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May 22-24Dear Diary and Friends and Family,
Written May 25+
Mostly, this is a diary about our visit with grandson Sam on his 7th birthday.
But, first, a couple of pictures of farm work. Cherries have started showing up at local fruit stands, so we decided to visit a nearby U-pick orchard up in the Sierra Foothills. We had visited Mountain Brook Ranch a few years ago, but had heard that the California drought had forced the family to close their cherry business. Apparently, a year after a good rainy season, there has been enough recovery to open up the old orchards. Frankly, the fruit was not special, but nothing beats a sunny morning in the outdoors making sure we are getting cherries as fresh as possible.
On Tuesday (May 22) we made the drive over to the Bay Area via a Hollister stop for lunch. This route adds a bit of time, but at least it is a break from the normal road that we have traveled dozens, if not hundreds of times.
Over in Monte Sereno, we checked in at Gabby's house, dropped off our bags, and headed over to Rinconado Golf Club to pick up Sam from his weekly lesson. Not pictures, but trust me, he's a pretty cute little golfer. From the club, we ran home so he could change into baseball gear. No rest for these kids.
At the field he met up with friends, the main attraction for all this sports activity I think. This particular team features cousins too, Ryder on the left, Cyrus on the right.
I tried to get shots of Sam in action. He is actually a pretty good hitter and player. My unbiased view anyway.
I think the part of the baseball practice I liked the best was the attitude of the coaches. Everything was positive and encouraging. Maybe it helps that Uncle Ali and Dad were the coaches. Congratulations to them!
A pair of bombers were flying overhead most of the practice. They distracted the photographer and, at least a little, the young players. I think I want a ride in one for my birthday! (hint, hint).
After baseball, we returned home for bbq hamburgers. I should have gotten pictures of this too, since the Rahimi barbecue setting is as nice as any resort, the food as good as any restaurant, and the dinner partners as charming as can be.
Pretty quickly, it was time for bedtime stories (and last glasses of wine for some of us). It seemed like the day had been 498-hours long, but that's the real story when everyone is having fun.
Of course May 23rd was the centerpiece of our visit and the birthday celebrations started early - very early. Family tradition has it that the Birthday Faerie decorates bedrooms overnight and even at the old age of seven Sam still enjoyed the story. I'm not sure he appreciated our rendition of the Happy Birthday song (he's just not an early morning person), but he definitely enjoyed the special Fruit Loops breakfast. I think the kids get sugary cereal only two times a year, on his and her birthdays.
Wednesday was also "stuffed animal day" at school and Sam chose the Ninja Turtle from his extensive collection. Gabby also read a Sam-chosen book to his class (while Gigi took pictures.)
Since it was a minimum day at school, we all went to Sweet Pea for lunch - the birthday boy's choice. It's a small place with light, healthy food. I think they need to open a branch in OUR neighborhood!
After lunch, Gigi decided it would be "free play" time, whatever the kids chose. No requirements (at least until soccer and tennis practice at 4:30). Both kids immediately went to work building Lego kits, a dune buggy for Sam and a flying, blue dinosaur for Ava.
Their ability to complete such complex constructions was really quite impressive. Great training for patience and following instructions.
Opa and Gigi enjoy watching the kids play and they enjoy showing off. Sam assembled the Lego kits he had received (so far) for his birthday and Ava demonstrated how the (toy) white puppy could be trained to tug on her rope.
But, free-range play has its limits at the Rahimi household. Ava had to be taken over to the Pool and Tennis Club for her tennis lesson (no parent or grandparents allowed - her choice). Gabby, Gigi, and I then took Sam to soccer practice, another excuse for him to hang around with buddies.
After the sports action, we all reassembled back at home for the Sam's day's main attraction: presents! This was the family birthday party (a bigger, with-friends party had been organized the weekend before.) Sam properly read all the cards, hugged the gift-givers, and talked on the phone to grandparents who could not make it. Really, a very nice family occasion.
After presents and dinner, it was time for the birthday cake. And another rendition of Happy Birthday To You.
Marianne's suggestion for the end of the day treat was to watch Avatar. Somehow she had remembered only the grand and colorful scenes of dinosaurs flying among floating mountains. We all hope the graphic battle scenes fade from the kids memories as they had from Gigi's! At least there were no nightmares.
Thursday morning everything was back to normal; kids to school, Gabby to errands, and Marianne and I back to Fresno with more good memories in our heads. Hopefully, for everyone.
No more activity planned for awhile, but if something happens, it will get reported.
John and Marianne
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