March 31, 2020
by gwendolyn
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Tour de Friendshouses

If you are an avid reader of this blog (of course, you are!) you know that our family has a big impending move ahead of us. It’s scary, exciting and now (kinda) on hold. I will update you more on the move in a future post, but for now, I want to talk about the day I had yesterday.

Everyone in our house is relieved to be on Spring Break. We were drowning in homeschooling, quarantine, worry about our relocation and meltdowns. Now we are figuring out how to relax cooped up together, it’s an adjustment that I am beginning to appreciate without the pressure of learning looming over us.

I even did 3 different exercise videos that added up to 50 minutes! This helped me breathe a bit better, think more clearly, feel stronger and dare I say — healthier.

The kids and I had planned to go on a bike ride together, but when it came time to venture out only Cecito was still interested. We made it around our block and he insisted that was enough…four-and-a-half minutes was all the boy could take. (insert eye roll here)

So, Gil suggested I go back out on my own and I did. It was great, I could go anywhere I wanted, at whatever speed and listen to tunes. Without a plan I decided to ride to a friend’s house, then another, and another…until I had been all over North Park and passed by seven different houses that my friends live in.

I didn’t actually talk to any of them or even see them, but internally I said a little ‘hello’ as I was passing by. Felt like an ideal daydream kinda ride in the middle of this quarantine. It only lasted 32 minutes, but I got 3.75 miles in and it felt like I was out of the house for a lot longer.

To all my friends who missed me swinging by yesterday, big virtual hugs to you: Megan, An, Christina, Kristin, Fabia, Layla, and Sara.

Have any of you done these weird or silly things to stay sane? Just me…

March 11, 2020
by gwendolyn

Our Choice (Relocation 5 of 6)

As tough as it was to decide we were going to leave San Diego it was even harder to decide between San Antonio and St. Pete. It’s the kind of thing that feels impossible, but we did it. This last weekend Gil and I sat down on Friday night after the kids went to bed and dissected every aspect we have been pondering over the last year. Luckily, we were able to make a decision, but waited out the weekend to be sure we felt good about it; when the dust settled.

I can definitely say that I was torn. Internally rooting for St. Petersburg because that is where my family is (and the beach with a super cool art scene). Being close to our immediate family has been something that I have wanted since becoming a mom.


We are moving to San Antonio.

There it is. The big announcement and boy does it feel big—EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I. SAY. IT.

When I told my parents I was sad that it wasn’t St. Petersburg, my Mom said, “Gwen, you know we want you here, but we tried really hard not to sway your decision in any way. You should know your Dad and I have talked about this and even though we would love to have you here we thought San Antonio was better for your family.”

I definitely got teary-eyed. Even now as I type this, it’s happening.

Still, with all of that, we are both happy with this decision. San Antonio is truly the best place for us to relocate.

There are a few reasons that solidified this. First is geography, being in Texas means we can travel across the continent much easier. Florida is in a corner like San Diego is, flights are much more expensive (not to mention it’s also a destination.).

Next, the housing market is 30% less in San Antonio (Gil made an update to his super-spreadsheet) and the schools seem easier to get into. We found out that, like some areas of San Diego, you are not guaranteed placement into your neighborhood school just because you live there. If it’s full, you get bounced to the nearest option, regardless of the rating. Ouch!

Even with all of this, I was still not 100% sure. I had to take it all the way back to 2003 when I moved to San Diego. I thought if I was that 26-year old girl who just decided to move to California from Philly because it sounded like a cool thing to do because you can snowboard and go to the beach all in the same day…what would that girl do?

That girl would pick the totally new and different city for an adventure; so San Antonio it is. Hands down, when I thought about that I was reassured we had picked the right one.

Plus, now we don’t feel like we are losing California. We can get back there so much easier, we can even drive to see family and friends or fly at a much lower cost. There are many more places I want to see and things I want to do on the west coast. Now I’m certain we will get to see and do those things, as a family.

Big decisions with whole hearts. Our family began in SD and will continue in SA!

March 9, 2020
by gwendolyn

Visiting St. Petersburg (Relocation 4 of 6)

At the end of February Gil and I ventured out on another recon mission for our pending relocation, this time all the way to St. Petersburg, Florida! It was a super quick trip, because we lose so much time traveling, but we made it work. We got to hang out in downtown St. Pete, see my family and high school friend, check out neighborhoods and houses all around the area and I got to see the beach!

For this visit time we had Gil’s mom come from Colorado to watch the kids for us. Our friends who watched them last time had already moved to Japan, which is a whole other story of combined sad + excited all at once. We were gone for less time, and I got an entire day without Gil to wrap up our mission.

My folks picked us up from the airport, took us to dinner and dropped us off at my cousin’s house so we could borrow his truck for the weekend. Graciously they had offered for us to stay with them AND borrow their truck, but as luck would have it my cousin’s wife came down with the flu 4 days before we arrived. So we booked a hotel. In the end it worked out, because we stayed in downtown St. Pete and got to see more of the area and experience the nightlife.

However, there was this huge festival called Localtopia where all the local food trucks, artisans, and musicians gather. Normally that would be incredible for us to stumble upon, but not this time. It made the hotel selection scarce with highly inflated prices. Of course, we had no idea about this festival; when we discovered it Gil was shocked, because he specifically searched to avoid this exact thing. I guess you can’t find everything on the internet as easily as we think!

Also, it was freakishly cold for Florida weather. I was so ill-prepared that we didn’t go out on Friday night, as planned, because a jean jacket does not cut it in low 40º weather. Instead we went over what open houses we would hit the next day and planned our attack route to make it to as many houses and neighborhoods as possible. Our dinner with my folks was delightful, I was very grateful they made the 2 hour drive down to see us and to have the use of my cousin’s truck.

We were eager to discover St. Petersburg, so we got an early start and headed to the tourist area. There was a farmers market with music that we later learned happens every Saturday. Drove by The Dalí Museum and saw the bay across from Tampa. It was incredible to see how much the area has changed from my childhood visits to see my grandparents.

Then we started the long day of seeing about 9 open houses. By the end of it we were beat and ready to enjoy a fun evening exploring the downtown. Which was so awesome! The food was amazing and the beer was delicious. The people were friendly and inviting and very helpful to give us hints and talk about the area with us. We hit up several breweries and a late night burrito place and had a great time.

This was the brutal day. Gil had to leave on one of the first flights out for the day to get back in time so his mom could fly back to Colorado, so we were up before 5am and I was back in the hotel bed before the sun came up. Luckily, I was eventually able to fall back asleep because I was incredibly tired.

Once I got up, for the second time I got ready, checked out and headed to St. Pete Beach. It was super cute and reminded me of Huntington Beach in Orange County. Then I went to a few open houses and met up with an old high school friend who showed me around some of the more suburban areas of the peninsula. It was great to see her since we figured it had been 25 years and basically neither one of us had changed, which felt really comforting.

Eventually, I made it back to my cousin’s to return his truck and hang out for a quick minute before heading to the airport. I enjoyed being able to chat with them a bit before leaving, we even looked up our grandparents old house in St. Pete; something I had been searching for and couldn’t quite pin down where it was.

In the end, I really enjoyed being there. It still felt familiar, even though everything has changed. Sunday was the best weather day so that was another bonus to make it to the beach, but a bummer for Gil. Florida really does have beautiful beaches, fun urban life and lots of outdoor activities with plenty of culture to offer. Plus, I never thought I would say this, but I appreciated the slow pace that was going on there. It’s a good reminder to take a breath, look around and appreciate what’s around you.

Up next, The Big Decision…

March 8, 2020
by gwendolyn
1 Comment

Visiting San Antonio (Relocation 3 of 6)

We visited San Antonio back in November, the day after Gil’s birthday (so it was a bit of a celebration along side of exploration) and it was lovely. Our hotel was by the famous Riverwalk, we had superb dinners and enjoyed breakfast each morning in the hotel restaurant. All in all it was a wonderful extended weekend away. The kind parents of small children really need, but rarely get, especially those without family nearby to help out.

Which is why we were incredibly lucky to have our kids stay with some amazing friends for 4 whole nights — by far the longest we have ever been away from them and they did great! In fact they didn’t seem all the jazzed that we returned. My guess is that Miss Shaira was just too good, which I not-so-secretly adore.

We started our venture by flying into Austin, Texas so that we could check out the suburbs around there. First, we drove south to check out Buda, Kyle and San Marcos. After hitting up any Chamber of Commerce or visitor center we could find we started exploring the towns or neighborhoods to get a feel of the area. It was quick, but insightful after all the months we spent researching and looking at houses online.

Then we made our way to San Antonio, and checked into our hotel. After getting settled in we ventured to the Riverwalk and I was amazed at how different it felt from what I was anticipating. What I keep say to people is that I don’t mean for this to come off as rude, but it wasn’t so Texas in your face, if you know what I mean. It felt laid back, Euro-ish at the Riverwalk, and historical.

I was pleasantly surprised and happy.

However, it was a wee bit cold in the mid-40’s. I needed a light winter coat, scarf, hat and gloves to feel comfortable walking around. We were prepared, so it didn’t bother me at all. What I didn’t like was how dry it felt. Contrary to popular opinion I was hoping for a bit more humidity than we get in San Diego.

On Saturday we reserved the whole day to look at open houses to see if we could find some neighborhoods that we liked. At first we weren’t seeing anything that we liked or any neighborhoods that we could envision ourselves living in, then we came upon the house we still call “the estate house” and everything changed. After that we checked out the area that is very popular and pricey; we found it felt very comfortable, but was obviously out of our price range. Then, at the last minute, Gil found a 100 year old house that looked promising. Boy did it deliver on what we were looking for, but not so much with the neighborhood. So, we decided to drive around the area to see if there were other hidden jewel houses in a neighborhood close by that we would want to live in. After a bit of driving around decided to call it a day and find a snack.

We found a super cute coffee house and began the discussion of all things Texas. All the while the coffee house was setting up a dinner for that evening of farm to table delights, which made me feel very at home. It’s just the kind of place you would find in our current neighborhood of North Park.

This was the second time that felt momentous, for me, during our relocation journey. Plus, we both agreed the best house we toured that day was “the estate house.” For me, it felt like that last house and the estate house saved San Antonio for us. In fact, I still think about that estate house and can picture us living there.

Later that night, we went to dinner downtown with Gil’s high school friend and his fiancée. It was so nice to be with people that had a connection to Gil. We learned a lot about San Antonio from them and toured the Riverwalk even more after dinner seeing the fun nightlife.

The next day, we hit the road back to Austin to see the northern suburbs. These ended up being much better than the southern ones for us, with Cedar Park being in the lead.

It was a whirlwind of a trip that ended with a fabulous dinner we shared with Gil’s cousins. They are always a great time and people that I wish we could be with more often. Plus, they gave us the low down on all things Austin!

We came home feeling good and ready to discuss all we learned about the Austin suburbs and San Antonio, Texas.

Up next, visiting St. Petersburg…

February 11, 2020
by gwendolyn
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More Birthday 2020

Of course you didn’t think that the only thing I did to celebrate my birthday was go to Oceanside. Ha! I had a pretty cool week where I got phone calls, texts, presents and lots of food and drink.

If you didn’t know, this year I turned 44. While I realize what all of that entails I still don’t feel like I should be mid-40’s, or middle aged, or whatever else comes to mind. It’s just a number, I do know that, but since turning 40 it seems to be a thing and I really wish I could stop thinking about it.

More and more I’m noticing my physical age and it kinda drives me nuts, but what am I gonna do about it? In all honestly I don’t even consider things like botox. Even though I have had it come up in friend circles a few times and they claim it’s so worth it. I just can’t bring myself to consider it, so I figure I’ve begun to settle into getting a little bit older, gracefully. Now I need to manage all the inner dialogue and thoughts that creep in when I’m not paying attention, I figure it’s a work in progress. I can’t be the only one who feels like this, right

Well, anyway, after Oceanside my actual birthday happened on a Wednesday. That day we had food delivered to our home for dinner, and Gil brought home a cute cake from our local Mexican grocery store, Pancho Villa. Everything was ‘super yum’ (and just the right size so we didn’t have to eat it for 5 days straight), I was thankful I didn’t need to cook or clean up. My sweet family sang “Happy Birthday” and I felt appreciated and loved. It was a relaxing evening, exactly what a mom of little ones is looking for on a Wednesday night.

The next night I hosted my monthly ladies hangout that happens every 4th Thursday of the month and it was a BLAST! We ventured to Ocean Beach to enjoy dinner at OB Surf Lodge and a cover band at The Holding Company – it was like I was 23 again and I had SO MUCH FUN! Plus, I enjoyed my first birthday cake shot, which I quickly found out tastes just as delicious as vanilla cake and has been around for many years, only I don’t typically do shots anymore, so I just found out about it in 2020. Go figure and GO ME!

There were a few other meet ups with friends: The Kensington Club and Clem’s Tap House in Kensington, Riki Sushi in North Park, The Rose in South Park. All were low key and were just the right thing for catching up with great friends. The theme of fun and connection was flowing all the way through this years celebrations. Which might be why I didn’t take many photos. I’m missing shots of so many people who made it out to hang with me, just know it was all very special even without being able to share photos.

Since this is my final birthday before we relocate I really wanted it to feel worthwhile and it was. Every time I met up with a friend I felt this wonderful sense of purpose and appreciation. It was fulfilling and a great achievement for me to feel content at such a highly anticipated time of year. Maybe I really am growing up…but still not enough to be middle aged, mind you.

February 7, 2020
by gwendolyn

Oceanside Birthday Weekend

The weekend before my birthday I planned a fun little weekend in Oceanside to celebrate. As you all know, I am a big birthday person; I love celebrating and think that celebrating big or little or for a week or a whole month is totally your call and acceptable.

I most definitely have a love of celebrating my birthday (to the max), along with a side note of dislike for planning it. I think what I really want is some kind of surprise, but my love of celebrating makes that very hard for people to feel like they can live up to. Which brings me to the realization that a ladies weekend is a great way to plan something that is manageable, plus I love them!

Typically, inviting a larger group for dinner in San Diego is a part of the celebrations, but this year I couldn’t get it done. That part is a bummer, but I did have a wonderful time in Oceanside.

It’s less than an hour away and none of us had spent much time there, if any at all. So it was great fun to explore, check out new places and eat delicious food. Plus, Oceanside is a beach area and was the alternate area Gil and I considered for our wedding!

We rented a cute condo with a loft master suite, two large balconies and a kitchen. I made meatballs and sauce from scratch, brought food for breakfast and asked everyone to bring snacks and alcohol. We had more food and drink than we could ever take down, it was glorious!

Plus, we got to stay up late (if we wanted to) and sleep in (if our bodies and minds would let us), which was even better! We also relaxed with a lot of sitting and chatting. I brought books to read, journals to write in and a planner to get my year in gear — but what I ended up doing was conversing and it was blissful.

The theme of the weekend ended up being about connection and fun. It was just what I hoped for: I am a lucky lady.

In closing, I wanted to say thank you to all the ladies who spent their weekend celebrating with me. I am ever grateful and happy. You all made me feel loved and special in a way that only a birthday can bring. Thank you for making my heart shine brighter.

Dinner at Bagby’s
My lovely ladies of Friday Night.
Drinks at Pacific Coast Spirits
View from our condo.
Biggest treat of the weekend: best rated sushi in the San Diego area.
Dinner at Wrench and Rodent
More of my lovely ladies for Saturday Night.
Birthday Weekend Sunset from O’side.
Homemade Chocolate Lava Cakes to sing happy birthday. Made me feel very special and loved. Thanks An, it was delicious and very thoughtful!

December 27, 2019
by gwendolyn
Comments Off on Priorities + Options (Relocation 2 of 6)

Priorities + Options (Relocation 2 of 6)

After the doozie of a post we just had, how are you feeling? I gotta admit I am still a little nervous. It was one thing to tell everyone in person, or call family and close friends and let them know the news; this time it’s the internet and Facebook. I’m glad I have such wonderful humans in my life encouraging and cheering us along the way. Big hugs and big thanks to everyone who is reading this, commenting and being awesome at supporting us.

Let’s see, I left off with the big conversation. What I didn’t get to was how prepared and well thought out it was. Gil had obviously thought a lot about this proposal and I’m sure that’s how he ended up with no arguments from me. I remember, when he was done I just looked at him and there was silence. It had been at least 20 minutes of him presenting and explaining everything so I wanted to make sure he was done and I had to let it all soak in. Also, I felt like it was a moment. You know what kind of moment I mean: the life-changing kind.

My response was, “Well, I’m not happy about this, but there’s no arguing this is the most realistic, well thought out plan. Not to mentions a smart financial decision for us. So, I think we should do it.”

The relief was palpable.

Next, he said, “Ok, now I think we should each think about what our priorities are for moving and what cities we like, on our own. Then, we can sit down together to compare, discuss and make a final list.”

While this is a great plan, do you really think I could handle this? I can’t not talk about these kinds of things all the time! It’s just silly that I agreed to it thinking that it would work for us.

In reality, we talked about possibilities constantly. It was exciting, confusing and sad. We discussed things we liked and didn’t like about places. Proposed more cities than we could ever research. Settled on priorities and then changed them. Took cities off the list, then added more from whatever had recently shifted. To say the lease, it’s been a long process.

But let me tell you, my favorite thing about this process has been the spreadsheet of info about all of these cities that Gil created. It is like artwork; I’ve shown a few people this master spreadsheet, we are all in awe, wishing we could be that organized and thorough. It has everything and I mean EVERYTHING about a lot of cities that we could ever want to know about or consider. In short, it has helped put a lot of thoughts and feelings in perspective.

So, here are the things that we have come to terms with:

• warm climate
• low cost of living (housing included)*
• city feel with plenty of outdoor activities, arts and culture
• close proximity to some kind of family (close=realistic driving distance)

The asterisks denotes our main goal and this is important. It’s the most important part of this decision for Gil. That is to get into a single family home with a mortgage that we can easily pay off in 15 years. In the next year we will be 45 and 50 years old (totally shocking, I know). Which means to assume a hefty mortgage that would carry a high monthly payment for the next 30 years is bananas. Who wants to carry that kind of payment until they are—well, I’ll let you do the math—not us, we definitely don’t see that being a sound financial decision for our family.

So, that leads me to tell you our options. Are you ready for this? After considering a great number of cities and states we have narrowed our search down to two areas: San Antonio, Texas and St. Petersburg, Florida.

What do you think? Anyone have info or perspective on these great places?

And yes, I’m still gonna miss San Diego mucho. Along with all my super amazing friends, memories and incomparable weather.

December 27, 2019
by gwendolyn

California Dreaming (Relocation 1 of 6)

When I met Gil he told me that he had dreamed of living in San Diego since he was a kid. You see, his next door neighbor moved to San Clemente and he spent a few summers with them here. Those summers made such an impact on him that he knew it was his destiny to live here.

For me, I never really thought much about the future. When people ask me about favorites or goals or ‘ultimate anything’ I tend to need some time to answer questions that I feel are so esoteric. They always seemed like things that were so far away, or too big of a thing to have an answer because aren’t the possibilities endless? Who can really have a concrete answer…certainly, not me.

So, when my life was moved from Lousiville, Kentucky to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to San Diego, California it was because something happened and I made a decision.

The Philadelphia move was hard, but I was young and in college; so it worked out. I had moved with the rest of my family, transferred schools and started fresh. The next move, to San Diego, was a little on a whim and was way harder than the previous one. It’s so much harder to align with others when your initial common ground is a work place.

Now, let’s fast forward 16 years. Both Gil and I moved here the same month of the same year, independently. (Crazy and cool, right?) Now we are married, have a pup, two outstanding kiddos and our lives are filled with more events than we can manage, the greatest friend group I could ever ask for and our kids feel the same.

All is magic and unicorns, right?

Absolutely. Until suddenly, the 750 sq. ft. condo of 2 bedrooms and 2 baths doesn’t quite feel as spacious as it did when two people moved in, excited to live in North Park. We love our home, don’t get me wrong; it’s been 11 years and I can’t even begin to describe the amount of memories this place holds. However, eventually as parents, you start to hear this:

“I need alone time from my brother!”
“My sister was on my bed!”
(They share a room.)

“Why don’t we live somewhere with stairs?”
“Can we live somewhere with stairs?”
(We do have stairs, they are outside — that’s not the same as inside!)

If you didn’t know, this stairs thing is huge for little kids. Comically, so.

THEN, your upstairs neighbor sells her condo that’s basically the same one you live in for about half-a-mil. SAY WHAT?!

Of course, after that Gil says one weekend morning, “I’ve been thinking about how Karen sold her condo so fast for such a high price.”

That conversation ended up in us deciding we need to relocate away from San Diego. I know it’s huge and kinda staggering to hear, but it’s happening. All of us are sad to leave, yet excited for what’s to come.

SO, that’s our big new and I’ve decided to do a series about this whole process, so come back here for more news. The possibilities are endless…

Photos from our last move! From Pacific Beach to North Park in 2008. Our first place together and Gil was a new homeowner!

December 26, 2019
by gwendolyn

Getting Back At It

Hi everyone!

Have you missed me? Have you missed the blog?

I have missed writing it and having a way to share our lives with you. The last few years have left me with less and less time to accomplish everything I want; but I am hopeful that those times are changing.

That means, this is me starting up writing, again. Please join me and follow all of our endeavors. I love hearing from you so please comment anytime.

AND, if you haven’t signed up for the emails or however it is you remember to read blogs – do that now.

See you soon!


p.s. Below are family photos from our 2019 Christmas card. We took them at Coronado Beach. The photo of Domingo is at home in North Park (San Diego, CA).

p.p.s. Merry Christmas!