At last we arrived at Lana and Barry's house, which is ginormous. It's so big that they don't even use all of the space--the formal living room and dining room are completely empty and Taylyn uses it to practice tumbling. They spend all their time in the great room/kitchen or outside on the back patio overlooking the pool. If I lived there, I'd do the same!
In addition to an office-turned-guest-room with the addition of a murphy bed, and a huge former billiards room that has been transformed into the toy/play room of my children's dreams, they also have a theatre room downstairs with lounge recliners and a huge screen. It's total lux, though Lana says they rarely use the theatre room because they prefer to watch movies outside with the huge movie screen Barry made out of PVC pipe. Because that's the kind of thing you can do in California as you hang out in your beautifully landscaped yard with your pool and your fire pit.
Anyway, we enjoyed our time at their house as much as Tahoe, and the girls probably even more because they had unlimited access to all of Taylyn's toys and their first introduction to the wonder of American Girl dolls and their vast number of accessories.
I took my coffee outside and streamed a yoga video on my phone and did yoga on the lawn in the morning, which is totally what I would do every morning if I lived in California.
We spent our days sipping sangria or sampling craft brews and hanging out poolside and had delicious dinners outdoors on the patio each night. The temperatures got up over 100 each day, but it never felt that hot (because California is magical) and one evening was chilly enough that we warmed our feet at the fire pit.
The girls didn't nap well (or, in Zuzu's case, at all) so they went to bed early (at least the second night we were there--Zuzu has such a hard time settling down when she's excited or in a new place, and since she'd snoozed in the car on the drive over, I couldn't get her to fall asleep before 10:00pm and I was so pissed because I'd wanted to sit out on the patio and watch a movie so we started bedtime at 8:30pm because she was obviously exhausted from swimming all afternoon, but she was determined to sleep down in Taylyn's room, and then THAT was a bust so we went upstairs to the guest room and she still couldn't relax).
It was a nice, relaxing end to a really great vacation. The only thing I wish had been different would have been getting to see a few more friends I'd hoped to meet up with while we were out there. I have two friends, both named Lindsey, that I'd hoped to see, and it just didn't work out. I'd also like to have been able to keep driving south to see my friends Renel, Melanie, and Amelia, but it just didn't work for this trip. I guess we'll just have to go back to California! (What a hardship.)
The girls were pretty good for the flight home. Coco was a little more difficult to manage and she pooped her pants on the plane, so she only gets a B, but Zuzu gets an A for actually napping on the way home!
The flight home from Sacramento was longer than our flight to San Francisco because you can't get a direct flight from Sac to STL, so we had to land in Phoenix, though we didn't have to change planes. This added a little over an hour to our trip, and five hours is a long time to be on a plane.
Zuzu insisted on wearing the new Elsa nightgown she received as a birthday gift from Lana, and even though it hadn't been washed, she got pretty insistent, so I decided not to fight that battle and just let her wear it. She got so many compliments on it from random people at the airport that I can't imagine she'll ever want to travel in anything else! A bunch of different grandparent-looking-people told me how cute my kids were, and as long as we kept Coco fed and Zuzu supplied with markers, they were easy to travel with.
I actually got antsier than anyone else on the flight home. I was stuck in the middle seat and Coco was stepping on me and demanding food and we hit some turbulence that had my stomach feeling weird and I kind of had a headache and I'd just changed Coco's poop diaper in a bathroom using the toilet lid for a changing table (gag gag gag) and I needed to get the heck OFF that airplane.
When we landed in St. Louis, David headed out to get the car from long term parking while I waited with the girls at baggage claim to collect suitcases and carseats (I should have gotten a photo of David carrying both carseats on his back while also rolling a suitcase). They were in that awful tired + wired stage and just running around like crazy people and I was kind of done parenting. Once we'd gotten our bags and everyone else from our flight had cleared out, we were still waiting for David to return with the car (it felt like it took FOREVER) and the girls just ran around chasing each other in a pretty empty terminal. I did intervene when Coco tried climbing on the rent-a-carts, which infuriated her so much that she SPIT at me (so charming), but mostly I just let them dramatically reenact scenes from Frozen and just chase each other in circles. Some guys outside smoking were actually laughing at them through the window.
Overall, it was a really great family vacation. These ages of almost-four and almost-two are so much fun because of their excitement and enthusiasm about pretty much everything. We definitely had challenging moments, but I always feel so much gratitude that these girls are here and that we are fortunate enough to do things like taking family vacations and braiding pig tails and snuggling for nap time and making cheese faces for photos.