Tuesday, July 16, 2013

California Girls

The West Coast portion of our whirlwind vacation started this last week with an ominous landing at SFO on the runway right next to the burned out 777 that crashed the day before we landed.  Luckily, the kids were distracted packing up their carry-ons and didn't notice the wreckage just feet away from us.  I, on the other hand, lost my breath and worried that I might not be able to board another flight after seeing something so horrific. 

Luckily, the rest of our week was completely the opposite - exciting and full of fun and laughter.  I know many of you won't believe that we packed so much into a week, but if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that the Skaggs seem to be on a different space and time continuum.  We can do more in a weekend than most people do all month long.


Based in Millbrae at Kevin's parents' house, we were able to bop around San Francisco and the Bay Area all week long.

I'm never home until I've had lunch at my favorite lunch spot, The Ramp.  This was my every other week lunch date spot with my Dad, before leaving for New York.  The weather could not have cooperated more and we had a great day with Dad along the water at the Embarcadero and the Ferry Building.

We arrived a little early for dinner at our good friends Nate and Naomi's house in the Presidio, so we checked out the Walt Disney Museum next door to them.  It's a great museum in such a beautiful setting in the Presidio, overlooking Crissy Field and the Bay.

And of course it was great to catch up with our friends and see the most adorable little princess, Sloane.


The kids and I spent most of Tuesday bonding with Rudy, our dog who has been staying behind in Millbrae while we're away.  He's a much happier dog with a big backyard than he would be in an 800 square foot apartment on the 31st floor in New York.  But we all miss him terribly and we had a good love fest out at our old favorite stomping grounds, Mavericks Beach.

That evening we got to meet Francesca's new little sister Daniela, who is a complete doll.  I threatened to take her back to New York with me but Jake fought me for her.


Today I tried to get the kids to do some summertime homework, with mixed results.

Ella multitasked by working on her tan while writing in her journal.
Holden on the other hand wasn't shy about letting me know how he feels about summertime homework.
We all enjoyed the gorgeous weather and cool pool in Millbrae for the morning and took some much needed downtime.

...before heading out again.  We hopped up to Berkeley to meet up with Alyssa and kids, a sort of halfway point between us.  The meeting spot was the Adventure Playground at the Berkeley Marina.  If you've never heard of Adventure Playground, this sign might give you an idea of what you're in for.

It is the only playground I've ever been to where you have to sign a liability waiver before you enter.  As the sign says, when you turn in nails or large wood splinters or other dangerous items, you can exchange them for a hammer or a saw.  The playground is built by the kids, complete with nails protruding out and loose steps about to fall through.  The kids LOVED it.

Here's a video of Holden's first zip line experience.  Take special note of his graceful landing.

We also got to eat a quick lunch at one of my favorite Mexican lunch spots in Berkeley, Tacubaya.

Drinking Horchata

That evening I got to catch up with my good buddies from Book Group over a delicious Italian dinner.  I caught up on the gossip and got some good book recommendations.  I do miss Book Group.


Thursday brought us back to the old 'hood.  Our good friends and former next door neighbors SungSim and Matt, had us over for a delicious lunch.  Their house is probably one of the kids' favorite places in the world.  They love their kids and their house is a giant play space for kids.  It was so nice to see them but I could tell when we were leaving that this stop, more than any so far, made the kids really homesick.  They really miss being able to just wander next door and instantly find playmates.

I had another girls night that evening in San Francisco.  For the last 16 years a group of us that all worked together at a travel agency many years ago have been getting together regularly for pot luck dinners.  In the beginning it was monthly, then as many of us took other jobs our Girls Nights have been more like quarterly.  We've seen each other through marriages, children, divorces, cancer, moves and deaths.  It's a testament that even though many of us aren't in contact with each other in between Girls Nights, we are still going strong on our pot lucks sixteen years later.  I love these gals.

FRIDAY and the weekend:

Friday morning the kids and I met up with a dear old friend Maureen for brunch in the Mission.  We go way back to working together at a home health agency and have stayed close.  It was so great to see her and also to get some great food in one of my favorite parts of the city.

From the city I went straight to Berkeley to drop the kids off with my sister-in-law for the weekend and picked up three of my closest girlfriends for a much needed weekend of female bonding and relaxation in Calistoga.  How did I get so lucky?

We've done a girls weekend away for a couple years in a row now.  It's amazing that it works out at all since Ingrid is coming all the way from Madagascar and me from New York. 
We spent the weekend floating in this natural spring pool, getting mud baths...

 ...relaxing at the Buddha Pond...
...and drinking exotic cocktails.  And of course, endless girl talk.

The kids had a great weekend getting in more cousin time, hitting the movies and eating pizza.  I even got to get in on the action on Sunday afternoon when our cousins Michael and Frances and their kids (who recently visited us in New York), came out to Berkeley for an afternoon of play.

I'll say it again.  How did I get so lucky?

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