Weekend in Napa

It started randomly with Megan saying she would be watching her nephew for a few hours up in Napa this past weekend and asked if we wanted to come up. After some back and forth, it worked out that Dave had Friday off so we found a place to stay and decided to make a weekend of it.

After we had such a great time in St. Helena last fall, we were excited for another weekend in wine country, despite not being able to rent the same place. That place was perfect for hanging around with another family, the place we found this time was fine for the four of us (plus my mom Saturday night) but didn't make it feel like as much of a vacation. We stayed out by Silverado Resort, which is beautiful, but Napa is so spread out that after this weekend, we saw what a huge benefit it was to stay somewhere like we did in St. Helena. Lots of space and stuff for the kids, walking distance to a park and to downtown St. Helena and a quick drive to V. Sattui (though the wine isn't anything special, the space is so great for parents to sit back with a glass of wine while the kids run around somewhat contained).

While overall we still had a nice weekend, the accommodations/location wasn't the only thing that made this trip different. It was definitely a harder weekend and there were times I questioned why we were doing this. It started with a rushed Friday morning getting to a 9am dentist appointment for the boys (they actually did great there) and then a quick drive up to lunch along highway 121. The boys were cranky, W was already tired but we were within minutes of lunch so I made Dave keep him up. We ate at Fremont Diner, what should be the perfect place for kids. You eat outside at picnic tables on a gravel lot and they even have big dump trucks filled with megabloks and diggers. The food comes fast and it's good. Sounds great right? I'm not sure what the problem was, but G was awful -- taking toys from other kids, not listening, not sitting to eat. We made it through but it wasn't pleasant for anyone.

We decided to head straight to the condo, luckily I had gotten early check-in so the boys would be able to take their naps at regular time, in a crib. Well, W got a second wind and took forever to go down, which meant we couldn't put G down. Dave and I were exhausted by that point. I left at 2:15 with G still talking to himself, but settling down. I had to head to Target and Trader Joe's to pick up a few things for the weekend and was hoping to hit the outlets in town too. I got it all done and got back to thankfully boys in a better mood. Dave was rested as well so the afternoon was much better.

We went to Playground Fantastico and had a lot of fun running out with the boys. The park backs up to the local high school so they played soccer on the big football field and even got to check out the large chicken coop behind the school. Next we headed to Oxbow Market, Napa's equivalent of the Ferry Building, for dinner. It started off dicey when we decided it would be easy to sit at an actual restaurant as opposed to trying to get food from different places and find a table to eat. Luckily dinner turned around quickly and they ended up eating great -- lots of Dad's mushroom pizza and a good serving of their pasta with cream sauce. They would get their ice cream reward. G always asks for 'yellow', which in this case was milk and honey, and W requests pink, raspberry sherbert. We had a lot of fun chatting with a mom of 10-year old twin girls sitting right by us. We didn't get home until almost 8 o'clock -- so late for us -- but their late nap meant they did pretty well at bedtime.

Saturday was an early morning and we were at Fuller Park in downtown Napa by 9am. I was trying to find a few activities that would be fun for the boys, to at least have some options, so we decided to check out Robert Sinskey Winery as it was rumored that they have a fish pond and food so you can feed the fish. Score! We pulled the wagon into the winery and despite the tasty snacks served with the tasting, the boys didn't last too long inside. Dave and I took turns to finish our tasting, but the boys were in heaven as they're doing work on the winery and there were several diggers out front. Not to mention they found a caterpillar, first one they had seen and got to hold it.

We were hoping to meet Megan and Baby David for lunch but the timing didn't work out so we decided to head into Yountville. The local firefighters were doing a fundraiser so the boys had fun dropping some money in the boot in exchange for sitting in the big truck. We happened upon Thomas Keller's Addendum, which I've been dying to try as they're known for excellent fried chicken. It's a great spot tucked away in a garden which meant the boys could run around. They loved the chicken too. I had to head over to Bouchon Bakery next to pick up a few treats. The line is always long, but it was worth it, and we got to see Megan for a few minutes.

Macaroons - pink for W, yellow for G

They took a good nap that afternoon and both Dave and I got to rest too. We woke them up at 4pm and headed of to V Sattui, though it was a solid 25-minute drive, most things from our place were at least 20 minutes that we figured it was worth it. Despite our rest, both Dave and I had short fuses, so were thrilled when my mom arrived to watch the boys and we could enjoy a glass of wine and some bread and cheese. We headed back home, got the boys settled in, changed and headed out to dinner at Bistro Jeanty with Stacey. Though it was originally supposed to be a bigger group dinner, the three of us had a great time and the food there is always great. It was a nice break for Dave and I.

Sunday morning we packed up to head out, planning to stop for brunch on the way home, but George was so testy we decided we should just head home and figure out food then.

Reading back on this, it doesn't sound like I'm too thrilled about the weekend and that's not necessarily true. I think it's just the reality that going away, even so close to home and even for such a short time, is a lot of work. While we lucked out with the St. Helena weekend when everything just seemed to come together and the kids were in a great mood, the truth is it's much more common to have the highest highs and the lowest lows all in the same day when you have toddlers. I got some good advice from Ashley for future trips -- she's the expert in being on the go with the kids -- it's still going to be an adjustment for me. I think the toughest part is that I start to think to myself, if it's going to be this hard, why not just be at home where I'm in my element and we have everything we need? I want to be able to enjoy the place we're in, though obviously I define that a bit differently when traveling with two little ones.

What's also hard is that to a certain extent, you have to be prepared for everything. You have to research the parks, kid-friendly restaurants or wineries, etc. But you also can't plan much, if anything. You have to go with the flow and you may not hit anything that you've researched, but if things aren't going well, you have to have a Plan B (and C and D). Sitting around with one running after two kids while the other tries to figure out where to go next or where we can eat is no fun. Especially since in many ways, Dave's needs are the same as the boys -- food, bathroom and rest. If he doesn't have these, he's going to be in worse shape than them ;)

I'm still glad we went as we had some fun times, plus I'm a big believer that the more we do this sort of thing, the better they'll get at it. Something like Wine Country is perfect, since it's so close, if it's truly disastrous (which this was far from), we can always just come home!

Had to finish with these beautiful flowers I picked up at Trader Joe's on Sunday. That's a nice finish to the weekend/start to the week :)

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