Monday on vacation

Monday was a special day. It was our first full day in California and we woke up early in our hotel, which was an extended stay joint in Fremont with all vinyl wood floors and a distinct marijuana scent throughout. 

The place also featured really poor coffee for free(!) AND coin operated laundry machines. One of my packing strategies was to minimize the stuff we brought by making time to do laundry during the trip, so this fit the agenda. We needed coins, however. 

The best option was to patronize the local Denny's for some coffee and breakfast. It was great to walk out into the fresh scent of California air. [If you have never smelled California air, northern specifically, I don't know what to say. I just recommend it. You'll remember it always. At least, I have.]

While at Denny's, we got some great news we'd been waiting on about our house which made all the hard work we put in before leaving seem pretty worthwhile, and gave us another great start to the day. 

Side note: this Denny's featured several retirees eating breakfast. When I went to breast feed Levi, some guys who could easily pass for WWII veterans were staring at me. I'm pleased to say, this is this first and only time on this trip that I felt like I was drawing attention to myself breast  feeding. There is no moral to the story, just an observation and something that lodged itself in my memory. 

As we were leaving we got a bunch of quarters and headed back to the extended stay place to do a load of laundry. Then, from there it was time to pick up Nana!

Nana, my Nana, is my dad's mom and was a staple of life growing up. The few years we lived in California growing up she was only an hour away, so visits were frequent. She had several fun toys at her house that we always had to leave there so we'd have some toys to play with and books to read while visiting. I remember her shell collections, her letting us wear her wedding shoes (not allowed to go down the stairs in them!), And the legendary "NK" -- Naked Ken, a Ken doll with no clothes. She also had many great books which we enjoyed.

More than any of that, though, it was her kind and generous disposition, sense of humor, warmth, patience, kindness and fabulous story telling that endeared her to us. Although we moved alot and far away over the years, she always seemed close and special. We were always certain of the love and affection between us as her grandkids. 

For all those reasons and more, while missing her myself, it's also made me sad and frustrated that my kids never got to spend time with her so far in their young lives. Recent health issues have stopped her from flying out to visit. So I was incredibly excited for the chance to visit with her and bring the boys and Jhonny to her house where I spent so much of my childhood.

We picked her up and went to the local pho restaurant. She came complete with two pails full of hot wheels and bibs for Caleb and Levi, which certainly cemented her in at least Caleb's memory!

After a relaxed and lengthy lunch, we headed back to her house to play.

She wanted to show us her baby pic because Levi reminded her of what she looked like as a baby.

 Caleb enjoyed playing with some very vintage Fisher Price toys my siblings and I used to play with, too!
I spotted one of my sister's favorite classics:

J made sure we got a photo all together: 

It was a really nice visit. I hope she can come to visit us out East, or that we are able to make it out West again soon. I felt pretty sad to say goodbye but really thankful we saw each other.

After that, it was time for a quick nap for the jet lagged kids and Jhonny used the time to catch a few moments of the first Redskins loss of the season. 

Then it was off to Redwood City to see the Millards, some friends I made while working in Arlington. They moved to the San Francisco area over a year ago, and I have really missed them since. Janelle gave birth to Hudson the day I had my thyroid taken out, so they have a son who is a few months older than Caleb, and Janelle just had their second baby, Pierce, two weeks ago! Yes, somehow they still let us come over...

I love how fun-loving and adventurous and down-to-earth at the same time. They love people and make friends everywhere they go, while Logan is simultaneously ambitious and always thinking of new entrepreneurial ideas -- reminds me of Jhonny! In fact, the two of them carried on about their latest ideas while Janelle and I bonded over the experience of becoming moms of second sons. The boys played really well together with minimal toddler drama, and on the whole this visit just made me even more sad for myself and for my family that the Millards live so far away. However, what a treat to have a friend to go visit so close to my Nana! 
I'm feeling sorry I didn't take time to get better pictures of the adults and new baby!

It was a special, heartwarming day, and I'll not forget it anytime soon. 



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