Friday, November 29, 2013

CA Coast Family Vacation

Here are some highlights of our CA coast trip!! We had SO much fun! I LOVED being together as a family, and just hanging out. We haven't been able to do that in a long time, so it was long over due. We fit a lot into five short days (two of them spent mostly driving), and it was my first time going up the coast. I've been to San Fransisco a few times, but we have never taken the scenic route, so I thoroughly enjoyed the new sights and adventures. I also gained a new love and appreciation for the beauty of CA. I really do think our states is one of the prettiest, with the coast, mountains, lakes, forests, and so much more! (Oh...Disneyland haha but I'm mainly just talking about natural beauty) So here's our fun, little family, enjoying our CA Coast vacation! 
Ps. The weather was GORGEOUS! I thought it was going to be cold, but it was SO nice. I just needed a light jacket for nights.

  • San Luis Obispo
  • Avila Valley Barn
  • Avila Beach
  • Monterey Aquarium
  • 17 Mile Drive
  • Big Sur
  • San Simeon Elephant Seals
  • Hearst Castle
We made it to the coast, Ventura, just in time for the sunset! It was gorgeous! Our  vacation had finally begun!
Being that we got a later start than planned, we didn't make it to Solvang until about 6pm. If you're planning a visit, get there earlier in the day!! The town looked SO cute and I really wish we could have walked around and what not, but most everything was closed. I definitely want to go again to experience everything. PS. We ate at the Viking Restaurant because it was one of the only places that was wasn't terrible, but let's just say that if somewhere else is open, I would try to go there instead. 

San Luis Obispo

Here's Hunter, feeding his obsession with pumpkins. At one point, he was hugging all of them. Haha 

Here was the best part about the Barn, feeding the animals!!
There were turkeys, goats, alpacas, horses, mini horses, donkeys, chickens, roosters, and sheep

I love Hunter's reaction in these next pictures! He got a big kick from feeding the horses! 

Cade had a great time at the barn! ha

Yay for hay rides! 

There were rows upon rows of fruit plants and trees! It would be fun to go there when fruit was in season. 

These two loved being around each for the whole trip! Hunter didn't have to go off to pre-school, or the sitters, or anything. It was fun having them together with no interruptions. 


Hunter LOVES LOVES LOVES the beach. He could play in the sand and water all day.  The water was cold, so we obviously didn't go in, but it was still a lot of fun.

Before we headed out of SLO, we ate at the famous Madonna Inn. It was delicious! They are famous for their cakes. We took a piece of toffee cake to was pretty much one of the best cakes I've ever had! Oh, and Janelle and I split the Monte Cristo Sandwich. It was really good, but if you've had Disneyland's MC's, try something else, because Disneyland's are better. (;
I didn't take this picture, but I wanted to show you how the roads looked driving from San Luis Obispo to Monterey. We took the 101 instead of the CA 1, and I loved seeing vineyard after vineyard. They weren't green like in this picture that I found on Google images, but they were still neat to see.  

The aquarium was a lot of fun. Hunter has a natural love for ocean animals, so he was in Heaven. It was big, had a lot of kid areas, and at our hotel, we were able to get a two day pass for the price of one day, so we were able to split the aquarium into two different days. 
I think Hunter enjoyed the jelly fish the most, hence the reason why he is hugging the jelly fish tank. haha 

Bubba Gumps in Monterey is the 8th Bubba Gumps we've been to. It's kind of our tradition to go to Bubba Gumps if there is ever one around. 

Crystal Fish Sushi
A sushi place that was recommended to us from a local. It was good, decent prices, and how could we go to a coastal city and not have any fish.
One of the best steakhouses we have ever been to! We LOVE our steakhouses, and this one was top notch. They even brought you the different cuts of meat to tell you about them. It was pretty awesome, and what was even better was that Aunt Jay Jay stayed at the hotel with Hunter so we were able to enjoy it, (well, the best we can...haha we still had our sweet little Cade) By the way, their clam chowder was one of the best I've ever had. I highly recommend this place. It was pricy, but was worth it.
This drive is a must if you ever go to Monterey. It is absolutely gorgeous there! There are a lot of places to get out and walk around. We stopped in this place and we found a large crab. Hunter was really excited about that. 


Look at this view...It was absolutely breathtaking. Big Sur was about a half hour-45 minute drive, depending on where you go, but this specific area was about a half hour from our hotel. It was a lot of fun to drive 
Highway 1. At first we planned to go on a hike, one from this site:, but most of the areas were at least a hour drive South from Monterey, so they were too far drive being that we had more to do in Monterey, but I'm glad we found the spot where we stopped because it was a lot of fun to once again just run on the beach and enjoy the beautiful view. 

He could do this ALL day if we let him! 

They sure do love each other...

First time at the beach. He kept trying to eat the sand! haha 
Loving Aunt Jay Jay time.

Elephant Seals and Hearst Castle
San Simeon
On our drive home, we stopped by the elephant seals, and also did a tour at Hearst Castle. Once again, Aunt Jay Jay was a big help and went to the beach with Hunter while we took a tour. I don't think Hunter would have lasted, it was a lot of just talking and walking, and no touching...with is a little difficult for three year olds. 
Elephant Seals at San Simeon. They come here and just hang out (and breed, and have their pups during a certain time of year). You can't touch them, but there's is a little  pathway to walk on and you can see them. They were pretty fascinating to watch!

This cute little smile quintessentially describes the character of this sweet little boy. He is SO happy and loves, loves, loves to smile at others. He was the best little trooper on the trip, and he just went along with the flow pretty much the whole time. Near the end, you can tell he was probably getting a little home sick, but he was still happy as a little clam. 
And here is what we call his cabbage patch face! haha 
We took the Cottages and the kitchen tour, partly because it was the next one leaving, and we still had about a five hour drive home. I liked the tour. We didn't get to see the grand rooms inside the big part of it, but it was still really neat. You get to walk around the gardens and pools no matter what tour you take, so that was kind of nice. We also had lunch here, and although I don't like to eat at touristy places because it's usually over priced and not very good, but eating here was the right choice. This site is not only where he built his castle, but also has a live, working, very enormous, cattle ranch. We had cheeseburgers from the cattle that were there on the ranch, and they were pretty delicious! 


Lastly! Here are the hotels where we stayed. I was VERY happy with them. You know, it's always a gamble when booking a hotel. You never know if it's going to be in an odd location, or smelly, or beds are uncomfortable, etc. I always read the reviews, but I usually go with the ones that are a little cheaper with decent reviews. I'm not looking for a 5 star's not like you spend too much time there anyway, and I'm all about cheaper hotels, so we have more money to spend on the adventures! 

So, we stayed one night in San Luis, just to break up our drive, and I just got a cheap one because we were literally just staying the night and then driving once we got up. I was pretty pleased, and it was pretty close to attractions. The rooms were clean, kind of small, but perfect for one night. They have a pretty fancy spa and pool too. I would stay here again. 

1585 Calle Joaquin · San Luis Obispo

Here's our hotel in Monterey, and I LOVED it! Our room was very big and spacious, and I was VERY pleased for the price we paid. It was close to everything. I think we drove more than 10 minutes to get somewhere, and it was so nice having a heated, indoor pool, especially because it would be too cold to swim outside. Oh, and there was a fireplace in our room! Loved this place, and I would definitely stay again! 
1046 Munras Ave · Monterey
Well, that's our trip in a nutshell! I feel like we saw pretty much everything we wanted to see. We did want to go to the Winchester Mystery House, but being that it was a hour drive North and we still had stuff to do in Monterey, we made the choice to stay more local and go to Big Sur. I'm not sure I would tour around Monterey again. It was beautiful, but I think it would be good for just an overnight stop on the way to San Francisco. Or if the kids really wanted to go the aquarium again, we could do that. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED it, but it's a smaller city and I was happy with what we did! I loved the trip as a whole, the scenic drive, SLO, the beach and much more! The best part was spending the time with family and having fun together! I can't wait for our next vacation! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What did you just say?

For some time now, I have noticed that Hunter's speech wasn't exactly the greatest. I thought, well, he's still little, the only child, and a boy. He was always very good at somehow communicating what he wanted, so there wasn't very much frustration going on when he couldn't express himself, or wasn't being understood. I told myself that I would wait to get him as assessed, hoping he would just somehow catch up. Well, that didn't happen. I knew that by the time he turned 3 years old that he could get help for free through the school district. 

Today he received his final assessment. I've been anxiously waiting for this day to come. The other night I laid awake and cried as I felt guilt, wondering if there was something more that I could have done, sadness, thinking about how this wasn't necessarily "normal" and now at 3 years old he may have to go off to school for four days a week, and fear, worrying about whether or not he would like his speech therapist and if he would dislike going. I've tried my best to just keep it together, and I think I'm doing an okay job. There might be some of you thinking, "Oh, it's just a speech delay, what's the big deal?" Well, when you're in the same situation, let's see what you say. I got some comfort when the speech therapist told me that there's not really a cause for a speech delay. She told me that it could be genetic, it's not anything that the parents did or didn't do, or he's just a late bloomer. It does not mean that your child isn't smart, or will be intellectually behind in school. 

 When I heard the words that he has a "severe" speech delay, part of me wanted to cry, and the other part of me was ready to just kick this "delays" butt and move forward. On a good note, he scored one point too high to qualify for help with his language, so now he just needs help with his articulation. So basically, he understands language pretty well, he just doesn't really want to verbalize anything. Little stinker...

Needless to say, it's been difficult. I feel like sometimes people will try and talk to him, and find it odd that he doesn't answer back, or they will tell him to say something and he will say it in a weird way, or they see that he makes more gestures, sounds, or even sings more than he talks. And the assessments and paperwork weren't peaches and cream, as they asked question after question after question. 

Moms...if your child is very verbal, please don't count out the little ones who don't talk that much or not very well. Your going to make the Mom of that child feel like the lonely Kindergartner who doesn't have any friends and just hangs out by themselves during recess time. I think the worst thing we could do is think, "Oh, they don't talk that much, so I don't want my kid playing with them because my child talks a lot...or is already crawling and walking...or has skipped a grade...or is athletic...or is musical etc. etc." Every child is special, and important. PLEASE don't forget that! 

Now it's time to brag about my sweet little guy. He is a smart little cookie. He's VERY good at observing and knowing his directions. From a very young age, he was able to tell me which way to go to get to Grandma and Grandpa's house, or if we were in the vicinity of a friends house, he would know and would start asking for that friend and pointing which way to turn to get to their house. He has an amazing tonal memory. I call him my little John Williams, as he always sings the theme songs to Jaws and Jurassic Park, (his two favorite things, sharks and dinosaurs). Also, when he was younger and not talking very much at all, he would sing the tune to the theme song of the show he wanted to watch, rather than saying a characters name or the title of the show. His imagination is pretty up to par as he makes his dinosaurs play, or transforms his hand into a shark and makes it swim and bite things. 

I want you all to know that I'm not writing this so that you aware of what is going on in Hunter's life, but I think as Mother's we try to find other's that we can relate to, or sometimes we may need some help or suggestions. So this is mainly for all you other Mom's who are in the same boat as I am. We know how it feels to think that our child is somewhat behind. 

I love my little Hunter more than I could ever express. The other night, he crawled in our bed, and although we were cramped, and didn't sleep very well, I was overcome with the feeling that Hunter knew that he was loved. He knows that if he crawls into bed with Mom and Dad, that they will love and cuddle him. Because his speech has been delayed, it has been very exciting to hear all the new words that he is learning. But my favorite words are definitely, "wuv you". He doesn't even say "I" or pronounce his "L", but that's his way of telling us that he loves us. 

It's been a long process so far, but I'm glad that we are making progress. I turned in my paperwork in the middle of July, and here it is October, and I still have one more meeting to go to before he starts getting his speech therapy. Being patient has not been fun, but I'm happy to finally get everything taken care of, and I keep telling myself that early intervention is the best thing we can do for him, and so we just move forward from here. 

I know that soon we are going to be telling him to stop talking as he talks off our  ears, and he will be able to fully express himself, and I can't wait to hear his stories, and what's going on in that crazy brain of his. We've already seen a BIG improvement with him going to preschool. His teacher cares SO much about him and has really helped him to talk more, and articulate his words. We have definitely been blessed with an amazing teacher

So, hopefully his speech therapy starts soon, and I won't have to wait, and go through any more assessments, and paperwork and what not. Although this is a bummer, I am still so grateful for his health, and his strong fun loving spirit. We have truly been blessed with an amazing little man.

Having fun at Legoland
He LOVES sharks

My big boy, all grown up!