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Camping in Cuyamaca with Kids | Green Valley Falls 2014

Hurricane Odile hit Baja California over a week ago doing signifigant damage to Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, both cities that we spent time in while cruising Mexico. Club Cruceros of La Paz has a GoFundMe site set up to help local sailors recover from the devastating loss to the Maritime Commutiy there. To help the people of Mexico directlly as they recover, we suggest donating directly to the Red Cross.

Our thoughts are with the sailors who lost their lives in this hurricane, one of whom we knew personally, and to those who lost their boats (and homes) and are rebuilding.


Last month we loaded the girls up on a fine Friday afternoon and headed east towards the mountain to Green Valley Falls. Three years previously we met our friends Ella, Gray, and their baby, Wes, to camp at the same location. I love comparing then and now to see the kinds of changes that can happen to your life in such a short time period.

Charlotte, Lyra, Wes, and Cora

Lyra, Eric, Cora, Wes, Gray, and Miles

This time around each family had two kids instead of the one. Cora and Wes are four days apart and are currently four years old. Lyra and Miles are six months apart and were 17 months and 11 months, respectively, at the time we went camping in August.

Flashback: Wes and Cora corralled at 11 months in June 2011.

This time it was Lyra, at 17 months, that was occasionally corralled in the Pack-N-Play. Her buddy Miles was either up in the Ergo, up in arms, or causing mischief, as was Lyra...

Beautiful boy. Beautiful mama.

Lyra loved to hang out with the big kids as much as possible:

And when she wasn't hanging out big kid style, she was hanging out with mom, because Lyra and I are like THIS, man.


This time, like last time, we took a walk down to the actual falls the location is named after. In this short video from three years ago you can see there was actually running water in 2011 (bonus: hello Eric's muscles). Three years later, the long-standing drought in Southern California was evidenced by a complete lack of falls and only a couple pools of murky, woodsy water.

Flashback below: Eric and Gray babywearing back in the day, circa 2011 :)

And the whole lot of us in 2014 either babywearing or ushering children underfoot:

Cora and Wes had a ton of fun playing together:

But then again, they always do.

When I saw this photo of them, I had a mom heart-melt moment. Because it was the exact pose they sat in for their first birthdays at the beach three years previously:

Flash back to :heart melt:

All children love Ella. She gets them to take goofy pictures like this:

And this:

And this:

Those cheeks! MUST.SQUEEZE!!

At this point I'm just going to admit that we are all goofy:

Breakfast, anyone?

A special thanks to Sandee, Frankie, and Mele for letting us borrow camping gear. Camping gear that let us eat meals like this:

Sheepherder's Breakfast in a Dutch Oven. Inspired by this post at www.wildinkpress.

Now that we are back in the rat race and the long trek of lots of work to save for another boat, we don't get to see much of Eric like we used to. On camping trips like this I soak up spending time with him and love that the kids get to hang out with their dad too:

Eric snuggling Lyra, 17 months old, August 2014.

Flashback to Eric snuggling Cora, 11 months old, June 2011.

Which of course led me to this:

Flashback to Cora, Eric, and Charlotte ~ June 2011.

And now Lyra, Eric, and Charlotte ~ August 2014.

The only bummer about the camping trip was that we had to cut it short. The weather started out lovely but by the second day the rain started and wouldn't let up. That was good news for thirsty SoCal, but bad news for camping with little kids.

So we packed the kids up a day early and headed home. Cora and Wes now "hate the rain because it ruined camping." And Cora will remind you of this and that she, "USED to love the rain, mom, but not now. Oh no."

All clean and completely tuckered out from their camping adventure, which of course reminded me of:

Flashback to Cora all cleaned up and totally konked out from her first camping adventure too.

Here's to more camping adventures while we are land locked!


Every Six Months ~ Cora and Lyra, August 2014

Cora, 4 years old. Lyra, eighteen months old.

Green Valley Falls, Julian, California, August 2014.


Every Six Months: A Photo Project

The girls are 2.5 years apart and their birthdays fall almost exactly six months apart in a calendar year. My goal is to document the two of them together every six months. You can view all the photos in the series here.

*Special thanks to Ella Sherman for taking and editing this photo. 


Cora's 4th Birthday | A Birthday at the Beach

Cora and Wes Turn Four | Amazing photo by Ella ShermanThree years to the day that we celebrated Cora and Wes turning one year's old, we headed up to another North County Beach to celebrate their turning four. 

Living in Mexico has created a piñata tradition that we shall carry on indefinitely.

Eric and Dominic (Dominic is the author of Americano Abroad and To Be Frank San Diego). 

Mele and Lyra

Ella, Gray, Wes, and Miles were all there. 

Me, Renee, Leo, and Helen

Helen and her vivacious girls came.

Renee, Xavier, and Leo joined the fun! (Renee and her husband Dan were one of the families that opened their home to us after the rescue. I was at their home when I wrote this post.)

This is Steve and Monique. They also live on a sailboat, s/v Sea Conquest, and lived in Mexico at the same time we did.

They had this hunk of love, Ronin, only a few months after we had Lyra down in Mexico.

Sacha, Monique, and Cora

Cora has memories of playing with their son, Sacha, in Catalina Island, La Cruz, Mexico, and San Diego. I love world travelers and I love sailing families.

My friend Paige's two munchkins, Maddie and Colin. Paige, and our friend Mollie, are now the talent behind Red Charlotte.

It was a day to reconnect with all kinds of people in our lives, friends, new and old.

Renee and JenDana, Ivy, Jen, Stella, Mike, and Elsa

We played soccer, soaked in the rays, hit the piñata, and had the kids decorate their own donuts (a true crowd pleaser):

Xavier and Leo show off their piñata candy haul.Auntie Mele holding Lyra, and making magic in the water with Cora and Sacha.

It was a day to be happy and to show gratitude for the friends and family in our lives.

Three years ago Ella took this photo of our family on a beach in San Diego:

Me, Cora, Eric | Cora's first birthday

It was both perfect and bittersweet that she was able to take this photo on a beach in San Diego three years later:

Eric, Cora, Lyra, Me | Cora's fourth birthday

We had planned on being somewhere in the South Pacific for Cora's fourth birthday, but it is really, truly, hard to complain when we are in an incredible city, surrounded by friends and family, and so connected with love and support.

Happy birthday, Cora.


Post script: Eric sums up the day of intense beach fun perfectly in the photo below.

Is it bedtime yet?


DIY Rainbow Mason Jar Organizer

A finished project is always a thing of beauty, no?

Finally found the time to hem those curtains!

We live in a 320sq ft studio, so maximizing space creatively is a must. Since this was going to hang in the girls' room, (aka, the closet,) I wanted it to reflect their bright personalities.

The inspiration for the rainbow stripes? The Ikea pillowcase you see in the photo below:

Cora always looks fabulous when she plays dress up.

Lowes will let you get little sample jars of any of their paint for $2.99, so we hunted around until we found the perfect shade to match each stripe.

And then we marked out the stripes and we painted.

Cora and I worked together on this for days and days. We'd only do one or two stripes at a time and then wait until another day when Lyra was napping and the stars were perfectly aligned for more painting. I've now decided that Cora needs to see Karate Kid so she'll understand why I kept saying, "long strokes, up....down."

Lyra wanted to help but her best work was simply doing an impression of me holding a pencil or marker as I measured things.

I initially marked all the hose clamps so the tightener would be right in the center of each jar, but neither Eric nor I could drill a pilot hole directly through the metal. Maybe we are weaklings? Maybe we needed something other than a cobalt bit?

My mark in red versus where Eric ended up drilling.

Instead we shifted the hole to the little gratings nearby. That meant that the hose clamps screwed shut off center, but I like the look and it got the project moving again.

Huge thanks to Eric for having delicious muscles and helping me with this part. Crafty projects are not normally his forte but he helped without a peep of protest. Gracias, amor.

Once I marked out where I wanted each jar, I drilled pilot holes in the wood as well. Super handy to have stripes on the wood (a reclaimed piece of wood that cost us zero dollars, score). The stripes made it easy to line everything up.

Helping husband for the win.

He also screwed the finished piece directly into the wood in the closet. It fit perfectly.

(Land projects are soooo easy to nail the first time.)

Almost all of these jars were hand-me-downs from friends. I made a Facebook post several weeks back asking if anyone had glass jars they didn't want and voilà, a conglomeration of pickle jars, jelly jars, and Mason jars for your viewing pleasure. Thank you, friends!

Because this is hanging in the girls' room, I had to make sure that the lower jars only held things that were safe for our little ones to have access to. Cora has been asking for a mirror so she can do her own hair. The lowest jar holds their hair brush and comb, and the left quadrant has a mirror from Ikea; color choice for the mirror was decided by, you guessed it, Miss Cora.

Up close the mirror is a little low for Cora, but when she stands back, it works. It's a little high for Lyra, but she'll get there. Both of the girls love the 'rainbow wood organizer.'

I'm calling this project a total win. It was something we all participated in, it was easy on the budget, and it added some visually gratifying storage.

 More Mason jar cleverness to come! 


Eric Turns 36 | It has been a helluva year

I may be biased, but my gods, I think this man is handsome.

And today he turned 36. 

'Dem forearms.

Okay, fine, yes, I'm just posting random pictures highlighting Eric's forearms.

I made him a paleo watermelon cake with coconut cream frosting.

And I gotta tell you,

I think I nailed it.

Pro-tip. If you decide to make one too, take the recipe advice of mixing the cream for five minutes seriously. Go the distance and make sure you do five minutes, there is a definite change during the fourth and fifth minute. Crazy people, those paleos, but they know their coconut cream.

The watermelon was too unwieldy to make into one cake, so I made two. Because the only thing better than one birthday cake, is two. Obviously.

And now we have an entire second watermelon cake taking up the top shelf of our fridge. It shall be served for breakfast.

Trick candles always make things more interesting.

Cora drew Eric several pictures as presents:

Rainbow and Storm




Birthday card from Lyra (and Cora)

And my personal fave, Cora drew this picture of Eric and asked me to write down the things she loves about him. As dicated to me by Cora, I give you:

Happy 36th, Eric. It has been a hell of a year, a hell of a month, and a helluva day. I'm glad I had you beside me.