Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mendocino Coast

We have been wanting to explore the Mendocino coast for a long time.  This year we finally made it up there after purchasing a hotel groupon-type deal with an expiration date!  This being a busy, busy Fall for us, we only found one weekend that worked to use our voucher.  So when that weekend approached and the night before found us with Oscar in the throes of an ear infection, Finn still in the midst of a cold, we decided we should just go anyway.  Based on how this Fall is going so far, if we were to wait until the kids aren't sick to go somewhere, we wouldn't leave home at all!  So, this trip was a crazy mixed bag of greatness and awfulness, all tied together.  The awful parts are comical, looking back, so I'm going to write about both sides of the story.

On the way up there was some gnarly traffic and the kids took only semi-decent car naps, but we made it there with me only slightly uncomfortable from oscar's infection-induced nursing strike.  After unloading our stuff at the hotel, we set out to explore and found ourselves at the beautiful Glass Beach.  Finn was so excited to get to run around after being trapped for a while in the car.
He is way into rock climbing these days and did awesome!

Log walking and jumping was also a hit
There were tide pools to see and wild life to search out.

Like so many other times, Oscar had to sleep through our adventure. Sometimes I feel bad that he misses out on such beauty, and so much of our time spent outdoors, because once he is awake, we usually relocate. 

But then when he woke up and seemed to prefer this view anyway.  Aw shucks.
After our time at Glass beach, we were hungry for food!  We went to the North Coast Brewing Co restaurant. They actually had really, really tasty food.  We had the heirloom beet salad, fish n' chips, and the flat iron steak.  All were fantastic. You may think that this trip is sounding a little too picture perfect so far, considering we had 2 sick kids, including one on a nursing strike. So here's the dirt.

After repeated attempts to nurse Oscar, I left him (suuuper hungry) in the restaurant with a starving, sleep deprived and crazed Finn, to go pump in the car.  Luckily it was dark out and I used my nursing cover.  Still, juggling bottles and pump parts and milk in the car was just lovely. 20 minutes later I was back, bottle in hand, and Oscar gulped it desperately and gratefully.  Thank you pump.  Jeremy and I passed a tired Oscar back and forth as we tried to eat our food, also with breaks to pull Finn back up from under the table, yet again, to finish his food.

And our night-time adventure was even more fun with all four of us sharing a hotel room.  Jeremy took Finn out while I put Oscar to sleep. Both were super tired from short naps and a late night.  Finally I got Oscar settled (not an easy task with his ear discomfort) and Finn came in to go to bed. It took him forever to fall asleep, being keyed up about all being in the same room together and getting his own big hotel bed. Finally he slept and eventually we did too. Until....enter a crying Oscar from 1-3 am, who couldn't be quieted/comforted by nursing in his distress.  Enter Liz pumping in the bathroom while Oscar cried and Finn thrashed around in bed, upset about his disturbed sleep, and Jeremy tried to get the both of them under control.  Both eventually settled.  Until 5:30 am when Finn awakened bellowing for his other lovey, the one we'd left at home which is actually identical  and interchangeable to the one we brought.  I brought him into bed with me pleading desperately with him to quiet down for Oscar.  Just as he started to settle, Oscar started screeching and Finn got agitated again.  Since there was no getting Oscar settled without pumping first, I quickly decided our only option to get the kids sleeping again was to go for a drive.
So we all loaded into the car, pajama-clad, and drove up the dark, narrow, winding coastal highway. Oscar fell asleep right away but Finn resisted with his stubborn ways, always keen on seeing new places. Eventually he did nod off.  The silver lining to this early morning excursion was seeing the coastal views appear with the rising sun. But by the time we returned his total sleep was about 4 hours less than he gets at home.  He was exhausted. We were exhausted.  And to top it all off, my pump battery was about to run out, and I (not expecting to have to pump for every feed) didn't bring the charger.  We had planned to stay another night and day but after the night's fiasco we were soooo over it and cancelled our second night.

We had breakfast at our hotel and then went to explore more of the area.  We went to the Mendocino Headlands state park.  There was more rock climbing/ scrambling and a spectacular coastal trail.  It was, admittedly, a tad sketchy at times for a recklessly running toddler who refused to be carried. But, oh my. Being out in this beauty simply felt wonderful.

 This coastline was GORGEOUS!  It seriously made all the troubles we encountered on this trip worth it.  We started to change our mind about shortening the trip, but then sadly remembered that Oscar needed food, I would need to be emptied per se, and I would soon be without a pump.  If it hadn't been for that issue, we would've braved another sleepless night.  As it was, we decided to enjoy what we could.

 The kelp that had risen up from the kelp forest made the coolest patterns in the water.

We took a stairway down to this beach, a little safer for a toddler bent on exploration.  He had an absolute blast with the kelp, the logs, the rocks, and splashing naked in the water.
 Again, Oscar got to sleep through all the loveliness.
In fact, making up for the shoddy night of sleep before, mama got to carry him for an extra long nap.  My back felt awesome.

 Someone who had visited the beach before us had built this little hut out of the drift wood.  Finn pretended to cook us food and played a little game of "house."
We also came upon this moss that looked so awesome with the water dripping down.  There were natural freshwater springs running out of the cracks of these rocks.

Finn reveled in nek-ed beach play for a good hour or so.  He just loves running free, and we love watching his happy little booty, splashing and playing.

 Oscar and I took off earlier to bring the car closer for our boy who was surely going to be too tired and hungry to make the trek back.  It was nice to enjoy the views without one eye on my rambunctious toddler the whole time!

Man, I loved this place. 

As expected, Finn was totally done. Way sleep deprived and way hungry. We hurried into town to lunch at a place that had caught our eye, Eggheads. (Haha, is that website for real?!)  Again, Oscar refused to nurse, repeatedly.  So there was Jeremy again, with 2 kids melting down, waiting to be seated at a restaurant.  I headed for the car for another pumping sesh. I got all hooked up and then the pump wouldn't start.  Panic started to set in...not only for milk for Oscar, but for my own health and comfort. I gave the battery a little rub, shook the machine around, took the battery out and put back in...miraculously it started working!  So I sat there pumping in the front seat of our car, praying it wouldn't die on me. We were parked on Main Street, where tourists wandered down the sidewalk right by me and window shopped. To my other side was a traffic light, and car after car stopped directly next to me for a lovely view of a lady with strange bulges coming off of her chest, under an odd-looking drape.  Perfect.  They also may have watched me struggling to discreetly detach bottles full of milk from my chest, and unstrap the strange contraption that is the breast pump.  Thankfully the pump lasted long enough to get all the milk, but I knew we'd better scoot home quick to be back in time for Oscar's next meal, to have a charger on hand!

Again, I ran, bottle in hand, into the restaurant to find my boys seated, and Finn in the process of throwing everything he could find from the restaurant table.  Oscar chugged his bottle. 12 meltdowns later, we finally all had full bellies.  Bellies of deliciousness, like eggs benedict and pumpkin cream waffles with bananas and whipped cream.  Finn made it through pretty much his entire kiddie breakfast,  while I recounted the entire tale of the Wizard of Oz, with help from the themed restaurant's props.  Stories will work wonders to keep this kid under control when he's out of sorts.  When we finally piled into the car we suddenly realized we didn't have Finn's lovey. We were running on a clock here, both because we had two exhausted kids, but also because I needed to get home by the time Oscar would next be hungry.  We went to the hotel and fortuitously, the housekeeping lady was cleaning the next room over.  I described to her the lovey and she pulled out oscar's Sophie giraffe. True, it was ours, but not the crucial Finn tamer we required for the drive home.  I asked if I could look about the room; the bed linens hadn't been changed and I found Finn's disgusting, ratty lovey in the folds of the bedspread. I'm sure it would have gone straight into the trash had that bed already been made.  Phew. Crisis averted.  After being reunited with his precious, Finn fell asleep within 2 minutes of our drive.

The drive home went by much quicker without any traffic problems.  Good thing, because by the time we drove accross the golden gate bridge, Oscar was whimpering in hunger.  The boy was so hungry, and again in the comfort of his own home, he nursed. No pump needed. The little stink.

We'll be back, Mendocino. You won us over. And we'll bring all our chaos back with us.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2nd Annual Apple Picking Day

I couldn't let it get to a full year before I post on this blog again! 
Here it is, Fall again and we got a chance to continue on with our new tradition of going apple picking with Jeremy's mom.  We chose Clearview Orchards near Santa Cruz again. We just really loved their apples last year and that they were so kid-friendly. 

Finn was really excited to go to the apple farm.  One of his favorite things to play with right now is his Little People barn, horses and tractors, so the idea of working on a real farm was just so cool to him..  He was so excited by every apple he found and soon even learned to inspect it for worm holes or yucky
bits before putting it in his bag.  
We still had to sift out a few that he certainly grabbed from the ground. While there he ate almost 2 whole apples!

Oscar was kind of a lazy, unproductive farm worker.  He just wanted to be held,

and play and cuddle with nana.  Our boys are so lucky to have such a hands-on nana, who is always willing to make time for them.

Oscar also enjoyed an idyllic nursing session on the swing, followed by sucking on his first apple. 

After a filling a bag to the brim with apples, our little farm worker went on a wild horsy swing ride again this year.

Since Oscar needed a nap, we thought there would be no better place to strap him on in the bjorn than nearby Manresa beach.  Of course, Finn got to make the most of this little side trip too.

He ended up playing most of the time with a large piece of kelp he found.  He loved that thing.

 He also cooked us some delicious soup in his bucket.  He's so resourceful, that guy!

For dinner we hit up nearby Cilantro's.  They had delicious sopes and Chile Colorado with home made tortillas, and we were staarving. Tasted so good. 

Advice:  don't take the 17 back to San Francisco on a weekend with beautiful beach weather.  Traffic was ridic!  We turned around and drove up the 1 when after 45 minutes we still had 6 miles to go on the 17, traveling at 6 mph.

What a nice day. I'm certain we're on for a repeat again next fall!