Illuminating Stella

January 2015 archive

John’s Birthday – The Mission Inn

We celebrated John’s birthday with an overnight stay at The Mission Inn in Riverside. This was my first night away from Stella who subsequently had her first official sleepover at her Grandparents. She was apparently a “pretty good girl” for them. I totally got her buy-in with a surprise Minnie Mouse Backpack that she was able to stuff with the dolls and toys she “needed” for a night away. Of course my parents spoiled her with lots of love and dinner out on the town. Knowing she was with them made it much easier for me to go.

Meanwhile we really enjoyed ourselves too. The Mission Inn is an absolutely beautiful hotel and spa. If  you recall we went at Christmastime to check out the Festival of Lights and decided we really wanted to come back and stay. We thought it would be a perfect place to try our first night away since it was only an hour from my parents should we need to return quickly. There are four restaurants, two bars, a full spa and a swimming pool on the property. But all of that is out-shined by the “mission-revival”  architecture. Honestly, we had the most fun just exploring the grounds, climbing up rambling staircases to check out rooftop gardens and balconies with beautiful sunset views. For our big date we started with drinks in one of the bars and then had a wonderful dinner al fresco in the courtyard. We got a super internet deal on the room and had probably one of the least ornate and smaller rooms, but it was lovely and just perfect for two people.  We definitely plan to go back again!

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Ten Recently Enjoyed Things

1. The very last night in her toddler bed. She’s growing up so fast.

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2. The carousel at Disneyland with her buddy Rowan. Afterward they paused to check out the Cinderella picture window in Fantasyland. It was a magical moment.

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3.  She set up and invited me to this little tea party with her and Minnie Mouse. Luckily, it was Princess Dress and Bunny Slippers Optional.

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4. Frozen screening party with the cousins. Frozen Princess Dress not optional.

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5. Pictures every day before school. She insists. On the way to school Tuesday, I was asking Stella if she was excited to see her friends and teachers and she said, “Yes Mama, they’re good to me”. What more could a Mom ask for as she is about to drop her kid off at school????

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6. Art projects all the time. We are very happy with Melissa and Doug Sticker Pads.  They really get her imagination going, she gets to decorate rooms, put jewelry on faces, dress dolls in all kinds of outfits and so much more. They are reasonable to begin with, but I’ve been finding them really cheap at Marshalls and Home Goods.

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7. Annie dress courtesy of John’s Mom. If it were up to Stella she would live in this dress and watch the movie on a continuous loop.

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8.  First cream puff thanks to my Mom. Also, required a Princess Dress to eat it and she loved it, she only looks mad here because I made her stop eating to snap a picture.

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9. On a recent playdate, the kids came dressed in costume. When Stella’s friend Grace came, Stella walked up to her and said, “Grace you look so beautiful”.  Us Mom’s almost melted from the sweetness of the moment.

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10. Strong girls. Couldn’t believe she could hang there like that.

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Santa Barbara Getaway

We took a fun two day road trip to Santa Barbara this week. The weather was chilly, but absolutely gorgeous coupled with the views. We drove up Tuesday to the Santa Ynez Valley, stopping to get some yummy sandwiches in Santa Barbara at South Coast Deli so we could picnic at the first winery. It ended up being way too cold to eat outside, so we settled for a picnic in the car. This did not detract from Stella’s great enjoyment of her first Banana/Nutella/Peanut Butter Sandwich. If we ever need to bribe the kid in the future, this might do the trick. We stopped at Firestone, Zaca Mesa and Andrew Murray and then went into Los Olivos downtown for a bit. After checking into our hotel we had dinner at the Firestone Brewery. The next morning, New Year’s Eve, we waited for the ice to defrost off our windshield (Brrr!) and headed to the Santa Barbara Zoo.  We had such a nice time at the Zoo, it’s a really beautiful property with ocean, mountain and lagoon views throughout. We especially loved the Giraffes, enjoyed a Dinosaur Story Time and a fun Train Ride around the zoo. There is also a kids playground with a hill that the kids ride cardboard sleds down that was a big hit with Stella.  We look forward to visiting this zoo again. Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!

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