My Mom and sisters visited us last week.   We’d been planning a girls’ get-away (with the little ones) and things just seemed to be getting too expensive.  So they came here for their vacation, and I had a staycation. 

At first, I didn’t know how we would get everyone home from the airport.   Our car has a third row of seats that pops out of the floor in the back, so we had enough seatbelts for everyone.  But with two carseats, 4 adults, a stroller and luggage, our Outlander just was not big enough.  I asked Sporty Best Friend to help, but she had prior commitments.  I considered leaving Jenna with our babysitter, which would have given us just enough room, but she was not available either.  I was about to spring for the cost of the airport shuttle when my resourceful Middle Sis figured out a much cheaper bart/bus route.  She and Mom had a fun (so they said) transit adventure while I drove Little Sis, Baby S and their luggage home to our place.  Whew! 

It was a logistical challenge getting everyone in and out of the car whenever we went anywhere.  The third row is meant for children, not grown women, but luckily Mom and Middle Sis are smallish and have great attitudes.   They climbed in and out of that tiny space without complaint.  The conventional way to get into that third row is by popping the middle seat forward and getting in through the side door, like you would in a coupe.  But in our case it meant that one of the kids’ car seats had to be removed every time they got in and out.  Mom and Middle Sis, being the “outside of the box” thinkers that they are, decided to squeeze out the back instead, climbing over the seat and out through the hatchback.  These are the kinds of ladies you want to take on an adventure with you. 

We had rented the one-bedroom guest suite in our apartment complex for them to stay in.  A one-bedroom suite is a little tight for three adults and a baby.   We had a pack-&-play for Baby S to sleep in, and an inflatable bed to set up for Little Sis in the livingroom.  Mom and Middle Sis would sleep in the bedroom, and I was staying in my own apartment with D and the Bean.  So Little Sis pushed aside furniture and we got busy setting up the beds.  It turned out to be plenty of room, although we did spend much of our at-home time in my apartment. 

It took most of Monday to get them settled in, do the necessary grocery shopping, and get the car cleaned of dog hair (I hadn’t gotten around to it before their arrival and it was nasty).  Since Baby S needed a nap, Middle Sis came with me to get the car cleaned and grab a coffee.  Later, Mom came with me to get the groceries.  We were on our way to the store when she suddenly chuckled.  “It’s like The Bachelor”, she said.  “We all get our turn to have a private date with Beth”.  My Mom is so cute.

For me, Wednesday and Thursday were the best days of our vacation.  On Wednesday, we all piled in the car to visit the Marin French Cheese Company in Petaluma.  This small factory creates hand-made (and hand-wrapped) brie and camembert cheeses using local milk, cultures from France and a lot of TLC.  They offer a short but informative tour of the cheese-making process, and a lovely picnic area invites guests to linger with their cheese, baguette and bottle of wine.   The factory is situated on a small but beautiful lake surrounded by cattle ranches.  The sun came out from behind the clouds just in time for our picnic lunch – just what you expect on vacation in California, although maybe a little on the cool side.

After we’d finished enjoying the cheese factory, we headed to the Petaluma outlet mall to spend the rest of the afternoon shopping.  I can’t remember the last time we all went clothing shopping together – it was so much fun to try stuff on and offer opinions and advice to each other.  And there was plenty of help with the babies.  Clothing shopping often gets cut short when I try to do it on my own. 

Thursday was another sunny day, and we made the most of it.  Sporty Best Friend is a Registered Massage Therapist, and she offered to host a spa day at her house.  We had a charming lunch on the back deck, complete with sparkling wine, and then took turns getting our muscles tenderized.  The babies napped for a good chunk of the afternoon, and it was so relaxing to just hang out and chat with each other.  Thank you, SBF, for a wonderful day. 

Friday was leaving-day.  At some point in the week, I’d realized that we could strap the stroller and the suitcase to the top of the car and fit everyone inside to get to the airport.  It was a very wet day, so after a quick lunch, we got busy packing the car.  I believe my sisters and I did our handy-man father proud.  We got the load on top of the car strapped down with a blanket underneath to protect the paint, and a tarp over top to keep off the rain.  Nothing had budged even a centimeter by the time we got to the airport.  A very nice man asked if we needed help unloading, but of course, we didn’t.  Girl Power! 

And then I started crying.  Yup, it’s so hard to say goodbye, but we’re only a short flight away.   I’ll see them all again soon.

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