Several months ago, Sienna and I were looking at a picture of her cousin Charley on social media. Sienna adores her little cousin so much! After exclaiming about how cute Charley’s picture was, Sienna said, “Mom, she’s going to be four soon! I have to see her before she turns four!” Her birthday is in mid-February and I thought of the possibility of going up to Humboldt for the kids’ President’s Day break. We quickly looked into flying, which has become much less expensive recently, and booked our trip.
Since I didn’t get to celebrate my fortieth birthday with my family, my dad and stepmom offered to throw a special birthday dinner for me. My sister Sarah’s kids, Sienna and Mateo would stay with a babysitter on Saturday evening before Charley’s birthday party on Sunday. Family time and a lot of celebration was our plan for the weekend!
We had a very smooth an uneventful flight to Humboldt via San Francisco, after getting up unbelievably early on Friday morning. An early flight always sounds like a good idea in theory, but on the plus side we arrived in Humboldt at 10:30 a.m. My mom picked us up from the airport and we headed to Arcata for a delicious brunch at T’s Cafe. My dad and stepmom swung by and met us outside the restaurant for hugs and catching up, on a beautiful and relatively warm winter day.
Since Sarah’s kids were still in school for a few hours, we killed time before Sienna and Teo could play with their cousins by exploring Arcata Plaza. It’s funny, being born and raised in Eureka, I didn’t spend that much time in Arcata growing up. But, now that my mom and sister live in McKinleyville, we do a lot of our dining, shopping, and coffee drinking in the shops and eateries around the Plaza.
It was Valentine’s Day, so once we all gathered at Sarah’s house and the kids were reunited, we had a little Valentine’s party, complete with exchanging valentine cards, decorating heart shaped cookies, and eating chocolate goodies. My mom, Sarah and I ended up decorating most of the cookies, which was fun and nostalgic for all the cookie decorating we’ve done over the years.
As we enjoyed our dinner, including amazing pork loin that my brother-in-law Casey (aka “the grill master”) grilled for us, the kids watched Frozen 2. Listening to Charley sing “Into the Unknown” was definitely a highlight of the trip! Our stepsister Jarae had joined the festivities by then, so the six of us adults sat around the dining table talking and laughing loudly. The kids kept turning up the volume of the television and shushing us to be quiet so they could enjoy their movie. It was hysterical for the adults to be considered the loud and obnoxious ones!
My mom and Sarah wanted to take me shopping in Old Town Eureka for my birthday gifts, so we asked Dennis and Casey to take the kids for the day on Saturday. They are wonderful husbands and enjoy hanging out together, so they were game. Unfortunately, Mateo woke up pretty congested, but he’s had allergies when in Humboldt in the past, so we gave him some allergy medicine and wished the men well.
The ladies headed to Arcata for breakfast to fuel our day of shopping. As we parked and started for the crosswalk, I didn’t see a little island next to the sidewalk. My toe hit the curb and I fell, hard. It was like those slow-motion falls where I could tell I had no chance of catching myself and I felt my shin, knee, shoulder, hands, and eventually face hit the pavement.
Falling, as an adult, is fortunately a fairly rare occurrence. It’s humiliating and it hurts! For a second I laid on the ground and wished that I could go back in time a few seconds and notice that oddly placed island. How ridiculous was this turn of events.
My mom and Sarah quickly helped me up as I started to cry. They helped me assess my injuries, a large gash on my finger needed the most attention. We all expected that the left side of my face would have a large abrasion. My shoulder and forearm hurt, but they weren’t scratched. As we drove to my mom’s, Sarah said, “It’s okay, you can cry, Kels.” So, I did. A lot.
We got the gash and scratch on my hands cleaned and bandaged up. As we discussed what happened my mom said, “Well, as you get older…” and we all cracked up. It was that crazy mix of laughter through tears as I said, “Oh yeah, now that I’m 40, I can’t stay on my feet!” “That’s not what I meant!” my mom exclaimed. Later, Sarah cleaned the shoulder of my fleece sweatshirt and I iced my face to keep the swelling down. I continued to cry and felt so grateful that this happened with two of the people who love me and know me most in the world.
Once the tears had run their course, I was able to notice some hidden blessings. First, I realized that I had just taken my sunglasses off, which would really have hurt had they still be on my face when I fell. Also, since it was a chilly Humboldt morning, I was in jeans, a heavy fleece sweatshirt and sturdy shoes so my body was well protected as I hit the ground. As it turned out, my shoulder took the brunt of the impact and it had a deep bruise by the next day. Also, my face didn’t end up with an abrasion at all, just a bruise on the cheekbone that hurts when you touch it but you can’t really see.
Our shopping outing was delightful! We got some beautiful pieces of clothing at The Irish Shop and found some other fun items around Old Town. We ended our mother/daughter day with coffee at Ramone’s and exploring a bookstore – two of my favorite activities with two of my favorite people!
We picked up cupcakes for Charley’s birthday party the next day on our way back to Sarah’s house. We arrived to discover that Mateo was really flushed and lethargic. The dads had been sending us pictures throughout the day of the kids at the fish hatchery and lunch, and they’d been keeping an eye on Teo. We noticed his pink cheeks in the pictures, but we were still surprised when we took his temperature and it was 102.9 degrees! Around this same time, my nephew Cody began vomiting, which we desperately hoped was caused by motion sickness from trampoline jumping. Controlled chaos ensued as we tried to decide how to handle the situation.
Eventually we ended up cancelling the birthday dinner and the babysitter. Casey and Sarah attended to Cody and eventually concluded that it probably wasn’t motion sickness as he didn’t start to feel better quickly. We decided to take Teo to urgent care so we could see if he had the flu and possibly start Tamiflu right away. They did diagnose him with the flu and ordered the antiviral medication for us to pick up the next morning, as all the pharmacies were already closed. As we left urgent care, we learned that Charley had also started vomiting, so her birthday party was also called off.
Sienna came down with the fever and cough on Sunday morning! As Sarah said, “Too bad the kids don’t all have the same thing, then they could at least hang out and watch movies together!” As it was, the Bonilla family hunkered down at Gaga’s while we alternated doses of Tamiflu and acetaminophen to keep their fevers down. My mom and I took Charley over her gifts and wished our angel girl a “happy birthday” while she reminded us to take Sienna the birthday gift she’d left there the night before. What an amazing little four year old!
Since I was feeling fine, I met up with my dad and stepmom for a wonderful, long chat and coffee on Sunday afternoon, which helped complete our trip to Humboldt. I’d been looking forward to catching up with both of them. Connection was easier in a small gathering!
Looking back, so many things went wrong on this trip. I also forgot the pills I take for diabetes management so I needed a lot more insulin than normal, which was frustrating! The most disappointing was that Charley was sick for her 4th birthday and we had to cancel her party.
But, Sienna got to spend a lot of time playing with her cousin before she turned four, which was the catalyst for our trip. Lane, Cody and Teo had fun playing together and I got to spend time with my loved ones to celebrate a milestone year. There were a lot of sweet moments of connection and family bonding over these few days, not in spite of, but because of things going wrong.
Family are the people who are there for you when you need them. They don’t need you to put on a happy face or a strong front. They love and accept you: injuries, illnesses, and all.