Wednesday, February 6, 2013

California Part 2: Santa Barbara, Solvang, & LA

{Flashback Post} 

Continued from this post on our road trip. know the details of a vacation can be kind of hard to remember 8 months after the fact! ;)

On our first morning in Santa Barbara, we took advantage of the sunshine immediately by heading out to a local park the Bentley's recommended.  There was a huge grassy area for the boys to run around in, big and little playgrounds, a swing set - it was perfection.  Not to mention an ideal spot for some photos of our little ladies together.  Who still seemed a little unsure of each other.  The age, I'm sure, was a factor.

Fun at the playground

Ian captured some of my all time favorite pics of these two

Cocoa playing keep away

I love this one!

Ian and Brittany also drove us around Santa Barbara, getting us familiar with the beautiful city, including some of the lovely beaches.  Although it was quite windy on this particular day, the girls still got some sunning in and the boys went out on the kayaks and enjoyed the waves.  I sooooo wish I had pictures of this lovely afternoon, but the beach was just too windy and I didn't want to risk getting sand stuck in all the little crevices of my fancy pants camera I got for Christmas.  We finished off the evening with a BBQ with their friends and family on the beach - mmmm!

{Tip:} Don't forget to apply sunscreen to yourself after you slather your family with the good stuff.  It might result in a semi-severe burn.

Day two consisted of a trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo!  My kids are always a fan of the zoo, and its even better with good friends.  They got to run around, and burn some energy, and there were plenty of shaded areas for the pasties (mainly myself and my boy....oh right, and daddy).  We packed a lunch to take along and there was an adorable spot with tables and chairs right over the elephants to eat.  The kids thought it was awesome to eat lunch with the elephants!!!

Later that evening Brittany and I ran a couple errands....she had to tie up some loose ends before the move, we got some groceries for dinner, and then we ran to the beauty supply so I could color her hair. I spent the evening giving Ian and Brittany their last haircuts before Ethiopia!!!  The kids played in the backyard with squirt guns and had a blast.  And then the guys made a delicious meal for us all to share.

Notice the garbage bag get-up and washing out the color in her mom's sink!
Nothing like kitchen hair, right? =)
After dinner we enjoyed an evening in the hot tub, splashing around...and then the kids got out the chalk and we "decorated" the driveway while enjoying some ice cream.  What a beautiful ending to a wonderful day!

Day 3 we got a little touristy.  They took us out to the Santa Barbara pier and then we wondered State Street to do some shopping and lunch, complete with a trolley ride for the kids (Hollywood was in heaven).  There was a lot of walking, but it was great exercise.  Only downfall was that every inch of my sunburned skin was stinging.  I did a great job at keeping my kids sheltered and slathered in sunscreen...and I kept a good eye on my husband (his burns were contained to pretty much his face and neck).  But apparently that exhausted all my energy because I was getting sunburn after sunburn on this trip....but really, what could you expect coming from Washington?  My skin wasn't used to all this daylight!

Trolley Ride through Santa Barbara

We had lunch in the afternoon at a fun little restaurant on State street.  Because we dressed the girls in their matching outfits I made for them, people kept passing us gawking at them, and asking if they were twins.  They really did just look PRECIOUS!

Lunch on State Street
In the evening, we got to experience a wonderful authentic Ethiopian meal at their friend's home.  There were several families there and TONS of food!!!  Once again we broke out matching outfits for Se-se and Cocoa (these ones Brittany's grandma made for them, too precious!) and they were a hit!

Saturday was our last day in Santa Barbara, because our fabulous hosts were hosting more guests for the rest of the weekend.  They took us out to breakfast on the beach at a beautiful cafe where we enjoyed omelets, cinnamon rolls, bacon, and coffee.  It was so delicious!  Then we pulled the strollers and bikes out of the back of our vehicles and went for a nice long walk along the beach and headed to a different park.  (Please don't judge the fact that my son doesn't have a helmet...this wasn't planned.  Although the Bentley's had an extra bike for him to use, we did not have an extra helmet.  But I promise he always wears one at home!)  The kids had a BLAST!  The daddies kept speed with the boys while the mamas took it slow with the strollers, hoping for a morning nap.  It didn't work, but we did get the morning dirty diapers out of the way.  Great day for us to forget to pack baby wipes and extra diapers (Brittany stop rubbing off on me you bum!!!  Hahaha!).

Then we went back to Mike and Susan's house to pack up our luggage and clean up after ourselves.  The plan was to stay in a hotel that night, but after the guys were looking the evening before....our only options were pretty spendy.  Since the two older boys were going to their other grandma's for the evening, Ian and Brittany offered for us to sleep in their one bedroom apartment.  At first the idea sounded ridiculous....4 adults and 3 kids bunked up in that small space?  But it also seemed like the most reasonable idea, so we laughed it off and made it work.

Arriving in Solvang
Brittany was really excited because Friday night was their Farmer's Market at the vineyard, complete with wine tasting.  We agreed to try it out, first stopping at the grocery store for some dinner to go.  When we arrived at the vineyard I was shocked how many people were there.  Spread out on picnic blankets eating and drinking, it seemed like the whole town was there!  We were introduced to a ton of their friends, who welcomed us with open arms!  There was a grassy area where the kids got to run and play, and Hollywood made a couple new friends (remember the Bentley boys were at their grandma's).

***Brittany, do you still have those pics you took at the vineyard??  I forgot my camera that day but I know you got some good ones!!  Email them to me if you find them, mkay??? ;) ***

When bed time came, Ian and Brittany graciously offered us their bed, we put Hollywood on the floor and Cocoa in the pack-n-play, and they took the boys' bunkbeds, next to Selah's bed.  Lil' Man got a little rolly polly during the night and although he started out next to our bed, we woke up with him out of his sleeping bag, on the hardwood, nearly under the dining room table!  What a goof!!!!

Ian and Brittany had plans this Saturday evening, so we decided to make the drive down to Los Angeles, and meet halfway with the Skidmore family at Little Ethiopia for some yummy dinner.  But before we made the drive, we spent the morning in Solvang with the Bentley's.  They had an adorable cafe there where we shared breakfast and then walked through the shops and got a few souvenirs for the kiddios.  Then we spent the remainder of the afternoon helping Ian and Brittany pack up their kitchen and belongings for Ethiopia.

I loooooove California, but the traffic reminds me too much of Seattle, lol!  No fun!  Thankfully the kiddos took a nap and watched movies.  Little Ethiopia was easy enough to find.  We got there way earlier than we planned, so we walked around and enjoyed a family Starbucks date while we waited for the Skidmore family.  Hollywood started coughing and complaining of itchy eyes, so after a call to his doctor, we found a drugstore on the corner and got some meds for him.  Poor guy was all swollen and red, but thankfully the meds kicked in and helped.

Although Mike and Chantel traveled with us in Ethiopia.  On our first trip our dates overlapped just by two days....but on the second trip we arrived only one day after them and spent the entire week together!  Our girls spent time together at Hannah's Hope as well so it was soooo special to see them together again after a whole year!!!  Mike and Chantel are the kind of people that you pick up right where you left off when you see them!  After introducing the kids, they were running around playing and we were laughing in no time!  SO glad we took the opportunity to drive down and meet them!

After a DELICIOUS dinner, we drove to a hotel.  The plan was that the kids would go swimming and then we were going to stay there for the night before heading back up to Solvang for one more afternoon with the Bentley's.  Only by the time we arrived at the hotel, Hollywood's benedryl had kicked in and he was OUT in the backseat.  I carried him up to the room, but I swear even a fire alarm wouldn't have woken him up at that point.  He crashed on the bed while the other 5 kids noisily ran around and got dressed for the pool.  Hubs went with Mike and his older 3 to the pool while Chantel and I attempted to get the little ones to sleep.  Cocoa was hyper and I quickly found that sleep was not in the cards for us anytime soon.  She was literally jumping on her brother and he was sleeping right on through!  Hahaha!

After the big kids came up and dried off, we said our goodbyes to the Skidmores and turned in for the night.  Hollywood slept the entire night on the floor next to our bed, but since the hotel didn't have an extra crib, we had Cocoa between us and didn't get much sleep.

It's going to be a sad day tomorrow saying goodbye to Cali!


Stay tuned tomorrow for our last day in California and our road trip home!

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