I just turned 40.
I wake up in the morning and my days are a lot of the same. My hair is mashed to the side of my head, and we begin our daily routine of bathroom Twister.
I try to get ready, and block my toddler from emptying out all of the drawers and cabinets. Left hand, top left drawer. Right foot, bottom right cabinet and so on.
I love my crazy life at home with little boys, but I don’t get out of dodge much.
A friend contacted me about a trip to the beach to surprise my best friend for her also newly-turned 40th birthday, but my first reaction was of course no.
I take care of too much, childcare is a pain, plane tickets are expensive. But I took some time to think about it and I thought, do I maybe deserve a little break and a little fun?
I mentioned it to my husband, and he encouraged me to go. (Sorry ladies, he’s taken)
He rearranged his work schedule a bit, and braved the whole weekend alone with the boys.
So I bought a plane ticket and painstakingly kept my surprise visit a secret for 3 long months.
December finally came and I packed my little suitcase and my son’s spare backpack from last year, and away I went.
I took a shuttle to the hotel and knocked on the door.
I said “Housekeeping, you want me fluff your pillow?” And my bestie opened the door in amazement.
She isn’t easy to surprise, but we pulled it off. Mission accomplished, Happy Birthday! And big hugs all around. My apologies for a lack of a picture, we were caught up in the moment…
This little landlocked Kansas/Tennessee girl doesn’t get to see the ocean much.
We stayed in the Newport Beach area in CA and I felt at home pretty quickly.
The hotel had a rooftop lounge with the ocean a block away, and a view of the bay next door. And free cookies and coffee.
One of my favorite highlights of the trip was just siting on the rooftop, catching up. Though we experienced a lot of great things, that’s what meant the most.
Something about the water commands you to soul search and reflect.
We talked about life, love and how far we’ve come. We still have life concerns, but we are both in really good places, and that’s what matters.
I was also reminded of all of my blessings by the family next door to my room. Let’s just affectionately call them the giant Disney family from hell…
I got back to my room the same time they did. They had just come from what had to be a very long day at Disney.
It was mostly excited screaming from the bigger kids. But their little one in the stroller had had it, and he was telling the world.
It was a mild inconvenience late at night, but I really empathized with the parents. I warmly smiled. I know what it’s like to be that parent. I’ve been there. I’ve sooooo been there.
It even made me miss my little ones a bit. I started brainstorming souvenirs. And just turned my tv up a bit until the little storm quieted down.
Two days went by pretty fast, so we fit in all we could.
Bottomless Mimosas at brunch at Woody’s Wharf, a walk on Balboa pier, a short ferry ride and a long walk around Balboa island.
We stopped at a little lemonade stand a few kids had set up near the shoreline. I bought warm kool-aid, a (store bought) chocolate chip cookie, and a little rainbow loom bracelet. Red and green for Christmas of course.
We took in a movie at a little beachfront theater, found a few neat unusual little shops and restaurants.
We even made room for late night coffee and pie before turning in on the last night.
One of our favorite places to eat was The Original Pancake House in Anaheim as we made our round about way back toward the airport Sunday morning.
It was an old-school mom and pop diner with enough food to feed an army. It was all incredible.
There was a huge tree there with crazy roots where we stopped afterwards to take pictures and carve our initials amongst all the others.
N-K-A for Natasha, Kristen and Audra.
Natasha (far right) gets all of the credit for the trip planning. All totally her.
It was nice to take care of just me for a few days. In fact, I way overslept for breakfast on Saturday because I think my body and my brain just needed a good long siesta.
Of course, on day one before even landing in CA, I already missed my boys at home.
You can’t go wrong with sharks.
The trip was perfectly timed. It was a few short weeks before Christmas and I was able to truly relax and just be…
Here’s a little video we took as we watched the waves. In the last half of the video there’s a tiny little bird barely outrunning the water each time it came to shore. It’s the little things sometimes:
I don’t remember the last time I ever felt so relaxed and the trip was exactly the refresher I would need for the chaos to come on Christmas morning.
Be well my friends, and get out of dodge whenever you can. Whether it be to the ocean, or just around the corner from the kids with your very own piece of chocolate.
It’s yours. Don’t share.