Friday, January 28, 2011

Lunch date

We like to meet Dave for lunch on Wednesdays, since he works closer to home and usually has a lighter schedule. We either go to a restaurant or eat at his office, but it's starting to warm up enough to go to the park again.

Levi was sick last week (fever and fatigue), and he's had a residual runny nose, cough and lots of crankiness this week. But he happily climbed all over the playground. The french fries may have helped his mood too.

The other boys get a bit jealous of these outings, so we have to remind Brennan not to brag about getting a kids meal at Wendy's and playing at the park with dad. School really gets in the way sometimes.

Levi's finally getting some hair! I mean he's always had at least a little bit of fuzz, but now it's long enough to stick out and light up in the sun. I love the lighting in this picture.

After we take Dave back to work, we always go in to visit with the ladies - his secretary and nurse.
As we were getting out of the car, Brennan said, "They think I'm cute and funny. Today I will show them my muscles." It's true. They laugh at everything he says, give him candy and let him dust the office and look at X-rays. It's a highlight of our week.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action!

Brennan had his acting debut in a video about the KoolSpoon, invented by my brother-in-law Troy. My actor brother Ben was the writer/director/producer.

My nephews Christopher and Jonathan did the filming and editing. The rest of us were just along for the ride. It was great fun.
The whole idea is that the soup is too hot, so Brennan has to use all kinds of things to cool it down. The leaf blower seriously blew the soup everywhere. Luckily we were prepared with sheets covering the carpet.

My favorite may have been the liquid nitrogen. Talk about mad science!

Finally he got to spray a fire extinguisher. I told him I was jealous because I've never done it. His response: "It was fun!!" We were so proud of our little actor. He did what they asked him to do over and over again. Although towards the end he started saying, "I don't think this is a good idea." He was calm and very matter-of-fact about his tasks, which makes it just so funny. As soon as I can figure it out I'll put the video on here. Every time I try to do it the computer shuts down.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Monarch Grove

The kids were off school Monday for Martin Luther King day, so I took them down to see the Monarch butterfly grove in Pismo Beach. It's something I've wanted to do ever since we moved here, and it was really cool.
It was right off of Highway 1, south of Pismo Beach. The grove of eucalyptus trees was smaller than I thought it would be, but it was full of thousands of butterflies. They get about 25,000 Monarchs there from October to February, the largest group in the U.S.

There were sweet little old docents walking around answering questions. They also had a trailer next to the grove with more information about the butterflies. This is a milkweed plant on display; it is the only kind of plant the Monarchs will lay their eggs on because it's the only kind of plant a baby Monarch caterpillar will eat. So if you want to see Monarchs in your yard, plant milkweed seeds and the females will find it. As you can see, there are little white eggs under all the leaves already.
But milkweed doesn't grow within a mile of the coast, so the butterflies will all be gone by March 1st. Then it will be 5 generations before they return to Pismo next fall. It's amazing they find their way back to that little grove of trees every year. They've been going there for 80 years, and the docent said it's an ideal grove for them because the eucalyptus trees are tall and have foliage all the way down to the ground. Plus the trees grow in three rings for extra protection from wind and predators.

The males (dark orange) go on top of the females (light orange), then carry them up to the top of the trees to continue mating for 8-24 hours. This was going on all around us. My boys refer to this as "getting married."

Sometimes the females got stuck in the leaves and the males couldn't lift them; so someone would carefully move the leaves and twigs out of the way to free her. We were all rooting for them. It's a good thing the butterflies aren't shy.

We forgot our binoculars in the car, but they had these handy telescopes for us to use.

We were there from 3-4 p.m, and they were just starting to make their way to the trees to bed down for the night. Every once in a while they would all decide to leave their tree and swarm around over our heads. What a sight!

Have you read Knuffle Bunny? Well this is Levi going "boneless."

There was a little path winding around the trees and protected areas to keep people away from the mating butterflies. But we still had to watch our step just in case.

Afterwards we continued on the path down to the beach. There were dunes, streams (luckily no one got too wet because we weren't prepared for swimming) and lots of awesome climbing trees.

Looking at these pictures makes me realize how shaggy all my boys are. Time for haircuts.

Oh my goodness, what a beautiful day at the beach. It was 80 degrees there! No wonder the Monarchs choose the central coast to survive the winter.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Temple Day

We went down to Los Angeles last weekend for stake temple day. As usual we rented an apartment and took turns watching the kids. I went to the 6:30 A.M. session. I love waking up early and walking to the temple when it's still dark outside and the temple is all lit up. I'm always amazed how many people are there at that hour. It happened to be a Tongan session, and wow! there are a lot of Tongans in the L.A. area. I had some things I needed to pray about, but mostly I really needed a good spiritual lift. Sundays have been so busy for me with Dave up on the stand that I haven't felt like I've gotten enough from sacrament meeting to get me through the week. As soon as I sat down to pray in the Celestial room, I felt completely enveloped in the spirit and started to cry. It was just what I needed, and I'm so thankful we have a temple we can go to. And I'm glad my kids like to go too so it's a fun trip for the whole family. Afterwards I took the crew to the new visitor's center. It was an incredibly warm, beautiful day. We left around 2:00 and got home in time to watch the second disc of Emma.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Indirect light

Snow makes awesome indirect light in the shade, casting a soft light on the subject's face. I had fun taking close-ups of everyone.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


We went to the snow after Christmas. Apparently all of California had the same idea, because we had a heck of a time trying to find a cabin. But we ended up getting a newly remodeled apartment at the place we usually go to (Shaver Lake Village Hotel) that slept 8! It was nothing fancy, but it was sure nice to have 2 bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen with lots of room for wet boots, coats and sleds. They had a bunch of snow the week before we went, then it snowed a foot the night before and continued to snow that whole first day.

My kids don't like the snow until they are about 3 years old. Levi hated the cold, and he let us all know it. Too bad we couldn't leave him home.

Dave took him sledding a few times. He liked it okay the first couple of times, but then they got a little snowy. He didn't like it after that. As you can see, Dallin was in heaven. The faster, the snowier, the better.

Brennan was ready to come in to get warm before everyone else. That's what I love about staying right in the snow - people can go in for hot chocolate whenever they want. And cranky babies can take naps.

That snow looks clean enought to eat, right?

We especially love the big sledding hill right behind the hotel.

The next day we woke up to a very sunny, clear, COLD morning. They all enjoyed a second breakfast of icicles.

We left bright and early to drive up the mountain to China Peak, formerly known as Sierra Summit. It's where we went skiing last year. We watched the temperature drop lower and lower the closer we got. It was freezing cold there!! Spencer said it got even colder going up the ski lift. In fact he said it's the coldest he's ever been in his whole life. That's probably true. Luckily it warmed up a little after a couple of hours, and there was a nice warm lodge for us non-skiers.

Isn't this beautiful? I took this picture between the parking lot and the ski resort.

If you plan a trip there, you can get a discount at the Costco in Fresno: $80 for $100 worth of gift certificates. So for our whole family (minus me and Levi) to ski/snowboard and rent equipment on a holiday, we spent $240 instead of $300. That's a pretty good deal. However it was VERY crowded. Note to self - go skiing the week before Christmas next time.

Tyler improved a ton this time. In fact Dave took him up to the very top of the mountain twice. It was his first time to go on the big ski lift, since he just stayed on the bunny slope with Dallin last year. The three of them (Dave, Spencer and Tyler) always stuck together on the way down, with Dave yelling for one to stop when the other fell and had to get their skis/snowboard back on. At one point they were on a blue, so Dave put Tyler between his legs. They even went over a jump, which Tyler LOVED. I'm so impressed that my kids can do these things that I can't. I hate to go fast, and although I've only skied twice, I really didn't like it. Dave loves, loves, loves it, so I'm so glad he has his boys to go with him. It makes me happy to see them have so much fun.

Dallin was a little more cautious with his skiing this year. He forgot how to slow down and plowed into the line of people waiting to go up the bunny slope. Twice. He mostly hung out with me and Brennan after that.

This was Brennan's first time to ski, and we put him in lessons. He LOVED it, which was a relief because half the kids in his class were crying and complaining. But Brennan just smiled big the whole time. I know, he doesn't really need a helmet, since he never actually went down anything you could call steep. But he just got this helmet for Christmas, and he was excited to wear it. I was also grateful Brennan was happy because I was preoccupied holding Levi all day. He was cranky and tired and took a lot of attention. My arms were so sore that night!

We enjoyed a relaxing morning before we left the next day, sledding and drinking hot chocolate and slowly packing up the car. They made this jump, and I especially love this picture of Dallin flying in the air.

This was just such a happy trip. Except for Levi, there was no crying or sadness or complaining about the cold. They all just had a blast.

The snow was especially dry and powdery this year. Is that because it was so much colder? This makes for great skiing and sledding, but snowballs and snowmen were tough. So we just found clumps of icy snow for our very small, lumpy snowman.

Someone's been reading too much Calvin and Hobbes.

Good-bye, snow! We'll see you again next year.

To anyone who says that DVD players in cars take away from good old-fashioned family car trips of games and singing (several people have told me that), I'd like to see you spend 3 hours in the car with Levi. The twerp never sleeps in the car, no matter how tired he is - he just screams and screams. And that little screen above his car seat gave us a few minutes of quiet. On the way home we stopped at a Mexican buffet in Fresno that my parents recommended, and it was a huge hit. Happy new year!