while i was snapping…

I’ve been given a hard time lately for a dearth of Instagram photos. I used to post at least once a day, but in recent months I’ve waned. Mostly, my aging phone has been to blame. Every picture I took was blurry and not Instagram-able. But, also, I must admit, Snapchat has been dominating my social media time. I really like Snapchat. It’s fun. And quick.

However, Snaps do indeed disappear unless manually saved, so I best post some pictures on this here blog lest we forget everything we’ve been up to lately. Here’s a roundup of pictures from the past month or so!

IMG_3352^^spring has been coming and going, but i think the nice weather is finally here to stay!^^

IMG_2775^^biker cam! we’ve been biking a lot more, but the two kids are pretty heavy in the trailer, so when the whole family bikes, we put one of them on the back of dan’s bike.^^

IMG_3405^^one of those bad shots i referenced from a roller-skating birthday party!^^

IMG_2825^^flowers on our cherry tree!^^

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IMG_3439^^that montage is called: “eating out with kids is fun…”^^

DSC01173^^so much magna tile fun with grandpa!^^

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IMG_2848^^yay for backyard time!^^IMG_2891^^celebrating A&J’s birthday!^^

DSC01238-001^^girls’ spa day in boulder for our dear friend sara’s baby sprinkle!^^

IMG_2896^^mother’s day lunch at taste of thailand. SOOOOO GOOD!^^

IMG_2899^^her “celebration of learning” at school. she was so excited to show us what they’d been working on but mostly she was thrilled to “be in charge” all night. ;)^^

IMG_3520^^pizza delivery race at her school’s field day!^^

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tulum, mexico :: places we went

Just one more post about Tulum. We gotta talk a few deets: Places to go! Things to see!

It was our first visit, and we were only there a week, so we are obviously the farthest people from experts on the area. Nevertheless, there were several places we really enjoyed during our trip, and I want to share them. Some are places I found before our trip through online research, while others we stumbled upon while there.

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PLAYA MAMBO ECO CABAÑAS
There are lots of hotels in Tulum, and all of them are small and locally-owned. No big resorts. But there are lots of choices. We wanted to be right on the beach, and somewhere that was more rustic, so Playa Mambo sounded like a good choice from what I’d read online. It was.

We reserved through booking.com and rented a bungalow with ocean view. There are two of these available. Both have the beach and ocean as their front yard. They are also a bit bigger than “cottage” options because they have a sleeping loft. I thought this would be a good option for the kids. It was a small loft with a window, accessible by ladder. It worked out well for Cameron; he slept up there in his travel crib and it was good for naps because we could go in and out of the cabana without disturbing him. Willa was freaked out. She slept on a mattress by our bed.

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Pros:

  • Location. Playa Mambo’s beach was beautiful. They had a small number of beach chairs/beds with umbrellas. There were several good restaurants nearby, as well as a mini-mart just outside the gate for cheaper beers and other snacks.
  • The hotel provided breakfast to guests. Coffee, fruit, and pastries. Eggs and such were available at an additional cost.
  • The staff were efficient and friendly. Our room was cleaned daily. The staff offered the kids beach toys on our first day.
  • Overall, Playa Mambo had a great vibe. It was laid back and casual while still being stylish and well kept. It seemed to attract friendly people; we enjoyed interacting with many of the other guests staying there at the same time.

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Cons:

  • No fridge. No cold drinks. No way to store perishable food.
  • Breakfast. We wanted to enjoy it because it was part what we were paying for, but it wasn’t quite enough. It was our first breakfast and then we’d go find a second breakfast.
  • Cash only. I alluded to this in a previous post. It is absurd that a place that charges what Playa Mambo does per night would not take a credit card. Or at least PayPal or some other electronic option. This was really to their detriment though; we would have bought many more piña coladas if we could have paid with plastic.
  • Value. While we really enjoyed our stay at Playa Mambo, it didn’t feel like a great deal. It was “eco-chic” which, in some ways, just meant “budget.” There was no air conditioning. The shower was a trickle. We only got new towels every few days. All of this was totally fine for us, but I’m not sure it matched the price point.

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RINCÓN POBLANO
I didn’t want to spend a week in Tulum and only be at the beach. (However, the beach was really nice!) We ventured into town one of our first days to check things out. The town definitely had a less tourist-focused vibe.

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My favorite thing to do when I travel is to do everyday activities like locals would, so it was nice to just walk into this random restaurant off the main street and have lunch. It ended up being a great choice. It was relatively empty; just us and one Mexican family eating lunch. The man working was quite friendly and the food was delicious. We ordered taquitos and a mole. And beers. And a smoothie. Willa got quite into smoothies on vacation!

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LA OÑDA
A few doors down from Playa Mambo, this place advertised “Best Pizza on Earth.” Now, I’d have to disagree with that bold statement, but the pizza really was quite good. The service was friendly and the beers were cold.

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BOLAS DE POSTRE (Balls of Dessert)
Being on vacation was no different than real life; the words “if you X, you can have ice cream” somehow at some point were uttered by some parent. That was much easier said than done however. On Tulum’s beach road, everything is run by generator, so freezers are few and far between. Willa was a good sport about it, but we did feel compelled to find ice cream at least once during the week.

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We’d seen an ice cream cart when we were driving to and from town, so on one of our last afternoons, we finally decided to walk down the road to find it. It was a bit of a walk; Willa was asleep in the stroller by the time we arrived, but it was so worth it!

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They called it “superfood ice cream” and all the flavors we tasted were divine. The Vegan Papaya Almond Bliss was my favorite, but the Cacao was also good and the Tamarind Jamaica was really delightful and refreshing. Willa initially said “yucky” when the chocolate came out (3 year olds!) but I think she was just thrown off by the nuts and other textures. She ended up devouring it. As did Cam.

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There were no real cons about this place for us, but my only somewhat negative thought was that all the soymilk they were using might not fly in a trendy American city, but that was no problem for me (tofu foreva!).

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ZAMAS
The New York Times told me to go to Zamas in the morning for the view and the huevos rancheros. So that’s what we did. And, unsurprisingly, NYT was right. The service was great, the food delicious, and the location on the beach was fantastic. This breakfast is a really happy memory for me; I’m so glad we went. (Notably, Cam cried through most of the meal. See, another vote for traveling with kids! Even when they cry it’s still a happy memory!)

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LA EUFEMIA
While Tulum was overall a great travel destination, and we really enjoyed our time there, there’s no getting around the fact it’s quite touristy. Perhaps it was once off the beaten path, but beach road is now the path. It’s full of folks from Brooklyn or London (or Denver), looking for some tasty tacos. Luckily, just a few places down from our hotel, was La Eufemia. It ticked all the boxes for me: casual, fun, delicious food, good drinks, reasonable prices, and an authentic vibe. It was the only place we went twice. It was also the only place we spotted the young, hip staff from our hotel eating after they clocked out.

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They had a 2×1 drink special the first night we were there, and we didn’t really think it through before Dan ordered a piña colada and I ordered a mojito. So when 4 drinks came to the table, we were like, “hey, I guess we’re having a big night!” The second time we went, we were ready and just ordered one piña colada. Although I don’t judge anyone who enjoys multiple. They were good!

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LAGUANA KAAN LUUM
The morning I did my paddle boarding + yoga outing, they took us to this public lagoon. SUP Tulum has their own private lagoon, but it was quite windy that day, and Kaan Luum was smaller therefore less wind.

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It was beautiful. When we arrived at 9:45am we were the first ones there. By the time our class was over, around 11:30, there were probably 20-30 locals there swimming. The sandy bottom of the lagoon was pretty squishy, which took some getting used to, but the water was gorgeous and a perfect temperature.

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SOL
Not a place, but I feel compelled to note that while on the beach, the refreshing taste of Sol made it my preferred cerveza.

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Salud, amigos!

doughnuts! donuts! in los angeles!

To start, apologies for the grammatical situation in this post’s title. When it comes to two acceptable spellings of a word, you’re supposed to pick one and stick to it. But I have trouble doing that with the word “donuts.” Because, you see, even if I pick one, then I’m going to go eat donuts at a place like Sidecar Doughnuts (or Johnny Doughnuts!) and there I’ve gone and contradicted myself. Just one of my many donut problems.

That’s not really the point, though. What I want to tell you about is: Sidecar Doughnuts in Santa Monica. We went while we were in Los Angeles in January, and it was phenomenal. So good!

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Before our trip, I’d researched donut places in Los Angeles, and didn’t come up with much. (It’s highly likely that I was interrupted by one of our smaller family members and then didn’t get a chance to resume my search.) I’d heard about a place in Koreatown, but as soon as I saw a picture of a donut with Fruit Loops on it, I was out. When our plane touched down at LAX, I didn’t have a donut shop on our agenda.

But. Driving from the airport to my brother-in-law’s place in Santa Monica, we happened past Sidecar Doughnuts. It looked legit. A quick internet search returned promising results. A few mornings later, we found ourselves there at 7am. (They open at 6:30. Plus one for them. Early opening time is high on my extensive list of donut-shop criteria.)

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I probably should create my own donut-rating system, but let’s save that for another day. For now I’ll just say these are solid donuts. Lots of options of both the cake and yeasted varieties. Their flavors bordered on what I’d deem too dessert-like, but stayed mostly in safe territory. Their “daily” options were a good bet, while the monthly specialities seemed to get a bit fancier (sweeter). The Saigon Cinnamon Crumb and the Huckleberry were my favorites.

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They have two locations in Los Angeles, so if you’re ever there, check them out! Also, Stumptown Roasters coffee. Nuff said.

hello, L.A.!

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We headed to L.A. last month to visit Dan’s brother for a long long weekend. We had a delightful weekend packed with several fun activities. Both kids were terrified of the ocean’s waves, but they loved the beach, so we enjoyed our fair share of sand in our hair and between our toes. We hiked in Malibu, and I hit up a Dailey Method class in Venice. Combine all that with family bonding, and it was an all-around great trip. Thanks so much for hosting us, M&S!

DSC00442^^first trip with her very own suitcase. she was so excited.^^

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IMG_2445^^post-flight beach walk: getting our wiggles out + thrilled to see the ocean.^^

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DSC00476 ^^afternoon at santa monica beach followed by piggyback snoozes and smoothies.^^

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DSC00458^^tree pictures: can’t stop. won’t stop.^^

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IMG_2658^^venice, i like you. after taking class at the dailey method there, a teacher recommended i try the bulletproof coffee at another kind of sunrise. it did not disappoint.^^

DSC00494^^ICYMI: homemade fries are AMAZING. look at cam salivating.^^

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DSC00522^^in this moment, at venice beach, we learned that willa can write her name!^^

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DSC00527^^i was so excited to check out salt & straw since it’s kinda a big deal on the national artisanal ice cream stage (that’s a thing, right?) and i’d never made it to the portland location. venice to the rescue. i ordered a kids’ size, per usual, but it was a legit small portion, so i had to indulge and order a second flavor. totally worth it.^^

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IMG_2680^^dan and i snuck out for a late night dinner at cassia in santa monica. it calls itself a southeast asian brasserie. i love the things restaurants come up with! (seriously, i do.) to me, it had a definite LA vibe. luckily i’d packed one fancy outfit, ha! the food was really good and the martini i had was fantastic (“gin, imbue vermouth, blanc vermouth, lemongrass tincture, orange bitters, smoked quail egg” – the quail egg scared me at first, but it was just on a toothpick like an olive would be, and it was delicious!). the whole grilled sea bass was the best thing we ordered. fresh herbs!^^

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DSC00575^^there is an awesome playground at tongva park in santa monica. when we walked by it the first time, the kids were asleep, but we knew we had to go back. indeed, they loved playing there. there was also a water feature for hotter days. wish we had more of those in denver!^^

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IMG_2684^^beautiful, BEAUTIFUL hike in malibu to round out our trip.^^

january highlights

So far, 2016 has been go go go. Great great great. That’s cheesy way to summarize, but it’s totally accurate. We’ve had a lot going on so far this year, but it’s been all good things. No better way to summarize than in pictures:

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DSC00370^^fancy clothes + family pizza night to ring in 2016.^^

IMG_2491^^new year’s day walk around sloan’s lake. it was COLD. cam had a busted lip from falling on our shoe bin.^^

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DSC00409^^my parents came to visit mid-month. we went to the western stock show. willa had new boots from texas thanks to her aunt and uncle. she got a light-up hat courtesy of her grandparents. she was thrilled about all of the above.^^

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IMG_2558^^lunch at osaka ramen. i was sick and probably shouldn’t have even been there, but willa was full of energy!^^

IMG_2569^^i’m not sure i’ve expressed my love for it on here yet, but the chariot is an absolutely fantastic piece of baby/life equipment. we bought it previously-loved from another family and even though it was far from retail price, it was still an investment. but it’s been worth every penny. i like to fully maximize it’s capacity on the regular. on this day, after a trip to the grocery with my parents, cameron had to ride home in the ergo on my back.^^

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IMG_2417^^lunch with my mom at sushi rama. conveyer belt sushi is always fun. not the best sushi ever, but the speed, options, and portion size make it worth the visit. they did, notably, NOT have highchairs, which to me makes a certain statement. however, willa didn’t notice the vibe and happily selected a few choice sushi plates off the belt.^^

IMG_2427^^our family needs, conservatively, 5 slices of pizza for dinner. the price of a whole pizza at atomic cowboy is roughly the same as 5 slices. so you’re basically getting 8 for the price of 5. plus the staring eyes of everyone sitting around you. what can i say, we like pizza?^^

Happy February, folks! I have more January pictures to come though…always a bit behind these days.

burmatown, california

Last month, I went on a trip ALL BY MYSELF to California. I was there for some work stuff, but also as a mini vacation and a chance to spend time with family.  And I was so lucky: they really made sure I had a fun and restful stay.

On my first night there, they took me to Burmatown in Corte Madera.

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Obviously, I love an Asian restaurant! And San Francisco boasts numerous exceptional ones. During a previous visit, we went to Burma Superstar in the city, but I dare say Burmatown was better. It was sensational. From the ambiance to the food, everything was divine. The service was exceptional too. And the tea leaf salad! Who doesn’t love tea leaf salad? Well if you haven’t had one, you probably don’t know you love it…But you should try it. Preferable this one. (Although I imagine one in Burma would probably be pretty darn good too…)

Anyway! Everything about Burmatown was delightful. Perhaps I was influenced by the profound enjoyment of dining without little kids to wrangle. But, it doesn’t really matter. A fantastic eating experienced is colored by several factors, and the stars all aligned that night. Thanks so much R + B for such a wonderful dinner and visit!

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urban adventures in boston

Oh my goodness I have been so terrible at blogging lately. Where have I been? What have I been doing? I’m not sure. Or, I kind of know, but I best go through my pictures and get it DOCUMENTED so I can remember. Thus the need for my blogging.

So let’s start with the highlight of the fall: late last month, we flew east for my sister’s wedding! The festivities were on Cape Cod, but we added on some time in Boston to visit friends and to have a little family vacay.

DSC08997^^for our first few days, we stayed with our friends rachel and rob in southie. we wasted no time inside, and hit the streets our first morning there. first notable sight: this oddly skinny building.^^

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DSC09011^^it was late september, but boston was bringin’ it with the heat. luckily in these photos you mainly take in the blue sky. it was quite pretty. i’m always a sucker for art installations amid skyscrapers. and WATER! living in denver makes me appreciate water so much more than i ever did when it was near.^^

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DSC09071^^LOOK! my children are sleeping! in a restaurant! that had NEVER happened before. yet it always seems to happen to the moms who live in cities whose blogs i read. so, apparently, when you hoof it around the city all day, your children are apt to fall asleep. and they stayed asleep as we found our table at the barking crab and started in on a beer. cheers to that!^^

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DSC09099^^did i mention water!? after our day walking around the city, we headed down to the beach for grilling and dinner al fresco. willa loved checking out the beach, and rachel and rob made some delicious chuar!

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DSC09233^^i have whined in the past about my kids being challenging while traveling. but i also try to toot their horns when they’ve been great. this trip, they were TROOPERS. they dealt with the different places and schedules and people and lack of routine like champs. i was so proud of them! and proud of our parenting too.^^

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DSC09166^^we arrived in boston on a thursday. on saturday, my sister got to town FOR HER WEDDING. but up first on her agenda? babysitting for us so we could go to oysterfest! she is the best. and oysterfest was a fun event! i was definitely satiated and then some. the hama hama oysters were the best hands down if i do say so myself. and the duck khao soi dish from jamie bissonnette was my favorite dish we sampled. obvi.^^

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DSC09198^^next day, we made our way to the north end to get in touch with dan’s roots. i mean, to get some italian sandwiches. we went to monica’s mercato & salumeria, which did not disappoint. we did, however, learn that it’s a good idea to order ahead! they clearly take sandwich making very seriously, which i appreciate, but that takes time.^^

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DSC09249^^we were lucky enough to spend a few nights staying smack dab in the center of the city, and had fun exploring boston commons, newbury street, and more. there was, of course, a lot of eating. you can never go wrong with a georgetown cupcake.^^

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DSC09267^^GIRLS’ NIGHT! fancy drinks at townsman followed by some lovely generic international lager with hot pot!^^

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DSC09292^^since we’ve been home, willa’s been talking a lot about wanting to go back to the east coast so she can ride the subway. and she wants to know why denver doesn’t have a subway (me, too, sista!). so clearly the day we took the T to cambridge made a big impression on her. i had fun too. i saw MIT for the first time which was really impressive! such a different vibe than harvard.^^

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DSC09307^^we are going to round out the memories of our urban fun in boston with this series. let’s call it “willa happily devours a talenti ice cream bar in broad daylight. while wearing socks and sandals.”^^

SUCH A FUN WEEK! THANKS TO EVERYONE INVOLVED IN MAKING IT SO GREAT!