Another week, another surgery

Rainbow in Santa Barbara during Christmas week.
A rainbow over the Christmas week VRBO.

This week I’m back taking care of my son in the Bay Area. He had surgery a few days ago. He heard the garbage truck coming, realized he forgot to take out the bins and raced down the stairs, breaking his foot. The last time I was here taking care of him, he had shoulder surgery from overuse injuries caused by swimming and rowing. That was several months ago, but not long enough for him to be healed and to be able to use crutches.

At Christmas week in Santa Barbara in the VRBO, he stayed on the main floor with us (mom and dad) and scooted around the kitchen and living room on his knee scooter. The main floor had the master bedroom and a small second bedroom. The rest of the “kids” — ages 21 to 34 — were on the lower level and out by the pool. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for him to be stuck with mom and dad.

He made the best of it and hopped down the spiral staircase a couple of times so he could sit with everyone by the pool.

I’m not sure what this week will bring. I’m sitting in his living room while he sleeps on the sofa with a cast on his foot. He has to return to remote work so I may be sitting quietly by getting ice for the ice machine and filling his water glass.

I brought a book I thought I’d read while I hang out in his house this week. But I finished more than half of it during during the plane ride. (Chanel Cleeton’s “When We Left Cuba.”) The good news is he and his girlfriend were Literature majors and they have a nice supply of books. I don’t need to get worried about finding another book to read.

shelves full of books and a knee scooter
Books and the knee scooter in my son’s living room.

What are you reading now? Have you taken care of your adult kids after surgery? We went out to dinner with friends the night before I left and they said they’d never do it. That their kids are on their own. What are your thoughts about that?

VRBO views

stone lion with Christmas decorations
I saw this nicely decorated lion on a morning walk around the corner from the Christmas VRBO.

We’ve left the VRBO and we’re headed home slowly. It took a ton of energy and hard work to pack 12 people and to get the house in shape for the housekeepers. I’m waiting to hear that my son’s car has arrived safely to the Bay Area. They were the last car to leave along with us at noon.

We decided to spend the night with our dear friends who live in the Santa Barbara area and get up at dawn to make the nine-hour trek home. The packing and cleaning left us too tired and too late to make the drive. Plus, I’m hoping for better weather tomorrow. Another storm is currently walloping the coast.

I miss Olive the cat and hope she’s not too angry with me for boarding her. In our new home and her new career as an indoor cat, she’s become very affectionate. I have bonded with this lovable kitty more than ever. The goal is to stop on our way home to pick her up from cat jail before they close.

views of Santa Barbara marina from the Christmas house.
The view from the master bedroom deck in our Christmas VRBO.
View from master bedroom of Santa Barbara VRBO
The master bedroom French doors to the patio with spectacular views.
Santa Barbara sunset.
Sunset

Happy New Year! I’m ready for 2022. How about you? Are you looking forward to saying goodbye to 2021?

Views from Christmas Week

sunrise over the Pacific
Sunrise view from the VRBO deck.

We spent Christmas together with our kids and our son’s girlfriend and family. This is our third Christmas together. We missed 2020 due to COVID — or it would be number four. This year, we rented a VRBO between our home and the Bay Area (where everyone but us lives). The house was amazing and it was a wonderful few days with family. My daughter and I had a mother-daughter day while the rest went to Solvang. I absolutely loved our time alone together. We spent so much time together while she was growing up that it was taken for granted. Now it’s a huge gift.

Christmas photo in Santa Barbara
The Christmas Crew
The Anderson Bakery in Santa Barbara
One of our musts in Santa Barbara for breakfast.
Statue at the marina in Santa Barbara
Statue at the marina.
Seawall at the Santa Barbara marina.
Seawall at the marina where the ocean and seaweed splashes over the wall.
selfie of mom and daughter
Mother daughter selfie on our much needed day together.
Path over the Santa Barbara marina barrier
At the end of the seawall you can walk the plank to a small beach.
On the Alley fish tacos
Fish tacos from On the Alley in the Santa Barbara marina. The best. I’m trying to find something close in AZ.

All of my son’s girlfriend’s family play stringed instruments. Two of the seven are professional musicians and we enjoyed Christmas Eve, Christmas and post Christmas concerts in our living room. Below are two samples of the amazing music we were treated to.

Christmas Eve concert snippet.

The road to Christmas

view from Santa Barbara during rain storm
Waiting for the kids to arrive during a California storm.

We arrived at our Christmas destination amidst a rain and wind storm. I’m so thankful that our day of driving was the day before the storm. We spent the night with friends close to our airbnb. I had anxiously awaited our kids and my son’s girlfriend’s family who drove from the Bay Area as all of California was engulfed in rain, wind and flooding

In the meantime, my husband and I trekked to Costco about 15 miles away from the airbnb. I’m a nervous nelly on freeways and with the rain, visibility was zero to three feet. I white knuckled it as a passenger and thought, “I’m only doing this for my kids.”

Once at Costco, we got drenched walking from the parking lot into the store — trying to cram both of us under one small umbrella. On the way home on the 101, the rain got even heavier if that’s possible. We watched in horror as the car in front of us tapped his brakes, spun out, then headlights moved towards us in our lane. Then he stopped, thankfully, made a U-turn across the three lanes and made his exit.

I was literally shaking. My husband slowed down and we crawled at 40 mph towards our exit, only to get a google warning on maps that there was a wreck right before our exit. We got off the 101 and took surface streets and safely, thankfully, arrived at the airbnb.

Our kids’ drives should have been five and a half hours, but turned into eight. The entire 101 freeway was closed due to flooding and boulders in the highway somewhere around San Luis Obsipo.

We stayed up waiting for them all to arrive. I knew I couldn’t sleep until everyone was accounted for. I gave big hugs to each carload that arrived. My daughter’s car arrived first, and finally my son’s last. Everyone was safely tucked into their beds. I finally got a good night’s sleep. This morning the sun is shining and we’re ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Merry Christmas! Stay safe and enjoy your time with your loved ones.

Christmas Eve view from Santa Barbara. Blue skies.
This morning on Christmas Eve, the sun came out.

Christmas for the dogs

Christmas 2019, our daughter and Waffles the Pug came to stay. This was a mere few months pre-COVID and a global pandemic was the furthest thing from my mind.

It was during a pre-COVID Christmas break that I learned something new about the park by our old home. It’s a great place to meet other dog owners. In fact, we found a group of little dog owners who gather at 4 p.m. and let their dogs play together. Waffles, who is not at all shy, was trying to take over the group and loves chasing and being chased.

I’m not sure he’s all that welcome in this exclusive club, except by two lady pugs, Mona and Sadie. The highlight was a surprise visit by Santa. Waffles, who thinks he’s a media star, photobombed every other dog’s photos. My daughter had to pull him out of other puppy pics more than once.

Santa surprised the puppies at the park.
Waffles with Santa at the park.

Another day, I discovered someone decorated our park with style! They covered three park benches with Christmas joy. Nobody knows who is responsible, but we all appreciated it.

59881008201__48F5684C-AF81-4505-878F-BD4512C08BA8 2
Waffles on a park bench someone decorated
Someone surprised our park community with Christmas bench covers and pillows.

I’m grateful for our park and the daily joy it gave me. In my new neighborhood, we have a tiny park where I see dog owners meet up, too. It’s tempting to think about getting my own little dog, but Olive the cat would have a fit.

Do you have a special outdoor place in your life? If you’re the owner of a dog, do you meet up with other dog owner to socialize and let your dogs play?

On the road again

beach view in Santa Barbara
On our way to the beach!

I need to get packed. But, I need to do laundry first. The kitty is on her way to boarding. The lady at the pet boarding place said our Olive the cat will be boarding with Olive the pug. That should be interesting. Olive our cat is not a pug fan. Waffles is the only pug she’s met and all he wants to do is chase her. I hope they don’t place them in suites (cages) that face eachother.

One thing that definitely helped my stress level was packing and loading the car one day before. What a concept! We only need to wake up, shower and go.

A nine-hour drive awaits. I’m trying to have a positive outlook for the long drive. I’ve downloaded several books to listen to including John Grisham. I tend to have anxiety on the road, so I’m trying to frame the trip as an adventure. As something fun to do for nine hours — rather than dreading it. Maybe a positive outlook will change my reaction?

Instead of breaking up the drive into a couple days, we’re going for it. We’ll stop by my dad’s to drop off his Christmas present at the halfway point. But we’re not spending the night. We want to get to our destination.

The Airbnb is letting us check in four hours early, which I’m thankful for. One of my worries was that the owner hadn’t reached out to me yet. Now she has and we have all the details to get into our Christmas vacation house.

What excitement do you have planned for Christmas week?

What’s going to happen with Omicron?

Christmas family gathering
Here’s our Merry Christmas crowd pre-COVID 2019.

I knew there would be another variant once the first, second and third waves of COVID passed us by. What I’m afraid of is traveling for Christmas. We have plans to go to California for a week and have our kids and our son’s girlfriend’s family join us. We’re a Merry group of 12.

With Omicron officially in California this week, will there be sheltering in place in Calif.? Will there be travel restrictions for out-of-staters like us? This could seriously put a damper on our plans — and be quite costly as well.

Early in the Calif. shutdowns, travelers from out of state were required to quarantine for two weeks. My husband had driven back to his office in CA from AZ to meet with a client and get some things out of his office. He wasn’t allowed in the building without the two-week quarantine.

With the vaccines will things be open? Only time will tell and seriously there isn’t a heck of a lot of time before our Christmas-week trip. It’s past the cancellation date for our Airbnb, too. I’m hoping and praying for the best and that this two-year planned gathering goes forward.

All I want for Christmas is to be with my family.

pug in Christmas sweater
Waffles in his cozy Christmas sweater.

Are you seeing any new COVID restrictions where you live? Do you think things will be normal for the holidays? Do you have plans to travel and would you cancel those plans?