Monday, November 5, 2012

Nashville & California

Pretend like this post isn't super overdue, mmmkay?

As expected, we saw a ton of people we love and that means we have tons of photos to share. If you don't want to see a trillion photos of the B-monster and his adoring familia, this is likely the post that will never end for you. If you are said familia, this post will rock your socks off.

Can't please everyone. ;)

Nashville was short and sweet. We did a little exploring and listened to some country music and then scooted out pretty quickly. We were there less than 48 hours in total and hopped on a plane from Nashville to California for a very late night with the ol' time change working against us. I really hoped I could meet Molly, but unfortunately she doesn't live anywhere near Nashville and therefore it would have required an intense drive with a 6-month old, by herself. I know how hard that is, so that ended up being a no-go. Note to self: just because you're visiting a state someone lives in that you know, it doesn't mean they are going to be close to your location. Kind of like when people used to ask my husband (who was an Air Force Academy grad and Officer) if he knew their uncle/cousin/sister/nephew/whoever that is also in the Air Force.

Tangent complete. Here's the quick rundown of Nashville before I lose any more readers.

Benjamin meets the King. Yet, he cannot be bothered.
Just before they started setting up to film the TV show, Nashville. How appropriate in... Nashville.
Those are all fake I.D.s, says the bouncer.
Live music!
Las Paletas Peanut Butter Gourmet Popsicle. Similar to the gourmet popsicle place I visited in New Orleans.  With 220 five-star reviews on Yelp, I was up for it. And sure enough, it was delicious. Also bought: chocolate almond.
We took an evening flight from Nashville to California. The next morning, my best friend and matron of honor in my wedding, Alison, and her son Scotty came to visit. Scotty was born while we were living in Germany and is 2 1/2 now. His big sister Gabrielle is 8! Her photo is at the end of this post.
Nevermind the shower hair I am rockin'. This was the best picture of Alison and myself-- the kids had better pictures, but I'm vain enough to not want to post pictures of our double chins. 

Grandma photo bomb!
B's first pumpkin patch! In California of all places. Where I grew up in a very populated Los Angeles, pumpkin patches pop up in empty parking lots and vacant lots of all kinds. Throw down some hay, cart in some animals, add pumpkins and carnival rides, and you're set! Here in IL, I learned quickly that there really are such things as farms that grow pumpkins in the ground at the very place you go and pick them! Maybe next year.
"So I was just thinking..."
For a belated birthday present, my parents rented a boat to take us out on Alamitos Bay. My brother brought dinner from one of our favorite teriyaki joints and we got to meet his wife for the first time (they'll be married a year this month!). It was a really nice time! 

Fun fact: On the first day I introduced Ray to my parents back in my early 20's, we took them out kayaking in this same bay and saw moon jellies. It was a blast.
Such wonderful boys
Maybe Benjamin enjoyed his dinner. Looks like it. :)
Steering the boat with Grandpa.
My brother, his wife Anna, and the latest face B makes all the time. We think it's hilarious.
Post boat riding and dinner eating, we headed back to the pumpkin patch for more fun with Grandpa this time. Notice the attire. This is L.A., people. No long sleeved shirts or mittens like you'll see us already sporting in Chicago. It was 70+ degrees.
Grandparents + B-man

First carnival train ride with Grandpa
My, what big hands you have!
This series of photos cracks me up. I'd usually choose just one, but being that I was looking at them in order, I just had to post them all. I'm sure my dad will really appreciate them. ;)
That's funny. Something's missing...
No really. Check out his hair, it's missing!
Happy B-man and his Grandpa up way past his bedtime.
Family photo 
From my parent's house, we headed to San Diego to meet up with Ray's family for his cousin's wedding. I'm telling you, it was quite the trip... hence my excuse to insist on posting so. many. photos.
More Grandpa jokes. What is that on your chin? Hair? But why is it so... white?
Giving a little love to Ray's Aunt Helen
Aunt Helen, Aunt Ceil, B-man, Grandma
I love attention!
Pre-wedding festivities
Great Papa & Dad
Great Gramie & Gramie
Three generations of men
Hanging out with Ray's second cousins and his Aunt Jan
Wedding celebrating! Please excuse the fat mom arms. I eat a lot of chocolate.
We headed back up to L.A. after our wedding festivities ended and had lunch with our friends Nik, Solange, Caity & Oliver at one of our favorite restaurants in Hermosa Beach, El Pollo Inka. Solange is Peruvian and they introduced us to that restaurant (and others!), but Chicago doesn't have much to compare. Especially not in the 'burbs.
Caity, Ray, B-man sporting his L.A. bib. When in L.A., be like an Angelino.
Lomo Saltado and Benjamin stealing a tomato. Gotta watch him; he's sly like a fox.
Lunch crew
After lunch, we headed to Hermosa Beach (where I lived just about 7 blocks away when I met Ray) and had to dip Benjamin's feet into the Pacific! He's experienced the Atlantic and now he's touched the water of both coasts. Our friends took some awesome photos of the occasion.

Where I come from... there's corn bread and chicken amazing weather and gorgeous beaches. And a bright sun that gave me skin cancer. Okay, so it's the same sun as in the Midwest, but it sure seems more intense in the West!
Ray, B, Nik, Oliver on Hermosa Pier
My friends Alison, Nic, Gabrielle & Scotty came down to join us before we headed to LAX to catch our flight so Gabrielle could meet Benjamin. My friend from the beginning of this enormously long post? That's her daughter. I cannot believe she is EIGHT. I was in that hospital room when she was born and it still shocks me she's such a beautiful and smart second grader already.
B was pretty smitten.
If you're tired just looking at our adventures, imagine how we feel! We're staying put for awhile. This might be the first time in ages we don't have plane tickets purchased to go anywhere. Of course I can name at least 3 plane ticket purchases we will be making in the next few months, but they're not booked yet!

---   ---   ---   ---   ---

Lighting a candle tonight. 23 months. Next month will mark another year. I'm sure the next month will be more emotional than usual. I ordered his ornament for the remembrance ceremony we'll be attending again this year in December. It will be an annual tradition to honor Andrew.

---   ---   ---   ---   ---

I'm being featured on BlogHer's Life Homepage tomorrow! I've never been featured... anywhere! And I get to add this to the side of my blog.


LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

I lol'd at several things: the tomato thief, the "family" picture at 'pas, and also fat mom arms<- bc I have those. ha.

Super duper cute pictures of the families. Both sets of parentals seem smitten with your little man.

xox re: the 5th. Insane to think of two years. Insane.

Brie said... [Reply to comment]

I just love this post. ..and your love for CA (: thanks for showing me a slice of Heaven, haha.

Glad you had fun, and oh me gee, "fat mom arms"?! I think not. You looked fantastic.

Molly said... [Reply to comment]

:( I'm sad we didnt get a face-to-face meeting too!! I actually think of three hours as being pretty close, but to do there and back in one day was the issue. I know K could handle three hours alone in the backseat, just not twice in one day! Had the same issue when Natasha visited Little Rock recently. Maybe I will make it to Chi one day. Sigh.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

We always get asked if we know so-and-son in the Army. BUT - If you do come to Texas ever we'll have to game plan, because it is a obnoxiously big state, but we are conveniently located in the middle of all the good cities.

Also - I was looking at our flights to Europe and there was one that would give us an 8+ layover in Chicago. If we end up going with that. .. . ummm, wanna do breakfast??

Love all those pictures. That little man is not so little anymore. Who does he think he is!?

Brigitte said... [Reply to comment]

Great photos! I am from the same area too!

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

The train one is my absolute favorite but really you have such an expressive little boy! I loved them all.

Solange, Nik, Caitlin and Oliver said... [Reply to comment]

I'm so glad we got to see you guys :)

Natasha said... [Reply to comment]

Love all the pictures- I love the tomato snatching the best :) Looks like the families all enjoyed B and he looks pretty happy too! So nice to be able to share them!

Yeah Molly and I had that problem too the last time I went home- it's hard with the little guys. And really some states are just so huge. Like Texas. Really really huge. It's craziness!

2 years is so unreal. I mean seriously how did we get here? Definitely thinking of you and your sweet Andrew. I hope we can all make it through the holidays with some sanity left.

Addi's mom said... [Reply to comment]

Those pictures are great, that post was well worth it :) oh and only a month away...I can't deal. Ugh.

Kristi said... [Reply to comment]

B is adorable, of course! However, you were one Hot Momma at the wedding.

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

You look great at the wedding! Love the pics. B is quite a little character. And so loved.

23 months. How have we made it so long?

sarah said... [Reply to comment]

These photos are fantastic. You all are gorgeous. Fat arms, shower hair - pshaw.

23 months. Thinking of you as you approach A's birthday, with love.

AlliFerg said... [Reply to comment]

Love you MIL's skirt. Such a classy way to do chevron!!

Alison G. said... [Reply to comment]

Love the pics from the whole trip! Thanks for not posting my double chin. I appreciate more than you know!