June 19, 2014

Our Trip to Northern California

Last Tuesday BJ, Ellie, Lorenzo and I loaded up BJ's truck and drove north to San Jose for a soccer tournament BJ was coaching at. We made a week out of it and had our first-ever family vacation that wasn't a trip to visit my family in Utah. It was such a treat to be with my kiddos with BJ by my side for 6 days straight. That is something I could really get used to. Here is a brief run-down of our trip and adventures in Northern California. (Which is now where I want to live...)
Tuesday afternoon we made the 6 and 1/2 hour drive to San Jose. We took the 5 freeway and passed hundreds of miles of farmland. I was in heaven trying to identify all the trees and plants. I LOVE gardening and was entertained for hours thinking about the lives of those farmers who work and sweat and pray and cry to raise their crops. It might not be a glamorous job, but they are a lucky, lucky bunch I tell you. Gardening strips away all the fuss and has a way of centering you on what this life is actually all about. Anyway, we stopped at a Baja Fresh in a gas station that served an amazingly fresh salad with kale and peppers and fresh lettuce and salsa. The finest gas station fare I've ever had to be sure. We sat outside the gas station on a little plot of grass for about 30 minutes and let the kids chase a bouncy ball, and had races together. It was so perfect outside that little gas station- just our little family in our own little world. About an hour or so outside of San Jose we stopped to get gas and just so happened to stop next to this amazing farm stand called Casa de Fruta. We wandered around and bought fresh peaches and strawberries, locally made jam, and some chocolate gummy bears, cinnamon bears, and chocolate caramel peanuts.
(I know the quality of this photo is awful, but the memory was sweet.)
 We got to our hotel late and tried really hard to go to sleep. It was pretty tricky sleeping with all four of us in one room. Especially with Ellie thrashing in the middle of BJ and I and whining and complaining and telling us to move over. Sheesh!
The following day we went to BJ's soccer game, had lunch at the field with the team, and came back to the hotel. BJ was absolutely swamped with work calls so I laid Lorenzo down for a nap and he stayed in the room with him while Ellie and I went swimming with the Afflecks (one of our dear family/soccer friends, whose son plays on the team BJ was coaching).

Then we came back to the hotel and I bathed and fed the kiddos and tried for an hour and a half to get my exhausted children to sleep while BJ went to dinner with the team. They were soooo tired but would not sleep. When BJ got back he took Lorenzo with him to a team meeting, and Ellie and I fell asleep together.
I realized that night that a weakness I have as a mother that I need to improve is that I typically get really grumpy as "mom" at about 8 o'clock. I feel so done, and I just want and feel like I need my own space. The problem is, little children always need their mama, and I'm the only one they've got. There'll be plenty of nights in my future where I will have to be "mom" into the late night hours and I can't change that. What I can change is my grumpy, mean attitude. I need to buck up and take a deep breath and continue to be kind, loving, patient, yet firm. Working on this. Praying about it, and already feeling better.
The next day BJ went to the game alone and I did yoga and hung out in the hotel room with the children. It cracked me up how entertaining the room itself was for the kids. They loved it. We didn't have any toys, or really anything for them to do in it, but they loved that hotel room! Amazing what a ways a little novelty goes, huh? When BJ got back we went to Santana Row for lunch and a little shopping. It was a gorgeous, upscale, high end outdoor mall. We bought Lorenzo and Ellie some clothes at H&M and then ate at a fabulous place called Pizza Antiqua. Amazing, amazing food (fresh strawberry lemonade with mint, margherita pizza, and a sweet corn and ricotta cream ravioli).
Ellie and Lorenzo cracked us up eating their buttered spaghetti noodles. Ellie and Lorenzo kept BJ and I feeling humble as we ate at a snazzy restaurant in a dreamy setting as they flung their food around, banged on the table, and had us chasing them and rearranging objects on the table every few seconds to avoid spills.

We went back to the hotel and watched a world cup game with the team, and then hung out and chatted and played a little with the Afflecks. Then we all took some little naps and then headed to Half Moon Bay as a family. This was the best.
We ate at a sushi restaurant per BJ's request that was great. Fresh sushi is so hard to beat. Then we had s'mores at the Ritz Carlton (as recommended by my BFF Stephanie Gaufin). It was incredible. Absolutely spectacular. This night really couldn't have been better. The setting couldn't be beat.
Being together as a family was so fun. The s'mores took s'mores to a level they have never been with locally homemade grahams, marshmallows, and fine bittersweet chocolate (although BJ hated that part), and the sunset. It was all almost too good to be true.
 The next morning we woke and drove to the Redwood Forest. It was awe-inspiring. Absolutely spectacular. It was reverent and quiet and majestic around those beautiful trees. Very humbling. Such a wonderful experience. My photos don't do any sort of justice.
 Then we ate a wonderful little local Mexican joint called Salsa's and watched Spain play the Netherlands in one of the first World Cup games. It was the perfect setting to watch a soccer game- eating fresh chips and salsa, excellent carne asada and fish tacos, and sipping Mexican Coke, Sangria, and seltzer water. (Which Ellie loves, apparently).
That afternoon BJ had a game that we got back for (they won, and won every other game except for the final in the championship :( ), and then we went to dinner with the team at Sweet Tomatoes and went to the hotel and slept.
The next day BJ's boys had two games so it was soccer all day. Thank heaven for the Afflecks and their sweet children. Ellie was entertained, fed, and taken care of, and Lorenzo just wandered around smiling and happy even though he was deliriously tired. He was practically the team mascot. Everyone adored him and his sweet, welcoming demeanor. The kids were both champs. So good and happy most of the time.

 On Saturday night we were at the soccer field until 10 o'clock, and the children were so good. They had had a couple breaks going to the hotel, resting, and grabbing food with me, but it was a long day. I couldn't help but feel that it was so good for them however. What an ideal setting for a child- there with their parents, with friends to play with and grass to run around on. They entertained themselves, came up with their own fun, and were outside. That unstructured, outdoor playtime is invaluable, and it is becoming harder and harder to come by in this modern world. I was grateful to put my dirty, tired, worn out from play children to sleep that night. This is what childhood's should be made of.
The following morning we woke up early, packed up, checked out, and went to 9 o'clock sacrament meeting. It was Father's Day and we had given BJ gifts on Friday, and cards on Sunday morning. Then his boys had their last game at 11. They lost, and it was heartbreaking. The score was 3-2 and they absolutely deserved to win. They were the better team by far, but it just didn't happen for them. BJ was sad, but not in a bad mood at all. We made the drive home together, and this time took the 101. We saw more miles of farm land and concluded that we are pretty darn lucky to live in California. It is such a lovely place to be. (I loved Northern California so much because not only is it beautiful, and full of farmland, but it is so much less populated. It isn't crowded, packed in, and full of traffic. I love Southern California, but the slower pace and more space seems pretty darn appealing to me.)

It was a blessing to be able to spend this quality time together as a family. It was so good for us to get away, and to have hours and hours and hours together. I feel more in love with and grateful for  this family of mine than ever.


  1. How fun! You could have stopped by Saucha's house on the way home, the 101 is the freeway by their house. I'm the same way at night, I lose all patience. Gabriel has to be asked 50 times to brush his teeth or get changed, then he asks for a million things before he can go to sleep. I dread bedtime; I too need to change my attitude and embrace it.

  2. Your trip to northern Cali sure looks so much fun! Though, it's sad that BJ's team didn't win at the championships, but I'm sure they all did their best. Still, the trip and the sights are great and everyone had a good time, which is the most important. Lastly, that first picture of Half Moon Bay looks so beautiful. How I wish I can go there right now. Hahaha! Thank you for sharing the lovely pictures! I hope everyone is in the best of health!

    Marci Deegan @ Twin Pine