Months ago Chris and I planned a nice trip to San Luis Obispo. We had been invited to go to Hawaii with the Hosseinis and my parents but we were not very inspired to take three 3 year olds to Hawaii for a week. We figured that San Luis Obispo would be cheaper and more manageable for a family like ours during a time like this.
About a week ago we changed our minds. We were tired and Chris was emotionally exhausted from traveling back and forth to Los Angeles and Hermie’s passing away. I didn’t feel like packing, I didn’t feel like driving, I didn’t feel like eating out with the kids and I was nervous about our sleeping situation now that the kids were out of cribs. Chris told me that he wasn’t looking forward to our trip to San Luis Obispo. I didn’t probe into why Chris didn’t want to go, but I was guessing it was one of the many reasons I didn’t want to go. We had visions of staying home the whole week and taking day trips to Tahoe and Berkeley and getting our beloved Kathy back for Thursday and Friday allowing Chris and I to go out on the town and see some movies and go to dinners.
This plan was dead in the water. I checked the weather in Cameron Park and it was very disappointing. It was going to rain three days out of the week and the other days were cloudy and cold. Then I asked Kathy about helping again and she had made plans, as she should have. On Sunday we decided to leave Monday for San Luis Obispo, stay a couple of nights and then head to Westlake to spend some time in warmer climates with the domestics.
I quickly adjusted my attitude, my energy and my outlook on taking four little kids on vacation. I “bucked up” as my dad would say, and got to packing. Chris took Ava and drove to REI in Sacramento and bought the biggest damn rocket box on the market – a solid 22 incher – with room for half of our house. It was a beautiful sight to behold when Chris drove up the driveway with that hunk of silver plastic attached to the roof of the minivan. Chris was beaming with pride over his majestic domestic treat perfect for a family of six on the road.
So Monday we loaded the crew up with luggage on top and snacks in the trunk and headed south. Now that the kids are potty trained it actually makes road trips more difficult. Instead of peeing in their diapers until their diapers are ready to explode as we speed down Highway 5, we have “I have to go pee” announcements every hour. So we pull over to the side of the road and whip out the old travel bjorn potty, the smallest most handy potty ever made, and the kids take turns peeing in it in the middle of nowhere off a dirt road. Preston has really taken to pulling down his pants and going pee in various public places, so that is what he opted for. More on Preston’s peescapades later.
So there we were in San Luis Obispo and the memories came flooding back. I can’t even believe it was almost 20 years ago that we were both living there going to school, meeting new people, asserting independence and for me, gaining the stereotypical freshman 15. One of the first places we passed was Stenner Glen, the off-campus dorms where I met Chris when I was 18. Even though the place is relatively dumpy, and served fattening food which caused me to gain and immediate 15 pounds in one month, I looked at it with such fondness as we drove by.
“Look Ava, this is where mommy and daddy met each other!” exclaimed Chris with enthusiasm. Ava greeted that bit of information less than enthusiastically with a no comment.
Chris and I soaked in every bit of San Luis Obispo with our new large family. We drove straight to Montana De Oro, which has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in California besides the drive on Torrey Pines through La Jolla or Highway 1 through Big Sur. The windy road takes you through a quaint town or two before the magnificent Pacific is presented along with its unspoiled coastline. Unfortunately, the clouds were out and the weather was chilly, but the Woolsey 6 got out of the minivan with our sweaters and crocks and made our way onto the coarse sand. Chris was dubious as to why I wanted to go to this particular beach. I wanted to go because I have the fondest memory of going to that beach on a warm sunny day with my best of friends Lesley and Willie and Nicola. I even have a picture of all of our youthful, carefree faces smiling wide and carefree lying on the beach of Montana De Oro. Maybe I really needed to recapture a little bit of my youth; a time when I only worried about stuff like whether I studied enough for a college exam or what fun event was going to take place that weekend. That time in my life was so fleeting but it holds such a solid happy place in my memories.
The kids were at first annoyed by the sand, which was more like coarsely chopped up sea shells, a little hard on the feet. Then we got down to the water and there were so many special things waiting for us. There were beautiful shells, crabs, and ornate caves carved from thousands of years of ocean crashing against them. I enjoyed every second with the kids – I encouraged them to feel the soft rolling rock inside the cave, pick up the smooth rocks and shells and stick their feet in the freezing cold water. A half an hour later Preston and Violet were stripped down to their underwear and were running in and out of the water with Ava, laughing hysterically. Elsa, our resident stick in the mud stayed close by our side, not wanting to do anything too crazy. And yes, Preston did seize this opportunity to pull down his underwear and do a pee right on the beach. The beach was pretty crowded I thought for a bad weather Monday, which means that plenty of people were chuckling in the background as Preston had his “when you have to go, you have to go” moment.
Preston didn’t want to leave the beach, even though he was shivering very badly. We had to lure him out with promises of more “ocean” the next day.
That night we went to Woodstock’s Pizza where Chris and I used to work. I got to have my favorite salad in the whole world which I have them make with artichokes and then they lather it in the best homemade ranch dressing that they mix in a big paint tub-style container (or at least they did when I was working there). Let it be noted that the Woolseys can demolish an entire large pizza with no leftovers to be had. The triplets don’t have a lot of restaurant experience, but I thought they did pretty well.
Then we came to fear #3 of why I didn’t want to go to San Luis Obispo: sleep time. What we love about the Quality Suites is that every room is a suite; one room with the beds and bathroom, and a living room with a sectional pull-out couch. So we pulled the bed out of the couch for the little girls and then had Preston sleep on the other section of the sectional that didn’t transform into a bed. The kids were thrilled. They were also exhausted. Ava slept in our room with us. We checked on the triplets about 10 minutes after we put them to bed and the girls were sound asleep with Preston in the middle of them cuddling. Preston loves his sisters.
The next day we hit Avila Beach the whole day. The weather said it was going to be chilly but it was absolutely beautiful and sunny and warm. We set up camp and Elsa immediately found herself a friend, a little girl named Elizabeth who was at the beach with her grandma that day. Chris had helped grandma set up her tent and after that Elsa plopped her cute little self down in that tent and proceeded to play with Elizabeth and her shells for the next hour. The red heads shoveled big holes, played chase with the waves, and ran up and down the beach until they were absolutely covered in sand. Violet really created a comfortable relationship with the sand as she would slide head first into the sandy hole they had dug and sit there for minutes without moving, head firmly planted in the sand, resembling a drunk person who had fallen in a hole and couldn’t get out. Violet makes us laugh so hard.
We headed back for a swim in the hotel pool and spa and then the kids – namely Elsa and Preston – had a mini-meltdown in the hotel room on account of no naps and an over-abundance of activity. Ava didn’t want to go out to dinner because she was tired and had a pound of sand lodged in her crotch area. Chris and I rallied and got everybody out and drove a whole block down to Splash Café. Again, the kids did really well in the restaurant. I got all the stares and the “are they all yours?” comments which I rolled with because I am proud of them even if they do occasionally scream at each other in the restaurant or make an activity out of pouring salt and pepper on to napkins.
Next stop on Wednesday was Santa Barbara, the #1 place I would like to live if I had lots of money and could live in Montecito (and maybe be Oprah’s favorite neighbor) for its unbelievable beauty and small town charm. Again, we drove straight to the beach. The kids and I waited by a fountain while Chris rented one of these six-seat bikes. Preston pulled his pants down in front of the homeless contingent hanging out on the benches and did one of his famous inappropriate public pees when mom wasn’t looking for two seconds. We rode our bike along the beach and we did get a “that’s a truck full!” from a passerby, which Chris and I decided was a refreshing spin off of “you have your hands full.”
We then had a short 45 minute drive to the domestics in Westlake where we settled in for a short time, and got to visit with Marshie who has to be the saddest person I have ever seen after Hermie’s passing. We all headed to Uncle Greg and Aunt Peggy’s for a pool party. I like when my kids play with their cousins; they love their cousins and they know that they are family and family is sacred and special. Greg reminded us that last time we were at his house Preston, who was naked in-between his bathing suit and clothes, stood by the pool and did a big arching pee right into the water. It seems to be a pattern, and it could prove embarrassing if not stopped soon.
This leads me to the drive home. It seems that our drives are often riddled with adventure – and not the kind of adventure that is fun. About a quarter of the way in to the drive we stopped for a potty break. While in the bathroom Ava complained of a tummy ache. Let me just say that Ava often has tummy aches due to gas or constipation so I asked her if she has to go poop. She said that she didn’t have to. We loaded everyone back in the car and continued on our merry way. Ava fell asleep listening to her music and slept hard for about an hour. She woke up and immediately started crying and complaining of a stomach ache. Chris said, “have you ever seen a child cry so much?” and I turned around and said, “Ava buck up! Do you know what Buck —“ right when I was going to explain the definition of the annoying saying I was brought up on by my dad, Ava projectile vomited all over the car and herself. My mouth gaped open and I stared in disbelief. Chris and I held back a few chuckled at the fact that I was just in the beginning process of lecturing Ava on the term “buck up” when she vomited everywhere. The stench was incredible. It wasn’t over. Ava said she had more throw up to come. I had to think quick. I noticed a plastic bag at my feet that the one Taco Bell burrito and empty wrappers remained. I grabbed it and shoved it in front of Ava’s face and she proceeded to perform three consecutive giant-sized barfs into the bag. I was quite proud of myself for providing the bag in time for the next set of barfs because I don’t know if my car would’ve ever recovered had I not gotten there in time. I now had a Taco Bell bag filled with puke in my hand. I asked Chris if he wanted his last burrito and he declined. Now I got to hold this bag o’ barf for the next 35 miles since we just passed a sign that said “Next Gas 35 miles.” It was a cruel revelation that we would have to wait so long to relieve ourselves of the barf – Ava was covered in it – I was holding it – and the stench was unbearable.
Chris and I discussed our strategy, as we usually do in such situations (and when you have four young kids there is always a situation) and decided we would perform a three-step process to complete the mission:
1. remove Ava and her clothes and clean her off
2. remove the barf from the car and various things that got hit
3. Enter the Mart and get some bottled water and plastic bags
The Leapster and Ava’s doll Eva, the white trash cousin to the American Girl Doll that we bought her at Target for Christmas, took it to the face. I was rubbing barf out of Eva’s hair and unsuccessfully trying to dig it out of the creases in her eyeballs. You really have reached your mom status when you find yourself bent over in the disgusting parking lot of a gas station in the middle of nowhere cleaning the barf from the tiny eye crevasses of your daughter’s beloved doll. Yes everyone, it is a proud day, I have reached elite status of motherhood.
So that was our week in a nutshell. My lesson for this trip is barf happens, it is all about how you handle the clean up.
Ava: I really want to go home on Saturday?
Ava: Because these people don’t celebrate Easter!! with her hands in the air.
Chris: Why don’t they celebrate Easter?
Ava: Because they are Jewish
Note: we have never discussed this concept with Ava before and are not sure how she learned some of the basic principles of Judaism vs. Christianity. That is Ava for you.
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.