Quick, photo op!

I was swiping through photos on my phone this morning to clear up some space and I came upon the one you see here. It isn't a great shot and it was taken at the least opportune time. These days we don't see a lot of this type of photo because we quickly delete them for the better iteration of the shot. But sometimes there is goodness in the details of a poorly-timed photo. This is the stuff that was occasionally captured when we used film cameras and didn't know how the photo would turn out until picking up the developed roll at the photo lab. In this one you'll see Ollie just moments after receiving his Bobcat in Cub scouts. Previous to the photo, the pack master (or is it Cub scout master, gah!?!) said "Now's the time for a photo op." Of course, that's when I began my trek across the room, carrying baby Ian, to grab the phone out of my bag. This took only seconds, but by the time I had my camera ready and was balancing a babe on my hip, the photo op was over and this is what I got (plus the other kids I cropped out of the photo for privacy sake). My favorite part though, the best part of this picture, is Jess' look. He's the only one looking in my direction. He probably watched me retrieve my camera and thought I didn't have a chance to get much of a photo.   But he's smiling. And he's waiting. And he knows the photo is going to stink (I mean look at that smile!) but he's there and letting me try. As I looked at this photo my inclination was to delete. Instead, this morning it made me stop and remember all of the reasons I have to be thankful for this man. His patience, his love, his ability to make our family's lives just the best. 

And as a side note, Oliver is finishing up the "Bobcat blood" they gave the kids to drink for receiving the award. I've just been asked to lead the Wolves Cub scouts and all of this stuff is new to me. Bobcat blood traditions and all! Here's to learning. 


These moments

The other night Jess snapped this photo of the boys and me enjoying our newly efficient fireplace. Ollie and Ansel had just finished a shower and were getting toasty.   

Love these moments. 


Fall is fantastic!

Ollie, Ansel, and pals enjoyed the leaves this afternoon. 



Um, when did you become this big?

Ian is walking around like he owns the place these days. 

We are in the every-drawer-will-be-emptied-by-sundown phase with this 14 month old.

He loves to talk. Listening to him say "ow" and "cheese" (which is LOVES) is the best. He loves to dance and can't get enough of "Ghostbusters!"

I can't bear to think of cutting his hair. It is getting very long but the bit of curl that exists is something I just can't part with. 

Baby E is thee best. 


Pumpkin patch-ing

There's something wonderful about a pumpkin patch. 

We went right before dinner and enjoyed the heavy sun. 

We started getting hungry but charged ahead and picked a pumpkin each. 

Orange pumpkin for mom & dad, white for Ollie, white/orange for Ansel, and a mini orange one for Ian. Perfect for the doorstep!


Age four is hilarious

I love every age and every stage. I must admit I'm very nervous about my kids' teen years. I've really got to figure out some good hobbies to keep me sane during those years. But right now, my kids are doing some awesome things at their respective ages. 

My four year old is no exception. He comes up with some great material. His latest. 

"Mom, this is part of my Halloween costume."

And he likes to play card games, specifically war. The other day he dealt out the cards. He had his pile and I had mine. As luck would have it my hand looked like this:

I explained to Ansel that we call this type of dealing cheating, to which he replied, "but mom, I want to win!"

He loves to dress up. My sister has one of the biggest dress up collections and Ansel always comes up with some good combinations. Always with a nerf gun in his hand. 


You've been Booed

You know what's just a tad bit difficult? Trying to "Boo" families in our neighborhood when many homes are equipped with door cameras.

In other October news, some of my kids are getting very excited for Halloween. 

And did I mention this babe's walking now? He loves his newfound way of travel. 

This baby is so fun to watch grow. 



The other night I broiled some salmon and we had a delicious dinner. Then we all rushed to parent teacher conference to meet Ollie's teacher. Jess met us there. It was a nice meeting. As we left the school Jess said to me, "Did you guys have fish for dinner?" He had come straight from work and wasn't privy to what we'd consumed. "Yep," I responded, realizing that we'd filled up that teacher's room with the aroma of the Atlantic. "Because Ian smells like he's been smoked with it," Jess added, "and you have some pepper stuck in your teeth."

I'm pretty sure I made a great impression on Oliver's teacher. 


A quick trip

A while back I noticed a killer deal on nonstop flights to Burbank, CA. I wanted to experience some nostalgia, take my kids on an adventure, and let them enjoy a plane ride.  I bought the tickets and the planning followed. Sometimes it's good to be a little spontaneous. Our trip was wonderful and one I will always remember. 

We arrived early the first day and visited the Griffith Observatory. This was really cool! We could have spent longer here had we not run out of packed snacks and needed lunch. 

A photo out front. 

See the Hollywood sign in the back?

The exhibits inside were neat and I love this pic of Ansel taking it all in. 

If only we could have been there at night, then we could have looked through the telescope. I love the signage here and the telescope was neat to look at. 

The next day we visited the Newport Temple. It's a beautiful spot. 

And we went to the beach. Balboa Peninsula was a lot of fun. We enjoyed looking at the beach homes. 

Ian loved burying his face in the sand. He wasn't bothered by it at all. 

For most of the day it was cloudy, but as you can see in this shot, the clouds are moving out and the sunny skies are moving in. Plus there's a really great guy and little kid in the foreground too. 

The next day was Disneyland. I had it in my mind that hardly anyone would be there since it had been reported that it was a low-crowd time of year. Haha! The crowds were smaller than usual, but heck, it's Disneyland, there were still lots of people there. However, our longest line was 35 minutes and we got on all the rides we wanted. Plus, no one hit my ankles with a stroller. Which, I don't really mind seeing as I am a stroller pusher myself but that was definite a sign that it was not overly busy. I don't think I will ever go to Disneyland during the busier season. It was just so nice to go when we did. And it was magical. I'm sorry, but I like the place, $4.75 churros and all!

This was our version of the double stroller. We had to resort to this at the beginning of the day because at the beach, Ansel stepped on something and it hurt him to walk. Fortunately, this got mostly better by the afternoon. 

After riding Pirates of the Caribbean. Ian slept, and then woke up after the second hill. But still, we all enjoyed it. And that hat Ansel's wearing, I bought it when I went to Disneyland the first time at age 5. Much nostalgia on this trip for me. 

On Splash Mountain, Ansel was bummed because he got wet, but before that he enjoyed it. Here I am bracing him like we're in a car without seat belts.

After a day at park. We got to see family there too which was extra special for us. The more the merrier I always say. 

The last day we visited the La Brea tar pits. This was a stop I knew nothing about but was so grateful we went. Bubbling tar from the earth coming out of pits that had been there since the Ice Age! Yes!

This is the Lake with the tar and those circles are bubbles from the pits. 

See Jess and Ian under those fossils?

We lucked out with a Jaguar XF for our rental car. I guess that's what's happens when you rent a full size.  

Cheers to a good time! 


Adventures in facial hair

Jess can grow one of the fiercest beards I've ever seen. And then he can cut said beard into works of art. Ansel saw this style and said, "Buzz it off!"  You can tell by my face in this pic that I'm apprehensive. Apparently, he had a bet and this was his payment for losing. 



It's been a long time since I have enjoyed a television series so much.  The PBS Masterpiece series Endeavor has great actors, cinematography, writing, set design, and music.  Each 1.5 hour episode is so well done.


Nothing stays the same

Growing up, my family had a cabin in a small town. The town had only two traffic lights and a couple of restaurants. The movie theaters, of which there were two, had one screen each. McDonald's had yet to reach the town, but there was a great burger place to which we rarely went but when we did it was a special treat. Lots of the fun we had at the cabin itself. We played games (Scrabble was a favorite), watched movies (our only VCR was up there), built things with wood in the shop, hunted for insects, pet the horses, played games around the chicken coop. It was a fun place to go. We'd go out sometimes too and do things like shoot clay pigeons at the gun club, go to car shows, play at the park, hike the gravel pit, swim at Mountain Spaa, to name a few. I have a lot of memories of this great place and so I like to take my kids up there to do similar things. 

But things sure have changed. There are several traffic lights. The restaurant choices have expanded to include a McDonald's, a Wendy's, an Arby's, and a Subway. Heck, there's even a Cafe Rio now. The same movie theaters are there though! Ha! We have a DVD player up at the cabin and cable too. The gun club is still there but it's much more exclusive now and the gravel pit is difficult to hike because lots of the rock is gone. And Mountain Spaa is just just remnants of days past. A few years ago I went there to take my kids swimming. The place was closed. And this is what it looks like today. 

I remember going down that slide and sitting on that very nice blue concrete bench! To see it in this form was a bit shocking, surreal, and it made me very aware that time keeps on ticking. Here's a shot of the indoor pool. 

Roof collapsed and everything. This place was a hot springs spa and it looks like the springs still fill the pool. 

And here's the entry way. Now the place is just empty and abandoned and new houses are being built around it. The road used to be called Mountain Spaa Road, now it's just 200 East or something. 

I told my dad I visited the place. He asked me how the swimming was. I felt bad telling him the place was out of business and left to the forces of nature. "Nothing stays the same, does it?" he responded.  And that is so very true. 

Here I am being all sentimental about the Mountain Spaa sign in the background. Such memories here! Are there any places like this that do this to you?


And he's off!

Ansel counted down the months, weeks, days until he started preschool. He was so excited! When the day came he was counting down the hours until we left to drop him off. Once we got to the school he asked, "Which door do I go through?" and he was out of the car lickety split!

He now tells everyone that he goes to school and he can't wait to have the show and tell bag. He loves to get ready in the morning and put on what he has dubbed his "running shoes." The kid has a zest for life that's hard to beat. We sure miss him when he's at school having the time of his four-year-old life. 


Happy Birthday Ian!

This little cutie turned one recently. He is such a great kid to have around. He smiles at everyone (even the AC guy who came to fix a vent)! He crawls like a champ, cruises with speed, and stands up on his own. His low voice babbling is awesome. We can tell he understands what's going on. He loves to groove when music is on. And he points to everything. Plus, his curls are the best.

Our days have been packed with lots of things. So much so that this was the best photo we got of Ian eating his birthday cake. See him in the corner there? We Facetimed with Jess for this moment. 

We may not have lots of photos of him with his cake but there is certainly no shortage of photos of his awesomeness. 

Look mom, bark!

This was after a wild day at the beach. Look at that hair!

And now it's collage time:

I am so grateful for this boy of mine. Such a blessing for our family. 


Caption this

I like to call this photo:
"Living on the edge" or
"Lessons in bad parenting" or
"This kid just wants a spoon!

That's right, he only has two legs of the chair on the ground. 


Independence and worry

Today I sent Ollie off to school. Out the door he went, to WALK to school. From Kindergarten to second grade I (or carpool) drove him everyday. Now we are trying this new method of walking with friends to school. It will be good for independence and exercise. But boy, was it hard not to jump in the car and check on him every so often! I kept looking at my watch thinking, "10/5/2/1 more minute(s) til the bell rings. Is he arriving at school safely?" 

Being a parent is hard work. I worry about lots of things all of the time. I can't imagine what my mom was going through when she had nine kids to think/worry about. I remember one time I tried out for something and didn't make it. I was trying to act tough but I was sad. Just think of how my mom felt! She really was my biggest cheerleader. She made me confident in who I was and what I was doing. I hope to be the same for Ollie and Ansel and Ian. They are amazing beings with neat personalities and wonderful souls. Now I just need to make sure they know that through the thick and thin of growing up.