September 10, 2006

Week Two in Cali

Well my brother's wedding was beautiful! They got married on a boat in Newport Beach (I think - that whole strip of beaches blends for me) at sunset. The bride and groom looked wonderful and once they were at the wedding seemed able to relax and enjoy themselves. Our little ones did a good job I am told (Serona and I did not see anyone walk down the aisle because we were downstairs making sure they got upstairs ok) - Sirah was nervous at first but then played to the moment and had to be encouraged by another flower girl to stop walking so slow and get on with it! Ciaran did a good salute when he gave the rings (though I was relieved he did not actually carry the real rings). The kids were troopers and made it through the long night. Though the photographer did get some good pictures of Sirah and Ciaran crashed out sound asleep on the couches by the end of the night. With a wedding on a boat there is no such thing as leaving early and we were actually the last ones off the boat since we had cleanup and helping to do. They headed off to Hawaii for what I expect will be a great honeymoon.

Our little family headed back to their place in Rancho San Margarita (right near Mission Veijo - between San Diego and LA) - it is a beautiful locale in the canyons and mountains. We kept an eye on their pets, fish, kitty and a puppy and got a free place to sleep. We extended our stay almost a full week to just enjoy California.

Monday we headed down to San Diego to visit my brother and his fiancee at their place. We had a great Labor Day BBQ with outstanding weather, good food, fun family conversations and some games. It was a nice relaxing way to spend the day after the wedding. It was a joy to be able to spend time with my folks and brothers as we so rarely get together all as one.

Tuesday and Wednesday Serona and I headed off for a much needed getaway. With family out of town we VERY rarely get these and cherish them when we do. We headed for an overnight in southern california wine country - Temecula. It was a surprise for Serona I had arranged the whole thing ahead of time, including reservations at South Coast Winery which was a lovely place to stay.

We visited 6 wineries in the valley. I really enjoyed three, found one mediocre and was highly underwhelmed by two. If you are ever there be sure to visit Wiens, Wilson Creek, and Mount Palomar and personally I would stay away from Frangipani. Their websites also offer access to their wineclubs which make interesting gift ideas or if you love wine fun for you.

The whole experience was wonderful and while not Sonoma or Napa it was a great way to spend a weekend. I actually liked being in a smaller region and trying less known wines. It was also a beautiful drive straight through the mountains to get there and less than two hours from where we were staying. It was a perfect little getaway with Serona and we enjoyed some good wines and simply forgot about the ones we did not like. The scenery and weather were wonderful, the resort perfect and just being away very refreshing. The kids enjoyed being with grandma and grandpa and I think my parents survived the two days. They immediately headed to Vegas for a little of their own R&R. Thanks again dad and mom!

Thursday and Friday were spent in Altadena (just outside Pasadena) with Serona's sister and her wonderful family. We have not seen each other since they got married and I was pregnant with Sirah. It was great for my kids to get to play with their cousin who is a year older than Rhiannon and for us to hold our newest nephew - who is 5 months old and of course to spend time with their parents. We ate great Salvadoran food, enjoyed concerts by the kids, played football (soccer), and just caught up about life in general. They live a good life and seem very happy and are great parents. It is so nice to see that first hand in your family and I always love seeing people where they live, it shows so much more about them and you can understand their lives better. That is one of the hard things about being away from family, is not experiencing that day in and day out. We enjoyed our visit though it seemed too short.

Our last evening in California we met up with a good friend of ours from college, one we have not seen in over 7 years! We last saw him when I was pregnant with Rhiannon and he headed out to California to be a school teacher. He still is and seems to really enjoy it, now he is teaching 6th grade students in the Beverly Hills area. We met his wonderful wife who works for UCLA and had a nice visit at the Irvine Shopping center.

The kids were crazy as it was late and the good parents we are we offered them funnel cakes. To burn off the energy they literally ran around in circles, jumped up and down and walked it off. We also discovered that some frogs or toads (Ciaran assures me they were toads so they must be) were hiding in the underground vents and we would stop periodically to listen to them and try to see them. Overall the kids hung in there pretty well and just before 11pm Ciaran asked me if we could go home because he was sleepy.

t was just so nice to visit and chat with our friends and learn more about their lives in California. We reminisced some about the good old debate days, he was my debate partner in college and then we coached competing teams against each other. We talked a little about homeschooling and his classes at his school. It was nice to share with each other and I love that there is no sense of judgment or defensiveness between us that can sometimes happen between school teachers and home educators. It was fun for him to meet our kids for the first time. In a way he feels like he knows them somewhat as he has been reading this blog for awhile so that had its own strangeness to itself. He is also working on writing a screenplay so when he makes it big we can say we knew him when! I'll keep you posted on his progress.

We were up super early this morning as we had a long drive to the airport, a rental car to check in and three small children with lots of bags to make it through security. We had an eventful plane ride as I experienced severe barotrauma. I have never experienced ear pain like that in my life. I was crying through most of the descent and realized I would need medical attention when we got home. I had a head cold for much of our Cali trip, the mountain driving did not help and I was already experiencing ear issues before I flew. Upon landing I visited a doctor and discovered that I have a sinus infection, an ear infection and severe barotrauma (Blood and fluid behind my eardrum, swollen shut eustachian tube, just think lots of pain, muffled hearing and the feeling of water in your ear). I am on meds and hope to feel better in the next few days, though these symptoms can last for weeks or even months the doctor said! I have already been asleep twice today which is the only reason I am still up typing. Tomorrow I will download the 680 plus pictures we took and see if there are any good ones to post! Thanks for your prayers and the interest in our day to day lives. School to start sometime in the next two weeks after we get a few field trips under our belt and some semblenace of a fall routine in our lives. By the way we left 80 degree weather to return to a chilling 53 degrees! Welcome back to Minnesota!


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