Category: Uncategorized

Blue Jellies!

I am now officially more than a week behind on documenting our adventures, but our days have been so busy that, by the time I have any free time left at the end of the day, I just want to crash in bed along with the kids! Once I get this far behind, it seems too daunting to try to play catch-up all at once, so I’m not even going to try. I’m just going to take it one day at a time as I have a few minutes here and there. The important things are the pictures anyway, right? After all, if pictures are really worth a thousand words, they can save my fingers alot of typing and my brain alot of work ; )

Another beach day… duh! On our way, we stopped to watch the sea otters who were hanging out near the rocky coast. They wrap up in the kelp to anchor to anchor themselves while they eat and snooze.

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Next stop, my favorite beach! This week there was a confirmed shark sighting (some hungry 18′ Great White hanging out hoping to catch an easy dinner of Harbor Seal!). Yikes! Naturally the water was off-limits past ankle-depth, so we stayed at the edge of the waves and enjoyed the warm sun and cool salty breeze. It was a little strange, though, to see empty beach, police driving up and down the beach to alert any newcomers, and the Harbor Patrol boat scanning the waters. Scary if you really think about it… So we stayed out of the water and played with these cool little guys! They’re some kind of exotic blue jellyfish (minus the stinging tentacles!) that only washes up on shore during an El Nino year. IMG_5651

Every wave brought a fresh batch of them, which the kids would scramble to collect before the next wave washed them away! IMG_5652

A never-ending supply! I even submitted to my inner-child’s curiosity and ran out to grab them to add to the kids’ buckets. IMG_5656

Watching safely from a distance, Grandma provided a spot of shade for this sweet puppy. She belongs to some old friends who came to town and spent the day at the beach with us. IMG_5660

So, check it out! It was one FULL bucket of blue jellies! I wish the camera on my phone could’ve captured the colors in all their beauty. It was this stunning, shimmery blue that sparkled as if it had glitter in it! IMG_5673

Dinner anyone? Soup’s almost done! My water-hating baby thought it was the greatest thing ever to drop the jellies, one by one, into her bucket of water and stir with a seagull feather! IMG_5677At the end of the day, we scattered the Jellies back into the waves and watched them shimmer as the tide picked them up and carried them away.

Sunday’s Bluff

With the ever-soaring temperatures last week, we left the house every single day in search of cooler air to breathe. By Sunday morning I was exhausted and just wanted a lazy day to stay home and do absolutely nothing. By mid-morning, I realized that wasn’t going to be the best choice. The forecast was predicting another scorcher, which meant hunker down in the air-conditioning and wait it out, or pack up and head back to the coast. Of course we chose the latter! But I made it easier on myself by saying, “NO beach.”

Not that beaches aren’t easy; it’s the aftermath of the beach that negates the restful beach-time. Wiping down sandy kids, hauling sandy bags and buckets back to the van, the piles of sandy laundry once we get home, showering four children and myself… yeah, be warned that beach days are never as peaceful as pictures portray them! To every peaceful beach day, there is some not-so-peaceful behind-the-scenes craziness ; )

BUT we still needed to find cooler weather, and I DO love to be in sight of the ocean, so I asked about potential oceanside walking paths, and off we went to take a walk on the bluffs overlooking the water. Grandpa dropped the kids and I off in the parking lot then drove further to drop Grandma and Auntie M at the beach for a swim while he parked in the parking lot at the trail’s end and walked to meet us. Perfect plan. But we all know what happens to perfect plans, right? ; )

The kids and I walked along breathing in the ocean air and practicing walking in single-file on the super-skinny path.

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It was gorgeous as always! You can see for miles down the coast from here. IMG_5619

It’s about time they all learned to walk in a straight line! Now if only grocery stores had a line marked for gaggles of children to restrict themselves to! IMG_5621

Happy spirits all around : ) Not a clue what is around the next bend or how far ahead Grandpa is, but we were content to keep walking slowly along enjoying the view and the cool breeze. IMG_5627

The chance to explore made my kiddo’s day! He loved being able to take a separate path and meet up with us a few yards ahead. Except this particular jaunt was followed by a holler, “I just saw snakes!” Now, I can handle one snake, but snakes plural? That’s not usually a good sign. We slowed down and walked a few steps further with our eyes glued to the ground. IMG_5631At the same time, we came to a change in terrain. The path narrowed (how was that even possible?!), took a steep incline and curved sharply. I halted my troops, and we all stared. Bug had started wimpering at the mention of snakes, and he now started quietly sobbing, “I’m ‘cared.” I backed us up so I could size up that incline and decide if I was brave enough to attempt carrying toddlers down in. It wasn’t far, but what if I slipped on the dusty trail, and we fell off the side? It wasn’t a long drop-off, just a couple feet, but still… Then I noticed the plants growing all over the side of the path. Snakes are a deterrent, steep inclines are a damper, but poison oak seals the deal for me every time. I’ve had my share of poison ivy and have no desire to find out how poison oak compares! Sliding down a steep incline while watching for snakes and trying to avoid touching a toxic plant was a little too adventurous for me.

We retraced our steps to the previous fork in the trail thinking maybe we just took the wrong path. I couldn’t imagine Grandma thinking this section of the path was safe, yet she had assured me that the kids would enjoy it. So we definitely had to be on the wrong one! Off we started up the other trail. It led straight to the highway! Who wants to take a Sunday afternoon walk along the highway?! NOT ME! Retrace steps again. This time I whipped out my phone to text Grandpa:

“Help! Flatlanders lost on Coastal lands!”

He tried to tell me where he was, but our vantage point wasn’t the most advantageous one! We had to backtrack a ways before I could see any of the same landmarks he was seeing. Meanwhile, Bug was still whimpering, “I’m ‘cared.” Only now he had an echo in the form of Bitty Girl’s little voice. I had to keep stopping and show them the ocean, point to the parking lot we’d come from, point down the coast to the landmarks they recognized. “Look, we KNOW where we are! That means we’re NOT lost. We just can’t get to where we want to go! There’s nothing to be scared of.”

I texted Grandpa again to let him him we were heading back to the drop-off point and would wait by the parking lot. He turned around to begin his walk back to the pick-up point where the van was parked, letting me know it would be at least 20 minutes before he made it back. Then he kindly offered up a tidbit of wisdom:

“Conserve water in case I don’t make it. YerLovin Pepe.”

I replied back with, “Got about a quart of water…that should last us a day or two, right?”

 

IMG_5630Every few minutes my phone chimed with another incoming text as my father-in-law gave me status updates:

“Almost got picked off a Harley. I don’t want to be part of seal sanctuary.”

“Sundown in 6 hours. Seagull guano glows in dark; highly nutritious. Don’t give up!”

“Made it to van. Hope I didn’t lose key on bluff trail” : )

My final text to him: “I have my keys in my survival pack (aka beach tote). Water is running low. Need help!”

Grandpa pulled into the parking lot, and we loaded back up to head into the nearby coastal town where the rest of our party was just finished swimming in the chilly ocean. Obviously we weren’t by any means famished or dehydrated or otherwise in need of recovery, but because our walk had been cut short, we walked to main street and treated ourselves to fresh cookies (I was good this time! Only ate a tiny gluten-free cookie and half of an oatmeal-raisin one!) and one last look at the ocean before heading home. It was still a good day : )

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Weekend Excursions

I always have this crazy idea that I’m going to have all this free time for blogging and crafting and visiting cool shops, then I actually go ON vacation and realize that vacations are NOT more restful than my everyday life; they’re just DIFFERENT ; ) It’s being DIFFERENT that makes it a vacation, not getting to sleep in, be more creative, and blog more (because I certainly don’t get to do any of those!). Today is a rare lazy day, so let’s see if I can get caught up on our latest adventures!

Friday we drove a little farther from home to visit a less touristy beach. The air was cooler and the wind rather crazy, so by the the end of the day all of us had sand well-embedded in our pores! But the scenery was beautiful, there was an amazing fallen tree to climb, and I think we lugged home about a bushel of pretty rocks!

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Our family tree ; ) Where is this when you need a good family picture?! Wouldn’t this make an amazing prop and backdrop for Christmas pictures?

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Bitty Girl enjoyed her first tree-climbing experience!

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Sweet Girl scrambled up like a pro. I love watching her climb things. She’s so nimble and confident then so proud of herself when she succeeds : )

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Saturday was a sleep-in then eat-pancakes day. Grandma and Grandpa had other commitments, so the kids and I hung out together at the house catching up on laundry, working in the kitchen, and putting together the new Lego sets Daddy had hidden in the guest bedroom. Is it just me, or are the Lego Friends sets just about the coolest thing EVER to arrive on the Lego scene?! These are what I always dreamed of when I was a little girl, stuck making up my own cool houses and markets and parks! I’m glad I have a couple of sweet girlies to live vicariously through ; )

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When the housework was done and afternoon temperatures started to rise, we packed up and headed for cooler breezes on the coast. It was a sunny, breezy 72*! Perfect day to buy a fresh cookie and sit on the beach savoring every last crumb. Do you know how long it’s been since I had a real cookie that wasn’t altered to conform to multiple dietary limitations?! Neither do I! I decided I deserved a splurge and indulged in an oatmeal raisin cookie (I figured it would have LESS gluten since it is mostly oatmeal, which is naturally gluten-free). It was quite tasty! My Bitty Girl was quite pleased with her peanut butter cookie as well. IMG_5603

After our cookies and a short walk on the pier, we couldn’t think of anything else to do. The water looked pretty inhospitable. Call me old-fashioned, but sloshing through that tangle of kelp didn’t exactly spark my imagination. Or maybe it was that it DID spark my imagination a little too much… kelp tangling around your ankles can feel like any number of creepy things! Yes, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to wild water; I prefer a swimming pool ; )¬† IMG_5605

So we killed a little more time meandering through a couple of souvenir shops, decided we don’t qualify as tourists, and headed home for supper. This picture is a perfect end to the day; my baby all tucked into bed with her new stuffed Reindeer, Sven, and a new book (thank you, Daddy!).

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Happy Day

The previous night required some extra recovery time, so I let this Sweetie sleep until her little body was recovered and ready for a new day. Somehow I think starting the day with a picture of a newly-invented purple superhero isn’t going to hurt matters either ; ) I call them kid-sightings, when one of my children leaves a special creation as a surprise waiting to be discovered. I am blessed to have four children who think this is just the funnest thing ever! I’m always finding pictures tucked under my pillow, Lego inventions sitting on my kitchen counter, stuffed animals wrapped in quilts on my living room chair… They love to surprise me and each other as often as they can think up ways to do it. This morning was no exception. Big brother wanted his little sister to wake up to something that would make her smile : )

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As if the purple superhero, imagined just for her, weren’t enough, another surprise awaited. A trip to the golf store to procure a golf bag and a driver-head-cover named Daisy! Now she is ready for her first golf excursion of the summer.

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She still looks tired from her sad day, but her smile is enough indication that she is feeling more like herself, and she made sure to tell me, multiple times throughout the day, “Today’s a happy day, Mommy!”

And a happy day it is! We spent most of the afternoon at the beach soaking up the sun, breathing the invigorating air, and playing with cousins. Grandpa and Bitty Girl did an exceptional job at keeping our campsite under control. Neither of them are water-lovers, so their  task is to shoo the sea gulls away and enjoy the contents of our picnic bag!

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I even managed to get a good shot of myself at the beach! That’s a new hat, by the way. I am NOT a hat person, but I have accepted that I’m not getting any younger, and it’s time to take a little better care of my skin, starting with some self-made shade for long days on the beach. Today the wind was weak enough that I could put my latest purchase to the test. Call me crazy, but I kinda like it!

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This crazy girl has a different perspective on self-procured shade; sand has excellent UV protection! She even ate her lunch in this position… we just had to haul a bucket of ocean water up for her to rinse her hands in!

IMG-54651This exceeds my picture-collection of the day. I have to protect cameras from all the sand, so I limit my photo ops on beach days. But be assured, we had a lovely day with our local cousins jumping in the waves, digging incredible holes and sand towers, and chasing each other with dead sand crabs!

All Aboard!

First stop, a newly-opened railroad museum with hats and photo-ops galore! Bug and Bitty Girl shared some rare brother-sister-bonding time on the train station platform. I could almost picture them in 1920’s garb waiting for a train to stop with a swoosh and a puff of steam to sweep them away on a grand summer adventure!

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My smiling oldest daughter is already on a grand adventure aboard the vintage train car. The just-her-size piano was a big hit.

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The dining car still boasted original stained glass, hardwood furnishings, and opulent wallpaper. The museum official in charge of refurbishing this jewel let us peek into all the nooks and crannies of the compact rooms beyond the dining car. They were all mid-renovation but still with plenty of historical charm. The entire train car was on a concrete foundation, which surprisingly resulted in a smoother ride than modern trains according to the renovation conductor. There was even a control panel for the AIR-CONDITIONING UNIT from early 1920’s! I had no idea they HAD AC that long ago! The tiny bedroom had a baseboard heater that was somehow connected to the steam engine, and there was even a fold-out sink and toilet in one corner. No privacy, obviously, but I’m sure it was a luxurious amenity when compared to previous train toilets ; ) I wish now that I’d taken more pictures of the rest of the car!

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The best conductor of all ; ) But make sure you pay for your ticket because he doesn’t look like he’d be very sympathetic to stowaways!

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Every boy needs a chance to play with an original Morse Code machine, right? There was even a code sheet next to the “clicker” so he got to practice some real messages.

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Second stop, the fogbound bay to dine in our traditional harbor-side restaurant with the rest of our extended family.

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While we waited for dinner, we got to watch this big guy beg the “leftovers” from a local fisherman who was gutting small sharks and other fish. His dinner was less than appetizing to look at, but it was pretty awesome to watch the giant sea creature toss and fling and smack his food against the water to break it apart into “bite” sized pieces, then dive for each pieces individually. A picture really doesn’t do the performance justice, but being new to blogging, I haven’t taught myself how to upload a video yet. That’ll be one of my future projects, I promise!

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After dinner my Bitty Girl took on some angelic qualities… *snort* Anyone who knows her knows she’s not the most angelic kiddo at times! I guess she’ll take all the help she can get ; ) These are REAL shells, by the way. Can you IMAGINE a clam that size?!

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My favorite green bug hamming it up for the camera while we tried to walk off some dinner calories!

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We ended our dinner-and-a-walk with a truffle run on the local chocolate shop. NOTHING beats a homemade truffle on a foggy evening while strolling the boardwalk… Yep, definitely ranks up there at the top of my list of perfect days : )

Rocky Terrain Ahead

And when I say rocky, I’m not exaggerating! The entire beach is covered in rocks. Not a speck of sand to be seen! I suppose this is how our usual sandy beaches must feel to The Borrowers and Fairies ; )

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These rocks are torture to walk across for any length of time, but it is one of my favorite haunts for a lazy day. I’ll bet you can’t even imagine the treasures to be discovered in one handful of rocks…

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Fairy-size shells, bits of jade, occasional shards of glass, among a myriad of other things I can’t identify, all polished smooth as silk by the tides. I can literally spend hours lying on this beach sifting through the smooth rocks. It soothes my senses and inspires my imagination. If all of these things are hidden in what appears to be gravel to the naked eye, what treasures must fine sand hold?! Do tinier shells exist?

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While I daydream of tiny details, the rest of my family focuses on much larger projects such as sabotaging the creek!

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They even successfully dug out a nice little wading hole. Calling it a swimming hole is a bit of a stretch although Bug was able to paddle around in it for a little while!

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We called it a day when the group of moms downstream started hollering at us. Apparently we were supposed to be sharing the creek water ; )

Random Fun

The crickets are chirping at me to go to bed, but before I do, how ’bout I throw some random fun pictures out there?!

She has dubbed herself Eagle Girl, or something… All I think is, “Whoa! Look at her muscles!!!” Apparently she’s short only because all her nutrition goes straight to her muscles, not to her skeletal height ; )

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I’m not sure if we’re playing Spiderman or pirates… Or has Spiderman adopted a pirate’s life?

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A quick trip to our favorite little grocery store. She was psyched to see that they’ve upsized the small carts to something more practical and size-appropriate! We actually fit everything we needed into only her cart. I felt really weird walking around not pushing anything…
IMG_5330Here is where I should be right now. …Minus the Little Einsteins on an iPod ; )

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I never tire of watching my babies sleep…

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Goodnight, everybody!

 

On days like this…

…I truly do not see how life can get any better. Seriously, warm sunshine, perfect temperatures, stunning views, and adventurous kids all add up to one gorgeously-memorable day and a few sunkissed cheeks!

But first, before I get to the really good stuff, humor me and admire my Jamberried toes! I’m so excited to have found a way to have fun, funky toes AND enjoy the sand and waves. Is it totally silly that it makes me smile to see pretty toes on myself?

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Now for some real craziness, how many of YOU can do THIS?! I remember when *I* could do that once-upon-a-time… And here I was proud of myself for running sprints on the beach and actually beating my oldest son in a race across loose sand! If I could do this again, I’d be one proud mommy!

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My two oldest kids are far too adventurous for my tastes. They clambered up the rocks to the top of a nearby jetty to take a gander at the seething ocean beyond. Every time those waves crash against the big rocks, Bitty Girl’s eyes would widen, and she’d announce, “Mommy, it’s FUMBER! (thunder)” But these two thought it was a grand adventure to stand at the top and wave down at me. I love how kids are so unafraid, fully trusting their nimble bodies to get them where they want to go and keep them safe while doing it. I guess I’m just the paranoid mom who sees nothing but big gaps and holes and crashing waves.Every time they take off to explore something new, I hear Dory’s voice in the back of my head, “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to them; then nothing would ever happen to them.” So I wave back with a smile, snap a few pictures, and trust the abilities God blessed them with and His protective hand over them. …I am far from perfect at it… And in actuality, the sloping edge of that jetty is still at least another ten feet beyond my kiddos’ feet with a watchful Grandma in between : )
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This Bitty Girl, despite any other faults she may have, isn’t even tempted by dangerous escapades. She stays on solid ground, far from the water and rocks, content to dig in the mostly-dry sand.

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Not to be outdone by her baby sister, this crazy girl is THE QUEEN of getting dirty on the beach! It’s not officially a beach day until she has sand up to her forehead! Today she decided to experiment with burying her lower-half, which she managed quite nicely all by herself : )

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One of my favorite aspects of a beach day is enjoying the beauty all around us. It never ceases to amaze me how totally unreal it is to be able to capture views like this on camera! It doesn’t need any Photoshopping to make it breathtaking; it just IS, no matter what kind of camera you happen to have in your hand. I am amazed every time I look out over the ocean, completely awed that a normal person like me can have access to such powerful beauty.

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Just for the record, yes, I climbed to the top of that jetty too, so I could take these last two pictures! I decided if I ever had a beach day all for myself, this would be one of the places I’d want to come; I’d climb to the top, spread a beach towel on a warm, flat rock and lie there listening to the waves crash and feeling the salt spray on my skin…

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Summer Vacation is ON!

Although, I am beginning to have some doubts about the company my children will be keeping for the next few weeks…

IMAG0362There are no words… I’ll be back when I’ve recovered the initial shock of my children being transformed into Mexican Super Wrestlers ; )

Do I have to have a title?

I can’t think of an appropriate title for a first post. I would rather have a single compelling word to catch your attention and entice you to join me on my latest ramble. But right now, my mental thesaurus is already on summer vacation.

I used to blog. I still do most days. Unfortunately, all of my “blogging” happens within the confines of my brain as I rush through life seemingly unable to find a spare minute to commit my rambling thoughts and narratives to paper – or screen in this case. This blog is my attempt to slow down and reconnect with the simple joys of life.

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