Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


A Winter Trip to Lake Tahoe

Ever since we visited Lake Tahoe this Summer, we knew we needed to come back when the snow was falling. Last year, there was no snow, but this year it is a completely different story. Since one of Landon's favorite things in the world is snow, we decided to wait until his birthday weekend to go. It also had the added bonus of taking my Mom and her boyfriend Jack to see stunning Lake Tahoe too.

Friday afternoon, we loaded into the car and set off for the lake. We didn't arrive until late Friday night, but despite the late hour when we arrived it couldn't have been more perfect. If you think of the perfect winter lake retreat this darling little condo would be exactly what you would picture. I found it on airbnb and it ended up being the cheapest place we could find within a hour radius of the lake. The best part, it was walking distance from the lake, we had a full kitchen, and this amazing fireplace which heated the whole condo. You can believe, we were constantly fighting over who got this seat.

I wish I had taken more pictures of the place especially the bedrooms which were decorated perfectly for the setting. If all airbnb's are like this, I will never stay in another hotel again. So after a wonderful night's sleep we woke up early Saturday morning, made some breakfast, and got ready to explore. Landon's shirt says it all. 

We drove down the road, rented some snow shoes, then headed up to a large meadow on Mt. Rose. It took a little adjusting to get everyone's gear on right, but once we were in the meadow we set off on a nice little hike through the meadow.

At first, we were making our own path and Landon and Adam set off way in front. Eventually, a large family in a single file passed by us creating a pathway. We jumped in their path which made the walk a whole lot easier.

You can see what a difference it makes in the picture below. Although the snowshoes kept us from going knee deep in the snow, my Mom is standing on the already trodden down snow and I stepped into fresh untouched powder for the picture. Although you only sink a little bit, it does make a big difference in the resistance and effort it takes.

I have to give props to my Mom and Jack as they did great. It was their first time, but you wouldn't know it. They were speeding away in their snowshoes, acting like they had done it a thousand times. One of my favorite things about California is just how active people are out here. There were people everywhere snowshoeing, skiing, even paraskiing which I had never heard of or seen until then. Mom and Jack had no problem fitting right in.

We tried to guess how deep the snow was in the meadow. We figured it had to be at least 6 feet. Large trees on the edge of the clearing were practically buried up to their tops. It was more snow than we've even seen before.

We walked through the meadow a bit, but had made one big mistake. Landon elected not to wear his snow suit so the entire time he was kicking snow on the back of pants soaking his corduroy pants. After about a mile, they were coated in snow so we turned around and headed back toward the car. It sure was beautiful being in a huge open field of snow.

We headed back down the mountain stopping along the way for a tiny little peak over the lake. Most of the weekend, it was overcast and we were never able to show them just how blue and spectacular Tahoe really is. Since we stayed near the lake, we had some scenery at lake level, but this little stop was the only time we really got a peak from above.

Of course, Adam had to get out and fly the drone a bit. Landon, now in his snowsuit, took the few minutes to make snowballs. Every kid should have a snowball maker which gives them the perfect snowball everytime. I rather enjoyed stealing them and then throwing them back at him.

Afterwards. we grabbed some lunch at a nearby restaurant and then headed back to the condo for a little rest. We ventured out a few hours later, to the driving range down the street. Adam played with his toy a little more and Landon and I played in the snow.

The sun sets early in Tahoe, before 5pm. Despite that, there's plenty of things to do in the area after dark, but not as many with a 5 year old. Lucky for us, a bowling alley was nearby so we decided to go play a few games.

We all may have benefited from the bumpers that they put up for Landon. It was an older bowling alley, so once the bumpers were up they stayed up, but no one complained. Landon really wanted to be able to use the finger holes, but he just didn't have a big enough grasp. I did manage to get a picture of his one fall. It was pretty funny and may have been his best throw although he never managed a strike.

After two exhausting games, it was time for dinner and we found ourselves at local pizza place. We stuffed ourselves then made it back to our condo for some more rest and relaxation.
The next morning, we woke up to lots of snow coming down. After breakfast, we packed up the car and headed over to the other side of the lake to go sledding.  We were ready to go play in the snow again.

The roads had some snow and it was snow going to the opposite side of the lake. As we climbed up the mountain near our snow park, the snow started to get heavier and heavier. Before I knew it we were in white out conditions. We went from being able to see the trees and up the hills, to seeing only white with no real difference between the sky and the ground. Eventually though, we arrived at Adventure Mountain, an aptly named sledding/tubing park in the midst of many large ski resorts.

With a number of well groomed sledding tracks, we bundled up, rented a sled then headed outside to have a go down the hill.

It was scary how fast you could start speeding down the hills. I couldn't convince my Mom to give it a try, especially after she read the sign stating sledding was dangerous and could result in death. The hardest part was getting up to the top of the hills. It was quite the little workout, but the scenery was STUNNING!!! They had snowshoe paths they had cleared among the giant evergreens. This is where we should have rented our snowshoes! Somehow the snow was even more here. The cleared path created about 8 ft. tall walls on the side of the road.

I used to be a beach person, then I discovered the mountains, and changed a bit. But it wasn't until I saw the snow covered, really covered, mountains that I truly fell in love. It reminds me of Narnia with these massive trees all heavy with snow and their limbs struggling under the weight.

I just couldn't believe how the snow stacked itself on the limbs of these trees. Parts of me wanted to go shake it all off and part of me just wanted to sit and look at it all day.

After a few times down the slopes, Landon was done. The snow was being flung all into face as we went down the hill and he just didn't enjoy it. You'll see what I mean if you watch the video at the end of Adam going down. We were bundled up good, but snow was still being flung all in our faces and getting down into our clothes. Overall, I think the adventure park might have been suited for kids a little older, say 7 or 8. We saw plenty of them having a blast and running back up again and again. Once Landon was done, he just wanted to play in the powder and make snowballs. The snow never stopped falling, but he didn't seem to mind.

At this point, my Mom and Jack came out and my Mom suddenly seemed to realize just how stunning of a setting we were in.

I still couldn't convince her to go down the hill, but she did convince me to do a snow angel. Falling back in the deep fresh powder was easy, getting up was a little harder.

We had planned on taking them to the Emerald Bay overlook on the way home, but the clouds were heavy, low, and there was too much overcast. We knew it wouldn't be worth the stop so we headed back down the mountain toward home saying goodbye to the snow, Lake Tahoe and these beautiful tress.

As we continued driving the snow lessened, stopped, faded completely and soon we were back in the warm weather. It was a short trip and the weather never gave us bright sunshine to enjoy the color of the lake, but we still had a lot of fun. We got to experience some new things and the scenery was still spectacular. Some of the most spectacular sights, we didn't even see until we got home and watched some of the drone footage. It's pretty fun to get an eagle eye view of this place. I hope one day, we get go back and enjoy it even more. Until then, we will always have these wonderful memories.


The Big Five!

Landon turned the big FIVE on Jan 29th! It's crazy how quickly five years can just fly by. Time seems slow when you are young, speeds up when you become an adult, and kicks into overdrive when you have children. Every parent knows exactly what I mean. Some days I just want to stop time, while on other days,e bed time cannot come soon enough. Overall though, these last five years have been such a joy. I mean, how can I not love life a little more when I have this adorable face smiling back at me all the time?

In lieu of birthday parties, we always take Landon somewhere and/or do a fun day centered around him. Last year, it was a train ride through the redwoods, HERE.  The year before that, it was the science center and Incredible Daves, HERE. In the past it's been great, but this year was a struggle as we've been to a number of birthday parties this year and he's talked about his birthday party. Needless to say, this year we've done a lot of talking about his birthday and why we don't have big birthday parties for him with all his friends. I think he gets it as much as he can and I'm sure it makes him a little sad. I kind of hate it as a parent, doing something I believe in and feeling like the child is suffering but being a parent is hard and even fun things like this can become hard and torturous. Last year we did cupcakes at school, but this year we let him decide if he wanted cupcakes for everyone at school or if he wanted to go see a movie at the movie theater. He picked the movie, but continued to ask when he would have his party at school. He was a little distraught that it would be 365 days before he might be able to have a party at school. To a five year old, that is forever. At least now though, he claims he count that high. It's much worse when he cannot even count to the number.

On the other hand, it isn't like we don't celebrate at all. I take all that time, effort, and money that I would have spent on a party for everyone and put it into his birthday. We still have a little party with the family and my Mom and her boyfriend Jack flew in the day before to be here and celebrate with us. This is the second year in a row they've been able to come and I know it means a lot to Landon to have more people he loves here. We knew we'd be spending the night of his birthday in the car while driving to Tahoe so we had our little party the night before his actual birthday. We had his favorite food, meatloaf and mac and cheese for dinner. Then did the cake and gifts.

I've been searching for trick candles now for two year and cannot find them anywhere. Maybe they outlawed them? I don't know. Someone pointed out I put too many candles on his cake. I'm just not that on top of these things anymore. I just bought a package of candles and put them all on there. The more, the merrier!

Of course, as soon as he blows out the candles he starts eyeing the gifts. Naturally, he has to open the biggest one first, because it will be the best. 

His birthday is so close to Christmas and he got so much for Christmas this year that thinking of anything to get him was a real struggle. Even he had trouble thinking of anything. After he gave his Grandma explicit details on what he wanted, he simply told me to "Go to the store and find something you know that I would like. Because you know what I like, Mom and I trust you." He was right, legos and superheroes and most especially lego superheros. 

First, he must study the box.

After gifts, it was time for some cake and ice cream! We never have ice cream in the house so I happened upon this peanut butter tracks ice cream at Trader Joes. Wow! It was amazing. It might not have gone the best with his funetti cake and strawberry icing, but it sure was delicious! After a sugar high, we built some legos, played and called it a night. 

The next morning, his actual birthday was a Friday. I took off work to spend the day with him, but it is busy season for Adam so he isn't able to take off this time of year. I gave Landon a few options of things we could do for his birthday. Everything that day was his choice which is very rare for him.  I was sure he would pick rock climbing as his birthday activity, but much to my surprise he decided on an indoor bounce arena. That morning after a pancake breakfast, we headed to bounce house.

The place was huge, with two rooms and plenty of different types of blowups. When we first got there only a few other kids were there and we had the place almost completely to ourselves. He didn't waste anytime running around and trying them all out. 

He convinced us all to get in there with him at some point, whether is was going down the slides, through the obstacle courses, into the ball pits or jumping houses we all managed to find our inner children again.

Some of the obstacles were no joke. I went through one and fell down at the top of a climbing wall. I had to pull my ego off the ground before trying again. Nothing will make you feel old, like going to a playground meant for kids. He was always one or two steps ahead of the rest of us.

Of all of us though, my Mom most easily found her inner child and was quickly partaking of all the fun without much pressure from the birthday boy.

Notice not pictured here below is the birthday boy...this was an adult trip down the slide.

Lucky for us, they even had a small rock wall so Landon got to try out a little bit of another activity he passed on.

He was all about it at first, but then he started to get up off the ground and wasn't too sure. I think the foot holds were hurting his feet a bit too since he didn't have on any shoes.

He tried, but I think he still prefers the good ole rock to these fancy climbing walls.

And it won't come as any surprise that someone else had it give it a go too...

The irony was, I had been trying to convince her to take a rock climbing class if Landon wanted to go rock climbing for his birthday. She was pretty sure she wouldn't want to do it, but I had a hunch she'd feel differently if she tried. Of course she loved it and now wants to really give it a try.

When Landon was worn out, we headed to Panera Bread (his favorite restaurant) for some mac and cheese and a sugar cookie. Then back home to play, pack, and wait for Adam to get off. Adam got home early and we immediately hit the road for a weekend in Tahoe. Of course hitting the road, even at 3pm, on a Friday means hours of traffic. What should have taken us about 4 hours took more like 6. It was hard to be too frustrated though, because we knew our destination was going to be worth it.  When we finally arrived in North Tahoe, we were welcomed to the most relaxing little condo. All of us especially loved the gas fireplace and Landon spent the last few hours of his birthday playing with his new toys in front of it. 

For the most part, it was a fun filled day which would be extended by an even more fun filled weekend. We had just arrived to one of the prettiest places in California and were ready for Landon to get his fill of one his favorite things, snow. Snow, snow and more snow was in our future! And I'll share all about in the next post. 


Month in Review-January

January is always a transitional month for us. The holidays are over so the hustle and bustle calms down quite a bit. At the same time, Adam starts busy season which means he has to work more and sometimes works weekends and none of us like that too much. On the flip side, January is also Landon's birthday month so there is still plenty of fun and excitement. And although the days are shorter this time of year, we do live in a mild climate so the weather can still be great. Of course, as I blogged about HERE we spent the first few days of the New Year in Yosemite equally enjoying the cold and snow.

The scenery was amazing, but Adam and I had a blast cross country skiing while Landon took an all day ski lesson. I've seriously been dreaming about going cross country skiing again and I really cannot wait until I can go again. Landon must have loved skiing just as much because he's been drawing it ever since we got back. No joke...

Despite dreaming of the winter wonderland, the mountains are not as close as we'd like so the following weekend we stayed close to home and spent a day on the coast. The great thing about living here is we can wake up on Sunday, see how we feel, look at how the weather is behaving, and choose from a myriad of activities. Being an El Nino year, we've gotten a lot of rain, but we've also had massive waves along the coast. With reports of big swells that weekend we decided  to venture down the coast to see for ourselves. We didn't have a  particular place in mind, we just hopped in the car and headed down Hwy 1 looking for a new beach we hadn't stopped at before. Shortly thereafter we found ourselves at Bean Hollow State Beach, mesmerized by the waves pounding the rocks.

It was pretty spectacular to see, especially when the water is normally relatively calm. As Adam snapped pictures, Landon and I checked out the "beach". It wasn't a typical sandy beach and this is exactly why we drive down the coast time and time again. There is so much diversity just a few miles down the road from one place to the next. This particular beach was all rock and had the coolest formations. I wish we had a super time lapse of the Earth to see how these rocks have changed and been sculptured over thousands of years.

Then we headed down a bit more to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. How you can you not love a lighthouse? This one doubles as a hostel and if kids were allowed, we'd totally book a night here. Sadly though, they are not so I'm not sure we will ever get a chance to stay here.

As we headed back to work for the week, it was business as usual. I did however FINALLY receive my brokerage license just over nine months after taking the test. They had a small receiving ceremony at the Custom House downtown. Friends and family were invited and despite being busy, Adam was working just a block away so he got to come see me receive my license from the port director. 

It feels good to finally be a professional even if this was never my dream job. Once I started to really apply myself, it became much more rewarding and this is just the final step in proving that I can work hard, do well, and enjoy my work.  A very wise man recently told me that getting your brokerage license is just like getting your drivers license. You have all the tools, but there is so much you have to learn. I'm learning that more and more everyday and being in management now is a huge change, but I enjoy the challenges and look forward to what more I can accomplish in the future.

Outside of work, we've been working on some fitness goals. Adam lost over 50 pounds last year, which is amazing! Now he's trying to get more fit and build muscle. I have just under 10 more pounds to lose to be at my goal, but would also like to get more fit. We have a deadline for the end of June for ourselves so we've trying to incorporate some exercise at home every night. Landon helps out either assisting or doing them himself. I picked him up at daycare last week and his teacher told me he was showing the other kids how to plank. He's been a great little motivator too telling me we should exercise to have more energy. One night, he helped hold down his Daddy's legs while Adam did sit-ups. It reminded me so much of being a little girl when my Dad was in the Army reserves and doing the exact same thing. I was probably about the same of age as Landon too and it brought me a lot of joy to see it duplicated with them.

Maybe we can call it a weight loss gift, but Adam finally won me over to the idea and got a new toy, a drone. Although it was halfway through the month, he's done plenty of flying since he got it and even I cannot deny how cool it is. As soon as it came, he opened the box, charged it, and took it on its inaugural flight, in the house no less.

Once assured he could fly it, he quickly took it outside our complex and flew it around a bit. It's pretty neat, but it also scares to me to watch it fly so far away or so high up. It's best if I occupy myself while he flies it and just enjoy the videos afterward. That first weekend, it rained almost the entire time. Anytime it was remotely sunny, we were out trying to take it for a spin. We first tried the devil's slide, a great spot along the coast, but almost as soon as we pulled up it started misting. A little later that weekend, there was a break in the rain so we took it down the road to Lake Merced and flew it there. While Daddy flew, Landon rode his scooter, and I ran a bit. It's so funny to hear this little copter buzzing around everywhere. The birds don't like it one bit either, I wonder what they think it is.

After his first two flights, the real work began...editing the footage. Adam made his first video and it turned out pretty good for a first try and just messing around at the lake.

The next weekend though, it was time to step up the game and with clear blue skies, we hopped into the car and headed up the coast. Hwy 1 from LA to San Francisco is the most famous part, but we think the scenery you see North from San Francisco is even more amazing. As we drove toward our destination of Bowling Ball beach, we stopped along the way so Adam could shoot some more footage. As scary as it is seeing the drone up high in the sky, it doesn't even begin to compare seeing it out over the ocean. I literally have knots in my stomach watching him fly it, but the views it gets are spectacular and worth all the stomach ache.

We made it to this somewhat hidden beach and took what we thought was the path down to the famous bowling ball rocks. Unfortunately, once on the beach we realized a few larger rocks stood in the way of getting our real destination. The rocks on this beach were so big, it was almost intimidating.

Feeling a little defeated, we decided to make the best of it. Landon donned his wetsuit, Adam pulled the drone out and we just enjoyed this secluded beach for a little bit.

We later found out we had take then wrong the path down and so we plan on going back again soon for the elusive bowling balls. It was still a wonderful day and by the end of it, Adam had produced another video. This time, the drone was able to capture footage and things we couldn't see from the beaches. It's a shame how many places around us don't allow drones. There are all kinds of great places he will never be able to fly, but that doesn't mean there are not plenty more amazing places he can. This is only the beginning.

As we rolled into the last week of the month, my Mom and her boyfriend flew in to spend a week with us and help celebrate Landon's birthday!

Friday, January 29th was Landon's 5th birthday. I thought I would include it in this month's review, but there are too many pictures and things to share so I'll make a separate post instead. We celebrated Friday with a trip to a bounce house then a long drive to Lake Tahoe for the weekend. We continued our festivities with snow shoeing, bowling, and playing in all the snow Tahoe had to offer. Although it was overcast the entire time, it was even more beautiful than I thought it would be. Landon loves the snow so much and had a blast playing in the deepest snow we had ever seen.  Sometimes it is hard to believe that Landon is five, but then I look at him and see what a wonderful little man he is becoming and I can't help, but be excited about seeing what the next 5 years will be like.

In our house, January is always special. More about his birthday coming later this week!

If you want to see a few more pictures from Bean Hollow, check out Adam's pictures HERE!