Saturday, February 20, 2010

Channel Islands Part 1

Everybody knows all the horrible reasons why it's so bad to live in southern California. Immigration issues, high taxes and cost of living, traffic and smog, crime, idiotic politicians, earthquakes, fires and mudslides to name just a few.

But every once in awhile we are reminded why so many people put up with it all and pay so much of their hard earned money to live here.

Last Monday, February 15th, on a warm and sunny day with a cool breeze, we drove one hour to a harbor in Ventura and took a one hour boat ride to what many have called the Galapagos of North America: Channel Islands National Park. Just a little day trip to another planet. I took LOTS of pictures and video so I'm going to post in installments.

We put the kids to bed in their clothes and I brought yogurt and cereal in the car for breakfast. The baby slept the whole drive and everyone else was too tired to eat anything. Brandon made sure we all took our anti-nausea pills in case anyone - like me - got sea sick. (I once threw up over the side of a boat on a snorkeling excursion.) Everyone perked up once we got to the harbor. It would be nice if I had really cool, stylish Columbia/North Face/Patagonia clothes for the kids, but here they are in their usual sloppy duds. It's a good thing they don't care that their mother HATES clothes shopping.

It was a GORGEOUS day.
Once we got on the boat I got a kick out of all the couples obviously going to the islands on a romantic date. Brandon and I certainly would not have minded taking this trip alone and it looks great and all, but I have to admit I was feeling rather smug about the fact that we had four young children with us on our trip. Parenthood truly is not for wimps! And we love the idea of doing adventurous, tough things with our kids in ruggedly beautiful places. Once Rachael gets a little older we are going to get serious about our goal of visiting as many National Parks as we can and doing more backpacking/camping. (I might even buy some cool clothes and a cowboy hat like she's wearing. . .)
I'm wearing my morning work out clothes I picked up at TJMaxx.
They didn't look so perky on the boat ride home.
It took about an hour to go 19 miles by speed boat. There were some pretty big swells on the way out which were a lot of fun, but my anti-nauseau medication just barely prevented me from losing my yogurt. Even though it was pretty cold, I spent a good part of the trip at the front of the boat, cold air in my face, looking off into the still horizon. It helped a little. (I do not see any sailing expeditions in our future.) We also saw a school of dolphins on the way! I think the kids loved this initial boat ride more than anything that day.

Approaching Santa Cruz Island.
And we're here!
There were no welcome leis, no Tattoo the midget, just the island itself.
More tomorrow!

Friday, February 19, 2010


A few weeks ago my cute sister Elizabeth and her family came all the way from Iowa to pay us a visit. They got SO LUCKY because they were here right in between two long periods of rain when we had all the mudslides.
There are pretty much two big things you just have to do when you come to southern California from Iowa in the middle of winter:
Disneyland and the beach.

Here are pics from both.

Ride 'em Cowgirl!
Isn't everyone in agreement on the must eat treat at theme parks?
A conglomeration of all things good in a five year old girl's world: mouse ears, the color pink, a tiara, and a train running down the back. (Throw in a Tinkerbell tee for good measure.)
What did Andrew think of his first trip to Disneyland?
Let's compare the face of my sister's five year old . . .
. . . to my five year old. Nice.
At the end of our very full day both little girls wanted to ride in the stroller so I thought I'd give this a try. Rachael loved it!
Anybody who could was hitching a ride.
Going home.

Next stop, the beach.

Liz, Kate and Andrew.
Elizabeth was into some serious shell hunting that day.

Rachael was all about the puddles.
I think both boys appreciated having another man around.
The water really wasn't warm enough for swimming, but that didn't stop the kids from getting in anyway.
All the times we've been to Santa Monica beach and we've never actually gone underneath the pier until this day. Look how cool it is under there!

We found so many amazing things under there. Like this:
And this:
But the most amazing was this:

We also found four complete sand dollars which I didn't get a picture of. (I know they are here in the house somewhere, probably on little shelves next to gobs of other trinkets.) Kate found three and Will found one. Elizabeth was dying to find one too and we were all trying to help her but it was time to go. All on her own, Kate put one of hers down in the sand and then kind of led Elizabeth over to where it was so she could "find" it. Isn't that the sweetest? It's so nice to see your kids be nice to each other!

Two more favorites:

The pier as we usually see it:
Aren't cousins great?
I don't know who this little boy was, but I couldn't resist taking his picture.
She's getting taller every day it seems.
You just can't beat January in southern California.
The process of leaving the beach and cleaning the sand off of everyone is always a little tedious, especially when diapers are involved. It wasn't until a few months ago that I learned the baby powder trick from a friend. A handful of baby powder wipes away any and all sticky sand from every crevice imaginable. Brilliant!

Another downtown driving home shot. I love the moon. On the drive back to the airport my sister said she was feeling a little sad at the thought of going back to the cold and the snow, but then she saw a car with a bumper sticker that said, "Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa."
What are the chances??

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still Recovering

I don't know why I can survive ten weeks of summer without a problem, but everything falls apart when the kids are home for a four day weekend in the middle of the school year. I'm sure it has something to do with "routine", but I spent all day yesterday cleaning up the mess and tending to everything we neglected over the long weekend. It was well worth it. What a fun, fun time we had.
On Friday we went to California Adventure for the first time since Kate was a pre-schooler and on Monday we went to the Channel Islands for the first time ever. Was that ever amazing! Brandon has been wanting to go for years so we finally made a plan and did it. (Pictures to follow.)
Saturday was busy with baseball practice and making a car for the pinewood derby tonight (again, pictures to follow ), but the best thing about Saturday was that the kids spent HOURS in front of the house playing on the swing they made per instructions in The Dangerous Book for Girls.
It looks so tacky and they are destroying the professional landscaping, but I just can't resist kids being kids in this way: being creative, working and playing together, enjoying the outdoors. It's so 1940's. So life before TV and video games. Here they are:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Heart Day

Some cute girls from church did this to our house a little over a week ago for my daughter Kate. The forks stayed in the yard for several days and there are still hearts on my daughter's window and the front door. The enduring power of love! Thanks fun friends!

Why did I feel compelled to leave cute little Valentine-style Chinese take-out boxes with little trinkets and treats outside my children's bedroom doors this morning? They still have candy left over from their school parties and every single teacher at church today (including me) brought some sort of treat for the children in their classes.

Now don't get me wrong - I love treats and sweets as much as the next person - but it seems that some of our holidays traditions have started to revolve around them. To give myself a bit of credit, I did buy a cute little Valentine mailbox so that everyone in our family could put in little love notes to each other to be opened later today. We'll see how that goes. It makes me feel a little bit better about the fact that Rachael hasn't had anything to eat today besides milk, Crispix and Valentine candy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I'm so glad I have at least one boy. I grew up with three sisters - which was great - but I also wished I had a brother. A big brother to be exact. Someone to look out for me and give me advice. Someone stable who didn't have an emotional monthly cycle in sync with mine. Someone who didn't borrow my clothes or flirt with my boyfriends. Someone to give me a reason to do boy things. Someone to bring home more boys.

When I was a teenager, my best friends were often boys. Boys were fun. Boys were active. Boys could play practical jokes and not get their feelings hurt. Boys didn't worry about calories or clothes. Boys didn't gossip or manipulate. Boys could forgive and forget.

I'm sure I'll be in for a lot of surprises when I experience Teenage Boy as a mother for the first time, but right now I'm just enjoying every moment of Little League, Batman DS games, rip stick-ing in the street with Dad and hysterical laughter over his current favorite book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid. When Will gets laughing, I don't even have to know what he's laughing about and it gets me going too.

This picture almost looks staged, but I just found all his favorite things sitting there one day and I couldn't help but take a picture. I like to think someday this will bring back a lot of fun memories for him.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ballerina Girl

Is there anything cuter than little girls in pink tutus?
Her class ends shortly before kindergarten starts so we take her lunch in the beloved lunchbox Mimi gave her on her 4th birthday.
It's worth every minute of trying to keep Rachael happy during the lesson to see her jubilantly dancing around that studio. (Last week Rachael actually licked the carpet at the studio and then threw up five times in two hours the next morning. I don't know if it was related - you never can guess with that girl.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Live and Love

Here's the goal, Will. No pressure.
I'll take the piano part.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Driving Around Town

There are emergency vehicles and dump trucks everywhere. They are waiting for the mud to start flowing again. I'm sure a bunch are also clearing out mud from the debris basins so they don't overflow any more. This Big Lots sits right at the bottom of Ocean View where there were several homes destroyed. I took this on my way to the music store for a Suzuki Book 1 for cello. (Oh, I hope Will sticks with it! I LOVE the cello! He asked to play it, I didn't push him. Okay, I suggested it, but I didn't push him.)

This street is just a few blocks over from us on the way to harp lessons.
This is after dropping off Will and a friend at cub scouts and heading home from Kate's harp lesson.
Sandbags are another common sight around town these days.
Here's to a dry night!

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