Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring Break 2017

I've realized I'm never going to catch up on this blog and I'm likely not going to be blogging all that regularly - but I have been keeping a journal and I may as well share some of the less personal parts here as part of my family history.

Last year the kids' schools had spring break at different times so we couldn't really go anywhere together. This year the schools had the same spring break so we decided to grab the opportunity and go visit the Bay Area - the place where our family started, where all our kids were born, and where a part of our hearts will always be. We haven't been back there for like 4 years plus Jared now has 2 sisters living there and my sister Saydi is there now as well. So many good reasons to head to the Bay Area!

We had an easy drive across the flat wide open stark beauty then through the still-snowy pass and onto the green of CA. So nice to break things up with 4 drivers and have no crying in the car, everyone happy to be in their own little world with a book or an electronic device when we weren’t listening to conference together (it was General Conference weekend). Loved that we had that dedicated time to get through all of conference. So many powerful messages. Main messages to me were to focus on helping our children learn to get their own revelation and to learn to better access the Holy Ghost myself as I seek more peace and guidance. Nothing earth-shattering but so many important messages that spoke to my heart.

We enjoyed such pleasant and kind hospitality with Jared's sister Sara and family - nice to see their lovely rental home in Piedmont and explore their great neighborhood, enjoy Sara’s tasty beautiful breakfasts, and have good talks with them. Spent a very nice evening with Kathryn, MJ, Will, Lori and the Kimballs - Zackary’s pizza favorites and delicious salad and desserts. Flashbacks as we talked with Will and Lori about their baby due in a couple weeks and remembered when we were living right by where they are now living and were expecting Ashton - serious fond nostalgia. Loved getting to visit Kathryn and MJ's home also - perched up in the hills with great architecture and perfect views in every direction.

Perfect sunny warm weather for our three days in SF - amazing!

The first day we did the Golden Gate Bridge - sweeping views from way above then closer and closer and a picnic lunch at a favorite new look-out spot, Ashton flying his drone and so excited about all the great footage he got there and along the coast and at the farm - nice that he’s extra excited about things if his drone can be involved and he captures some beautiful stuff and gets great feedback from family and strangers alike (everyone asked him about it while he was flying it and he was excited to tell them all about it and even let a random little kid catch it for him which thrilled that kid immensely). Stopped at Palace of Fine Arts for a pleasant stroll and pictures and tree climbing and reminiscing. Drove up and down some crazy steep roller coaster hills and checked out Nob Hill “snob hill” before heading back to the East Bay.

At Berkeley, had a great time touring the campus with a self-guided phone tour and wandering up and down Telegraph Avenue (cookie ice cream sandwiches were a huge hit). At Berkeley, we saw the most complete t-rex skeleton in the world, saw some interesting student engineering projects, saw the beautiful main bell tower and the very impressive Mining building. Such a conglomeration of different architecture styles and periods. Interesting to see the birthplace of so much free speech stuff. Beautiful river and nature areas mixed in. Fun hodge-podge of architecture styles and so many diverse people all around us.

Hearst Memorial Mining Building

Sather Tower
on telegraph avenue

Next day we walked up and down huge hills - Coit Tower with it’s history of California murals and beautiful views, Chinatown where we felt like we were literally in China with the sounds and smells and sights and crowds. Looked back and saw the kids towering above the crowds of Chinese people swarming around them. Tried some delicious pot stickers and “Chinese tamales” at a little hole-in-the-wall and saw so many crazy different fruits and veggies plus lots of crazy fish and ducks hanging from the ceiling and whole stores full of smelly and not-too-appetizing-looking dried fish. So fun to spend an hour in China without having to go to the other side of the world!


Walked through little Italy and up Lombard Street and found a tennis court right above it with the best 360 views of the city on all sites - Ashton did some drone flying and got some really cool footage of the city. Walked down to Pier 39 to see those ever-entertaining sea lions and make Oliver feel really special at the store there just for leftys. Walked all the way along the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building for some tasty Emanadas and fresh crusty bread with dip then headed on back to Kimballs for some tasty soup.

at the base of Lombard Street

Spent day 3 in the South Bay where we had a wonderful lunch at Sprout in Palo Alto (forgot how much I LOVE Palo Alto - still think that would be my #1 place to raise a family but Ogden’s great!) then went to see Stanford. They’d said tours were full when I checked in advance but when we showed up at the visitor’s center to get a map they said there was a tour starting in 1 minute and we could join it if we wanted. Awesome, inspiring tour by an excellent student tour guide - we were all impressed and it was so good for all the kids to hear about all the exciting possiblities that Stanford and college in general can offer. Felt like a really really good thing for the kids and we talked about how even if it didn’t work out for them to go to a school like Stanford or Berkeley for undergrad, it could totally work for grad school (like Uncle Ian).  Fell in love with that campus all over again - especially the chapel with its glorious mosaics and stained glass windows and when the organ started playing while we were in there it was simply heavenly.


After Stanford, went to visit our old neighborhood in San Jose and worked up the courage to knock on the door of our old house there. Nicest young Indian couple who bought it a year ago and were overjoyed to have us come in and see everything and wanted to hear all about renovations we did on the house, etc. Filled with joy remembering the good days in that precious little house. It looked so much the same but so much smaller! So happy to see it in such good hands and we came away with lots of lemons and oranges from our old trees and really happy hearts. Such a family bonding and precious half hour we spent there! Went past the cemetery where we always went on walks and where all the kids learned to ride their bikes and the hospital right down the street where all the kids were born.

Then we wandered Santana Row and used the huge chess set and checked out the fancy shops -especially Tesla for Ashton. So many great memories there with little kids running around in such a beautifully done open-air mall that we could walk to from our old house.

Next morning we packed up at the Kimballs and spent a few minutes enjoying the Oakland Temple grounds.

Then we headed for the Shumway Farm - raining, of course, always rain when I go to the Shumway Farm. Loved sharing the wonders of that place with Isaac and Ashton and Jared who didn’t go with us when I took the younger kids for President’s Day. So fun to have Oliver and Silas so excitedly point out every little thing as we got closer and rave about all the cool things they were going to show everyone who hadn’t been there before - clearly a place they have made their own in their hearts.

the road to the farm

When we got there, we ignored the drizzling rain and explored and wandered and talked and ate and worked really hard alongside Noah and Kristi who were there for their last day on the farm. Lots of digging and planting and lifting and moving plus time to just enjoy the beauty of the place and visit the magical bridge area. So wonderful seeing all the cousins together.

Lyla decorated Jared's beard for him
somehow Mila felt perfectly comfortable riding this way with Liza

We all had so much fun taking turns with baby Faith

Great dinner all together after our hard work then we had a great birthday party for Jesus since it was April 6th (the day Joseph Smith said was Jesus's actual birthday plus the birthday of our church). Everyone shared something they really love about Jesus, a favorite teaching, etc. and we had cake and ice cream. Such a spirit-filled and beautiful evening!

The next morning, we did some crazy-comical photos with all the kids and chickens and goats and a guinea pig and said our goodbyes to Noah and Kristi.


the chickens lay these beautifully colored "Easter eggs"

Then we headed off to go see the amazing elephant seals at Ano Nuevo - gorgeous misty walk along the coast and guides there who almost reverently told us wonderous facts about these creatures while we watched piles of pups sunning themselves and occasionally getting up to move, their blubber rippling as they inched their way along. God must have had a lot of fun creating so many different creatures!

On the way home from Ano Nuevo, we stopped at a beach so the kids could run around on the sand. Of course, a little running around on the sand turned into some totally submerged and sandy and freezing kids by the end (good thing we always keep a couple blankets in the van).

Lots more farm work the next day - sometimes in some pretty heavy rain. We transplanted lots of baby plants from the greenhouse into the big hoop house, putting them into the gopher baskets we made and buried and amending that heavy clay soil and hoping for the best - poor soil and so many deer and bugs and gophers - I hope those little plants make it! We did our very best to give them the best possible chance! Jared and the boys cut down and chipped up tons of wood and we used that to cover the garden. Oliver, Silas and Charlie worked on building a new chicken coop. Proud of how hard all the kids worked and Saydi and Jeff were most impressed and thankful.

cutting back weeds the old fashioned way

Then we went to the tide pools up by Moss Beach - such wonder and beauty - looking and looking and being rewarded by finding so many little fascinating things.

Then walked through a lovely cypress grove above the tide pools before heading to what is now my very favorite look-out point - an old bunker on a hill near Devils Slide where you can get the very best views up and down the ragged-cliffed coast.  Then we went on to Taco Bell with the best views ever at Pacifica Beach where the kids ate and Oliver and Silas and Isaac actually ran into the ocean and submerged themselves - crazy crazy people that they are! It was so cold I couldn’t even keep my camera still to take photos because of shivering. The sunset was spectacular and it was fun to see it dotted with the sillouettes of the kids freaking out in the cold cold water against that pastel sky.

Ashton took the shivering heroes and all the kids home in our van and Saydi, Jeff, Jared and I went to dinner at Half Moon Bay - tasty Himalayan food and great deep conversation about kids and life and so many good things. Love talking with those guys.

Sunday morning - Palm Sunday - said goodbye to Saydi and Jeff as they took off for church then hiked up to the platform on the ridge for our own little Palm Sunday service before the long drive back home. Such beauty - and a sweet warm spirit thinking of Christ and the joy plus somewhat fearful anticipation that Palm Sunday must have brought to His heart. More drone flying for Ashton to capture the last of the farm then cleaned up and left the farm to head home. Stopped to take the sacrament when we realized we were right by the Shumway’s ward building right when the sacrament would be happening (it was exactly on our route home). Stood in the lobby in our non-Sunday clothes and reverently took the sacrament which was so very nice as I’d really missed it the last week when it was General Conference. It really does make a difference for me to take the sacrament every week.

Long drive home but fine with switching off drivers and listening to more conference and some interesting podcasts plus time to just read and think. Annoyed sometimes with the kids having ear buds in their ears and not being able to hear when I wanted to tell them something but got to a pretty good balance between doing things together and being in our own little worlds during the drive.

SUCH a great trip - such needed family bonding time, beauty, family, fun, memories, inspiration. So grateful. And came home so tired!


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