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Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death on November 15, 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (born 5/04) and Sydney (born 5/07)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Fun 2011

Wow - I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted! We've been pretty busy...

I got to be a grown-up and go see fireworks with a few friends for the Fourth of July (actually on the 1st), then the kids and I traveled to San Diego to be with the Rows for that week which is always such a great time! At the end of our visit, we all drove up to Six Flags Magic Mountain for another day of fun before heading home.

Matt's birthday was on July 11, and the kids and I celebrated his life in our usual way by getting an ice cream cake (his favorite), and the kids also wanted to get him flowers.

Jacob, Sydney and I headed out on July 16 for our first real road trip... I had decided the month before we were going to travel up to Northern California to visit friends and explore our new state, but I'd been so busy right up until the last minute that I didn't have much time to make very detailed plans, so we kind of winged it and it evolved as it went along. It probably ended up better that way than if I had planned out every little detail!

We drove up to Fresno to visit Jeffra, Mark and McKenna, and we all went to the Sugar Pine Railroad for a ride on a train. Afterward, we hung out at their house and the grown-ups visited while watching Jacob, Sydney and McKenna having a blast together in the pool. It's so nice to get to visit with friends on their home turf where you get a peek into their world. We spent the night there, and the next morning headed up to Sacramento to visit with Deena, Rob, Ryan and Emma and ended up staying with them for about four days (bless them!).

The first day, our friend Laura had a delicious barbeque at her house where we also got to hang out with Melissa (her and her kids drove up from SF) and Kristel! During the next three days, Deena and I and all four of our kids went to the California State Railroad Museum, Train Town, and drove through Napa Valley where I got to go wine tasting for the very first time at V. Sattui Winery.

We had delicious meals and tons of fun times with the kids, and some very much needed quality girl time. We were constantly amazed at the similarities between our kids - Ryan and Jacob are both seven years old and have similar interests and personalities, and even look like brothers - same build, brown hair and deep set blue eyes. Emma and Sydney are both four, also look alike and have similar personalities and interests. Even their voices were so much alike that when we weren't in the same room with them, we had a hard time telling who was who and half the time would yell at the wrong kid! Funnier yet was as Deena and I talked about our husbands, we found many similarities in their personalities, too. Not only did Deena and I get along famously during all that togetherness, but we even had several people tell us that we looked like sisters. My sweet friend Deena has been battling breast cancer for over a year now, and is doing it with amazing strength and grace. I'm so proud of her.

After we left Deena's, we drove over the Bay Bridge to San Francisco where we were going to go to the California Academy of Sciences, but since we got into town a bit late and wouldn't have had much time there, we decided to just keep going. We drove through the city of San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge to our hotel in San Rafael and went swimming instead. We were very happy with our decision. After swimming, we had a fancy dinner that the kids (and I) thoroughly enjoyed. The next morning, we headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Even though we spent the entire day there, I still had to peel the kids away when it was time to go. We were in awe the entire time. Late afternoon that same day, we headed down Highway 1 to Big Sur Lodge and spent the night in a cabin.

When I was growing up, my dad took us camping in a cabin a few times on Lake Ontario, and I was surprised that even though this is a newer-built cabin on the opposite coast, it still had the same familiar scent I remember from the old cabin when I was little.

The next morning, there were planned activities for the kids (Junior Rangers for the 7+ up group and Ranger Cubs for the younger ones), and then an organized hike for families that afternoon up to Pfeiffer Falls where we made some new friends. That evening, the kids had a great time riding their bikes around the cabin, where we spent another night. The next day we headed for home.

The first leg of the ride home was on Highway 1 where we stopped two times for photo ops, and then one last time when we saw condors soaring overhead. It was a long drive home, but was still a fun part of our adventure. My Facebook post upon our return read, "A huge THANK YOU to Jeffra, Deena & families for sharing their homes with us, Laura & fam for the awesome party, Melissa for driving out, Carlos for taking good care of my zoo including a sick kitty, Michele for watering my garden, & last but not least, the kind officer who pulled me over for going 17mph too fast without giving me a ticket. It truly takes a village!"

We were only gone for eight days, but it felt like were were gone for a month!

The whole trip there and back was filled with glorious views and breathtaking beauty. It was memorable and amazing, and we're looking forward to even more adventures in the pop-up trailer that I picked up a few days after our return! (Yes, I've officially lost it... If I don't get some clients soon, we'll be living in that thing.) Some of my fondest memories from my childhood were from camping with my dad- either in a cabin, or more often in the pop-up camper, and I'd like to relive some of that with my kids and hopefully give them some great memories, too.

I felt Matt with us the whole time on that trip. I'm not a country music fan, but the song, "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw kept repeating over and over in my head. Life is all about experiences, and I want to experience as much as I can with my kids. That's what it's all about. (Plus it's a great way to justify spending more than we can afford.)

On July 27, Matt and I would have celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary, so that night, I cracked open the bottle of wine I bought at the winery and shared it with my friend (and next door neighbor) Michele.

Our next adventure will be in just a week when we drive down to San Diego where the kids will be staying with their cousins and Aunt Brandi while I go to the third Camp Widow for a fun, inspiring, fulfilling weekend where everyone "gets it."

Not long after we return, we'll be heading to Buffalo for our second visit since moving to California. The first trip back to Buffalo after we moved was pretty scary for me, but I'm really looking forward to this one since I'm beginning to really miss my hometown. 

This sure is a summer to remember!


Shonquinta said...

Sounds like you all had a lovely time :) When you decide to go further up north, Humboldt is very beautiful and I guarantee you will love it up there. There are so many things to do.

Anonymous said...

Andrea all I keep thinking is.... I am so damn proud of you! I give you so much credit. Taking two kids on vacation and really taking the bull by its horns.It sounds like the three of you had a blast. I love that you are keeping Matt's memory so much of your lives, I'm sure it is hard. I really miss you and hope we can see each other when you are back in Buffalo. Sincerely I am so proud of you, you are such a strong person.

Andrea Renee said...

Thanks, ladies!! XOXO