We spent this weekend visiting my in-laws in Santa Maria (which if you know California, is south of San Luis Obispo and north of Santa Barbara). It's been a long time since we went down to Grammie and Grampy's house. We actually figured out that it's been about a year since our last visit. It's been a busy year... They live about five hours away, so we're normally able to visit every few months for a long weekend, and I feel pretty lucky about that.
Being down there reminded me of one of the reasons that I fell in love with my husband - his amazing family. Grammie and Grampy's house is a little slice of heaven for all of us. My husband grew up in this great neighborhood where a number of the families were really tight. The kids would go from house to house, and all the parents treated them like their own. I know this is true because every time we are there and we visit some of his family's friends - many of whom still live in the same houses, in that same neighborhood - they all treat us like family. My husband feels like he grew up with 23 brothers and sisters, and 6 sets of parents.
Here are the highlights of the weekend...
Grammie and Grampy live in a beautiful home (that my husband grew up in), with an incredible yard. It's not palatial, but it's a good sized lot. Big enough that they actually had a sand volleyball court in the backyard when my husband was a kid. Now, it's a garden. Both Grandparents love to plant, so fresh fruit and veggies are plentiful. There is nothing better than going out into the yard, and picking an apple for lunch or some avocados to put in the dinner salad. Before I met my husband, I hated raw tomatoes. I grew up in "the city", so to me, they always tasted like cardboard. When I saw him eating one raw one time, I almost threw up. When he finally got me to try it, I was in tomato heaven. After that, I ate raw tomatoes like they were apples whenever I could get them home grown. In that second picture, my girls are picking sunflower seeds out of dried sunflowers. I think I'm going to try planting some in my yard next year.
Grammie is an incredible cook. Really. Martha Stewart good. She made two pies this weekend. The one pictured is Olallieberry, and she also made an apple crisp - both from fruit they grew. The dinners we had both nights there were to die for. The kind where you keep eating past the point of being full just because it's so good. I regularly gain 5 pounds after a visit, and it's worth it!
They have a hot tub in their yard, which is like the perfect sized pool for my kids. They were in heaven. I barely got them out of the "pool" long enough to eat all weekend. The best part was that the weather was so warm (I heart California), that I even got a little sunbathing in while watching them swim. Seesa told Grampy that he needed to get a bigger pool, to which he mumbled something about the economy and before going back to his gardening.
The family time.
Good conversation around the dinner table. Great wine. Happy kids playing with all the fun toys they only see when they visit the Grandparents. Warm fire (again, California... you gotta love being in your swimsuit during the day and having enough of a chill in the air at night for a fire). Card and tile games after the kids have gone to bed. The laughter, the hugs, the kisses, the love.
Memories. Precious memories that I know we'll all cherish for a lifetime. After this horrible (ok, I said it) year, it was a timely reminder that this is what life is all about after all.