Sunday, June 26, 2016

California Dreamin'

The second half of our vacation was spent with David's aunt and uncle, Lana and Barry, and their two kids, Kailer and Taylyn. Lana is just eight years older than David, and since he spent so much time at his grandparents' when he was growing up, they were practically raised like brother and sister. Barry's family is from Sacramento and that's where they live now (kind of crazy backstory: Lana and Barry met in New Orleans at a Mardi Gras parade when Lana was still living in St. Louis and Barry was finishing medical school at Tulane). Anyway, Barry's family has a house in Tahoe, so we drove their from Oakland to meet up with them and stay at the Tahoe house for a few days.

It was a long drive (especially because the girls really only slept for the first half of it, and then we got a lot of chatter/whining from the backseat--Coco basically spent the last half hour of the trip yelling, "Uppa! Uppa! All done!" which was somewhat cute at first but she got increasingly angry about it so we were all feeling pretty exasperated and ready to get the heck out of the rented RAV4 by the time we got to Tahoe City and stopped at the grocery store.

It was great to see everybody, and Zuzu was super excited to hang out with her cousins. 

Coco, as expected, took a little longer to warm up, but by the time she went to bed Saturday night, she made the rounds to everybody with her little lips puckered up for good night kisses.

The next day Lana and I went for a walk/run with Coco in the jogging stroller, and then we all headed out to "Rock Beach" (also known as Carnelian Bay Beach), which is within walking distance of the Tahoe house. 

Zuzu kept calling Lake Tahoe "the ocean!" which made us laugh, but she had a good time swimming and throwing rocks and playing with her cousins. Coco would get in the water and then her eyes would get super big and she'd say "Coooooold!" (Accurate!).

We came back from the beach to have lunch, then Coco went down for a nap and everybody else went to play miniature golf. I assured David that I was MORE than happy to stay back at the house with the sleeping baby, and then I spent an hour or so relaxing in the hammock and reading on the deck and just staring up at the tall trees and the blue, blue sky. It was fantastic.

That night we went out to dinner at a nice restaurant on the waterfront. You'll recall that Zuzu went swimming, then played miniature golf, and spent zero minutes napping. By the time we sat down at dinner, she was not exactly her most charming self. 

She was bound and determined to order a hot dog (gag gag gag me) off the kids menu, and when she received that hot dog, she said, "I'm not eating THIS PART!" and put the whole hot dog off to the side while she at the bun. (I would complain about paying $8 for my kid to eat a hotdog bun, but Barry and Lana treated us to dinner).

At one point, Coco's sandal came partly off and she was crying about it and saying, "Zuzu" when Zuzu (for once) hadn't actually had anything to do with it, and Zuzu started SCREAMING across the table at me that she DID NOT DO ANY-FING TO COCO and I was glad we were sitting outside, but we still got some looks from other diners.

A guy was there playing guitar and Zuzu asked (after eating her hotdog bun) if she could dance. At this point, I figured as long as she wasn't screaming we were doing well, so I said sure. They did some dancing (also known as spinning in circles) and played some ring around the rosy and were a general nuisance to the wait staff and probably a few other diners, although one woman who'd obviously had a few drinks knelt down and talked enthusiastically with them for a few minutes. It was a nice restaurant and my vegetarian ravioli was delish, but I was relieved when we were all finished and ready to get out of there.

The Tahoe house had one bedroom downstairs with two twin beds and two bedrooms upstairs. Lana and Barry slept in the master suite with Kailer on the daybed in there. David and I took the other room upstairs with Coco in a pack & play. 

The plan (Taylyn's idea, I think) was for Taylyn and Zuzu to sleep downstairs by themselves, but of course that never panned out. Zuzu has such a hard time settling down to go to sleep, and when I read to her and tried to get her to doze off in the twin bed, she kept saying, "Are you going to stay here, Mommy?" and finally said, "I want to sleep upstairs with Mommy and Daddy." So the three of us shared a bed for the vacation. I actually don't mind sleeping with her at all--she's sweet and snuggly and as much as I love her, I swear I love her 10% more when she's sleeping--but I do really like it when she goes to bed at least an hour before we do.

Our next full day in Tahoe, we went to Sand Harbor to swim (ha) and play. 

The water was even more frigid than it had been at the rock beach. Splashes felt like needles. I later did some googling and determined that surface temperature of the lake was somewhere around 53 degrees. I found it to be unbearably cold, and even the kids couldn't get in it for more than a few minutes before they were back on the sand with their teeth chattering. 

Coco and I had a lovely time just lounging and snuggling under an umbrella, and I was sure she was going to doze off on my lap, but she held out for a late nap back at the house.

The only downside to the beach was that the air was so perfect it was easy to forget how much sun you were getting, because you don't get so hot. Perhaps the Midwest is actually protecting our skin when the prime hours for UV rays are also those in which it's so hot and humid that being outside feels pretty miserable? At any rate, I was trying to be super vigilant about applying sunscreen, but Zuuz's cheeks still got a little pink. I was not mother-henning over David, though, and between the altitude, the sun exposure, and probably drinking too much beer and not enough water in general while we were in Tahoe, he stood up as we were getting ready to leave the beach and suddenly felt woozy and sick. I ended up having to drive the rental car back to the house with a brief stop at the grocery store to get 7UP, Gatorade, and Smart Water, as he had turned totally gray and looked like he was going to barf.

He ended up taking a nap with Coco in the cool, dark bedroom, and then drinking all the Smart Water and by dinner time he felt back to himself.

I tried to be good about drinking water, and even brought my trusty stainless steel Starbucks cup with the straw out there with me, but I find it much harder to drink lots of water on vacation when you're always on the go and it's not always convenient to pee. And also when you just feel like it's a good idea to be day drinking a beer or sangria because it's vacation. I'm making a conscious effort to drink more of it now that I'm home though, because I know I feel the difference. (Super boring water talk over now.)

Dinner at Tahoe was an outdoor affair back at the house, and I told David that the cost of living in California might be crazy, but you are really paying for the weather. It was just so freaking beautiful, even when it was hot. The sun felt hotter in Tahoe, but the breeze felt cooler, and there's something so awesome about wearing shorts and swim suits during the day and snuggling up outside in sweatshirts and blankets to watch an outdoor movie on the deck in the evening. 

Plus you have mountains and beaches and desert all within an easy drive of each other--it's really pretty great. I haven't spent much time out east, but I'm pretty sure I'm in the West Coast Best Coast camp.

It was also so sweet to see Zuzu and Coco with their big cousins. Kailer and Taylyn were patient and kind with the girls and laughed a lot at their antics (even their bratty behavior). At eight years old, Taylyn was the perfect age to entertain the girls and enjoy playing with them, and Kailer (who is almost twelve) kept an eye on all the little girls. It truly made for a more relaxing vacation than I had expected! It also made me wish we lived closer, or that it was easier (and cheaper) to fly from St. Louis to Sacramento. I have such fond memories of playing with my cousins when I was little, and I wish the girls had some who lived closer. Of course, it also makes me appreciate the good friends we have and the way that friends can really feel like family. (Particularly when the parents have decided that they are betrothed.)

Our last night in Tahoe we got so chilly outside that we came inside to play silly board games and we let all the kids stay up way too late because we were enjoying ourselves so much that no one wanted to stop playing Family Feud to put the kiddos to bed.

Also, I totally let the kids get on California time and I'm finding that switching back to being two hours earlier is waaaaay harder than staying up late (even for me and David!).

In short, I would absolutely take a vacation house in Tahoe, we're all sleeping in until at least 8:30am Central Standard Time, and I would also like to have an eight-to twelve-year-old Mother's Helper move in with me to entertain my children so that I can read more novels.

Coco and I were both sad to say good bye to beautiful Tahoe.

Monday, June 20, 2016

I Wish They All Could Be California Girls...

Friday was our last full day in the bay area, and we decided to check out a museum that Sarah had recommended: The Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. It's geared specifically toward kids age 8 and younger. It made me think of companies that make tons of money by creating things for kids because in my experience, one of the greatest pleasures as a parent is the vicarious enjoyment of your kids having an amazing time. If we'd been in San Francisco without the girls, our vacation would have looked completely different (and we would have checked out the MOMA), but as it was, I spent the day goofily grinning at what a great time our kids were having.

This museum is fantastic. It's built in an old army barricks and the different buildings are differently themed/organized so there's an art room and a train room and a tot area and a big room with a rotating exhibit (it was the Magic Treehouse when we were there) and there's also a big outdoor play area.

The girls had such a good time and it was so sweet to see Zuzu kind of take care of and lead Coco around a place with other kids. It makes me glad they will be at the same school next year, even though Coco will be in the Toddler House.

We went there right after lunch and were there about two and a half hours. We really could have stayed longer, but we wanted to drive over to Muir Woods. The girls had snoozed in the car on the drive to Sausalito, but Zu still kind of hit a wall around 3:00 pm when she was obviously tired but instead of being droopy she got wired and kind of bratty. Anyway, we decided to pack it in and wrestled/cajoled the girls into their carseats.

Of course, by the time we got to Muir Woods, both girls were snoozing and we were reluctant to wake them up to traipse through the redwood forest because we knew how unpleasant they could make the experience, not only for us, but for every other redwood forest inhabitant within earshot. We kept driving, talking about whether we should go back and wake them up or not, and then ended up in the parking lot of Muir Woods Beach. David stopped the car so we could look at the ocean and Zuzu woke up. He asked her if she wanted to go to the beach. "No fanks." I pointed out that she didn't actually know what a beach was, and when he explained it was the water, her eyes lit up. "Can I go swimming?!"

The weather was chilly and overcast, and I knew the water would be cold, so I said that we'd just wade in and get our feet wet (famous last words).

A few minutes later, we were traipsing down the walk to the beach, David carrying a sleepy Coco, and Zuzu holding my hand and skipping with excitement.

She immediately ran down the beach to the water, squealing as the foam curled over her toes. She was so amazed and delighted by the waves. She'd chase them out to the low point of the wet sand and then run, shrieking with joy, as they chased her back up to the dry sand. She kept saying, "I can't believe this!" because she was so amazed.

Talk about experiencing something vicariously through your kids. It was incredible to see the ocean and the surf through Zuzu's eyes, to marvel at this amazing body of water and its endless waves, to feel the joy of a narcissistic almost-four-year-old who thinks the world revolves around her and the ocean is there precisely for her enjoyment.

Coco, predictably, had a different reaction to the waves. She was very uncertain about the water licking her toes and fussed a little bit, clinging fearfully to my legs and demanding, "Uppa! Uppa!" in a somewhat panicky tone. I picked her up and held her and she observed her sister, running, skipping, and dancing in the surf. It took a few minutes, but Coco decided to join her. And she loved it as much as Zuzu, though she was unwilling to get in quite so deep. Each time we'd run back from the lapping water, she'd request, "More? More?" in her sweet baby way: "Mo-ah? Mo-ah?" (it's kind of weird that both of our girls seem to have a slight Boston accent, particularly notable at AT&T Park when Zuzu wanted to "slide down the bee-ah!").

We all had such a great time that it was hard to leave, even with a gray and overcast sky and chilly waves. I should have just let the girls put on their swim suits because Zuzu fell (it was technically an accident, but she didn't really resist it) so she was completely soaked, and Coco and I got surprised by a wave while wading, so my pants were drenched up to the knees even though I'd rolled them up, and Coco was wet up to her waist.

We were later getting back than we'd expected, so we ended up not meeting up with Sarah and Owen (though Sarah assured me her need to go to bed early had nothing to do with Coco and the red marker) that night, but we made plans to meet up with with them at a park (safely away from family photographs) the next morning before we left Oakland.

It ended up working out really well, because it gave us time to eat some leftovers we'd stashed in the vacation house fridge, and give the girls a bath, and get our suitcases reorganized and ready to go. We bought a bottle of wine and David and the girls also made lemonade with fresh lemons they picked from the tree outside (we love California!).

The Bay Area was just the first half of our vacation, but it was so, so great.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

California Girls We're Undeniable, Fine, Fresh, Fierce, We Got It On Lock

Second full day of vacation! We had a lazy morning. We all slept in the guest bedroom at our "vacation house"--David and Zuzu and me in the bed and Coco in a pack & play. This is not so different from home, but of course nobody sleeps quite as well when they are somewhere else. Still, the bed was comfy and except for a LITERAL KICK IN THE FACE I got from Zuzu at one point in the wee hours of the morning, I was pleasantly surprised that the girls slept pretty well. (This does not always happen when you skip regular naps and exhaust them with activities.)

Since the ferry had gone so well the day before, we decided to take it back over to San Francisco again to do some of the touristy stuff around Pier 39. Our first stop was a quick detour to Target to buy diapers, but then we parked at the Alameda ferry stop and took the boat from there. The girls discovered spinning chairs on the ferry ride and had THE BEST time ever, while I put on my motion sickness wrist bands because watching them spin while also ferrying across the water on a boat was making me feel yicky.

David and I did the Alcatraz tour back in 2009, so we skipped that, but we thought Zuzu would get a kick out of the sea lions and riding a streetcar.

 Well, the line was a million miles long and she just kept talking about the carousel back at the pier, so we ended up skipping the streetcar too. We walked around and browsed touristy shops and ate at a seafood restaurant with beautiful views of the harbor. It was slightly upscale compared to some of the fish places on the pier, so of course our children behaved as though it was their first introduction to civilization ever.

We asked for a high chair and a booster seat, and Zuzu immediately had a throw-herself-on-the-floor sobbing fit because SHE wanted a high chair just like Coco's (translation: she needed to eat and sleep). The hostess said they were actually running low on high chairs and we didn't want to reward the tantrum, but we also didn't want to make everyone in the restaurant listen to that nonsense. Hashtag parenting in public is difficult.

Anyway, we managed to distract her with something that was NOT a high chair, and then we ordered them a child's pasta meal to split for $9.95 because that was our punishment for bringing them there. Of course Zuzu ate one bite of noodles and filled up on free bread and Coco eschewed the pasta all together in favor of sharing David's ginormous seafood platter, but at least they weren't screaming when the food arrived. Still, their behavior at lunch was not great and I was relieved when we got out of there. (Sidenote: We've used a LOT of public restrooms on this vacation, and they are very good about following bathroom rules, which mostly consist of "Do not open the stall while Mama is peeing" and "Do not touch the toilet." It's nice to know that they can behave themselves in some situations.)

We strolled around after lunch, hoping both girls would fall asleep since we'd brought two strollers. Coco obliged, but Zuzu was amped up about the carousel (which had had someone working on it earlier) so eventually we made our way back over to the pier. Much to her dismay, the carousel was still closed, but there was a magic show going on, so that entertained her for a bit while I bought a couple of little souvenirs (a travel coffee mug and a streetcar Christmas ornament that Zuzu chose even though she didn't care about riding the streetcar, which Coco consistently misidentified as a "BUS!").

We had dinner again with Sarah and Erik and Owen--tacos this time (my favorite!)--and watched a very disappointing Warriors game. The kids dressed up as super heroes, which was adorable, and Coco came in saying "Mine? Mine?" because she wanted a cape like Zuzu and Owen had. Erik fashioned one for her out of a bandana and it was adorable. Owen and Zuzu fought over Magna Tiles and teamed up against pretend bad guys to have some epic sword fights.

At one point, Coco came into the living room having drawn a goatee on her own face with red marker. We laughed at her, so Owen grabbed a marker and imitated her, which was cute. It was washable, so we took the marker from her and wiped her face with a baby wipe and really thought nothing of it. A bit later, Sarah discovered red marker on the kitchen floor, but that also wiped up with no problem and we kind of laughed about Coco and the red marker.

It was only when we were following the sounds of the kids' voices all the way back to the master bedroom in the back of the house that we discovered Coco had made the rounds with this red marker: She'd scribbled all over two gray chairs in the bedroom (fortunately they had microfiber slip covers) and she'd made a huge red mark across a foam core mounted photograph that Sarah had displayed on a side table between the chairs.

You guys. This was not any old photograph.

My daughter had taken a red marker and slashed across the face of Sarah and Erik's son Otis in the photograph that had been displayed at his funeral. This was a print that Sarah's best friend had created for her at a time when Sarah couldn't even cope with looking at photos and making decisions. This was a print that had been color-corrected to best represent the beautiful, beautiful baby who had died just shortly after he was born.

And Coco had drawn a red marker line across Otis's sweet, chubby cheeks, down through his perfect bow mouth, and onto the white blanket he was lying on.

Sarah said something like, "Oh, and she marked on Otis," in this sad voice that was also somehow matter-of-fact, but I gasped out loud and my stomach twisted up in knots so tight I thought I was going to puke. My eyes filled with tears as I asked Sarah if she had digital copies and if I could get it reprinted for her. She was taking it all in stride and saying nice things like, "If any baby could get away with doing this, it would be your kid," but I was just stricken. (She wasn't sure about the digitals, and I knew that even a perfect reprint just wouldn't be quite the same, you know?)

I suggested she get a damp paper towel and just see if the marker would come off with a bit of rubbing, but she was afraid of damaging the photograph. But I thought if the paper towel was just barely wet it might be okay, so I said as much, and she asked if I would try it. (!)

Of course I dreaded being doubly responsible for the destruction of a precious memento (I mean SERIOUSLY WHY DID THIS HAPPEN???), but I decided to try it just a bit on the part of the photo that was the white blanket.

And THANK GOODNESS the marker came off.

You can still see a tiny hint of pink if you pick up the photo and study it closely, but I didn't want to rub the photo any harder, and we decided to just call it a kiss from Coco. Coco the marker-wielding toddler bent on destroying the most precious objects in other people's homes, particularly people who have been so extremely generous to us (not to mention the fact that Sarah's friendship kind of saved my life back in 2011).

In return for your kindness, I'll go ahead let my kid graffiti up an irreplaceable photograph of your deceased child.

(Dear BLM friends: Would you like us to vacation in your city and visit your home and deface your most precious mementos? CALL ME!)

Anyway, Sarah was incredibly cool about it, and Erik later assured her that they actually have multiple copies of that photo, and the marker came out of the chairs with a Shout wipe and Coco will be very, very sorry once she develops a conscience. In the meantime, lock up your markers when that kid is around.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

California Knows How to Party

We are in the midst of our vacation and considering selling our big house in St. Louis to buy a studio apartment in San Francisco.

But seriously, everything has been great. We lucked out with the most fabulous place to stay. David had been looking at hotels and getting sticker shock (we're not in Kansas anymore!) and we had decided we'd be better off renting a house or apartment since the price was comparable and we'd have a kitchen and parking for the rental car. I was texting a few addresses to my friend Sarah who lives in Oakland to see how close they were to her or if she'd recommend the neighborhood and then she realized that the dates we were in town were the same dates her mom was on vacation. So we worked out a little house lending slash cat sitting situation and we could not be happier about it.

In order to avoid making these entries a million years along, I'll do a day at a time. The minutiae of my vacation, for your reading pleasure! 

Coco spent the first day terrified of the car and fearfully shouting "Meow! Meow!" While trying to climb my leg like a kitten anytime she spotted the actual cat, who was extremely curious and friendly. Since then, she has warmed up to a level of affection bordering on obsession. Her first words this morning were, "Where Meow-meow?" The cat, for his part, has shifted from curious to mildly annoyed and now tried to avoid Coco entirely. Oh, how the tables have turned! 

This visit to San Francisco is, of course, quite different than the one David and I made in 2009. I was here for a conference so David tagged along. His aunt and her kids also met up with us for part of the time. We stayed in a swanky hotel downtown since my university was covering the cost, we bought day passes for the streetcar, and although we did the touristy stuff--Alcatraz and Pier 39--we also structured our days around visits to coffee shops and bars. And it was November, so the tourist crowds were significantly smaller! I felt like we were the only ones watching the sea lions; this time the crowds were pretty crazy and we were trying to navigate a stroller.

We had an uneventful flight here, which was a relief and a major win given that it was four hours long. I give Zuzu an A and Coco a B+ for in-flight behavior. I bought Zuzu this scratch-off picture of Rapunzel at the dollar store in St. Louis and that thing was an awesome time-occupier. It's a sparkly picture that's covered in scratch-off stuff like a lottery ticket but somehow not as messy. It comes with a plastic scraper about the size of a small pencil. She was totally into it and called her her "work" and spent the first part of the flight busily scraping away to reveal all the sparkles.

She also colored and did some connect the dot and other activities in a little Care Bears activity book I picked up (the dollar store is a treasure trove of in-flight entertainment, seriously). She did spend a little bit of time watching the iPad, but was more interested in the "new" toys and drawing pictures or coloring in a coloring book.

Coco was obviously less easy to entertain that way. She didn't really want to color so she mostly kept busy by eating snacks (David told I was "overdoing it" with the amount of snacks I packed for the airplane. Let's just say thath I didn't ever say "I told you so," but I was quietly feeling pretty smug about it. Those kids want snacks all the freaking time. Anyway, Coco ate her fill of snacks, banged on the tray a bit, played peek-a-boo over the back of the seat with the kids behind her, and finally fell asleep in my arms and then got heavy and sweaty enough that I transferred her to David's arms where she slept for the second half of the flight.

At the airport, Zuzu was super excited by all the escalators and elevators and air trains. She made friends on the train by insisting on sitting in the one open seat by herself, and then turning to the woman next to her and saying in her most engaging voice, "What's your name?" (The woman's name was Maura. The other woman sitting next to her was named Sharon. I would have NEVER KNOWN the name of anyone on the train if it weren't for Zuzu being such a friendly Midwesterner.)

We picked up the rental car (Zuzu pouted because she wanted "The car with the doors that open by itself and you NEVER LET ME ride in one!" otherwise known as a minivan, which we were not going to pay extra for). I'd hoped to see Sarah and her family that night, but by the time we got out of the airport and into Oakland and stopped and picked up a few groceries, it was already 7:00pm California time, which meant 9:00pm Missouri time, which meant that my kids were tired and wired and just needed to eat dinner and go to bed. So that's what we did.

Our first full day here was Wednesday and we went to a ballgame. The weather has been beautiful--sunny, breezy, high 60s and low 70s. Lots of taking jackets on and off, but so refreshing since we left St. Louis in a heat index of 101 with plenty of humidity thrown in.

We took the ferry over from Oakland, which was so easy and reasonably priced that we decided to do it again the next day. It worked well for having strollers and for being very exciting for the girls. David wore Cardinal gear, which invited several conversations from strangers and one snarky but good-humored comment from a bike taxi: "I was going to say we take strollers, but not for cheatin' Cardinals!"

We got there plenty early (in part because David said the game started at noon when in fact it started at 12:45pm) so we decided to just walk to the stadium because it was so gorgeous outside and the walk was all along the waterfront. Of course, Zuzu got tired and we'd only brought one stroller, so David ended up carrying her piggy-back style in the Ergo, which she thought was awesome.

The ball park is beautiful and the kiss area was fun (WHY doesn't Busch Stadium have something like this? It's crazy.) Zuzu spotted the Coke bottle slide and kept insisting, "I want to slide down the beer!"

They played baseball on the tot field and Zuzu slid down the beer/coke slide a couple of times.

I made a huge parenting error when the tube of sunscreen I'd put in the diaper bag turned out to be regular lotion instead, but I wasn't too proud to beg sunscreen from the cute tattooed dad in front of us at the ballgame so the girls didn't get burned. My arms got a little bit toasty (hashtag farmers tan) but nothing too terrible. Just not what I was expecting when the forecast that morning said 62 and overcast!

When we left the ballgame, Zuzu begged for the stroller and promptly fell asleep in it. I put Coco in the Ergo and held her in front of me instead of on my back because I knew she'd fall asleep quickly there. She did, but then her weight became so heavy that I couldn't walk with her any farther, so David had to carry her after taking this photo.

We'd planned to take the BART back up to the pier to catch our ferry back to Oakland, but with two sleeping kiddos we decided to just walk instead. David was wearing Coco in the Ergo and we planned to sit down and have a glass of wine or beer before catching the ferry, but then David had to pee and insisted that he coudln't pee while wearing the baby. So he made me take her, and sure enough, she woke up.

I told him that a mom would have peed while wearing the baby.

Anyway, Coco ran around chasing pigeons while we had drinks outside and Zuzu slept in the stroller. 

Zuzu was still asleep when we got on the ferry, but finally woke up before we docked on the other side, just in time to head for dinner at Sarah's.

Backstory: Sarah was the first BLM (babyloss mama) friend I made after Eliza died. She lost her first son, Otis, in September of 2010. We met through the Glow in the Woods website and sent many, many long and rambling e-mails back and forth in 2011. Her pregnancy with her second son, Owen, gave me hope and he was born the month before I got pregnant with Zuzu. We have declared them to be engaged to each other since Zuzu was born (although Owen really seems smitten with Coco, as Sarah pointed out, she is easier to boss around--for the time being, anyway). I met Sarah in person for the first time when a bunch of us went to Vegas with our rainbow babies. The weirdest thing about meeting her is that it wasn't really weird at all. Obviously Sarah and I would have been friends if we had met some other way.

It felt the same when we all showed up at her house on Wednesday night. The kids immediately started playing together (well, Coco took a few minutes to warm up) and the dogs were excited and I met Sarah's husband Erik for the first time and it just felt like we were old friends. Hanging out with them was easy. We ate pizza and talked and intervened in a few preschooler skirmishes. I love their cute and quirky house and their sweet doggies. Zuzu and Coco were fascinated by Owen's vast collection of Legos as well as his Magna Tiles (SOLD on those--seriously), and his impressive line up of firetrucks.

It was a really nice start to our vacation, and with weird late naps and pushing it past bedtimes, we are well on our way to being on California time!