Summer in Santa Barbara

I wish we could spend the whole summer in Santa Barbara, but I really can’t complain about having a week there. While Kauai is our top vacation spot, it’s a little out of our reach right now. Three plane tickets are expensive, and Mr. Sandwich and I agree that Baguette is not yet ready for the flight experience.

Fortunately, Santa Barbara is only about an hour and 15 minutes away by car (if traffic isn’t bad, which it often is). So for the last four summers, we’ve gone to Santa Barbara for our vacation. We prefer to rent a condo or other place to stay, and have had mixed success with that based on budget and timing (year 1–Motel 6; year 2–studio which I mistakenly thought had a kitchen; year 3–Homewood Suites in Oxnard, which was further away but a terrific place to stay; year 4–cottage behind the owner’s house, and dingdingding I think we have a winner).

As on prior visits, we went to the Santa Barbara Zoo (three times), destroyed sandcastles and splashed at Leadbetter Beach (twice), visited the ducks and the elaborate playscape at Alice Keck Park and the adjacent Alameda Plaza, and drove out to Ballard to see Sicilian donkeys at Seein’ Spots Farm.

Elephants

DCIM113SPORT

Ducks

Playground1

Playground2

Donkey

Because we had a kitchen, we ate breakfast in the cottage most days. While I like to go out to breakfast, I don’t like to have to go out to breakfast. We did get pancakes once at Garret’s Old Fashion, which is becoming a must-do on our Santa Barbara trips, but most mornings I was really happy with my toast and sunflower seed butter accompanied by yogurt and berries.

We did tend to eat lunch and dinner out, although even then we brought home leftovers that covered a few more meals. The standout new-to-us place was Eureka! In addition to excellent burgers, they had an array of beers and whiskeys.

By the way, in the past we’ve looked for bookstores in Santa Barbara. Apparently my previous Google searches failed miserably, because it turns out that there’s been an amazing one in our go-to neighborhood the whole time. It’s an independent store, and it’s got a children’s section that is large enough to be a separate children’s bookstore. So if you’re ever in Santa Barbara, stop by Chaucer’s Bookstore. You won’t be sorry.

Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara

And of course, we also paid a visit to McConnell’s.

McConnels

In the end, Baguette didn’t want to leave Santa Barbara–and, truth be told, neither did we.

Pick Your Park

As we were heading out today, one of our neighbors walked by. We said we were going to the park, and she said, “Is it a nice park?”

I honestly didn’t know how to answer that.

We’re lucky enough to live near quite a few parks with playground areas–although lately Baguette has been more excited about running around on the grass than in the swings and slides. But, hey, whatever burns off that nap-resistant energy.

We wound up at one that has tennis courts, but not a duck pond. What did Baguette want to do most? Go beach! Err, play in the sand. You know, that thing that’s so concerning to her teachers. So we let her do just that. For over an hour.

Baguette at playground

My take on the park? It had a playground and lots of grass. And nobody stabbed us. So, sure, it was a nice park.

Sand Pail List, Revisited

Sand and Toys

In May, I created my “Sand Pail List” of things I wanted to accomplish this summer. How’d we do? Let’s take a look:

Going to the park
We did go to local playgrounds, but not nearly as often as I’d intended–except for when we were in Santa Barbara. We went to a lot of playgrounds in Santa Barbara.

Summer concerts
Not one. Turns out that the ones held in my friend’s town are on Sunday nights, which didn’t work for us, and we never investigated the ones closer to home. Maybe next year.

Going to the beach
We got to the beach three times this summer, and are going again once Baguette gets her cast off. Labor Day may be over, but southern California’s summer is not.

Swimming lessons
Happening right now! Well, not right now. But we’ve enrolled Baguette in the current session at our local Y, because you cannot keep her out of the water. (Me, either.)

Cooking
Err . . . I’ve done a little, but certainly not as much as I meant to. And I still haven’t gotten back to that farmers’ market.

Well, there’s always fall. What should I call that one–maybe Leaf Bag List? I wonder if that works in the land of no fall colors.

Photo by ~W~, via Flickr.

Sand Pail List

Pail

The latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens (and with that, I am officially my mother–or, since she read Woman’s Day and Family Circle, perhaps one of her close cousins) encourages people to make a “Sand Pail List” of things you want to accomplish before the end of summer. It’s like a Bucket List, but only for summer. And presumably without bringing death into the equation. So here’s what I’m thinking about:

Going to the park
Baguette loves to run free, and we’re lucky enough to live near several public parks. I want to make the most of them.

Summer concerts
One of my friends lets us know about outdoor concerts in a park close to her. It sounds like a great family event, and I’d love for Baguette to meet her boys. Plus I’m not sure I’ve seen this friend since shortly after Baguette was born.

Going to the beach
We live close enough–why don’t we go more often? I want to go at least three times this summer.

Swimming lessons
Baguette loves the pool, and she finally loves the tub–she’s even teaching herself to put her face in the water. I want to make sure we start her on swim lessons this summer.

Cooking

This is a perennial goal of mine. Baguette and I love summer produce, and there’s a farmers’ market near our house every Sunday. I want to get back into the habit of buying food there and making healthy family dinners.

How about you?

Photo by k.l.macke, via Flickr.

Sleepy, Very Sleepy

Manolo sleeping.

Apparently I’m too sleepy to come up with anything exciting/funny/incisive to post. Here’s a recap of our week so far.

Sunday
Baguette had a playdate with the daughter of one of my friends. Things went pretty well, except that Baguette fell asleep while I was holding her. In the middle of a playground. So we all adjourned to the picnic blanket so that she could lie down. After a while (and some errands), we returned home. She took another nap–very unusual–at around 4 p.m. When she woke up, she had some milk and promptly made the waterfall sound that indicates that the milk? Is coming back up. Yep–she had a fever. Fortunately it never got that high (101.5 at the most), but that meant she had to stay home from daycare.

Monday
Baguette stayed home from daycare and I stayed home from work. This was a good decision–she slept until 11 a.m., which told me that she needed to be at home. Of course, there was no napping after that, but at least she wasn’t sick any more.

Tuesday
Baguette went back to daycare and I went back to work. When we all got home, we took pictures of her for her “month-day”–each month, we put her in the same chair with the same stuffed animal (for proportion, you see) and take a ridiculous number of photos of her. As she has gotten more mobile, keeping her in the chair gets trickier and trickier. Food is now involved.

Wednesday
Baguette and I stood at the back bumper of my car, where she had me identify letters. I think she’s going to wind up spelling “Subaru” backward.

Thursday
I woke up early. At about 1:15. For no reason. And didn’t get back to sleep until after 4. Then, I had a dream in which I called in sick for work and had a glass break while I was drinking from it. I do not know why I was dreaming about fishing large quantities of broken glass out of my mouth. At least I didn’t dream about getting cut–but it still wasn’t what I’d consider a good dream.

So I’m tired.

Photo by Luisus Rasilvi, via Flickr.

“I Think She’s Just Being a Weird Baby Today”

Baguette’s Grandma and Grandpa came for a visit this weekend. They live out of town, and it’s been about four months since she’s seen them. That’s a quarter of her life, so it took her a little time to remember who they are. But once she did, she plopped down in Grandpa’s lap for reading time.

Unfortunately, on Saturday Baguette woke up as Grumpy Baby. She didn’t like anything, and she particularly didn’t like it if I put her down. And while she did consent to a nap on Grandpa’s chest, it didn’t seem to help her mood much. This did not exactly simplify our preparations for that night’s cookout for 16 people (steak, salmon, sausages, asparagus, and tomato-rice salad, by the way).

Baguette remained clingy throughout the cookout, although she did allow herself to be entertained by the six-year-old who provided the title to this post–a statement made, by the way, with a tone of acceptance and tolerance that I consider to be quite impressive at any age. And although she wanted very little to do with Grandma and Grandpa for much of the day, she did lean in and give them both goodnight kisses through her pacifier.

Sunday was better; she started out with post-party fussiness, but perked up with a trip to the park. There she climbed up and slid down the slides, worked her way up stairs, and played in the sand. When we moved to a shady spot on the grass, she realized that “Da-Dee” wasn’t with us. Three different times, she set off down the path to find him, more than happy for Grandpa to walk with her as she looked. Then she’d come back and paw through my purse before setting out again.

After dinner, she settled in with Grandpa and her four books that she likes, and made him read to her for at least half an hour. When it came time for Grandma and Grandpa to leave, she leaned in for hugs all around and waved to them as they drove away. We’ll go through it all over again in November, when we get together for Thanksgiving.

And now, of course, I realize that part of Baguette’s “Weird Baby” episode can be attributed to Saturday’s lunch. Just because she liked the chicken tikka masala doesn’t mean it entirely agreed with her.