This year we opted for a post holiday celebration in the Robertsons’ new hometown of Santa Cruz, CA. The trip started off with lights, the lights of a firetruck greeting my mom’s plane due to a malfunctioning landing gear. We were watching the sight after picking up the rental car, not realizing it was my mom’s plane that we were waiting for. The Robertson family greeted us at our rental house which they had pre-stocked with food and toys, which was greatly appreciated. Cousin time: Daphne, Cooper and Fiona being silly Every time Fiona or Stella would lie on the floor Nicholas would climb on top of them. They loved getting him to do this and see who he picked. The Monterrey Bay Aquarium is beyond amazing and so much fun to experience with the kids. Rob and I were last at the aquarium when we were in Watsonville for airplane fiberglass camp. Rob took a goofy picture in the clam back then so we needed to capture that lovely clam again. Fiona, Stella, Nicholas, Cooper and Daphne Kochman family Peekaboo with Auntie Kari from across the penguin exhibit. Walking back to the car after a super fun day at the aquarium and a delicious lunch Just a few blocks from the aquarium was one of the best parks we have ever been to. This was a slide made of rollers. There was so much to climb on and explore there. Playing games with cousins. I love games and it looks like they are going to love them too. Silly time with Daphne, Stella and Fiona taking our traditional pictures together. Here is our first one for reference. Finding snails on our hike along the coast. Our first view of the coast line with a break in the fog and rain Daphne reading books with Nene and Cooper. Nene came with so many fun new toys and books, she is incredible thoughtful to make sure everyone feels extra special when she visits. Digging in the sand was a huge hit. So much so that Rob, Brant and I took advantage of the short lines and went on a roller coaster ride together while Kari watched all 5 kids. Both boys love the sand and had enormous smiles on their faces. Cooper went “all in” chasing waves too. This was Cooper’s first time and Nicholas’ second time riding on the moving horses of a carousel. Cooper was hesitant, preferring the stationary horse or sleigh, but thought this would be the time to give it a chance. Nicholas couldn’t get enough and Cooper walked away thinking it was alright. All pictures from our trip are here. This picture shows how beautiful the coastline of Santa Cruz, but it makes my stomach turn remembering what happened here. The first day of our trip our family and Nene headed out to find some sand to dig in. (I was desperate and we should have turned back like Rob said, but persistence got the best of me) We finally found some stairs and those bottom 3 steps are nearly 2′ tall cement steps. Nene fell, got a concussion and broke the humorous bone on her right arm. What I learned from this experience is what an exceptional family I have. Rob ran to get the car nearly a mile away, Cooper listened to every word and hiked up the 80+ steps and waited at the top exactly where I asked and Nicholas was in the carrier and did the stairs twice with me not making a peep. I don’t know where my mom finds her strength, but it is incredible. She climbed all of the stairs on her own and continued to crack jokes and simply say her arm hurt. After the ambulance ride and when we were in the ER we learned her arm break is the most painful break to have because there is nothing they can do for it. Kari arrived and was so nurturing to my mom getting sand off of her face and checking in on her. I had been all about the facts and details trying to understand what was going on. She spent the night at the hospital with Kari and was back at the rental the next day, where within an hour she was doing craft projects with all 5 grandkids in her sling and all. This was an incredible display of my Mom’s strength and positive attitude that I hope to try to replicate as much as I possibly can. On a random note, from this time in the hospital with my mom and sis I learned that I have been putting the toilet protection tissue down backwards all of my life. I now laugh and smile and associate my public restroom experience with the close times with my favorite two women on this visit.