Monday, November 18, 2013

Mesa Trip 2013

After weeks of being on the go, this was a welcomed sight. My childhood home. I've come to understand that home is wherever your family is rather than an exact place. And to be honest, I feel like I have homes all throughout the country from different chapters of my life. Provo, Utah, was home for four years during college and will always have a special place in my heart. As will Jackson, Mississippi, where I spent an incredible year living on my own in a place I'd never imagined I'd be. And now, New York City is where I call "home" - where the buildings are as big as the dreams of the people that fill them. 

But there is just something about coming back to your childhood home that is different than the rest. There's such a feeling of familiarity on all levels. Maybe it's the number of years that I spent within those walls. After all, my family moved here when I was nine-years-old. Connor and I spent many an afternoon playing out back having home run derbies. I spent countless hours doing homework at the kitchen table. We'd play Pickle in the front yard as a family on weekends. In high school, it was always a place where friends would gather to hang out. I had some awkward goodbyes at that front door after first dates - with Douglas waiting on the other side in the living room. This was the house that built me. Miranda Lambert was on to something, I guess. It was always a place of refuge, comfort, and safety. I hope to create a home that fosters all of those same feelings. I don't know if my parents will always be in Mesa, but I will forever be grateful for the idyllic childhood they gave me there. 

And of course, what would a hometown be without the people that make it so sweet. These were only a few that came to dinner with us at Costa Vida that night. I feel like all my favorites were there. The Fig's, Olsen's, Shreeve's, Selk's, Taylor's, Noorda's, and the Allen's. It was so wonderful to see you all and catch up. Thank you for the taking the time to see us. 

On a different day, Natalie and Matt hosted a game night at their beautiful new home. It was an Alpine Village #426 reunion + all of our husbands. Nate and Aleesha happened to be in town the same week! Talk about timing. We all lived together our junior year of college and I made some incredible memories with these girls. It was so great to see all of them - I feel like we haven't skipped a beat. It was as if we were all just watching Kate and Nat choreograph dance routines in our kitchen like it was yesterday. Also on this trip, we got to see Katelin and Josh's gorgeous new home! Those two never stop with their projects and it was so neat to see all that they've done to it. Since when are my friends old enough to be homeowners? I still can't believe how grown up we are all getting. I'm so very proud of my friends and all that they're doing in this world. Seeing my people is always a highlight of going home. 

On the final day of our Arizona trip, we made our way to Prescott to visit my grandma, whom we call Nonnie. It was nice to sneak up north where it's a few degrees cooler. I so loved catching up her. She had just returned from a trip to Spain and I so enjoy hearing all about her adventures. She is full of energy. I hope to have her sense of curiosity and adventure at her age. It was such a treat to see her. We love you, Nonnie!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

San Diego - Part Two

We spent a full day at Del Mar watching the horse races. The tracks were beautiful, full of color. This was unlike anything I had experienced. We all placed our bets and would watch each race with enthusiasm. I wish I could say I fully understood what was going on - but I usually just picked the prettiest horse with the smallest jockey. Shelby, on the other hand, had the best luck. She almost won the trifecta! I was seriously impressed. Also, Douglas has a way of making things happen - the guy can sneak his way up to the front row of concerts, onto the sidelines of football games, you name it - he can swing it. So, this event was child's play for him. Before we knew it - we saw him on the grounds where the horses and jockeys make their entrance and talk with the owners before their big race. I was dying. But not surprised. Throughout the day, we all made it down there at least once. 

After the races, the B-52's put on a concert nearby. There were a cast of characters in the audience so when the band's first three songs didn't include "Love Shack" we were outta there. Hit up Burger Lounge once more and called it a night. 

We spent our last full day on Coronado Island soaking up the sun. We had some good family competition in a game of two-hand touch and over the line. I loved checking out Hotel Del - so fancy. This was our last beach day of the summer and I was so sad to see it go. We had an incredible run. 

We made our way downtown for one more stop at Ghirardelli's. Our gluttony had hit an all-time high at this point and there was no looking back. I helped Mom make dinner and we had one more night to make fools of ourselves playing games. I hadn't laughed that hard in awhile. 

The next morning, I went on one more bike ride with Douglas before we packed up our bags and kissed the beach goodbye until next summer - unless Mendi Sue's church history trip wins out. This was such a perfect week with quality family time. Usually, when I go home to Mesa, we spend time with friends and extended family who we don't get to see that often. I love that time, but I'm so thankful we were able to spend a whole week with just my immediate family. I wouldn't trade that time for the world. Thanks for such a party week, Knoles clan! We love you! See you at Christmas!!! 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

San Diego - Part One

After our week with the Maddux family, we joined my parents in Arizona for a few days and then made our way to San Diego. Connor and Shelby came from Utah and it was an absolute party. This was my first time seeing my brother since our wedding so it was quite the reunion. Thank heavens for his daily snapchats - they fill some small void. We stayed in a house in the cutest neighborhood and I remember thinking - life could not get better. I had all the people I love the most under one roof. Living on the other side of the country can be hard - so I treasure these moments with my dear family. They are my best friends. 

Growing up, we would go to Laguna Beach or Newport Beach every summer. They were our spots. Bless my sweet mother, she has been wanting to do a church history trip for years - but somehow she always gets outvoted and the beach wins. One day, Mom, one day. Some of my favorite childhood memories were spent riding bikes along the boardwalk, playing wiffle ball in the sand, and staying up way too late to grab hot and fresh Seaside Donuts by the pier. My parents would let us bring friends and our current love interests along. Both Con and I had our senior trips there. The yellow house was a revolving door each summer and people would come and go as they pleased. Con and I realized we had more freedom on our beach vacations than we did at home so we were sure to make the most of those weeks each year. 

Fast forward to this summer - I hadn't been to San Diego for years and it was so much fun to explore. The week was filled with early morning donut runs, bike rides with Dad, runs through the neighborhood with Mom, and late nights around the dining room table playing Heads Up. Do yourself a favor and download Ellen Degeneres' new app.

Our first full day was spent on Coronado Island walking around, laying out, and reading. We even busted out the wiffle ball and played a Knoles family beach tradition: over the line. This was Scott's first time playing with us and it's somewhat of a rite of passage. Douglas kept calling him "the new kid" and I couldn't stop laughing.

The next day, we explored the historic Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego. The sun was shining and Scott and I couldn't stop commenting on how this was the best weather we'd had all month - Bermuda included. The whole week we had clear skies with a high of 75. There's something perfect about that Southern California breeze too. 

My parents are big fans of Burger Lounge - I think we ate there three times that week. One thing about the Knoles clan, when we find a good meal, we go back and back and back. I was sad to learn they don't have locations on the East Coast.  

We couldn't leave downtown without a stop at Ghirardelli's. This trip consisted of so many things my family loves - the beach, burgers, milkshakes and time together. I was wishing it would never end. 

That night, the Noorda family, who happened to be vacationing in nearby La Jolla, came over for dinner and games. We had waited months to meet baby Jack Owen and that night was so big for us. Makall and her mom, Mindy, are in some of the pictures above from our senior trip years ago. Six summers have passed since then, and now this beautiful family has the most incredible two babies. We hadn't seen them since our Thanksgiving together in the city last year.  And oh how we had missed them. It was a fabulous night of catching up. These are friends for life. I can't wait for them to get back east already. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week in Camarillo, CA

We flew straight from Bermuda to LAX to be with the Maddux Family for a week. Time with them is always a party. I think we had a planning meeting in the kitchen our first night there to ensure we would cover all kinds of ground. Our first full day was spent at the outlet mall - wouldn't be a trip to Scott's hometown without it. We take FULL advantage of those deals. Scott even found some nice suits for his new gig. We had dinner at Andrea's that night on the marina with family. It was so wonderful to catch up with relatives -- some who we hadn't seen since Christmas or our wedding. 

We even made a special stop at Dave and Linda's to see Scott's cousin, Julia, her husband, Kyle, and their newest addition -- Bentley the Bulldog! And thus continues our obsession with these pups. Twins, I tell you!

The next day was full of visits with family. We did lunch at the country club with John and Laurie and spent time with Grandpa Jim and Bija. I love our chats on the couch with them. 

Later that night, we made our way to Pasadena to see our dear friends, Dave and Karly. They were sweet enough to meet us after their long days at work. We did dinner at La Grand Orange Cafe and ice cream at 21 Choices. Both were fabulous! Also, can I just say how charming Old Pasadena is...I was loving Colorado Blvd. Scott was born there and his family lived in La Canada for a few of his younger years. Beautiful area. D+K we love you! Thanks for showing us around your town!  

Grandpa Jim was on our case all week to get up early and go work out with him. He goes to the country club gym three times a week and does personal training with his ever-so-patient trainer, Pam. I'm telling you, this guy is a hoot -- he reminds me so much of my dad. I swear they both go to the gym for social interaction. When we showed up -- I was shocked to find that he was also wearing a neon yellow shirt. I shouted, "Twinners!!!" but he was less than amused. I mean, the guy was already hard at work on his TRX routine and didn't have time for my jokes. Scott and I had never seen a TRX and didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. Not to worry, Grandpa Jim was happy to show us how it's done. I think we passed his fitness test. Phew! And we were definitely sore the next day. These are some of my favorite pictures of the trip. I hope I have his energy at 80. He is just too cute. After our workout, he introduced us to all of his gym friends. I was dying. This quickly turned into an even larger family affair when John and Laurie showed up to play tennis and Bija came on her morning walk with William. I love these people. 

Later that day, we headed up to Santa Barbara with J+L. They're building a home up there and it was so neat to see how it's coming along. It's close to the Bacara Resort so we had fun checking out the area. We did dinner downtown at Carlito's, a Maddux Family fav. Scott took me there two years ago right after we graduated from BYU, on my first trip to Santa Barbara. I still remember that Mexican meal. I never do forget a good guac.

Scott's good friend, Jessica Needham, got married the week we happened to be in town. We were so thrilled we could make it. Her and Matt make the most beautiful couple. The ceremony and reception were incredible and we had a blast catching up with all of Scott's good friends from high school. It felt like a reunion. Long live the Oaks Christian Class of 2005. 

Not pictured: Later that night, we went over to Scott's brother's home. Austin, Kim, and Mackenzie were kind enough to have us over for a yummy barbecue at their new house. We had so much fun catching up with them, playing with Mackenzie, and seeing their new place! 

The first time I ever visited Camarillo, I was so surprised to see all of the farmer's markets on the side of the road. I had no idea there were so many fruits and vegetables grown right near Scott's house. Laurie gets fresh produce there a few times a week. Talk about convenient. But for whatever reason, Scott had actually never picked his own produce. Seriously? I couldn't believe it. The boy grew up right next to a raspberry field and never even stepped foot on that soil. So, I was determined to change that on this trip. We went to McGrath's Family Farm one morning - a hop, skip, and a jump away. We picked our own strawberries and brought them home for the rest of the family to enjoy. Those berries may be small, but they sure packed a punch. So full of delicious flavor. Thanks for cooperating, babe. 

That night, J+L treated us all to a Dodger game. There's nothing more American to me than watching a baseball game on a summer night. Brings me right back to my childhood. I hadn't been to Dodger Stadium in years so it was fun to think blue for the night - but I still love my Diamondbacks. We ate ice cream and Scott got a classic Dodger Dog. The home team beat the Rockies and Zack Greinke pitched a complete game shut out. It was a good time had by all! 

On our final day in Camarillo, Laurie planned a big family dinner in the backyard. She is quite the hostess! The weather was perfect and the sunset was insane. We enjoyed one last night with wonderful company. Scott even had some friends he hadn't seen in years come over. We chatted for hours outside by the fire. It was a beautiful ending to a wonderful week. Thank you J+L for everything! We loved just spending time with you. You are way too good to us.  
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