Finding Her Place

Have you ever seen those photos that people take of their kids in the exact same spot or with the exact same toy over lots of years? It's a wonderful way to mark the passage of time and show the child's growth and how they've changed and grown.

You know I'm a big fan of then and now photos. I think they make me much more appreciative of the good times we've had, while also helping me be "in the moment."

We have a tradition that we do every year where we take a vacation week down in Del Mar, California and go surfing (well, my husband and kids do the actual surfing while I sit on the beach and document the magic, but that's not important right now). 

We usually take the week that Lucy celebrates her birthday and Eric and I celebrate our anniversary. It was 5 years ago that the Photo Tradition began outside of Filippi's Pizza Grotto in San Diego's Little Italy

Fillipi's is a mom-and-pop-family-style restaurant where there are no reservations and you enter through a funky, genuine Italian market to get to the back of the store where you find a full service restaurant with the requisite chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling. The food is always good and the ambiance great. The line usually runs out the door and down the street. Yes, it's that good. 

So we usually find ourselves queuing up as we kill time during our wait. Five years ago, on August 11, 2010, my 17 year old girl sat down and I shot this photo.


Thus began a tradition of celebrating this girl's birthday with a visit to Little Italy and taking The Photo.

August 11, 2011. She had graduated from high school before the summer began, dyed her hair red and cut it all off. 


August 11, 2012. She's 19 years old and testing out some blond highlights. 


August 11, 2013. Is it possible that she is already 20 years old? Also, notice how fast her hair grows! The food at Fillipi's is still consistently good. My girl is consistently changing.



A few months ago, on August 11, 2014, we were back at our favorite Italian restaurant, celebrating yet another Lucy Birthday. A Milestone. People, my daughter is now 21 years old. 

As you can see, the photo is taken from a wider view. You can see many more details as you move further back. While it appears to be the same, there's so much more to the picture.


So it is with this girl's life.

She turned 21 and has been working hard to "get a life." She works at a few creative (but, happily, very well paying) jobs and has saved enough and planned well enough to move out on her own. 

My family celebrated this milestone by throwing a "Castaway" Party. As in, "if you have any castaways, Lucy can sure use some stuff for her new apartment." 

The Cubans came through because "any excuse for a party." Duh.


They gave her lamps and dishes and towels and tape. Like a shower, but not. It was quite fantastic. 

And now, Lucy is settling in, not far from us, into a place of her own. She did this in today's economy, without a roommate (we're really proud of her for managing that). She knows who she is and what she wants. And it's kind of fun watching as she gets her life together. 

I'm so pleased with the person she's becoming. Of course, I know I'm so not the typical Cuban mother. I'm working hard on my end to give her "space and grace." If I freak out a little (and of course, I do), I keep those emotions confined to the pages of my journal or to the quiet conversations I have with Eric. 

Because truly, my job here is pretty much done. This is her time.


So, I'm feeling all confident and sad and happy and scared as the moving van pulls away. 


Lucy's cat saying goodbye.

She quickly sends me a photo showing me she's settling in to her new place.


That's my girl. She's going to be ok.

We're. On. Vacation.

Every year we look forward to our week down in the beach town of Del Mar, California. It's about an hour south of where we live.

What a difference that hour south makes.

We've been coming here to this same beach house in Del Mar for the past 4 years and it always manages to feel both fresh and familiar. Unpacking and cooking is easy. I know my way around this kitchen just like I know my own.

Part of vacationing for me is attempting to un-plug from social media. This is HARD. (I said, attempting, okay? I know my limits.)  So, I do it in baby-steps. I start by limiting my reading-what-everyone-else-is-doing-right-this-minute on Facebook.

And I only post photos on Instagram. Also, because I work on Project Life all year, sharing on Instagram helps me remember and organize where we were and what we were up to on certain days, but that's not important right now.

Vacation. (On Instagram.)

The first thing we do when we get here is... drop everything. ("You can unpack later!") We head down to the beach immediately (It's exactly 238 steps from our front door) to get sand in our toes and feel the breeze in our hair.

Marta & eric

Some days we make a big, fat, bacon-and-eggs-with-all-the-trimmings breakfast. Other days, there's cereal-that-reminds-them-of-childhood and coffee. Either way, it's all good. We're on vacation.

Cafe la llave

Our first day here, the kids asked,  "Can we just order a pizza from the beach for lunch?"

Calling from the beach

Answer: "Of course. We're on vacation."

Del mar pizza

Eric unwinds best when he surfs, so the first thing he did was wax down his board. There's something to be said for a happy husband. He's obviously on vacation.

Eric surfing

We're usually here on the week that we celebrate our wedding anniversary and Lucy's birthday. Our tradition has been to go to Little Italy in San Diego to our favorite Italian restaurant called Filippi's Pizza Grotto.

Lucy was in LA for the summer, so we bumped our vacation to this week. But that's not stopping us from celebrating. It just means our celebration has been postponed.

Little italy

Little Italy is all kinds of charming. You have to wait in line inside the Italian market to get to the restaurant in the back.

Walking through market

Walking to filippis

Our theme for the dinner was "Red Food." (I cracked my self up right there. Can you tell I'm already relaxing?)

Italian food

Eric decided to surprise us and took us to the epic Mr. A's for dessert. It was a beautiful and clear night, with the lights of downtown San Diego just below us. Quite magical.

Mr A's

And that was just our first day.

Most days we sit around unwinding in our own distinct ways. We spend most of them on the beach for at least part of the day. We will have friends come down and visit sometime during the week. We play lots of games and take long walks on the beach. And we build sandcastles.

Also, we are definitely getting to the Del Mar Racetrack because that's one of the things on my Summer Manifesto. Of course.

The only rule is that there are no rules. This is our one week when we've given ourselves permission to do everything or nothing. This is our week to be very deliberate in re-charging, collectively and independently.


We're. On. Vacation.

I share my day-to-day vacation silliness on Instagram. If you're on there, you should follow me. I'm Smrtqbn.

I have to go now. The sun just broke through the clouds and my beach chair is calling...