I was determined to make it a day I would enjoy, which included leaving a day early for our long weekend away at Sea Ranch on the northern California coast. I knew that spending my birthday waiting for Paul to escape work and then driving 3 hours in the car with three children and unpacking was not how I wanted to spend my day.
So I packed up the youngins yesterday and we trekked up here on our own, knowing Paul would join us as soon as he could. We meandered a little along the way, finding a little gem of a lunch spot in Jenner. Picnic tables right on a bay and homemade clam chowder!
I love these pictures of the boys eating their lunch together. It warms me to know they can get along so well. It requires a lot of patience from Abe, but Oscar's innate enthusiasm and curiosity are also just good companions.
Of course there were a few mini-struggles along the way...the biggest being Oscar’s immobilizing stomachache in the grocery store in Gualala. I remembered that the last time he'd had such an attack we landed swiftly in the ER. (Most kids with PWS don't get stomachaches and if they do it can be a sign that something is seriously wrong.) I stayed calm and hoped it was gas. I hoped that a bowl of creamy clam chowder was enough of a departure from his normal diet that it alone was the cause, and that it would pass, literally. Thankfully I was right. I did look up the nearest hospital later just in case.
He was not successful, but also not deterred. When I woke this morning, luxuriously late at 8:30am, he had a fire blazing.
He had also made the pancake batter and was flipping the first batch. He wanted to make me pancakes for my birthday. While Abe was busy with fire and pancakes, Ruby and Oscar had made cards, which they proudly presented to me. So very sweet! The first is Oscar's and then Ruby's.
We ate our whole-wheat banana pancakes on the floor by the fire, listening to the Winton Marsalis CD that I had found in a cabinet. It was raining when we finished breakfast, but that didn't stop us. All 3 kids raced to get their suits on when I suggested we try out the hot tub. We stayed in for a loooong time. It was lovely to be so fun and spontaneous with the kids, and not distracted by paperwork, insurance, emails and appointments. And I think it was all the sweeter knowing that we leave next weekend for our 5 day hypophosphatasia study at Shriner's Hospital St. Louis. (more on that later...)
Paul arrived at 4pm, just in time to get settled and make us a drink while we started on dinner. Abe wanted to make burritos, and had looked up an authentic recipe for mexican rice on the internet before we left Berkeley. Here are his ingredients, all pre-measured and ready to go.
Paul brought me the cards that arrived in the mail (including a beautiful one from my wonderful friend W) and gave me a small gift of chocolate from the new shop on Solano and this perfect card.
It was a wonderful day that I didn't think could get any better. But, as we were finishing our burritos, the rain stopped and there was a hint of clearing to the west. We threw on our jackets and shoes and headed out on a walk. We wanted to check on the baby seals we'd seen on the beach the day before.
Below is a picture of our rental house from the path. (It's the closest one). Sea Ranch is a private community stretched along 10 miles of coastline just south of the Mendocino County line. There are miles of private trails and a few public paths and many beaches. We've never been here before so we are enthusiastic explorers.
Ruby ran most of the way down the trail toward the shore, excited to be outside after a long day of rain. We stopped at Shell Beach, where the jagged rocks, the waves, and the briny ocean breezes made me feel like I was home at last.
Ruby was excited about the many-shaped rocks she found.
To the north just slightly we saw a hint of pink in the clouds, and headed off to the bluff where we had spotted the seals the day before, hoping for a sunset. The kids took turns taking pictures on my iPhone and we alternated between long glances to the northwest where we indeed were gifted a beautiful sunset and below us to the south where mama seals and their pups nursed and cuddled. These were moments to cherish and we lingered as long as we could.
We raced back home along the path as the light faded. As promised, we hopped into the hot tub for a quick pre-bedtime soak. I placed votives all along our deck railing and we watched the last hints of pink fade to gray. The steam from the hot tub mixed with the low light of the candles and created a mystical atmosphere. It was just that kind of day. I felt lucky, I felt loved. I am grateful that we could escape like this, to catch our breath for a few days, before real life and all the accompanying responsibilities resume.