July 14, 2013

Spontaneous Trip to Santa Cruz

It was the 9th day in a row it had been over 100 degrees. Too hot to do anything except stay inside with the A/C on high, taking cold showers, and going to bed with wet hair.

4th of July was Thursday, giving us a rare 4 day weekend. In the adult world, this is the closest we come to a summer vacation.

Tuesday Shawn came home from work to find me sprawled out on the bed underneath the fan in the shape of an X, too hot to move or do anything.

"It is TOO hot," he complained, as he quickly changed in to shorts and a t-shirt.

"I know! What are we going to do on the 4th of July? It's going to be even hotter. We should just...go somewhere..."

I said it halfway kidding. He didn't automatically say no. This is a good sign.

"Where do you want to go?"

Brain starts swirling with ideas. Tahoe? No, too far of a drive. The beach? The beach would be nice. Which beach should we go to?

"What about Santa Cruz? We could go to the Boardwalk!"

I jumped up to look on the computer to see what goes on at the Boardwalk on the 4th of July.

"Look! On Wednesday nights if you bring a Pepsi can after 5pm you get an unlimited rides wristband for $12.95. We could go up tomorrow after work and ride all the roller coasters! Then on Thursday we could just do a beach day and explore. Oh my gosh! It's only going to be 85 degrees!!! Can we go? If only too cool off? Come on, let's do it!"

My strategy is if I talk real fast and give him a bunch of good reasons we should go, he can't refuse. He's a nice guy, he usually says yes.

"That sounds really fun! See if you can find us a room and book it. I'm taking my girl to Santa Cruz."

My hero.

After much searching I find a room just 2 blocks from the Boardwalk. I booked it, we took a half day at work the next day, and were on the road to Santa Cruz by 1pm with no particular plans other than to ride roller coasters, get a dip cone and lounge by the beach.

I love a spontaneous vacation. The kind where you pack your bag in 15 minutes, and forget important things like makeup (which I did) and toothpaste (whoops, we can buy some when we get there).

Just me and my mister, headed down the California coast to beat the heat.


The Boardwalk was just as fun as I remember it as a kid.



Our hotel was the perfect mid-point between the beach and downtown. We would walk the 15 minutes to the main strip of downtown and pick out whichever restaurant looked the best. We lucked out with a breakfast place that served a delicious eggs benedict.


On the 4th we headed to the beach and it was packed. I could not believe how many families had shown up overnight. The craziest thing was that many of them set up tents or pop-ups, and lugged out full size BBQ's, huge folding tables and coolers of food.

I'm serious.

How it is more convenient to load all of that in your car, drive it to the beach, carry it from the parking lot to the beach, then cook all the food, then clean up all the food, then lug everything back to your car, drive it home and unload it is more convenient than buying a $2 hot dog right at the Boardwalk, I do not know. We spent a long time trying to figure out why.

"Maybe they only like a certain kind of hot dog? No, all hot dogs are the same."

"Maybe they didn't know you can buy food at the Boardwalk? No, how could they not know that? It's more food than rides!"

"Maybe they all lost a bet, and this is their punishment? That would be a pretty big coincidence."

"Should we have done this? Are we missing something? Are we doing it wrong? No, we're doing it right. They're definitely doing it wrong."

We're still stumped.


Shawn and I set ourselves up a wee bit away from the crowd because we wanted to be out of the plumes of smoke coming off the many BBQ's we like it too feel like it's just the 2 of us. You can see our 2 chairs under our green umbrella.


Shawn bought a duck kite at the store for $5. It lasted an entire 10 minutes before it broke. It may have been the funnest 10 minutes of his life. He likes kites. Really likes kites.


We were out there for hours reading in the shade of our umbrella. My kind of afternoon.


We cooled off and treated ourselves to a dip cone, my favorite.


The closest fireworks were 15 minutes away, and if they were even half as crowded as the beach was that day, finding parking would be tricky. So we decided to spend the night in downtown.


We at the cheesiest pizza. Yum.



That night, people were setting off firecrackers everywhere! Was a beautiful sight walking back.


Is there anything better than a spontaneous vacation?

June 29, 2013

Our Wedding Day

From the beginning we wanted our wedding to be simple, romantic and full of love. A day that reflected our personalities and our love for one another, along with our love for our families who would be combining that day. It turned out perfect.

We got married at a beautiful manor in Napa on the last day of September. When we first stepped foot on the venue I knew it was exactly what we were looking for. It's a historic home with a huge wrap around porch, gardens full of flowers, and the whole property is surrounded by tall green hedges and trees.

One of my favorite parts about our venue is the property has 10 different rooms, which we were able to reserve and offer to our families to stay in. It was a pleasure to offer them a little weekend away in Napa to relax and enjoy themselves.

On important days such as the day you get engaged or married, your memories feel like a bunch of vivid snap shots of important moments you know you'll never forget. I could never write anything beautiful enough to capture the day accurately, but here are some of my favorite memory snapshots.

Waking up fully rested after my night-before-the-wedding sleep over with my sister feeling a little nervous/excited, but still able to eat a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast.

Driving in to Napa in the late morning with my mom and sister to go get our hair and makeup done, and thinking how surreal it was that it was actually my wedding day.

Being so happy that my best friend from high school Meredith was able to do our hair. She is so talented at updo's, and I was completely relaxed knowing she would do a great job.

My makeup artist was so talented, and made me look like my most beautiful and natural self.

Slipping in to my wedding dress, and my mom and sister telling me how I had never looked more beautiful as they laced up the back.

Sending my sister upstairs to take Shawn the wedding day present I had gotten him, a watch I knew he would love, along with a note that said "I can't wait to kiss you."

My sister returning with Shawn's present for me, a sparkly new bracelet I wore that day.

Hearing the music start and knowing it was time to see my groom.

My uncle Tom promising my mom he wouldn't let her trip down the stairs.

My dad coming in to the room to get me when it was time to walk down the aisle and saying, "wow Nanny girl, you look real pretty." And making sure I didn't leave the room until after Shawn walked out so he wouldn't see me.

Loving that Shawn's brothers walked their little sister down the aisle.

The last people to walk down the aisle were my sister and her fiance Ken. Right before Nicole walked out the door, she turned around and mouthed, "I love you" with tears in her eyes. It is one of my most cherished memories from the day.

After my sister walked out, they closed the doors and I could just make out the scene through the patterned glass. So excited it was finally time!

When the music changed they swung open the doors I stepped outside on to the porch and had the most amazing view of all of my loving family members standing and looking at me smiling. And behind them, my handsome groom waiting for me. The boy who I have loved since I was 16, my forever boyfriend, was about to become my husband. I will always remember the look on his face as I walked towards him.

At first I started walking down the aisle much too fast, excitedly wanting to get closer to Shawn. But then my dad slowed me down so I was able to take in the moment.

Shawn's Uncle Wayne reading us the most beautiful words he had written, with the soothing sound of the fountain in the background. And holding on to Shawn's hands and smiling so much my face hurt.

Turning around every so often so I could see my parents, sitting and smiling in the first row. Thinking I had never seen my mom look so beautiful, or my dad look so handsome.

Reading our personalized vows we had written to each other. I had read through my vows I had written to Shawn over and over so I would be able to get through them without turning in to a crying mess. But as soon as I read, "I promise to help you love life, and make the most of each day we have together. To stay young at heart, and not let a day go by without letting you know how much I love you." The line "stay young at heart" flooded my mind with visions of our young love that had come so far, and here we were getting married. I wanted to promise him that I would always keep our young love alive.

After my sister read my favorite poem, "I Carry Your Heart", and my Uncle Stan lead us through our traditional vows, it was time for us to share our first kiss as husband and wife.

Now and forever Mr. and Mrs.

Going up to the porch and greeting everyone right after the ceremony. Their happiness and well wishes were overflowing. Now it was time to celebrate!

Sneaking away and taking pictures together. So happy I could burst.

I love that our bridal party was our siblings and my sisters soon to be husband. People who will be in our lives forever.

Finishing pictures with just 10 minutes left in the cocktail hour and getting to watch everyone play the cornhole game Shawn had built for the wedding. Being happy that everyone was having a great time.

This picture is so special to me. All of our closest family members all together in one place. I love them all so much. What a perfect day.

Walking around to all the tables and getting to talk to everyone, but sneaking kisses from Shawn and often as I could. I love this picture. It's exactly how I remember it.

Shawn introducing me as his wife for the first time.

My sister was amazing to me the entire day. Always asking if she could get me anything or take care of anything for me. When we were eating, she had me stop and look around and take in the moment saying, "Everyone is here because they love you and Shawn. It's your wedding day!"

Eating dinner on the wrap around porch as the sun set, hearing all the laughter and conversation of our loved ones.

My sister and Shawn's brother giving us the greatest private speeches to just our table that had us laughing and crying. Perfection.

Cutting the cake and eating it under the full moon.

Dancing our first dance to Unforgettable by Nat King Cole and chatting the entire time, even though I can't remember one thing we talked about.

Dancing with my dad to What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong as he told me how happy he was for me.

Shawn dancing with his mom to Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Iz.

Throwing my bouquet and hoping my sister would catch it, she did!

Shawn tossing my garter and none of the guys catching it, but Ken scrambling to swipe it off the floor.

Love that Nic and Ken caught them.

Having SO much fun dancing with everyone. Looking over and seeing my mom dancing with all her sisters, and Shawn's Uncle Wayne dancing like crazy. Everyone having the best time. Highlight is hands down my cousin Austin busting out to Gangnam Style, a must watch.

After our last dance to The Way You Look Tonight by Steve Tyrell, it was time for Shawn and I to make our exit. We walked around and said all of our goodbyes, but told everyone the party wasn't over. Everyone was welcome to stay and enjoy themselves for as long as they would like. We would be back the next morning for breakfast on the porch. Happy to report that there was a family sing a long session on the front porch, and fun times had until well after midnight.

And they lived happily ever after...

A huge thank you to our photographer, Brandi at Indigo Photography. Our pictures came out beautiful and captured the day exactly as I remember it. You can see even more pictures here.