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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

July - Birthdays, Beach house and Pool Time

This July looked quite different for us from our usual plans during the Fourth and Caleb's birthday.  My family planned a week down at a beach house on the Balboa Peninsula of Newport Beach, just a few minutes away from where my brothers live, and only two blocks from the beach.  Mom, Dad, Papa Jack, Nana Dee, and our family of four stayed in the house together.  It was beautiful, recently gutted and completely re-done, so it was essentially a new house.  Professional pictures of the kids and family on the beach and around the house, plenty of playtime on the sand, lots of time with the cousins and aunts and uncles, and some fun little outings throughout the week were the highlights.  Food poisoning (dad), ER visits (dad), and other doctor's visits for mom's torn shoulder rotator cuff were definitely not. 

The kids loved the half door!


Oh my gosh, this picture makes me think of what it would be like to have three boys! 

We started off on Day Two with a combo birthday celebration for Caleb and Delanie, whose birthdays are one day apart.  We went to Pump It Up, and giant wearhouse facility with a whole bunch of inflatable jump houses, slides, and obstacle courses.  The whole family was there, including Christa, who lives not far away, and a few friends joined us as well.  The kids had a blast and were soaking wet with sweat by the time they were done. 

Crazy wrecking ball was fun to knock each other over, although there were a few (unintentional) really good hits that didn't feel so good.

Papa and Nana had so much fun watching all the great-grandkids 

The employees of Pump It Up did a really great job combining the two party themes, Star Wars and Snow White - they came up with things like "Now its time to use our light sabers to try to catch the bad witch and steal away her poisonous apple" that made it more intriguing, like they were on a hunt.  The details they came up with were super creative.  And then of course the foam building pieces that were over to one side in bins got turned into light sabers for all the boys!

Caleb's hand out using The Force against Deacon

After the play time they headed to the party room.  These two tired birthday kids enjoyed all the attention and goodies, but had very little energy left for smiling for pictures

Back at the beach house, breakfast, and target practice with a birthday gift Nerf Gun.

First day of beach time

Fourth of July!  This was the first year since we've been married that we didn't spend the Fourth in Lodi going to the Pancake Breakfast at the Lake.  We were a bit bummed about that, but decided to try to recreate it a bit and we brought some of the same delicious breakfast sausages from Lakewood Meats in Lodi.  Mmmm!

My friend Kelly made these cute shirts for all the kids... scroll down to see more...

(Jackson 'hiding' during hide and seek, hehehe)

We spent part of the day at the beach with everyone together. 

Lovin' me some baby time with little Kenton!

Check out these cuties... All matching, having so much fun together.

Some Fourth artwork - the kids made fireworks using cut up toilet paper rolls.

The closest the kids came to seeing fireworks this year were the extra long sparklers that we brought with us (still left over from our wedding!)  They had fun with them, and no one even had to stay up late to do it! 

The low point of our trip - for about two-thirds of our trip, dad was fighting or recovering from what we later found out to likely have been a serious case of food poisoning.  His immune system seems to have a pattern of being easily attacked just after beginning many of the trips he has taken, both inside and outside of the United States, so after two E.R. visits and an MRI during this trip, and a visit to a G.I. back home afterward, we have some tricks to try out in the future to help protect and prepare his body to fight off whatever it may encounter as he travels.  Praying that it does the trick!

And a definitely plus:  Papa Jack seemed to be enjoying his time with family so much that it seems to have inspired some life and energy that we haven't seen him have in quite some time.  He sat outside each morning, relaxing and people watching (one of his favorite things to do), and this particular morning he got up and grabbed a broom and spent about twenty minutes sweeping the sand on the whole front patio.  It put a smile on our faces :)

These boys were worn out from all the sun and fun they gave us a couple of good naps this week.

We took Caleb to a Lego Store to use a gift card he got for his birthday, and Landon chose this little creature, a pirate Mixel called Skulzy.   

Walking on the beach and we found a big crab making his way sideways across the beach.  They are so funny to watch move.  It would be interesting to know why God chose to create an animal that walks sideways...

Ferry ride to Balboa Island!  The plan was to take this (super quick) ride across to the island, get some ice cream, and then come back across.  Well the plan was a loose one, not knowing exactly how far the ice cream places were from the ferry dock, or if there were taxi's in case it were too far for Papa Jack and Nana Dee to walk.  It turns out the ice cream shop was seven blocks away (definitely too far for them to walk), and the island has no taxis, sooooo...  I asked where the next closest ice cream shop was, and was pointed back across the water to where we had just come from.  Ooops.  So much for that plan.  We hopped right back on the ferry and took it back across and got some italian ice on the boardwalk area.

Remind me next time to use my other arm to take the group selfie!

At Caleb's request, after ice cream we went on the big ferris wheel next to the ferry.  It claims to be the longest ferris wheel ride time ever.  When its not busy they just keep letting you ride.  I think we were on it for almost fifteen minutes!

On a walk we discovered this beautiful back bay area with gorgeous home and private boats and docks.  Lovely for a stroll in a neighborhood with views like this!

The day we saw the crab walking on the beach, we also walked out on some jetties, and it made me think of tidepools.  I asked my sister-in-law if she knew of any near where we were staying, and so one of the days we went to check it out.  Nothing like what they took us to at Science Camp in Sixth Grade (star fish, sea anemones, etc...), but it was still pretty cool and something new for the boys to see - there were an abundance of crabs and hermit crabs of all sizes.

For some reason it didn't occur to me to put our boys in swim trunks, even though tidepools are often times next to beaches.  So we had no official swim gear, but that didn't slow down three little boys from having fun.  One started to get a little wet, then the next, then the next, and a little wetter, and a little wetter...  You get the picture.  Monkey see, monkey do = car full of sand that was still in their carseats a month after our trip, eek!

Yes, that's water he is dipping his head into upside down!

These boys.... Nonni brought all sorts of gear and fun things for the Fourth, but since dad was feeling under the weather it all got forgotten about until later in the week.  The boys enjoyed the props just the same.

I totally see his daddy in this picture of Caleb - not the eyes so much, but the little side smile and the pose, totally Jimmy!

Learning to make his own toast

Caleb's actual birthday was on Friday at the end of the week we spent at the beach house.  We hadn't really planned much of anything for that day - Jimmy was still in NorCal working until Friday evening, and we just let the day happen as it happened, with a few small treats and surprises along the way.  I realized late Thursday night that I didn't have a card for Caleb, so I grabbed his new Star Wars puzzle box and copied the picture.  I think he liked it :)

Birthday donuts

Park playtime with a lighthouse slide and right next to the ocean.

Papa feeling better toward the end of the week and getting in some more beach time with the fam.

On Saturday our time at the beach came to an end, and the trek to the next destination began.  We were headed up to Hume Lake Christian Camps, 50 miles east of Fresno, but with several stops along the way.  First, to meet up with Jimmy's mom, who caught a ride southward with some Lodi friends who were on their way to San Diego.  We ended up meeting them in the Grapevine to pick her up.  Stop #1, check.  Then, we drove up to Visalia and stopped at Bravo Farms - an uncharacteristic suggestion from Jimmy, to just get out, let the kids take a shot at the shooting gallery, and then be on our way.  The place was pretty cool, and chock full of memorabilia and signage of all sorts.

We made one more stop before arriving to Hume - at a packing shed Jimmy does business with to buy a whole lot of fruit - like two 25lb boxes of plums and nectarines.   Finally arrived to the Lake to meet Ben, April, and Eli in the late afternoon, and were so shocked to see the state of the forest, which we estimated to be close to half of the trees completely brown.  Such a crazy sight to see, between the drought and the bark beetle there is an unbelievably drastic difference in the landscape.

We walked down the the Great Lawn the first day we were there just to check things out.  Caleb's flip flop broke part of the way down the hill (he's holding it in this picture) so we had to carry him around the rest of the time until we got back to the cabin (which was up a steep hill).  That was fun.
The first morning, the boys wanted test out their new fishing poles (Caleb's was a birthday gift from us, as he has been asking frequently all summer to go fishing).  They didn't catch anything.

Later that day Joey, Aly, and the kids joined us at the cabin

Look at these two cuties - Wren saying 'cheese', and Eli caught in a rare photo with a smile!
Brothers.  Ready to celebrate Caleb's birthday, yet again.  Lucky kid... I think we celebrated on three separate days!

Carrot Cake, at Caleb's request!  He's so funny.

Lovin' on Uncle Ben

Playing ball with Nana Gigi - she braved the chilly Lake water!

We took a morning boat ride on the Lake, but somehow it was decided that two row boats would be enough room for thirteen of us... Um, no.  On top of not having enough room for the boys to row, Regina had to sit on the wet bottom of our boat, Wren's finger got pinched between the two boats and turned black, and then the icing on the cake was the paddle part of one of Joey's oars fell off into the lake!  Ben acted quickly and dove into the cold water to grab it before it could sink, and after an unsuccessful attempt at towing them back in with our boat, Joey ended up diving in and pushing their boat himself.  Our outing was definitely an 'adventure'!


Hume has organized activities for the kids during the mornings and evenings that you can sign up for, so we sent the kids to one Sunday night and the adults were able to enjoy dinner together at the cabin with minimal interruption (Wren and Eli were still with us).  For the last bit of our window without the kids, the adults went down by the lake with coffees to hang out for a bit.  Even captured a picture of us there, which we often forget to do.

After Kids Camp on Sunday night, we took everyone over to one of the fire pits for a S'mores-making session.

Hume Lake 2016

The rest of the month still held plenty of fun.  Birthday parties, our annual neighborhood block party (all three of those on the same day actually!), and more...

First was TFC's annual family picnic, which we always look forward to.  The location has changed a few times in the four years Jimmy has worked there, and our favorite was the "Funny Farm", with Rusty the horse and other farm animals, but every year they have great food and fun activities planned for the kiddos, and its nice now that I'm starting to get to know some of them better and enjoy catching up each time.  This year it was at a park picnic area, and they hired a facepaint and ballon artist, but not just any face painter - this guy was really good.  I guess he goes to clubs and paints people up too.  The kids got back in line several times, adding in the hand paint, then the arm paint.  We finally had to cut them off so some of the adults (myself included) could get some painting done too.  Caleb would do his whole body if we let him.  He LOVES getting his face painted!

Olivia and Caleb showing off their artwork - Olivia is the daughter of Jimmy's boss, and the same age as Caleb

Landon makes a pretty cute tiger, especially with his teeth gone - makes it look like little fangs.

My turn!

Here he is, Mr. Oliver Twist

We made it home in time for half of the birthday party we were supposed to attend, and then on to our block party bbq.  Always fun to spend time with the neighbors we don't see as often and let the kids run crazy on the whole length of our block.

And them back home to our normal routine and fun around the house

This is Haydon, our neighbor.  We wanted to be sure a get a picture of he and Landon together with nice big smiles to show off their matching missing teeth.

Some last minute plans for friends to come visit from SoCal and the bay area made for a busy fun weekend at the end of the month.  Mike and Kristy came with their boys, Michael and Thomas, and Luke and Shana with their daughter Ariel came from Mountainview, also.  Connection:  Jimmy, Tameem, Mike and Luke were all roommates in college, and between them there are a lot of boys now, as you can see below!

After months and months of planning, preparing, sorting, and dividing, The WEARhouse (under the blanket of things Care Lodi is involved in) had its first distribution day at the end of July, just in time for the kids heading back to school. Because of the donations of clothing, shoes, toiletries, and gift cards that so many gave, we were able to send 17 students home with a tub of new/gently used clothing, shoes, toiletries, and a new backpack! 

Decorating the lids of their new bins - something to call their own, when they have very little they can do that with in small, shared living spaces.

Caleb and Landon were here with me for this distribution day, and during a lot of the 'down time' as people tried on their clothes, C & L had a blast running around and being boys with the older boys from this group.  (Swoop!).
Every month when our Care Lodi "Dream Team" gets together, Liz prepares photos of three Care Lodi kids, with a sticker on the back telling us a little about each one.  Since some of us don't have the direct interaction with them like Liz does, it is helpful for us to get to know the kids more and to be able to pray for each one.  The morning after our monthly meetings Caleb and Landon always get to 'meet' and learn about these kids too, and they ask lots of questions and like seeing the pictures Liz has printed.   We keep them in a small photo album, and yesterday when I was sharing the newest additions with the boys, Caleb asked when he would get to do something with the Care Lodi kids again.  Even though their time hanging out together at our WEARhouse distribution was just a few hours, it was memorable for Caleb and Landon, and I hoping to have more opportunities in the future for our boys to see us 'loving on' the kids where they can interact and make memories together.

Our La Setta Drive S.W.A.T. task force, keeping things safe around here!

We discovered a very cool new place to stay cool in Elk Grove and had fun there with Jake, Claire, and Jen.   Its called Wackford Community and Aquatic Center.  In the mornings it is a pool for swim lessons, and from noon on they open the water park - three water play areas, for toddlers up to older kids, plus a one meter and a three meter diving board.  Guess who LOVED the THREE METER diving board???!?  NOT me, I flopped so hard the lifeguard had to ask if I was ok, hahahaha!  Yikes.  CALEB.  He went on it probably ten times, with zero hesitation.  So proud of him!  Lodi needs an aquatic center like this!!

Both the boys are now able to swim to the bottom of Papa and Nonni's ten-foot-deep pool!  At first they did it with flippers on, but now they can do it without them. Here they were just having fun standing in front of the high-pressure water spray that is used to fill the pool - reminded me of kids playing with fire hydrants back in the day.  Only without wasting as much water. :)

So far, Landon is more into the Star Wars tracing pad than Caleb.  Caleb doesn't understand why we bother to trace it then color it - he just wants to go straight to coloring the original design page!

Landon still refuses to use toothpaste of any flavor, but we have graduated to him allowing us to put bubble gum flavored ACT rinse on his toothbrush, at least about 95% of the time he is ok with it.  Some day we will make it to toothpaste!