By: Brandy Black
Park Hyatt Aviara, located in Carlsbad, CA just minutes from Legoland is a parents’ oasis. Formerly a Four Seasons property, I assure you it hasn’t lost its quality of service or attention to detail. Upon check-in a red wagon full of kiddie toys was presented to our daughter by one of the friendly front desk staff members.
Our room overlooked the Batiquitos Lagoon and offered a stunning panoramic view. But most important to these two busy parents was the fast and furious service that never left us wanting. In the time it took to walk from the lobby to the room the cleaning service had already made the couch into our daughter’s bed for the evening and the luggage was delivered promptly. This allowed us to get on with our vacation without hesitation or a more likely 3-year-old meltdown. We zipped down for a dip in the 83-degree water adorned with noodles for the kids. Our daughter was most pleased with the one-foot wading pool as it allowed her to securely attempt to swim. For the first time ever since starting a family we were able to kick back on the lounge chairs without worry as she splashed in delight.
The property offers amenities for children that make a parent grateful that someone understands the importance of a child’s happiness on vacation. Kid happy = parent happier. The goodie bag of treats delivered to the room, the complimentary sorbet guava smoothies passed around poolside, crayons at dinner with coloring books, a kid-sized buffet, a playroom of games (although I must admit there were more adults playing pool, air hockey, and shuffleboard than there were kids), Camp Hyatt and playground were all key ingredients to a happy family vacation. Beware –Camp Hyatt is only open during the day so the romantic dinner I fantasized about became a kid-friendly affair. For this reason, we only checked out the California Bistro restaurant but the food superseded the expectations of standard hotel fare.
There are plenty of activities for the whole family, with tennis courts, Arnold Palmer Golf Course, Beach Butler to escort you with chairs and umbrellas to the sandy beach, and the spa.
Overall it was a lovely stay, a beautiful property, and it certainly left us rejuvenated. I will note one more observation, given that this review is for a modern parent site: the resort was filled with a vast amount of diverse guests. There were mixed race couples, gay parents, straight parents, people of all colors and quite a few couples without children. I have stayed in other resorts in Carlsbad and San Diego and was delighted to find that this was the most diverse that I have seen yet.
Rack rate: $395 a night
Special event at Park Hyatt Aviara coming in September:
Saluting the ingredients, flavors, culture and talents of Southern California and its chefs, this special gastronomic Park Hyatt Masters event will feature a tour of a local Aquafarm – complete with an oyster and Sauvignon Blanc tasting and a eclade-style mussels lunch. After an afternoon of relaxation on the grounds of the hotel, a “Cal-Ital” winemaker dinner concludes the evening at the resort’s signature Italian restaurant, Vivace.
By: Amy Wise
How the heck did you two meet? I mean, she went to school abroad and you, well, you’re a fool!
The other day we were at a birthday party and Jamie’s friend Byron asked the question, “How did you two meet? I mean she went to school abroad, and you, well, you’re a fool!” The two of us died laughing! So, this is how the two most opposite people on the planet met, got married, had a child, and lived happily, crazily after:
It was 1992 and I was driving up the 805 Freeway in San Diego. I was with my “Little Sister” from the Big Sis/Little Sis program. As we were driving, multiple “fancy” black sports cars (all with black men in them) were in the lane next to us. My Little Sis started to wave at one of the men in one of the cars. I told her to stop waving because they were too old for her (she was 15 at the time) and were either a bunch of athletes or a bunch of drug dealers, and you don’t want to mess with either! Yeah, I know, stereotyping at its best. Bad!!! However, I wasn’t wrong…it was athletes and friends. So there!
Anyway, my Little Sis said, “No, I know one of them, he used to coach my basketball team when I was little.” That “coach” so happened to be Jamie! I wasn’t sure if I believed her or if she was just flirting, so on we went up the freeway.
A few weeks went by and my Little Sis was out and about, and who did she run into?…Jamie! He asked her, “Who was that woman that you were in the car with the other day?” She told him it was her Big Sis, and then he proceeded to give her his phone number to give to me. So the next time she and I were together, she gave me the phone number and told me it was from the guy we saw on the freeway. Well, I promptly threw it in the trash and said, “I don’t call people I see on the freeway who are complete strangers!” She said, “But I know him!” I didn’t care; he was a stranger to me and you know what mom always says.
A couple more months went by and my Little Sis and I were driving around again and lo and behold but who was standing in a friend’s front yard talking?…Jamie again! Odds?! My Little Sis said, “That is the guy that gave you the phone number.” I said, “Oh my gosh, you have got to be kidding me! I better pull over and say hi or he is going to think I am a b—.” We pulled over; he came over to the car and said hi, and then promptly asked why I didn’t call him. I told him, “I don’t call people I see on the freeway. Let’s do this the right way. You call me. Here’s my number.” He then waited an entire WEEK to call! I guess he was getting me back for throwing away his number. Our first call was on a Sunday and we talked for FOUR hours! However, we still didn’t go out for another two months. We got to know each other over the phone –day, after day, after day.
Finally we had our first date, which was at his apartment where he made me dinner. I know it sounds bad –first date, his apartment. We had been talking for two months for goodness sake, it was like we were “old homies” by then! No worries…he was a complete gentleman!
You would think the rest was history, but noooooo, that would have been too easy. We dated from that day on, but there was a slight snag in our future. I had already made the decision before he and I met to move back to Oregon to be closer to my family. Soooo, we literally fell in love and it was time for me to leave. I debated whether or not to go, but Jamie told me to go because I would regret it if I didn’t. He said, “If we are meant to be it will work out. You want to be with your family, so that is where you need to be.” I left. We wrote and called constantly. Distance –not so fun. Four months later he moved up to Oregon! Then three months later we moved back to San Diego! Nuts huh? I am a Cali girl; I couldn’t take the weather. Love ya fam, but had to go “home.”
THEN the rest was history! We got engaged, got married in ’93, had Tatiana in ’94, and here we are today!! So when anyone asks the question…how did we meet? The answer is…on the 805 Freeway…fate took care of the rest!
Amy Wise is a Writer in San Diego.
This past Friday was a beautiful crisp Fall night in San Diego. Our daughter Tatiana was out of town taking dance classes in Vegas and Jamie and I had the weekend to ourselves. Friday afternoon, I announced, “Let the adult weekend begin!” Of course everyone’s minds went straight to the gutter! We however “got out of the gutter” and decided to go to dinner and then to Fashion Valley Mall for a stroll. Fashion Valley is an outdoor mall filled with beautiful high end stores and lovely Christmas decorations. Not Jamie’s cup of tea at all, but we both decided it would be nice to walk around and enjoy the night air after dinner. As we got out of our car and started walking toward the stores, a man walked by us (this man so happened to be black) and said, “Oh lordy, lordy, it’s a black man with a white woman!” Mind you, he said this loudly, pretty much at the top of his lungs. Jamie and I looked at each other and just laughed! Normally I would have been offended, but the way he said it just struck us as funny for some reason.
Well, it didn’t stop there. He literally watched us, and kept making comments as he waited for the elevator. He went on to say, “Aaaand it’s a black man, with a white woman, at a white mall, oh lordy!” White mall? I’m not sure where that came from because everyone and their “brother”, no pun intended, shops there. He repeated the black man/white woman thing a couple of more times. By now the comedy had worn off and he had become irritating. Jamie said, “Really…” and then gave him a look that changed the guy’s tune. He said, “Aw, it’s all good man, you and your wife have a nice night together.” It was the weirdest thing.
What makes someone say things like that out loud, and not only that, but what makes them think it’s okay? Would he ever say that to a couple that wasn’t mixed? Picture it: “Oh lordy, lordy it’s a white man with a white woman!” I guess it’s just not as catchy huh? It’s funny to me that someone feels the need to “point out” our race to us. Clearly I know I’m white, and clearly Jamie knows he’s black, and CLEARLY we know that we’re together! But gosh, just in case we weren’t sure…thanks for pointing that out Mr. Man! We “appreciate” it! By the way…let me point out to YOU, if you haven’t looked at your calendar lately…it’s 2010, not 1910.
Maybe I should have said, “Oh lordy, lordy, it’s a black man that needs to keep his opinions to himself.” We all know what they say about opinions now don’t we? ‘Nuf said, especially by you, Mr. Man.
Amy Wise is a Writer in San Diego.
By: Susan Howard
Tucked away and surrounded by rolling hills sits La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, CA (near San Diego). As a private trainer, I am often concerned that my clients will lose headway when they go on vacation. High fat foods, an abundance of cocktails, and nowhere to workout except the one stationary bike left there from the 70’s in a room full of mirrors and a broken bench –not very appealing. Therefore, I am constantly on a quest to find the best vacation destinations in which to luxuriously relax and stay fit.
I undoubtedly found it in La Costa Resort and Spa. San Diego is one of the healthiest cities in the country and the vacation spots reflect that. With a stellar 8,000 square foot gym, up to the minute classes, and the Chopra Yoga center right on the premises, how could you not workout?
La Costa has 8 pools. The family pool area consists of two huge, fast watersides that will awaken the kid in any adult, a little slide for the toddlers, a big spray water station, and a beach that fades into a wading pool. Two-year-olds will have a heyday just walking from the beach to the wading pool then back out to the beach as the very kind waitress offers overtired parents delicious Bloody Mary’s.
Our room was spacious and well designed, including wooden trim and clean lines and a luxuriously large bathroom with marble floors and a spa-sized sunken tub. The bed was comfortable, pillows just right. They also have villas that you can rent if you want to go with another family or bring the in-laws –always a plus for more workout time.
At the gym I sifted through the varied class schedule and picked the trendy Kettlebell Cardio Crunch class. I got to experience some cool new moves from a veteran instructor working on the BOSU ball and balancing the bell overhead then onto the row machine for a 5-minute blast. They also offer Zumba, spinning, and pilates classes, to name a few. The gym, which overlooks a huge golf course, is equipped with tons of cardio machines, a full strength room with free weights, and cable machines.
Oh yeah, La Costa has a full PGA 18-hole golf course. Seems very impressive –not our thing, but if one of you enjoys golf this could definitely be a selling point. They have 17 tennis courts as well, 4 of them clay.
I also went to the mediation class and omm’d in a very peaceful and unifying setting with gong and all. Brandy, my wife, took a yoga class. When the bouncy San Diego blond instructor with the squeaky voice started talking Brandy thought, “oh well, can’t leave now,” then proceeded to take one of the best yoga classes she’s had in a while. There is something centering and calm at the Chopra Center, based in Deepok Chopra’s philosophy. The adjoining shop has all the books and soothing music you could ever want.
The spa has great amenities: steam, sauna, outdoor whirlpool, and a quiet area with fireplace. The pool has a waterfall that pounds down on your shoulders, giving you a massage before you even get to the treatment. When I went it was a popular weekend for the spa and most of the women wore their swimsuits, so be warned. (I am a prude from the Midwest, but even I go naked in a spa.) I got the signature Spanish Herbal Body Rub, which is 100 minutes of exfoliating massaging bliss. It starts with a salt scrub and then lavender tea leaves; I was scrubbed from head to toe. Then I rinsed off and went back to the table for a deep massage. My skin felt soft and my spirit as easy as Sunday morning.
Each meal we tried was delicious. The first night we ate out on the patio of Blue Fire Grill surrounded by fire pits and live jazz. The setting was beautiful with a family-friendly atmosphere. Brandy had a seafood trio that was amazing, fish caught locally, and I had the roast chicken with polenta and veggies, both meals were flavorful and light. Little Sophia skipped her hot dog and went straight for the ice cream with sprinkles. It is vacation, after all. The menu even delights the children with a milk flight- chocolate, strawberry and regular.
The next night we ate at Legends Bistro on the patio right beside the crackling fire. I was struck by the bountiful vegetarian selections. This menu featured some meals inspired by the Chopra Center. Lentils over basmati rice, vegetable risotto, and butternut squash ravioli were a huge welcome from the standard steamed veggie plate option. They also have a delicious buffet brunch each morning.
We took long, beautiful, late night stroller walks through the vast lush property and still didn’t see everything. The grounds are well manicured and filled with succulents and flowering plants. The staff was very friendly and accommodating.
For families, the resort offers a kid club called Kidtopia, which is a huge supervised playroom for children 6 months to 12 years old. So while you and your mate head out to workout, or drift to the spa or just chill in your room, your child will have just as much fun as you. They also take care to give kids a little goody box full of healthy treats and toys upon arrival. Our daughter hung tight to her box most of the trip, oh the little things that really do matter.
La Costa has thought of basically everything for a family to have a fun active vacation. Once you get there you likely won’t leave the grounds, as there is a ton of stuff to do. Once you do leave you will likely be back the next chance you get.
By: Amy Wise
As with everything, there ups and there are downs. Life will always throw us curve balls, but now I finally realize it’s up to us whether we decide to hit the ball and run or miss the ball and strike out. These days I’m goin’ with hitting and running…big time! Even though we are still in the midst of all the crazy things life keeps throwing at us, I’m determined to live, to love, and to make today and tomorrow better than yesterday! The past is the past, the present is precious, and the future is fabulous! Yeah I know, corny, but it’s oh so true!
My life and my family’s life is at a big crossroads right now…I can feel it in my bones. It’s an exciting feeling that’s hard to explain. We all have big plans for the future and even though roadblocks keep trying to get in our way, we are refusing to let them slow us down. The hurdles used to stop us, but now we are running towards them, and not only that, we are jumping over them!
It’s weird because we are in the worst financial predicament of our lives, because this damn water lawsuit continues to suck us dry (kind of ironic…water…sucking us dry); however, we are moving forward with our lives and letting the b.s. take its own course while we plot ours. There are no circumstances that can stand in our way unless we let them. Man oh man, it’s taken a lot of tears, sadness, grief, prayer, meditation, and yes, even therapy (there’s no shame in my game…therapy rocked!), to realize that we have a right to our happiness and nobody can take that away from us! It’s funny because when this water thing went down, one of the other plaintiffs in the case said to me, “It makes me so sad because they took your happy away.” Shortly after that, my husband said, “One of the reasons I married you is because you are one of the strongest people I know. I never thought I would see the day that someone else could take your strength away; you can’t let them do this to you.” Those two comments about my “happy” and my “strength” really hit home. Sometimes it’s small things, said by those that care about us, that can make the biggest impact.
So here I stand today, strong in my marriage and family, determined to make every single day a good one! Make no bones about it, there are days…oh there are days…you know what I mean…days when you are just done! Burnt friggin’ toast!
But, now I’ve got my happy back, and my strength back. I pray about what I want, I visualize what I want, and I claim what I want, because that, my friends, is how I now roll!
Amy Wise is a Writer in San Diego.
You can read more at www.themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com
By: Amy Wise
So I have a question: Did you know that in general books written by black authors are shelved in the African American section? Did any of you out there realize that? Unless of course you are Toni Morrison or friends with Oprah, black authors are pretty much housed in their own “special” section.
A fellow writer who happens to be black recently published her first novel. A few months ago, just prior to her publication date, she sent out an interesting request. We are all on a writers’ site together and one of her posts was: “Wanted: White Ambassadors to Help Me Cross Over”. Seriously, that was her post! After I read this request she sent out, I wrote about it on my blog… http://themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com/2010/07/ill-be-your-white-friend.html.
I thought she had such guts and honesty by asking that simple “favor.” She knew that unless she got the word out to others outside her “circle,” her book would end up in the African American section and her audience would be limited. Her post caused quite the stir and received both sympathy and “are you kidding me?” responses. I get it though. You spend all this time writing and coming up with this wonderful story that has nothing to do with being black or white, and then boom, you are put into a category that many readers will never venture to. It’s so silly. A lot of people who read her request had never thought of her situation because of course, if you are a white writer there is no “white section!” Romance, mystery, memoir, self-help, religious…yes…but “white section”? No way!
Why am I on such a rant about this issue so long after her post? Well, the writer that I’m talking about is now published and I promised her when the book was pubbed that I would buy it. So off I went to Borders this past weekend and I was so happy to find her book stocked in the store. There it was on the computer…Substitute Me, by Lori Tharps. I had looked in the store on previous occasions but it was only available online. I was thrilled to see that I could finally get her book, take it home and get to reading! Imagine the look on my face when I saw that her book was located in the….drum roll please….African American section! You have to be freakin’ kidding me! Yes indeed, that’s exactly where it was. I literally laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of it and how spot-on Lori was about where her book would end up!
Off I went to the African American section, perusing the shelves for Lori’s book while noticing the obvious glances my way. I truly wanted to share my dismay and story with the other women in the section, but I was so heated I didn’t want the guys with the white coats to show up for the crazy lady in the African American section at Borders! So instead, I bought the book, went home, and emailed my experience to Lori. She was irritated, but of course not surprised. Unless we stop putting people, books, music, and everything else in categories, that’s exactly where we are going to stay. Let’s all start thinking outside the box, people. You might be surprised at all the new things you will learn and enjoy. Until then, I’ll see ya at the bookstore…you can find me in the African American section.
Amy Wise is a Writer in San Diego.
By: Amy Wise
I asked my husband the following question today: ”What does being in an interracial relationship mean to you?” His answer was what I hope will be everyone’s answer one day. He said, “I’m not in an interracial relationship, black relationship, white relationship, black and white relationship; I’m just in a relationship.” He also said, “I don’t label our relationship because relationships have no color. Why does everyone feel they need to put people in a category?”
It’s interesting to hear him say this, especially when I write about our interracial marriage and family each and every week, and back in the day he is the one that suggested I write about us! However, when it comes down to his bottom line and his heart, our marriage is just a marriage, and I love that!
Our relationship might not be the norm today but with time and open minds, relationships will eventually have no color, no gender, no nothin’ but love! Why does it need to be any other way? Simple, right?
Amy Wise is a writer in San Diego.
You can read more onwww.themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com
The sewer saga continues. A few weeks ago I shared the ongoing three-year nightmare that my family is going through with the destruction of our business and “life.” If you didn’t see the story you can read it here:
Fortunately, you get to read the story and then walk away. Unfortunately, we still live it each and every day. This past Friday was no exception. My husband and daughter got deposed all day by the defense attorneys from Otay Water, Bremco, Seymour Lewis Development, The City of Chula Vista, and more! I had to sit there in silence as my family was questioned about every detail of their lives! It made me sick to my stomach. My daughter missed an entire day of school, and Jamie and I both missed work. I just don’t understand how this is allowed? Victims badgered over and over…it’s just heinous if you ask me! Heinous!
My husband was brought to tears when they asked him how our lives have changed since getting sick and losing our business due to the water misconnection. I have never seen him like this in the 18 years we have been together. He is 6’3″ and 300+ pounds and this man sobbed because he feels helpless regarding the destruction of his family from this lawsuit. Tatiana and I had to sit there and listen as he cried, and then we cried right along with him. I have never felt more love in my life listening to this big, strong, man, sob over what his family is going through. He had to leave the room and go for a walk to calm down and to stop from literally jumping over the table to throttle the defense attorneys. It was so sad, and it just broke my heart to see him like that.
After Jamie was done with his hours of questioning, it was Tatiana’s turn. As a mother all you want to do is protect your child. There was nothing I could do to stop them from questioning her. However, she rose to the occasion like no other, and stayed totally and completely strong! She amazed me, impressed me, and made me so proud. My 15 year-old showed the maturity and strength of an adult that day. Again, the love I felt for her, just like I did for Jamie…incredible!
So even though we have to continue to fight for what’s right against attorneys and companies that apparently have no soul, the more they take away from us, the stronger we become. Just when I thought I couldn’t love my family more than I already do, they show me more fortitude and bravery then I have ever seen. All I can say is, “I’m so proud of them!” My Family rocks!!!!
Amy Wise is a Freelance writer in San Diego.
You can read more on the www.themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com
By: Amy Wise
Nice story title huh? Amazing enough it’s my life right now. You can’t make this stuff up, nor would you want to. This is the twisted tale of what actually brought me to writing and made my marriage and family as strong as they are today.
Three years ago I owned a beautiful candy/gift store with a business partner and dear friend. We had a thriving two-family business and went to “work” every single day with smiles on our faces. On August 17th 2007 everything changed and our world was flushed down the toilet….literally! We found out that the water our building was receiving was not drinking water but reclaimed sewer water! Yes, that’s right….sewer water! We finally realized why we all kept getting sick, and to make matters worse, the media onslaught began, the customers ran away, and we had to close our beautiful store. We went from being the “sweetest candy store” to the “sewer candy store.”
The Otay Water Dept. and all the other parties that had a hand in the negligence, stood in front of the news cameras and said, “This is our fault and we are going to do the right thing!” However, once the cameras went away, they ran as fast as they could to their attorneys and have destroyed us ever since. The destruction of our dream, the illnesses, and the financial devastation, have, needless to say, been more than we could handle.
Three years later we are STILL fighting for what’s right! It’s unbelievable to me! Justice? I’m not sure what that means anymore. We are now being sued by the very landlord/builder that rented the space to us, because we “broke” our lease! We are also being sued by the banks because the store that no longer exists can no longer pay the loans. They said, “The lawsuit is taking too long,” and they want their money! THEY think it’s taking too long!? Really!? Suing the victims?! Wow! Can you say, INJUSTICE!?
The tears have now dried up, and the bitterness and anger have turned to determination. I will never stop fighting for what’s right! The “big guys” always think they can win, morals be damned…but this time the “little guys,” or in this case, “little gals,” are stronger than they ever realized, and we will never ever give up!
What does all of this have to do with my marriage, family, and writing? Well, pretty much everything. When you lose all you’ve worked for your entire life, have utter financial destruction, health problems, and then have to totally start over, all at the hands of someone’s gross stupidity, you either make it or you don’t. There is no middle ground. My husband has been my rock, heart, and soul. He has seen me rise, fall and rise again…actually, more like picked me up off the floor and stood me up again! My daughter, bless her heart, has had to adjust to a Mom who was home for dinner, who had the freedom to come and go from her business, who was happy every single day, to a Mom who has been holding on for dear life while totally starting over. Our lifestyle is completely different now, but the one thing that remains is our never-ending love. Nothing and no one can take that away from our family!
My husband and I have dealt with so much in our 18-year interracial relationship and that is why I write. We keep making it through all the insane trials and tribulations and we keep coming out even stronger in the end. So in a sense, tragedy is turning to triumph as we take all the bad that continues to get thrown our way and turn it into good. I will keep writing, I will keep growing, I will become stronger, I will never give up. I have even been called “Tinkerbell” because I always believe people will do the right thing. I have seen the worst in people these last three years, but I have also experienced the best. What goes around comes around and Karma IS still my friend…I believe it!
By: Amy Wise
There are so many types of families, and my family just so happens to fall into the “category” of “Interracial Family.” It’s funny to me that we label each other like we do…interracial family, gay family, single Dad family, divorced family…you get the idea. Aren’t we all just families? I’m white, my husband is black and our daughter is a mix of the two of us, so yes, that makes us interracial, but the rest of it goes a little like this: eighteen years ago two people met, fell in love, got married, had a baby, and lived happily ever after. If you heard that story, you wouldn’t know we were interracial, it would just be a story about any family anywhere. The fact of the matter is we ARE interracial. So what does that really mean? Aside from the obvious, to me it means a deeper love than one could ever know, a bond, a connection, and an understanding between two people from totally different worlds, that became one because of one thing, and one thing only….LOVE. It seems so simple doesn’t it? Simple…..not so much! Trust me, nobody goes into a relationship and says, “I think I’ll fall in love with someone from a different race, so I can deal with all the challenges that go along with that on a day to day basis.” But really, how do you stop love? You don’t. Falling in love is just that, “falling” in love! My husband and I have been married for seventeen years, and our beautiful daughter is now fifteen. It’s been a road like no other, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s hard to describe how I feel about my family. The love is so deep, it’s hard to put into words. It grows more by the year, and challenge after challenge we become stronger as a family. So whatever “mix” of a family you might be, no matter what “label” you fall under, the true definition of family, be it, interracial, gay, divorced, adopted, or otherwise is…..LOVE!Yes, we are an “Interracial Family,” but really we are “A FAMILY” just like you, and you and you!
Amy Wise is a Freelance writer in San Diego, you can read more on the www.themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com