It’s My Mom’s Birthday!

Today is my Mom’s Birthday!  And in honor of her I am going to tell you a favorite memory with her.

There are a few memories that stand out above them all… my mom tends to be HILARIOUS when under the influence of her sleeping medication, she is a riot while playing any game (especially our game of UNO while we were in Lochness, Scotland) and she is the perfect road trip buddy when faced with unknown territory and no navigation.  One such road trip occurrence happened on our epic California trip in the summer of 2010.  This trip took us from San Francisco to Napa Valley and all the way down to Los Angeles.  We delighted in wine country, mother-daughter time, and Hollywood in good company.

On our last day near San Francisco I resolved to make it into the heart of city before we left for Los Angeles.  My mom committed to making it happen.  So after a morning spent by the pool watching my second cousin in her swim competition we grabbed our rental car and hit the pavement.

When we reached the city limits, just off the bridge, our Garmin died.  For the next 40 minutes we putted along on Embarcadero Drive.  Why do I remember that street name you ask?  Because we were on a 1.5 mile road for 40 MINUTES.  I also must mention that we were on a time crunch.  With an hour budgeted to hang in the city before we had to be off to get me to a photo shoot our time was cut to 15 minutes by the time we parked which meant walked up a wharf, stared at the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz off far, far away, then walked back up the wharf and drove the 50 minutes back to Orinda.

With my mom though, I loved this adventure.  We mostly spent that 40 minutes of stuck in-between people and more people on that dreadful road laughing about it and dreaming up our blog-worthy story 🙂

I wrote a blog post about this experience a while back and, if you’re interested, you may CLICK HERE to read the original story and see all the pictures from that day 🙂

Also, if you haven’t already… check out my 100th Blog Post HERE!  Psst… I’m having a giveaway drawing over there :)

California – “No Embarcadero!”

– photos and text by Kaia Calhoun –

It seems against the rules to come all the way to San Francisco and not see the Golden Gate Bridge.

We were scheduled to leave for Los Angeles the next day and I hadn’t seen a spec of downtown San Francisco.  So, mom go to work on getting us our rental car sooner so we could drive into the city for the afternoon.

We spent the morning at my second cousin, Jensen’s, meet meet and making phone calls.  The festive throng of blue people cheered Jensen along with the rest of the team.  There were blue tents, blue chairs, blue blankets, blue lips, and blue Speedos.

  Our San Francisco adventure started just after that.  We were picked up by the car company and given a Chrysler Seabring.  We set our sails in the direction or San Francisco with the help of our Garmin.  Then she died.  Permanently.  She left us just as we got within the city limits.  We stumbled about the city center as I, the navigator, intuitively led us in the direction of the bridge, and through the now dreaded street called Embarcadero Dr swamped with tourists, concerts, and an art fair, as I  fumbled around for some other means of solid navigation.  I located and, after a few fails, got the VZ Navigator to work on mom’s phone.  But, by then, we reached the end of the two mile, one hour long Embarcadero Dr and my intuitiveness found us a parking spot right along a pier that would give us a view of the bridge.

We got out of the car and I put enough change in the parking meter to last us the precious 45 minutes we had in the city.  I saw the bridge, well the half that was not smothered in fog, and the Alcatraz building.


A romantic moment:  staring out across the bay at Alcatraz 😉

The Golden Gate Bridge… it’s there, I promise

Back on the road, this time we were headed to my photo shoot with a father and son a couple towns over from where we were staying.  The VZ Navigator was slow to respond, so before we knew it we were being led back onto Embarcadero Dr rather than the alternative, more efficient route that we passed inadvertently due to her delayed behavior.  I miraculously got the Garmin to turn on long enough for me to scribble the directions to the place on my hand.  No Embarcadero!

The view at the retreat center

When we arrived at the location of the photo shoot I found my self at the top of a big hill taking in a breathtaking view.  It was some sort of Catholic retreat center and it was simply gorgeous.  When Christian, father, and Luke, son, arrived we set out to make some great pictures.  Now, these two were absolutely wonderful to work with because Christian was a former model and Luke seemed as though he was currently a model.  At times Christian and I would both laugh out loud at how perfectly Luke held himself for each picture.  His hands, feet, face, etc, were always placed perfectly as soon as he got into position.

After just over an hour of fun with Christian and Luke my mom and I packed up and headed home.  Fortunately, again, I could turn Garmin on long enough to get the directions written down.  However, we took a different turn than we were supposed to, not wrong, but different.  See, apparently, if we take Camino Sobrante when we see it rather than taking Miner and then Camino Sobrante we are led all the way around town.  Camino Sobrante is one giant loop and we took the wrong way.

Finally, when we made it home, we were hungry and spent.  So, we chowed down then snuggled in for the night.

California Road Trip – “Crazy Busy”

– written by Amy Hammond-Hagberg and photos by me –

For much of our recent vacation, my daughter and I stayed with my niece Dena and her wonderful family. Their beautiful home is situated amidst the heavily wooded, narrow twisting lanes of a Bay Area paradise.  What a great place to grow up; no mosquitoes or blizzards there!

Dena’s life as a mother is crazy busy. From dawn until dusk she is running her two kids, Jensen (7) and Boden (4), to one activity or another—swimming, tennis, ballet, play dates, or day camp to name a few—yet she still manages to make nutritious home-cooked meals and teach Pilates. The whole business was a little overwhelming for me; so much so that I suggested that she might want to think about dialing back a little bit.

It wasn’t until I was on the plane home that I realized what a hypocrite I was. When our kids were little, my husband and I scrambled around to deposit them at one activity or another too—soccer, baseball, football, basketball, dancing lessons, karate, day camp, music lessons, church activities, play dates (we didn’t call them that way back them)—all while hubby and I both worked full-time jobs. I need a Calgon moment just thinking about it.

On one of our days with Dena’s family I had the pleasure of “babysitting” the two kids at the neighborhood pool while Mom helped some women do torturous exercises.  Jensen is a little fish, and has swim practice, a lesson, or a meet almost every day of the week. I have no doubt she will be wearing the red, white, and blue of the US Olympic Swim Team one day.

Always the nervous mother (or auntie in this case), I watched her out of the corner of my eye to make sure all was well even though she was surrounded by coaches. She was easy to spot amongst the other swimmers… Jensie’s favorite color is pink.

While she had swimming practice, BoBo got to play in the special shallow triangle of the pool that is set aside for little people.  With an eagle eye I sat in the stands watching his every move, determined that nothing bad would happen on my watch. It was fun to see him dogpaddling around the crystal clear water without a care in the world. He didn’t care that he had globs of white sunscreen smeared all over his face or that his aunt had made a pathetic mess of his goggles and his ears were sticking out. He just wanted to play!

No matter where or when you grew up, you had to deal with mean kids, and this swim club was no exception. I watched as three mean boys managed their turf in the shallow end, yelling at the unsuspecting younger kids if they wandered over an imaginary line and into their territory.

In his frenzy to have fun, little BoBo jumped recklessly into the pool, almost landing on top of one of the mean kids…oops. When they were done yelling at him, I walked quietly over to the side of the pool and talked to BoBo. He didn’t understand the whole boundary thing, so I reminded him to always look carefully to make sure no one was in the way before he jumped into the pool. For the rest of the day, he looked over at me to get the thumbs-up before taking the plunge.

Of course the little guy forgot about the whole episode in a nanosecond, but I stewed about it for a while. Oh to be a kid again!

California – Day 1 (July 19)

Yesterday I woke up to the wet blanket of humidity.  It made a habit of looming on top of Minnesota for a few days already, but nothing like yesterday.  By the end of the day I heard that the temperature peaked at 95 degrees, but with the humidity it was 120.

And I ran.  With the drip drip of sweat and dreams of a dry California I finished my shorter morning run.  Inside again I was greeted by a cool shower and bacon, toast, and eggs for breakfast with my family and grandparents.

The morning went by without a hitch until we got on the plane.  Our flight was supposed to take off at 11:18 and at 11:20 we were still parked at the terminal and listening to a flight attendant, in the language of broken intercom, tell us that we were instructed to remain grounded until a heavy storm blew by us.  Well, it blew right over us, just big enough to seemingly only dwell over the airport for an hour and a half.

I could literally watch the storm blow in and could even watch the sunny world just beyond our blanket of danger.  The sky looked like a table top of rolling, grey, burnt marshmallows.

Hail.  It came at us sideways, crab apple sized, with rain and lightening.  It all sounded like savage percussion in surround sound as the hail intermittently wailed on us, with the rain sheeting steadily against our metal shelter, and the lightening causing a base-like boom and a light show.

Then it left as quickly as it came and we mad our way into the air with the parade of other delayed planes.

The sky was gorgeous all across the country with visibility to the ground the whole way.  I got to watch as characters formed in the brilliant cotton ball clouds and varying, colorful landscapes passed below.

A smiling otter

A dog… namely Pluto I think 😉

A bunny laying in the clouds!

The Rockies

When we first landed in California I was not blow away, but I was startled by strangely bright colored pools of water.  Anyone know what they are for?

Then, as soon as I stepped outside, I was blown away by the perfect weather.  It was 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky—it feels like fall and looks like summer.

For dinner Dena brought us to a local Thai place.  We shared the most delicious Thai food we ever experienced.

We got back in the car and Dena decided to show us around a little.  We drove through a forest preserve and up to the top of a hill where I was startled by the breath-taking view of Ugandan-looking rounded, rolling hills saturated with the golden glow of a perfect sunset.  Unfortunately, since I was only planning on dinner, I did not bring my camera, so it looks like I’ll have to make a trip up there again ;).