family fun

Weekend Fun Carpinteria & Santa Barbara

Some family weekends are golden and this was one of them, the highlight being a delicious meal at a local restaurant (Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro, Montecito) with all three daughters behaving charmingly.

Family dinner at Pierre La Fonds

It was an impromptu meal out (often preferred to a scheduled, overly anticipated evening) and the love around the table was brimming over (this doesn’t always happen… normally hubbie and I scoff down our food, trying to avoid indigestion, to escape as swiftly as possible without causing a scene!).

It was one of those dining experiences where the children were so good that we had time to request a second drink (and enjoy it, not neck it!) and even requested the desert menu – and followed through with ordering and enjoying every mouthful at a pace that allowed our taste buds to savour what we were eating.

A wonderful end to a beautiful day together (even if I hobbled around most of the day after my most challenging week of half marathon training yet!).

Half marathon training

We’d spent the morning around the pool and the afternoon at the beautiful beach town of Carpinteria, that lies between Santa Barbara and Ventura on the Californian Coast.

Carpinteria

We discovered the delightful Tomol Interpretive Play Area – which is written about in great, illustrated, detail on Michele’s wonderful website, ‘Fun Orange County Parks‘.

Interpretative play area in Carpinteria

Wonderful for younger children, or those that enjoy imaginative, creative play.

Tomol Interpretative play area

After playing for a while we strolled down the high street (Miss 4 with pedal power – more about that in this post). There are some gorgeous, independent, shops in Carpinteria, especially wonderful for arts and craft lovers, as well as some great surf shops (I couldn’t resist a couple of purchases!).

A beautiful town to visit and one that deserves a lot more of our weekend family time 🙂

Life is currently unfolding in a natural, easy way, with all three girls at home. It’s very nice not having the stress of school and copious hobbies in the mix! I’d much rather hang out with them all day than drive them around from x, y and z like a taxi driver. And I don’t miss having to hound them to do their homework, eat their breakfast in a hurry to get out the door for school and packing them lunches – they have become super self-efficient in the kitchen at preparing their own food this year.

Though it’s not all ‘living the dream’ – for every moment of chillaxing in the SoCal sunshine, there’s a daughter with a water pistol waiting to bring us back down to earth with a cold wake up call… as the man of the house was reminded this weekend!

Don't get too comfortable Daddy!

Weekending It! All action!

Having the man of the house home at the weekend gives us family time to get out and really explore this place – and we certainly had an action packed weekend of it!

The man of the house

Whilst the rest of us were barely awake he headed off for an early morning paddle board, returning back mid-morning for a quick appointment with a lady from a tutoring business, as we’re organising tutors for our older girls in some key subjects, to compliment their ‘natural learning’.

Then we all headed out for a family time of biking along the beautiful Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara, to the marina area for lunch.

We found a great cafe called, ‘Endless Summer’, right next to the Maritime Museum. It was the most relaxed, family lunch we’ve enjoyed in a while. A perfect setting, beautiful scenery and a fantastic, affordable, children’s menu (win, win!).

View over marina from Endless Summer Cafe

After lunch, and cycling back towards the central town of Santa Barbara, we enjoyed a little browse in the ‘Funk Zone’, where we found a gorgeous antique shop, jam packed, from floor to ceiling, with treasures, as well as a cute little surf museum.

Funk Zone Santa Barbara

After a busy morning, we went home for an afternoon rest before visiting friends in the evening.

Sunday was another action packed day.

We decided to head south to Santa Monica Pier and the fairground there.

Santa Monica Pier

We all had a fabulous time, with lots of rides to keep our youngest child amused, as well as the older ones.

Fun at the Fair

 

Santa Monica Pier

Just as we were heading back to the car, for drive home to Santa Barbara, we saw a man with two snakes! Our Miss 10 would so love a pet snake, but our rental agreement wouldn’t allow it – not to mention we wouldn’t be able to take a snake back to New Zealand with us! It was a dream come true for her to hold the snakes. She did so well holding the weight of two rather large snakes – combined weight of 60 pounds!

Miss 10 and 2 snakes!

On the drive back, as the sun began to sink low in the sky over the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at a huge sand dune, over looking a beautiful bay.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean

Of course sand and children are always a fun mix – especially when sand is banked up very high for climbing up and running (or rolling) down.

Sand dune fun California

Next time we pass we’ll have to make sure we have a boogie board in the back, or a piece of cardboard… it reminded me of an adventure Dan and I enjoyed on Fraser Island years ago – boogie boarding down a dune into a lake!

Sand dune fun

We got home just after sunset and whilst unpacking the car (looked more like we’d been away for a week!), the man of the house got in the pool with the children. Just when I thought we were done for the day, and steering towards bedtime, a Suzy Cato DVD inspired an experiment with purple cabbage on the different between acid and alkaline (fact sheet, thanks to Suzy, here). Being in a natural learning way, we embraced the moment and did a science experiment before bedtime (as you do!).

We all finally got to sleep – close to 11pm!

Country Kids in California

Driving up the West Coast of California, north from Santa Barbara, we made a pit stop at a place in the country called Avila Valley Barn for a ‘Fall’ experience Californian style.

fun on the farm

The youngest of our family was the most enthralled. She tore into her roasted sweetcorn with the appetite of a cowgirl that had been working hard on the ranch all day (well she had ridden a pony for the first time in her life, as well as tackling some hale bales).

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She’d had a go at being a scarecrow, along with one of her older sisters too. They did a pretty good job!

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The array of fresh fruit and bright, natural colours from all the lush foods of the farm was a feast for the eyes. If time had allowed we would have taken a ride on a tractor trailer to see more of the farm, but one of our group wasn’t keen to stay for long (let’s just say hay, farms, flies, animals and smelly doo doos are not our eldest child’s favourite things!).

Pony rides, pumpkins and flowers

I couldn’t leave without snapping a pumpkin pic (Miss 3 tried to lift the largest she could find too – insisting we take one along on our road trip up to San Francisco – but we managed to escape without an orange friend!).

Pumpkins California sunshine style

A perfect stop to celebrate the season of Fall here in California (though it felt like a hot summer’s day to me!). I live in hope that our eldest child will one day not be so disabled by her ‘super senses’ and be able to enjoy the beauty of life on the farm (I too recall finding the overpowering smells too much for me as a child). Thankfully, she understood how happy the visit made her younger sisters and was quite content to wait in the comfort of the air-conditioned car with her Daddy for a spell.

We drove on up to Monterey (our stop for tonight) with a happy family in the car, enjoying the scenic drive and admiring the farm workers in the heat of Californian sun.

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Joining in with….

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall