We had plans to visit Jonathan’s family in Santa Barbara/Carpinteria for Christmas this year, but with the Thomas Fire (the largest in California’s history) only just getting under control and ash still raining down over two counties, we made the decision to relocate our holiday celebration to somewhere new.
In an effort to replicate the typical sunny, crisp-ocean air Christmas that Santa Barbara typically provides, we picked Monterey and rented a house for his parents and us to share — just a short walk to the aquarium and Cannery Row…
We were there Friday through Tuesday, and it felt both busy and relaxing as we explored the area with Fay and enjoyed the comforts of this beautiful house.
Friday we settled in, but Saturday morning we headed straight for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We’d been wanting to take Fay to the aquarium in San Francisco since she was six-months-old, but we hadn’t been able to get our timing right. It ended up working out, though, because I can’t imagine a better first aquarium experience for a wriggly one-year-old than this.
I could probably sit in a room and watch jellyfish move around all day. Honestly, I might have if we weren’t on a strict This Baby Has To Go Down For a Nap In Two Hours schedule. All I was missing were some headphones blaring Bon Iver to drown out the shouts of children and get me into a meditative mood.
Then on the flip-side, there were these guys straight out of my nightmares:
Green moray eels: equal part horrifying and beautiful. They were watching us just as closely as we were watching them.
Fay was enraptured with the whole thing. Aside from the fact that she would have preferred to run amok with the rest of the kids three times her size, she was engrossed by the spectacular schools of fish, giant turtles, unusual creatures…
… and even the environmental displays.
It’s heartwarming and thrilling to watch her experience something new for the first time!
On Sunday we took a slow walk through Cannery Row. Sure, it’s catered to Aquarium-going tourists, but it was good exercise and the weather was truly lovely.
Have you ever read John Steinbeck’s classic novel Cannery Row? I never have, but I’m feeling inspired to… should I?
Our favorite spot on Cannery Row was Monterey’s Tasty Olive Bar. They sell an enormous selection of infused olive oils and aged vinegars. You can taste everything in the shop, which means we spent a fair amount of time in there!
I found a delicious aged white pineapple vinegar and asked a saleswoman what olive oil would be a good match for it. She immediately suggested the Tuscan herb and mixed me up a sample. I bought it approximately one minute later, it was so good!
Fay liked it too! :)
The majority of the weekend, we lounged at the house where the grandparents could play with their grandbaby and Jonathan and I could make a dent in the mountain of food my mother-in-law brought for everyone. (Leftovers for days!)
On Christmas, I tried getting as many photos of Fay as I could, but most of them ended up being a blur in the shape of a toddler with a background of wrapping paper! I did manage to snap a shot of the decorations and intense number of stockings my in-laws brought to make our rental feel a bit more like Christmas…
… and a few of Fay opening her fun gifts.
This one of her with her new knit hat and wool ball from Santa’s workshop is our favorite! Such a schmoops!
Did you have a good holiday this year? Did you celebrate at home, or did you travel? Any gifts you particularly loved?
Oh, and Happy New Year, friends! See you in 2018! x
(A huge thank you to Cheryl, Tony, and Lynn — my in-laws — for taking us to Monterey for the holiday. It was a last minute switch-up that ended up being the vacation we desperately needed to recharge.)