My 35th Birthday in California


For my 35th birthday my sweet hubby took me to California. We spent the first few days in Palm Springs before heading to Santa Barbara. This year has been full of so much excitement and it was time to just take a break and relax. We started the year off by moving into our new home and doing a whole house renovation, and then IVF treatments started in February. After our egg retrieval right before Easter we had planned on doing the frozen embryo transfer in mid-April, just a few days after my birthday. Well plans changed due to scheduling at my doctor's office, and the transfer was moved to May. We immediately decided that we should take this break and travel. And that is how we ended up here...

Ry booked the entire trip and he had planned to surprise me with the hotel he selected in Palm Springs. I ended up finding out before, but nothing compared to actually arriving and seeing the beautiful resort in real life! We stayed at La Quinta Resort and Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, here. The property was amazing. I couldn't walk by the rose bushes without stopping to smell them. They were everywhere and the air smelled of the sweet rose perfume. The mountains were decorated with palm trees! Our room had a fireplace and we actually used it at night before we feel asleep. The desert was warm during the day, with a chilly breeze at night. There was a pool right outside our room and we pretty much had it all to ourselves! 














Our real adventure of Palm Springs didn't start until Tuesday morning. We got up bright and early and had coffee + breakfast at a local coffee shop, before heading to downtown Palm Springs. We toured the Moorten Botanical Garden and saw cactuses that we've never seen before in our life. Some of them were bigger than us! 









We did a lot of walking and eating in Palm Springs! I shared this on Instagram @wendycorreen




As we were walking around Palm Springs, I saw a sock store, and of course thought we should find a pair for our #frozenembryotransfer day! When we talk about our baby I naturally say "he" and it's so cute because Ry says "she!" I guess we both want a little more of the other in our lives and that makes me happy. At the sock store we spotted these and I just picked up the blue pair without even thinking twice. Ry said I should get pink, but I went with blue! Then he suggested I should get one of each, just to be fair, and so we went back for the pink pair the next day! I'll be sporting one pink stork sock and one blue stork sock on transfer day. I love that the sock brand name says "Smith" we could not have custom ordered a better pair. We are less than one month away from bringing our frozen embryo home with us.

I gave up dairy after my lap surgery for endometriosis. I was doing GREAT before this trip, and then all my childhood travel memories of eating ice cream came flooding back to me. There was no way I could go on vacation without enjoying an ice cream cone! Before dinner one night we were just strolling down the street and the Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop was giving away free ice cream cones to benefit the local police department. The police officers standing outside the shop encouraged us to get one before dinner, and so we did! We both got flavors we wouldn't normally get. I had cotton candy and Ry had banana peanut butter! They were so good and it was fun to eat dessert before dinner. 


We enjoyed a Mexican dinner at a place called Las Casuelas Terraza. They had a live band playing in the courtyard with people dancing under the string lights. After dinner I saw some artwork in the Elena Bulatova Fine Art gallery and just had to get a closer look. The sales guy was a hoot, and I loved the lollipop sculptures, but he couldn't understand how spending $1000 on a lollipop wasn't going to happen. I kept telling him, we cannot afford to spend that much money on a sculpture. He was laughing and as sweet as can be. 


Only in the desert can you have an outdoor art gallery with huge...whatever that is...out in the open 24/7. 



The next day, before our trip to Santa Barbara, we stopped for more ice cream. It was a darling place called Ice Cream and Shoppe. I was good and got non-dairy sorbet, the Champagne flavor in a pretzel cone with sprinkles on top. Ry had a cookie sandwich. 


We also enjoyed the most delicious drink I've ever had in my life. It was fresh fruit juice with ice. And by fresh I mean it was made in the store, straight from the fruit. I had guava with a splash of pineapple, and Ry had watermelon. After guzzling this drink down, I couldn't stop peeing. Probably TMI (too much information), but hey it's the truth. Then we tried to drive through the hot desert with no bathrooms in sight, and things didn't go quite as planned. I had the opposite problem of most people when lost in the desert (and we weren't actually lost, but I imagined that we were), I was too hydrated. Anyway, that was a day for our memory book! 


One more photo from Palm Springs. We stopped in this adorable, and petite, coffee shop so I could use their restroom. I didn't even get a coffee, but stole a photo because I loved the vibe they had going on in there. I want a donut now! 


We stayed in a coastal agricultural town near Santa Barbara, called Oxnard. They grow strawberries. Call me crazy, but I think all these IVF medications have caused me to have a heightened sense of smell. The air blowing through this town smelled heavenly, like the Strawberry Shortcake Doll I had as a child. It truly smelled like sugar covered strawberries. I really wish we would have bought some strawberries, and we were planning on it, but time got away from us and we didn't get to the farmer's market. Our hotel room was right on the beach! It was simply wonderful. We got in late so we ended up eating at the hotel restaurant our first night there. We shared artichokes and fish tacos, with a beer and a glass of prosecco. 

This was our sight on the morning of my 35th birthday. I had to get my feet wet, and sure enough, like I always do, I got my pants soaking wet.


After our walk on the beach we went back to the hotel to plan our day. We decided to make no plans, as I prefer on vacation, and go with the flow. And I'm so happy we did. The day was like a dream come true. The big debate before we got started was my clothing attire. I feel most comfortable in dresses, but we both knew that could hamper our potential adventure for the day. I decided to wear my Nike pants and shoes and that was a wise decision because our first stop was at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. As we walked through the gardens, we could see the Santa Ynez Mountains and Santa Barbara Channel Islands. There were meadows full of flowers, and springs with crystal clear water, and trails that lead to huge redwood trees. We were amazed by God's beauty. 









This was the first birthday that instead of blowing out candles and making a wish on a birthday cake, I visited the most beautiful church and said a prayer. My heart is full of thanksgiving for this day. I've heard of people that see artwork or architecture and are moved so deeply that they cry. I never understood that before this day. I was standing there, quietly, looking at it, and taking it all in, and I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes started to water. It was like nothing I've ever experienced before. The beauty of the building, along with the heavenly peace of the place, and all the history was simply magical. Here is the link to Old Mission Santa Barbara, the website is full of new + old photos, and the history. 











Before we left for California I had googled California Lavender Fields and found a place called Clairmont Lavender Farm. After our visit to the Old Mission Santa Barbara we had lunch in downtown Santa Barbara. We sat outside, on the sidewalk with perfect weather and enjoyed Ramen bowls. Then we headed to the lavender farm. The drive was magical. It's nestled between the mountains of Santa Ynez Valley and as we drove through the winding roads the sun was making everything glow. The winds were strong and all the tall grass was blowing in the wind. There were rose bushes decorating the wood fences and the wind smelled of rose perfume. I had Ry stop a few times just so I could hop out of the car and smell the roses and snap photos. 








We bought some pure lavender oil from the farm and I'm diffusing it through the house as I type this. The smell takes me back to this day. I also potted some lavender seeds when we got home and I cannot wait to grow our own lavender. 


Oh my goodness, I never thought the day could get any more memorable, but it did. Our next stop was a place called Thousand Steps Beach. We put the address in our GPS and it took us to a residential neighborhood. We thought we might not be in the right place, but we were. It wasn't a big touristy place, as I had imagined. We parked on the street and walked towards some houses, there was a sign and there were 1000 steps. We went down! Again, I felt like we were entering a whole new world, a Godly place full of miracles. And it was. We were alone when we first arrived. As we were walking on the beach the strong winds caused the sand to blow and cut our faces. We found a huge rock to sit on and peacefully watched the huge waves crash on the beach. 








As we were sitting on the huge rock, Ry said he saw a whale. He tried to help me spot it, but I just couldn't find it in the huge body of water. After a while we decided to leave and Ry started to believe he only saw seaweed floating in the water. As we were going up the stairs, a girl that must live in the area said something to us about the whales. On the stairs we stopped and looked back at the water, and watched and watched, and sure enough we could see the whale. The best part was when we realized it was a mama with her baby calf. They played and played, and to see this surprise in nature, was a moment to celebrate. Then there were dolphins! Ry and I both said to one another, as we've said so many times, "perfect timing!" I shared a video of the whales on Instagram @wendycorreen



After walking 2000 stairs I was craving a sweet treat, and not birthday cake, but my all time favorite CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! Ry found an adorable bakery in Santa Barbara, and on our way back to the hotel we stopped for dessert. We had hot chocolate with almond milk, cookies and a brownie on the back porch of this bakery. It was whimsical with fresh flowers on the tables and string lights above. 


Once we got to Oxnard, near our hotel, we were ready for dinner. Again, Ry found another awesome place to eat. We had this view of the fisherman's wharf, as we ate fish and chips and talked about our wild day full of God's gifts. 



We were ready for bed after dinner. What a day! The next morning we had coffee at a local coffee shop that used honey as their sweetener. I had mine with cashew milk and it was delicious with the sweet honey. Then we put a blanket on the beach and enjoyed the blue water and the sea mist and the warm sunshine with the cool morning breeze. We dipped our feet in the cold water and laughed as we ran from the crashing waves. We talked about nothing and cuddled one another as we had the whole day ahead of us with no plans and the freedom to simply wander around Santa Barbara. We ended up having lunch at a little restaurant that we walked by as we were strolling the charming streets. We sat outside with the warm sunshine beating on our faces. The food was great and the people watching was too! We both like to people watch quite a bit. 



One evening, one of our last nights there, we were sitting by the pool. There was an elderly lady in the lounge chair next to me. I could not help but tune into her and take in all that she was doing. She had on a warm jacket that appeared to be too big for her, with a cold beer in her aged hands, and towels over her legs to keep her warm. As the sun was setting the breeze was getting cooler and cooler. She held her hand over her sun glasses, as the sun's glaze was blinding, and she scanned the pool looking for her family. I was equally curious as to where they were. Finally, a man in his 50s came to her. He was dripping with water from his swim. I immediately knew it was her son. She had to be in her 80s and pretty old for travel, but he took her along for the trip. She started to question the headphones in the pocket of his jacket she was wearing. It was clear that she was confused and hard of hearing, she asked several times. He tenderly asked her if she needed anything, and spoke to her gently with so much love. Nothing profound happened in that moment, but for whatever reason, the son's bond with his mother and his deep love was a special moment to witness. Sometimes, I get lost in those moments of witnessing the simple love that is all around us. The special bonds between friends and family. It was their ordinary, but I found it wondrous. 

After chilling by the pool we went out for frozen yogurt. 


On our way to LAX we stopped by Melrose Place. I snapped this photo because it's called Alfred Coffee & Kitchen. I wish we would have had time to enjoy a coffee there, maybe next time. 


My last vaca story happened at the Salt Lake City airport, during our layover from LAX to Kansas City. Ry was given the option to move up to First Class, they had some extra seats for upgrades, but he was kind enough to turn it down so we could sit next to each other on our way home. The Delta lady thought that was super sweet of him, she jokingly said her husband would have said "see ya later!" and laughed. We went to sit down and I grabbed some pretzels for us to eat from Auntie Annes. The guy seated in front of me was alone, he was a black man with a baseball cap on and his clothing was nothing that I had even noticed. He stood up and said in a really loud voice "does anyone want my First Class seat!?" Everyone turned around to look at him, and I'd say about five women immediately started saying that they'd take his seat. One particular lady seated behind me made eager arrangements to swap seats with him. It was the oddest thing. I remember thinking, why the heck is he offering up his seat like this. And why was everyone so quick to take it, without asking WHY. I hesitated sticking my nose into the situation, but since he was directly in front of me, and I was able to make eye contact with him, I asked with a little bit of a nervous laugh, "why are you giving up your First Class seat?" He started to talk in a joking manner, in a loud voice. He said something about the Delta lady being rude to him. Something about his clothes and his pants falling down. He stood up and showed me his jeans and how they were falling. It was kind of hard to understand him. Other people started to tune into him again at this point. He said he was going to just sit in the back of the plane where he belonged. Now I could realize that my question and his response was starting to get much more emotional than I had been prepared for when I had asked. I was very confused, but I remember saying you should keep your seat. And he went on to say he didn't deserve it. The whole situation had happened very fast, and I didn't really have time to process it all, but within a few minutes I started to think that maybe he felt that the Delta lady was judging him or possibly even being racist. My heart was breaking and I had no idea what to say to this complete stranger, other than "keep the seat and she doesn't care what you are wearing." I felt like I needed to reassure him that he should sit in First Class. Prior to this moment he was still laughing, then he sat down and started crying! Like a real cry, with big tears rolling down his face. I felt my heart aching and I was speechless, I wanted to go over to him and say all that needed to be said to bring him comfort and tell him everything would be okay, but I was frozen. Then an older woman came to him, she sat next to him and took his arm and rubbed it and helped him get his thoughts out so he could explain what had happened. She reminded me of a nurturing teacher. She was a complete natural. He started to apologize for crying and he said he didn't know what was wrong with him, he just cries a lot nowadays. I finally had something to say in this moment, I was like "ya me too, lots of things make me cry." Then another woman joined the conversation, and then another woman. All these woman were moving over to him and jumping in the conversation and trying very hard to bring him comfort. Ladies were giving him pep talks and pulling kleenexes out of their purses. The first lady that came forward asked if he had eaten dinner, to which he said he hadn't, and then they offered to get him food and gave him a granola bar. Another woman ran off to get him a water. The conversations carried on and it was amazing to see all these women come to him and to help him find peace with the situation. After about ten minutes he walked off. Then he came back and he was calm and fine. He said thank you to the women that were still near him. I was anxious to get on the plane, to see if he took his First Class seat, and he did. We were only two rows behind him and I could hear him talking and laughing with the guy next to him. Once we got to Kansas City I saw him outside with his cousin, and they were hugging tight and laughing with big smiles. He came in to get his luggage and I passed him, I said something to him and we both smiled big at one another. Whatever was said to him when he was offered the First Class seat, I'll never know. What was going on in his life that made his tears frequent, I'll never know. What I do know is that this world is full of love and grace, and we are all connected. You never know what a person is going through and that leaves you only one option when meeting a stranger, act with tenderness and compassion and concern. 


35 is going to be a year full of miracles. 

xo 
Wen

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