I’ve been pining away for Northern California ever since we moved away 10 months ago. It has a lot of sentimental value for me because it’s where Forest spent the majority of baby and toddlerhood and where I bonded strongly with women who were also new to the world of motherhood. Not to mention it is a stunningly beautiful place and though Southeast Texas has it’s charms, rolling green hills and mild weather are not among them.
I’d say I feel homesick but can a place I lived temporarily as an adult be considered ‘home’? I guess that since it’s the last place that I felt a sense of belonging and contentedness then ‘homesick’ would be the appropriate word.
I felt very ambivalent about visiting but when my friend Natalie found out her family was being relocated to Singapore in May, I knew that if I didn’t plan a trip beforehand it might be a loooooooooong time before our paths crossed again. Forest had a school break for Easter so we booked flights for the long weekend and planned to see and do as much as possible. It was such a good trip!!
We got to catch up with great friends and enjoy some of our favorite California past-times. On night one, Jonathan went to a Giants game in San Fran with his friend Dave while Dave’s wife Pinthip and I ordered takeout and let our 3 year olds play while we caught up and I bonded with their new baby. Two of my best friends had babies since we moved so that was another exciting thing about our homecoming!
Bryce was Forest’s first BFF and it was so awesome to see them back together. It was also hilarious now that they are fluenty speaking, just how apparent their personalities were already back when they were just a year old.
Bryce was super social, confident and leading the charge and Forest was sheepishly and meticulously exploring all of his buddy’s toys, reluctantly interacting only when it was absolutely necessary. Not much has changed in the past 2 years (expect their size)!
|"This hug is seriously invading my personal space but our moms really want a picture of it so let's just power through it". - Forest anytime i ask him to give someone a hug.|
The next morning we met up with lots of friends for an outing at the Oakland Zoo. Because it was good Friday it was pretty crowded but the kids still had a blast. We didn’t do much animal sighting but plenty of playground playing.
All the kids' favorite part of the zoo are the rides on the way out anyway! Forest and his buddy Brooklyn had fun driving cars, flying planes, riding coasters together.
We all took a nice train ride through the zoo too so you know Forest was pretty stoked about that!
We even got to see the giraffes from the train which WAS Forest’s favorite animal until he saw the otters that day. Now if we ask his favorite animal he exclaims ‘Otters!’. This week his preschool class is studying Oceans and he told me they learned about sharks. I said ‘Did you tell your teacher that you like sharks?' and he said ‘No I don’t like sharks! I like Otters! They live in the ocean too!’. He’s just starting to get the concept that you can like two different things at the same time. Just because raspberries are your favorite fruit doesn’t mean you have to swear off grapes. He’s a fiercely loyal one already. Also, who the heck picks raspberries as their favorite fruit? This kid is a major weirdo sometimes.
Combine jet lag with a busy morning outside and there was not a chance Forest was going to make it home without falling asleep in the car! He and Jon both took a snooze and I wished I’d brought a book as I let them sleep it off in the parking lot of our hotel.
That afternoon we went for ice cream and then met up with friends at the park.
|31 flavors at Baskin Robbins and this kid picks Lemon Custard. Weirdo, I'm telling you.|
After having a blast and also racking up some boo-boos at the playground we headed out to our favorite Thai restaurant with Dave, Pinthip and their crew.
The next day was some of the best weather on the forecast so first we headed to the farmer's market in Danville for the best coffee on the planet and some winery snacks to take along to Livermore Valley later that morning. Forest immediately remembered the train at the Farmer's market so of course we hit that up too. We also scored some hummus, dried fruit and chocolate dipped peanut butter cookies (Forest's contribution) for wine pairing later in the day.
|10 months ago! He's grown so much.|
We met our friends Jake and Sara and their 3 and 1 year old girls in Livermore. Though I said Bryce was F’s first best friend, he and Brooklyn were having playdates before they were 6 months old!
Sadly they moved away when Forest was about 9 months and then they happened to move back right after we left for Texas. Womp Womp. Anyway we had such a great morning hanging out on the lawn at Concannon and Darcie Kent wineries. So much fun that I forgot to take many pictures. Oops. That happened a lot on this trip!
Livermore is a bit lesser known that Napa and Sonoma and is frequented by mostly locals. Most of the wineries are laid back and family friendly so it was such a nice and relaxing morning(well as relaxing as a morning chasing toddlers can be). Luckily Forest and Brooklyn were a great match and both love trains so they played very well together and kept each other from wandering too far.
That afternoon we met some more friends out for dinner, and once again, I forgot to take pictures. The next morning was Easter. It was pretty rainy and Forest was sort of overwhelmed with all the social interaction the past few days so we decided not to make him go to the church nursery. We just did the Easter story together and then headed to our friends’ house for an Easter egg hunt and hot cross buns. Forest did an Easter egg hunt with the same friend last year and when I asked if he remembered it he said “Yes; some of the eggs were empty.” I apparently traumatized him last year by not filling all the eggs, so I made sure to overcompensate this year.
Each of the participating kiddos had 12 of their own color eggs that parents were responsible for filling (and there was quite the fight over who got to have the blue eggs). I filled Forest’s orange eggs with raisins, goldfish and trail mix (I know; lamest mom ever!) but I stuck a few Thomas minis in a couple of eggs and he was ecstatic.
I was worried he would hunt for the blue eggs despite being assigned Orange, but he did really good with sticking to the plan.
He even handed a blue egg to Max, the lucky blue egg recipient (seniority). Forest was the slowest in hunting his eggs because he had to open them all as he went to see what surprises awaited inside.
I did bum a few chocolates off of the other mommas because I felt super lame for being the mom that only brought healthy egg fillers. Forest was pretty excited about that too! (As was Jonathan who conspicuously confiscated most of the peanut butter cups.) It was such a fun morning spent with great friends and seriously adorable kiddos.
Everyone was pretty busy with family Easter activities the rest of the day so we just went home for a nap and then grabbed dinner at one of our favorite spots in downtown Danville.
We left pretty early the next morning for our flight which turned out to be sort of an ordeal. They shut down the Houston airport due to weather so we were re-routed to Austin. We spent about 3 hours on the ground in Austin before finally getting the ok to fly to Houston.
Once we got there, we were given the wrong baggage carousel number and were waiting for about 40 minutes until someone happened to walk by the right carousel and spot their bags and kindly came to announce it to the rest of us. They’d been there so long that all the belt had stopped!
It was a long day for us but Forest always get to pick a special snack for the plane so he was very content with his family size bag of cheez-its and hours’ worth of Thomas downloaded from Netflix.
(Trying to explain the concept of wi-fi, streaming, and downloading Netflix to Forest.)
Doesn’t take much to make him a happy camper.