Exactly three weeks ago we were in our faithful Toyota Sienna, road tripping back from California through the night. Ben and I swapped out turns driving, and guzzled down our keep-me-awake-beverages: iced coffee for me, Monster drinks for him (what are those anyways??). I've been pretty busy since then with family: playdates, swimming lessons, art projects, the never ending garage remodel project (arg), being in Vancouver for my niece's birth. Then I've been working my way editing through a pile of sessions and taking some more. All that to say, I finally had a chance to put together some of my favorites from our trip :). On our way down we stopped at the Portland food trucks for lunch. This one caught our attention and made Ruby and I laugh.

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This was our first time back to Santa Cruz in three years. It is always fun to go back to visit friends and family there. Ben and I lived there for our first year of marriage and we really have so many good memories of that time (plus Ben lived there for years and years beforehand). We stayed with our very wonderful friends, who we loved to hang out with as much as possible that week, and did lots of visiting and kicking around the area.

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The kids were up for an eating tour through Santa Cruz, starting with Pacific Cookie Company where I introduced them to "Mint Condition".

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Hat shopping.

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Then we went down to the boardwalk where the kids loved to see everything. Daddy rode the roller coaster with Ruby (Mummy is a big chicken) and the boys rode "helicopters" and jerked their aircrafts up and down joyously.

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We had a nice visit with some friends and our pack of eight kids meshed messily, noisily, and happily. I ate huge amounts of steak at their table, enjoyed the conversation in between shouts from the kids, and admired Hilary's gorgeously decorated home.

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On a swimming afternoon with our pals, the boys were de-lighted when Uncle Jason told them not to push him...and then they giggled and toppled him in.

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S'mores. Uncle Jason said that at their house, the kids had free reign to go in the pantry and eat anything they wanted. He also told Ruby that her parents should get her a dog. Perfect...

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So fun to watch on the pier.

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This was a very exciting deal, pressing pennies.

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Could these two possibly be related?

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Auntie Meghan is a jewel among aunties. She is so good with those little guys and uber kind and patient when tackled.

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On our last day, we got to go boogie boarding with Uncle Jason, Auntie Ashley and their boys. Our boys were ecstatic. They were totally game to be carried out and dropped on waves by daddy.

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Me and Ash. So thankful for friends that you can pick up with even with years between visits.

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Our van was filled with buckets of sand and a pretty pooped family of six (whoops, wrote FIVE the first time around and we definitely didn't leave anyone behind!)  when we returned. Ben and I noted that these trips out with our family are always so worth the effort.