The first week of October we all headed down to Dixon, CA for a 10 day vacation. Ellie picked up a virus near the end of the trip and decided to bring it home, which is why it has taken me so long to get this post up.
The occasion was party-palooza. Jeff’s mom, Susan, turned 60 and celebrated with a birthday party, and then Susan and Ron threw their annual pumpkin patch party for all the children in their lives the next day.
When we planned the trip, we thought Jeff would be done with his current projects, and this would be a well-deserved break after the long haul. But, as it turned out, he was a bit behind schedule so was completing three books while we were there. I’d be surprised if he remembers the first half of the trip, since we later figured out he slept a total of 17 hours that week.
We flew down on Thursday, October 1. Ellie did fairly well on the trip down, but she really is getting too big (and fidgety) to sit on our laps for the whole trip. She had a good time during take-off and landing watching all the other planes, trucks, baggage handlers, and general activity of the runway.
Ellie and I headed out with Susan the next day to pick pumpkins for the pumpkin party. Susan and Ron have set aside about an acre of the farm for pumpkins and other vegetables (much of the property is planted with almond and walnut trees). We rode the Gator out to the patch and Ellie helped find the pumpkins under the large vines and leaves, then helped load them on to the Gator. She had a fantastic time!
Later in the afternoon, the weather was warm, so we decided Ellie needed to go swimming for the first time (and Jeff needed a break). The three of us headed to the backyard pool. Although it was very warm outside, that water was friggin’ freezing! Ellie WAS NOT HAPPY about being in cold water and cried and cried until Susan brought out some pool toys for us to play with. We never did dunk her under the water, but once she forgot how cold she was, Ellie eventually let go of her death-grip on Jeff and enjoyed herself.
That night, Jeff’s sister Lisa and her daughter Emma arrived for the weekend.
Saturday was Susan’s birthday party. Her step-daughter Kimberly and husband Trevor hosted at their home in Sacramento. They have a spacious backyard with a large play structure where the kids could run wild. Ellie was a bit intimidated by her rambunctious cousins Zach, Logan, and Emma, and played by herself much of the time. The adults all ate wonderful appetizers on the patio while watching the entertainment — the kids.
After a while, we all went inside for a wonderful sit down dinner. Many of Susan’s very close friends, some of whom she hadn’t seen in a long time, were able to attend. It was obvious how touched she was to have all her favorite people around her. After dinner and birthday cake when the party and the kids were winding down, Susan sat down to read her grandchildren some bedtime stories. We couldn’t resist the photo op.
Sunday was the pumpkin patch party. In the morning we did some party prep, then the kids and their parents started arriving around 1:00. (I think the final count was 65 kids, most under the age of 6.) This party truly marks the start of fall for many of their friends. In addition to loads of food, games, crafts, and a pumpkin for every kid, they also had live music by their friends, Misner & Smith.
My dear friend Mary and her family who live about an hour away from the farm came to the party. At last year’s party, John was only a few days old, so it was very fun to see this grown up little boy. Ellie had a great time playing with Cydney and cousin Emma.
One of the highlights of the party was the made-for-young-children version of bobbing for apples. We tied the apple stems to long streamers and had those hanging from a fire hose tied between two trees. The kids had to bite the apples without using their hands. It was pretty hilarious. For the kids three and under, we did the same thing, but with mini donuts instead of apples. They are much easier to bite. Ellie decided there was really no point in biting the donut when she could just lick off all the powdered sugar.
Monday afternoon Lisa and Emma headed back to Seattle.
On Tuesday, Jeff and I took advantage of the built-in childcare, and left Ellie with Susan and Ron for a few days. We rented a car and headed up to South Lake Tahoe. Jeff was still working so he camped out in a Starbucks while I toured the local shops. But he was 98% done the next afternoon and we enjoyed massages at a local spa, a lovely dinner, and a good night’s sleep. Thursday we headed up to Emerald Bay to do some hiking and sightseeing then headed back to Dixon.
I have no idea what Ellie did while we were gone, but here is a lovely pic of Ellie that Susan took one of those days.
Ellie calls Susan and Ron “Deppa” and “Papa” names that Emma originally assigned to them and stuck. With them is their dog Millie — or rather Millie’s bum.
On Friday and Saturday we just hung out, ran some errands, and let Jeff sleep and regroup.
The plane ride home on Saturday was much harder. Ellie was cranky and fidgety and louder than we’d like. But, we had the row to ourselves which helped. One of the flight attendants offered Ellie some wings as we left for being such a good girl on the flight, so maybe it wasn’t as bad as we feared. We were all glad to arrive home safely.