Throughout life, you make all different kids of friends — casual acquaintances, neighbors, school friends, business friends and peers, colleagues, couple friends, girlfriends, party friends, and other kinds of friends. You may have some good friends and even a best friend.
Then there’s that special kind of friend. The one who allows you to just be you, the good and the bad. The friend you can spend time with and talk all day, or sit for hours and not say a word. The friend that is totally okay with you reading your book all day at the beach and won’t judge you for doing so.
If you’re lucky, you’ll meet that friend and your families will also mesh. You’ll love their spouse, your kids will play great together, and it will feel like your families spending time together was just meant to be.
I’ve been blessed to find THAT friend, and our family has been blessed to find THAT family.
One of these days I’ll have to tell you about how I met Chris Lema, his wife Melissa Lema, and their kids Emily and Christian and how we came to be friends over time — you’ll like that story, because I didn’t know we’d be good friends right away!
This year WordCamp San Diego was the first weekend of our spring break and I was speaking, so we decided to drive down and take the kids with us, for a Legoland, WordCamp, Joshua Tree National Park road trip. And while Brian and I WordCamped on Saturday and Sunday, Natalie and Carter stayed at the Lema house to play. Our kids loved hanging out together, so when the Lemas invited us to join them for a beach house vacation in Oceanside, California this summer, we said yes right away — as long as I did all the cooking as a thank you!
The Oceanside Vacation House
The vacation house we stayed in was a beautiful, single family, five bedroom home on the sand in Oceanside, California — and I mean directly on the sand. Unlike vacation houses we have rented on Mission Beach and Mission bay in San Diego, there was no public bike path, walkway, seawall, or miles of sand between this house and the beach. We could step off the back patio onto the sand and the ocean was right there, which made it so easy for the kids to boogie board and swim in the ocean or play in the sand while us adults relaxed. (Score!) And speaking of the back patio, it had a table and umbrella, lounge chairs, and a fire pit.
The open living room and kitchen area look out to the back patio and ocean, and is where we spent most of our time hanging out, reading, coloring, cooking, and doing crafts. On the first floor there is one bedroom and one full bath. The second floor had two more bedrooms with private balconies and bathrooms, one smaller bedroom, and a master suite.
Our friends stayed in the downstairs master as Melissa was recovering from surgery, the boys stayed in one room, the girls in another, and Brian and I stayed in the upstairs master, with a fireplace, a private bathroom, and an oceanfront balcony with a spectacular view.
It was absolutely incredible!
The house didn’t provide any beach gear, so we brought our own beach towels, boogie boards, sand toys, s’mores sticks, goggles, and more. We also brought board games, craft projects, and books, as we had no plans for the entire week except to relax and take it easy. Ahhhhh heaven.
Other than one conference call we had scheduled before the trip, we didn’t bring any work with us. We also didn’t talk about our business or work. It was truly a week of pure play and rest, which also meant we had ample time to boogie board in the waves!
Both Natalie and Carter had gone boogie boarding on our last couple trips to San Diego, so they picked it back up fairly quickly. Carter was a pro out the gate, riding the waves right up into the sand like a master. Emily and Christian picked it up pretty quickly too, and soon all four kids were jumping through the waves and riding them in through the foamy surf.
They stayed in the water swimming and playing for hours at a time every day, which meant peace and quiet for us adults! Awesome!
Brian and Chris even got in on the fun, doing some boogie boarding of their own.
I was happy to just be on photo duty, even if I got ran into, knocked down, and rolled through the sandy surf a few times, just to get a great shot! The photos were totally worth it! Plus, this was the first time I got to try out my new rugged, underwater camera in action, in salt water.
Hanging With Friends
The kids payed hard all week. They played video games deep into the night, as there were no bedtimes all week, and then slept in late. They colored and did arts and crafts. The girls made beaded bracelets and necklaces. We all played games and baked a lot of yummy, sweet, snacks, and a few evenings, we made s’mores as we watched the sunset. They also made up plays, dances, shows, poems, and rap battles to perform for us every night — and on the last night, we adults put on a show for the kids.
Our friend Steve Zenghut stopped by the vacation house with his daughters for some boogie boarding, beach fun, and burgers, and we met some some of the Lema’s local friends too.
I was especially excited to get to spend time with a close friend of ours (who is way more like family), Jessica Mabry who now lives in San Diego and drove up to Oceanside to hang with us, eat some s’mores, and play some games! I met Jessica when she was only two years old, babysat her in high school, was a nanny for her mom when I started college, transitioned to working for her mom’s advertising agency as a designer, and then when I had my own kids, hired Jessica to babysit for me until she left for college. To say I love this girl is an understatement.
While the week was all about relaxing, we did make time for a few meals out and a movie!
While on vacation, we went to see the Minion Movie at Cineopolis, which was the coolest movie theater I have ever been to! The kids LOVED it! We had never been to a movie theater with comfy reclining seats, tables, and servers who bring you food — one just went in near our house and now we have to try it!
We also went to an amazing dinner at Vintana on the Penthouse Level of the The Centre at Lexus Escondido with roaring fireplaces, a warm and inviting atmosphere, and an incredible view of the town and countryside. We dined outdoors in a private cabana on the Lanai, and the food — from the appetizers to the desserts — was to die for.
We also hit Sonic on Brian’s birthday, because that’s just what we do when our families are all together!
Mornings At The Beach
Brian and I are early risers, and we went to bed before the kids every night, so we woke up before everyone else. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I’d wake up, make some hot chocolate, and walk down the beach — sometimes alone, sometimes with Brian. It was quiet, deserted, and peaceful, and gave me an opportunity to just think and let my mind wander, or to just be.
Several mornings, we saw dolphins swimming through the waves breaking right off shore, and a few times we saw sea lions too! When the kids woke up, we’d sometimes go hunting for shells.
On our last full day in Oceanside, during our morning walk, Brian and I saw a tractor down the beach near the public access area, so we decided to check it out. Apparently a storm was coming in and the tractor was digging a big trench from the inlet out to the ocean to drain water. The tractor created a HUGE ditch, and moving all of the sand to the sides created giant walls of sand.
I knew Carter would go nuts if he saw this. This looked like every boys dream sand playground.
So we went back to the house, got all four kids and the camera and walked back down the beach.
As soon as the boys saw the giant mounds of sand, they started running and all hell broke loose. The boys became sand maniacs! They were jumping, sliding, rolling, and dive bombing off the sand walls into the ditch, all while yelling and screaming! They were covered in sand from head to toe. It was in their hair, ears, noses — everywhere!
The girls opted to just watch and walk along the water.
An Unforgettable Adventure
This truly was an unforgettable week of fun and relaxation. We were able to detach from work, enjoy the beach, the sun, and some great food — and spend time with a wonderful family we are blessed to call our friends. I can’t wait to do it again… and luckily I don’t have to wait too long, as we’ve already got another Bourn/Lema trip planned!
What About You?
Have you ever done a VRBO in Oceanside, California or another spot in Southern California? Do you have a favorite rental house spot your family loves? Do you ever vacation with friends? Any tips?
I’d love to hear from you!