30 November 2016

iPhoneography: End of Summer Birthdays

Somehow I got about three months behind on life and it feels like I will never catch up.

I don't want to leave this chunk of our lives undocumented, so I'm going to attempt to fill in the gaps before the Christmas season is in full swing.

I'll start by going way back to when we returned home from Michigan. School started two days later which meant that several birthdays were upon us.

We started the tradition of ocean-related birthday celebrations last year and had no problem thinking of new ways to involve water and sand.

For Troy's birthday, we went on a day date at Newport Harbor. We rode bikes along the boardwalk at Newport Beach, took the ferry over to Balboa Island, grabbed Balboa bars and then made some quick clothing changes in the car to make our reservation at a seafood restaurant overlooking the harbor. The harbor was bustling with sailboats, duffies, kayaks and wedding cruise ships and we had a great view from our table.
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I happened to go back to the very same harbor the next night to celebrate my friend's birthday. We rented a duffy boat for a couple of hours and cruised along the coast. We could fit 12 ladies in the boat and you better believe we filled every last spot. 
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Keeping the candles lit while the wind was blowing us along proved to be a challenge. 
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We watched the houses lining the harbor turn golden as the sun set.
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Something about the wind and the tiny chair my friend Kristine and I shared for a bit on the back of the boat made it so we couldn't stop laughing.
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Less than two weeks later, Troy surprised me with an epic birthday date. After making me a gourmet lunch, he told me to put on a dress and heels. We got the kids squared away with a sitter and I tried to figure out where we were going as we inched closer and closer to the shore. I'd say I was a tad overdressed when we pulled up to a jet-ski rental store. It was all part of Troy's plan to throw me off. Thankfully he packed the necessary apparel to change into for an afternoon on the ocean.
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We cruised along Doheny Beach in Dana Point. I had never been jet-skiing on the ocean and I was so thankful Troy thought to bring goggles when the salty water splashed on us left and right. I was also glad he grabbed my waterproof phone case because he knew I would want to document our adventures.
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We spotted sea lions in the middle of the Pacific.
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After we turned in our jet-ski, I found out Troy had planned even more. He knows I love to paddleboard so we paddled through Dana Point Harbor before dinner.
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After an Italian food dinner, he had one more surprise for me waiting at home. He had sneakily made my favorite traditional birthday dessert, peanut butter pie, and had the boys sing to me before calling it a night.

A few days after my birthday, my friends gathered to celebrate all of the end of summer birthdays. We ate at a restaurant overlooking Laguna Beach. 
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Only a few of us made it on time for the sunset, but we could still see the glow of the ocean and hear the waves crashing into the night.
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Finn's birthday a few days later rounded out our stream of end of summer birthday celebrations and then it was officially back to the grind of school, homework, sports and activities. 


26 November 2016

Michigan | 2016 Edition

My brother started filming our annual Michigan video recaps five years ago, when Nash was just a baby and Crew and Finn hadn't joined our family yet. I love to watch them in order to see how much everyone has grown from year to year. I love even more that one of my favorite places on earth is forever cemented in my heart and in the hearts of my children.

There's just something about watching your memories in motion that helps you remember the small moments more than still shots do.

We missed out on our trip to Michigan last summer and one of the things I was most sad about was not having the treasured video to add to our yearly collection. 

When I found out my master videographer brother wasn't going to make it to Michigan this year, I knew it was up to me to capture the action. I certainly didn't want to skip another year, especially since Finn had yet to make his Michigan video debut (he was born three weeks after we returned home two years ago).

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I'm comfortable using my camera for photography, but I was definitely a novice when it came to filming steady, interesting video clips. It took days upon days to go through the footage and edit down clips. As much as I wanted to finish this video when we returned home in August, life with our family of six took priority day after day.

I'm basically giddy that three months later, I'm finally publishing the final product. It may not be the same caliber as my brother's masterpieces, but I'm thrilled that we can now remember this particular trip.


Michigan seemed especially magical this year. Maybe it was because of the anticipation of flying on an airplane and carrying out Michigan traditions that the boys have come to love. Maybe it was because it had been two years since we had seen so many familiar faces and places. Maybe it was because of the excitement of staying up late to watch the Olympics each night. Maybe it was because the weather was perfect. Maybe it was because we miraculously made it two whole weeks with no one needing breathing treatments. But I think it was mostly because as life gets increasingly busier and busier, we appreciate breaks from being on the go every second more and more. Lazy summer days with no where to be but the beach were just what we needed before diving into a new school year.


19 November 2016

Halloween Rundown

We kicked off our Halloween festivities with a preschool costume party. One of Crew's friends refused to put on his costume that his talented mom spent hours sewing. He wouldn't wear anything but his Christmas pajamas. I think that made this capture even better.
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We hosted the party at our house and Crew and I put together games, crafts and snacks for the occasion.
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Next on the agenda was Trunk or Treat. The boys wouldn't let me get away with not decorating the trunk, so we collaborated a few hours before the event and threw some things together. 
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Blake had the idea to play Halloween music on his dancing water speakers. We rigged up some electrical cords and made it happen.
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I have to admit, the speakers were a nice touch. 
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Troy's parents were in town for Trunk or Treat so Finn made the rounds with his grandpa. He was too young to understand the concept of filling his bucket with candy last year, but it took him no time at all this year to get up to speed.
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I hardly see my older boys at these events anymore. They are off making the rounds on their own with their friends. 
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Blake made it through the loop of trunks in record time, so he took over his dad's job of passing out candy. 
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At one point he realized that he was accidentally passing out the candy he had worked to accumulate. He hid in the car, devastated that his loot had vanished. I finally convinced him that he could go around and collect candy again, but not after reassuring him multiple times that he wasn't breaking any trunk or treat rules.
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Crew and Finn loaded up on candy.
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Once they reached a sugar comatose we called it a night.
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A few days later, we put on costumes once again to hit the neighborhood for trick-or-treating.
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It still amazes me that we can walk around in shorts and short sleeves on Halloween. 
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Finn didn't understand when some people weren't home. He knocked and knocked until we eventually pulled him away, tears filling his eyes.
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After collecting more candy than we could ever possibly need, we drove to an infamous street in our town where each house goes all out. One house is transformed into the Cinderella story with an illuminated glass stairway, a larger-than-life carriage, characters to meet and greet and a fairy godmother passing out candy. There are also several haunted houses, a house that passes out fresh scones and a house that charges admission for a ride you can go on. 

But our favorite house is the pirate house. Photos don't give it quite the same effect as being there live and experiencing the music, the fog machines and the animated pirate skeletons. You walk through multiple rooms that make it feel like you are on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. You obtain candy in the courtyard. And then at the very end, you walk by a gigantic pirate ship where lights are flashing, music is blaring, cannons are booming and gusts of wind are blowing.
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There is always a line to get in, but it is absolutely worth the wait. We went through the pirate house twice this year. Blake is involved in swim team and scouts with the family that lives in the house so it makes it extra fun to marvel at their hard work.
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We made sure to wait and carve the pumpkins on Halloween this year because we learned the hard way last year that they will rot in the October heat. 
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Three days after the hype of Halloween died down, I let the boys each pick out ten pieces of candy they wanted to keep. Then, we loaded up all of the rest and took it to the pediatric dentist's office. The boys earned one dollar for each pound of candy they donated and the candy was shipped off to soldiers. 

We packed away all of the outdoor decorations, chucked the pumpkins, placed the costumes in the costume bin and it looked like Halloween never happened. I love the events and anticipation that are connected with Halloween and I love it just as much when it is all over.


15 November 2016

Halloween Costume Reveal

I have so much to catch up on from September and October, but since I'm running a solid three months behind, I'm going to jump to Halloween so I'm not posting about it at Christmastime.

My younger two wore hand-me-down costumes. Some costumes are just too good to not reuse. Finn sported the golfer costume that Blake and Nash wore. The golfer skipped Crew because the boys were cops and robbers the year he would have fit into it, so it was a must to give the costume one more use.

Unlike Nash, Finn couldn't get enough of wearing the cap and golf clubs. He got upset each time we took them off to buckle him in his carseat. As attached as he was to his costume, if you asked him what he was, he'd tell you, "I'm a pirate."
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Everything about Halloween was magical for Finn this year. He exclaimed, "pooky, pooky!" (spooky, spooky) every time he spotted anything Halloween related.
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Crew's enthusiasm for just about everything is off the charts. His anticipation leading up to the days of Halloween did not disappoint. He couldn't have been more excited when I pulled pirate apparel out of the bin of costumes past. Blake was a pirate four years ago and it's one of my favorite costumes. 
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The earring only lasted for a few shots and then Crew was over it.
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He was way more interested in the weapons.
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Nash's costume should have been the easiest to put together but it ended up taking the most time. There were many purchases and returns and last minute mending to get it right. 

I have no clue who Ash Ketchum from Pokémon is, but all of Nash's six year old costume dreams came true. It was worth the effort.
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Blake has loved a lot of his costumes in the past but this year's Michael Phelps ensemble went down as his favorite of all time. 
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It was the perfect costume for Blake. Not only is he a swimmer, but he was glued to the olympics this year watching Michael Phelps collect his final gold medals. Yes, Blake wore all 23 gold medals.
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He almost dove in the pool right before we left to go trick-or-treating but I assured him that even though it was warm outside, a wet costume wouldn't be ideal.
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Instead, he made peace with dipping his toes in the water and relaxing poolside.
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That was, of course, until Nash and I splashed water on him.
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After our little prank we were officially ready to scour the neighborhood for candy.