We had a wonderful week in California with family and friends. The weather was wonderful. The beach was fun. Kids were taller. Food was amazing. And I'm exhausted!
We had something going on each day of the week.
On Tuesday, we hit the ground running. Stan, Keith's Dad, helped with getting us from the airport. First stop was my Mom's work, then the beach (where we got sunburned for the first of about 15 times). Keith especially enjoyed body surfing. Kade told me that there was SALT in the water! Everyone said that they wanted to go to the beach again! That night, Mom and Rich took us to Bob's Big Boy. That place has the best burgers and the best hot fudge cake and brought back a lot of memories for me.
On Wednesday, we headed over to my Grandma's place where she treated us to a wonderful lunch in a private dining room. Then we got to spend some time in her new apartment and we looked at pictures of when she was a girl, a young married mother, and when she celebrated her 90th birthday party. (Grandma, you're looking great! So glad you're doing so well!)That afternoon, we went to visit Alice, Keith's Mom, in her new apartment, a much bigger space then her old one. She has it decorated so cute. I especially like all of her clocks. One in particular is in her bedroom, with the clock numbers all fallen in one corner and at the top, it just says, "Whatever!" After that visit, we dashed over to the Horseshoe Pier and enjoyed the many familiar sights that made up so much of the kids' childhood memories. Then, we met with Stan and Alice at El Pollo Inca, a Peruvian restaurant, for dinner, where I ate Lomo Saltado, a dish I'd been longing for from Georgia afar. It was SO GOOD!
On Thursday, we went to Sand Dune Park. Rich came with Beth's and Connie's kids, since my sisters were both at work, and the kids ran up and down the big sand dune more times than I could count. I wisely stayed at the base of the sand dune and crocheted. While we were there, the Schmidts came to say hello. I missed them, though, because I had just called my friend Sandy on my cell phone and she told me that our mutual friend Carol was in town from Colorado!. I couldn't believe it! So I drove over to Sandy's house for a couple of hours to talk over old times, new times and how old we're all getting! By the time we got back, the Schmidts had gone and it was time for another trip to the beach, this time with my brother Danny and his wife Jessica. They recently found out that they're expecting a baby in January -- we're all very excited! My sisters' kids came, too, and everyone went for a dip in the ocean while Jessica, Keva and I chatted on the sand. Then, Danny and Jessica treated us to El Burrito Junior, a Mexican taco stand type place near the beach with excellent and (at this point, most importantly, FILLING) food. The kids were starved! Then, I dropped off Keith at church where he used to meet for Thursday night BOLD Bible study, a very special men's group. Everyone was there. And since Keith hadn't had "enough" to eat, he had some dinner with the guys afterward.
Friday, during the day, we had a little down time. We stayed at our home base at my Mom and Rich's house for lunch. Not only did we get a special breakfast every day while we were there, but that day, before she left for work, Mom made us the best tuna salad EVER. I've got the ingredients to make it at home -- with cilantro, dill relish, onions, mayonnaise and sugar. It was really good. Then, I took the kids (including Beth's kids) to the pool while Keith took a nap with Keva. Then, we went to see Kenny and Janet and their son Bryan, who is now six feet tall, much to Kristofer's chagrin. Every one of his friends have gotten taller than him, so far, and he's not exactly a shrimp! Kenny and Janet fed us a delicious dinner outside in the backyard. We talked, and talked and talked until well past midnight, catching up on all the changes since we last saw them in 2003.
Saturday, we had another park day at El Nido, and were joined by two other families, the Ives and a little later, the DeNeuis. It was such fun to catch up with them. Beth and her kids came, too. Keri Lynn finally got to catch up with her beloved friend Missy, while Kristofer met with Matthew. I was amazed, as I met old friends, how much changes in just three years, especially as kids become teenagers. We stopped by the Ives house and played on their zip-line in the backyard. Then, we stopped by Polliwog Park for Stan's HAM radio field day. That night, we had dinner at my Mom's house. She is an amazing cook! Once again, we ate like kings and queens. Beth, Danny and Jessica, and Connie were all there. We got to spend some time catching up. The kids went to the pool for some cool night swimming.
Sunday morning, we headed off to our church in Manhattan Beach. We got there a little late and ended up sitting in the balcony because it was packed out. Glen preached a great message from Genesis. We got a ton of hugs and felt that very special family connection that comes only from God's family. Once again I was astounded by how big my friends' kids were getting. I didn't even recognize some of them except if they were standing by a parent! What is going on! I need to know! Sunday lunch found us at In-N-Out Burger, a very important place for us to go while we were in California. On Sunday night, we visited with some special homeschool friends in Maria and Mike's home. Once again, I was blown away by the beautiful kids of my friends. Wow! After a very nice barbecue and catching up with friends, we dropped off Keith at the airport for his early return flight back to Georgia. It ended up being a return trip via Boston red-eye and then back down to Atlanta 12 hours later. A long time, but the important thing was that he made it back in time for a work meeting. It was so nice to have him with us for most of the week.
I found out throughout the week that quite a few people do actually read my email and blog tomes! Sometimes I wonder if I'm just too self-indulgent when it comes to writing ad naseum about my family happenings, but I got my ego sufficiently stroked on our trip, so I'll continue writing. In fact, if you're STILL reading this right now, give yourself a pat on the back and then go to my blog and post a comment! (Look, Cheryl -- I've not mentioned once about laundry . . . yet . . . )
Monday morning, Danny and Jessica treated us to breakfast at The Original Pancake House. It cracked me up when Danny watched amazed at how the kids could pack it away. We rolled out of there, and went to run some errands, first of which was to search for my camera at our church. I've lost my camera. I can't tell you how devastated I am about it. It still might turn up in a week or two, but I'm not hopeful. If it was stolen, I'm praying that the person who took it will be so touched by all of the precious pictures on there that they'll return it back ASAP. I don't even care about the camera itself, I'm just broken up about the memories caught inside it that apparently are lost forever. I was so certain when we did go look for it at church that it would be there, that I didn't worry about it until we went to look for it. So after we left the church empty-handed, we went off to Target to run some errands, and my heart was just broken. We shook it off and went to go visit Stan at his home and played with his dog Scooter, which made us all miss Kody! The girls watched a Thumbelina video that they'd grown up watching while on sleep-overs to Grandma and Grandpa's house! It was hilarious watching them watch that particular video. After that, we met with Jeannine, a dear family friend, for lunch at Del Taco, yet another frequent family haunt for the starving minions of the Johnson family. Then, we met with Beth and her kids at the Del Amo Mall, which has undergone some amazing transformations.
This is where things got a little sticky, or shall I say, STINKY for me . . . or rather, for Keva. Apparently, Keva got sick from eating potpourri from someone's house, and had some very nasty diarrhea. To the mall. Again in the mall. And finally back home where we got to see my brother Mark and his bride Tiffany. I hadn't seen Mark in many years, and I'd not met Tiffany yet. I'm sure we made a lovely impression. "Why, hello, Tiffany. Nice to meet you. Please don't mind the smell. Er, excuse me . . ." We still managed to have a wonderful dinner. Mom outdid herself with chicken and rice and salad and angel food cake with strawberries. Keva stayed upstairs and rested. And I started wondering if Keva was going to be okay for the early morning flight the next day!
She was, pretty much. She did throw up once at the very beginning of the flight, but it was just a little, since her stomach was empty. And fortunately, we were sitting next to a man that was very nice and understanding and even went to get some paper towels for me, since evidently the flight attendants didn't know what the call light was for. Most importantly, there was no diarrhea -- Can you imagine how awful that would have been on an airplane?!? I shudder to think. After that little episode, Keva was fine and she's been fine ever since. No further trouble from the potpourri snack.
So now we're back in Georgia. Back home. Alice, Keith's Mom, decided that she'd return back with us and stay with us over July 4th celebrations! She had to take an afternoon flight to get here, but she's arrived safely. The kids have already been put to work weeding the front lawn. Their favorite chore EVER! After they were released from that job, they all scattered to the wind, and we didn't see anyone until 6:00 that evening for dinner. It was amazingly quiet, just the quiet hum of the washing machine and drier. : )
I have a few pictures from the kids' camera to show you all on the blog, but if anyone has any pictures from our trip that they'd like to send me, please do!
Thank you to all who made us feel so welcome on our trip. We had a great time. Could you tell with the thousands of exclamation marks I used in this post? Thank you, thank you, thank you! And now I'm going to bed!