Sunday, February 26, 2006

open and closed, open and closed

I need to get this out before I try to go back to bed for an hour or two, mainly because it's what keeps going around in my head very - very - early this morning. As happy as I am to have Josh, I am in the process of grieving that this will not be an open adoption. And I'm frustrated because I have no one to talk to about it that understands even a little bit. Josh's birthmom wants us to send pictures and letters to the agency once a month for six months, and then once a year until Josh is 18. If she wants to receive those pictures, and letters, she will contact the agency and have them send my packages to her. I'm not expecting her to contact the agency. His birthmom, D, flew into Utah on Saturday, birthed Josh at 4:24 am on Sunday, and couldn't wait to get out of town on the next flight available - Tuesday morning. It's almost like she wanted to pretend like this never happened. Like Josh never happened. I know there are different kinds of openness in adoptions. I read on an adoptive parent profile last week that the family wanted an open adoption. Their definition of open was exchanging pictures and letters twice a year until age 5. Huh? That's not open to me. In my imagination, I dreamed that we'd have the kind of open adoption where the birth family (and I mean birthdad, birth grandparents, etc., not just the birthmom) would know that they could call us on the phone, get e-mails whenever, and we would see each other when possible (depending on where in the country each family lived). I think an easy way to explain my idea of open was that I expected to add the birthfamily to my family just like what would happen in a marriage, and hoped the birthfamilies would consider me, my husband and older son part of their family, as well. As some friends and family members have asked what kind of adoption this will be, and as I've told them it will be closed and I am still sad about that, I have not had one person try to be comforting or understanding about what I see as a loss for Josh and our family. Every single person has said that we will be better off, Josh will be better off, our future will be easier, etc. And I get frustrated with ignorance. And frustrated with the inability these people are obviously having to open their minds about the open direction that so many healthy adoptions are headed now. Sure, it's a very real possibility that an adoption that starts out as the open I described above could go very bad. I understand that. I understand that I imagined a utopia of all adoption possibilities for what I would like. I understand I could have recieved the phone call about Josh and then turned him down so we could wait longer for the ideal open situation. I understand and take responsibility for all of that. I'm just still sad for what won't be.

pictures, and a little more of the story

All my boys!
The family shot
Jacob abosolutely loves Josh. He keeps saying "hi josh!" and "oh, brother!" Also, won't keep his lips off the baby! It melts my tender heart.
This was the first time they "met". Both asleep. Obviously, quite excited.
A few minutes later:
These last 2 may be the photos used in the announcement. I love them. Aren't those lips the most beautiful you've ever seen?
I have an unexplainable need to know that the children that wind up with me are the ones that are "supposed" to be with me and our family. The Sunday morning we learned about him, I had a moment of worry that I didn't yet know that Josh was supposed to be ours. Now, I feel quite silly for worrying. When the adoption case worker called us on the 19th, I had chills all over my body as soon as she told me "there is a baby that needs a home." I think I 'knew' then. Also, on that phone call: when she told us the cost of this adoption, it was the exact number that just one day previous we had chosen for our adoption budget. As soon as she told me the number, I started crying - it seemed just perfect. After the case worker picked us up at the airport Monday, she told us a little more about the situation. She got a phone call earlier than us on Sunday, obviously. She is not usually the person who would recieve those phone calls and match babies with adoptive families, but the case worker whose job it usually is to do that was out of town for the weekend, so this case worker had taken over doing the mandatory things. Well, this case worker - we'll call her Jodi - thought of a family for Josh. She called the number. It rang, and then disconnected. She redialed. It rang and disconnected. So Jodi went back to bed and decided to try again later. After all, she never carried names or numbers of adoptive parents with her, so there was really nothing she could do right then, anyhow. As she was trying to go back to sleep, something kept telling her to look in her day planner. She was kind of confused; like I said earlier, she never keeps adoptive family info with her - that wasn't her job at the agency. Finally, she looked in her day planner, and found our name, phone number and information about what kind of baby we were interested (we were not gender or race specific). So she called, I answered, and the rest is history. Later that first family Jodi called got a hold of her (I guess the number showed up on caller id), and the hopeful adoptive mom on the other line said that she heard the phone ring, and tried to pick it up each time. Sure, this could all be one big fluke - the money matching exactly, us deciding just days before Josh was born that we needed to put our name in with agencies really soon, my deciding to call this agency just 2 days before Josh was born even though I didn't think we could afford them, Jodi not being able to get a phone connection with the first family, Jodi having our information in her day planner, etc. But it's not a fluke. Josh is supposed to be in our family. It's 4:30 am. I've been awake for an hour. It's better than Christmas morning, because in 3 hours, we will leave my sister-in-laws home to go to the hospital for the last time. Last night at 11 pm, Josh received his last dose of antibiotics. I don't remember if I included the information about his pneumonia in the last post: he inhaled meconium and amniotic fluid when he was born, and got pneumonia. All signs of the infection were gone within 48 hours, but Josh's doctor wanted to run the full 7 day course of IV antibiotics just to be safe. It's been breaking my heart to leave him at the hospital each day, but I'd much rather be safe and have a healthy baby. Anyway, we get to bring him home with us today! Bring on the midnight feedings! We will be in Utah until at least Tuesday, but it's looking more like Wednesday or later at this point, which has me frazzled and frustrated, but trying to mellow and go with the flow. We need an agency in CA to accept the paperwork that will allow us to cross state lines with the baby. The agency that did our homestudy is doing our postplacement visits (we will have 3 visits from a social worker in the next 6 months to make sure Josh is safe in our home; then the adoption can be finalized in court), but has not yet gotten permission from their "higher ups" to accept our paperwork. (insert rolled eyes here) I get to bring my baby home in 3 hours!!!!

Monday, February 20, 2006

We had a BABY!

And whew, did that 9 months go FAST! Really, though, my world is happier than ever! I'm exhausted and exhilirated and going to bed. Here's a cut and paste of the e-mail we sent to family and friends tonight. YEAH! I'm a MOM again!!!!

We are SO excited to share our news with everyone! We have a new baby and BOY did he come fast!
Last week, we felt that it was time for us to work on finding a new baby through adoption. We started getting paperwork in order to turn into LDS Family services. There was an agency in Utah that we had heard so many wonderful things about that we also decided to look into. We made a phone call to the agency on Friday morning and left a message telling them we were interested in learning more about their agency. Saturday we worked on "Dear Birthparent" letters to turn into LDS Family Services to update our profile there. Also, Saturday, the Utah agency called back to let us know they'd gotten our message and they'd call us back with more information after the long weekend.
Sunday morning at 6:30 am we got a phone call from the agency in Utah. They said they had some "questions". Hmmm...They wanted to know how far we were with our home study and if we cared about the gender or race of the baby. After I answered the questions, the worker told us that they had a baby born at 4:00 am that day (Sunday, the 19th) and needed a family pronto - were we interested? Could we come to Utah right away to get the baby? I ran to wake Nathan up and make sure it was all ok with him - just the night before we were talking about the adoption process, and that we were expecting to wait up to 6 months or more. We thought and talked about it and everything felt SO right. We spent Sunday getting packed and getting papers in order.
We flew to Utah (very, very) early this morning. We went straight to the hospital where we met our new little baby boy! Joshua Lucas was 8 lbs, 11 oz and 21" long. He is perfect and perfectly adorable. The **best** news of all is that Josh's birth mom signed final papers this morning, and we signed papers this afternoon - meaning he's 100% ours. Utah has a "no changing your mind after the ink's dry" long as our social worker in CA signs off on everything, we're totally in the clear!!! We'll come back to Utah in 6 months to go to court and finalize, but it's as good as done. We are so thrilled with knowing that we don't have to wait and worry for 30 minutes or 30 days that a mind might change. He's ours!!
Joshua did swallow some amniotic fluid when he was born, which is really normal. He was in an oxygen tent for a day, and will most likely be on IV antibiotics until the end of the week. We're hoping he'll be discharged from the hospital by Saturday at the latest. We should be back in CA by the following weekend; we'll have to wait in UT for paperwork to go through that will let us bring Josh from one state to the other.
We're so excited he's here and excited to have him in our family!
Julie, Nathan, Jacob and JOSHUA
Yes, I just realized the pictues I uploaded are the wrong ones and are all fuzzy. I'm TOO TIRED to fix it now. Now your eyes will be as blurry as mine and I'll fix it tomorrow. Maybe. Unless I'm cuddling with my new son.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Two things about sex offender lists I learned today

Thing 1) We live in a condo. Man-who-lives-above-us is on the list. Whoa. I also learned that he's on the list for rape, which oddly, makes me feel a WHOLE lot better than if the offense were "lewd or lacivious act with child under 14". I'm being 100% serious. I'd much rather be in danger than my child, but for what it's worth, I'd love to not be in danger. Not that I am in danger. I'm still trying to disseminate this information and what I'm going to do with it. Probably nothing. I'm still in the "hmmm..." stage. Thing 2) Sex offenders who smile for their registry photo make my insides wiggle in uncomfortable ways. VERY uncomfortable ways. This is not Glamour Shots, people.

Oh, the stories this fish could tell. If he could talk. And had friends to talk to.

Even though this fish story is *********this big********, it's 100% true. I have pictures to prove it. :) Note before the story: while I was taking pictures during the "incident", Nathan looked over at me and asked if I was going to make fun of him. I told him while I would not be making fun of him, this was absolutely better material to write about than I could ever James Frey myself. He gave "a look" that communicated: sure - you're going to write about this, but not make fun of me? Just so we're clear: the photos below may - or may not - have been taken inside my home. The man in the photos may - or may not - be Nathan, my husband. The man who may or may not be my husband may or may not have been helping me set up our new ledges on the wall. We may or may not own a blow dryer. We may or may not have a fish. Clear as mud? Good. Sooooo...on our short stop in Carmel a couple weeks ago, we found the coolest fish bowl ever. It hangs on the wall - how fun is that? A few days later, we bought a beta that came home to sit on our dining room table - in a bowl - until we could hang the new bowl on the wall. Well. Well. Last Saturday was the day. "Nathan" dechlorinated the water, put it in the bowl, hung the bowl on the wall and added the fish. And then we watched the fish drop like lead to the bottom of the bowl. Just like this: J: (about 2 minutes later) He's dying. N: He's not dying. He's in shock. Give him a minute. J: (a minute later) He's dying. N: He's just getting used to his new surroundings. He'll be fine. J: (a minute later) He's dying. N: He's not dying! Somewhere during or after this exchange I touched the bowl. It was cold. Really cold. Cold enough to make a fish hibernate - forever. I get Nathan's attention, and he touches the water and realizes - oh my goodness, that water is too cold for a beta! It's going to die! So Nathan runs out and comes back with...a blow dryer. He starts blowing the bowl from below, the water from above, desperately trying to save this five buck fish. So, just for kicks, I grabbed my kitchen thermometer. After a few minutes of blow-drying, we were up to 61.0 degrees. I'm guessing that the Beta, being a tropical fish and all, had never seen a temperature below 70 before it came to our house. So Nathan kept on trying to heat the water and save the nameless fish. And you know what? It worked. Fish lives. It probably took about 15 minutes to get the water temperature up to 75 degrees, but today, seven days after The Incident, the fish swims on.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Ghost of Valentine's Past

I was writing Nathan a little letter-o-love this afternoon, and found myself reflecting on past Valentine's we have shared. So I wrote him up a couple of little poems. I'll share two with you, with explanations so you get it. Valentines's Day, 2003. It was three weeks before our wedding. We were on a fairly limited budget to pay for said wedding. I threw caution to the wind, mostly, by making reservations at Vic Stewart's Steak House in Walnut Creek. Had Ruth's Chris been in Walnut Creek at the time, you bet your sweet bippy we would've been there, instead. I say I mostly threw caution to the wind because I made our reservations for February 13th instead of February 14th, thereby insuring that we would miss, by one day, the "Special Valentine's Menu" with Special Valentines Prices. It remains, to this day, the most expensive meal we've ever eaten. And we don't regret it one bit. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways Almost as much as we paid for Valentines dinner ‘03. Wait. I love you more than that. Fast forward twelve months. Now we were married and living in our painfully small apartment in one of the most fantastic towns in America, and loving every minute of being there (in the town, NOT the apartment). I had been thinking for about a month of what we could do to make the first married Valentine's Day special. I can not remember what my ideas were, only that it didn't matter. We got Sick. We were So Sick. We were So Miserably Sick for the three or four days leading up to Valentine's day, that on February 14th, we found ourselves starting to heal, but our cupboards and fridge free of anything edible. So we left the house for the first time in three or four days and drove the long 1/3 mile to Safeway. We bought eggs and juice and cinnamon rolls. We brought them home and cooked them and ate them on our wedding china. I don't think we ate much. But at least I have a picture. Unfortunately, the picture I have of us from that day got warped and looks like this. Any wise lurker out there know how to fix it? If it's fixable? Roses are red Violets are blue I’m glad we’re not puking this year (2004) The last poem I will not share here, to protect the dear innocent spirit of that husband of mine. I will, however, say that it had something to do with Prozac and sex. With that, I wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day. Hope it doesn't break the bank, find you puking, and if you're on Prozac this year like I was last year - enjoy.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sharin' the love

I've previously explained I take lots of pictures. I just downloaded pics from the weekend. Friday night until yesterday (I don't think I took any pictures today - whoa!). Two & a half days. 136 pictures uploaded. That does not include the pictures I deleted off the camera before they got downloaded. Wowzers. But, for the record, we had a big weekend. We took Jacob miniature golfing for the first time Friday night. Hilarious disaster. "Golfing" lasted about 5 minutes, if that. The rest of the evening, it was Jacob running away with our balls. If you heard a female voice shouting (twice, each time an accident, I swear): "Jacob, show Daddy your balls", it was me. Much easier than actually trying to hit the ball, isn't this?: We went to the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco - Gung Hay Fat Choy! Being there made me miss teaching again. Every once in awhile I get that soft spot back in a big way. I loved teaching reading and writing the most. But the "extras" with first graders are the icing on the cake. We went to the parade with friends who didn't know much about Chinese New Year, so with each part I was explaining (the red envelopes, lanterns, firecrackers used to scare off bad spirits, etc.) to my friend, I was remembering the wonderful children's literature I would use to share this holiday with my former students. And I took some pictures of a side dish from last night for my food blog (, will be updated tomorrow). Oh, and we can't forget the fish's near death experience on Saturday that will get it's own post; starring the fish, as well as the husband.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I get it

I get this now. I got it tonight. I put Jacob to bed and he stood up. "No! Hayna." Hayna is Jacob's word for Thomas. He pointed to one of his Thomas books. I got the book for him, and he laid down in bed with his blankie and his book, quietly turning pages and "reading" to himself. I turned on his nightlight and turned off his light, leaving the room with glee. My child is a reader. He loves to read when he's awake, and now he wanted to read in bed. The joy that swelled in my heart? Mt. Everest sized amounts of joy. I came out to write a little bit, and he started crying, and crying, and whining - which is actually unusual. Jacob is very good at going to bed now. After a couple minutes, I couldn't take it. He needed me, and tonight, I needed him. He was sitting in his crib, with tears streaming down his face and snot to match. I grabbed him, and he grabbed his blankie and then me. I sat on the floor near his crib and hugged my tired baby. I noticed, as I whispered to him, I was holding him in our once familiar nursing position, tummy to tummy. I noticed, as we looked in each others eyes, that he almost felt like the two week old child I would stare at for hours on end when we were in this very same position. I noticed, as our breathing slowed to the same pattern, that Jacob did not fit on my lap the same way he once did. His lanky arms had no where to go but around my torso, his legs were so long that his knees didn't touch my crossed legs. I noticed, as I spoke to him, that I interchanged the words "big boy" and "baby" one phrase after another. "I love watching you grow up. You are such a big boy." "Go to sleep, my sweet little baby." "I love watching you read, big boy." "Sweet Baby Jake. Shut your eyes, my sweet baby." I thought about the book Love You Forever. He was always her baby. Just like Jacob will be over six feet tall and may hover around 190 lbs and will be strong and responsible - and he will always be my baby. And I felt a ferocious, protective, overwhelming love like I haven't felt in at least two days. Just before I put Jacob, now in his near sleep, down for the second time, I whispered in his ear, "I love you Jacob. You'll never quite know how much I love you...*until you have your own sweet baby." *but I still don't think he'll quite get it, since I still hold firm to the belief that nothing else comes close to nearing the fierce love of a mother; not even that of a father.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

quality of life: family, the flip side

Yesterday was the answer to why we're moving. Sure, we won't be around grandparents. But there is something known as an airplane, right? That people can hop on and be to each other in 2-4 hours? Not to shabby, that airplane thing. We treasure our family. We respect our parents and the role they will play in our childrens lives. We adore our siblings and would love for them to be people and friends and maybe even role-models - not just names and photos and voices - in the lives our children. But at the same time, we realize that our immediate family really is the most important family unit our children will know - the unit that will form and mold them. This is why we need to move farther away from extended family. We need to see each other more, we need to bond and play and laugh and live - together. And not just on weekends. Yesterday, Nathan was working at his near office (15 minute commute, usually there 1X/week) instead of his far office (1+ hour commute). We met at the park in between for lunch with Daddy and play time on the slide. And when I had Jake at the mall for the picture-from-hell session of my life, I was able to call Nathan and say "Jake's falling apart, I'm falling apart, I need help" and have him show up in 10 minutes to literally save the day. Yesterday was the perfect example of why moving is what we need to do - it will allow us to be together more. Also, it will be kind of nice for Nathan - instead of my sending him pictures throughout the day to show him what we're up do and show him the cute things Jacob is doing, Nathan can live the moments himself.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No way, Joe-say

There are no Trader Joe's locations in Colorado. And now I'm rethinking this whole "relocating" idea. What kind of quality of life can I have without JOE?

I hate laundry

I wish I had a clever title for that post. There is no clever way to say that I hate laundry more than any other household chore. I will scrub ten toilets for every load of laundry I do not have to fold and put away. I jest not. That part on my sidebar where it says "don't hold your breath for the cleaning" part? Not joking, people! [Really, though, my house is usually disinfected, mostly clean, and generally organzied. Unless Jacob has been awake more than 5 minutes. Then all bets are off.] To prove how much I loathe taking care of the laundry that is piled up on my bed, I will give you a rare treat! A peek in! A look inside my mind and how it tries to get out of laundry. Julie's brain: well, you did just create a new and exciting, personalized just for you, flylady weekly cleaning chart last night. And laundry day - according to the new chart - is Monday. And you did specifiy on the chart that "doing laundry" means cleaning, drying, folding and putting away every stitch of previously dirty cloth. And wasn't there something on that flylady website that said if you miss a chore one week, hey! - don't worry!, just hit it then next? So maybe you can just pick out of the laundry baskets until next Monday. Wait, that's 5 1/2 days away. And you don't love wrinkled t-shirts that much. And it is hard to find Jacob's socks in the piles of grown-up clothes. And if you fold clothes during Jake's nap, you can watch whatever you've got saved up on Tivo at the same time. Five and a half days is a LONG time to pick through laundry baskets. I mean, five would have been something to consider, but five and a HALF? Probably too long. But you hate laundry, so... SEE WHAT I MEAN? That's how much I hate laundry. Even after writing it all out, I have no idea when, if or how the laundry will get put away.

Monday, February 06, 2006

quality of life: family

We spent the weekend with my parents on the Central Coast of California. We each drove about 4.5 hours before WHOA! we smacked right into ech other. Convienent. We lives 40 minutes away from Nathan's parents. Jacob sees them often. He knows them well and loves them to pieces. I am happy he has such a fun relationship with his grandparents. But it makes me sad that he doesn't have the same realtionship his other grandparents - my parents. We saw my family twice in November, and each time, we had to coax Jake into my moms arms, only for him to go screaming out of them two seconds later. After those incidents, Nathan and I decided to meet up with my parents, who live in Southern CA, at least once every other month. When you drive the short way, it's only 5.5 hours max between our homes. There's no excuse to have less contact than that. What did I love about this weekend? Watching Jake run towards my mom on the boardwalk at the beach, yelling "Maga!" (his current word for Grandma), having Jacob go to my parents hotel room (just next door to ours) and knocking while shouting "Maga! Papa! Papa! Maga! PLAY!", having my mom and dad get excited watching Jacob be Jacob - talking up a storm, jumping, running, talking, dancing, singing, running, and still - STILL - talking. This 24 hours of family togetherness, they all loved each other. Nathan and I were walking along the beach and I turned to him. "I can't leave here." It's not just the beach I long to stay close to. It's the moments between my parents and Jacob (and our future kidlets). One of the reasons I always give when people ask why we're leaving California is that I want to be able to give my children the art lessons and music lessons and soccer and baseball teams that they might want to take - and not have to cut back on food or the heating bill to pay for those lessons. But this weekend, I realized - what's the good of playing on ten different sports teams if there are no grandparents on the sidelines to cheer you on? [side note: Jake just brought me a tape - Wee Sing Fun 'n' Folk - mostly unraveled. He put it in my hands and said "thank you". Sure buddy. Thanks. I knew I shouldn't have returned the Wee Sing CD's to Costco last month!] Now that I've written all that, it's moot, anyhow. We came home and looked for property on the Central Coast - about half way between each of our parents. We still don't want to/can't afford to stretch our bucks that far. Seriously: a run down, 3 bedroom, 1200 sq foot house on 1/10 of an acre for the mid $400Ks? No thanks. Houses we would actually consider and feel comfortable in are in the 500Ks and 600Ks. Given, it's less expensive than where we are now (where similar houses sell for $200K+more), but it's still not acceptable for us.

quality of life: intro

Introduction to this series of posts: Nathan and I are preparing to move sometime this year. Preferably sooner than later, but that's an easy way of saying that we have no idea when. We decided sometime last year to leave our California home and head to Denver. Why Denver? Well, we wanted to pick a city where Nathan could transfer with his company and keep the same job. New jobs = bottom of the totem pole = Julie's anxiety comes back full force. Denver was an easy choice. We could afford a house and deal with the climate. Nathan's not at all excited about the snow. I wax nostalgic for snow. I like saying that because he rolls his eyes and starts getting stomach cramps when I say it. Plus, Denver's a place that's all about the outdoors. We're all about the outdoors. Good match. The close second (and still an option if anything in Denver falls through) was/is Portland. We're feeling the time get closer and closer to pick up and throw ourselves into another time zone. We're thrilled and excited and anxious to just do it. Which is why we spent this entire weekend rethinking our choice to move out of state. We finally had some very real and very raw conversations about what we absolutely need to constitue a satisfactory quality of life. What exactly can we live without? What must we absolutely have? The answers are surprising...stay tuned. And p.s. While the funny might be on hold as I *think* (Ouch!), Jacob is not. If anyone out there can come make my kid quit walking clockwise around the dining room table, I'll pay you in no-bake cookies or something equally yummy. He is making me car sick!

nathan appreciates this blog

He says I need a creative outlet. He says I need somewhere to unload. And he says that, while he likes my stories, he can’t be there 100% of the time to be my vehicle for unloading. I was trying to tell him about a poignant moment on The Biggest Loser. It came out like this: So during play group at Shanelle’s we watched her Tivo’d episode of the Biggest Loser from the other night. We started watching TV because Amber wanted to watch the previous nights episode of Meet the Barkers that Shanelle had also Tivo’d. You know, I’d only seen one or two of those when they first came out, but didn’t really get too into it. So they were filling me in at lunch on Saturday and told me this funny story about how the Barkers are really normal rich people. I guess on this one episode they bid on a lot at an auction at their kids school where they’d have their whole house decorated really fancy for Christmas. They won, paid a boat load to the school. They got their house decorated with this huge tree, lights - the whole ten yards. Then the company that did it wanted $10K, but they’d won it at an auction! You know, the merchants are supposed to donate for the cause. Lame. So the Barkers made the company come back, take the decorations down and away instead of paying the $10,000. Which they totally could have afforded, since on the episode we watched Thursday, they spent $20K on ugly furniture for their little boys room. But I just thought it made them seem cool that they stuck to their guns like real people instead of paying out money they could’ve afforded. Anyhow, we watched this episode of Meet the Barkers because Amber doesn’t have Tivo. Can you believe she doesn’t have Tivo? I thought we were late to that party, but Amber’s even later. And she doesn’t have a digital camera, either. Miss PhD is technologically backward, and afraid of doing anything other than basic word processing. Isn’t that wild? Anyway, after we watched Meet the Barkers, we watched The Biggest Loser from the night before, and I told the girls how I had told you just a night earlier that it was too bad you weren’t overweight like me because if you were we could totally go on the show together so I won’t have to go without you and leave you, which won’t happen anyway since I can’t stand the thought of leaving you and Jake for that many months. And I told them how you weren’t thrilled that I wished you were overweight. But anyway, that part about the Biggest Loser I wanted to tell you about... \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ N: Whatcha writing about? J: I’m just writing down that conversation we had. You know, the one where I talked and you listened? N: so are you writing about some of your ideas for writing we talked about, or journaling the conversation where I told you that you needed an outlet? J: yes.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

*cough, cough* Family Day in the Napa Valley *achoo*

Nathan called in *sick* yesterday. Actually, I think he took a vacation day. Whatever he took, it wasn't the train to work. We got up, realized we needed a family day off of everything (him: computers, me: laundry and other assorted cleaning/organizing) and drove up to Napa. We are the luckiest people alive to live about 45 minutes from a variety of ideal day trip destinations in the Bay Area, and Napa is one of them. We were also lucky that the mustard is in bloom - next weekend is the Napa Valley Mustard Festival. (Note: instead of making this post picture heavy, and I mean loaded down like a truck full-o-gold, I'm going to try posting a few, and linking to most of the pictures this time.) The morning started early, as always (Jake has woken up after 6:30 maybe twice, ever), and gray. We decided to put the bikes and bike trailer in the van - just in case we could catch a break in the rain that was supposed to fall on the Bay Area yesterday. Well, that was futile. By the time we got to Napa, the view was like this, and the rain didn't let up all day. Really, though, the rain was ok. It kept a lot of the locals away, and probably the toursits, too. It was never a hard rain; just a steady heavy sprinkle or light rain. Sometimes just misty, other times it would let up for just a few minutes. When we were about 15 minutes away from Napa, I had a sinking pit in my stomach. Just the day before, I had finally deleted Rachael Ray's $40 a Day: Napa from the Tivo (along with the Monterey and Carmel edition). I'd had it saved for at least a month, tried to watch it for the 3rd time and gave up. I can't stand her. I want to like her, I really do. But her SWOOPING, SWINGING arm motions and constant movement drives me BATTY. Along with the fact that she is UNUSUALLY! AMAZED! at a SCRAMBLED! EGG! Blah. And, come on, $40 a day? I can feed my family of 3 on $40 a day, and that's not eating fast food. Now we had an impromptou trip to Napa, and we had to navigate the food on our own when I might've gotten a great idea! Oh well. We drove to the farthest little town first and worked our way down the valley. Calistoga was first. Truly, a two block town. Maybe even a one-and-a-half block town. That small. I'd driven through in the past, but the weekends there get so crowded with the tourists coming in for mud baths and such. Mud. Bath. Just sounds gross. So we walked around this time. Were about the only crazy people in town walking around, in fact. They had two bookstores. We picked the one with the restroom, since my eyeballs were getting yellow and I couldn't walk normally. It was one of those fantastic independent bookstores with a great childrens section. Jacob didn't want to leave, due to the discovery of the "Ellie". (Ok, just discovered that D@mn Blogger isn't letting me upload pictures to this post anymore. GRRRR! Click away. The pics are worth it.) The highlight of the trip, of couse, was the vineyards and mustard growing underneath the vines. A lot of the vineyards are the new kind - the straight vines being held together by lots of metal and plastic and wires that are visible and ugly. Nathan grew up with a vineyard in his backyard - a pretty, old-fashioned vineyard that has been replaced by the new vineyard. Therefore, he is serious about old vs. new and the fact that the new ones are 'destroying the landscape'. After months/years of rolling my eyes, I have come to agree with him, though I'm not half as crazed/passionate as he is about this. Anyhow, the challenge became finding the "old fashioned" vineyars with flowers to take pictures of, instead of the "new" ones. I think we got pretty lucky. Picture 1 Picture 2 Picture 3 Don't they sometimes remind you of witches hands? You can pick out the crinkly fingers and arthritic knucles. Then other vines of this type look graceful like the arms of a belly dancer when she's moving and gyrating and swirling. Picture 4 Picture 5 One of my fave pics of the day - if it weren't for the cars on the left side!! Picture 6 Picture 7 Awesome stop of the day: lunch at The Model Bakery, in St. Helena. First of all, I was pulled inside from the minute I walked past the window. I have a thing for bread. Especially pretty bread. And delicious bread. The three of us shared a ham and cheese panini and a slice of the veggie pizza. The panini was good, but the pizza was delicious. There is nothing like fresh crust like that. It was incredible, especially since it had artichoke hearts and kalamata olives, two of my favorites. Also seen in St. Helena: beautiful store front, awesome stationary store and this sign: The sign says "HOURS: Most days, 10is to 5ish (earlier or later by chance or appointment) Most Sundays 12ish to 5ish (earlier or later by chance or appointment). Love it. Unless, of course, I was there at 3 pm for something specific, and it was one of the 'earlier' days. By the time we got to downtown Napa, the next stop, the rain was coming down a little harder. I'd never walked around downtown Napa before. Drove through it plenty of times, but never explored. And honestly - eh. We found a quaint inn, the Napa River Inn, we might be able to use for a quick overnighter sans the boy. Behind the inn was one of the more beautiful mosaics I've ever seen. I'll spare you the up-close shots. The colors were vivid and it was such a large piece and I loved, loved, loved it. Jake did, too, for the fish and beaver and sharks and the horsie!. He's very into his horses right now. As in - won't leave the house, the room, the car, the anything - without at least one toy horse in hand. Thank goodness they're small (think Little People size). We also found a bakery I'm going to have to make return trips to: Sweetie Pies. Oh. My. Word. Heaven yesterday was a bite of the strawberry cream cheese bar. It makes you forgive and forget the cheesy name of the bakery, even. Whoa, baby. With that, I'm back to the harsh reality of living today. A reality that includes packing for our weekend down the coast. I have a tough life, don't I? (*ducks to avoid thrown objects*)