Let me just say, we loved our time in the DC area. Evan and I have always wanted to live somewhere different for the experience, so when we had the opportunity to live on the East Coast, we were super excited! Even better than living somewhere completely different, my sister is also in the area and we actually lived 2.8 miles, door to door from each other! Most people know how much I adore my sister because I talk about her any chance I get, and you can understand what a huge deal this was for us! We're super close and we have dreamed of living close for years, even before kids! So living this close was literally a dream come true.
It was fun and a bit overwhelming to relocate across country. We did a 5 day drive from San Jose to DC, which was incredible! I've always wanted to drive across country, so it was one thing to check off my bucket list! You can read more about our trip here. I was born and raised in California and have lived the last 10 years in the Bay Area, so DC felt really different to me. The weather is obviously vastly different, but surroundings were, too! I really missed the rolling hills that I love so much about Northern California. And I missed being able to go outside with a light jacket on in February. Some might say I'm spoiled, and I agree! California really does have it easy when it comes to the weather!
But other than being home sick for family still in California and for everything that felt familiar, we really had such a wonderful time in DC. We loved visiting some of the hot spots like the monuments (The Jefferson was my favorite!), several of The Smithsonian's, the cherry blossom festival, and mostly just tons of cousin time, because that really was my favorite part!!
We were so lucky to cover Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all 4 cousin's birthdays while we were there!
Play dates, pizza nights, bubble parties, adventures, picnics, cookie parties, and everything in-between.... I miss these days so much and I'm so grateful for the time that we got to have together. Maybe one day we'll be able to live close again! <3
It was a bit of a whirlwind moving home because we actually had 9 days to pack our entire apartment and head for the road. We ordered our shipping containers and had our whole house packed in just a few days. Shout out to my sister who watched 4 children by herself for 3 whole days AND cooked everyone dinner to boot!!
We planned our route back the night before we left, squeezed our family goodbye at 3:30am, and headed for the northern route since we did the central route last time. We drove from DC straight to Chicago. We arrived at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago and checked in looking like the Clampett's. When the valet opened our car doors, sunflower seeds came spilling out, and we actually had to walk our dog into the hotel on a bungee cord because we couldn't find his leash. 2 small blond children bouncing off the walls in night gowns from the night before and an audience of people who just seemed to stare at our hot mess. When we pulled up to the hotel, we quickly realized that we booked the "fancy" Hyatt, and not the one that was made for families traveling 14 hour days in their pajamas. We quickly made it upstairs to change and then we headed out to Giordano's for deep dish pizza and to have a beer to celebrate Evan's birthday. I cannot believe that we somehow managed to drive 14 hours and then go sit down and wait for deep dish pizza. I mean, we did feel like we were dealing with 2 ticking time bombs, so we fed them snacks and undivided attention until our pizza got to our table. We only ended up spilling one cup of water and breaking one glass cup. I call it a win!
Sadly, I didn't bring my camera out with me because it was nearly dark by the time we made it out for dinner. No pictures of Chicago, but a good story to remember, that's for sure!
Our next stop was Lincoln, Nebraska. This trip was quick in comparison to our last. Lincoln welcomed us with giant puffy clouds, and gorgeous weather! We got there right after lunch time, so we had plenty of time to stretch our legs in the city. We walked around and window shopped, grabbed an early dinner and stumbled across a super cute ice cream shop called Ivanna Cone. Millie was in heaven with a spooky themed ice cream spot and we were in heaven because everyone was in a great mood with full tummies and a sugar overload!
We also booked the right Hyatt this time and enjoyed the less fancy vibe and the indoor swimming pool! We swam until everyone's fingers and toes were pruned up, and then we headed back to our room and fell asleep by 7pm so that we could be on the road at 3am again.
Nebraska was my favorite stop this time. With warm people and a sleepy little downtown, it was perfect for us quick visitors.
Up next was Park City, Utah. We had originally planned to do Lincoln to Cheyenne, Cheyenne to Reno, Reno home, but we needed to speed our trip up, so it was straight from Lincoln to Park City. Another super long drive. We hardly spent any time exploring since all that was near our hotel was a shopping plaza. We got dinner and hit Whole Foods for a beer and then headed back to our room.
Onto the last leg of our journey! We went from Park City, Utah straight to San Jose, California!
^You know those animations you've seen of how children co-sleep with their parents? Well, they aren't exaggerating . It's real, folks. Children. They sleep like star fish. They sleep horizontally. They sleep on top of their siblings. This photo was taken at 2:30am. Evan is a super hero who got up to sleep with them in the middle of the night because Amelia couldn't sleep and was scared.
I have to admit that this trip was not nearly as smooth as our last trip. It was a day shorter which meant we were now driving 12-14 hours per day. I also didn't have the time to prepare things for the girls to do. We packed their backpacks with some snacks, their tablet, and one sticker book... Word to the wise, do not just pack these things. Pack copious amounts of things to hand to your children while driving. Pack Post-It notes, and calculators. (Thanks, Melissa for the great ideas on our trip out!) Pack party horns, window clings, water doodle boards, and colored pencils. Just pack it all. Do not, not pack them enough because there were a lot of tears this trip, and Moana was on re-run until batteries were drained. And now I can recite every line from Moana, and so can they... so... parenting fail!
You best believe that when we crossed the border into the sweet Golden State, we hit up the first In-n-Out that we could find. 6 months without In-n-Out is not for the faint of heart. All joking aside, it was so wonderful to cross state line back into California. Seeing orange poppies on the side of the road and the rolling hills with oak trees on them just speaks to my soul!
It's been so great to get back, and now that we've been here for a few weeks we're finally settled in. We had to wait 3 weeks for our containers to arrive, so we spent quite a bit of time out of the house hitting up our favorite spots again. Our first stop was the Pacific ocean because I had missed the sea so much. We headed to Santa Cruz (with the rest of the Bay Area) and hit up one of our favorite pizza spots. (They don't have the greatest pizza, but they do give the kids pizza dough to play with while they wait, and so that alone makes it pretty great in my book.) The girls LOVED playing tag with the waves again and we spent a good hour just walking up and down the shore.
When it was time to head back, Lucy screamed and cried and ran the other direction. Usually we let her run, and continue walking and she eventually gives up and follows us back. Not this time. She just kept running and running until she became this tiny dot that we could barley see. Evan got in a good work out booking it for her, and she was not happy when he caught her. A gal who loves the ocean-- just like her mommy.
We walked back on the boardwalk leaving a sandy trail and seashells in our hands. The girls were in awe with all of the rides and lights and noises. So much to look at, and they were trying to take everything in as we pushed our way through the chaos. We ended up stopping for some cotton candy because... hey why not end your day with a big bag of spun sugar? Plus, is there anything better than seeing your children enjoy something that they just haaaaaaave to have?
If you couldn't tell, I'm obsessed with these little gondolas. We wanted to ride them, but the girls were too little, so we observed them from below and promised that when they got taller, we'd most definitely ride the blue one.
Being carried out by daddy with sticky hands and sandy feet and still trying to take in every last bit of goodness from such an exciting place.
Summer has officially started, and we're soaking up every bit of it since school starts in August! And that's pretty much it! Evan has officially started his new position and I've officially started booking sessions!
If you would like to book a family session with Laura Pope Photography in San Jose or the Bay Area, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org