The stars seemed to be aligning for an opportunity to get the Mothers of Eyrealm together for a few days in Northern California without too much hassle and with mostly short distances to travel which is important when you have a far flung family like ours. In March, Charity was coming to the US for Ian's sister's wedding, Aja was coming to the mainland in Seattle for a swim meet for Ana, Saren, Shawni and I were just a short flight away and Kristi could actually drive there. The only ones that were far away were Julie in NYC, who had just been called as their ward Relief Society President and Anita in Switzerland who didn't think a three day turn around from Switzerland and back was wise. So Julie and Anita decided to wait for the next gathering to join us.
As it turned out, Julie decided to come at the last minute and we Face Timed with Anita so we could feel that she was almost there!
Saren and I flew out of SLC, picked up Shawni in Phoenix and then headed for the San Francisco airport. We were pretty excited!
We gathered everyone on March 26 at Saydi's Farm and had a beautiful farm breakfast before we departed for our adventure.
Noah and Kristi who had driven down in the sprinter with their six kids, were kind enough to offer that great vehicle for our adventure so we loaded into the Sprinter, followed by three of the girls in a truck loaded with 5 bikes so we could ride along the beach for a bit before we headed for our airB&B.
We left Noah with all ten kids (we took the two babies with us)....to supervise them on the farm until Jeff arrived to help after work but he was up to the task! I'll have to fill you in on the taco eating contest that happened while we were gone later.
Don't worry, they all had boots to deal with the mud and other stuff on the farm:
We spent a lovely hour taking turns riding the bikes on the beach
And then the adventure began. We returned to the car to find this breathtaking scene: This is the large window on the passenger side that we saw as we rounded the front of the Sprinter....
And the smaller front window.....
And this is what it looked like on the inside! It took a few seconds after being horrified that someone would do that to a beautiful Sprinter to realize that all our computers, purses with driver's licenses, keys, credit cards, a passport, make-up, recommends and lots of nice carrying bags were GONE! Can you believe that? Who would steal all that stuff from a van with two baby car seats right there in front of them. At least they weren't interested in them!
By the time the police came, an hour later, two of our group were getting notified on their husband's phones that $500 gift cards at Macy's in a nearby city were being charged to their credit cards.They got away with $1500 worth of gift cards before somebody suspected fraud. They tried for two $1000 gifts cards but their accounts had been shut down. Bummer!
The very best part was how well everyone accepted the disaster. There was no weeping and wailing, just wonder at what would cause someone or probably someones to do that and the realization that it was just things. Pretty important things in most cases but still....things! Kristi even thought of being sorry for them...if they were that desperate!
We were determined not to let it spoil our trip even though it put a damper on Julie's Birthday since all her ID, passport, keys and SS card were in her purse.
We spent another hour filling out police reports and going to the car wash for a very long session with a million glass shards and the big vacuums there. Luckily Saydi's car was in the shop in town and the work on it had just been completed so we picked it up, drove the Sprinter back to the farm and used Saydi's car and our rental for the rest of our time together.
By Monday someone came out to the farm to replace the windows and Noah and Kristi's insurance covered all the electronics and the banks paid for the fraudulent charges. So then it was just a matter of getting along without our "stuff" and getting some on their flights home without ID. It all worked out in the end with only the pain of replacing everything and watching bank accounts to be sure that nothing else was charged along with a number of annoyances for a very long time ahead. Luckily, I had my purse with me and had only left my computer and all my chargers in the car. Charity had all her things in her diaper bag so she had a passport to get home with and a couple had left their stuff in the truck that we had used to transport the bikes, so all was not lost!
Finally we had a ver late lunch at the beach, celebrated Julie's birthday as best we could and went for a long hike along the coast...
Cuddled our babies....
And then retired to our lovely little airB&B, owned by such a lovely couple who made us feel so comfortable and felt sorry for our loses.
We shared our "happy" and "sad" since last summer when we were together which is a conversation always full of joy and sorrow. As always, there was some of each but all in all, these optimistic, wise women declared again and again that they had learned as much from the hard times as from the good ones. We love this bunch!
The next morning we headed for the San Francisco MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and were delighted to find the original art that Eli and Julie had replicated (in a much smaller form) in their living room in NYC. Julie and Eli have a lot of pizzaz!
The cobweb room was amazing! There was even an amazing real cobweb in one of the glass cases!
Those little spiders worked a long time to create this thing!
We love the creativity of Modern Art!
That night we had some great conversations about essays we had exchanged online and shared thoughts and books that we have loved.
Charity's little Moses had not been feeling well and neither of them slept well for days. Kristi's little Faith had been restless too but those two Moms bucked up and offered not one complaint during our next adventure which was to the fabulous Filoli estate. It is a 640 acre luscious estate first owned by the owner of a "Hard Rock Gold Mine." The name came from their family motto which was
Fight, Love, Live. It was a fitting name for this amazing place which has since changed hands and was in full bloom with the most gorgeous flowers and blossoms we had ever seen! The home rivaled the gardens in interest and history with no expense spared to keep it in pristine condition!
Here are our two baby-moms entering the garden through the original family door.
As we began our self-guided tour our wonderful Anita Face-time us. We had tried to reach her the night before without success so we were thrilled to have her walk along with us through the gardens. She was home in Switzerland with Tal in Brazil. Since we always laugh about that fact that she seems to always have her eyes closed for pictures, she was probably fine that you can't see her very well on the phone there in the middle! :)
It was a glorious spring day!
Aja must be taking the picture!
By the time we had lunch here, Moses was not doing well! He was breathing really fast and was listless. While the rest of the girls went on to see the redwood forest, Kristi and Charity and I headed for the same Insta Care where Ian and Charity had taken Moses to get checked out before we got there. While Kristi waited in the car with Faith (bringing babies into rooms at Insta Care are not the place to take babies who aren't sick). They X-rayed Moses' lungs again and found pneumonia. The doctor was so sweet but decided that we should take him to the emergency room and admit him to the hospital for the night. I took Charity and Moses into the Emergency Room at the Stanford Hospital and then left them in the care of doctors while I took Kristi home. While we had waited for the results of the X-ray to come back, Kristi and I ran to Trader Joe's down the street to get some food for a dinner at home. Kristi ran into a drugstore next door to grab a little e make -up, as everything she brought was in her stolen purse. Crazy afternoon!
I ran Kristi and Faith home (about a 45 minute drive) since I had the key to the house so the other girls could get in. Kristi wasn't feeling great (although she never said that, bless her heart) and I needed to get everything Charity needed for an overnight stay at the hospital. By the time I got back to the hospital the ER doctors had concluded that Moses' condition had already improved and they sent us home with a prescription and on a wild goose chase to get it filled.
Without further details I'll just say that the other girls had gone to a beautiful redwood forest, stopped by the one and only Golden Gate Bridge....
...and had gotten home and prepared every variety of Indian and Thai food available at Trader Joes in the microwave and had kindly saved a nice dinner for Charity and I while we all debriefed on our adventures.
Julie "thought" she had an earlier flight which eventually turned out to be an hour late so Aja took her to the airport where it took some extra time to get through security without any ID. Luckily I managed to get her to take a little money for food and the subway in NYC.
It was so fun to go back to the farm for a grand dinner for the whole mob! The kids were delighted to see Faith and Moses and it was great to see Lyla holding the baby goats like they were her babies and to see Saydi watering in their little green house with Lyla while Saren contemplated something important up on that grassy knoll.
Some were able to take a hike through the magnificent redwood trees on the property near Saydi's farm. It was positively magical! Sadly, I didn't take my camera!
There's nothing like having five of your grown up kids together in the same place for a few hours!
No, the stars were not quite aligned on this journey. Saren's flight was three hours late. She arrived home at 3 a.m. and Ana, Aja's 15 year old who had stayed at the farm and had not felt well the whole time was also diagnosed with pneumonia when they got back to Hawaii.... not related at all to Moses's pneumonia.
Still we were all so grateful for what we had learned from and about each other, when experiencing the challenges as well as the beauties of nature and the multiplicity of joy that comes when a lot of people get together who love each other!