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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

California Dreams (Week 27, Day 4)

What an eventful couple of days!! Our little family has just returned home from a trip to visit friends out in California. The weekend was filled with new experiences for the whole family. Plus, it was a much needed vacation for all of us - with me being back at work for a few months now, we definitely needed a break from the grind to recharge our batteries.
The trip started off fairly stressful, with traffic to the airport heavier than usual. There was a very real chance of us missing our flight, but luckily things started moving and we made it to the airport with a little time to spare. Once we got through security and got to our gate, we found that our flight was also delayed and we'd be arriving late to San Francisco.
Playtime at the airport
After the long flight (on which Madeline was a dream, taking a whopping 2 hour nap and winning over all the surrounding passengers with her gorgeous gummy grin and cheery coos) we arrive in sunny California. Now it was time to head into the city, pick up one of our friends, and drive to Sonoma to meet up with all of our friends at the house we were renting. Except our luggage didn't arrive. Nor did anyone else's on the flight. For over an hour. So we stood there, waiting, with Maddy strapped to me and getting heavier, and antsier, by the minute. Eventually, I found a corner of the luggage area in which I could lay Maddy down and let her roll and squirm for a while as we waited. When we finally had our luggage, we headed over to the car rental, and were greeted with a massive line to get our car. Again, I located a quiet corner to allow Maddy some wiggle and squirm time. When we finally got our car (and installed the car seat, got Maddy settled, and luggage stowed, whew!) we were ready to hit the road. Or should I say, the 5 o'clock traffic. With all the delays and mishaps, we'd now managed to get caught in rush our in 2 separate states on the same day. Luck was not on our side today. The one thing we could be grateful for was Maddy being an absolute dream the entire trip - she slept, she ate, she charmed everyone around her. I had worried that now that she was 6 months old and a lot more alert and awake than the first time we flew with her, that she would be a lot harder to manage. While she needed more entertaining when she was awake, she was still a delight. I count my blessings for her cheery disposition daily.
Once we picked up our friend Stephan and made it through the traffic, we finally arrived in wine country. We had rented a house with some friends and their children, and were so glad to finally arrive and settle in. We had a challenging time finding a place for the weekend, so while the place didn't have a glamorous look and feel, it had enough space, and a pool, hot tub, fire pit, grill and outdoor seating for dinner- all the elements needed for a great weekend with friends.
While at this point we'd been traveling for over 12 hours, and I was certainly ready for a glass of delicious California wine, there was still the matter of getting Maddy changed, fed, and to bed in this altogether new time zone. This proved to be a challenge. Maddy had a serious objection to the pack and play we had set up in our room, and wasn't afraid to let her opinion be known. Phil and I made it through dinner and some social time alternating turns in the bedroom with Maddy, until I eventually just gave up and went to bed with her. She refused to sleep anywhere except on my chest or next to me, so for the first time ever, she slept in the bed between Phil and I. I was nervous about it as I'm a restless sleeper, but we all made it through just fine.
Pumpkin Picking
Saturday, after spending the early morning playing with all the children, we packed up the babes and headed to a local farm that allowed you to pick out pumpkins and other fresh veggies from their gardens. It was a gorgeous morning, and we had a blast roaming their crops, picking out tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and beets for our dinner salad- talk about farm to table! There were also several pumpkin patches with the pumpkins still on the vine, and we helped our local friends choose their Halloween pumpkins. Our friends had children that were older than Maddy, so it was fun to see them get excited about choosing their pumpkins or playing with the straw, or riding in the wheelbarrows. It was a gorgeous morning with friends, and it made Phil and I super excited about the years to come and the experiences we can have with Maddy.
The rest of the morning was spent at one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma (Buena Vista). They had a gorgeous outdoor space, and we spent a couple hours sitting outside, sharing a bottle of white and enjoying the fall sunshine.
The afternoon revolved around nap times and visitors from SF, which meant relaxation time by the pool. It was wonderful to have the space and downtime to catch up with our friends - this California crew has known Phil long before we ever met, and are his closest friends. They welcomed me into their circle of friendship when Phil and I started dating, and all have become dear friends to me. The last time we were all together, only one of the couples had children, and we were spending the weekend enjoying wine country sans children. Oh how times have changed. While it's harder to relax, unwind and catch up while chasing after, feeding and comforting the babies, there was an added bonus to knowing we were all in it together - we all understood each other's challenges and helped each other out when a baby needed holding, a face needed wiping, a child needed attention or focus.
Daddy I love wine country!
Sunday was much of the same, with a lovely visit to a winery in the morning, and hanging around the house in the afternoon. The highlight of the afternoon was being able to get Maddy into the pool in the backyard. I had been wanting to get Maddy in the water for a long time- I grew up swimming, and feeling confident swimming and in a pool is something I want to pass on to my daughter. While Maddy has been exposed to water during bath time (and tolerates it- but I wouldn't say loves it) she had yet to be immersed in a full on pool situation much less gotten her head underwater.
We lucked out with a pool and hot tub combination. The hot tub temperature could be adjusted, so we were able to turn the heat up enough to make it comfortable for the kiddies without getting it too hot for them. Maddy’s first pool experience was a very positive one - she absolutely loved being in the water and passed between mommy and daddy, and even tolerated being dunked underwater. I for one could not get enough of the experience.
Our final night was spent sitting out by the fire with our dear friends, laughing and enjoying our time together. After several nights of Maddy protesting bedtime, we were finally able to get her to sleep (albeit in the middle of the bed with pillows around her) and able to enjoy some uninterrupted adult time. It was the perfect end to the great vacation with friends.
Our trip home ended up being almost as eventful as our trip to California - while we had a much easier time getting to the airport, through security, and to our gate, halfway through our flight, Phil started to feel bad - really bad. Holding the barf bag bad. Maddy did great throughout the trip, again sleeping, laughing and cooing at her neighbors. She did great when we got off the plane, got our bags, and rode the train to our car. She really was fantastic throughout the whole journey - right up until she was in her carseat and on her way to home sweet home. Then she was done. She’d had quite enough of the trip, and wanted to make sure we knew it. At this point I was driving us home, and Phil was in the back seat with her, trying to calm her down, and not lose his lunch. At one point in the trip, I had to pull over and get her out of the car to calm her down, at which point I thought Phil was actually going to lose his cookies. We somehow made it all the way home, and I started the task of getting Maddy changed, fed and ready for bed. Phil made a bee line for the bathroom, and I didn't see him for the rest of the night. I spent the rest of the night in Maddy’s room, sleeping in a chair and trying to console her to sleep.
It wasn't quite the perfect ending to the trip, but it did justify our plans to take one more day off after traveling, to recuperate and get settled back into our daily routine. After the trip we’d had, it might have been the most relaxing day of the whole trip!