Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 2010

We've updated photo albums for November. It seems that we keep ending up taking photos with the cameras in our phones because I seldom take my camera with me these days. So if you’re confused about the grainy looking photos, that’s the reason, but better grainy pictures than no pictures. As I mentioned in my last post, there are a few short videos I put in a new video album, also taken with our phones. I hope they play okay for you. If they seem to pause too much, just let them buffer (pause it until the bar at the bottom makes it all the way to the right. Enjoy!

We started the month off with a big multi family garage sale in our front yard. The funny thing is that we weren’t selling anything, just hosting. We did make up a big, yummy breakfast for our friends. Ummm…pumpkin waffles with apple cider syrup!

Caleb’s school had its annual Art Fair. It’s kind of like their version of a back to school night. This year’s theme was the Wild West and the kids had a blast playing all the games. They even learned some square dancing. Caleb was so resistant to the dancing, but his mean ol’ mom made him. I saw a smile sneak out a few times while we were dancing, so I know it was worth it. Vida, on the other hand, was a dancing machine! She sure can boogie for a girl barely three.

One Sunday morning we decided to check out a new park begin developed in Irvine, the Orange County Great Park. We’d been there once at night a few months ago for a free summer in the park concert, The Blind Boys of Alabama. It was so fun! The former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro is being transformed into the first great metropolitan park of the 21st Century. The park spans more than 1,300 acres (nearly twice the size of New York’s Central Park). It is in the early phases of development and will likely be most enjoyed by our grandkids (weird thought). But there is still plenty to enjoy for our little family now. We ate some shave ice and delicious crepes from the food trucks, took a few spins on the carousel, let the kids go nuts enjoying the huge climbing rocks and tunnels that make up the kids rock playground, and perused the farmer’s market. We spent the most time pouring over the garden beds. There are twelve large themed garden beds in total, including an “Ethnic Garden,” “Fruit Salad Garden,” and a “Sensory Garden,” that introduce you to some new and interesting produce, plant life, and gardening techniques. My mind was spinning with all the things I want to implement in my own backyard. They also have a big compost teaching area. Ben liked peeking under the tarp at all the worms in the compost. We didn’t go on the world’s largest helium balloon. Caleb is still warming up to the idea. The Great Park Balloon is the Orange County Great Park’s first major attraction. All flights are free and it has the ability to hold up to 25 to 30 passengers, and soar up to 400 feet above the surrounding landscape. All in all, it was an unexpected and entertaining morning.

We hosted 14 kids for 5 hours for a big Thanksgiving home school event. Can you believe it! All the moms pitched in, so I wasn’t alone. We read the Pilgrims story, made a turkey craft, had the kids test fruit for vitamin C levels to help the Pilgrims fight scurvy, did an Indian trails math lesson, made butter from heavy cream by shaking it for a long time, and smeared the delicious butter over freshly made corn bread and gobbled it up. We talked about how the Indians helped the Pilgrims be more successful with their crops by planting fish into the ground with their seeds. So the kids also got to plant corn seeds with a fish into dirt. Then they ate it up! Don’t worry, it was really candy “seeds”, gummy “fish”, pudding “dirt”, & crushed cookies “top soil.”

One Saturday, while Jon had to work, I enjoyed one of those rare times that I got to just do something for myself...I started making a snuggly quilt, just for me. Although I'm sure it will be an unusual moment indeed when I won't have little snuggle bugs cozying up to me :)

Another weekend we decided to just go for a drive. We ended up at The Ocean Institute in Dana Point. I was impressed by the friendly and knowledgeable staff. They really made the experience come alive for the boys. I think the most memorable lesson the boys participated in was a lesson about pollution run-off into the ocean. They also really enjoyed checking out the plankton and life cycles of brine shrimp in the microscope lab. The highlight for me was when we stumbled upon the scenic walk to the Dana Point tide pools. It was a very chilly and windy day. We were bundled up, surrounded by beauty, climbing rocks, and exploring nature together. It made me really happy.

We spent Thanksgiving with my brother and parents in Hanford. We had a great time. Ben enjoyed helping Grandma make yummy apple pies on a stick and Caleb enjoyed his special craft time with Grandma. Uncle David and Jon played Legos with the boys for hours and seemed to have just as much fun as the kids. We played games, ate a bountiful meal, and watched The Simpsons Movie together. Weirdly, my dad saved that movie especially for Jon to enjoy, and we all did. I fell asleep right at the end though. I guess that’s what happens when you wake up at 4am to drive to Hanford Thanksgiving Day.

We left for home the next afternoon and ended up taking an impulsive side trip. We went to check out the Giant Forest in the Sequoia National Park. I love impulsive side trips! On our way up the mountain we got stopped for about 40 minutes because the road was down to one lane and an emergency vehicle had to rush down the mountain. So we decided to make the best of it and we got out of the car to play in the snow at the side of the road. Ben was thrilled because he finally got to make and throw the snowball he had been going on and on about in the car. He had been worried he wouldn’t get a chance to enjoy the snow. While we were playing, we saw a wild bear! It was off in the distance and just ambling about. It was a thrill! The road finally opened up and we made it up to the sequoia trees and General Sherman (the largest tree in the world). They were breathtaking. We arrived just about at sunset. What little light was left was filtered by the trees. It was a gorgeous sight; not so good for taking pictures, but great for living in the moment. There was snow and ice everywhere. Jon and the boys even got to slide down multiple flights of steps back to the car because they were completely iced over and no longer resembled steps. I was the first to find out that you couldn’t walk down them, even if you held the rail really tight. Ben was delighted getting to sit on Jon’s lap for the ride. Our dog did fantastic traipsing about in the snow, which was a pleasant surprise. Our detour ended up adding 7 hours to our 4 hour ride home, but it was definitely worth it.

Jon and Caleb spent the Saturday after Thanksgiving starting their new project in the shop. They’re building two loft beds (kind of like the top part of a bunk bed, but not so high up). That way Ben and Caleb will each get a new bed and a secret fort underneath. They got a lot accomplished, but there’s still much more to be done.

After church on Sunday, we went to Granny’s (Melanie’s) for dinner, conversation, games, and PIE!!!! Yum Yum! We had a great time and then came home to fall into bed.

Ooh! I’m pleased to share that we finally have our heater fixed in the house after 2 frigid years with no indoor heat!!!! Yay!!!! I'm not bundled up like an Eskimo in my own home :) This is big news people.

November was a good month and we’re thankful for all of you, our family and our friends. Thanks for being a part of our lives. Thanks for your prayers and time and love! We love you all!!!!