Sunday, January 03, 2010

scenes from sonoma county

For those who guessed we were in Sonoma County, you guessed correctly.

Those were grapes growing in the backyard and William was standing on a chunk of greywacke from the Franciscan Complex. Not nearly as exciting as the San Andreas fault scarp. Dang, I wish I thought of that. It was only a mile or so down the road...

Without further adieu, here are some various scenes from our week up north. Note: Please pardon some of the crummy photo qualities in this post. I've resolved myself to taking a photography class this year. Low light kills me every time and my disdain of a flash certainly doesn't help.

OK. These are our good friends, Tom and Kelly.


Tom and Kelly have a house on a vineyard and a beautiful 16-year old daughter that they named after me. (It's true!)


Charlie and I both went to school with Tom. Charlie was the President of the Geology Club and Tom was the Vice President.


Tom likes to collect things. Or as Kelly says, "Tom never throws anything away." Hence the reason he built a house that is comprised of 800 square feet for living space and 3,000 square feet for garage and storage space.


Here's the vintage Pepsi Cola machine that for as long as I've known Tom, he's had it stocked with beer. Corona, to be exact.


William loved it at Tom and Kelly's and never wanted to leave.


We arrived in Sonoma County late Sunday night and Monday afternoon, Charlie's siblings all converged on his brother Stephen's house.

This is Charlie's family. My husband has the nickname of "Little Guy" because although he is over six feet tall, he has always been the smallest guy in the family. His brothers Steve and George have at least three inches on him.


That radiant woman in the front is Charlie's sister, Susan. For as long as I've known Susan, I've always believed she is one of the most peaceful people I've ever met. As the oldest sibling in the family, she exudes bliss and serenity. Notice her palms turned upward? I'm convinced the loving energy of the Universe is channeling through her body.

This is Sue's husband, Jeff. He is an incredible tennis player and knows a thing or two about everything. It probably helps that he has at least three advanced degrees including a PhD from Stanford. If I ever made it on to "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" Jeff would undoubtedly be my "Phone A Friend."


Although I didn't get a single shot of Jessie, you can see Sue and Jeff's oldest child, to the far right of this photo. She looks just like her mother and is adopting so many of her mannerisms, the resemblance is uncanny. Jessie is one cool cat and is currently working at my absolute favorite store on the planet.

(Notice Henry catching one of his five-second cat naps. That little bit of sleep will keep him up until 2 AM.)


This is our fabulous nephew, David. He is the son of Sue and Jeff and he has evolved in to quite a world traveler. A few years ago, he went to South America and built a school in an impoverished area. Now, his goal is to continue to do good in third world countries. He left our party and hopped on a red eye to fly from San Francisco to New York so he could celebrate New Years in Times Square with his girlfriend who was flying in from Italy. He'll be graduating from college next summer and I'm so excited to see where he goes next.


This is Charlie's oldest brother, George, and his lovely wife, Lisa.


George is a brilliant custom cabinet maker in Mendocino County and Lisa is a chocolatier. They recently bought a house in Ecuador where George surfs and Lisa learns more about the art of making chocolate. Although they've been married for six years, this is the first time I've had an opportunity to meet Lisa and I adored her. It's wonderful to see that George adores her, too.


This is our fabulous niece, Alice. She is one of George's three children, and the only of George's three children who was able to attend the family party. The first time I met her, Charlie and I had been dating for less than three months, and he asked me to come along to his brother's house (George) to help babysit his three children. Alice was three-years-old and once Charlie introduced the two of us, she sized me up and then directing her attention to her uncle asked, "Where's Lee Ann?"

(Lee Ann was Charlie's ex-girlfriend.)

I took her out and bought her an ice cream cone and she's been my buddy ever since. Alice is a wise soul and I love her dearly. She just returned from a year abroad in Ireland and will be graduating from college this summer. When she moves back to Ireland - I'm going to visit.

Mark my words.


This is my sister-in-law, Kathy. She knit that beautiful scarf that she is wearing.


In addition to being an extremely talented chef and baker and gardener and seamstress and crocheter, and knitter and maker of all things adorable, Kathy is also a budding photographer.


Well done, Kathy. Well done!


This is our handsome nephew, Andy.


I think that Andy could have a career working with children. He's extremely kind and patient. (Unless you wake him up before 9 AM.) Charlie and I really want for Andy to come visit us in San Diego. I think that a trip to Mexico and delivering food to orphanages would be an awesome experience for him.


This is our beautiful niece, Angela.


She has a 4.83 grade point average and will be heading off to college next year.


Personally, I think if she sends a snippet of video footage from her "Wii Just Dance", she'll be a shoo-in at the Ivy League of her choice.


Have you heard of Wii's Just Dance? It's big time fun. You have to dance in synchronicity to the person that is dancing on the game and the more closely you mimic their moves the more points you receive. The dancer with the most points, wins.

While I've always known that Charlie enjoys a good competition, until this past week, I didn't fully comprehend just how deep my husband's competitive streak runs.


Although Charlie doesn't particularly enjoy dancing, he thrives on winning.



Even if that means going head-to-head with his 17-year old niece and sister-in-law.


Steve is asking his brother, "Where did you learn to DANCE?"


And I'm asking, "How much have you had to DRINK?"


Here are the children breaking open the gingerbread house that their Aunt Kathy made...


They were so cute and had so much fun on New Year's Eve.


Once we put the children to bed, and we said goodbye to Andy and Angela - who were spending New Year's with their friends - Steve, Kathy, Charlie and I started what would be an evening of eating. Every hour, leading up to midnight, we had a different meal. Raviolis. Crab Cakes. Salad. Fondue. Tiramisu. Truffles. Champagne.

Doesn't it look like we had fun?


This is Charlie's big brother, Steve. He is one of my favorite people. He's an all-around good guy that is sincere, chivalrous, fiercely devoted to his family and has a goofy streak a mile wide.


Hey Party Goers, what are you looking at?


Uhh... that would have to be Henry. The child that has a difficult enough time sleeping without people dancing and eating and laughing and shooting off poppers all around him.

This is our two-year-old at 11:59 PM, New Year's Eve. He's wide awake and trying to figure out where Aunt Kathy hid the truffles.


On the other hand, the triplets were sleeping so soundly...


I had to poke them just to make sure they were still breathing.


Happy New Year!


We hope that your goodbye to 2009 and hello to 2010 was just as fun - just as memorable - and just as full of excitement as ours. We expect GREAT things this year.

It's going to be a good one!


  1. Thanks for the fun visit with your remarkable relatives. How could there be so many interesting people in one family??

  2. TOM! I haven't seen that that guy since he came to visit us in field camp in 1994. Looks like you guys had a great time and sure do miss our college days up in NorCal!

  3. What a great post!! Looks like your time with family was a great time!

  4. It's so nice to "meet" Charlie's family. They all seem so great.

    I had to comment, because I got the Wii Just Dance game just before Christmas. My mom, who rarely uses the Wii at all, and I loved it. It is just so fun. I'd take on Charlie if I was closer. No one in my family could beat me, and I'm not even a great dancer. I loved the game though.

  5. Happy New Year to you and the gang! It looks like you had a blast with the family.

  6. Looks like you all had a blast with wonderful people! I took one look at the pic of Charlie with his siblings and thought, "Man, William looks just like that guy (who I now know is George) on the right!"
    Happy New Year!

  7. What a great family. It sounds like you guys had so much fun. I loved reading about them.

  8. Wow, what an amazing group of friends and family. I spent this entire post saying, "What a cool person," "how nice would it be to know them."

  9. LOVED the pictures Jen. You and Charlie have a lovely heritage to give those four kiddos. Be proud of that!

  10. Totally funny! I loved the Wii pics!
    Are you sure your aunt wasn't wearing a cowl? Now that I'm on the west coast, I didn't quite understand why someone would wear one at first, but after seeing several of them modeled, they make alot of sense. (that was a beautiful pic of her cowl(?) by the way, photographing yarn projects successfully is difficult, I'm sure it was much more beautiful in real life)

    My interest in cowls stem from wanting to find projects I will finish in a timely manner....haven't made one yet. Still working on a baby blanket...

  11. Happy New Year to you all as well. Haven't tried Wii Dance yet, should give it a go. I am a (Male) Nanny who works in London in the UK and have been reading your blog for the last couple of years and have really enjoyed it and have thought about starting my own. Hope, you, Charlie, Elizebeth, Carolyne, William and Henry are all well and looking forward to a wonderful new year.

  12. Awww, it looks like you guys had a great visit, how fun for the kids to spend time with their aunts and uncles. I played Wii Just Dance also over the holidays and it's a blast. Played against my 16 year old daughter and my 34 year old daughter, beat them both!!! HA!!

  13. It is great for me to be updated to Charlies family. I knew them all when they were little tykes. Well, most of them.I felt like I was there with you all.

  14. I want to party with you guys! Looks like everyone had a blast, and the menu - yum! Sure glad Charlie didn't throw his back out dancing, um, competing!


  15. Wait! Wait! Wait! Okay. So Lisa is a chocolatier??? Yeah. yeah. Charlies family is great blah, blah, blah!... Important thing to note: Sorta like a mousekateer (?) or a muskateer (?) but so much better... She's a chocolatier!!!! (your so lucky Jen ~ great family) Love, Marg. ;-)

  16. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it