Beach Bums

"The beach house!" That's what Ryan used to call the beach. Dan's family owns a beach house in Laguna and we typically spend our lazy Summer days there. Ryan always heard us say "the beach house" and just associated all beach going as such. When he said he wanted to go to "the beach house" he meant the actual beach. Naturally, it's a fond memory, Ryan at the beach. Spending time there with out him just isn't the same. Though now as Mila is at the age to truly begin enjoying the beach, this past weekend was pure bliss. Her tiny sand footprints following the lead of her big brother. Of course Mila taking her own route from time to time, trailblazing her own beach style!

Last year she didn't care for the beach one bit. While she loved being in the pool and the warm beach water in Hawaii. Laguna proved to be too cold for her liking. She was so unsure about the crashing waves barreling toward her. She spent her time sitting in my lap or laying on a towel. Those days are clearly over now, which I'm happy about!

Last weekend we headed to the beach or the "the beach house" rather for our first official beach day of the Summer! Even though the weather was a bit cloudy, the days were perfection. In fact, it ended up being great days wherein the sun was hidden but the wind was warm. The water was indeed cold, yet Mila wasn’t phased. As most kids aren’t! I remember Ryan shivering while having the time of his life. Totally not noticing the chill, just focusing on the fun of things. Mila went head first into the sand and stood with zero fear by the ocean. It is funny how much can change in a year!

We figured out Mila has a serious knack for playing in the sand. We’ll definitely have to invest in some more sand toys this season! Her favorite was having me or Dan build a sand tower to have her knock down. We also dug up a giant hole she enjoyed playing in. Until she accidentally took a spill within the hole and got stuck. It was awful, but kinda hilarious.

Seeing Dan hold Mila’s hand down by the shoreline made my heart sing. Sometimes during those moments time seems to stand still. My heart throbs with gratitude and I am able to take a step back and just take a good hard look at my family. Does this happen to any of you? It happens at the most random times, but all of them seem to have this raw memorable quality. I never want to forget this day however, I’m certain our beach days this Summer will bleed together. I am positive though that watching my husband and daughter holding hands while dipping their feet within the water is a memory that will be imprinted within my memory.

This past weekend got all three of us excited for Summer and long beach days. Days where no matter how many showers you take, sand just seems to pop up in every nook and cranny. The scent of sunscreen lingers on our sun kissed skin. And let’s not forget the joys of having redheads … freckles are starting to pop up and I can’t help but kiss each and everyone. Mila has acquired a few, the one behind her right ear is my favorite.

Cheers to family beach days! Below are a few photos from our weekend …

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Family Time At The Flower Fields

This past weekend was spent with family amongst the friendliest flowers. How dreamy! My dad lives in San Diego and we drove to spend some quality time with him, my step mom and my little sister. It is always nice to have family weekends because of the fun and laughs we have. But also because Dan and I get a break! Upon arrival, the grandparents rush past the parents and scoop up the grandkids. Right?! Which is fine by me, this weekend was just as much fun as it was relaxing.

Fun Fact! I grew up in Carlsbad, CA and every time I go back I find myself within a thick nostalgic cloud. It is a yummy feeling being back and seeing what still stands and what is new. We took a day to traipse around Carlsbad Village Drive and the beach. We woke up early and waited the worthwhile wait for a seat at Beach Break Cafe. Which by the way, has the best coffee cake in the world! I remember when my siblings and I were younger, begging my mom to take us there. Sometimes we’d just order a few pieces of coffee cake to share. The whole time we were there I kept reminiscing to Dan and I’m sure he was {insert the rolling eyes emoji}. We’ve been back to Carlsbad a few times since being together, so I’ve told him the same stories a 100 times I'm sure. There is just something so beautiful about re-told memories. I feel so thankful for them. Almost as if I know there will come a time when these memories will feel a thousands years away, nearly too far to re-tell anymore. I want to re-live memories for as long as I can recount them!

You know me, always finding ways to make memories, re-live memories. Living in the now is mandatory, though its when you take the time to look through your past is when the magic of life ignites. At least for me, I feel more alive when I recount the ways it took to get me to the place I am right at this moment.

While down in San Diego I knew I wanted to take Mila to the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. During the Spring they are in full bloom and you can walk within them. The day we went really couldn’t have been better. It was warm sunny with a swish of light wind. The flowers honestly were just brilliant. I’ve seen them a bunch of times, but it is a sight that takes your breath away every time. Especially with Mila in tow, things just seems to take on a more vibrant tone. Watching her take in all the beauty was awesome! Of course, trying to keep her from picking the flowers was a feat. Similar to that of keeping her from eating sand at the beach.

We took so many photos, most of them look similar. Just endless flower blooms. One photo though, I took on my iPhone on a whim as my dad was tossing Mila up in the air. Her laugh was hearty and infectious, I quickly snapped and it wasn’t until later that evening at dinner I really took a look. Shortly after my son Ryan passed away, my dad got a portrait of Ryan tattooed on his arm. In the photo I took you can so clearly see his tattoo, Mila and my dad locked eyes smiling and a bright sunny sky. A little “Hi guys, I’m here!” message from Ryan.

You can’t leave the Flower Fields with out strawberry shortcake or a fresh strawberry shake. We opted for the strawberry shake and it was too good. They basically take vanilla soft serve, a pint of fresh strawberries and blend it up. Topped with whipped cream, we walked out of there with such full hearts and bellies! After the Flower Fields we made the trek to Ocean Beach for hamburgers at Hodad’s. If you haven’t been, go! It is an experience and honestly the onion rings are worth it. Yes, we basically ate the entire weekend and it was pretty great!

In short, if you are local visit the Flower Fields and the aforementioned food establishments. If you are not local, visit family at an equally enchanting and delicious location. And always make memories, re-live memories and just live friends! Sending you all my love this week and always!

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A Day At The Strawberry Fields

Recently my husband and I had the opportunity to go strawberry picking with a few of our friends. I had been dying to go and included 'strawberry picking' on our Summer bucket list. I had seen some dreamy strawberry picking photos on Pinterest and just thought how fun! Plus, strawberries this time of year are SO good. Honestly, I love strawberries. But nothing beats them when they are covered in chocolate.

Going on family trips such as these are really exciting right now! Even though Mila is still so little, her smile and joyful demeanor make experiencing things so fun. And heart warming! Mila is proving to be one of the happiest babies. She loves being out and about. She kept trying to grab the strawberries out of my hand that day and laughing at the same time. Right now she is at that stage when everything, EVERYTHING goes right into the mouth. I remember Ryan during that stage. It is just so funny that, that is their way of testing things out and figuring out what is what. Trying to keep Ryan from putting sand in his mouth during his first Summer was seriously a sport! He ate a good amount of sand that Summer... I wonder if Mila will have the same sand craving.

Aside from the excitement over our Summer activities there is that constant foggy layer of bittersweet. My mind just naturally wanders off and wonders "What if Ryan were here?" A lot of times now when these thoughts float in, I smile. I smile because my mind immediately sees his little body charging the strawberry fields with a fierce passion. I can hear him laughing and vigorously ripping off strawberries from their stems. Maybe eating them...most likely throwing them up into the air like a ball or Ninja Turtle weapon. My wild little man. He certainly was all around us that dewy morning at the fields.

I know Ryan isn't physically with us anymore, but I believe he is still with us. Always. I love looking at our photos from our trip to the strawberry fields because I can see him within them.

When I see us, I see all of us! I am excited to continue our Summer together as a family.

Photos by Nicki Sebastian 

My Dress by Plain Jane

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