Erin Virginia

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

California 2016

We booked tickets for a week-long trip to California to visit Sean and Bonny and their family over Thanksgiving. We flew out late Friday afternoon and after flight delays, rental car pick-up and driving from SFO, we arrived at Sean and Bonny's new house Friday night. The kids did relatively well on the flight, watching shows, doing quiet activities like coloring, travel puzzles, marker books, etc. Eloise fell asleep just as the plane touched down and both girls slept through the 1.5 hour drive.

Saturday morning, the kids woke up eager to play with each other, and we spent the day lounging at the house. Bonny booked a couple babysitters that night so the rest of us could go out for a Greek dinner, walk around Carmel and duck into a couple tasting rooms. We had a lot of fun reconnecting without the kids yanking on our jackets.

The next morning, I woke up sick with a stomach bug and despite hopes that it was case of food poisoning, the bug was contagious and made the rounds through Sean, Chris, Cora and Bonny over the coming days. This is my view on Sunday from bed with the girls periodically hanging out with me to do stickers or color.

Monday morning, I felt better, and we packed up the cars and kids for a 5 hour drive to Tahoe. The kids all behaved amazingly in the cars, and we stopped by a vineyard with a beautiful yard where the kids played.

No, this toddler stick fight did not end well. 

The sky darkened and snow fell as we drove into the mountains and thick forest surrounding Tahoe. I don't know why we were all surprised to see snow, but it somehow caught us off guard. Bonny and I made a run to a local K-Mart to pick up hats and mittens for the kids while the guys started a fajita dinner.

Our promising full day Tuesday to explore Tahoe did not materialize after Chris and Sean woke up sick and Cora got sick later in the day. We did drive a couple hours up and down the East side of the lake. However with Chris and Sean sleeping through the afternoon, Bonny and I struggled to find activities for the kids due to the snow outside (lack of kids' boots). We ended up taking them to a local community center with an indoor tunnel play area that the kids didn't like. They did enjoy jumping around on some padded mats and playing at the outdoor playground where huge pinecones scattered the ground. I stopped at TJ Maxx and picked up a couple toys for the kids while Bonny grabbed popsicles and crackers for the sickies back at the Airbnb cabin.

Finally, on Wednesday morning before we left Tahoe, Chris and Sean threw the kids in the hot tub, which everyone loved, including Fiona who joined later.

We stopped in Lodi at the Michael David winery because we read that it had beautiful grounds where we assumed the kids could play. But the grounds were closed off under construction, so we spent just a few minutes at the winery with the kids sequestered in the corner watching a show on Sean's phone.

Thursday morning, Bonny woke up sick for Thanksgiving. We hustled the kids out the door for breakfast at a packed restaurant downtown Monterey before visiting the Aquarium. The kids enjoyed seeing the marine life up close, and for my second visit to the Aquarium, I enjoyed the magnificent jellyfish exhibit as much as the first time. The jellyfish pictures below are iPhone pictures through a pane of glass. 

Family picture attempt

The kids especially loved the kids' splash zone and enclosed wave tunnel. Both Eloise and Fiona were able to hold a crab that curled out its legs on their palms. No luck touching the evasive sting rays.

Sean and Bonny had pre-ordered Thanksgiving dinner from Whole Foods, so we picked up it on our way home, and then Sean and Chris did the majority of prep work before we ate a wonderful meal later afternoon. Bonny crashed on the living room couch after dinner while the kids watched Cars and wreaked havoc. 

Thankfully, our last full day in CA, everyone felt better or was on the mend so we drove along the coastal highway to Big Sur for lunch, stopping here and there at rocky ocean vistas.

Group picture at lunch

We stopped at a rocky beach and then for coffee before heading to Pacific Grove to walk along the water and play in the grass and boulders at the point.

Big jump (with a glimpse of Fiona's minor fall at the end)

Love these baby curls on Eloise. 

 Sean took some time to play (?) doctor with the kids. 

 We had a great trip and enjoyed so much being able to spend extended time with family.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Halloween 2016

This year for Halloween, we bought pumpkins and decided to use a stenciling kit with the girls to carve out the ghost and spider they chose. Of course, the girls helped for maybe one minute, and Chris and I subsequently spent the next 20 minutes cursing the flimsy carving tools.

The girls dressed up as a lion and as a Rainbow Princess for Halloween and wore their costumes for school parties and for trick-or-treating. Eloise perfected her roar in this costume.

Doing crafts at her school party where I volunteered.

First fire of the season on Halloween

Chris and I both took the girls trick-or-treating this year. Our neighborhood offers prime trick-or-treating except on our street which dead-ends on the creek and residents have resigned themselves to getting a half dozen kids tops. We left out a bowl of candy which a teenager surely dumped into his pillowcase, but I was happy to see the festivities with the girls this year versus handing out candy.


Early Fall

Life has been very busy lately with several work trips for Chris and me as well as vacationing in CA over Thanksgiving. Below is a quick summary of early fall highlights.

We love walking along the Minnehaha Creek to its connection with the Mississippi River. Below are a few shots at Minnehaha Falls, along the trail and at the sandstone cliffs. I remember hiking along the creek as a girl and trying to scratch an "E" into the sandstone. Fiona had a minor fiasco with needing to use a bathroom but was cheered up by finding a fuzzy caterpillar that she "rescued" into our car and then found a home for in another grassy area.

Chris has always been a hands-on guy with water.

 An "I'm 2" sign not peace. :)


Fiona has been through two rounds of treatment at the dermatologist for a skin condition. She looked too darn cute in the gown to not take a picture. 


The girls got pony rides at Edina Realty's fall festival: free pumpkins, snack and pony rides. Fiona was enamored with the pony also named "Fiona." 

 Beautiful view from our dining room table

We met friends for a night in Red Wing where we took the kids (plus their 3 year old, Violet) to family fun activities nearby and visited a local winery in the fading light.