Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October break trip to Southern California

For the latter half of the second week of October break, we went to Southern California.  I worked Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and we woke up Thursday at three and left at four.  We had planned on doing two days at Disneyland and one at the beach.  We weren't sure whether to do the beach first or Disneyland, so we decided that when we arrived in LA, we'd see how we feel.  

The ride was pretty smooth.  In fact, we were making great time until after the grapevine and then all of the LA traffic started piling up, even in the carpool lane.  But we still made good time and decided to go to Dizzyland first.  We unloaded the kids, packed lunches, and entered the happiest place on earth.  

I like Disneyland because of its cleanliness, friendly staff, and impressive engineering.  The kids like it for the cool rides.  Heidi had stocked up on junk food and I was excited for that, because we usually do boring sandwiches and the kids talk us into a four dollar churro.  This time, we survived with trail mix, marshmallows, granola bars, and corn nuts.  We even had some knock-off girl scout cookies from Winco that were super good.  

The kids did pretty well in the lines.

Tyler and Heidi used the stroller pass to ride Splash Mountain, and Tyler, Kira, Blakey and I sat down in this little plaza.  They played tag for about a half hour while I sat on a bench and rested.

The double Bob stroller carries all four kids.

Kira fell asleep and almost fell out of the stroller.

Kira, Blakey and I did the jungle cruise while Heidi, Scott and Tyler rode Indiana Jones.

They climbed up and down the fence for quite a while until we met up with Heidi again.

One of the few family portraits we have, taken by the iphone.  Not bad.

People wait hours to see Mickey, and he just turned up out of the blue, so I quickly snapped this.
Same with Minnie.

You gotta hand it to the people who play these characters.  Like, when their shift is over, do they say, "Alright, I'm going on my break now."?  Or does someone else show up in the same costume, and the attendant says, "Captain America has his replacement."?  Our guy stayed in character and asked each of the kids their names.  Blakey said, "Blakey."

Based on Ted's recommendation, we went to Corona del mar's beach, which is part of Newport Beach.  The beach was my favorite part, because the water was warmer than expected and the waves were predictable.

We body surfed and boogie boarded for several hours.  This is a nice action shot of Heidi even though she only caught a couple of waves before getting too cold.

Scott was in and out of the water.  He caught quite a few waves with me.  We stood out in the waist deep water, which was up to his neck, and he'd say, "Now, Daddy?"  Sometimes I'd stand and give him a push to catch the waves; other times, we'd both jump on my command and ride them into shore.  It was pretty sweet.

Tyler had more fun playing in the sand.

Kira spent most of her time out of the water but went in just to try it out.

Ted is my ceramist.  I've been sending him cases since 2007 and this is the first time we met.  We went to church in Fullerton and his lab was nine minutes away, so we dropped in.  He was super nice and gave us some orange juice, sandwiches, and Korean pastries for our ride home.

It was a great trip.  Great to get away, great to spend time with the fam, and great to eat junk food.  Oh, the Howard Johnson hotel we stayed in was quite the bargain.  There was a pretty nice breakfast buffet with bacon, eggs, pancakes, pastries, orange juice, and some other things.  The kids loved the bacon.  The HJ also had a shuttle to Disneyland, which is valued at over $17 since that's what it would be to park at the resort.  The hotel itself, was, er, run down.  But it worked for us.  The kids loved watching TV after the beach and we watched two episodes of celebrity wife swap.  I'll limit my comments to my other blog.  

It was a great vacay.  The van ran well even though we had to stop every fifteen miles on the way home so the kids could go to the bathroom.  I was like, "You just went!"  And along I-5, there aren't rest stops or even habitable cities that you can just pull into.  Sometimes we had to make emergency stops.  Ah, youth.  

The caboose

Baby McMillan is Due March 20th. Kira's birthday is March 20th and Blake's March 21st.  

I am finally started to feel normal.  I realized I didn't feel sick at all at Disneyland and it made me so happy!  My thyroid of course went crazy at the same time as my pregnancy which made me want to sleep all day long.  I feel like it is better, but labs showed it was still off, so I might have to take meds. We shall see.  With every pregnancy my body is falling apart.

This fall, I really decided to simplify life.  I didn't sign up Kira for preschool and haven't done sports (except for occasional swim) and it has been so nice!  I feel like I am finally ready to get back into things so I will look for preschool for Kira, which I am sure she will love and maybe gymnastics for dance for her.  I used to think that more was better and I have realized in life that having some down time and months to just relax are needed and wonderful for the entire family.

Other than that, things are going well. I have only had 2 doctor appointments so far which have been uneventful.  The kids came yesterday and it was fun for them to see the baby on the ultrasound.  I saw a perinatologist who was my doctor with Tyler so it was really fun for him to see Tyler doing so well. Doctors are always so amazed with Tyler and I always like for them to see hope for these kids.  So far the heart looks good.  We have our big ultrasound in a couple of weeks.  I am not too worried.  I realize that our kids will be blessed with immense love and we will make it through whatever the future has in store.

We had to wait a long time for me to get labs and the kids did well. Thank goodness ultrasound was closed for the day and the kids had a whole section of hospital without people.  When I was done, Blake was upset he didn't get a turn at getting blood work. It was pretty comical.  The kids blew up balloons and had a great time playing with them and playing hide and seek.  We somehow managed to have a good time waiting.

Danny and I really feel like this baby will complete our family and it makes me excited. Excited not to be pregnant again and excited to someday in a couple of years actually be out of the baby stage. Someday Tyler will need a new heart and I can't imagine going through that journey with a baby so feeling very grateful that his health has been so good during these years with young kids.  The Lord really has blessed us in that way.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

When I'm a mom

Kira, to me as I was getting ready for work:  "When I'm a mom, can I shave?"


"When I'm a mom, can I buy whatever I want?"


"So I can buy toys, candy, doughnuts and ham?"


"And I'm gonna buy twenty million of pizza, twenty million doughnuts, right Daddy?"


That made her happy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

School drop off

It's great working in Brentwood again because I enjoy dropping off the boys at school.  We ride bikes, they make a big skid in front of the bike cage, and then I walk onto campus with them to talk with my friends.  They looked so cute today in their matching fun run shirts that I had to take their picture.  Scott, who is motivated by money, was real into getting sponsors for his fun run.  He raised lots of money and got the prizes he fancied.  Tyler wasn't into the prizes as much but did 36 laps and was happy about that.

Good times.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mr. T turns 7

Mr. Photogenic turned 7 last Thursday.   We celebrated at the Clayton Skipolini's with Pop, Heather, and her kids.  I'm really proud of Tyler because although he has a short fuse, he seems to have a lot of insight that other kids his age don't have.  Like, he talks about the future a lot.  He enjoys sports.  He seems to have friends at school and is doing well academically.  When we rode bikes to school on his birthday, people wished him a happy birthday and he looked them in the eyes and said with a smile, "Thank you."  

Heather got him a razor trike (like a big wheel) with unfixed rear casters so he can drift.  He also got some legos, clothes, a helmet, nerf gun, pocket knife, tape measure, and RC helicopter.  About the knife--the boys were real into carving pointy sticks on our camping trip so Tyler asked for his own knife.  I wanted to get him a Swiss-army type but China Freight didn't have any, so I got him a lock blade that used box cutter blades.  Heidi thought it was too dangerous, so she bought him a traditional type pocket knife.

While we were in the van, Tyler cut himself.  Which knife was he using?  Yeah, the less sharp one that Heidi got him.  I chuckled to myself because in Boy Scouts, we learned that dull knives were more dangerous than sharp ones.  When I was seven, I got a soldering iron.  I burnt myself lots of times.  I'm surprised my parents let me do stuff like that.  Well, half the time I bet they didn't know what I was up to.  Mom told me about the time I was three years old and went missing.  She drove around the neighborhood and found me at the railroad tracks with little bike.  I liked trains and can still remember what that crossing looked like.

Anyway, Tyler has brought lots of happiness to our lives and we are grateful to have him.

Today was the primary program and all the kids did well.  You never know what you're gonna get with that program because the kids are so innocent.  One kid was singing with a small group and during the song said, "SING LOUDER?"  Another kid couldn't hear the leader's whispers and said into the mic, "Blah blah blah blah blah."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Labor Day Weekend

Had a great labor day weekend camping at Big Trees State Park in Arnold, CA.  I wanted to see the redwoods and Heidi got the last available campsite which was handicap access.  We drove up on Saturday, pitched the tents, and did the north point hike to see some of the big Sequoia trees, which can grow over 300 feet tall and have huge trunks.  

I think this is a stump from a Sugar Pine but is still pretty big.

You can't really tell but this cut stump is over 20 feet in diameter.

The root system of a fallen Sequoia.  They spread laterally 150 feet but only 6-8 feet deep.

The ranger told us to stay on the trail, but no one was around and there were footprints everywhere, so I let them climb up on this Sequoia.

Scott was always looking forward to the next thing.  We wanted him to just enjoy what he was doing at the moment.  I didn't realize it when I took this picture but he's probably 20 feet in front of the tree and it still looks mammoth.  Impressive.

Scott was, however, pretty stoked about seeing this deer.  It seemed unafraid of humans.

The last tree in the north loop had been hollowed out.  The bark is like asbestos in that it resists fire and is quite fibrous.

At Beaver Creek.  The water was pretty warm--at least 70 degrees--but that's just because it was shallow.  Further down it was probably 45.

Tyler threw rocks for about an hour.  I remember doing that even in college.  Breaking sticks and throwing rocks was entertaining no matter what.

Blakey liked throwing the rocks too, but he clocked Tyler in the face and Tyler was very unhappy.  Blake seemed unremorseful.

Kira caught a caterpillar even though it's blurry in the photo.

Scott wanted to hunt minnows.  I used to do that as a kid and I could usually get a few but I had a net and lots of patience.  The bucket and stick were unsuccessful.

I think Blake looks like Lavar in this picture.

Tyler and Scott really enjoyed the fire.  We learned a lot about fire construction on this trip.  The boys haphazardly threw sticks and logs on the fire and I tried to teach them that the fire needs to breathe.  On Sunday, we kept the fire going all afternoon.

Monday morning, the first thing they wanted to do was start the fire and roast marshmallows.  We used up all of our firewood and they were happy.  In the back is the bear box, and behind that are the flush toilets and shower.  The shower was $1 for 5 minutes, which was a good investment on Sunday morning.

The tent situation didn't work as planned.  We had two:  an adult tent and a kid tent.  Well, the first night, Kira peed the bed and wanted to sleep with me.  So she came into my tent and Heidi went into the kids tent.  Then she pooped the bed and we all ended up in the kids tent.  The next night, Kira stayed in my tent and Heidi was in the kids tent.  Blakey woke up in the night, needing to pee, and you could hear every step towards the bathroom, the opening of the bear box, the toilet flushing, and Blakey making his noises.  Fortunately he went back to bed.

Thanks to Heidi for organizing this trip.  I think we did a good job even though we're not that good at camping.  We should have brought dish soap and more chairs.  Maybe a couple of sharp pocket knives, too.  Still, a great trip.