Tuesday, April 30, 2013

California (Not Disneyland) Babymoon, Part the First: The Work Outing

For the last few months we've been trying to somehow plan a babymoon of some kind before The Speck arrives.  The obvious solution is Disneyland, of course (which is also what everyone expected when we said we were planning a little trip), and Julie was even down with the idea of not being able to ride some of her favorite attractions and spend a little more time relaxing and sitting than our usual practice of running around filling every possible second.  We know how to make the most of a couple of days at Disneyland, and we thought it might be fun for baby's first Disneyland vacation to have been in utero, but we also thought it might be nice to do something different for our last traveling hurrah as a party of two.  So we tried to think of various alternatives too (I've been trying to plan a Hawaii trip for a couple years too), but we just couldn't seem to find the right weekend for this to take place, whatever we decided.

THEN one day, my manager in northern California called and said that, after three years of my having worked remotely, she thought it was a good time, before the baby comes, to visit the office in Rancho Cordova!  This was a very exciting prospect, and as The Wife was still itching for some nice not-working time (not to mention that coincidentally she actually grew up very close by Rancho!), we decided we should extend the half-week work trip to a full week and spend a few days on vacation!  So that's just what we did!  And I didn't have to take that many days off work, and we were able to have a somewhat different CA experience.  It was very relaxing and fun and comparatively laid-back, which is just perfect for a 34-weeks along couple like we happen to be.  (Not to mention that at least half of the bill was covered by work!  Money well spent, work.)

So in mid-April, we hopped on a plane and headed to the Sacramento airport, rented a car and drove to Rancho Cordova, and spent the next four days living and working and playing and eating and visiting in the Sacramento area.
Heyyyy, rental car!  It was a bit like a mission car.  Maybe that's why I loved it so.

After we checked into our hotel, we spent Sunday afternoon driving around nearby El Dorado Hills, where Julie lived for several of her formative childhood years.  It was a delightful area, though of course much more developed than she remembered it being, and we had a great time visiting her old house and schools and parks and neighborhood haunts.  She was so excited to see the old places, and I had a great time hearing stories and imagining her younger self and younger family living in this very nice town.  On the way back we stopped by the newish Sacramento temple (which is pretty well out of the way, unless you know where you're going, which the GPS, our beloved Vicki, did).
Hey, it's us!  You know, like we do.
This was SO delicious.  Best fast Mexican food ever!
That's the house!
School!  It was outdoor.  Neat.
These kids questioned what I was doing up there.  "I wanted to give it a try, to have fun!"
The Speck already loves the playground.
:(  I don't know why.  I didn't quite fit.
Still here!  She remembers it fondly!

A perfect spot for pictures!  It's almost like it was planned that way...  I played the role of the blushing bride.  And the groom too, I guess.
A li'l snake sneaking onto the grounds!!!  Is there a more appropriate Garden of Eden parallel??  I think not!!!
The majority of the days in Rancho were spent working (me) and lounging (Julie).  It was really great to meet my coworkers, most of whom I have known for years, but only as voices on a conference call or still photos on the team blog.  It was fun to be actually present in the meetings (though I still managed to show up a few minutes late, HA) and to interact and communicate with these people face to face (including the new HR rep so I could talk to her about getting things straightened out for family leave in a few weeks).
Oh, li'l picture of the office!
They set me up in a little cubicle all my own for the few days I would be in town, and when we weren't in meetings or team development sessions or projects, I was more or less doing the same things I do here at my home office, just in a more sociable fashion, I guess.  It was very different to hear other voices and look around and remember I'm not sitting at my desk at home.  It was fun to go out to work lunches with everyone and experience the workplace environment for a few days.  We three artists also executed an Epic Picnic event that turned out to be a great success.
Sidewalk art by yours truly.  My best work ever?  Could be.
Julie and Terrie, the bosslady
Working remotely has its perks, but it was refreshing and fun to be in a workplace for a while too, and I can definitely see the perks of that too.  The office is great and fun and professional and overall I'm just really glad that I had this chance to see and live the workplace life for a while so I can picture my workmates and their locale a little better in the future, and already our communication and work relationships are better, so yay.  It's a good place to work, and I'm really glad it came along when it did and has remained so great after these years.
Team o' artists!  Together at last!  Chelsea, me, Matt
My little cube!  It was sparsely decorated.  There were some leftover Halloween decorations on the desk though.
Whaddup, Terrie?
*thumbs up*
As for Julie, she occasionally joined me for work lunches and I took her on a tour of the office, but as I said, most of her time was spent in blissful languidness.  She sat by the pool and did a lot of reading and worked on projects for The Speck and watched TV and in general had a few days of the exact doing-nothing that she had been so craving after the long weeks of full-time employment.
It's a little colder than in looks, but it was snowing at home, so a little pool time, even if it's chilly, was a welcome change.  People kept apologizing that the weather wasn't better for our visit, but we can handle a little wind with our sunshine!
And then, to close, this other super exciting (to me) thing happened.  Perhaps it requires a little backstory.  About, oh, eight or so years ago I started to get interested in podcasts and listened to a lot of them about various subject every week.  Over the years my playlist was whittled down (returning from serving a mission was a real help in deciding which podcasts I didn't really care about spending my life listening to), but one that has remained constant and consistently in my weekly line-up over the years is the Survivor Fans Podcast, run by the delightful wife-and-husband team, Jo Ann and Stacy.  Besides their entertaining recaps of each episode and insightful interviews with each cast-off, part of the reason I've stuck with this podcast was because, due to the unique nature of their weekly shows, they invite listener contributions to each episode in a separate listener feedback show, which I've been participating in almost as long as they've been doing their show.  I knew they lived pretty close to Sacramento (we wrote back and forth a few times when I was in Wisconsin), so when I knew I was heading in that direction I just had to reach out and see if we could meet up!  In the end it worked out, and we shared a delicious dinner at a small local Vietnamese restaurant, and then, on Wednesday night, they even invited us to join them to watch Survivor with them!  Without going into too many gushy details, it was the PERFECT episode to watch with the hosts of everyone's favorite Survivor podcast.  And then, as the icing on the cake, we were invited to join them for their recap podcast!  XD  Survivor dream come true!!!  It was great to be able to contribute a little more than the usual allowed three minutes of listener feedback, ha ha.  Julie was a bit shy of the idea of putting her voice on a podcast, but she did just great and is of course a very insightful Survivor fan, and the listeners seemed to enjoy the surprise of a couple of guest co-hosts.  You can listen to the show here.  They were great hosts, both so friendly and fun and sassy and entertaining, my face hurt from smiling the whole time (the episode especially added to that) and I was so glad we were able to get together.
In the studio
So then on Thursday morning, after four days very well spent, we enjoyed the hotel's exercise equipment and/or deluxe breakfast, packed up our things and headed to our vacation destination!  Details to follow.


  1. Oh pool! I miss it, even though I only got in it that once.

  2. It was way too cooooold! I even said so in the survey they emailed and asked me to take. I mean, I know it was April, but it was also California! Heat that pool up! The hot tub was nice though.