Wednesday, August 26, 2009

California Dreamin'

Just a few days after Nick flew back to Doha, Ashley and I took a trip to California. We left the grand babies with Honey, Papa and Uncle Dave. Since football has kicked in full gear at the Hall and Watkins houses, Honey had her hands full but as usual the boys and Anna had a great weekend and lots of fun! I've posted way too many pictures but we were first-timers to Cali so our trip required lots of photo-opps.

San Francisco

AT&T ball park where the Giants play

Lombard Street in San Fran...curvy and beautiful...tourist hot spot!

Alcatraz off in the distance

The best part of our trip to California was spending time and staying with Mark and Jen McWilliams. Jen and I are best friends and roommates from Baylor. We've stayed close and Jen has always been such a faithful friend. I can't believe I waited so long to visit her in this beautiful part of the country. She and I get to see each other often we were both home in Plano but this visit was a long time coming!

Jen and Mark live in Healdsburg, CA north of San Fran in Sonoma County.

Healdsburg is DREAMY! Picture perfect and straight out of Gilmore Girls! Jen and Mark live downtown so we walked everywhere. I seriously didn't know towns like this really existed!

Every Tuesday night in this square people bring their families to picnic and listen to music.

Dinner at Willi's...AWESOME and so California! We ate outside and absorbed every bit of the perfect nightlife. Tourists and locals enjoying the slow paced life of "wine country". The temp in the evenings was around 70...ahh! Little better than Doha!

Jen and Mark are owners of a gorgeous winery in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Arista, their family winery, tasting room and property is absolutely breathtaking. The McWilliams family sets an outstanding Christian standard in a highly competitive and challenging wine industry. Mark and his dad have quickly built a company and reputation that they should be incredibly proud of. I am, that's for sure!

Arista vineyard on their property

Sweet Jake - soon to be big brother

Almost ready to be picked...

I'm sorry...I had to take this picture!
Nice maternity shot of the 2 pregs due with boys just a week apart in October.

Mark gave us the "behind the scenes" tour of how they make Arista wine...special treat since other tourists don't get to see that process. It was fascinating! Serious SCIENCE!

Tasting straight from the barrell

Beautiful B&B in Healdsburg

Jen was so sweet to drive us around and show us the famous sights around Healdsburg.
First stop was the coast...temp below 60 degrees.

California Redwoods...Beautiful and ENORMOUS!

Roots of an old fallen tree.

Lake Sonoma

Beautiful gardens at a nearby winery

One last stop at Arista...

These are the picture perfect houses in downtown Healdsburg.
We walked by them on our way to the movies.

Girls night at the movies...Time Travelers Wife (don't see it)

On our way back to the airport...Golden Gate Bridge (covered in the usual fog)

Last stop...In and Out Burger! Lived up to every bit of its reputation!
Been there, done it, bought the shirt!

Thank you Jen and Mark for an incredible weekend full of fun memories, no Brooks, no Barrett no Anna, cool temperatures and gorgeous scenery! Love you tons and can't wait to come back!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hanging with Nick in Dallas

After we spent the weekend in Kentucky we headed to Dallas for Nick's last few days in the States. Although it sounds like we were jumping around like crazy from state to state, we actually had a pretty easy schedule. We tried to prioritize our time with family and friends so that it wasn't rushed.

One evening we had dinner at Aunt Rosie's house. She cooked a ham, which happens to be one of our favorite foods while home. With no pork in Qatar we've jumped on every opportunity we can to enjoy a little piggy!
(Aunt Rosie's drive-way is where Nick's truck is parked while we're in Doha. We're so thankful she has the space and generously shares is with Mr. Tundra!)

Glow Sticks from Honey...always a favorite!

Anna Lou and the Pool

Headed out for a date night...

We met some of our best Dallas friends for dinner.
Kristin, Caryn, Wendi, Shea

Sheps, Browns, Smiths, Davis's, Junods

After dinner Nick and I had a chance to hang out for much needed time by ourselves.

Highlight of the week for the boys...Papa's brand new football field! DHS just got new facilities and the boys were more than happy to break it in before 2-a-days started last week.

We've all been so healthy this summer. Sickness was bound to hit. Both boys got a horrible cold and Brooks caught a tummy bug.

We had a big family baseball evening planned but since Brooks was too sick, Honey insisted on staying home with him so the rest of us could still go.

The guys went fishing a few times while Nick was here. Another MUST while we were State-side. Is a bag of cleaned fish as impressive as the fish before they're cleaned?? I'm not sure but this is proof they caught fish!
Nick, Dad, David

Uncle Dave showing Brooks how to play swords

Family dinner at Babe's in Frisco

Frisco Train

Night-time entertainment...old bikes! Pure comedy!

Nick is riding my sister's old bike.

Master Buddy...BEST DOG EVER!

Uncles and Cousins