Thursday, September 4, 2014

Odds and Ends of Summer

A few of the things we want to remember we did during the summer: 

Johann camped in the backyard overnight with Henry. I thought for sure Henry would want to come in because he would get scared but he did great. 

 A small but fun trip down the hill to a little splash area in Victoria Gardens followed by a trip to pick up empanadas from Empanadas To Go for dinner.

A few of the ladies in my ward had a little shower for Leo and he got this Batman onesie Henry was stoked about.

Our dear friends we met while in Provo were in California before heading off to Illinois for their new adventure where Lev will be teaching and conducting at Wesleyan University so we had to see them before they left. They had a little boy we never met and we had Thea and Leo whom they had yet to meet as well!

 (At one point I looked down and saw this, I suppose it's the older siblings job to harass their younger sibling)  
 We looked around the mall, let the kids ride the merry-go-round, chatted had ice cream, took the kids to the park and just had fun catching up. There is nothing like friends who you feel instantly comfortable with even after two years.

Henry's obsession on and off was making Word Girl cut outs as well as Skylanders.
And more plating. We sure did watch a lot of cooking shows...

 Finally the day came that Johann had to go back to work. So the kids and I did the best we could, we busted out the water colors and playdough and tried to make the most of the day until daddy came home.

Then the day before school started in the district here we got to see Abba girl, Dean and their mom as well as some other 'family' and friends. It was such a joy to see they kind of just pick up wherever they left off and to see everyone's families growing and everybody doing good things with their life. Hopefully we won't always live so far away from each other!

And with that, summer was finally, officially at an end for our family.

San Diego and Oceanside

Last year my mom decided on a birthday tradition of going to San Diego. Since it was incredibly crowded in SD when we went last year we talked about staying in Oceanside this year instead. She thought this summer would be a fun time to test out a hotel in Oceanside to make sure there was enough to do for everyone. She booked a room but when the time came to stay, she was off in Utah on a sudden trip with a friend and they decided to stay to see another friend from Idaho. So off our little family went to test it out.

We started by heading to SD first to stop by Seaport Village for lunch and a look around.

 (I almost cropped out Johann and this weird angel on the the horses butt, I think everyone will appreciate I didn't.) 

Next we headed to the tide pools at Cabrillo Point. 

Once it was closing we headed over to Oceanside and the hotel. It was good we went to get the lay of the land; they don't have parking (you have to do valet), there are bellhops accosting you, you need cash for tipping, keys for the elevators etc, etc. I mean, the last place we stayed in had this was different for us.
Despite feeling a little out of place at first, once we settled into the room and got to the pool it was worth the awkwardness we first felt.

The next morning we got ready and headed to the beach which was about a 5 minute walk from the hotel.

The kids absolutely loved it at the beach. We only stayed a few hours because we needed to get back for check out (and we didn't want to stay too long with Leo) but I think they could have stayed all day. 

 (Leo's first time at the beach!)

Too soon we had to head back, pack up and head home. The kids are definitely Johann's when it comes to their love of the beach. I'm coming around to it now too. I've never been to the beach in the morning like we did this time and I really liked it. It felt so fresh and peaceful. Looking forward to our December trip!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


One of our two bigger trips over summer was going to Sequoia National Park. I had been against going on any longer trips this summer at first and then I was shamed by a Russian girl who is friends with some of my friends that were here for Leo's baby blessing: she told me how many National Parks she had been to (again, she lives in Russia and is only 16) and asked why I hadn't been to any since they're all so close. I couldn't let that slide so Johann asked at the perfect time if I'd be willing to go to Sequoia since it was a bit closer than some others.

I'm so glad we went. We spent 36 hours doing exactly what we needed and what the kids needed-running around in nature together. It was incredibly beautiful and I hope we can go back or continue to hit a National Park as often as possible.

And now for too many pictures.

Ready to roll

We got inside the park and to a picnic spot around 1pm and stopped for lunch.

After lunch we did a really, really easy trail that was around Crescent Meadow.

 Crescent Meadow is known as 'The Gem of the Sierras' and I can absolutely see why. I could have stayed there the rest of the day.

We continued on the trail and saw some big, beautiful Sequoias,

and a big beautiful bear and her cub. We didn't get a picture of the cub.

I was mostly terrified seeing the bear and turned away pretty quickly and kept waving at Johann to get his bum back over. I am glad he stayed long enough to get a picture to remember it by though. It was amazing to see one after only being there a few hours. 

 We made our way back to the car and headed out of the park to have dinner and check in to the motel for the night.

 (Moro Rock)

There weren't many hotel options and we couldn't pay for an entire cabin but we found a well rated place called the Lazy J Ranch in Three Rivers just outside the park. When Johann told me there were goats I decided it would either be fantastic or horrible. So happy it was the former. 
You get your own little bungalow which I loved. The cooling system wasn't that great and it's not really updated or anything great inside but I really did love it. 

 (the view out back)

The other views out back...

The kids love, love, loved petting the sheep and goats and running around behind the bungalow. It was fun to see how much they loved it. After checking out the goats and sheep we took the kids for a swim in the pool and were joined by a nice older couple also staying there. If we ever go back I'd like to try staying in one of the cabins or lodges in the park just for time sake (getting in and out of the park took about an hour) but if not, I would have no problem staying at the Lazy J again. 

 The next morning we had breakfast then set out for our last day in the park.

 (On our drive entering the park)

On the road inside the park Johann slammed on the breaks and I saw what I thought at first was a dog running across the road and then realized it was a bear cub, followed by another bear cub. It was pretty awesome. 

We wanted to see the Tokopah Falls that day and went to it's trail head only to realize it was 1.7 miles in and 1.7 back and that with how tired the kids already were from the day before, there was no way their little legs were going to make it in time and no way we could carry them. Instead we went a little ways in and played in the stream for a good long while. I think the kids could have stayed there to play all day.

On our way out from the trail we spotted another bear, this time it was not quite a cub but also not fully grown. We managed to see two bears and three bear cubs total, oh and a deer while there. It was horrifyingly spectacular. Dorothea continually asked for "more bear!"

We drove over to Kings Canyon and saw a bunch of cattle just hanging out, grazing but sadly the kids missed it because they were asleep.
Once we were there we looked around a bit then stopped at a restaurant there for lunch.
After lunch we looked around a beautiful area by the restaurant with flowers as tall as Thea.

We drove around and got out at a couple places in Kings Canyon like the tree you could walk through and the General Grant tree.

 (The General Grant tree-also known as America's Christmas tree...)

Finally we headed back over to Sequoia and made the little hike to see the General Sherman tree. It was pretty incredible. 

Once we had gotten back from the Sherman tree we changed the kids into their pjs and set off for our late night drive. I took this last picture as we left so we could remember what I dubbed, "Rhino Rock" across the from Moro Rock. Even with just a 6 and 2 year old who can talk and the baby we still had a lot to talk about, about what we saw and thought-it was such a good trip and I'm hopeful our next nature adventure will be just as rewarding.