A Weekend in Napa

Al, The Beaner, and I had a lovely weekend in California... and I'm still a bit heart-heavy about it. Truly, we had a wonderful, wonderful time: We got to see friends we don't see often, The Beaner got to play with new friends P and S, the weather was wonderful, my dress worked out great, The Beaner was more talkative than ever and used several new phrases, we got to eat great food, a good friend finally met and married the perfect woman for him, the plane rides went smoothly, and we all enjoyed each other's company immensely. The problem is, I'm now homesick.

I love our life here in Philadelphia. We have a GREAT house, a great neighborhood, two wonderful nannies, a city lifestyle, excellent working conditions, and we're living within our means. But oh, how I miss the Bay Area. I was suprised to find that my nostalgia and heartache were greatest when we were on the Peninsula, in Sunnyvale and Mountain View. I've always preferred the city, and when we lived in Mountain View I needed to go house-hunting in Palo Alto and San Francisco to cheer me up, to give me hope that we'd move out of the suburbs and into a college-town-near-a-big-city or into the big city itself. But here I was in the south-Peninsula 'burbs, feeling homesick. I knew the streets so well, I felt like we were just out running errands, and we'd be returning to Whitney Drive any moment.

I'm sure I'll get over it once I've been back here in Philadelphia for a few days, and I've had time to consider what a move back to the Bay Area would cost us (at least double what we paid for this house, for one thing). In the meantime, allow me to review some of my favorite things about this past weekend:

Spending time with my husband on our wedding anniversary (it was 4 years on 10.06.06). To celebrate, we staged a re-creation of our wedding night by having a picnic dinner in a hotel room. This time the food was from the Oakville Grocery in St. Helena (I highly recommend the tamales and the orzo pasta salad) instead of from our wedding buffet, and I refrained from eating any cake (Al got a cookie); also, the Beaner was around to join us, so we were three instead of two. Somehow, that made it even more fun.

grapes oakville grocery, st. helena
picnic at the Best Western in Napaal eating a tortilla chip

The wedding, seeing Craig & Nico and Tony & Maria, and meeting P. It was so lovely to be among friends, to see Ken & Corinne get married, and for The Beaner to find a playmate (he really, really enjoyed hanging out with P and has been talking about him since we returned). There's a funny story about how The Beaner went looking for P while repeating the phrase "P____ new diaper" over and over with various inflections, but it really needs to be told out loud. Suffice to say that when The Beaner denies that he needs a diaper change, all we need to do to get him to submit is remind him that P got a new diaper. "P____ new diaper?" he'll say. "[Beaner] new diaper!"

chatting with craig lunch @ Taylor's Refresher
corinne & ken after the ceremony nico & craig P peering over Maria's shoulder
see the whole wedding set as a slideshow

Grapes! There was something so pleasant about driving by row upon row of grape vines. Everywhere, there were grapes—including at the wedding, which was held at a small organic vineyard. The Beaner and P helped themselves, which made for another of my favorite moments.

see, you just grab and pull exactly!

more grape pilfering rosy cheeks and purple fingers

Fred reaching into the pool to retrieve The Beaner's toy Saab and coming up with his face dripping water. I really wish I'd gotten a photo of this, but I was so in awe of Fred's gallantry that I didn't reach for the camera. (This incident happened between the wedding ceremony and the reception, when we were all having cocktails around the pool. I'd been a bit paranoid that The Beaner or P would fall in, but in the end it was only the Saab—and Fred—that got wet.)

Hearing The Beaner say "excuse me." We've been trying to teach The Beaner to say "excuse me" when he wants someone to move and when he wants to interrupt a conversation, and although he's repeated the words back to us, he's never seemed to understand when it was appropriate to use them. We were in a cool downtown Napa toy store when he finally got the hang of it. We'd gone to the back of the store to play with the train tables, which were set up close to the Thomas and Brio displays (of course). The Beaner was moving around a table working the trains, and I was browsing through the Thomas paraphenalia when he suddenly needed to get by me, and couldn't. He pushed on my leg for a little bit, and I ignored him (not intentionally; it's more that because he's always hanging about my legs, I don't notice right away when he's actively trying to get my attention). Finally he said, "excuse me!", which got my attention right away. I moved, of course... and laughed delightedly.

choo choo!percy and gordon

One of the other things The Beaner said while around the train table was "Percy!", referring to the little green engine. I'm not sure whether he learned Percy's name from one of the other kids who came to play around the table (one little boy in particular named *all* the engines for me) or from a Thomas book we got for him at the bookstore recently (I think the latter's more likely, since Percy figures prominently in the story), but he said it so clearly that we couldn't help but buy him a Percy. We're suckers, I know. The day before, we'd bought him a little toy pickup truck when he correctly identified it as a Dodge.

old favorite and new acquisition I got two of 'em!

Visiting John & Kathy down in Sunnyvale. Here's were the nostalgia really kicked in, since we were driving around our old haunts on the way down as well as when we went out to dinner. Plus, talking to John & Kathy was something I could have done for days... so many interesting topics, from parenting to sports to television to finance & budgeting and tons of other things that we only managed to touch on briefly. I had this moment after talking with Kathy where I thought, "hey, maybe I could stay home with The Beaner full-time...", but then I realized, as I talked it out with Al, that it really wouldn't work for me with our current setup. If Kathy and I lived in the same neighborhood, though, I think I'd be willing to try it. She's so wonderful with S, and it's obvious he's thriving in the glow of her love and enthusiasm. I think I would, too. :) I can't wait for them to come visit us in Philly, so we can continue the conversation.

Kathy & S sweet S John & S
teeter totter

Edited to add: Visiting the BCBGMaxAzaria outlet in Napa. The dress I wore to the wedding was by BCBGMaxAzaria, and the cargo pants I got a couple months ago and love are too, so when we popped over to the Napa Premium Outlets to see if there were any kids' shops there and I spotted the BCBG store, I begged to go in for a few minutes. I left with two pairs of pants that fit incredibly well, feel like butter, and make my butt look great. Like all of BCBG's pants, they run a little long, but having to buy a new pair of boots to keep them from dragging seems like a small price to pay to make me feel like I have a normal body. Just about every other brand out there makes me feel like a mutant, while BCBG clothes feel like they were made just for me. Yay! Oh, and the Gymboree outlet turned out to be next door, so we were able to get a couple cute things for fall for The Beaner and S, too.

Posted by Lori in parenthood and photography and travel at 3:21 PM on October 12, 2006

Comments

It's hard to leave familiar things. My wife and I are thinking about leaving Nashville sometime after I get out of school, and the idea of living in a strange place is exhilarating and scary at the same time.

Nothing's happening right now though, so I don't have to worry about it.

Posted by: Stephen Simon at October 13, 2006 1:39 PM

I'm amazed/impressed that you did such a big trip for just the weekend! How did the time difference go? Was he up at 3 a.m.? (But the photos look like you had a good time. The pick-and-eat grapes ones are especially cute.)
We 3 are going to Albuquerque in a couple of weeks and the Portland area in December and I'm already dreading the jet lag.

Posted by: juliloquy at October 14, 2006 10:38 PM

It was actually a long weekend -- Thursday night to Monday morning -- so it wasn't too much of a shock.

We were warned about traveling across time zones with an infant/toddler, but honestly, I don't think The Beaner's ever had any trouble. We put him to bed at the "normal" time (whatever that has been at each age he's traveled) locally, and then he wakes up normally in the morning. If I remember correctly, when we went to Hawaii he woke up around 5am for the first few mornings, but we'd usually get him to go back to sleep 'til 7 or so if we brought him into bed with us.

This time we didn't get to the hotel near the SF airport until around 9pm, so he went to bed around 10:20pm -- about 60-90 minutes later than at home (and at the same time as we went to sleep :). Al made a remark about how it was really after 1am, but I told him not to bother with all the time zone confusion, that The Beaner would sort it out for himself. And he did. :) Oh, and the trick to coming home? Try to arrive in the late afternoon/early evening (pretty easy when you're flying west to east). If you can go through the normal bedtime routine within an hour or two of getting home, the Schmoo might not notice the time zone change. At worst, you'll have a kid who sleeps late for a couple mornings.

Good luck!

Posted by: Lori [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 15, 2006 9:58 PM

I love the grape pictures.

Stay in Philly. The cost of housing here is sooooooo insane. I live in a TINY! SHACK! in a bad neighborhood - the Hells Angels HQ is 3 blocks away - near the Bikini Bar - I mean, not a good area at all and my rent is almost 50 percent of my take-home pay. But I do have the beach. Which I gaze lovingly at on the way to one of my two jobs...sigh.

Posted by: Suebob at October 16, 2006 12:36 AM

When I was a kid growing up in San Diego the word "Beaner" was a very derrogatory term that people used to refer to Latinos, specifically the Mexican landscape guys that worked for the community I lived in. Living so close to the Mexican border, there was a lot of hate for Mexican immigrants (both legal and illegal). I remember the landscape guys being the nicest people too. They used to teach us kids Spanish words and let us ride on their maintenance carts.

Every time I see you refer to your son as the Beaner, that's where my mind goes.

Sorry.

Posted by: goalie_jason at October 19, 2006 11:37 AM

Oh, I hope I'm not offending anyone. I think it started because we called him Sweet Bean. I used to call our cat Annie Boops, Miss Boops, or The Boopster. We do that with The Beaner, too -- switch between The Boopster, The Beaner, Sweet Boops, Sweet Bean, [Real Name] Bean -- but I thought I'd try to be consistent here.

Posted by: Lori [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 19, 2006 12:19 PM

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