As if I didn't already sufficiently cover our fall happenings, here are the remaining undocumented memories captured from my phone.
I'll start by going all the way back to Labor Day weekend. After Troy's epic surprises on the Saturday of my birthday, we took it easy for the rest of the weekend. One of our favorite things to do on Sunday evenings is go to Salt Creek. There's a huge grassy park that overlooks the Pacific. You get the ocean experience without the commitment of sand piling up everywhere. We meet up with friends and bring picnic dinners. We share balls, frisbies and beanbags. The boys have the time of their lives running around with friends while the adults camp out and chat on beach chairs. The Sunday of Labor Day weekend was the perfect opportunity to linger at the beach park without having the pressure of getting back for school and work the next day.
We sure loved having a three day weekend a few weeks into school so we could pretend it was still summer.
We walked down the Salt Creek hill a bit farther the next morning to get in a good beach day before sports started filling up our Saturdays.
The ocean had all summer to heat up and the temperature was perfect; the warmest I've ever felt. The waves were on point and we had the best time boogie boarding. Every time we go to the beach now the boys want to go to Salt Creek because they think the water and waves will be just as nice as that day. I have to remind them how much tides, seasons and temperatures determine how each beach looks and feels each day. The waves can be perfect one day and the next day either non-existent or hazardous. You never know what the ocean is going to throw at you.
We had a scary incident the day after Labor Day. Troy was working from home so he could watch the boys while I went to a dentist appointment. He was up in our loft and called me upstairs to look out the window when he noticed a huge cloud of smoke forming over the hill that lines our town.
The cloud of smoke spread wider and wider until it covered the sky as far as we could see. It happened extremely quick. We watched in awe as we saw flames come up and over the hill, working their way downward. We could hear the crackling. The light coming in our windows was completely muted orange. When we went outside to get a better look, ash was falling everywhere from the sky and we could hardly breathe from all the smoke.
We started gathering the things we'd want to take with us in case of an evacuation. We got word that our friends who lived at the base of the hill were already being evacuated. It was surprising to us how little we deemed important enough to grab. Our safe containing important documents and hard drives with photos. The box of letters that Troy and I wrote to each other on his mission (I need to get those digitized). Our laptops, my camera and Finn's beloved nie-night. That was it. We loaded those things into the car and held our breath until we knew where things stood.
Thankfully, we never had to evacuate. We watched many helicopters drop water and hundreds of firefighters work to contain the fire that spread over 20 acres of land. They stopped the flames before they reached any of the houses at the base of the hill, less than a half mile away from our home. It wasn't lost on us that the fire could have ended much differently and we were so grateful for the firefighters who worked diligently to contain it.
We slowly settled back into the school routine after all of the birthday excitement, holiday weekend activities and fire scare were behind us. Our preschool field trip in September was at California Pizza Kitchen. The boys got to tour the restaurant and make their own individual pizzas.
We visited our favorite giraffe at the dentist office where Crew insisted on having his picture taken.
There's never a dull moment with Crew around. He could hardly contain his excitement when the first signs of Halloween showed up at the grocery store.
Things didn't slow down for long. Crew broke his arm, received his cast, and Finn wound up in the hospital to round out the rest of September. We took a break in between our church's General Conference sessions the first weekend of October to walk around Balboa island. We had to get creative to get our beach time in since Crew couldn't get his cast near sand or water.
A ferry ride and Balboa bars were just what we needed after feeling cooped up on a gorgeous day.
Sometimes you just have to throw nap time out the window and catch whatever snoozes you can in the car.
We were so grateful to be back in the sand in mid-October after Crew's six week casted hiatus. We partied at the beach all weekend long.
Blake participated in his first Pinewood Derby with scouts. Troy and Blake watched lots of tutorials on how to create optimal speed but his car ultimately ended up placing somewhere in the middle. With four boys that will each likely compete in four Pinewood Derbies, we'll have 15 more opportunities to perfect the craft at these annual events.
Back at home, we played games with neighbors.
We had lots of sick days as per usual.
Crew and Finn got creative with entertaining themselves.
It seemed like there was always a birthday party to go to.
Blake competed in four swim meets throughout the fall.
I get so nervous for him standing on the sidelines. He's still a new competitive swimmer which means his chances of making mistakes and getting disqualified are high. There are so many ways to get disqualified. Moving at the start. Illegal kicks. Not touching the wall with two feet. Turning over to do a flip turn before he's within a certain distance. To Blake, getting DQed, which he considers "breaking the rules," is the worst possible outcome. It happened a few times and he beat himself up over it. Thankfully, most of his times were officially recorded and we watched him drop seconds off his races each meet.
One of the meets was intrasquad and each swimmer was placed on either an orange or a navy team. They made up cheers and the parents got decked out in the team color of their swimmers. Blake's team chanted, "Orange is the new fast" over and over. The highlight of the meet was watching the coaches compete in a relay against a high school team. Many of the coaches swam competitively in college and they ultimately won. They were so fun to cheer on.
Most of the time I take Blake to swim meets alone because warm-ups start in the wee hours of the morning, they last 4-5 hours and there is a lot of downtime. But sometimes our Saturdays fill up with other sports or commitments and Troy and I have to divide and conquer. I took Finn with me on a busy Saturday and he was the best fan.
He thinks he need to bring not one, not two, but three nie-nights with him to all places. He inherited a couple of Crew's loveys and he rotates which one he holds while sucking his thumb. I can't complain because they keep him happy and content.
The second half of October and November filled up with 5 rounds of visitors in 5 weeks. We made it through Halloween and in between the days of festivities, our newest niece was blessed. She was surrounded by all of her cousins from both sides of the family.
November included a girls' weekend, Turkey Day prep and ending the month with a trip to Arizona for Thanksgiving.
And with that, I'm finally ready to document the month of December which means I'm only two months behind instead of four. Progress!