We have been long overdue for a visit to our family and friends in sunny California. When it became apparent that we would not be seeing my Grandfather/family for the holidays, we booked a trip to drive on down at earliest convenience: FEBRUARY!
Seriously, when did our lives become so crazy??
After 7 hours in the car, we stopped for the night in our little Gaia Hotel in Anderson, CA, just south of Redding. After a solid cheeseburger and a restless night for me (wedding party on the premises) we woke up to drive another 2.5 hours into SacTown the MacTown. Woot woot!
We were a little early for our lunch rendezvous with Uncle Bobby so I took the girls to see "Mommy and Daddy's First House Together." Two of the best things about this house were the oranges and the neighbors. We had a good visit with Henry and Laerma.
Henry helping the girls with the oranges they selected.
The current resident said we could help ourselves to some oranges. It was funny to be the one knocking on the door and asking for oranges--when, for so many years, I was the one answering the door.
The girls spent the next few days treating these oranges like babies. Funny and entertaining.
Next stop, Tower Cafe to meet Bobby for lunch.
The girls and their orange babies by the Tower Fountain.
We had a good long visit on the sidewalk while we waited for our table. I forgot how busy Tower Cafe gets on a Saturday afternoon!
Uncle Bobby's lap is cozier than the planter boxes.
After lunch we headed over to The Bills' House.
The kids hadn't seen each other since SunRiver, last summer. It didn't take long to get reacquainted.
Norah is definitely a Big Girl these days. It's so funny, when you go to take her picture, she poses. Every time. Hysterical.
"You're a tiger!"
Staci and I relaxed and sipped wine while we watched Rusty prepare dinner. :)
The girls needed very little parental interaction, as they had tons of fun ideas and catching up to do.
The afternoon was filled with giggles and ridiculousness.
Obviously, a Talent Show was in order.
The biggest girls got to perform first.
This was a ballet number performed to Chopin.
After practicing their choreography upstairs, they put on quite a production.
The audience was captivated.
The smaller big girls patiently wait for their turn on stage.
Norah and Piper's performance began with a folksy song.
It evolved into a more elaborate number with a catchy beat and fancy footwork.
Really, they are too cute!
Rusty's work in the kitchen amounted to the most wonderful Chicken Piccata.
Everyone ate every bite!
Geneva had two servings.
Sunday morning, we were hitting the road.
The goodbyes were not too difficult because we could say, "See you SunRiver!"
Natalie and Geneva decided on the same hairdo.
See you soon.
Post-teeth brushing hugs
80-West: Next stop, Oakland Hills.
We were thrilled to lunch with the Morse boys.
Piper, Eli, Finn, and Geneva
Unfortunately, Dani was already booked for the afternoon. However, Scott and his boys and me with my girls managed to have quite a delightful time!
|Oh no, wait... THIS is totally silly!|
We also had the extreme pleasure of meeting Miss Lola Lollipop. The most beautiful and majestic Great Dane with the daintiest manners. She was super cool--which clearly fits in with the Morse Family Vibe.
|Does she look bigger than Eli?|
That's because she IS. She's bigger than everyone!
Geneva and Finn bonded over Wii. Given that I've never seen her use a video game before, I was pretty impressed with her skillz.
|I think the game was called Mario Carts. ??|
Piper and Eli buddied up and mostly followed Boo, the cat, around the house all afternoon. When Boo was hiding too well, Piper entertained herself with more traditional toys.
It really was an incredible experience to watch my kids playing and laughing with the children of one of my oldest and best friends from Junior High and High School. I loved it.
From Oakland, our journey took us Livermore to visit our dear friends, The Caineys!
Piper lost no time in getting reacquainted with Bella.
Piper lost no time in getting reacquainted with Bella.
|If you're small and furry, watch out for Piper!|
Actually, you don't even have to be furry.
Geneva and Kate lost no time in getting their "buddy" on as well.
These two together = Tuning OUT everyone and everything else.
|This may be one of the only moments they were still.|
Ryan and Cole.
How great is this hat? I wish I had a picture of him in his boots too!
By the way, he is NOT playing dress up. This is his everyday "look." Adorable!
|Cutie Cainey Boys|
Miss Rachelle and Piper had some snuggles while they tried coaxing Bella into the lovefest as well.
From Livermore, it was onto Santa Clara for our final destination:
Apparently, Cole made quite an impression. The girls found GGPa's cowboy hats and got right into a fashion show. YeeHaw!
Hugs and love for GGPa before bedtime.
The girls discovered The Smurfs while we were there. It was too funny to watch them watching "the blue elfs" (as they referred to them). I wish I could have found the picture of Bobby, Jenny, and I dressed up like smurfs circa 1981.
They actually got to watch only one episode. I watched it with them. Wow. Those smurfs are really not appropriate for 4-5 YOs.
What?? Reading the newspaper at the kitchen table... Who could that be?
We were so happy that Bobby came down from Sacramento to spend a couple days with us and Grandpa while we were in town. It was so nice to be together (again).
|I think I surprised him. :)|
(Great) Uncle Dwight and Auntie Lorna came over the hill from Santa Cruz on Monday with their "fuzzy son" Rowdy to join in our mini-reunion.
|Getting to know each other again|
(Great) Auntie Sherrie was available for kisses, snuggles, hugs and lots of lovin'.
Geneva held court at the kitchen table while the fellas enjoyed her demonstration of "creating art."
During our afternoon visit with the family, Grandpa kept himself busy making his famous sugar cookies. Those Girl Scouts better watch out!
"Smile for a picture with your furry cousin."
All bets for human interaction were off once (Great) Auntie Ellen and Uncle Brad arrived with their Cocker Spaniels, Sophie and Hannah.
|Geneva was so thrilled to hear that Hannah (pictured) and Sophie were "nonallergic" (her term) dogs that had hair instead of fur.|
(Great) Uncle Gary and Piper chased each other all over the house trying to jump out and scare one another. I think she may have bested him over the course of our stay.
Aaahh... So warm and delicious, fresh from the oven... GGPa's Sugar Cookies!
Sweet and buttery, light and toasty, with perfectly crisped edges: Heavenly.
|She made have had four... I wasn't counting very carefully--we were on vacation.|
My cousin Brad and his fiance Erinn blew our socks off with a surprise visit. Well, of course we love them like crazy, but the impact of their pop-over was due to a little bonus they had with them...
Bonus: Our newest family member!
Jake Anthony Klemash
What a beautiful boy.
|I love the way his daddy looks at him.|
He is so sweet and such a good boy. He even let his cousin hold him (with a little help from his grandma).
|"Can I have one of these, Mom?"|
Later that day, my cousin Jacque' and her beau (who has a name, but is referred to by Piper as, "Jacque's favorite boy"), my cousin Amanda, and my aunt Tami, all came over for a delicious dinner and all-around great visit.
|There were plenty of laughs!|
To "round out" our California visit (pun totally intended), we squeezed (pun) in a visit to the Wells household. With the boys at school and Brooks at work, we found the Lady Wellses just getting ready for a quiet bath (score!).
|Charlotte in her tub|
Obviously, Piper needed to get her hands on that baby.
Ever wondered what a kid looks like after you feed her an overly-slathered (like 1/2 inch THICK) chocolate (okay, Nutella) and banana sandwich for lunch?
We had planned to drive about 4 hours on our first leg back to Portland and spend the night. However, there was a big storm front heading in and I didn't want to get stuck on the wrong side of the pass. So we did 7 solid hours and only saw a tiny snowfall coming down the hill into Ashland, Oregon. Whew!
Greg made arrangements for our overnight accommodations* and he knew just what we needed: Some luxuriously soft beds, a nice big bathtub and room to dance (just a little).
|Get down, Girl! Go 'head, get down!|
Post dance party, post bath, and pre bedtime, the room service was hugely appreciated.
On the menu: Macaroni and Cheese for little ladies, Pot Roast and Cabernet for the momma.
Finally, with clean bodies and full bellies we hit the sack--the luxuriously soft and cozy sack, that is!
*If you find yourself in the Ashland area sometime, I highly recommend you stay at the Ashland Springs Hotel. It is a large hotel (certainly, by Ashland standards) but it maintains a solid boutique feel. The service was gracious and unpretentious. The rooms were big and very comfortable. If you're not staying the night, do check out their on location restaurant, Lark--scrumptious!
We had a fabulous trip. The girls were amazingly cooperative with all of our car-time, sleeping in a different location almost nightly, and interacting with so many friends and family. I wish we had had more time to visit--there were so many people we wanted to see and just not enough hours in the day (especially when bedtime is 7:30pm).
We are returning to California for a very brief visit in April to help honor the life of Greg's uncle Tom, who we lost recently. We will be back again for a bit of a longer stay in July to celebrate Felicity's wedding and reunite with the Purse family.
Thank you to everyone who modified their routines and schedules to make time to see us while we were there. Love you, love you!