October Visitors

October has been a busy month for us: it was our first full month in our house, our boy turned four, and we celebrated our first Halloween in California. And, to make the month already sweeter (not that we needed any help with sweets after Halloween…) we had some very special visitors come to stay.

First up was Jon’s mom–better known around here as Grammy–who flew down from Leavenworth, WA for a quick birthday surprise. David came with me to the airport to pick up his “present” and he was ecstatic to see Grammy walking out to greet him. Grammy stayed with us for a long weekend. In usual Peterson style, we crammed as much into that long weekend as we could.

We went to our new church’s annual Trunk-or-Treat (where the kids go from car-to-car rather than house-to-house begging for candy. It was a good pre-funk to the actual holiday):
IMG_0070 We visited the Winchester Mystery House, a very beautiful–and even more unusual– landmark in the area. You see, Mrs. Winchester’s late husband created the Winchester rifle in the late-1800’s and the guns were used as the primary battle weapons through two world wars. After Mr. Winchester died, Mrs. Winchester was left with loads of money…and a very unhealthy fear of the ghosts of those killed by her husband’s rifles. Fueled by her fear and financed by her riches, she spent the remainder of her life constructing the most insane house that has ever been built. In order to confuse the “spirits” she built rooms with no doors, windows at strange heights, uneven stairways, secret passageways…and she just never stopped. Her house was under construction 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for nearly two decades. Eventually poor Mrs. Winchester passed away and construction on her house finally ceased. Today you can pay a cool $40 to tour the inside of the house (bah!) or tour the extensive gardens for free (that’s more like it):IMG_0144 Grammy helped us bring David to preschool on his birthday so he could celebrate with his classmates. To the teacher’s delight, we even brought neon blue cupcakes to share (in this photo you can even see the blue mustache lingering on David’s face):IMG_0147 After school we had a little birthday dinner for David at home, then invited our neighbors over for cake and ice cream. The adults enjoyed wearing birthday hats, but the kids, not so much:IMG_0158 On Grammy’s last day in town we visited Jon at work. We got a small tour of the Apple campus and brought a picnic lunch to eat on the lawn outside of Tim Cook’s office:IMG_0168 And, just like that, the weekend was over and it was time to say goodbye to Grammy. We made one last stop at the San Jose rose gardens before dropping Grammy off at the airport:IMG_0183 After Grammy left, we had a day to clean the house and stock up at the grocery store, because our next visitors were already on their way! Next up: Aunt Jessica (my sister) and Uncle Chris from Seattle!IMG_0232Again, this was a quick long-weekend visit, so we didn’t waste any time getting the fun started. As soon as we’d picked Jessica and Chris up from the airport, we headed out to Santa Cruz for some beach time. We watched what few surfers there were (apparently we had just missed a huge surfing competition that wrapped up an hour before we arrived. Dang!) and then walked down to the beach. The boys had a great time building sand castles (read: throwing sand at people) and wading in the water (read: getting knocked over by waves as they broke on the shore). This is one of the only G-rated photos I got at the beach because it literally took about 15 minutes before both boys decided it would be best to run around stark naked. Gotta love October in California!
IMG_0256 The next day was Halloween. We spent the morning at David’s preschool Halloween party where all the kids played games, ate loads of food, and marched around in a costume parade:IMG_0289 Later in the day, we got our next group of visitors who had driven up from southern California: Aunt Erin (my other sister), Uncle Toph, and cousin Noah!IMG_0304The boys had a great time playing together and dressing up in their Halloween costumes. They were the cutest Wolverine, giraffe, and pirate I’d ever seen:IMG_0320 We all went over to our neighbors’ house for a pizza dinner before it was time to hit the streets:IMG_0344 Then it was time for what is probably the most unusual American tradition: Sending our children to strangers’ houses in the dead of night to beg for candy. This was Jacob’s first time trick-or-treating, and he handled the event like a pro. After about 45 minutes everyone’s treat bags were overflowing and we decided to call it a night.IMG_0352 The next morning after we’d all recovered from our candy comas, we moved on to our next great adventure: San Francisco! Here I am with my sisters at the end of Pier 39 with the infamous Alcatraz Island in the background:IMG_0396 We spent our day in “The City” wandering around the waterfront, eating soup from sourdough breadbowls, and taking in the beautiful views (if you look closely, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background here):IMG_0406 We went to the Ghiradelli chocolate factory where we saw how chocolate is made and sampled their offerings:IMG_0412 We wanted to ride on the cable cars, but they were really expensive and the line was massive and we had tired children…so we just hopped onboard a parked trolley and snapped a photo instead. Good enough.IMG_0422 We made our way down to the marina where we boarded a boat for a short tour of the bay:IMG_0429 Our captain was awesome and he even let all the kids take turns steering the boat. David was having so much fun that he started spinning donuts and nearly steered us right into a pier:IMG_0450 From the boat, we got some incredible views looking back at the city skyline:IMG_0455 And we even drove up to the docks where hundreds of sea lions were basking in the sun:IMG_0461
Thus concluded our epic day in San Francisco.

The next day we decided to head south for one last adventure before Erin, Toph and Noah had to drive back home to L.A. The Monterey Bay Aquarium was right off the road they would be taking home, so we all went along for some fun:IMG_0487 The aquarium is incredible, and we liked it so much that our family bought an annual membership so we can return. There were massive tanks filled with every imaginable sea creature:IMG_0490 Our favorite spot, though, had to be this room where you got to stand inside a “wave” as the “tide” came in. IMG_0506 The kids were fascinated by the water running over their heads and splashing down by their feet.IMG_0510 We spent a bit of time wandering around Cannery Row outside of the museum so we could find some lunch. Monterey is such a cute little town, and I’m excited that we live close enough to visit again soon.

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Then, after an amazing couple of weeks, it was all over. Everyone went back home and we were left with a house that was a lot more empty, yet full of so much more joy. We made wonderful memories with our even more wonderful visitors–and hopefully we’ll get to host and explore and memory-make again soon!

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