Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sandy Claus Part 2

Every morning in California after swarming my dad for french toast, the boys swarmed my mom for the daily Light the World video. 
My parents were busy on Tuesday, so we were on our own.
We hopped over to a children's museum for the morning.
Eli's favorite exhibit was this create-your-own ball track.
Carson took to organizing the play house area and then "invited me over to his house for dinner" while proudly showing me all the hard work he had done.

Lincoln loved the "flying napkins." You put those fabric pieces in at the bottom of the tube and then air shot them up out the top. This frequently resulted in the "flying napkins" falling on patrons' heads, which proved to be highly amusing for certain demographics.

Jeff and I were surprised to learn Eli can hula hoop?!?
Lincoln was surprised to learn he can create bubbles.
Jonah was surprised by all the free time I had to cuddle him.
We stayed just long enough to catch the chicken show. Warning to future chicken show attendees: The chicken show ends with employees nonchalantly putting dead worms in your kids' hands for the chickens to come and peck from. Bleh!
In what we thought was an alignment of fate, there was a cute little park right across from the children's museum. We got out, ran around, and quickly concluded fate had led us astray. Jeff witnessed a drug deal, swarms of homeless people became increasingly visible, including one group that began walking around the park shouting swear words just for the fun of it. That was when we scurried to the car and found a different park where we could enjoy the California December weather.

Taking the reigns from fate, Jeff led us to a nice, quiet park that we had all to ourselves for an hour and a half! It was just what we needed to make a full recovery from our previous park attempt.
That evening Abe's family joined us. Wynne put off going to bed to practice her spelling with Grandma. 
The morning brought another batch of french toast to energize all the little people for a day of adventure!
Last time Abe and Klarissa were visiting my parents they found this awesome slot canyon, and as soon as we saw pictures, it was moved to the top of our California must-do list. Our first excursion was to Annie's Canyon. 
Eli and Newland win Most Adventurous award for the day.
Jonah receives the Honorable Mention for the Most Adventurous award as he whole-heartedly trusted me to shimmy up the canyon while he bravely dangled from my belly. There were scratches. There was squeezing. And there were a few emergency hoists from behind, but we made it through *practically unharmed.*

Shout-out to my hoister.
Carson also made it to the top, but took the opportunity while we were gathering for a picture to expertly run away from us.
As soon as I made it through the loop the first time, I was anxious to try it again without a baby. We tagged Jonah out for my Dad and did round 2.

As soon as we made it to the top a second time, these two were ready to go a third.
In an effort to consider myself fully worked-out for the day, I agreed to make the trek a third time with Newland and Eli. I think we have a new favorite hike!
Bless my mom for finding a way to keep Carson in eyesight.
Whenever we needed to take a moment to wait for the second half of the group along our hike, plopping in the sandy dirt was non-negotiable.
Even Jonah loved the outing!

That evening we treated the boys to their California must-do by making a stop at Chuck-E-Cheese's.


Easily the best moment of Jonah's life right here:


Sometimes you win at ski-ball by simply making sure you don't hit the person next to you with a hard, heavy ball.
Pizza break!



For the first time in their existence without being asked, all the boys ran up to my dad as soon as they got home and, with much enthusiasm, repeatedly said, "Thank you so much, Grandpa! That was the best thing I've ever done. That was so fun!" While they showed him all the things they won.
Perhaps Jonah was overstimulated from the best day of his life, or maybe he just knew he'd get a Grandpa snuggle if he fought going to bed, either way, he weaseled his way downstairs after the other boys were in bed and found a friend to rock him to sleep.
The next morning we headed out. Stopping on our way home at "Seven Mountains" in Nevada.
Until next time, California.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Sandy Claus

While trying to coordinate schedules to arrange our next visit to California, it became clear that either we went in December, or we wouldn't be able to go ever again. Or at least that's how it felt at the time. We took advantage of the time the kids had off of school the week before Christmas for a little holiday getaway. 

We met my parents at Texas Roadhouse as we arrived into town. The boys eagerly watched out the windows for them once we got there. 
Lincoln immediately plopped on his long-lost grandparents to show them he missed them.
The next day was church. You best believe we went all matchy-matchy so grandma and grandpa could see the infamous coordinated ties in person.


The rest of the day was spent playing outside. In December. Because WE COULD.
Mere hours after my dad had just fixed the boys french toast, Lincoln arranged himself on the counter just so and said conversationally, "You makin' me french toast, Grandpa?" Never enough french toast!
My parents had a baptism to attend that evening, so we went down to San Diego for a boat parade called The Parade of Lights.
When one of the really tall boats passed by, Lincoln shouted, "Look at that bumpy Christmas!"
The boys had a great time admiring the decorated boats. My oldest boy...yes I'm talking about Jeff here...may have gotten even more into it than any of the younger boys.  It was a hit with this bunch of boat-loving boys.
On Monday we went on a trail with my parents.
Which led us to some billed friends.



Then we went to sea some lions.
Eli found some "hum rocks" and got straight to humming on them. Still unsure where this came from. Still one of my favorite things he does.

That afternoon we booked it to the beach.

I highly underestimated the incompatibility of babies and sand. Jonah only wanted to be grabbing the sand. But then he would touch any part of him, which always quickly turned into sand spraying his eyeballs, which turned into him rubbing his eyeballs. Which turned into me shrieking, "Don't rub your eyeballs!" Which made him cry. Which made me hold him out by the armpits to gently shake/swat at him to try to get all the sand off of him. Which resulted in me saying, "Have we been here long enough yet?"
 The answer was no. We had not been there long enough. Because anytime you're at the beach and the question gets asked, "Have we been here long enough?" The answer is always "No." Eli was just getting warmed up on the old boogie board.
To clarify: His skills were warm. The water was freezing.  
 "Oh. Jeff. I have to go take pictures of the boys. Here hold this baby that has no understanding of the hazards of sand mixed with eyeballs. K thanks Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."

Strategies to separate baby from sand involved a lot of above sea level holding.
Forgive me for taking a stereotypical picture of me on vacation by the ocean subtly including my crossed, carefree feet. I promise that was unintentional and I was really just trying to capture all 3 boys in one shot. And now that you know those crossed legs had a baby sand monster sitting on them, you know better than to be too terribly jealous. But you can be a little jealous.



The highlight of the afternoon by far was The Blessed Man With The Metal Detector. The Blessed Man With The Metal Detector who traipsed about the entire beach, but also somehow had the authorization to park in a handicap stall. The Blessed Man With The Metal Detector who wandered the vast, completely empty beach, yet somehow only ever ended up detecting metal when he was personal-bubble-intrudingly close to us. *Cue immediate stashing of cell phones* So obviously we would sit and stare at him because he had gadgets and shovels and potential treasure which, when written out, is basically a highlight reel of my boys' 3 favorite things.

We were willing to forgive him for intruding our what-had-previously-felt-like-a-deserted-island space in the name of being able to spy on what goodies he uncovered, but the other highly amusing thing about The Blessed Man With The Metal Detector is that even after spending nearly an hour per dig site sifting through sand, neither time did he end up finding anything other than...more sand.

Though the guy did drive a Denali, so maybe he knows something I don't.
After watching Mr. Metal Detector, my sights were turned to Eli who was equally as entertaining. Most folk build sandcastles to relax, play, revel in their creativity. Eli builds sandcastles so that he can immediately, and with increasing force, destruct them. He spent 30 minutes making lines of sandcastles just to see how many he could knock down with one exaggerated kick. Boys. Am I right?
Lincoln takes a long while to warm up to new things/places/people. Just as we were packing up, he decided it was time for him to dip in the water.
We were glad he hadn't discovered the water any sooner because he got pretty adventurous pretty quickly and would have been a sad boy had he fallen in.
We went back to the house for gingerbread house making in an effort to remember Christmas was fast approaching.


Then we made one last attempt to distract Grandpa from his Monday emails before heading off to bed.