M & K in San Diego

the west coast adventures of two east coast kids

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K closed out April with a trip to - where else? - Disneyland! Her friend Christy had discovered that one of the World of Color dining packages, the one at Ariel’s Grotto, was about to close. Not the restaurant itself, but the option to have a special fixed-price dinner there in conjunction with a front-row seat to the show afterward. Obviously this was an excellent reason to visit the Happiest Place on Earth again - and to spend extra money while there! (Just close your eyes and take deep cleansing breaths, M.)

While there, we also rode our favorite rides, took it easy with a relaxing lunch and later some wine in California Adventure Park, and even saw some incredible Lego sculptures at the Lego Store before heading to the Grotto for dinner. The food was delicious, and the desserts were exquisite. It’s really too bad they’re not going to offer it with the World of Color package anymore!

Finally, the show - up close and personal. We all got completely soaked, we were standing so close to the water. Well worth it though. We laughed, we cried (okay, K cried), and then we raced through the exiting crowds to Midway Mania and closed out the night with Toy Story. As always, Disneyland left nothing wanting. Can’t wait to go back!

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On the last Saturday in April, M & K both gave back to our communities through opportunities presented through our jobs.

K joined some of her coworkers at the Walk for MS. Together, we raised several hundred dollars for the cause - and we got some good exercise on a gorgeous day in the bargain!

M, meanwhile, spent his morning working on improving the home of a US veteran with Rebuilding Together, an organization he’s worked with before and continues to support whenever his company offers the chance.

We are both so glad to work for companies which look for community involvement opportunities!

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On a random Thursday in April, we were given Padres tickets by one of M’s colleagues. She has season tickets — and great seats, in the middle of foul ball country, although we didn’t catch any that night — and she couldn’t go, so she graciously gave us the opportunity to catch a game for free! It happened to be the night that our friend from San Diego Master Chorale, Tim, was there with a huge group of local youth singers who were singing the National Anthem before the game. They were very good and it was cool to see him! Also, bonus: the Padres actually won!

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The weekend after M’s birthday, K’s grandparents (the ones who winter in Phoenix and summer in New York) made a quick trip out here to San Diego to visit with us before they left for the other side of the country for the season. We only had a few days, but we made the most of our time! We met them at their hotel after they arrived, and before dinner we all split a bottle of champagne they had brought in honor of M’s birthday the previous weekend. Friday evening was chilly and damp, so we decided to take them to a place known for its comfort food: Studio Diner, featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives! We met our friends Christy and Evo as well, and although we had to wait a while for a table large enough for all of us, we had a great time chatting (and eventually also eating).

Saturday morning we headed over to Coronado, where we wandered some of the Harborside shops and took in the stunning views of downtown San Diego. We also hit up the Coronado Taste of Oils, which K had experienced on a Bite San Diego tour, and K’s Mimi loved it so much she ended up buying several different olive oils and vinegars! Our purchases made, we drove back to the mainland for lunch at Cafe Coyote in Old Town, followed by wine tasting at Orfila Vineyards! Whew! After all of this, we separated for a few hours to allow K’s grandparents to rest before dinner - they’re not used to such busy days, and truth be told, we were happy to have some down time, too.

Dinner that night was just the four of us. K had chosen to go to Peohe’s, a seafood restaurant back on Coronado with amazing views of San Diego. What she didn’t know was that Mimi and Papa had actually been there before - they didn’t remember the name, but as soon as we all walked in, they recognized the unique decor. Thankfully they had fond memories of the place, so they were all too happy to return, and Peohe’s did not disappoint - everything was delicious!

Sunday morning, M & K joined Mimi and Papa for breakfast at their hotel before they left for Phoenix. After saying goodbye, we drove back up to Escondido and the San Diego Safari Park, hoping to gain entrance to their temporary butterfly exhibit. We weren’t disappointed, and had a great time trying to spot all the different species in their Butterfly Jungle!

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Who has two thumbs and is perpetually bad at blogging? This girl. (That’s K, in case anyone wasn’t clear by now.) (But also M is not that great since he’s contributed, um, once?) Anyway. A lot has happened in the two months since our friend Angie’s epic Hunger Games birthday party, so allow me to fill you in on some of the goings-on.

M’s birthday was on Easter Sunday this year, so we (okay, I) wanted to do something for him that would be very obviously for him rather than for the holiday. (This meant that hunting for eggs filled with candy was sadly out of the picture. Time to getreallycreative!) Somewhat at the last minute, we were invited by several friends to go camping with them in Julian - and although we hemmed and hawed over the difficulty of it at first, we managed to get all our ducks (and dogs) in a row and joined them in the wilderness*!

To keep a long story short - it was a most excellent weekend. We arrived as dark was falling on Friday night and managed to put up all of the tents AND make dinner, all before the very reasonable hour of 10:00pm**. That night was K’s official first night camping - as well as the pups’ - and we all weathered it pretty well! The tent was comfortable, if slightly cold, and with all four of us crammed together on the air mattress we managed to keep each other warm. The next morning, we all gathered at what became the “main” campsite for delicious breakfast burritos made by consummate campsite chef Gregor. After breakfast we decided to go hiking, and we were out baking in the sun for several hours, effectively wearing ourselves (and the dogs) out. That afternoon, we went into town. Christy really wanted to visit one of the local stores to pick up some hard candy, and the rest of us really wanted pie. Julian’s famous apple pie***, to be exact. We also had made plans to go to a little barbecue/brewery place on Main Street for dinner, and once we discovered that we could take the dogs up onto the brewery’s porch while we ate, we did just that. We ate All The Food, and then it was back in the car and back to the campsite before dark, in time to start our fire and get ready to make some s’mores!

Sunday morning brought an end to our all-too-brief camping trip, but it also brought M’s birthday! Christy and Danny had given him a Bop-It for his birthday (kind of an inside joke, based on the game Draw Something, long story****), so we all took turns playing with that piece of nostalgia, but even better - that morning, Tiff and Gregor made everyone an amazing Polish Easter (birthday) breakfast! We stuffed ourselves with meats and cheeses, bread and wine, until we couldn’t hold any more. Then came the onerous job of packing everything to go home - which we accomplished, but after which we decided that we were going to stay until the last possible minute when we would get kicked out of the campground. We played cards on the picnic table for a long time, which somehow***** culminated in M getting birthday spankings.

I’ve written enough now, though it doesn’t begin to cover the stories and the fun from that weekend. We’re hoping to make Easter weekend camping an annual occurrence.

*a clean, family-friendly campsite just outside of Julian, California

**it took longer to make food than we anticipated because we didn’t quite have enough wood to keep the fire hot. K and her friend Tiff actually went in search of more kindling at one point and ended up discovering a discarded deer’s antler!

***K got the caramel dutch apple pie and it was like heaven in her mouth - highly recommended.

****the story is that M was trying to draw “twist” for Christy and he drew a very good Bop-It and an arrow to the “twist” part and she had no idea what he had drawn. M was very upset, and also amused, by the fact that she had missed out on this bit of pop culture from our childhoods.

*****Mao. Those that know, understand.

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Over this past weekend, M & K went to a Hunger Games themed birthday party! Our friend Angie likes to go all out for her birthdays, and this year the date happened to coincide with the new Hunger Games movie. A big group of us went to see the movie together (it was, on the whole, terrific), and then we got dressed up in costumes for the party. The birthday girl was Katniss, and her husband colored in his beard to be Seneca Crane. M went as Haymitch, reusing his Kurt Cobain wig and really acting the part by carrying two flasks around all night. K dressed as Venia, one of Katniss’ prep team - described in the books as having aqua hair and gold tattoos. Several people showed up as citizens of the Capital, just wearing as many bright colors and outlandish things as possible, while others came as tributes, having modeled their costumes on the outfits in the movie. There was even someone who came as a tracker jacker! We had a great time, as we always do when spending time with friends. And K was pretty proud of her costume and makeup, when all was said and done!

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K’s brother Michael was here for a week, and the only sad part was that K didn’t have enough vacation time to take any days off to hang out with him.

Until…! K had worked a lot of overtime the week before, and at the last minute she was granted the ability to put that toward vacation time instead of extra pay! Suddenly she was able to take Friday off entirely, so naturally, we decided to go BACK to Disneyland. Bookending Michael’s spring break with trips to Disney ain’t half bad, after all.

We had a great time - got there early, left late, rode tons of rides. There were definitely two main highlights to the day. First, we got stuck on Space Mountain! Right at the end of the ride, it suddenly stopped and the lights all came on, revealing a somewhat creepy, warehouse-like structure that looked a whole lot less cool with the lights on. But how often do you get to see the inside of a ride like that?? K whipped out her camera and took lots of pictures while we waited to get going again. Once a cast member verified that all our harnesses were still on, we finished the ride, at speed, with the lights on. They even took our picture like always! AND, they let us ride it again right away. It was pretty awesome.

The second highlight was seeing World of Color at California Adventure. Michael was blown away by the amazing effects, and K loved seeing it again - it had been a long time. The show is just gorgeous, and it was great to share it with someone who hadn’t seen it before.

Sadly, Michael had to head back to Alabama on Saturday morning, so we missed out on having a weekend with him. But we’re hoping he’ll find a job out here for the summer, in which case many more Disney trips (and weekends) are in store for us!

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While Michael was here in town, naturally M & K wanted to share with him some of our favorite places. Monday night, we took him to Cafe Coyote, one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Old Town, and introduced him to fresh tortillas and churros, not to mention the rest of our delicious food. On Tuesday we picked up dinner at Mona Lisa, the Italian Market we love, and drove down to Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, which we had discovered in October when some friends of ours were married there, and spent a very chilly ten minutes watching the sunset. It was beautiful, but far too windy for comfort! The next night, M had a work event, so K took Michael up to La Jolla Cove to watch the seals and sea lions and sunset. We also saw a pod of dolphins and a dramatic rescue of a swimmer (who was totally okay - we think he must have gotten a cramp). We then had sushi at a restaurant called Samurai, which K’s dad had introduced us to a few weeks before when he was here. In just a few days, we packed some of our favorite things in for Michael to experience - but we’re hoping he’ll come back soon to experience a lot more of Southern California with us!

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For his spring break, K’s brother Michael came out to San Diego for a week! We were thrilled to have him, as always, and extra excited that he would be here in time to join us for our second (his first) MouseAdventure! M & K had been planning to play as a two-person team, but three turned out to be a charm. M picked our team name, Ball So Hard University, in honor of Raven Terrell Suggs, and we all got matching Ravens purple shirts.

Michael arrived late Saturday night and we tried to get to bed at a reasonable hour - but did I mention MouseAdventure took place on Spring Forward Sunday? And that we had to get up at 5am (which really felt like 4am)? Yeah. It was a good thing we had the adrenaline of competition to get us going that morning.

We had a blast. The format of the game had us focusing on different areas of the park at different times, working on sets of small puzzles in order to gain access to more difficult challenges. We played off of each others’ strengths, got lucky a few times, and ran around like crazy people for approximately seven hours. After? Well, then it was time to ride rides like normal people. Michael loved California Screamin’, and K was guilted into trying Tower of Terror for the first time. Michael finally got to ride Space Mountain and the new Star Tours, and loved them both. We played in the park until it closed - an amazing feat, all things considered. Not a bad way to kick off Michael’s stay in Southern California!

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Happy Hundred Years, BBB!

K got to go to a party this month celebrating the centennial of her employer, the Better Business Bureau. Held at the New Children’s Museum downtown, the event was an evening of live music, delicious food and drink, and costumes - in a nod to the era in which the BBB got its start, the party was 20s themed. We had a photo booth with lots of props; the live band was a big band featuring our CEO on trombone; and the cash bar was tucked into the “barn” portion of the museum to mimic a speakeasy. Everyone in attendance had a great time, including all of the employees (several of whom are pictured below)!

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