Thanksgiving in Oakland

Friday, November 28, 2008

We're back from our trip to Oakland for Thanksgiving, which as a whole was a great trip, but there were parts to it that weren't easy. For one thing, after we'd checked our bags and made it through security, Sam threw up all over the place. We didn't even know he was unwell until that point. Later, he threw up on the plane in the aisle as we were boarding. There was a line of impatient people behind us, and I about made myself sick with the stress of it all. Not a moment in parenting I want to remember anytime soon! By the time we made it to Marylou's, where we stayed for the week, Sam threw up on her lawn, and that was it for the vomiting. He laid downstairs and watched movies for most of that first day.

But by the following day, he was up and playing, although I could tell he wasn't back to normal yet. We went into San Francisco via the BART and rode the San Francisco Cable Car to Fisherman's Wharf.

Once at Fisherman's Wharf, we ran into the guy with the dog, cat, and rat. He's even on youtube--check him out! Landon's cousin Sarah loves rats, and even kissed this one on the nose.

It was a rainy day in the city, but we all had a great time despite the puddles. Landon's Uncle Danny is great with kids, and was able to get Juniper to sleep for me. Needless to say, he became an instant friend of mine.

We went to the Aquarium of the Bay along Fisherman's Wharf, and Sam was fascinated. You know what it was like when you were a kid and you were afraid you wouldn't see it all, so you dashed from one exhibit to the next in a hurried manner yelling, "Look, Mommy!" Okay, well, that was what he did for two hours.

I put on a happy face, although I'll admit it wasn't my favorite aquarium.

I had a great time, because when you get to see the world through the eyes of a three year old, everything is 100 times more exciting.

Louise Bourgeois’s bronze sculpture titled “Crouching Spider,” at Pier 14 made the perfect spot for a group photo. Sam had fallen asleep in the stroller (this never happens!) after visiting the aquarium, so from left to right it's Landon, Juniper, Karli, Danny, and Larry, Landon's two uncles and his mom's two brothers.

Later that night, we had a delicious vegetarian dinner at Larry and Heather's. Here I am chatting with Sam, Landon's grandfather.

The next morning, we all went for a hike. Sam stayed behind to play with Aidan at Marylou's house, and I carried Juniper in the ERGO. It was a foggy morning, but once we got to the top, the fog magically lifted before our eyes (literally), and the view was beautiful.

Brothers and sisters: from left to right, Susan, Larry, Marylou, and Danny.

Here is where we sat when the fog lifted. The view was beautiful. Juniper was getting pretty fussy at this point, but finally settled once we started walking again. The one thing I've taken away in my four years of parenting is that no matter what the age, kids like to keep moving!

This state park apparently leases land to farmers, who graze their cows. Interesting use of land, in my opinion. The cows didn't seem to mind us, although I minded their cow pies!

The hills looked just like this all around us. Such a beautiful place.

Juniper is pointing at the cows. It's so great to observe them seeing things for the first time.

Landon's brother Janssen and their Mom, Susan.

Isn't it beautiful?

Janssen and I had some catching up to do, as he's been living in the Bay area for many years now.

Thanksgiving Day is always a lot of fun with great wine, food, conversation, and games. This year, there was a wii, and even Juniper was smart enough to know it was something pretty darn cool.

Every year, we take group shots in front of Marylou's house. Here are all the siblings with Sam and Rachel on Landon's Mom Susan's side of the family. From left to right, Larry, Rachel, Marylou, Danny, Susan, and Sam.

Waiting for our turn to be photographed, I chatted with Landon's cousin from Baltimore, Sarah.

Picture with all the "kids." From left to right: Landon, Janssen, Mischa, Sarah, Karli, Juniper, Alexis, Sam, and Aidan.

Sarah finished a whole book of Sudoku while she was in Oakland, and even let Juniper try one.

Juniper had a few questions, but overall, she did just fine on her first try.

And there she goes, in her little fall outfit.

Janssen, Landon's younger brother, played and sang some songs on the piano before dinner.

Even Sam, Landon's grandfather and Sam's namesake, tried his hand at wii.

Juniper was a little tired after Thanksgiving dinner.

Even by Thanksgiving, Sam was still not himself. Here he looks a little pale, playing with a rubber octopus of Aidan's. An octopus that ended up coming home with us to Portland.

I have to admit that I broke down (wait, is it considered breaking down when you order one fairly often (a.k.a. on a daily basis)) and ordered a few quad venti egg nog lattes on this trip.

One of my favorite parts about visiting Landon's family in Oakland every year is visiting my oldest and dearest friend Kerrie. Here we are after all these years, and we each have a boy and a girl, only in the reverse order.

Juniper loves the baby swing. Here she is in Pleasanton, CA, a city Kerrie was kind enough to drive to so we could meet.

Still some fall leaves lying around. There are still three more weeks left to the fall season, you know!

Kerrie's little girl Abbie (4) with Sam (3) on the playground in Pleasanton.

Juniper was really interested in this bike parking rail.

After spending a couple of hours at the park, we all went next door to Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate. As you can see, Sam and Abbie became fast friends.

Later that night, we met Landon's grandparents (Sam and Rachel), his parents, and his brother Janssen at Sam and Rachel's assisted living facility for dinner. It was such a nice evening & the food was great!

Landon's Aunt Marylou and Uncle Ken agreed to watch Sam and Juniper so we could have dinner with his grandparents. Apparently, Juniper didn't cry once. We came home to Sam sitting on the couch while Ken read to him . . .

and Miss Juniper fast asleep on Aunt Marylou's shoulder. I really do need to see about getting babysitters on a regular basis so Landon and I can go out on a date once in awhile. I think I could get used to this!

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