I love my bed, my air conditioner, and my clean house, or what is left of my clean house (secretly, I wanted to stay home in my clean house while Russ took the kids to California... now THAT would be a vacation!). You see, yesterday we got home from our double family working vacation, and we're just a little wiped out.
Two weeks ago, we departed for Oceanside, CA, where my parents rented this really cool beach house for our whole family to enjoy. The scene from the big bay windows in the main living room was such that it looked as though we were actually on a boat. Yes, it was right on the beach with two giant patios overlooking the ocean. There were six rooms with their own bathrooms that had granite counters and marble surrounds in the showers. We were in the lap of luxury, and we fell asleep to the sound of the waves washing onto the shore. But did I take any photos? Just one photo maybe of the kids on the beach? NO! I love preserving our memories, but is there anyone else out there that sometimes tires of seeing life through a camera lens? Russ never takes the photos, so it all falls on my shoulders, and sometimes I slack off.
So what did we do? I'll try to make a long story short.
Fireworks in San Marcos: Ooooh! Aaaah! Oh crap! A firework just shot into that guy's yard and exploded! Show's over.
Surfing: Hey guys, does anybody actually know how to do this? (Uncle Ian... help!) We'll take the small wave, thank you very much. Gnarly scrape, Russ!
Hot tub: Not so hot, but better than when you have to get out at night in the cold ocean breeze. Brrr!
Strawberry patch: all-you-can-eat buffet while you pick. Not blood... just juice dripped on Brandon's head.
Ruby's on the pier: long wait = Delicious (with a capital D). Kids love 1 cent gumballs. No more pennies in my purse.
The pier: Meet Sharkie, the little plastic shark on the end of a stick whose mouth you can open and close with the handle... he likes to eat hair!
Seaport Village: silly Chuck Norris shirt (but we needed our parking validated anyway, right?), historic carousel, and aircraft carrier/maritime museum for the boys. EARTHQUAKE!
Grandma Bev, et al: Family picnic and homegrown zucchini squash that my dad ate like a giant turkey leg.
"Everything $5.99-$9.99" clothing store: Why didn't we bring sweaters?
And that was just the first part of the double family vacation because the following weekend, we went up to Carpinteria to meet up with Russ' family, who were camping on the beach there. Didn't take any photos at the campsite, either, but luckily some other people did.
Here is what I think is our first family photo with Brandon.
Baby Brandon met many of his relatives for the first time. Here he is with a lot of people's feet around.
Will and Kyle were able to stay overnight at the campsite with everyone else, so maybe that explains why there are a couple of extra pictures of them. The rest of us slept in a hotel in Santa Barbara.
We enjoy cooking over the campfire, even when it means our food is black on one side. We're not fancy camp stove people.
Saturday morning, we found out everyone else was going to the movies, so we decided to go see what kind of adventure we could find in Santa Barbara. Helicopters and surf lessons were too pricey, so we settled on renting a surrey to cruise along the waterfront. And here's where I took my camera out and took about a zillion pictures... but I'll just share a few.
Here we are loaded up and ready to go.
Kallie and Paige sat in the front and were in charge of ringing the bell to alert other people that we were coming through.
I managed to get a few pictures that proved I was there, too.
Kallie: "It's more fun when you put your hands up like this!"
Luckily, they let us strap our baby seat in the back with bungee cords and call it good.
I've seen crazy cars, but this one might take the cake.
We took a rest at the end of the beach area and had a lovely view of the sea.
The girls up front.
Unlike my dad's surrey, this one had a nonfunctional steering wheel on the passenger side, giving us a false sense of security while our teenage son was driving. It made me afraid for the future when he drives a real car, but at least he was a pretty responsible driver... mostly (Um... did you forget where the brake is??).
Kyle's hair managed to work its way into the holes of his helmet, giving him quite a crazy 'do when we were done.
Saturday night, we headed back to Alpine, but we left Will and Kyle in their grandparents' care so that they could spend more time with the family (I used to refer to them as "the boys," but I guess those days are over now that Brandon is here). We stayed with Russ' parents for several days while Russ went into the office. That's where the "working" part of this vacation comes in. I spent my time meeting up with old friends and shopping at the outlet mall, so I can't complain too much. Russ and I even snuck away for a date, and we got to eat at El Torito (my favorite!) and drive to the summit of Mt. Soledad, a place we visited on the night we first met. This time, though, we had our baby Brandon with us... and he's so sweet!
Paige and Kallie slept on the hideaway bed, and I found them like this one night.
Ian and Katie had us over for a BBQ and a swim, and on our last night, they came over to hang with us a for a little while. Awesomeness! Kallie and Patrick had fun riding on the little safari car.
So, we got home yesterday, and man it was blazing hot! But we walked in the door, and I smelled the freshness of our house (you see, I had just steam cleaned the carpets before we left), and it was wonderful... for a minute. And then the kids unloaded the Tahoe, and it's never been quite the same since.
And now for the credits:
Mom and Dad, thank you for your generosity in renting that beautiful place and inviting us to enjoy it with you. Thank you for allowing us to use your vehicle.
Jill and Lori, thank you for letting me use your blow dryers when the plug on mine melted. Thank you, and your husbands, for helping to look out for our kids.
Russ' siblings, thank you for imagining, planning, and pulling off a lovely family reunion. Thank you to everyone who shared food with Will and Kyle.
Russ' parents, thank you for allowing us to share your home for a few days. Thanks for the enchiladas and the lasagna, too.
Ian and Katie, thank you for letting the boys share your tent. Thank you for having a BBQ and making it special for Paige by having S'mores. Thank you for going the extra mile and coming to visit us on our last night.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Our family makes our lives worthwhile!