Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Year two Begins

So here we are again at another start of another year. I now have one running around getting into EVERYTHING (16months), one starting preschool, one in First Grade, and one in Second Grade! It is going to be a crazy year. We have #2 in football and #1 starts basketball in a couple of weeks. I am excited for the new school year but also know it will be harder than last year. This is mainly due to Owen. He was asleep A LOT more last year than he will be this year and he is not really into self entertaining in a safe and desirable way. That being said I am courageous and I will find a way to do it with just as much fun, finesse, and patience as I did last year... I will have one less kiddo twice a week in the morning (at preschool) which will be super fun for him and a good break for everyone else. We reinstituted the behavior caterpillar but with a few changes to acknowledge our Media Ticket policy. You can read about that here. I will be doing some serious alphabet and numbers to 20 work with #3 when he is home with us for school. He is interested so I say, why not, plus he needs entertained apparently as well so I don't have two mischievous little beings running around. I have to admit, like last year, I am both excited and scared about the upcoming year. I do hope that my skill at the preparation part can help me through all the other parts! I am much better at life in general when I am prepared, I am just one of those people. So the lesson plans have begun. The projects for the Little Guys have been printed/made/colored/ and even some lamination has taken place. So hopefully we (the little guys and I) have fun, too, while the big boys are having fun learning all they need to know to get to the next level!

Pics of the Little Guys also taken today!  Now you know what I am up against! :)



Roadtrip 2013: Redwoods in Humboldt State Park (Part One)

This year we decided to try something new!  We decided to take a road trip!  8 days, 4 campgrounds and 1 Hotel!  It actually was a ton of fun!  We took our time traveling north and booked back home in two long days.  We took 4 days getting there.  As you may have noted from an earlier post we had a hitch installed so that we could tow this cute trailer with all of our camping gear, bikes, and beach toys in it!  Our car was a trooper and aside from having a nail in the tire before we left the day of our trip that needed dealt with we had 0 problems.  (there were some scary parts, but we will get to those halfway through this huge picture post)
 Bryan got this for his birthday, now no one wants to steal our car, it is totally a security thing! :)

 Day 1:  Santa Barbara

     We spent the day in Santa Barbara at the beach.  We had lunch at the car from the cooler and dinner at a pizza joint on the beach!  Owen learned how to stand up on his own and walk without having to crawl over to something to stand up... then walk.  This was great news since I was dreading the dirt ball he was going to be crawling around everywhere.  Trust me he was still filthy but nothing like a crawler at a campground!  We then headed to Santa Margarita and got in very late there, almost 10, and had to set up camp in the dark...(we didn't do that again)


Day 2: Started in Santa Margarita near a lake we never actually saw.  We stayed at a KOA, it was our least favorite campground on this trip.  It was dirty and dusty and that was about it.  It also was a HUGE campsite we could have fit 5 of our monster tents on it and not been crowded.

We packed up early and started on the road... thank goodness we have such good helpers because there was a lot of setting up and taking down on this trip!

We headed out to the PCH and lunched at the beach at Morro Rock.   The view was amazing but the sand flies were not!  We stayed almost an hour but couldn't deal with the flies anymore and were driven off the beach by them. 
This is as close as we got to Hearst Castle.  I would love to see it but I would not love to pay for a bunch of kiddos to see it that don't give a jingle at this age.  This activity will have to wait for a few years.
We did pull off at the Elephant Seal Viewing site.  It was absolutely amazing.  I have never seen anything like it.  Seriously hundreds of them laying around, barking, fighting, and truly stinking up the place.
Then we continued driving up the coast on the PCH.  This was a little bit scary while towing,  especially since some of the climbs were pretty steep, but the Swagger Wagon was up for the task!

Cuties in the back seat.

traveled all the way up the PCH until we hit Carmel by the Sea then we headed inland and up to Santa Clara just outside of San Jose.  We stayed the night in an Embassy Suites Hotel it was nice. 
We got everyone bathed, well slept and had a hot breakfast on the house in the morning.  We were so close to the Winchester Mansion I could feel it, but that is another tour that will have to wait, I suppose. 

Day 3:  San Francisco

   So we headed up to San Francisco after a lovely breakfast and we could see the cloud cover from 20 miles away.  No kidding around this place was gloomy.  I have never seen San Fran before and I have always heard it is pretty cold because of the cloud cover but this is serious!

Yeah, Did I mention this was in the dead middle of JULY!! It was cold in San Fran!  It was nice to visit and I would love to visit it again when we are not towing something with a minivan trying to maneuver crazy steep hills while still having an engine and brakes at the end of the
day.  I would like to come here without the kiddos with the hubby sometime!  Maybe an anniversary weekend in a rental car.


This was the big event of the day!  We went over the Golden Gate Bridge.  Well I was really hoping it wouldn't be so cloudy so that we could actually SEE the bridge but that was not the case so it was what it was.

after leaving San Francisco and getting a little turned around in it which allowed us to truly experience the crazy steep streets we headed north on the 101!
We stopped at a park in Rohnert Park and had lunch and played and got our wiggles out for a while! Then we headed to our destination which was in Manchester, CA.  Look that up!  There is not very much there.  But the trip there was CRAZY!

All good road trip stories these days start with, "I was following my GPS"  Well so does ours.  Our GPS showed us a neat shortcut back to the coast over a little highway called the 128 and a very little road called Mountain View Road.  We took it.  It started out quite beautiful then it started to get very narrow, pretty soon we were not sure two cars could pass each other on this two way road.  Then we started climbing and climbing and climbing with straight drop offs off of a crumbling road!  It was terrifying.  Let me remind you we were towing with a MINIVAN!  We put a movie in for the kids so they would be unaware of our discomfort and quiet and said a prayer. 

See how pretty it was at the beginning.  I didn't take pictures during the scary part because I was busy clawing at my passenger side door not looking down.  This was the cute old one car only bridge on the road. It looks okay in the photo but in real life we weren't sure if it would hold another car passing over it.  We stopped and surveyed it wondering if we should just turn back.  We figured we must have already been through the worst of the road so surely we would just go over it to safety.  We were wrong of course.


 It got scarier and steeper and went on for about 20 miles of this which took about 2 hours of pure terror on my part and even Bryan was obviously concerned.  Finally it flattened out and I got brave enough to let go of the door and take a few pictures.


Then we got to experience that old saying, "What goes up, must come down"

It went down like this!  They didn't want to scare people so they just placed one of these signs every mile and half for about 10 miles! So we took quite a while doing this as well as of course this road was not straight it was hairpin curves all the way!


3 hours after our shortcut had started we were finally at the coast.  By this time I was even scared of little hills because they may lead to big ones!

When we arrived at the KOA in Manchester, CA, the lady at the desk nonchalant like asked me how I got there.  I almost cried telling her we had taken MOUNTAIN VIEW ROAD!  she smiled and said, "I bet you have never been happier in your life to see flat ground?"  She was right, of course, and she then made it ALL worth it by presenting us with this award.  Which I am thinking of framing and putting on the wall in my house because I treasure it so much!

Manchester was socked in with FOG everything was wet by evening and by morning the fog had made puddles it was so wet you could see it but it wasn't raining it was cold too.  COLD and WET not this mama's favorite combo!  I started to get a little worried and was praying that our final destination was not going to have this weather since we were going to be staying there for several days.

We lucked out with another HUGE campsite and the boys played and rode bikes all evening and most of the next morning.



Check out the fog rolling in around 4 p.m. it seemed like 7:00 p.m. for hours...

Day 4:  On To Humboldt

     The next morning rather than taking the "shortcut" back to the 101 we headed up the PCH and saw some beautiful coast and decided that although the PCH seemed scary two days ago with its "kinda" steep inclines we had seen much worse and were now seasoned and unfazed by this. 

Mendocino was super cute and foggy, and cold which I have decided might just be the case for all of Northern Coastal California.  Turns out I really like the sunshine. 

This is Kevin in case you are wondering how us poor So Cal folks were feeling up there! We stopped off and ate lunch in Mendocino at a cute little pizza place right downtown. 


Then the sun came out!!!

I was so excited to see that the temperature had climbed back up to 80 in Humboldt state park and felt lovely in the shade with pants and a T-shirt.  We stopped off and got enough wood for the next few days off the ground and threw it in the trailer...did I mention we loved bringing that trailer!  That alone probably saved us nearly $40.00 in wood costs! Buying wood at campsites is a little pricey!

We saw this thing!  It is a Trike with a roof and a trailer! WOW!
We wanted to drive through the tree but decided our super awesome minivan might be a little bit wide actually for that really small hole! 

Batman was with us at some points on our trip. 
Day 5: Humboldt
We decided to hike over and see if we could find somewhere to swim in the nearby river, (Eel River)

The boys learned that these holes or tree caves are called goose pens.  They made sure the checked out each one they saw.

Fallen trees make huge climbing structures!

We did find a place to swim or wade anyway!

Dad snatched a Gardner snake out of the water and Adam wanted to keep it as a pet...  Mom showed how cool she was by catching tadpoles!

We lucked out with another ENORMOUS campsite!

I took a two hour nap on one of those cots, it was amazing! Owen needed a nap too!

Owen had his first S'More and wanted more and more...