Summer Recap

I haven’t posted in a while. Or much this year at all. Turns out, life’s exhausting.

Baguette finished TK in June, and we promptly left for a week’s vacation in Santa Barbara. Where I drank a lot of coffee, we went to the zoo manymanymany times, and she lost a tooth! We don’t usually go that early, but it turned out that there was a week-long gap between the end of school and the start of summer camp.

label on coffee dispenser reading "Obama Blend: an optimistic blend of Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaiian"

small girl sitting on small statue of elephant, with a hat on its head

Naturally, she was sick for the first few days of summer camp.

Then, after not-a-week of camp, she started summer school. This was by virtue of a revision to her IEP. In theory, fine. In practice? We weren’t so sure.

The challenge was that summer school only ran until about 12:45. That’s far short of the end of the workday. Neither of us works nearby, and it would be really hard to drop her off mid-day anyhow.

That meant Baguette would need to take the school bus from summer school to camp.

This was not her actual bus.
This was not her actual bus.

We had severe doubts about this. It just didn’t seem like something that would work. She’d never been on a bus of any kind, and she’d never been in a vehicle without one of us or a grandparent (and, let’s face it, that mostly means us).

The first couple of days were rough, as they worked out the details of the route. The ride was too long, and Baguette would arrive at camp screaming and crying. But she never balked at getting on the bus, and we started packing Dr. Seuss books so that she’d have some entertainment.

She decided she loved the bus. She started telling her aide that she wanted to ride the bus, long before it was time to leave for the day.

After four weeks, summer school was over, and it was back to all day at camp. No bus. Baguette was disappointed, but she rallied.

And after another three weeks, it was time to start kindergarten. So here we are, in kindergarten. We’re still trying to figure things out, primarily because there has been a lot of change–new special ed teacher, new principal, new classroom, and more.

Fingers crossed.

School bus photo by dfirecopy, via Flickr. Public domain.

Santa Barbara: The Good

Back again from Santa Barbara, which has become our summer tradition. It’s not that we aren’t willing to travel anywhere else, it’s just that Santa Barbara is so nice, and so easy–easy to get to, and easy to be in. We got to see friends and family, and we revisited some greatest hits:

I know what you're thinking. We packed too much stuff.
I know what you’re thinking. We packed too much stuff.

Although we did need an awful lot of it.

Wait, where's Baguette?
Wait, where’s Baguette?
Rug removed, not for aesthetics, but for marker avoidance
Rug removed, not for aesthetics, but for marker avoidance
Baguette's first train ride, to Carpinteria 15 minutes away
Baguette’s first train ride, to Carpinteria 15 minutes away
Baguette's second train ride, returning from Carpinteria
Baguette’s second train ride, returning from Carpinteria
The goats will eat food handed to them through the fence, but that is not how Baguette rolls.
The goats will eat food handed to them through the fence, but that is not how Baguette rolls.

We found a new-to-us restaurant–Kyle’s Kitchen, which each month donates a portion of their proceeds to special needs organizations in the community.


And also makes very tasty burgers.


After years of driving by and saying, “Next time I want to check out that place,” we explored Tri-County Produce.

Featuring a Brussels sprout the likes of which I had never before seen
Featuring a Brussels sprout the likes of which I had never before seen

Of course we went to the beach, again and again and again.


Where Mr. Sandwich made sand castles, and Baguette destroyed them.




And then, on the way home, this happened.

Like Christmas in July for drought-stricken Californians
Like Christmas in July for drought-stricken Californians

A Little of This, A Little of That

Friday morning, I went to The Help Group Summit. For those of you not familiar with The Help Group, it’s an organization focused on research about and support for autism and ADHD. The annual Summit presents a variety of topics for researchers, care providers, and parents. Because of some scheduling conflicts, I could only make it to one session. Fortunately, it was the one I wanted to go to most, about tactics for handling feeding issues with picky eaters.

Baguette’s appetite is expanding. This may be the perfect time to try out some of those tactics.

Afterward, we packed up the car (very full), picked Baguette up from day care, and drove up to Santa Barbara. The next morning, Mr. Sandwich left very early to compete in the Santa Barbara Century. Baguette and I left not very early to go to breakfast and the Santa Barbara Zoo, where she saw “wions, and ewehphants, and giraffe, and sheeps, and fwamingos, and penguins, and goats.” The next day, we had breakfast with friends, made another trip to the zoo, and drove back to L.A.

Baguette is sleeping on the couch. This has been going on for a few weeks. It’s not as magical as it sounds; often, one of us has to sleep there with her, sometimes for more than one stretch per night. But it’s still better–and we all get more sleep–than when the three of us are in the same queen-sized bed.

Next up, moving Baguette into a twin bed in her room. Mr. Sandwich is building her a bed.

Yes, you read that right.

But I can tell that I have more energy, because I’ve been wearing contacts on a semi-regular basis. Next up, I may actually manage to put on lipstick.

None of this keeps me from drinking a lot of coffee.

small girl leaning on elephant statue


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.







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.


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

Top 5 Vacation Locations

Thanks once again to Ginger at Ramble Ramble for providing today’s prompt: What are your top 5 vacation locations?

Can I just list Kauai five times?

1) Kauai. Well, clearly this was going to be on the list. Mr. Sandwich and I went here on our honeymoon and have gone back twice since. The only thing keeping us from going now is the third plane ticket–and our reluctance to inflict plane travel on Baguette and Baguette on plane travel. (Fellow passengers: you’re welcome!). We’ll get there when she’s a little older. And I will drink more of this.

Aloha Maid Passion Orange drink

2) Santa Barbara. Much more accessible than Kauai, and a wonderful place to vacation with small children. We’ve been there three times–a week each in the summers of 2011 and 2012, plus a long weekend earlier this year–and enjoy speculating about where we’d buy a home there if we won the lottery. So I guess it’s not that much more accessible than Kauai.

Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens

3) The Grand Canyon. Mr. Sandwich and I spent a long Labor Day weekend there in 2003. We splurged and stayed in the tiny Bright Angel Cabins. When I called to book them, the reservation agent must have said five times, “Now, you understand that the cabins do not have a view of the canyon.” I finally said, “Am I allowed to go outside of the cabin?” She laughed and said, “Yes,” so I replied, “Then we should be fine.” They must get a lot of complaints. Which is ridiculous because the cabins are maybe 30 yards from the rim of the canyon. Seriously, people, calm down and open the door. It’ll be fine.

Grand Canyon

4) North Fork Campground. It looks like this is now members-only, but we camped here (okay, maybe somewhere near here) at least twice when I was a kid, and we didn’t belong to squat (except a summer swimming pool, because joining was the only way to get into a swimming pool). But I have fond memories of floating down the river on inner tubes, and a less fond memory of spotting a snake. Actually, I should broaden this to 1970s-era family campgrounds in general, because that’s mostly how my family vacationed back then, visiting historical locations like Harpers Ferry while participating in miniature golf by day and square dancing by night. With that in mind, here is a photo of a totally different location.


5) The British Isles. My first big international trip was to England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. My parents and brother and I toured England (my mother saved up for years for this trip), and my dad’s parents joined us once we reached Scotland. After a week, I branched off with my grandparents to tour more of Scotland and Northern Ireland while my parents and brother returned home. Now, if you’re thinking, “Northern Ireland–that sounds dangerous,” then let me point out that while we were there, Lord Mountbatten was assassinated. So, yeah, I guess maybe it was. But we were fine, so that’s worth keeping in mind in a week of State Department travel alerts.


Santa Barbara Sojourn

Santa Barbara – what’s not to love?
Every girl needs a jaunty hat. Even if it’s her mother’s.
Exhibits were made to be climbed.
A girl after my own heart–when I was trying online dating, my full ad title was “Mary Jane Watson Seeks Peter Parker; No Green Goblins Need Apply.”
Time for a run (so, also a girl after her Daddy’s own heart).
Photo by Mr. Sandwich
Giraffes enjoy being hand-fed romaine lettuce, and Baguette enjoys hand-feeding romaine lettuce to giraffes. Win-win!
Who needs a straw cup?
Never go in against a Sicilian donkey when grooming is on the line!
Baguette’s first time on the carousel. Mommy’s first time not riding a horse.
Finally! The beach!
We are not sure when the beach became so important to her life. This is her third trip ever.

Beach Blanket Baguette, Part 1

It’s been a long time since the Sandwiches had a real vacation–and, technically speaking, this was Baguette’s first. Yes, we’ve gone out of town to visit family, but we’ve also stayed with them, so there’s been a bit of a safety net. After some discussion (consisting in early stages of “Hey, did you want to go somewhere this summer?”) and some rudimentary budgeting (consisting largely of “It costs how much to fly to Kauai this year?”), we settled on Santa Barbara.

Next up: Where to stay. Unfortunately, the condos in our price range were not available in our date range, which meant that we needed to find a hotel. Motel 6 to the rescue! I’ve never stayed in a Microtel, but this is what I’ve imagined those are like: tiny, with the basics (although this room does have a surprisingly large bathroom, all things considered). But it’s clean and mostly in our price range, so here we are. And on the whole, it’s been a good base of operations. So what have we done from this base?

The Santa Barbara Zoo is just off the 101, close to the ocean, and home to the first capybara I’ve ever seen. Unless you count the ROUSes from The Princess Bride, of course.

Bridlewood Estate Winery features not just a few racehorses, but also one of the few chardonnays I’ve actually enjoyed. I’m not a big wine drinker (or drinker of anything, really, other than water), and I don’t tend to like wines that are too dry. This one wasn’t, so I bought three bottles. Baguette of course drinks no wine at all, and she’s a little afraid of racehorses, but that didn’t stop her from calling out “Wicket!” in an attempt to get their attention. (On this trip, we learned that Baguette thinks all animals–and some humans–are her dog.)

One late afternoon, we went to Hendry’s Beach (that’s the local name–the “real” name is Arroyo Burro Beach). This is Santa Barbara’s dog beach, and there were dogs as far as the eye could see. Baguette wanted to run after each one of them, but was easily distracted by the ocean–she loved the waves and the sand, and had a wonderful time on Baby’s First Beach Trip.

At the heart of town, Stearns Wharf is home to the Ty Warner Sea Center, where Baguette touched a shark and was delighted to find any number of fish, sea stars, and otters which are apparently named “Wicket.”

Mr. Sandwich and I found the dioramas of elk, bears, birds, and newts at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to be delightfully old-school–although upon reflection we realized that neither of us has been in a natural history museum since perhaps the early 1980s, with the result that we don’t have the slightest sense of what is new-fangled in this field. It’s possible that the process of reinterpretation has passed right by this subset of museum management, and it’s also possible that modernity has passed us by, since I actually said “new-fangled” out loud today.

Santa Barbara is home to two wading pools; we went to the one at West Beach. Since Baguette loves the pool (a recent discovery that has helped us conquer her fear and loathing of all things bath), we thought that an 18-inch-deep one might be just her speed. She had a wonderful time, although her big discovery was the tiny shower (a place to rinse feet, for those of us taller than an elf). One can only speculate about possible changes to her opinion of normal-sized showers.

For a change of scene, we spent a couple of late-afternoon hours at Shoreline Park, stretched along the clifftop overlooking the ocean. You know you’re in an upscale park when people are grilling not hot dogs, but lobster. Speaking of lobster, you’d think by now I’d know enough to put on sunblock. Apparently I spent so much time worrying about whether I’d applied enough to Baguette that I neglected to remember that even the English think I’m pale. Now I have an odd assortment of gradated tan lines along my arms, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to peel soon.

Fortunately for my sunburn, our last activity (on the way out of town) was the Santa Barbara Greek Festival in Oak Park. Oak Park is very shady, with lots of trees–it is aptly named. We thought the festival sounded like fun, and we were pretty sure Baguette would enjoy it. She loves music and dancing, and we were pretty sure a Greek festival would offer her that entertainment. And indeed it did! She just has no idea she was there, because she fell asleep and stayed out the entire time we were there. But while she missed the festival, she also stayed asleep for nearly the entire drive home. And much as we enjoyed our vacation, it is good to be home.