Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Piano Performance

  By our last full day the matching was breaking down just a bit.  Clearly, Nora doesn't even care about matching her own clothing.  These four girls love to perform.  They would spend a few minutes putting together a dance or "ice skating" (Olympics much) routine and then call us in to watch.  This evening they simply posed around the piano and sang along to Jill's playing of "Down By the Bay". 

 I had a hard time getting a still shot since they were singing and not holding still.

I'm attempting to include a video--but I'm not sure how well it's showing up--technical genius that I am. 
Back to my work....I dare now go!  For if I don't, my family will say, "We're hungry!"

Monday, February 24, 2014


 On President's Day we decided to go the "whole group activity" direction.  It was a beautiful day for a hike. 
 Shorts and t-shirts in February--still shaking my head over the concept.  Holding Henry on the front of me the whole time helped to make me sweaty even.  IN FEBRUARY!  The way up was short and steep.  Our view from the top was in all directions.  No forest to block the view like we have at home.  No hours of switch backs full of moss while we search for the elusive sunshine.  And no mud puddles.  Just acres of dust.  It's fun to take a hike that is so different from what we do around these parts!  We found this remembrance garden while exploring up top.
 The boys didn't stay up top for long--they walked as far away from the sound of our voices as they could and then got as close to the edge of steep inclines as they could--all with the design of giving their mothers heart failure, I'm sure.  My camera zoom was able to find them.
 I'm glad the girls are still content to stay with their Mamas.  Maybe that was because one of the Mamas was carrying trail mix.
 Down in the dirt of the hills below we saw "PROM?" written in the dust.  I wonder if he/she said yes or no.  If it was the latter, that must have been an interesting hike down to the bottom.  There were about 50 different path options--so perhaps they could have gone their own lonely directions.
 Since we all loved each other--we decided to each take the same path.  Uncle Nathan showed us the path that he had taken down on a mountain bike in the past.  I was glad not to be on a mountain bike.  I'm not very brave.
 These boys ARE brave.  And full of energy.  They went on several bike rides with the dads during the course of our time there.  They always impress me with how far they can go and how much uphill (I hear) they can handle.  Weren't they just a two year old and a new born yesterday?????
 I found this lovely creature in another "garden" on our way down.

 You can't see how steep the hill is from this view...
 But with people in the picture, you get an idea.  Uncle Nathan said that had he hiked this route before he rode it,  he probably wouldn't have wanted to to ride down.  I definitely would not have.
 When the road got long and the uphill was going to begin again, the dads kindly took the harder, uphill path back to the cars and the moms took the seven (seven?????) kids on the flat path to the local high school where the dads could pick us up.  Nothing much sweeter than a bunch of little girls holding hands while they walk.  These girls carefully made sure to be matching every. single. day.  Mia and Jill loaned my girls clothes when needed since my girls were limited to what was in their suitcases.
   We saw several of these signs along the way.  I don't like snakes at all and the thought of encountering one on a hike gives me the shivers.  My big, brave, mountain biking boy happens to be terrified of them.  Just looking at the picture on the sign gives him the shivers.  Had we seen one, I think he would have hopped into my arms.  I was glad we didn't see any!

 Eventually Nora took Aunt Megan up on her offer to be carried.  I miss being a four year old. 
 We waited in the cool shade at the end of the trail, uncertain of how long it would take the Daddys to get to us. 
 We only had a minute or two before showed up to whisk us off to In n Out.  Wouldn't want to deprive ourselves of those calories we had hiked off!
 Poor Henry had gotten a bad sunburn on one arm.  Thankfully it wasn't all over.  Poor guy couldn't have any burgers or shakes.  Good thing he doesn't know what he's missing yet.

 Tadd wanted to make sure I knew that the chocolate shakes are 590 calories before I ordered one ALL FOR MYSELF--not to share with a kid.  Yes, thank you, I am aware.  They have more calories than shakes from any other fast food restaurant.  That's probably why I occasionally dream about them.  It was worth every last calorie.  Well, maybe not every last calorie--but at least 400 of them.  The burger was as good as ever too.  Eating outside after a warm hike in February was priceless.
  Before I leave you, I just want to mention a thing or two about the plane trip.  Traveling with four children via plane is interesting.  It's a blessing, that's for sure,  because I did not miss the opportunity to drive 23 hours.  So, I'm not complaining, trust me.  But when you enter an airport with four children you get stared at.  A lot.  Most people look at you as an absolute nuisance.  In many cases, I can't blame them.  I mean, if I'm a business man/woman with only a small  brief case to run through security and I get behind a family of 6 with a stroller, diaper bag, purse, 2 back packs, front pack, 3 carry on suit cases, one shoulder bag and a few blankies to put on the conveyer belt....well I would probably be annoyed as well.  Other times, I get frustrated.  For instance, you don't need to glare at me like I've already ruined your flight just because I have a baby strapped to the front of me--he hasn't started screaming...yet.  Praise the Lord--he never really did.  This was a big worry of mine.  Teething, fatigue, not being able to stand up and be walked are all very real reasons for Henry to start screaming and refuse to be calmed.  But he didn't.  He was mostly distracted by eating, playing with toys and looking around at all the strangers.  He whined now and then on the flight down, but there were several other babies around us also whining, so we didn't stand out.  And most people loved him because he was wearing his Seahawks jersey.  Even the 49ers fans sitting directly behind me called him "pretty cute...for the enemy".  They became my enemy in more ways than one when the woman threw up before the plane even took off.  If I could have held my breath for the whole 2.5 hours, I would have.  Instead I could only pray that we wouldn't all be throwing up by the next morning.  And Praise the Lord, we weren't.  That's all I'll say about the actual travel--although someday I'd like to write a short story about traveling with little ones.  I think I need to be a bit more removed from this part of my life before that can be done with success, however.
Until the next installment!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

da Beach!

We are officially back to our rainy, semi-cold home.  Real life, complete with school, work and activities starts up in full swing tomorrow.  We've had a few days to get groceries in the house, recover from illnesses and do laundry.  Poor Daddy had to go back to work first thing Friday morning, but he at least had the weekend to catch up on sleep.  Now--to enjoy the memories....
 Our first day in San Diego, we ran off to the beach--possibly my favorite place in California.  We weren't sure how to keep Henry shielded from the sun since he can't use sunscreen, but he solved that problem himself by falling asleep in  his car seat while I carried him across the sand.  I was able to pull up the cover and tuck a blanket around him and just leave him be with the peaceful sound of the waves crashing and the fresh air flowing all around him.  Ah, to be a baby again!
 I wanted a picture of Aunt Megan and her little Jillson--and I got this fun succession of shots...

 Uncle Nathan had kindly packed up surf boards and wet suits for the boys--but they were busy playing in the sand.

 After about 15 glorious minutes of hot sunshine--as in almost 80 degrees minus the wind--the fog appeared on the horizon and rapidly made land fall.

 Here it comes...
 Looking toward the ocean visibility quickly disappeared, while looking inland still looked blue and sunny.

 With the arrival of the fog, the boys decided not to surf at all.  We thought we'd wait out the fog since we had only just arrived.
 We weren't able to watch U-Nate catch any waves, but we knew he was out there somewhere.

 These rascals had a sand fight....just because they could.

 Like Daddy, like Daughter.
 We waited and waited, but that pesky fog was there to stay.  We finally decided to head home to U-Nate and A-Megan's sunny back yard for the rest of the day.  It had been nice to feel the sand between our toes for a while, though. 
More vacation to come on another day...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cake Pops with My (Almost) Four Year Old

 In two days my youngest Princess will be turning four.  Four whole years since the worst Valentine's Day of my whole life on which I received the best Valentine of my whole life.  Ironic that my Valentine birth was the only one where I didn't get to have an epidural....
But that is neither here nor there.  What IS here--is that for Nora's birthday we got her a visit to the local cake and candy shop for a Cake Pop Class.  She was so very excited.  So was I!  Henry was pretty happy to get some new scenery as well. 
 It was a cold morning and I thought my camera was just foggy from the cold car ride.  After a few pictures I realized that someone had licked the lens.  The first few pictures were ruined, but after that things were looking cleaner. 
The first step (after gloving up) in cake pop making is to take pre-baked cake and crumble it all up.  Then stir in some non-dairy coffee creamer (a teensy bit at a time) and keep mixing with your hands until it reaches moldable consistency.   Nora was really good at this part!
 Next, you roll bits of dough into balls--or cut them into small shapes--like the flowers Nora is cutting out here.

 After you have your shapes, you add a stick and then dip the pops in melted chocolate.  We had dark chocolate and a few colors--red, yellow, white and pink.  The yellow was lemon flavored and the others were simply vanilla.  After dipping, the pops are placed in the fridge for a few moments to harden.  They can be sprinkled with decor before hardening OR they can harden and then be decorated with more frosting.  Henry blocked our route to the fridge for a while.  Then he got fussy and moved to the front pack.  Technically I was not supposed to be working with the pops since I didn't pay for the class for myself.  But I did have to help Nora to speed things along.  At that point I had to stop taking pictures.
 But after she finished, Nora took over camera duties.  That is Snow White (who works at the cake and candy shop) in the back ground.  She spent a lot of time and energy helping us.

 Here's my girl with a sample of her goods--aren't those bumble  bees cute?  The wings are made out of gelatin paper so they are edible!   These cake pops tasted very yummy.  And we came home with about 50 of them.  I think she made them smaller than most people would normally do.  That meant that poor Snow White had to wrap a lot of pops.  She wrapped each one and tied them with pretty colored ribbons. It was a very good deal!  And I had a ton of fun watching my girl at her class.
 We used the cake pops for favors when we had a very small birthday party for Nora last weekend.  We played a few traditional games such as "Pass the Parcel"...
 And tossing cotton balls into jars...

 And "Pin the Petal on the Flower"

 Of course there were presents and cake.  Nora chose a malted milk chocolate cake and it tasted pretty delish. 
Now that we've got her all celebrated early, we can fly off to California to spend some time with Uncle Nathan and Aunt Megan's family.  Wahoo!  Nora will officially turn four while we are there.  TTFN!