25 October 2015

Patchin'

For the first time in seven years, we had to break our fall tradition and try out a new pumpkin patch. I was picky. It couldn't be in a mall parking lot. It had to have a corn maze. It had to be an authentic patch with rows of pumpkins. Thankfully after a little research, SoCal didn't disappoint and all of my pumpkin patch dreams came true.
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A certain someone sure is doted on.
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Nash got in a fight with a bear on the way in. 
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Okay, not really. He fell off his dresser (where he sits to play Legos so his brothers can't destroy them). He somehow landed wedged between his dresser and wall and his eye took the worst of the fall.
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You'd think the seven year old would be the most cooperative. Not so much.
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Of course, once dad was behind me they were all smiles.
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The tractor was an added bonus.
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Love that little onlooker on the bottom.
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Crew was excited about the sheep he spotted.
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Last but not least, especially since it was one of my "requirements," was the corn maze. The boys played rock-paper-scissors to determine which way to turn.
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And then some Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe as well.
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Troy and I lagged behind with Finn while the others sprinted in circles.
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I think I might dare say that this patch topped the one we went to in Utah for seven years. It was exactly the type of fall ambiance I was looking for, even if palm trees were still within our view.


20 October 2015

Hayrides in Palm Trees

I brushed off the dust on my camera over the weekend. I hadn't picked it up in over a month which is basically unheard of for me. Between Troy traveling for work for 10 days, an endless array of appointments with the pediatrician, asthma specialist, radiologist and ENT, and more homework than I ever thought possible for a 2nd grader and kindergartener, the "documenting" portion of our lives has been on the back burner.

It felt good to be out on the town making some memories with Blake and Nash that didn't involve breathing treatments, antibiotics, math facts or sight words. Troy happily stayed home while the babies napped (some college football games happened to be on) and the rest of us braved the heat and humidity at our town's Harvest Festival.

It felt a little strange to be going on a hayride in palm trees.
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The boys tested their strength and endurance on the mechanical bull.
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They walked away with carnival game prizes galore. 
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We're trying to figure out how to incorporate our favorite fall activities when it still feels like the peak of summer here. I have to say though, watching our beloved Michigan State fans bundled up in hats and gloves at the game on Saturday didn't make me feel too bad about our lack of fall. 


05 October 2015

iPhoneography: A Very Cali Summer

This summer was filled to the brim with beach days and pool days and outings with lots of new friends. We've lived in California just over six months now and it hasn't been too difficult to acclimate. 

I usually write a summer wrap-up post with straggling pictures from my phone, but I ended up capturing quite a bit on my phone this year because adding my big camera to my already overflowing beach bag and four children in tow just wasn't feasible.

I've been putting a conscience effort into living in the moment instead of hiding behind my camera lens when I'm with my family. But I still have this incessant need to document our lives. For those moments that I don't want to let slip by unremembered, I am grateful for my trusty phone camera, even if the photo quality is compromised.

According to my phone, our summer looked like this:
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Nash started sprouting palm trees.
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The neighbor girls have become our family. Their ages match up with Blake and Nash and they do everything together.
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The game of "clear the turtle" was put into action early on during the summer and lasted several weeks until that poor turtle eventually deflated.
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They stood in line and took turns trying to run and jump over the turtle and into the pool.
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Endless entertainment, I tell you.
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They loaded the wagon repeatedly and we alternated going to the pool, water park and beach.
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The water park is just up the hill from where we live and it was definitely frequented.
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We spent a lot of time at the splash pad next to the pool as well after the boys had swimming lessons.
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The pool towels were constantly being washed and reused.
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Our ward (church congregation) had a weekly beach day. It was a bit overwhelming for me to haul my entire crew across the hot sand with the beach bag, cooler, beach chairs, boogie boards, umbrella and baby in tow so I didn't have the energy to go every week. But we did join in a few times and it was always worth it once we got there. 
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Blake organized some of the little ones into an under-the-umbrella club.
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Blake loves to take on the role of entertaining preschoolers. On another occasion, he gave out rides on boogie boards and hauled the kids around the harbor. Those faces say it all.
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I tried out paddle boarding in the Dana Point harbor. It was amazingly relaxing. I can't wait to do it again.
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Crew tried out a little yoga on the beach.
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We hit up different parks.
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Anything to tire those babies out.
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The older boys spent many afternoons playing on our street while the babies napped.
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In between the activities we had a lot of time at home which inevitably led to a lot of sibling rivalry. Blake was a different child when I stole him away for a bike ride to the library and a game of Clue.
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One Sunday afternoon, the unthinkable happened. It rained. The boys were so excited to see those dark clouds and precipitation that they couldn't help but run right into the rain after church.
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Crew kept waiting for the water level to be high enough to boogie board. Much to his disappointment, the waves never came. 
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Since our Disneyland passes were blocked out all summer, we paid a visit to the next best thing; the Lego Store in Downtown Disney.
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My cousin from Michigan was out here for a water polo tournament and helped the boys construct their racing cars.
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We were so happy to be back in the park at the end of August after three months without Mickey Mouse.
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We took Blake and Nash to an Angels Game. It's a good thing they handed out XL t-shirts since we only had hats that represented our home teams.
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Nash was nervous to go to his Kindergarten assessment until his teacher complimented his crab shirt. Then he was all smiles and stills asks to wear that shirt whenever it is clean.
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Our town had summer concerts in the park every Friday night. For the boys, it was a chance to trade Pokémon cards with their friends.
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Summer nights are the best.
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Troy had the grand idea one Sunday afternoon to take a hike on the hills that line our town. Two miles of lots of uphill walking in the heat of the day produced a whole lot of complaining and "I am going to die!" expressions.
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But we made it to the top and enjoyed the panoramic view.
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I gave Troy tickets to a USC football game for his birthday. We joined in a tailgate with some of his co-workers on possibly the hottest, most humid day of the summer.
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We considered that game to be USC's "audition" for the team we root for, so we didn't commit to the red t-shirts. We stood out just a tad. 
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We capped off the summer with a picnic and bike ride on the Newport Beach boardwalk.
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I know what I'm asking Santa for this year. A mint beach cruiser with a little baby seat. I was over the moon about that darling bike I rented.
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Finn didn't mind it either. Especially when we took the ferry over to Balboa Island and grandpa shared his Balboa Bar with him.
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It was a fun-filled summer full of what we love most; water, water and more water.
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I would say that these memories wrap up our summer, but summer weather is still going strong. It is the first time in my whole life that I haven't experienced a true fall, and so far, I don't mind one bit. Bring on more flip flops and beach days. We were made to live in SoCal.