Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Partipalooza, Human Inchworms, Bouldering, Dirt.

Last week it was pretty toasty out, so when a Groupon popped up for half-price to Partipalooza, I snagged a few passes and cashed them in.

They had bowling, jump houses, karaoke...lots of fun stuff!

They also had air hockey, which Sam and I thoroughly enjoyed while Brook was off with a group of boys performing stunts on some of the jumpy houses.

Afterwards, both kids actually wanted to go to Costco!!  Of course it could possibly have had something to do with the promise of ice cream...  So we finished up and the kids asked to play out front for a bit.
Brook:  "Sam!  I'm a bridge!  Walk across me!"
Sam:  " thanks."

While hiding in the hall closet, Sam came across a nearly-empty spray bottle and asked to wash stuff.  Who am I to say no to children cleaning?!  I grabbed a bottle for Brook and put them both to work.

They were both so proud of their work (they were out there for a good half-hour!).  And I was grateful they loved it so much...even if I do now have water streaks all over the lower half of my was-clean van and can no longer see out my side mirrors...

 Our polliwogs have grown!  Brooklyn went to check on the ones in our fish bowl (which has a spider plant growing out the top).  She said, "Mom!  Did you take one of the frogs out?!"  Then about 5 seconds later I hear "AHHH!  It's on my head!!"  The dang thing had climbed up the plant's roots and was perching on the top of our fish bowl (which is a large vase).  We decided it was time to let them go....  Unfortunately, we all got distracted and the kids ended up leaving them in a closed tupperware out in the sun as we departed for the weekend...yes, we came home to boiled frogs. :(

Back into "experiment mode," Brook wanted to bob for apples.  We didn't have any, so she set out to find what sort of fruit we had that did float.
Nope, not grapes.

She gave up and decided to make us all smoothies instead.
(Like her tribal face art??  She did it all herself.)

I love that she sliced grapes for the edges ("like those little lemon thingies they do at restaurants!").

Brook has been going through some major growth spurts and has requested some new clothes.  I couldn't find anything that I was super impressed with at Ross or Marshall's and decided to check Joann's for regular ol' t-shirts and iron-on decals.
Sure enough, shirts were on sale and there were some perfect decals on clearance!
She LOVED this!

Our favorite one.

She came sprinting in from outside, "MOM!  I found this new bird!  It was brown all around and yellow on the belly and chirped like this...."  So she set to work, trying to figure out what it might be.

It was a beautiful day out, so the kids wanted to put blankets out and sunbathe.  We're all out lazing about and Brook says to Sam, "You know Sam?  We're livin' the life..."  "Yeah." he replied.
Yes, my heart just about of those moments I want to remember for forever.

After hiking Half-Dome, Russ was already ready to get back to the forest the following weekend, so he and I headed to REI to drool over all of the fun gear.  We settled on mummy bags for the kids and Russ (which they didn't have, so they had to order it for us).
Here's Russ trying out Brooklyn's...

I told Brooklyn that night that we'd got her and Sam surprises, and she requested a scavenger hunt to find them in the morning.
I can do that.

They found them and there were instant giggles.
They had so much fun pretending to be human inchworms!
They were even more excited to hear that they'd get to use them that night!

After MUCH reading and research, we set out for Stanislaus National Forest, about 2 1/2 hours northeast of us.  First, we had to make a Win-Co pit-stop to stock up on food.
We all enjoyed Win-Co's bulk bins...mmm, Starbursts.

We passed fields and fields of avocado trees!

Putting those new field journals to use.

Sam asked how to draw a heart.  I told him how, and he was very frustrated that it didn't come out perfect.  I got my trusty whiteboard marker out to show him and honestly...I think his hearts came out better than mine did!

We first pulled into a state park and was told that there were only crappy camping sites left (and they charged $38/night!), so we kept going up the mountain and found another campground (only $19/night) with a fantastic site.
I really wanted to just pull off on a dirt road and set up camp, but in the end I'm glad we chose this site--it was a lot of fun, but next time we're definitely going the free route.
Sam was happy to be out of the car, and doubly-so to see that there were the remnants of a stream at our site.  That only means one thing...rock throwing!!!

Within 10 minutes of us getting out of the car the kids were begging, "Can we go rock climbing now?!"  Luckily we had a pretty large area where they could do it on their own, plus we brought the walkie-talkies, which were AWESOME...until they died a short time later.

Hotty alert!!  <3 <3 <3

"Dad, will you come hiking with us?!"
How can you say no?

One of Russ's Father's Day gifts.


That bug container rarely leaves her hands...


This is standing in the same position as the previous photo, but turned left, looking at the walkway that leads to the remnant of a stream, and then to the car.

The kids were so excited to play in their sleeping bags and in the tent.


More field journaling.

This is the view back behind our campsite.

These little fluffy flowers covered the ground.

Russ and I were up pre-6am the next morning, while the kids slept until 7:30ish.  It was really nice.  After the kids woke up though, the immediately wanted to go hiking again, which Russ was glad to oblige.  What's a girl to do but snuggle up by the fire with a book??  Ahhh...

The kids came back with treasures...the biggest and smallest pine cones found and a California Broad-necked Darkling Beetle.

Breakfast with my silly boy.

Brook went and got her M&Ms out of the car and would throw them down onto the ground for Sam to find...and yes, he would eat them.  Sigh.

"Sam, want a little push??"

These two definitely meet the "my sibling is my best friend!" homeschooler stereotype...
No really, every morning they wake up and wrap their arms around each other, "Good morning!!!  I missed you and am soooo happy to see you!  I love you!!"
(Don't get me wrong, they are at each others throats two seconds later, but you know how it goes...)

Brook decided to build Mt. Everest.  Yes, it is right at the doorway to the tent.

"And now to add some lava."

Russ slept on the hammock the previous night and froze, so needed a bit of a nap.

Sam's half-eaten breakfast.  Russ even put a worm on it to make it more enticing...nope, he needed to hike.  (He also had a full-fledged cold at this point and wasn't eating much.)

Mt. Everest in all of it's glory!

The view of our campsite from the van.  You can barely see the orange rain flap on our tent in the mid-left, between those two boulders.

Being Sam.

We ran out of firewood fairly quickly, so needed to go in search of more.  Brooklyn jumped right out of the car to go help Russ.
Actually, Brooklyn was "in her element" completely all was amazing to watch and listen and talk and just be with her.  So inquisitive and open-minded and eager to just soak up anything and everything she could get her hands on.

Do you see how excited she is to bring me a portion of this mushroom they found growing on a tree?!

My axe-less mountain man.

Eh, who needs an axe when you have Russ?

We decided to seek out civilization as Russ needed his coffee.  We found a very interesting shopping area that was mostly closed.  Luckily, the general store was open.  Sam picked out a Tootsie Roll and Brook a Pepsi.  Funny kid had far more fun playing with the carbonation than drinking it!  Ha!

Brooklyn wanted to go look for bugs near the water, so we headed to a reservoir.  Sam passed out on the way there, and we all kind of hung out in the car while he napped.  Russ even attempted a nap...

Ironically, I have no clue what this sign says.  I thought it was important to take a photo of it, but apparently not so important to actually READ said sign!  HA!

You can kind of see the water down below.

Our wood haul.

We ate some lunch and Brooklyn decided to make a marshmallow spider (Sidenote:  When talking to Brook about when she went to school, she always tells me that she prefers homeschooling MUCH more EXCEPT for the time they made and ate marshmallow spiders.)

"Don't mess with me."
She was asking all about what this and that did on the car (i.e. gas pedal, windshield wipers, etc.).  Russ told her "whatever you do, do NOT push the Ejection pedal!".  She was so nervous about it!  HA!)

Eventually Brook and Russ headed down to the beach.
Sam eventually woke up and we went down for a bit, but then there was the "I GOTTA POO!!!!" declaration that sent everyone scurrying back to the van.

This open area is just behind our campsite.  I loved watching the kids frolic around, trying to catch grasshoppers and butterflies.

They are soooo excited that Momma is coming with them on "their hike" to the water.  They were so excited to be the guides.

"First we go over the cracked rock."
(Note:  Sam is jumping, not tripping. lol.)

"Then between the cracked tree."
They showed me the giant rock with the rope hanging down, the stream, and a tree that they liked to climb up.

When we got back to camp, the kids decided to make a nest.  Out of dirt.


Sam would hang...

...and then Plop right onto the nest.

Oy vey.

At some point they decided that they were Maiasauras caring for their baby eggs.  I love listening to their imagination dialogue.

We all slept FAR better the second night than the first.  The next morning we packed up, hiked around one last time and high-tailed it home, VERY eager for a shower!!