Visit 3, Part II: El's List of "to-do" activities and adventures while in California
It’s not very often – if ever – I am with just El these days, so yes, the trip was a little anxiety riddled for me (see Part One) to be with just her, however I was also ecstatic to embrace the opportunity to have one on one time with my first born. It was going to be three days all about El! Once we landed in California, she got to pick the rental car … then we were off to accomplish her “to do” list. Though these trips are for medical appointments, I try to make them as enjoyable for her as we can!
Her first order of business was visiting one of her two favorite bakeries, Twice Baked Baking Co., which as she describes it “the one where I can have some things, but not everything and they have the yummy chocolate cake [insert lip smack]!!”. Her other favorite, which is a little further away, we typically go after an appointment, is Sensitive Sweets “the push-pop bakery where I can have E V E R Y T H I N G [insert fist pump]!!”- El.
Once we grabbed some groceries and had the bakery items in hand next up was … the gym. I love how the simple things in life generate the most excitement and memorable times with kids. El talks about the “hotel gym” all the time. She gets so excited to go back to the same hotel because of the familiarity and comfort, and, the gym and pool.
We both needed some movement after the 12 plus hours of travel so we suited up and headed to the gym – just for a quick peak and exert a little energy. After stretching our legs and falling further into a state of exhaustion we got fries from In-N-Out Burger and ate ham roll-ups, fruit and veggies in the hotel for an early dinner and off to bed to prep for the first appointment.
We woke much more rested the next morning and took off to the gym for a full workout and then oatmeal (and a couple bakery items 😉) for breakfast.
As the champ she is, she sailed through her first appointment (See Visit 3, Part III: Appointment Day 1). Her appointment was mid-morning California time, so we were both starving by the end and off to Nobel Bird we went for a yummy meal and to play in the park at 2nd & PCH. After running around the activities, seeing the dinosaurs (which is actually a lizard) we walked through the marina and then headed to Sensitive Sweets.
It was a perfect opportunity for El to have a nap ride as we navigated traffic and a whopping 15 mile commute (I’ll post about where we live and how we get around another day …). Already checking multiple items of her to-do list and had barely been in Cali for 24 hours!
By 4:30 pm PST we were back at the hotel, El snuggled in Pjs and tucked in bed. With quick trips across the country it’s nice to keep the kids on East Coast time the best we can – it’s not always possible – but this time it was necessary, and possible. Though it’s hard for me to be tucked inside while it’s a perfect 75 degrees and sunny with a light breeze, it also helps me get caught up on sleep … and prepared for the 3:30am PST wake up!
Thursday’s appointment went great again (Visit 3, Part III: Appointment Day). It was a morning appointment (8am PST) which gave us the whole day after to go to the beach! We made a pitstop at TJMaxx to grab a sand toy and we spent the afternoon at Hermosa Beach. It was beautiful, a 75 degree and sunny Thursday at the beach is what we both needed! We built a sandcastle, made “ice-cream”, and played in the water.
Looking back at photos I wish I took more, but I also realize I was fully present in the moment and enjoying the time just the two of us, doing all the fun things El wanted. The couple photos I do have bring those memories into a vivid picture and I am oh so grateful for that time.
As we were both exhausted, sun-kissed and coated with salt we made our way back to the hotel for mac & cheese (Annies Vegan Gluten-Free boxed mac is always in my suitcase!), cucumbers, peaches and ham roll-ups. We don’t necessarily eat fancy when traveling but we do our best to make it nutritious and delicious!
Day three was a few hours away and we would be packing up already to catch a redeye back to Boston that night. We woke for a morning gym session and off to another 8am appointment where she was just dosing, no challenges (Visit 3 – Part III: Appointment 3). Post appointment we had an entire day to hangout. Fortunately checkout was 1pm and we could go back and pack up after the appointment. This helped buy time since we didn’t have to be at the airport until 7:30pm PST (late night for both of us!).
After check-out we finally made it to the airplane park, I got my Petrolla coffee, she got her frozen watermelon lemonade and we both got yummy fruit bowls from Blue Bowl – they were delicious and it’s so exciting to add ‘another place’ to the list of where El can eat.
We still had plenty of time before the flight, unfortunately I forgot to reserve tickets in advance for the aquarium and we were unable to get in due to all the summer camps and kids groups scheduled that day… And El did not want to go to the beach because she didn’t want to be sandy for the flight – I can appreciate that. Next to the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific there is a small park that has Swan Boats to peddle… El wanted to try one so off we went.
It was 85 degrees and sunny and I fully underestimated how hard you have to peddle, especially when there isn’t anyone in the second seat helping.
We eagerly jumped in the swan boat already hot and sweaty from the walk to the park, full of excitement to try something new, and as El sat in the rear under the canopy and the attendant pushed us off, I took one peddle and almost died. WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO. After an intense lower-body day in the gym that morning I surely thought I was going to die just trying to navigate us back to shore … but as a Mom sometimes you push through pain to give your kids an experience [why?!].
As El called out all the things she wanted to peddle over to I did the best I could through deep breathing, agony and shaking legs. After 20 minutes we made it back, parked and slowing walked back to the car – while I carried my 5 yo because she was too tired …
With a couple hours to go we went and had a filling meal at Noble Bird before the flight and El was able to run around the park at PCH & 2nd. She made a couple ‘new friends’, climbed over the ‘rocks’ and ran around at the ‘dinosaur’. It was simple, fun and a great way to burn energy before our 12 hour trek home.
We changed into comfy clothes, repacked the bags in the car, and were finally airport bound. Dropped our rental, walked right through TSA pre-check without a line and hung-out at our gate until it was time to depart. We boarded early, took off early and landed in Boston slightly ahead of schedule. Walked off the plan, out through departures and directly into our own car that was waiting for us from Valet. It was a beautiful morning, 6 am EST in Boston with the sun shining and we were on our (5 hour) drive home. It was a successful and fun Mamma and Daughter trip to California, even if it was for medical appointments!
Click here to read about The Travel (and a couple must-do hacks!) and the Appointments in the other articles for Food Visit 3.
Thanks for following along,