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Visit Coastal Family

September 8-15, 2016
Written September 9+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

d160908_02_project.jpgOn Thursday, September 8, we started a break from Fresno chores and weather.  The task of installing a colorful picket fence around the art hut has turned out to be a lot of work, just like most home projects that start out "that should be easy".  The old picket fence needed to be cleaned, sanded, primed white, and then painted in five or six different colors.  Should be cute when done, but I am only part way through the white milestone.  Summer heat had returned to Fresno, so it was good to leave behind the outdoor project.

Our drive across the valley, over roads we've traveled a zillion times, was completely uneventful.  The fields and nut orchards are being harvested, with clouds of dust giving away the exact locations of tomato picking and nut-tree shaking machines.  Along the way, we pass semi-trucks filled with tomatoes bound for the packing plants and past mountains of almonds and pistachios starting their journeys across the globe. 
Our now-standard breakfast stop is Casa da Fruta, a mid-way oasis that has been around for decades.  Up in Pacheco Pass, the stop is cooler than the valley, but not as cool as the coastal areas we will be visiting.  We enjoyed the stop and spent a bit of extra time wandering around to make sure the co-pilot was feeling well enough for the balance of the trip.  (This trip is being dogged by some sort of flu, with both Marianne and Gabby under the weather.)

Arrival at Gabby's house was as welcoming as usual, even if she was flu-impacted.  We dropped our things, picked up Sammy, and headed to Saratoga to drop Marianne at her favorite hairdresser.  Sam and I took the opportunity to visit Blossom Hill Park, his favorite.  After quick tours of the old fire engine, the make-believe train, and the slides and climbers, we spent time on the airplane replica.  (This reportedly used to be a real plane, before it was deemed unsafe.)  There, Sam followed two little buddies as they sort of interacted, the way little kids sometimes do.  It was fun watching, in any event.
d160908_20_goin.jpgd160908_22_after.jpgPretty soon it was time to pick up Gigi and return home.  By now, Sam was begging ("please", of course) to go swimming.  I had my reservations, but am weak in the face of little kids' pleas.  In the end, the pool was warm enough, and the hot tub was toasty, so even I enjoyed the swim and play.
After dinner and showers, Ava treated us to a guitar concert, while Sam goofed around making sure he was part of the attention.
Then it was time for a bedtime read where the whole crew was pretty pooped.

All of it was good.

d160909_04_startday.jpgFriday morning started, unfortunately, with little changed in Marianne and Gabby's health.  Both were feeling bad enough that getting off the couch was considered a win and the day had few, short, victories. Since they each started getting sick while 150 miles apart, the specifics are different, but the overall effect isn't good at all.  I do miss the normal energy, as I'm sure they do.
That left me with the task of getting the kids off to school (after mom had managed to do all the preparation, I have to admit.)  It is easier now that Sam's kindergarten and Ava's second grade are both at Daves Elementary, but it's not simply a case of pushing two munchkins out the car door.  Sam's sign-in process includes backpack placement, library book replacement, sign-ups for activities, including after-school day care, and general introductions to everyone.  I was grateful to have Ava there to help me navigate.

From there, I was free to check into the local Fitness Evolution, a branch of my Fresno gym that offers exchange visits.  Thanks, I needed that.  I am afraid our peaceful life at Gabby's might otherwise reverse my conditioning gains.  The two patients have no problem with overeating, since nothing tastes good to them, but for me overeating is something to occupy a too-quiet day.  Oh well, I got in a half-hour of cardio and 45 minutes of weights and exercises.  Plenty!

d160909_08_runningclub.jpgBefore I knew it, I needed to head back to school to get the kids.  Sam had shifted over to Oak Tree Daycare for an afternoon with his buddies and I had to go through another process, complete with ID check and a short search to find out where he was.  (Hiding behind a tree out in the yard.)  Then we went across the street to Ava's "running club".  This activity is Los Gatos' answer to student exercise and it sure seems to work, because there were a couple dozen kids getting a lot more exercise than I could manage at their ages.  Younger ones, like Ava, worked on foot and leg coordination exercises, while the older ones ran laps on the track.  Lots of exercise while having fun.

Sam had his running turn too, with soccer practice.  Another bunch of fun with friends and three cousins, four if you count "baby Leila" watching on the sidelines.
Evening was dinner ordered out and brought back by dad.  After a little TV, everyone crashed early, with the moms hoping for improvement and the rest of us just looking for some sleep.

d160910_70_breakfast.jpgSaturday.  After an early Starbuck's "office time" for diary preparation, I went to breakfast with the host family, always fun.  (It would have been better if Gigi had been well enough, but that wasn't the case yet.  At least Gabby seems to be on the mend.) They went to their latest breakfast treat restaurant, the country club.  Nice place.  Pleasant service.  Good food preparation.  I can see why they like going here!

From there, it was mostly a soccer day.  Here are ten percent of the pictures I took.  I can see why sports photographers enjoy their work.  There is always action, even among this little bunch.  Of course, only parents, grandparents, and other avid fans  need all these shots, but that's who we are.

First up was Sam. His team includes three cousins (Reef, Ryder, Cyrus), his BFF (Tucker), and other friends (Parker, Tommy).  Apologies to players I left out.  Oh, and Coach, Uncle Ali.
In these games, there is action every minute, although the concept of spreading out hasn't arrived yet.  It was clump to clump, but smiles everywhere.
No game is complete without fans, big and little.Of course, the photographer was a fan too, but he never shows up anywhere.  (I need to try that selfie technique.  Nah.)

Even before Sam's game was over, it was off to Daves Avenue School and Ava's first match of the season.  Bigger kids, but still just having fun, starting with warm ups.  Not sure the bar activity is normal, but it was all part of the fun.

Once the game began, the girls showed their stuff.  Now, I will admit that the photographer is biased, so number 12 got more than her fair share of pictures, but it's Opa's story after all. 

Good style drew the attention of the crowds.
The interesting point is that I do not think anyone remembers who won either game, although both Sam and Ava can remember the good plays they made and fun they had.

Back home, there was still no rest.  Sam had enough energy to learn how to ride his bike with the training wheels removed!  Once Daddy got home, there even more activity.  Having fun with the basketball was normal, but the kids were laughing even when "ordered" to do push ups!  I really don't know where all this energy comes from.
After that, it was dinner and dessert.  Dad had promised ice cream if both kids played well in the soccer games and we all benefited!  I am not sure this visit is great for a diet, but it is great for Opa's soul.  Now, if we could just get Gigi well again.

Sunday, September 11th*.  Instead of fun activities for us, it was an early return to Fresno.  Marianne was just not improving enough to continue with the rest of the planned activities.  Too bad, of course, but we will now need to return ASAP.

John and Marianne

* A day to remember, certainly.  Here is what we said 15 years ago.  I still can't read it with dry eyes.


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