Sunday, August 14, 2016

Roughing It

I used to go backpacking with my dad when I was in high school.  It was a fun way to spend a couple of days with my dad.  I didn't really love the food.  Or the fact that I never slept while I was away.  But it was still fun.  We'd spend time walking in silence or talking about everything.  There wasn't really an in between for me and my dad.  He didn't seem to mind either though- so I guess it was alright.  

My children are missing out.  I'm just not a camper these days and Shaun is tired.  So... we haven't really been camping too many times since they have gotten big enough that they are actually helpful and fun in a tent.  So when Jacki said let's go to the City of Rocks- we figured this would be our kids' only chance this summer.  I cringed a little because it was so close to our other vacation- but it's summer after all and you only live once.

We couldn't have had a more gorgeous back drop...
The boys were ridiculously excited to sleep in a tent.  They set up their own and packed all their crap into it before we even realized what they were doing.  Apparently we should be doing this more.

Shaun and I set up our tent too.  It's technically a 4 man tent but by the time I get my queen sized air mattress blown up inside it... it's mostly just for Shaun and I.  I'm okay with that.  Ryan snores.

Now... Grandma Jacki isn't a camper either.  At all.  And that's okay.  She rented a cabin.  Kate and her cousin chose to sleep in the cabin with grandma.  Seriously... the girls were SO good and had so much fun together!  They fight and love just like sisters- which is good since neither of them have a sister of their own.

Little Spencer was so cute in his jammies and cowboy boots.  I just want to eat him up!

Grandma and her babies...

Shaun quickly found where his mom had hidden the chocolate covered mangoes (have you had these from Costco yet?  Don't do it.  You'll just eat them all.  Or your husband will and you'll only be left with the crumbs and this will make you cranky.)

We seriously have the cutest cousins.  On both sides.  What gives?  We're just pretty lucky I guess.

I had an epiphany on this trip too.  Shaun wants to be the favorite uncle.  And he's not above bribery.  He bribed my brothers kids with Cheetos and Coke.  He's bribing his brothers' kids with s'mores and Cheetos.  I'm okay with it.  I'm associated with Shaun so that makes me fun too- by default!

I tried my hand at a pinterest treat too (I know- it had potential disaster written all over it)- we recently found gluten free ice cream cones at the grocery store and I remembered seeing that you could pack them with all kinds of yummy things like chocolate chips, peanut butter and marshmallows then wrap it up in tin foil and cook it in the coals.  It was a melty delicious little treat that I'm pretty sure will reappear again.

We had a jam packed weekend of fun too!  We came home absolutely exhausted.  The morning was spent hiking around the City of Rocks- it's like Goblin Valley in Southern Utah on steroids.  Unreal.

Ryan caught us a friend...

Yeah... he was ridiculously proud of himself.  I was too... those little things are super fast!

Check out the scenery!  I've never seen anything like it!   

"I'm King of the Rock.  And there's nothing you girls can do about it."  Name that movie and you get a Coke.

Thanks grandma and papa for such a fun weekend!

After getting all hot and sweaty from hiking around all morning, we went over to Almo to some hot springs pools that open year round.  SO much fun.  I'm thinking this will be an activity we do again sometime this winter- the kids loved it!

And seriously- one of these days I WILL get a picture of Ryan where he is not being... well Ryan.  I guess maybe I don't want one of those kinds of pictures anyway.  It would look strange if he actually looked at the camera and smiled.

We went fishing after dinner... naturally we got skunked, but I guess there's always next time.  The boys got new rods for their birthdays and were so excited to give them a try!  Ryan had a rare moment of sweetness and let his sister even have a turn.

Kate and Ryan have a troubled relationship at best these days.  It seems that they are always either in each other's way or just bugged by the other one.  I don't think they try to be pills to each other... it just works out that way.  I guess in that respect it will be nice to have them back in school here in a few weeks- each of them will have their own class and activities.  Maybe it will mellow.  Maybe I'm being a little bit of a wishful thinker.

Shaun claims he's not any kind of fisherman- but in my kids eyes- it doesn't really matter.  What matters to them is that he took the time this week to go and get a fishing license for them and he sat and re-baited their hooks time and time again.  We sure love our dad.

On My Honor

This is another post that gives me pause.  My kids are big kids.  We have no more babies.  Gone are the high chairs and binkies.  We no longer have to carry around a change of clothes in the back of the car (actually I'm currently re-thinking this... boys are messy).  I don't have to plan my day around a nap schedule.  I cry a little inside when I think about this- but I'm also coming to the realization that it's also kinda awesome.  

We can just go if we want.  We can eat on the fly.  We can all put on our own shoes.  We can go to the movies.  Essentially... the world is ours.  That is if we can stop fighting long enough to go and see it right? 

That said- my boys had their first and last pack meeting together last night.  It made me weepy. 

Ryan has been waiting for this day for a LONG time.  It is his deep-seeded belief that scouts is awesome.  And he has had to watch his brother do "all these cool things" and he wasn't old enough to do it.  It bugged him more than just a little bit.  Finally though.  Finally HIS day came.  We marched into the scout store and he carried all his stuff himself (did NOT want my help) and came right home and immediately started combing through his book.  

Needless to say it took him less than a week to earn his Bobcat badge...  Which he was awarded last night.   

And I got my new Bobcat pin.  I love that they make a big deal about of the moms at scouts.

So proud of my middle baby!

And I'm also so proud of my oldest one too.  I guess I have to stop calling him a baby.  It takes on a new meaning at this point... even though he'll always be my baby.  He earned his Arrow of Light last night and said good-bye to his Webelos den... and is moving on to Boy Scouts.  Ty had some amazing leaders who pushed him to get everything finished on time- we are SO grateful to the Mannings- for their hard work and dedication to these boys.  They were so incredibly lucky.

 I'm going to add something here that Ryan will probably wish I didn't.  That's okay though because to my knowledge he doesn't have anything with an internet connection and probably won't read this until he's older and hopefully in a forgiving mood.

While Ryan was extremely excited to be in Scouts on Thursday night... it was also very new to him.  He was a little unsure of himself.  I watched as they called all the scouts up to participate in an activity.  Ryan very surreptitiously reached a hand out and held onto the tiniest bit of Ty's shorts.  Not enough that his brother would notice, or anyone else really- it just looked like he was standing close.  But just enough to assure himself that this was what they were supposed to be doing.

Ty did notice though- and he put his arm around Ryan and brought him in closer to the group.  I know they fight.  I know they argue.  And I know that sometimes they probably want to throw bricks at each other.  But I also know they love each other.  And they care about each other.  Ty nodded down at Ryan and made sure that his little brother was in his group as they worked together to solve some riddle their scoutmaster had set for them.  It was a tiny nod.  It was fleeting.  And the meeting went on as if it never happened.  But I watched something pass between brothers.  And it made me proud to be their mama.

We took the boys for ice cream after- to celebrate their rank advancements and the fact that they are pretty cool dudes.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

California Dreamin'

One of my family's very favorite places to visit is Little Corona.  It's this little hidden beach that you can't get to by car... you have to hike in a little ways.  But at the bottom of the road is this little oasis.  I have to admit- I've never actually spent the day at the beach here- but rather- we spend our evenings hiking around on the rocks.  The rocks are home to all kinds of sea critters... and it's SO much fun to poke around and see what we can see.  Most of the time bets are on Ty as to the one that falls in first... but he proved us wrong this year.  He's grown more fleet of foot this year!  

My parents rented us a beach house right on Newport Beach this year... amazing digs really.  It was a stone's throw away from the Crab Cooker (if you ever get a chance to go DO IT... the food is to die for).  In fact we got to eat there TWICE this week!  It was so much fun- we'd get the kids put in bed and we'd take turns as couples walking for a treat on the beach (hello Rita's) and then make it back in time to play cards or just talk.  We had a great rooftop balcony with a fireplace- perfect for roasting marshmallows and telling stories.

The beach was waiting for us though... There she is!  Beautiful!

We also took some time to explore a little bit this year- Shaun's butt can only handle the beach chair for so many days.  I think his butt is crazy.  But that's the butt.

So we went to the Top of the World in Lagoona Beach.  It was SO cool!  I wish that the fog had burned off earlier so that we could really have seen everything in the distance.  Shaun told us stories about his mission (he served down here) and showed us around Lagoona.

Too bad for Shaun's butt though... we headed back to the beach the next day.  Grandma spent the mornings looking for seashells with the kids.  She even found a sand dollar!  I've only ever seen them for sale at the little shops- never actually known someone to find one!

We discovered (actually... maybe re-discovered) that Ty was part fish.  He would NOT stay out of the water for longer than it took for me to re-apply sunscreen.  And sometimes not even then.  He LOVED it.  I think it's so fun having him love the same things that I loved when I was his age.  Dave and I spent hours out in the water- riding the waves and chasing our boards.

Of course grandpa didn't help with his obsession.  Grandpa might be worse if possible.

Little Kate was content to spend her days on the beach, combing for shells to add to her collection and building sandcastles with mom.  That's right.  I said mom.  I've personally had enough of watching my kids from the chair- I put on my stupid swimming suit and I played on the beach this year.  It was SO fun.

Riding the waves...

Not to be outdone by anyone, Ryan even climbed on the boogie board this year without any prompting.  I think you can tell his feelings by his face.

This is my favorite- both of my boys riding the same wave.  I might have to blow this up and put it on their wall in their room.  It's so great!

I feel like this picture is obligatory at this point.  Shaun LOVING the beach.  You have to hand it to him- he comes year after year and still sits in his chair.  You know he hates it.  You know he's hot and eventually going to get sunburned... but he still comes.  I love that man.

Hey look!  Ty came out of the water!  Sort of... I guess his butt is still in it.  They were catching sandcrabs- at one point I'm pretty sure that bucket was mostly full!  Ty even caught a clam!  It was so cool to see the shell still shut- he put it in my beach bag to take home.  (on a side note... that beach bag was never emptied and was just brought home and left in the mud room for a few days.  Any guesses as to what that smelled like???  I kept digging through other things trying to find THAT SMELL before I realized what it was.  I'm not proud of how long it took to find)

The babies were so fun to have on the beach with us!

Shaun was determined to make Logan his friend- so he kept sharing his Coke with him.  It totally worked... though I'm pretty sure his mom was less than impressed.

Yowza.  Check out those beach babes!

I'm pretty sure Kate thought she would get out of grandpa making her boogie board this year- she can sweet talk him into just about anything.  Too bad for her she can't sweet talk him OUT of this.  In the water she went...

Ride that wave baby girl!

She's smiling!  I guess that means all was well.  I can actually still remember my dad doing the same to me- I SCREAMED the whole time.  Seriously.  The whole time.  I can remember how cold the water was and my mom waving at me from the shore.  Apparently I didn't pass it on.  Yay.

Hey look!  Dave didn't break his face this time!  Hooray for small victories right?

This is Jackson.  And his Rhino.  I'm giggling even as I write this.  This stupid rhino was his FAVORITE of all the toys grandma brought for the kids to play with.  His favorite.  And he lost it in the ocean.  It went from an awesome day at the beach to the WORST DAY EVER.  Poor baby was beside himself.

We went to Target that night for some more sunscreen and wouldn't you know what they had on an endcap...?  A new plastic rhino.  BEST DAY EVER!

Ahh yes... the crazies.  All in one place too!

My family is crazy.  Seriously crazy- but I love looking back at the things that we have done and shared- and it's just... well... happy.

As part of our plan to not spend every waking minute on the beach, we took the boys to Universal Studios one day too.  I'd never been and it had been a lifetime since Shaun had.

Mostly... It was for me to see Harry Potter World.  Basically I'm 11.  Ty and I are a good match.

The boys do not lover roller coasters so I thought maybe this would be okay, since here, most of the rides are digital... you know you wear the 3D glasses and they move your chair around a little... I guess I underestimate them sometimes.  Because it turns out they are kind of pansies.  I mean that in the most loving way.  I'm their mother after all... but seriously.  It was a little pathetic.  I literally threw Ryan onto a chair at one point- he was screaming and crying and I buckled him in any way.  The little attendant for the ride looked at me and asked if my little boy was going to be okay... I rolled my eyes and took the glasses from him and said yes.  And you know what?  He was.  When we got home he was ALL talk about this ride and that ride and how awesome the rides were.

We also went on the studio tour... this may be as close to a star in Hollywood as I get.

It was way fun though!  Crazy to see how they put things together for movies.  And we almost died.  Of laughter.  Ryan failed to see the giant shark coming out of the water until it was right beside him.  As the shark came up- so did Ryan come out of his seat.  I thought he was going to climb up and over Shaun and out the other side of the bus.  I maybe am a terrible mother for laughing.  He's probably scarred.  But oh... so funny.

I concluded that THIS was the kind of ride my littles can handle.  It just went around in circles.  Kate may be my only hope at this point!  Ty tried really hard to like them... but I think they just upset his stomach to the point that he's not sure he likes it.  Myself- I can think of two rides ever that I got off and had to stop and sit down for a minute- the Gravitron and Superman.  So I get it- I really do... but I have to admit I get a little impatient.  So here's my apologies boys... I'm sorry I keep making you go on these things... I just keep hoping that you'll decide you like what your stomach is doing and you'll want to go again!!

We ended up back in Harry Potter World a few times for more frozen butterbeers... I may have to find a copy-cat recipe for this.

Until next time Hogwarts.  In the meantime- I'll be waiting for my letter!!

It was an action packed/ relaxing week.  Just right for a summer vacation.  And oh the loads of laundry that were waiting for me when we got home.  I'm pretty sure we brought most of the beach back with us by the amount of sand that I found at the bottom of the bags.