Sunday, July 20, 2014

Live it In a Day: Spokane & Coeur d'Alene

This is technically a live it in two days post. When I tried to separate Spokane and Coeur d'Alene areas, it just didn't make sense, so here is what I came up with! Hope it helps. 

Spokane is a cute little town with a lot to offer in a day. The best times to travel to Spokane are for Hoopfest or Bloomsday the most popular three on three basketball tournament and 12k race. At both you get to see the locals and be right in downtown area walking around, shopping, and tasting local foods as well as hanging out in riverfront park (with the option of taking a gondola ride over the falls). At Bloomsday though you really get to run through some cute neighborhoods too. 
The hubster after running Bloomsday a few years ago

Spokane Falls

If you are in Spokane at any other time, I'd recommend doing the following:
Check out the Davenport Hotel. There are cool photos everywhere of the olden days and you feel like you've stepped back in time. 
Take a walk around Gonzaga University's campus and waterfront area and get a slice of pizza at Davids Pizza (which I just found out closed a few years ago and I'm working on figuring out where the new location is. So sorry!).
Near Gonzaga University in Spokane

Check out Anemone Handmade Paper flowers on Second Ave.
Go to The Elk for a meal (I usually get anything with the roasted corn pasta salad, but everything is amazing!). Then go to the northwest arts and culture museum. It's small but they do a really nice job.
If it is fall time, a drive to Greenbluff area is a must. It's this cool area with a coop of farmers.
The beauty of Greenbluff near Spokane

At any time, head to the South Hill to see cute older houses and to check out Manito Park. They have a really pretty and free Japanese tea garden. 

If you happen to be heading to 
Couer d'alene for your next live it in a day experience, you MUST stop for dinner at Hay J's in Liberty Lake. It is seriously so yummy and has a great ambiance even though you'd never guess it as it is in a gas stations strip mall!

When in Coeur d'Alene, the best thing to do is to walk, walk, and walk more. Walk around their super cute downtown area to window shop. Walk around by the lake or the river. Hike Tubs Hill, which is right near the famed Coeur D'Alene resort (which is way over priced, but definitely a good location). Get on a boat and out in the water if it is summer. Coeur d'Alene nightlife is fun with The Beacon, The Moose Lounge, Mic N Mac's, and a few other local places. If you want a true view of Idaho life, head to the Iron Horse, but beware of the smoke. 
Ahhh Coeur d'Alene Lake

While in Idaho, you must eat out for breakfast. A few favorites are Blue Plate ( a little drive to Hayden, ID), Old European, and The Breakfast Nook.
My favorite breakfast spot: Blue Plate Cafe

Love those Idaho breakfasts!

For lunch my vote is for MoonTime (especially if you didn't go to the Elk in Spokane). I could eat at Moon Time every day for weeks. And the prices are just my style too.

If you are in the area for more than a day, definitely take the 30 minute drive to Sandpoint. Sandpoint has a really cute downtown with good restaurants, nice people, some nice art galleries and of course the seriously good (and pretty cheap) Pend Oreille Winery. Sandpoint also has a nice public beach on the lake (which is so deep the Navy tests out submarines in it!). Also in the area, are the Bottle Bay trail, with a spectacular view of the lake and downtown Sandpoint. 
The Beach in Sandpoint, Idaho

Bottle Bay hiking with my In Laws

I should also say that I've heard that Priest Lake is one of the most pristine lakes that should not be missed, but unfortunately I do not have first hand knowledge of it. Husband fail #1, I'd say! ;-)

If you are in the area during winter time and like to partake in snow sports, I would personally recommend skipping the whole scene at Schweitzer Mountain Resort (unless you really like spending top dollar and getting a Vail or Tahoe experience and unless you just can't miss the views of the lake). I've been to Schweitzer several times and although the views are spectacular, it is often super windy, overcrowded, and overpriced. Instead, go to Silver Mountain Resort or to my favorite, Lookout Pass. Silver is still a large mountain with an amazing gondola ride to start your day. When there we've seen moose and had great snow and amazing rides. I am more particular to smaller, cheaper, and less crowded mountains, so Lookout is my favorite. It is right on the Montana and Idaho border and gives you the opportunity to relax and have so much fun. 
Snowboarding Lookout Pass

So basically the area is great for golfers, swimmers, sun bathers, people just interested in window shopping and eating good food, skiers, snowboarders, and everyone in between. The area is not too excited about liberal California types, but I managed to survive life there for a few years, so don't be too worried! ;-)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

And we Have a Toddler Room!

How do you get a growing toddler to sleep in his own bed in his own room?? Get off your lazy bum and decorate the place to make it toddler fun! At least that's what we did a couple weeks ago and now Micah's finally been sleeping longer chunks of time in his own bed.

The whole bedroom evolution started with a trip to Sleep Country to get Micah psyched about his own big boy bed (we went for the twin as to skip the financial extra step of an actual toddler bed). He got a certificate for his first bed, which helped motivate him even more to sleep longer stints in the bed! Ha! We had picked up a nice bed frame folsom our neighbors and just cut the legs down a bit with the saws all. We also had gone to Target the same day as the mattress adventure and found the perfect construction truck themed bedspread. 

Next I rearranged the furniture a bit in order to have some easy access shelves that currently serve as his clothing dresser and then I flipped another one (the shelves are ikea expedit series) vertically in order to provide a couple out of reach shelves. We finally put up a few ikea spice racks as even more book shelves, but we shall see how those go since Micah already ripped one off the wall. We rehung some art and added some of the cutest fabric transportation decals to the walls. 

My mom is currently working on some cute transportation themed wall hangings  and she's also working on a growth chart. So, all in all it is shaping up to be a pretty fun space to be in. 

We still have fought bedtime a lot, but now I can use some early love and logic with my darling toddler and give him the choice of sleeping in his big boy bed (the twin) or sleeping on his little bed (the crib mattress that we pull out from under his bed) and that seems to be working well so far. 

But as they say: the one constant you can count on with kids is change! So, we shall see!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Who Had More Fun? Denver &Vail: Family Vacation Edition

Who had more fun? Micah or his parents? The answer…neither! It was definitely Nana and Papa, but not by much. ;-)

When beginning to think of a great family vacation location, we of course thought Hawaii. When that proved too expensive, we thought Florida or the Carolinas. When those proved too travel-time intensive, we were left pondering other ideas. Phil and I really wanted somewhere with either a pool or a beach in easy walking distance and of course we all wanted something cheap. Although we almost settled on Tahoe (I know…shameful…I used settled and Tahoe in the same sentence!), we went a less beachy route and decided to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Denver and then use my aunt and uncle's condo in Vail since there was a pool and since Micah had never been to Colorado.

We didn't spend too much time in Denver, but boy did we make memories! Micah had his own first chocolate ice cream cone from Bonnie Bray's and thus proceeded to run around almost all of Wash Park in hilarious energetic silliness bordering on delirious. My mom and I got to do some shopping in the cute shops on Gaylord street right in Ben and Beth's neighborhood, and we ventured out to Golden, CO for the day to experience the Train Museum (and accidentally encountered D'Deli which was ah-freakin-mazing!!!). Back at Aunt Beth and Uncle Ben's house, Micah got to spend time playing in their yard tossing balls into their garden, drawing chalk on their patio, and feeding Uncle Ben's fish and learning to say things like Blastamousa (a coral or something like it. I will let my brother's brain store the details of and spare mine).

In Vail, we were pretty much spoiled silly. Which is funny since the only real expenses tourist wise were a couple horse rides along with a BBQ at the ranch and a train ride. The rest of this spoiled silly feeling actually came pretty cheap. We spent several days swimming in the pool at the condo and Micah played at the Pirate Ship park or in the splash parks on other days hours. Nap times were mostly on the go in the stroller or in the rented minivan (which was so awesome and I can't wait to get one for myself now!). While Micah was busy playing smash nose with his Papa or receiving some kind of new toy or sticker from his Nana, they allowed Phil and I multiple "date" like opportunities. We got to do a beautiful hike alone on the mountain (If you're in Vail in the summer definitely check out the Berry Picker hike, it's well worth it and not too tough). We also got to do a long horse ride up to the high meadows, which would have been so romantic had my brother not joined us (just kidding, we had a lot of fun all three of us). And of course, since my brother and Beth came to the condo too over the weekend, Micah got to do dinner with them while Phil and I got to have dinner out on our 6th year anniversary! We took full advantage of our one true date night and checked out the free cruiser bikes from the condo, enjoyed an amazing meal of Wood Grilled Bruschetta, Sweet Corn Chowder, Borden Farm Tomato Salad, and the Colorado Lamb Sirloin at Mountain Standard before riding slightly buzzed over to The Lions Hotel bar for live music and drunk texting late night reminiscing. How did six years of marriage go by so fast!?

I could go on and on about how perfect our Colorado family vacation was, but you'd really just be wanting to see the pictures anyway, so on with the show!

This may have been right before all 4 adults (Mom, Dad, Nana, & Papa) lost him in the airport and had a slight panic attack before finding him around the corner, up a ramp, and almost going down some stairs that were cordoned off with an employees only sign!)
So nice to have Nana and Papa on the flight. Mommy & Daddy got to listen to music, read books, & have a drink!
So I used to think my brother and I didn't have anything in common. Then we woke up one morning wearing almost the same shirt. I guess being in Colorado & Washington hasn't changed our love for our home state!
First ice cream cone devoured. Can you tell he liked it!?
Micah loved feeding the fish and looking at the Blastamousah, shrimp, snails, etc. in Uncle Ben's tank!

This kid loves trains!
Fun day trip for more trains!

Riding the train in Leadville

Meeting the conductor and blowing the horn

This was a tired day!

Excited Brother-in-laws

The most gorgeous meadows way up high in the mountains for our 3 hour ride
Auntie Beth's first time horseback riding!!! She did it!
Fascinated by horses
Micah even got to ride on a horse a ways while Papa and I were riding
The one hour ride in the aspens that my dad and I took
Micah liked being "wrangled" by his dad at the stables

Getting the idea he could have stayed and "worked" there forever!

Every good ranch BBQ ends with roasting marshmallows! 

The awesome Pirate Ship park in Vail

Phil and I on our date hike up Vail mountain

One of the fun spray parks and playgrounds in Lionshead that Micah got to visit often

Gondola was another of Micah's new words from this trip

Three plus days swimming in the pool was awesome!

This was another of the splash parks/wading pools that Micah had fun in
Helping his Uncle clean up. Uncle Ben's nice piles of clothes on the floor did not please Micah. ;-)
Six year anniversary drinking celebration! So crazy…where does the time go!? 

I can't stop being in love with airport silhouettes