One year ago, I wrote about one of the most intense weeks of my life. When I was three months pregnant with Isla, I witnessed a birth, grieved a death and cared for Lorelei while she endured Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (which I then caught myself). We traveled to Orange County before the illness and were able to spend some much-needed quality time with Ryan's side of the family. It was my mother-in-law's father who had died, and we were blessed with the opportunity to say goodbye to him hours before he passed.
This year, Ryan's family gathered at his mother's home to honor her father's life. Because Ryan was coincidentally given an extra two days off of work that same weekend, we decided to take advantage of the four-day weekend and have a mini vacation with our two girls. Isla would be meeting many family members for the first time, so the trip was meaningful on a variety of levels.
I wish I could say it was an incredible trip and everything was super awesome and perfect, but it had THE worst beginning - worse than any bad vacation I've ever had before. We decided last minute to leave a day earlier than originally planned, but, due to bad timing, we ended up leaving right before rush hour. This caused our travel time to double, and we didn't arrive at our destination until 8:30 p.m., which brings us to a total of five hours in the car with a potty-training toddler and a baby. Word to the wise - never drive through Los Angeles on a Thursday, and bring lollipops if cry-worthy traffic is unavoidable. I also wouldn't recommend leaving during a full moon, let alone a Blue Moon, because you're basically asking for shit to get weird.
After a bad first day of travel, things improved immensely. Lorelei became besties with a Chihuahua named Dolce and, later on in the day, a cat named Simba; we got to sleep in a fluffy king-sized bed; and I woke up to enjoy a delicious home-cooked breakfast that was made by someone other than myself.
The girls and I spent the rest of the day with Auntie Taylor (Ryan's sister), and we checked out sea lions and tide pools (or "party water" as Lorelei decided to call them; photos of this excursion are at the end of this post) while our husbands surfed for hours upon hours. After reconvening, we drove to my mother-in-law's together for the gathering, and we enjoyed the company of family we wish we could see much more often than we are currently able.
The day as a whole was slow, deliberate and fulfilling - despite the fact that it took almost three hours to get Lorelei to fall asleep come bedtime. She was so amped on life after spending the entire night re-telling stories of mine as though the events had happened to her. It was highly entertaining, and I couldn't help but let her stay up way too late just to hear her sweet voice compose all kinds of fiction for her loving, kind audience.
After the majority of the extended family went home, my mother- and sister-in-law joined me to view the Blue Moon that was hanging over us that night (so-called because it was the second full moon in one month). It was beautiful, powerful, huge and probably the main reason things had been so "off" for us the day before. I embraced it, came up with a few thoughts about things I'd like to release to the powers that be and went back inside to finish my wine and pass the fuck out.
We spent our final day in Orange County slowly, yet again, enjoying coffee and breakfast in the backyard with my in-laws, watching Lorelei play, relaxing while Isla napped next to a beautiful succulent arrangement, avoiding an overly friendly bee, holding an ice pack to Lorelei's head after she ran into a closed sliding glass door and trying to decide if we should leave early, or if we should go to the beach and leave at bedtime so the girls could sleep on the way home.
Obviously, because we're not dumb, we chose the latter, and it was awesome/the only thing that really went completely right all weekend.
Enjoying the warmth of a wind-free beach day is so, so good for my soul. I was able to sit and relax with a margarita while two extra pairs of hands helped Ryan and I take care of our babies. Lorelei bonded with her aunt and uncle, she figured out how to have fun without any beach toys, she got her hair wet in the ocean and went deeper into it than ever before. Isla napped peacefully in her own beach chair to the sounds of waves crashing and people living happily outdoors. We stayed as long as we could before having to return to the responsibilities of real life, and one last long drive home.
We returned to the beach bungalow from whence we came, and I took a bath with the girls before we dressed them in jammies and fed them as much as possible in preparation for our final adventure. Had it not been for an unexpected detour, they would have slept the entire way home. Instead, both girls woke up, resulting in a mini cry-it-out session for Isla and all of us listening to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on repeat for Lorelei until she fell asleep again.
Thankfully, we made it home safely at a decent hour; both girls transferred to their beds easily without waking; and Ryan and I were able to binge-watch some Seinfeld before finally going to sleep in our own bed once again.
Normal life resumed the next day, and I felt much like I did when Isla was four months old and thoughts of a third baby entered my mind before quickly receding in fear - I knew I would travel with my children again one day, but it definitely won't be anytime soon. That being said, we love our Orange County (and beyond) family so much. You're all welcome at our home anytime!
Side note: the number two won't be a chosen number on any future Lottery tickets.