playgrounds

Country Kids – more like ‘Spy Kids’!!!

Okay, last weekend we had a blast. I turned forty in style, celebrating in Santa Monica, California.

Santa Monica

My daughters LOVED the beach gym that brings the community and tourists together for some active fun.

Beach gym Santa Monica

There were some serious gymnast types, flexing muscles on the ropes and swings cirque du soleil style. I was in awe of their strength and flexibility (also made for nice eye candy in the background of the holiday photo snaps I was taking of my children!).

Eye-candy in the background!

My children were amazing too (aren’t children always?!).

Hanging around at Santa Monica beach

I tried… but alas, it’s been too many years since I accomplished monkey bars – but if I had that set up on my door-step I would totally be enthused to get back to that place in my childhood when monkey bars were my best friend!

And they had swings that were super sized for adults to actually fit their arses in and feel like a kid all over again! Yes!!

Me going HIGH on the swings!

This video features a snippet of hubbie having a blast, as well as Miss 3 swinging ‘Tinkerbell’ style (and Miss 8 & 10 showing off their incredible strength!)…

And if you’re in for more action then here’s a video that my Miss 8 put together using iMovie (she threw together video clips from the past fortnight, not just shots from Santa Monica beach, but the video tells its own story… and what I’m living in every day with her being at home ‘unschooled’! What an active lass indeed – and yet, she can still read, write and do maths – just prefers to do it all standing on her head x ! )…

Hope you’ve found some outdoor fun to enjoy in your neck of the woods this past week. I didn’t manage to keep up with my children on the monkey bars, but I have ran my first half marathon in just over two hours (with a sore ankle to boot!), so I’m now feeling amped for chilling out a little, before running some more to earn my wine (just hoping the frozen pea and elevation treatment will work magic on my ankle!)!

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Linking up this post with the amazing Country Kids at Coombe Mills, where you can find tons of inspirational posts from folks who enjoy outdoor fun and action with their children!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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!

Things I’m Loving

Had a beautiful week with my daughters and escaping out for runs. The clocks have swung into spring time in the northern hemisphere and having an extra hour of daylight in the evening makes a huge difference to our available ‘play time’.

Sharing here a few loves from my week…

❤ Hanging out in the garden with Miss 4, making a lei with freshly picked flowers ❤

Lei making

❤ Beautiful scenery on my runs ❤

Friday night's run

❤ Seeing dolphins alongside a paddle boarder at Butterfly Beach on Friday evening (a perfect ending to my longest run yet!) ❤

Paddle boarder and dolphins at Butterfly Beach

❤ Cooling down at the end of a run with a splash in the surf and some yoga stretches with little Miss 4 ❤

Warrior pose with Miss 4 at Butterfly Beach

❤ Meeting up with hubbie and friends on Thursday evening at the beautiful Goleta Beach Park, fitting in a beautiful cliff top run, and then heading out for pizza and beer. ❤

Goleta Beach Park

❤ Sunsets, good health, happy family and the time to run ❤

Monday night's run

❤ The little things and how much they hold such fascination for our youngest daughter ❤

A moth rescued from the pool

❤ Sisterly love ❤

Creativity and sisterhood

❤ The reopening of a much loved playground on Tuesday evening, where hubbie took the girls for a play, whilst I ran and then met up with them after ❤

Ship wreck playground Tuesday night's run

❤ Loom Love continues for Miss 10, as well as countless other crafty ideas ❤

Loom Love

❤ Miss 4 adds to her drawing book ❤

Miss 4 drawing

❤ Miss 8 loves making hand-stitched clothes for her dolls, bookmarks and little hand-stitched bags ❤

Learning to hand stitch, making dolls clothes and bookmarks

❤ Miss 4 celebrates a new outfit by sneaking into the shop window, standing stock still, and surprising passers by, who stopped to take a photograph, or ‘jumped’ in shock! ❤

Little model!

❤ Saturday morning breakfast in the lovely La Arcada, Santa Barbara, with my family ❤

Breakfast in La Aracada, Santa Barbara

❤ Sharing the love and linking up with my Wellington, New Zealand, friend, Meghan – who has posted up a great collection of ‘loves’ this week ❤

Birthday celebrations for the man of the house in Santa Barbara!

The first half of this week saw the girls and I home alone, with the man of the house away on business. We kept busy – as always – with a blend of rainbow looming, baking, roller blading, swimming and yoga. We treated ourselves to a meal out in Santa Barbara, prepared a few surprises for the man of the house on his return (he was away on his actual Birthday) and we were so happy to hear he’d got himself Thursday off work to spend with us! So, a belated day of Birthday celebrations we enjoyed! We kicked off with a Birthday breakfast at the Summerland Beach Cafe. Delicious!

Breakfast at the Summerland Cafe

After a cheery feast we headed over to ‘Lookout Park‘ in Summerland. It’s a lovely park, with a playground, volley ball pitch, BBQ areas and a stunning lookout over the coast, with easy access to the beach.

Lookout Park, Summerland

Our visit was a little short-lived, after an accidental collision of heads between two our of girls, but happiness was soon restored at home, with a rest for some, and some dive-bombing in the pool for others, before we headed out for an afternoon of activities at ‘Golf and Stuff‘ in Ventura.

Golf and Stuff, Ventura

Our man of the house enjoyed some game play, whist his daughters danced and played.

Golf n Stuff, Arcade, Ventura

We rounded up the day with cake, of course, and a few good beers (thanks Grandma & Grandad). A happy man of the house indeed and us girls were so delighted to have him home. We love you our dear ‘Man of the House’ xxxx

Birthday celebrations for the man of the house!

Gems of family life in Santa Barbara

Two weeks into staying in the house we have leased for a year we are beginning to feel a little more settled. We are finding our way, had friends round for drinks (all be it friends from New Zealand that are also setting out on this new journey with children in tow), been out for a meal at the local restaurant, enjoyed a couple of family weekends doing regular things and are all feeling more positive about embracing this adventure (the only downer is fitting all the fun around the man of the house’s work – they work HARD here in the USA and he has only four weeks annual leave – so we are making sure we fit plenty of exploring around the weekends!).

Thankfully we are living with beautiful beaches a short drive away and the climate is beautiful year round – so even though it’s officially ‘Fall’ (and our New Zealand minds are revved up for spring) we can still enjoy being out in the evenings, despite the sun setting earlier.

Summerland Beach, Santa Barbara

There’s a lovely pathway along the main waterfront of Santa Barbara – Cabrillo Boulevard – friendly to people on foot and wheels (and dogs – there’s always a lot of dogs here!). It’s my new favourite place to go for a jog – plus my Miss 7 (a keen roller-bladder) can come along too (though I’m mostly trailing her – not the other way round!). There’s always plenty to see (even the occasional wedding) and every Sunday there is a fabulous arts and crafts show (I just need a child free morning to explore the arts and crafts leisurely!).

Santa Barbara Waterfront

The warm, calm weather also makes playing, reading and painting outside a pleasure. I don’t have to clear up at night, just incase a howling gale force wind comes blasting through (oh, Wellington – don’t worry – I still love and miss you lots!). Came across this great book ‘Goodnight iPad’ (a parody of  ‘Goodnight Moon’) this week – had to get it – reading it sums up my ‘love / hate’ relationship with modern technology and parenting! It is a constant battle of awareness to balance out the time on electronic gadgets with time in nature, enjoying baking, crafts, reading and art.

reading

In the past week we’ve also found a couple of other new indulgences – not all beach and games.

The girls have sampled ‘Root beer float’ and think it’s kind of cool!

Root beer float

Whilst I have found a little time to enjoy playing the wonderful 100 year old piano in this house (with a little wine, naturally!). If this piano could sing it would surely have some amazing songs to tell!

piano

Then there’s plain ‘ole fun in the garden in the evening. The man of the house is definitely enjoying the BBQ weather, spa and pool. Most evenings he is out with the girls splashing around.

I’m enjoy stretching out with a little yoga every day (there’s even a local Santa Barbara yoga show on one of the many hundreds of channels on the TV here). Last night the whole family got into it (well, the man of the house nearly did – he spent the first half of it half in awe and half in fits of giggles at the ‘heavy breathing’ sounds – by the time he decided to join in the ‘meditation’ section had started – so he just lay down and did some of his own heavy breathing!).

There’s been some strange red ninja figure around the house too (the build up to Halloween starts early here – the pumpkins are everywhere, HUGE and plentiful).

Red ninja

And of course there’s been a lot of nail biting at the America’s Cup racing… not so sure the Kiwis will take home that cup now (but of course we have to keep strong!).

Still, we’ll get over it. There’s plenty of wine, good fruit and craft beers to keep us smiling here and ‘The Funk Zone‘ – that we really need to check out (without the children, preferably).

Man of the house

And we’ve found a good couple of playgrounds to keep the children swinging around like the three wise monkeys that they are – Alameda Park and Chase Palm Park the favourites to date (nothing compared to Wellington’s 102 top class playgrounds… but I shan’t get into that comparison expat game…!).

Alameda Playground

The Alameda Park is a great wooden, towering structure, combing fun and art – loved by Miss 3 & 7, but ‘too many bitey things’ for Miss 10 (it’s a tough job pleasing everyone all of the time!).

Alameda Park playground

Chase Palm Park, on the other hand, has the approval of all three children. It also has the benefit of being opposite the main waterfront of Santa Barbara, closer to eateries and other entertainment.

Chase Palm Park

So, there you go! Some little gems from our life here in Santa Barbara (oh, and don’t worry folks – the girls are learning and doing ‘school’ fine at home too xx).

We’re really looking forward to taking the coast road from Santa Barbara up to San Francisco this coming weekend, stopping at Monteray Bay and Aquarium. Dan will work Monday to Friday in San Francisco, whilst I give the children plenty of educational and fun adventures, and then we’ll take our time driving back to Santa Barbara the following weekend.

Oh, and BIG NEWS, our goodies from New Zealand have landed! We are waiting to see how quickly they can clear customs… but, with a bit of luck, we may have them delivered before we hit the road (would be great to have my decent camera for the trip – and a few extra jumpers for the cooler temperatures in San Francisco).

Hasta ahora, Sarah x