Friday, October 20, 2017

Scenes From A Weekend / Visit Carlsbad

We spent last weekend 30 miles up the coast (give or take) - San Diego, in partnership with Visit Carlsbad who offered our family the perfect opportunity to do something we've been meaning to since we moved to San Clemente. Start exploring neighboring towns to see what it is they have to offer in way of family friendly activities now that we're so close. 

Turns out, Carlsbad, in particular, has LOTS. 

A major perk of partnering with a travel company is having them as a working guide to direct us where to go, what to see, visit, eat, and explore. Honestly a revelation in itself. I can't stress enough how much it made me regret that fact that I'm never organized enough to prepare such things before our trips and getaways. I was shocked to see how much time is saved when all of your destinations are already mapped out, and how much more relaxed a weekend is when not having to stress over figuring out where it is you're headed next. Without the pressure of finding cool spots and worthy sight seeing we were able to really enjoy our downtime and look forward to each new destination as we crossed each one off the list. All selections proving perfectly suited to us as a family who always appreciate any excuse to be in the water, dine at laid back food joints and bike ride around town, especially seeing how the weather this month has been practically begging for it. 

Our Hotel was the biggest treat. We stayed at the Beach Terrace Inn on a waterfront shore level suite that meant easy access to both the ocean and the pool. It also meant I got to sit on the porch while the boys played on the beach and surfed directly out in front of me. Being able to hop onto the sand and run back and forth from the hotel, to pool, to water, and back again isn't something we're usually lucky enough to snag. So convenience of location was seized by all. As was an air conditioned room with the kind of luxury beds that grant you quality sleep you don't realize you're actually missing, until you finally get it. 

Below, a few places we visited on the trip (all of which I can't wait to revisit now that we're hip to the "good spots")

Legoland - Our first time there. And just in time for some Halloween action that had us digging up old costumes right before we headed out to participate in their annual #brickortreat festivities. Which was great.

Park 101 - Touted as "Carlsbad’s unique answer to community dining, lounging and sipping in style in the heart of the Village." A dog and kid friendly place with casual pub style dining and a variety of 32 local beers on tap. The food was delicious and the environment fun and easy. 

Carlsbad Lagoon - This being our first kayak experience, which took awhile to kick into gear for us only because I was paired with Leon (who worried non stop about every aspect of what's suppose to be a fun and leisurely ride) but we ended up having a blast and the lagoon rounds put Hayes straight to sleep right when he needed it most. So, win win. 

Senor Grubbys - Easy going Mexican with a twist. For us the twist was bacon wrapped hot dogs Mike probably enjoyed even more than the boys. And of course margaritas. After an hour long bike ride it's the best reward I can think of. 

Pedegos Electric Bikes - This place I can't rave enough about. The guys helping us were amazing. And so helpful in encouraging Leon to get on board with a bike ride. He's never confident or even willing to do things he isn't comfortable with but they worked and talked and traded bikes until he felt ready. The winning choice being the Cadillac of electric bikes. An extended double seater that Mike swears rode like a motorbike and hasn't stopped talking about it since. We road all around downtown and the side roads by the train tracks on our way back. Here, a little taste of the glory of that hour. The sweetest sight, the two of them, on that thing with permanent smiles the whole time. If you head down as tourists, do yourself a favor and rent from these guys. And then tell them their friend Leon sent you. 

Pizza Port - Always a good idea. Not much to add on this one because if you've been to one then you know. 

Choice Juicery - A fresh juice stand with the coolest outdoor space that includes an area for chalk drawing, dog mingling and grass lounging being the best way to begin a full Saturday. 

Campfire - This being my favorite stop of the whole trip. First off the interior feels like a moving Pinterest board. Every inch, every corner, dish set, glassware, drink and bar spread brags of design perfection. Camp chic with sleek accents too, casual and inviting. With a string of exotic cocktail concoctions and unique menu options to sort through. We tried all kinds of things thanks to an exceptional staff that delivered entree after entree for us to try, with the kind of fast smiles, kind words and ready suggestions that makes for absolute return customers. 

After seeing how close the train drops you us to this place I'm already planning my next excuse to head back and have the brisket, or the ceviche, or the smoked & cured fish board, or the french toast citrus brioche. Point being, everything on the menu is a fantastic idea and the place is so cute it would be easy to see your brunch turn into lunch or stick it out till dinner because the lighting situation out back looks just as fabulous. Old school camp vibes meets stellar design keys thanks to the brilliant folks behind Bells and Whistle. An L.A based design team who seem to be doing everything right these days. GO. 

Thank you, Visit Carlsbad, for an incredible weekend. On the way home Mike said it was one of his favorite vacations, and the entire backseat agreed.

Which means we'll be back. Hopefully sooner than later.

Till then,
The Kraus family

For more info on events and kid themed activities visit the Kidifornia site here and head over Saturday, October 21st if you're in the area to enjoy the Carlsbad, Kidifornia Beach Party for a day of family fun, games, and chances to win great prizes on the sands of the Beach Terrace Inn. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stuck ON


It's funny, how things tend to spring up right when you need them most. This being the case in stumbling upon the series by Amanda De Cadenet, called "The Conversation" which for some crazy reason I'd never heard of before. But was desperately craving. I've always liked Amanda, and this series in particular has rooted my adoration that much deeper.

It's what I've been listening to in the kitchen early morning for the past two weeks, while making lunches and having coffee. I've been feeling newly bored with pod casts and not into music that early in the day so every morning I look forward to putting on a new interview and swear it's been the best way to begin my day. In the familiar company of "girl talk" which is basically what she's embracing here talking intimately about things that matter to all of us, body issues, sex, femininity, depression, careers, motherhood, etc. But in a very real, raw context usually spared in these kinds of Hollywood interviews.

Busy Philipps was the first one I found (and fell in love with) but each and every women offers something unique. Something inspiring. And is certainly proving the best company to my 6am hour. So check it out and let me know what you think.

A few of my favorites 

Jamie King

Connie Britton

Zoe Saldana

Milla Jovoitch 

Lady Gaga 

Hilary Clinton

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Leon in New York

One of the hardest things about having multiple children is maintaining a fair balance of activities to suit everyone. As most can attest, it's rare that everyone in a family shares the same exact interests. Kids are different, personalities vary, and naturally hobbies and intrigue do too. Making sure you don't overlook or neglect individual preferences, it's harder than I expected.

The biggest problem we have is that two of our boys, Arlo and Rex, are most active with common interests being skate boarding and surfing which we are constantly making efforts to get them to to ensure they flourish in areas they love. It means altering our schedule to make it to competitions and play dates, after school sessions and weekend things too. Where Leon often times is merely along for the ride. Easy going as he is, I started to realize recently how much we take for granted his indifference, in that he isn't the kind of kid who is apt to protest or complain, even when it means spending time doing things he doesn't find all that appealing. 

Hence, the trip to New York earlier this month. Just the two of us. A birthday present decided on after he requested a ride on an airplane as his big gift, and we saw an opportunity to show him around a Big City, with my best friend, her wife, and other kin we know on the East Coast to do all the things he loves. Sight seeing, museums, restaurants, gift shops, boat rides and a fair share of the tourist attractions he's always drawn to. Four days fully dedicated to Leon. And only Leon. Seeing the things that interest him, without three brothers to mix or contend with. Which was amazing. And reminded me of how easy it is to forget just how important one on one time is, especially around this age, when there is always so much going on and it's all too easy to forsake. I think, on a whole, the trip reawakened those sentiments in me I had pushed aside due to stress and time constraints and all the other things in life that tend to eat away our better good if in fact we let it. 

As for the sight seeing, we had a blast. Largely in thanks to the friends who came out to ensure we saw incredible things, tasted incredible foods, visited incredible places. And if I can be sure of one thing, it's that New York City loves Leon something fierce. Everywhere we went: gay men, black men, gift shop ladies working registers, Uber drivers, gray haired grannies in the park, they all stopped whatever it was they were doing to engage him. Everywhere we went he was handed small gifts, unique tokens, complements and so, many, genuine smiles. Proving something we've always known, that whatever light he carries inside of him shines through wherever he is. People respond to kindness. And Leon, he's got more of it than most. Apparent, it seems, even in a city that moves a whole lot faster than the rest. 

The whole experience I am thankful for. That we did it. Together. A trip I hope he'll remember forever. One that took him to the rooftop at The Met at sunset to toast that bright city skyline, kept him up late watching Harry Potter movies, and woke to brown bagged bagels for breakfast in the "Liberace Room," and photos booths in fancy hotels downtown, a big boat that drove him around the East River to marvel at the Statue of Liberty (a sight so pretty I couldn't help but get tear eyed during the string of patriotic songs they played while we were parked) and museum runs, candy shops, cab rides, and a park picnic with a school full of kids he didn't know but befriended anyway. A first taste of a bustling scene so different from the slow roll of this surf town we're in now. A good time. All attention paid to just him. And all the things that make him the happiest. 

What we saw / did / ate

Lunch at Breslin in The Ace
Natural History Museum
Drinks on the roof of the Met
Dinner at Mediterranean

911 Memorial Museum
Statue of Liberty / East River Boat Cruise
Economy Candy
Lunch at Spitzers
Maria Berrio exhibit at Praxis
Dinner on the river on the cutest 1930's sailboat called "Pilot"