Thursday, July 21, 2016

Henry Cowell, Colb, and Alex

  Colby and Alex came to visit. They planned on staying 4 days and ended up staying a week, which was of course, awesome. We love having them both around. The first few days they were here we spent camping at Henry Cowell park. We somehow ended up with the ONLY sunny spot in the whole campground (site #38 is not a winner), but it got shady around 4ish. We set up and hung out at our site. We decided that playing Sushi Go would be good. So, we played...8 times. Alex won once and I won 7 times. Colby wanted to keep playing until he won so we decided we would continue the next day. We made some dinner and went for a nature hike to the observation deck where we were informed that we were actually at the Santa Cruz sand hills. It is the only place that they know of where the bottom of the ocean pushed itself into mountains. It still maintains a unique habitat that is not like any other. The campsite is actually not in the redwoods, but in the sand hill area.
Inside a Redwood tree.
  After lunch we decided that we would go to the beach in Santa Cruz. We went to see the tide pools, but you really have to be there at low tide and the next one was like 7 hours away, so that wasn't going to work, but the boys enjoyed playing in the sand and the three adults just basked in the ambiance that is the beach. After a couple hours we decided to head to the downtown area for some food and to walk around. We walked the pier after some food at one of Colb's favorite Mexican food spots in Santa Cruz. It was a nice stroll, but it did get rather hot. The boys were telling us that their feet hurt, so we headed back to the campsite. Ollie fell asleep on the way back and spent some time sleeping in the car while the rest of us resumed our time playing Sushi Go. We had dinner and s'mores before going to bed. Cousin Heather stopped in while we were trying to start up the fire for s'mores. She lives close, so she was able to come by for a bit after she got off work.
  The next morning we cleaned everything up and headed home. Before we really left though, we headed to the other side of Henry Cowell Redwood state park and actually experienced the Redwoods. It has a lovely loop and a watering hole (lots, but we only stopped at one- though I did promise the kids we would come back and do more hiking some other time in their suits so we could cross all the water). We all enjoyed this area very much and had a picnic lunch under the trees by the water. Alex found a very suspicious looking caterpillar that entertained everyone. We didn't have any utensils, so eating an avocado was quite interesting...
  Colb and Alex stayed the rest of the week: hanging out and watching a Harry Potter marathon (they are going to stop back in while we are on our trip in order to squeeze the last one in on their way back to Portland). It was so great to have them around!!! We love you both!

Saturday, July 2, 2016


 In June I went down to meet my new little niece, Hattie Jayne Grand. She is precious. The sweetest baby you can imagine. She is cuddly and calm and hardly ever cries. I didn't have a baby like that! I wanted to go down for Emmie and Molly's 3rd bday, but it was Father's Day weekend and the flight prices were through the roof.
Annie wasn't ready for the boys to be there too with the new baby, so I went by myself. I really enjoyed all the quality time with my nieces. I love them all so much. Annie and Freddy were undergoing a kitchen remodel and it was looking pretty spiffy. Freddy even got two beer taps installed through his granite back splash!
We went down to San Diego and had lunch with the family at Fuddruckers - a family tradition and favorite.

While I was there we also went on a boat ride. Heidi and Anthony joined us. It was such a blast. Heidi really had to pee and so we told her to jump in the water. She said she would but only if we were going to talk about it later. Okay, deal. She couldn't get back in the boat which was kind of hilarious. She eventually did of course. Emmie and Molly enjoyed driving the boat. We went out for a special ice cream treat afterwards and everyone enjoyed that.
Earlier that day Molly, Emmie and I had really enjoyed playing dress up together.
  I sure do love my family. :)

Love my life; love my kids

 Okay, so lots has been going on in our lives. We lost the pictures from January through beginning of May because a c.d. shattered in our computer and destroyed the whole thing. Who knew that could happen???
 June flew by. I had a great birthday week. On my birthday Vander made breakfast. He scrambled eggs and put them on toast. We added a fresh tomato from the garden and had a great breakfast. I hardly helped him at all. He looked in the fridge to see what we had and thought about what he could make and made it. It was very thoughtful and I was a super proud mama. 
 Oliven and I have started taking piano lessons. It has always been a life goal of mine to learn piano and Ollie wanted to play with me. I really like it. It is interesting to me how much mental energy it takes to keep everything in my head while I learn to play using two hands at once. The more you practice the better you get. It's crazy expensive, but I figure it's something that I will know for the rest of my life. And, the Paulson's are letting us use their keyboard, which is awesome. Oliven is still loving gymnastics and does his cartwheels constantly all over the house and even at the beach. He is getting better. He always asks, "Do you want to see a professional cartwheel?" He is such a little sweetheart.
The boys are enjoying summer reading fun. This year we added a reflection piece so that we can make sure they are comprehending what they are reading. The reading earns them .10 for every 10 minutes or .20 cents if they read non-fiction and every 7 reflections earns them a treat of their choice (they can do up to 2 a day).
We are having all kinds of fun over the summer. I always think it will be relaxing, but that is never the case cause there is so much fun to be had! We have been spending time with all of our favorite people and families. We have had the Rogersons over for dinner, the Greco's for dinner, the Kurtze's joined us for an evening while we were camping, we have been going to the beach with the Lims and we have been spending lots of time with Camille - playing games, going out to tea, hiking, coconut oiling our hair. She is pretty great.
We are as always enjoying swim team and all the meets. We see Grammy and Pops there every weekend. Oliven made his own cardboard boat this year. It was teeny tiny and super cute.  We have plans to be tourists in San Francisco with the Gina and Daniel Hood this week. Today the boys are rafting in the Stanislaus River with the swim team.  
I stayed home because my knee is still really hurting. I biffed it on my razor scooter last Friday and my knee is pretty messed up still. My face healed nicely. Nice enough that I went for a facial this morning. Darn knee always having to bend. I put liquid bandage on it to go to the beach. I definitely regret that decision. As for the scooter accident...I was going full speed and hit knees, then hands and then face. I was very glad that I didn't chip any teeth! I could feel the momentum was going to make my face hit, but there really wasn't much I could do to stop it. A homeless man standing nearby when I fell said that my face looked good. It did not.
   Justin always gets super anxious and tense when I mention going camping. We didn't go at all last year and I was bummed. So, this year I decided if I want to go camping with the kids I will. I don't need anyone else to come. They are 6 and 8 now, so we headed to Uvas Canyon for 2 nights. Justin stayed home - worked and watched movies. We had a great time. There were too many bugs for sure, but that didn't stop us. The Kurtze family came and brought hotdogs and we roasted marshmallows the first night after a fun time playing in waterfalls and building a lovely dam. The next day Christi and Dave dropped in and said hello as they went for a hike. 
Camille joined us and we took a really nice hike along waterfall loop. We had a picnic lunch and enjoyed nature. Afterwards Camille stayed and we played Vander's new game, "Sushi Go", several times. Camille is a great sport. She left around 4:30 so she could go home and do some laundry.
We made chili and had corn muffins for dinner. It turns out that bees just love corn muffins. Who knew? That was not fun. We ended up getting bees stuck in our screened off tent and we had to deal with that cause if we opened it more would have flown in. 
That was my least favorite part of the trip. That night when the boys and I went up to shower I accidentally brought two shirts and no pants so I had to wear the towel back to our tent. The boys thought that was utterly hilarious and told stories about it when we got back to the tent. "There once was a Mom named Smashly and she brought 2 shirts with her and had no pants!" Uncontrollable laughter ensued. It was great. Vander looks like he is screaming in the picture, but it's really just very hard laughter. I just have to remember going camping with only one adult is LOTS of work. Is it worth it? Yep. No doubt. We have another camping trip planned with Colby and Alex next weekend. The kids can't wait. They have asked me when we are going since the day after we got back from Uvas. We are going to go to the redwoods for our next trip.
  I should also mention we have had a ton of fruit this summer. More plums that we could possibly eat, a ton of apricots, peaches, the most delicious nectarines ever and pluots are going to be ripe very soon too.