we took in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. We spent the night in nearby Monterey, CA and ‘benefited’ from the two hour time difference that had us awake around 5:30 AM. The reserve is open from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. As one of the first cars through the gates, we easily found a parking spot near Bird Island Trailhead on the south end of the park. We passed by the park entrance several hours later and the parking lots were completely full. 

California Crown Jewel 
I read that Point Lobos is the ‘crown jewel’ of California Park systems, and I can see why. We started at the Bird Island Trailhead, and walked the .8 mile round-trip loop. Our 16 month old Cecilia refused to get inside her Ergobaby carrier, so we couldn’t make the hike long. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to go far to see gorgeous ocean vistas, beautiful woods, sea life and private sandy beach coves.

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Pacific waves crashing against rocky shores
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Green waters
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Seals resting in China Cove
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Bird Island
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Ocean Baby

 

We took a quick drive to the other side of Point Lobos park by Whalers Cove to enjoy the forest and gorgeous ocean views. We could have spent all day at Point Lobos, but we continued our adventure by driving on scenic Pacific Coast highway 1 to beautiful Morro Bay for more family fun. Topping off an already great morning, Cecy napped during the whole drive down which basically made this the perfect road trip in my book. Yay!

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Woods to Sea near Whalers Cove
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Rainy Irish Parade – KC Toddler Fun

We went to the Emerald Isle Parade in downtown Lee’s Summit, MO on Saturday. There are several festive St. Patrick’s Day parades in Kansas City, but this one holds a special place in my heart because I grew up in Lee’s Summit. We met up with my parents and several of our friends and their kiddos. Our group huddled under umbrellas and enjoyed the colorful floats rolling by – cheerful despite the drizzle.

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Puddles at the Parade

The weekend’s gloomy weather was a big contrast to Friday’s when we soaked up the sunshine at beautiful Loose Park in Kansas City.  We played on swings and slides at the playground before heading to the pond for bird watching. After our loop around the park, we walked a little under a mile to the Kansas City Public Library – Plaza Branch for a panda themed story time and art project. The kids section of the library is gorgeous with big windows overlooking the Plaza, rows and rows of books and fun education stations.

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Historic Loose Park, KCMO

On Wednesday we went to a free Little Rockers Concert at School of Rock in Overland Park, KS. Cecy showed off her awesome dance moves! Besides dancing we are also working on our jumping skills. We headed to Urban Air trampoline park in Overland Park , KS. On Tuesdays and Fridays they have Jumperoo from 9am until noon. For just $5 (kids 3-5 are $10) we jumped on the trampolines with other toddlers and played in the amazing playground area with tunnels, slides and ball pit.

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Having a ball at Urban Air

 

Last week we also took an awesome tour of a local fire station where Cecy got to climb inside a firetruck and meet firefighters. The tour was fun, but it also got me thinking about fire-safety at our house. I found some Sesame Street themed materials on the US Fire Administration’s website which I think will be a fun way to talk to Cecy about a serious safety subject as she gets bigger.

KC Toddler Fun, First Week of March

I’m having serious mountain withdraws! We haven’t made it to Colorado since the beginning of January and we might not go until mid-April. What to do in the mean time? Fill our days with fun activities here in Kansas City. A couple highlights from last week:

Lakeside Nature Center: This was our first visit to the center which is located in Swope Park (right across from the Kansas City Zoo). Admission was free. We walked around and looked at snakes, turtles, salamanders, fish, birds, squirrels, rabbits and other animals that are native to Missouri – even bald eagles!

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Lakeside Nature Center

StoneLion Puppet Theatre – we attended a free event at Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas. The show was “A Jungle Out There”. We learned about endangered species.

Open Gym at Pinnacle Gymnastics in Shawnee, Kansas- This is a great way to burn toddler energy. We jumped on the trampoline, played in the foam pit, did somersaults on the floor and walked across a mini balance beam. The cost is $5 for members and $6 for nonmembers, but Cecy (15 months) attended for free.

Jazz Storytelling at the American Jazz Muesum. This free event takes place the first Friday of every month. The musicians are incredibly talented and fun. We love to go. This time Cecy didn’t make it through the whole performance, so we burned off some of her excitement on the playground across the street and enjoyed blueberry vegan pancakes for lunch at nearby Succotash – yum.

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Downtown KC view from Jazz Museum 

 

March -Festive Family To-do List

Yuck, did anyone else feel they were in a constantly revolving cycle of colds last month? I swear we just took turns feeling sick. Despite not feeling our best, we still had a lot of fun.

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Gatsby Party

I enjoyed a cute family Valentine’s Day dinner at home and going to a fancy Gatsby themed event with my husband, but my favorite experience was taking Cecy to the beach in Florida. She loved kicking waves and chasing birds. This month I’m excited to:

  • Enjoy rising temperatures and play outside as much as possible

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    Time to Swing!
  • We had a Mardi Gras themed dinner last month with Creole black beans ‘n’ sausage (recipe) and wearing lots of bead necklaces! This month I want to celebrate our Irish heritage with a themed dinner or brunch.

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    Happy Mardi Gras
  • Visit family in California. We will be in Morro Bay which is where we took Cecy on her first hike (Valencia Peak). I’m hoping we can do some hiking again.
  • March Madness! For the last few years I’ve assigned restaurants to every team in the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament and that’s how we determine where to go to dinner on our anniversary in April. I’m not a big basketball fan (college basketball is huge in Kansas City) so this makes it more fun. The key is to throw some fast food restaurants in the mix so you’re excited when they lose.
  • Cecy’s first Easter Egg hunt.

Happy March!

Good, Better, Best… at the Grocery Store

My Grandpa taught me the sang, “Good, better, best – never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best!”

This popped in my head when I was grocery shopping today and I thought I’d share it because I don’t think I’m the only one overwhelmed with all the good aspirations to go green, shop local, eat healthy and save money.  I do not have time to research every product and go to multiple stores – I’m literally bribing my one year old with graham cracker cookies I pull off the shelf so she stops trying to jump out of the cart!

‘Ok, just breathe’ I told myself. I may never cook all organic, plan gourmet meals under $5 or find a way to leave a zero carbon footprint on our beautiful planet. I can be mindful, make a few slightly better choices and build from there. So, here is what I found:

Shatto Milk – My husband is not a picky person, but he is very picky when it comes to milk and this tastes great! It’s from a local Kansas City dairy, so it’s very fresh. They use glass bottles to keep it cold and to help the environment. I even got a $2 rebate when I brought my clean container back to the store so they can reuse the glass.

San Francisco Bay Single Serve Coffee – I love coffee and I love how convenient and easy my Keurig makes brewing a cup. I don’t love the plastic containers that accumulate in my trash, so I’m really excited about this brand that uses a mesh coffee filter instead of plastic.

Oscar Meyer Natural lunch meat and Coffee mate natural bliss –    I’m trying to buy meat that is nitrate/nitrite free and coffee creamer that doesn’t have carrageenan listed in the ingredients.

Finally, I remembered to bring my own reusable bags today – woohoo!  Let me know if you have any great products or practices that you and your family enjoy!

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A weekend trip to Hollywood, Florida

Last weekend we took a quick trip to Hollywood, Florida to soak in some sunshine.

IMG_3996The weather was a little colder and windier than we expected, but we still had fun walking up and down the broadwalk which has great views of the ocean. We didn’t need to rent a car, we had all of the restaurants and entertainment we needed within walking distance of our hotel. The broadwalk is lined with restaurants where you can sit outside, listen to live music and watch people walking, biking and rollerblading by.

IMG_4005Our favorite part of the trip was splashing in the waves and chasing birds up and down the  beautiful beach.

The Anne Kolb Nature Center was close to our hotel, so we walked over a couple  times to enjoy the trails and observation tower views. We spotted unique birds and tree crabs along the trails.

February! What I’m Reading and my Festive Family To-do List

Happy groundhog day! I’m really happy we made it through long, cold, dark January – it actually wasn’t a bad month at all. I especially loved my snowshoeing date with my husband and my zoo day with Cecy.

I want to tell you about a book I’m currently reading “Stuff-ocation“. Warning, it might make you want to sell all your stuff and move to a tiny cabin in the mountains. Or, maybe that’s just me!? I’m not all the way through the book yet, but I have started going through all my stuff and donating things to local charities or recycling.

I’m thinking how I can incorporate the less stuff – more experience message with Lent this year, which starts next week.

A couple of fun things I’m looking forward to this month:

  • making homemade Valentine’s Day cards with Cecy
  • dressing up for a black-tie Gatsby themed event for my husband’s work
  • celebrating Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday with a New Orleans themed dinner
  • a trip to Florida, we are ready for some sun!
  • cracking out our underused fondue set and melting some chocolate goodness