May 15, 2012

Mother's Day: Irvine Regional Park

I love Mother's Day as a mom, because in my house, my little family pampers and spoils me -- this year, it was breakfast at home with fresh waffles and bacon and flowers and a big balloon. And sweet homemade cards and art and carefully chosen costume jewelry and a really awesome Ebay score from my husband that deserves its own post. 

On the other hand, I dread Mother's Day as a daughter.  It's never easy to figure out what to do with my mother, where to take her, what to buy her.  She has no hobbies and no overriding interests, beyond watching the Lakers, drinking wine, and reading paperback mysteries.  She doesn't like chocolate, even.  One year, I convinced her to come down to my house and we treated her (and me) to a big expensive buffet with free-flowing champagne and piles of shrimp and pastries. Last year, I didn't even spend the day with her, but invited her to join us at Disneyland, which she declined. She would've had to drive, park and meet up with us by herself -- and my mom is not good at jumping through those types of hoops on her own. (Note that she lives by herself, and continues to work full time, past retirement age -- but she just won't attempt that kind of solo feat.)

This year, my sister (a hard-working single mom who's most deserving of pampering) and I decided that we'd all spend the day together at Irvine Regional Park -- a wonderful park with over 800 acres of old oaks and trails and horses and a lake.  My sister and I were excited to spend the day together, excited to get our kids together for a picnic (Tucker and my nephew are only five months apart), to eat and soak up the sunshine. My mother was....okay with this plan.  I don't think the words "park" and "picnic" quite meshed with whatever vague ideal she had in mind.  But as I assured my sister last week: "She'll have a good time. She just doesn't know it yet."  And she did.

On the other hand, everyone else in Orange County had the same idea, to picnic at a great park on a beautiful day.  Go figure. What is normally about an hour drive for us took nearly twice that, counting the time spent in line to enter the park.  This is the photo I took of the long, long, line to get up to the toll booth and inside the gates.  The photo doesn't do justice to the crazy line; even the park ranger was standing out there snapping pics on his camera.  
Self-portrait of me appearing calm enough, but inside I was stressing hard, convinced they'd close the park to more cars & we wouldn't be able to meet up with my mom & sister:
But eventually we made it in, parked, lugged our coolers/chairs/gifts down the path to where my sister had already set up, and finally started enjoying ourselves.  You know it's a good day when you get watermelon, cupcakes, AND orange Fanta.
And you get to take a ride on a slow train:
And three generations get to walk under hundred-year-old oak trees, on a Sunday in the park:
My mom with Lily; sister and the two boys up ahead.

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