Sunday, September 2, 2012


Holy crap.
We've been busy.  I've been trying to get this posted for weeks now.  Time for a photo dump.
Sorry I don't have time to write more.  There is so much I'd like to include!

We hit up Rockin' Jump (indoor trampoline place) probably about once every week and a half.  Way fun!!

This is at a skate park in Dublin (near Livermore).  We went the previous evening after picking Russ up from work and the kids were really bummed to see at least 30 people on and around the track.  Actually the kids weren't fazed in the least, it was Russ and I getting nervous at the prospect of our 4 and 6 year old getting mowed over!

So Russ suggested that they go first thing in the in pre-dawn.  They got up at 5am or so and out they went.  The last thing I heard from my warm, cozy bed was, "WOW!  Look, there's The Evening Star!!"

Brooklyn one day asked if she could get some makeup of her own.
She picked out powder, blush, eye shadow, mascara, a lip pencil and lip gloss.
She refused any and all help and insisted that one eye needs blue eyeshadow and the other purple.

A bike trip to The Dollar Store is nothing without a stop at the water fountain!

The kids got their eagerly awaited new goggles in the mail and couldn't wait to wear them.

They put their goggles on, hopped in the car to go pick Russ up so we could go meet with his parents who were in town for a surprise visit.
About 5 minutes into the drive Sam passed out, goggles and all.

We spent that evening eating dinner, laughing, catching up, swimming...and chillin' on Grampa and Bubs's hotel bed.  Sam loves hotel phones--to his credit, he's never really seen a corded phone!  So we unplugged this one and let him dink around with it for a bit.

The next day we spent at our house.  Brook and Bubs spent a couple of hours looking at, washing, drying and categorizing Brooklyn's feather collection.  Then they made some headbands and bracelets for everyone with them!

Then of course another evening dip in the pool.  We all joined in this time for an exhausting few hours of swim time.  Phew!

That weekend we also attended our first homeschooling conference in Sacramento.
It was a bit overwhelming, but way fun!!  Sam really enjoyed the building room that had tons of building stuffs--marbleworks, straws and connectors, KNEX, trains...but his favorite thing was the beanbag toss.

Silly dude.  One of the volunteers actually took a photo of this to display for next year.

We had fun dinking around.  There was SO much to do there--always SOMETHING going on.  Brooklyn learned to do some simple weaving, we got to play with a microscope, play lots of games, play with LEGOS, do art much.  The downside is that we were exhausted and it would have been nice to have had a room to retreat to.  Next year, maybe.

We had lunch at the hotel.  The kids were apparently starving as they both asked for a hamburger and chicken fingers.  They settled for "how about a hamburger first and if you're still hungry, then we can do chicken fingers."  We were all stuffed after the first round and thankfully didn't need a second.

This kid cracked us up.  She was so polite and sweet to our waitress.
"Excuse me, can I please have some more lemonade?"
"Your earrings are very beautiful!"
"Oh, thank you so much!!"
Love this girl.

Here is B learning to weave.

We found this beauty later in the afternoon.

We were all exhausted by the time we got home from the conference (although Brook insisted that she wasn't too tired to stay with Bubs and the hotel that night.  After she passed out in the car for a bit, we agreed.).

We met up later the next day for some more swimming.  The adults all sat out again, but our fishies just swam and swam.  Poor Sam, who doesn't have much body fat on him, gets cold pretty easily and is done once it cools off.
But Brook...I have YET to outlast her at the pool.  We're talking 4+ hours of swimming and she's bummed when I tell her it's dark out and I (who am fully clothed) am freezing!

She is such a fish!  After this we called the local swimming lessons and got both kids in for trial lessons.  Sam decided he'd rather learn from me (his group was pretty boring...they were jumping off the side when he'd much prefer to just swim around in the deep end).  Brook was super stoked to be there and was a star pupil soaking up as much info as she could.  She can't wait to get back to it after we get back from our fall trip to Washington.

We ordered a beeswax candle making kit...which is just some sheets of colored beeswax and some wicks.  Roll the wick in the beeswax, tada!  She was pretty proud of her creations though and still plays with them every other day or so, molding them a little bit or lighting them.

We loved attending the weekly $1 children's movies at the theater this summer!
We were always the last ones in the theater.  Doing this.  It's my favorite part of the whole adventure.

We took another trip up to Stanislaus National Forest, wanting to try our hand at dispersed camping.  We all love it there, minus the drive.
Brook asked for a blanket and did this.

Brook passed out (we'd gotten up to leave at 5am since the kids do better in the car if we leave pre-dawn).  Then Sam saw her and asked for a blanket as well.  Voila, two sleeping kids.  Woot!

We knew the site we were looking for, but since it's dispersed and not marked, we couldn't find it.  So we drove to the campground by the reservoir and decided we'd just fork out the money for a site.
Russ and the kids wasted no time in hitting those boulders.

Okay, so I may have joined in too...

Once we got in some climbing and fresh air Russ decided that maybe he really didn't want to be in a campground.  So we looked at the map and saw that there were two unimproved campgrounds (aka - free) relatively close by.  So we drove over the gravelly, bumpy roads and were a bit alarmed to find SO many people there!!  We just kept driving, hoping we would find something and we stumbled upon this beauty of a site.

Brook found an old screwdriver and was using it to dig and play in the tree sap.

Of course we did lots of bouldering, swimming, hiking.  And it was quite warm out.  Which means we went through a lot of water.  The downside was that unimproved sites don't have water, but Russ was happy to be able to try out his water purifier.

There was also a LOT of hammocking!  I wished we'd had another one!  We all had turns relaxing and even napping in it.  SO nice.

Sam is really good about recognizing when he needs "alone time".  He goes and does his recharging and comes back out swinging.

Snuggle Hammock Goodness.

Coloring at the "table".

It finally cooled off a bit.  You know what that means, more bouldering, of course!!

This kid is insane.  Sprinting atop 30' high boulders makes a momma's breath catch in her chest Every Time.  Thankfully he's remarkably good at it for a 4 year old.  And that his Dad is usually 2 steps behind him.

Flipping rocks, looking for lizards.

Success!  Now it's Rock Paper Scissors to decide who gets to molest the poor thing first.

Brooklyn won.
It was a baby!!!!!  Soooooooo cute!!!

Proof that Momma was here too.  :)

Push Russ, PUSH!

Fire building time.
Sam loves lighting his TNT with his flint and steel in Minecraft, so he was excited to see Russ use his real life flint and steel to start a real fire.

Aaaaaaand yes, more hammock time.
Although other campers moved in right near us and Brooklyn was SO excited--it was 4 adults and she kept asking me, "Can I go talk with my friends now??"  She'd go over, pull up a chair and sit and chit-chat about EVERYTHING for as long as she could.

There was also a gorgeous reservoir a short hike from our site (that I neglected to take any photos of, sigh) where Brook loved swimming.  She went every day of the 3 days we were there.  The second day she was the only one who wanted to swim, but luckily there was a group of 10+ adults there with water toys, kayaks, etc. and of course she instantly befriended them.  She talked them into letting her bask in the sun on their giant water float with them as well as letting her try out their kayak!!


And don't forget, a bit more hammocking.

The morning we left the entire area smelled of campfire.  For miles and miles.  Finally we got to the highway and saw a large wildfire!  The photo doesn't do it was pretty crazy.

Later that week Brook got a package in the mail--a light-up turtle that she has apparently been wanting "for FOREVER!!!!"  She was SO excited and promptly named him Turdy.  No joke.

She also came up with the idea of making some Barbie clothes.  So we headed off to Joann's fabrics to search the remnant bin and found some good stuff!  Here's Barbie's new fancy dress.

This is Brooklyn's "First Day of Homeschool" pic for year 2012.
LOVE this homeschooling stuff!!!

Putting those school supplies to use--taping up her hand.

And then her face.  (Don't worry, she assured me she could breathe, lol.)

And then we had the idea to create some art with tape, so we began stringing it across a frame.

Here is the finished product, propped in a window with the sun shining through.

I am happy to report that after over FOUR YEARS of figuring out how to get this kid to get to sleep peacefully and without butting heads, I stumbled upon the idea of writing on his back.
Actually, one night he was laying on the couch exhausted and asked me to write on his back.
He was asleep in 10 minutes.
Since then we've kept up the ritual and it typically works like a gem.  A bonus, I get to work on my cartooning skillz and also occasionally vent some steam via pen.  And Sam gets some new cool artwork each night.

This boy is also loving his long hair.  On this day he asked for spikes.  :)

I had the opportunity to take the kids to a waterpark that's near us for free.
We only lasted a few hours after we were all wiped out.  Sam passed out within minutes of hitting the car and stayed that way for hours!!
(Note:  Let me introduce his Tom & Jerry shirt that is quite beloved.  He has instructed me on multiple occasions, "Do NOT wash dat shirt Mom.  It's VERY special."  I asked him about what happens when he gets food on it, "Umm....I will just take it off, eat, den put it back on I think."  HA!)

Brook needed some Down Time after the water park as well, lol.  She stayed this way for about an hour.

This was taken another night after going swimming earlier in the day.
This girl has every art item we own in her room.  Her bed is usually covered in books, paper, markers, crayons, My Little Ponies, stuffed animals, headphones, and whatever other random creations she makes.  Believe me, her bed is looking CLEAN in this pic!
We keep all of that stuff in her room though because she's a bit of a night owl and she often outlasts us at night, working on art stuffs.
Anyway, she'd passed out mid-coloring.

We got really into paper airplanes for a few days.  We made probably 30+ and about half of them now hang from our living room ceiling, which is really neat to watch when the air conditioning turns on!!

My sweet tomato collector--she always brings me the most delicious-looking one to eat when she's finished.  YUM!!!

I am afraid to know how much fruit this kid will chow through when he's a teen, much less now.
It's quite insane, really.

Evidence that Brooklyn has been at her experimenting again.

Oh yes, before we hung the airplanes, we had to name them all and write their names on them.  There are some great names in there!!!

Oh yeah, and we had to take them all to the park to test out which ones were the best fliers.

More plane testing.

Okay, purge done.  Although I'm missing the past 2+ weeks and we're leaving to Washington in the next couple of days so perhaps will do another dump soon.

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