So last thursday Renee and I packed up the twins and headed down to the Bay Area for a long-planned visit with my family to celebrate my niece’s high school

Stone and Ty had a blast playing with their Cousin Janelle!

graduation. It was our first trip with the boys on an airplane since our last visit to California in 2009 – which was also to celebrate a high school celebration (our other niece) as well as my brother George’s 50th birthday. That last trip went reasonably well – especially on the flight down and back (we’re lucky that both Stone and Ty are excellent travelers). So we were pretty confident that this trip would go even better – and it did!

First, let me say thank goodness for iPads! Ours was definitely a life-saver (again) as it helped keep Stone happy and occupied both during our wait at SeaTac as well as during the flight down to San Jose. I downloaded a handful of full Little Einstein videos for him (since he wouldn’t be able to watch clips on YouTube) and that proved to be a good move indeed.

When we arrived in San Jose, everything was going as planned as we checked in for our Alamo rental car and were pleasantly surprised to get a slight upgrade bump to a Ford Focus (up from a basic compact). As we were leaving the rental car lot though, the guard asked how old Stone was (interestingly, she didn’t ask about Ty). We told her he was 6 and she informed us that California now has a law that all kids under the age of 8 have to use booster seats. This was obviously news to us (the agent at the counter didn’t mention it as Stone and Ty were climbing on the counter in front of her). After Renee told the guard we’d never rent from Alamo again, she arranged for us to get a booster seat free of charge (they charge $9.99 per day).  And so we were off to Pleasanton to see my mom and meet up with friends and family at our old stomping ground. Hopyard Restaurant.

Thursday night was the only night we planned on going out to a restaurant and it was fun to be back in the Hopyard (when Renee and I lived in Pleasanton, we ate/drank there nearly every week it seemed). Our good friends Jay and Tami shook off their lack of sleep and brought along their adorable daughters to hang out with us – and we also hung with Mom, my brother George and his wife Cathy and our two nieces.

Ty does great in restaurants (as he does in nearly every situation) but Stone is a bit of a handful – which is why we sometimes avoid taking him to restaurants. You see, Stone is absolutely obsessed with sugar and anything related to it. So he has discovered that every restaurant has sugar/sweetener packets available – and he loves to tear them open, dump them out and eat the sugar (or sweetener) straight. If he had his way, he would tear through 10 or more packets no problem. So in addition to the huge mess it inevitably makes, it also creates an issue because sugar/sweetener has a huge impact on his digestive system and has disrupted his sleep in the past.

So our visits to restaurants with Stone often involve lots of hiding of sugar packets – and then trying to keep him seated at the table (because he knows other tables have them as well). It can be a lot of work and makes holding ongoing conversations a bit challenging. But it was still a fun night (a couple of pints of microbrews certainly helped!).

Friday we spent time at a local park in Pleasanton that we had discovered during a brief visit on Thursday. The weather wasn’t ideal (overcast and in the 60s – very Seattle-like actually) but of course the twins are used to playing outside in that weather so they had no problem. The park featured a really cool water park and the boys had a blast running through the water. My personal highlight was watching Renee and Lynette covering their heads with towels trying to stay dry after they strategically moved benches thinking that was a dryer area.

Later that day we headed over to George and Cathy’s house to hang out and visit. It was nice and relaxing – and Ty and Stone loved the opportunity to use their hot tub. As always, we had to keep a close eye on Stone as he actively scoured their yard for flowers and plants to pick. He also discovered a gum ball machine in their play room (yup, more sugar!). By the time we got back to the hotel room, none of us had trouble crashing and I was asleep by 10 pm (a rarity for me).

Ty loved feeding a horse for the first time!

Saturday was the day we had decided to go to Half Moon Bay so that Ty and Stone could experience a California beach. Unfortunately, it was also the worst weather day of the weekend. We fought through some unusually heavy traffic to reach the beach, but it was simply freezing (although you never would have known watching Stone in the water). After about 25 minutes of huddling together in the 57 degree cold air, we collectively decided to retreat and head back to the East Bay. Cathy invited Stone and Ty to come visit and meet her horse and Ty enjoyed hand feeding the horse a carrot, while Stone simply tossed his carrot over the fence for the horse to fetch (I guess he’s too used to playing with Brodie!).

Sunday was the big party for Meghan and fortunately, the weather improved dramatically as the temperature reached the low 70s with lots of bright sunshine. There was a great turnout for the party, which was great. Again, we were on high alert with Stone because we knew there was going to be lots of food/treats he could get into that he shouldn’t have. And within five minutes of arriving at the party, he somehow found a sharpie pen and drew an almost straight line on the back of George and Cathy’s leather couch (we’ve offered to pay for the cleaning). As is typically the case in these kinds of situations, Renee and I took turns tracking/chasing Stone throughout the day. It was actually very similar to the scene we had three years earlier at Janelle’s party, except in that case we were in constant chase mode with both Ty and Stone (since they were very active 3 year olds at the time). Luckily, Stone wasn’t able to do any additional damage – he eventually made his way into the hot tub and entertained everyone when he decided to go totally au natural. We did receive a minor scare from Ty when someone hollered at me that he had hurt himself in the bouncy house that had been set up in the backyard. Initially it looked like he sprained his ankle pretty severely as he was in a lot of pain and couldn’t put weight on it. But it improved dramatically over time thanks to an ice pack and dip in the hot tub and he was soon limping around and back in the bounce house.

Traveling with kids is always an adventure and it’s even more so when you have twins…with on on the Autism spectrum. But in spite of the extra work that went into watching/entertaining/chasing the boys all weekend, it was well worth the effort. It was just so much fun spending time with my family and Renee and I were both so grateful that everyone was so incredibly understanding, supportive and accommodating with Stone.

It was a really special trip and spending time with family means more now to me than it ever has before.


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