In 2010 (yes, three and a half years ago), Brandon and I received a gift certificate for a hot air balloon ride over Napa. At the time we were living in San Francisco without a car, so it wasn’t a convenient outing for us. Time got away, I got pregnant and had Ellie, and we still hadn’t scheduled it. Luckily for us there was no expiration date! Anyway, Brandon finally put his foot down and scheduled our balloon ride and I am certainly glad he did (although at 4:30 this morning when the alarm went off I was thinking maybe it was not such a good idea).
I didn’t think I had a fear of heights, but I happily confirmed that today. While I am a bit of a scaredy cat typically, I am pleased to report I wasn’t nervous at all–I surprised myself. It’s incredibly peaceful and beautiful to be floating along like that, although the burners every few minutes take away some of that peace–they are really loud! Our balloon had 20 people in it and was something like a 400,000 cu. ft balloon (I believe it’s the largest they make). In balloons that big, they have the basket sectioned off into 5 areas–1 for the pilot, and then 4 compartments for the passengers. We floated above the Napa Valley for about an hour, had pretty much the smoothest landing one could hope for, and then were shuttled back to a hotel for a lovely champagne brunch (with bottomless mimosas–I was not complaining). The brunch was included with our hot air balloon ride–quite the deal. We had a very leisurely brunch and then returned to my parents house to pick up little miss Eleanor.
I’m so thankful to my parents for getting up super early to watch Ellie so we could have a few hours just for Brandon and me, and thankful to my brother-in-law for giving us such an amazing experience. I was just emailing with a dear family friend the other day, and she was asking how my work/motherhood/alone time balance was going. I think much of the time once kids come around it’s the “alone time” thing that suffers the most, but for me it’s actually the couple time. In some ways this seems surprising since B and I are hope together much of the time (he works out of the house) but that certainly doesn’t mean we get quality time together. Since we only have childcare help 1/2 day a week (shout out to my sister here who is a peach and makes this happen!), we pretty much tag team all day. One watches Ellie while the other works, we both work while she sleeps, and then frequently we have to continue working once she goes to bed since our days aren’t 100% productive. While I wouldn’t trade this arrangement, it does create blurred lines between work time and down time. All this to say this few hours of time for B and I to sort of catch up without the distractions (at least one is a super cute distraction) of our everyday life.
The balloon ride was a great time out for us, something that forced us out of our normal routine to do something fun and indulgent for the two of us. Thanks to everyone who made this possible! I think I’m going to challenge B and myself to make more of these excursions, with and without Eleanor to keep us focused on the important things like spending time as a family.