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Entries in catalina (17)


A Very Kaufman Thanksgiving

You know who writes about their Thanksgiving in January? I do. Why? Well November was filled with trying to write a book in 30 days and December was my busiest month since I opened my own business

Don't get me wrong, both of these were both very good things, but they left zero time for things like blogging about our awesome Thanksgiving trip to Catalina.

We stayed at the Hotel Catalina in one of their rooms with a kitchenette.

The place was gigantic. And it had a shower. And a couch. Two of them.

For boat dwellers, we felt like we were staying in the Ritz.

There was a real sink, with hot, running water. Oh, and a full-sized fridge with a FREEZER. 

I immediately went to the store and bought Ben & Jerry's. Then I ate some every night for dessert.

The view from our room was awesome. My shoulders are relaxing just looking at that photo again.

Cora settled right in. She whirled her arms in circles with all the free space available in the apartment. 

And then....she discovered the remote controls.

We don't have a TV on the boat, nor do we have remotes.

There were four of them. FOUR! Since we never let her play with phones, or laptops, or the like, when we handed her the remotes to go crazy with, she carried them around as if they were her own special treasure.

If she could have carried all four AND drunk her milk at the same time, she would have.

I could honestly post 10 more pictures of Cora playing with the remotes. The kid was entranced. 

Oooh see that crib behind her? 

It's a Phil & Ted's Traveller Crib. It's super lightweight and easy to assemble. Thank you to our friend Tita for letting us borrow it!

Cora had her first taste of ice cream.

She was into it for about 2 seconds. Then the seagull you see behind my head caught her attention and she moved on.

Thanksgiving dinner was about as low stress as possible (besides that little freak out by Miss Cora Bear above.) Chicken salad, butternut squash soup, wine, and ice cream for dessert.

That's my kind of holiday. We're making it a Kaufman family tradition to get out of dodge for either Thanksgiving or Christmas every year. Soo much more relaxing!

A special thanks to our babysitter (and friend) Taylor who came out for the last part of the weekend to help watch Cora. I have to give a hats off to Eric for thinking of that idea. Major husband points right there. I'll be writing another post about having Taylor along over on www.finchfound.com soon.

My favorite parts of the holiday?

1) Hanging out with these two.

2) Relaxing on a REAL couch.

3) And being in Avalon. I LOVE that town.

Happy Thanksgiving (in January) everyone!


Kid-friendly Catalina Island | 10 Things to do on Catalina with Kids

After at least five trips to Catalina Island, including two with a baby, I thought I could share a few of the parts of the island that are very kid-friendly.

For starters - take the ferry! Honestly, most people are going to take the ferry because helicopter and airplane flights to the island are expensive and most people don't have a sailboat, power boat, or cruise ship to get them there.

(You can check out other baby carrier Stuff Sacks at my Red Charlotte Etsy page.)

Kids love going across on the ferry. You will often sea dolphins playing in the wake of the boat as it powers across to the island. Cora walked around and around the boat and loved bouncing up and down with the waves. 

Pro-tip: An hour before you depart, take some Bonine. We find it far superior to Dramamine in curbing seasickness. A lot of people think they won't get sick because the ferry to the island is so big, but trust me, tons of people do. One Bonine lasts 24 hours and is worth it. Remember that kids love to walk around the ferry and especially to head out to the bow (front of the boat). The bow, however, is the bounciest part and can make you the most sick. They also have Bonine for kids. Trust me!

(Click to enlarge)1. Number one on this map is where the ferry lands. Keep in mind that you can walk from the ferry landing along the water all the way to the Casino (number 2 on the map) in about 30 minutes. So skip taking taxis (there aren't that many anyway in Avalon), pack light, and walk. Kids will love to walk along the water and will immediately scope out the beach. 

2. Number two - walk over to the old Casino. It is now a museum showcasing Avalon's glory days and has tons of fun memorabilia to look at. The tile work is stunning. It also shows one movie a night starting at 7:00pm The theatre is absolutely stunning. Go, go, go. Bring the kids.

3. Hit the beach. Avalon's water is crystal clear and they actively work to keep the bay very clean. There is an adorable public dock, great public restrooms and tons of sand to play in all morning. The beach is a close walk from all the hotels in Avalon (have I mentioned that everything is a close walk in Avalon?)

4. Go to the Arcade! As the link says, older kids will love the skee ball, bowling, video games and rides. Right in the heart of things.

5. Play at the park

Head right up Sumner Ave and visit Avalon's kids' park. There are swings, slides, and a mini-covered stage with picnic tables so your kids can throw an impromptu performance. 

6. Take a tour

Number 6 on the map above is right next to the Catalina Island Company office. It is well worth it to look at their options for tours of the entire island. The price ranges vary as do the trip times and sights that you could see. I love the tour that takes you up to to top of the island. You get to stop at the airport and you wind around the tall canyons as the guide tells you the history of Catalina. Lots of bison to see up close too.

7. There's always mini-golf

Seriously. And it's a block from beach. Again, everything is a block from the beach. Avalon is like walking around your own personal resort town.)

8. Try the classics, like candy stores and ice cream parlors

Lloyd's of Avalon is a long-standing favorite for candy. There are ice cream shops everywhere. Hey, you're on vacation. Live it up!

9. Don't forget the water!

While we have had the good fortune of taking our sailboat to Catalina, there also options of renting sailboats, kayaks, or going out in a submarine or a glass bottom boat tour. I mentioned before that the visibility is incredible, so kids will LOVE taking a tour on a fun boat in Avalon's harbor. 

Ryan and Eric biking with Calypso the Schkipperkee on Avalon in 2005.

10. Ride a bike

If your kids are older than you can easily rent bikes for the day and really explore Avalon. This would be a great way to head up to the Botanical Gardens (which are about a 30-40 minute walk outside of Avalon, a bit too long for little kids to trek both ways on foot.)

And for my last, unofficial, entry: Go grocery shopping!

The Vons and Vons Express in Avalon are so tiny that the store will seem like a novelty to most kids. Cora couldn't keep her hands off of things while I shopped and I frequently had to turn to friendly strangers and ask them to hand me the jar of mustard or packet of Sweet N' Low she had grabbed from her perch on my back.

All in all, Avalon is a wonderful place to visit with kids. For breakfast, we suggest Sally's Waffle Shop or the Casino Dock Cafe (just call to make sure it is open before you walk over.)

Do you have any additions for this list? Let me know! And have fun on Catalina Island.


Year Two of NaNoWriMo COMPLETE!!

If you've been following my blog for a bit, then you'll know that for the second November in a row I participated in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo.)

(If you're interested in learning a bit more about NaNoWriMo, NPR just did a great little piece on it here.)

I'm happy to report that I was able to again write 50,000 words for this year's competition. To say I'm stoked about that is an understatement. I have two pieces of full disclosure before I go on. 

1st - I did not write 50,000 words in a new book. Instead I wrote the first two chapters of book two of the book that will proceed last year's and the remaining writing was actually completing the book I wrote last year. So now I have 90,000+ words for one book and the story itself is finally done. I have a feeling that actually editing it for submittal to an agent will take a year or longer. There's a lot of work in writing fantasy novels!

2nd - This year it was really, really, hard to win. I'm talking gruelingly hard. As in the kind of hard where you wake up and work non-stop at your teaching and sewing jobs, from morning until Cora goes to bed and then as soon as her head hits the pillow you start writing until you have met your daily quota and your eyeballs feel like they are going to fall out of your head and you are falling asleep as you type so you have parts of your manuscript that look like thissssssssglkalsdkhgaglkagag. And you do that for 30 days in a row.

Writing at the NaNoWriMo Write-In at San Diego Writer's Ink

I would not have been able to do this without the help of my awesome husband Eric. The dude rocks. He is so incredibly supportive of my belief in this book. Many, many nights he would get home from work and then take over on Cora duty so I could leave to go write while my brain still functioned. He sent me packing to coffeeshops while we were on Catalina on our family vacation so I could still get my typing done and he listened to me talk about the book nodding up and down like he knew every character that I kept bringing up. He rocks. (I think I mentioned that already.)

Writing with Kristine and Tobi at Panera in San Diego. Just keep writing!

And I wouldn't have been able to do it either without my friends who were also doing NaNoWriMo in San Diego (and elsewhere Kelly, that is you!) To Lizz, Kristine, and Tobi, thanks for your support!

To Ella, and my dad, my mom, and everyone else who cheered me on through Facebook, thanks for the encouragement you gave me during the writing process. Ella, I'll be back to writing at FinchFound before you know it :)

And one last thanks, to my friend Kristen Miller, who introduced me to NaNoWriMo last year. Can't wait to read your book once it's published!


I promise to keep you posted on my book as the editing process begins. Going to take the month of December off from it and re-connect with friends and family.


Reflections on Cora's First Year

Cora only hours old

Cora Rose turned a year old last week. A whole year! As I reflect back on the last year of her life, here are a few things I want to remember:

  • Giving birth to her.
  • The first time she had the hiccups outside of my body :)
  • The first time she raised her little arm up above the side of her berth and Eric and I both got to see it.
  • The tinkle of her baby laugh.
  • The experience of nursing her (the good and the bad!)
  • How excited she gets when Eric comes home.
  • The first time her eyes twinkled brightly and she announced, "All done," at only six months old.
  • How she would sit on the floor and excitedly sweep her legs out and back when she was happy (which was often).
  • The first time she kissed me.
  • The first time she really looked at me.
  • Her stripey pajamas.
  • Riding in a cart for the first time.
  • Brushing her teeth for the first time.
  • Frank and Larry, I don't miss them.
  • The lilting sing-song of her voice as she sang on my back as I carried her in the Ergo.
  • How she loves to prop her feet up on the table when she drinks her milk.
  • The only baby I know who loves water being poured on her face! Bathtime is a joy.
  • Her first trip to Catalina.
  • Watching her walk more than four steps for the first time. Such fierce determination!
  • Her little "claw" hand and how it scratches and reaches up high on tables and places she can't see for anything interesting to pull down and investigate.
  • How she squeals when she sees cats, dogs, and other little children.

Cora at 6 months | Cora at 12 monthsI am so grateful that Cora is here, that she's healthy, and that she chose us as her parents. I love you boo boo bear.


Videos from the Catalina Trip

Just a few quick few videos from our trip to Catalina. The first is when we were underway from Avalon Harbor to Isthmus Harbor on Catalina Island. 

This is when Eric and I are walking the tiny strip of land between Isthmus Harbor and Cat(alina) Harbor, hence the name, Two Harbors. Not sure if you can see Mr. Bison in the distance.

Quiet evening moored in Isthmus Harbor.

You can view all of the videos from the trip, and I'm not promising that they're great, on Eric's Youtube page here.