Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thank-you Jen and Uche!

My siblings and I rotate giving gifts to each other every Christmas. We used to pick names when we lived at home, but now we just go down the list in order. This year Jen and Uche gave us a badminton set, which is awesome. I bought one for Dave a few years ago, and a couple of the kids (one of ours and a cousin) hung on the net and broke it before we even had a chance to play it once. We returned it and were hesitant about getting another one. But this one is much sturdier. Plus Dave can put it up super quick.

I don't think Tyler had ever played before, so Dave gave him some pointers.

I just sat in a chair and hit all the birdies that were within arm's reach, so we were about the same level.

Spencer is an old pro. He's played a bunch of times, including last week in gym. He loves it!

He's like Dave - he dives for everything.

Our yard is the perfect size for it. What a fun gift!

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Years Eve

On New Year's Eve we went to the beach, stopping to see the elephant seals on the way. Josh and Megan had never been there, and they really enjoyed it. It's worth experiencing at least once, and it's always amazing to see so many huge animals on the beach.

We even got to see some mating in action, which is always a bit disturbing yet fascinating. We feel like we're somehow infringing on their privacy, but they don't seem to mind us. Actually the female really complains loudly about the whole thing, but the male doesn't get the hint and keeps chasing her all around the beach.

Then we headed down to our favorite beach and enjoyed hours of fun.

My parents had actually never been to this beach, since there were plenty of closer beaches where they used to live. But it's our favorite one, and we were so happy they came.

There was one lone elephant seal on our beach who must have taken the wrong turn at Albuqueque. He drew a lot of tourist attention - there was a huge crowd taking pictures of him. He was quite loud, probably wondering where everyone else was.

The kids buried Peter in the sand - he's actually standing in a big hole. This drew some tourists away from the elephant seals, and they started taking pictures of him also!

Jonathan provided the ambient beachy music. It was lovely.

Tyler was next to be buried.

We really didn't think we'd stay as long as we did, but it was so warm and beautiful and not windy (how often does that happen?!) that we couldn't pull ourselves away.

Several groups walked to the end of the pier.

Someone asked us if we were going to stay and watch the sunset. Dave said no, but then he realized that the sun was very close to setting. So we enjoyed the last sunset of 2011, and it was gorgeous.

After we went home, cleaned ourselves up and ate a quick dinner, we all met back at Kristen and Nathan's house for games and food

It's a good thing Dave and Nathan have each other to play games with, because Kristen and I would rather sit and visit and not play games.

We did our countdown to midnight at 10:00. We figured we were ushering in the new year with Jen and Uche and Ben and Barbara.

Then we left the party to put the little kids to bed. We let the oldest 3 stay up and watch a movie until the real midnight, but Dallin and I didn't quite make it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Next round of visitors

Josh and Megan's family came to visit a couple of days after Maryruth's left. On Friday we went to Montana de Oro to walk along the bluffs. I'm sorry there are no pictures of the bluffs. I was still having too much fun with my new lens, which only does close-ups. We'll have to go there another time to get actual scenery shots.

Kristen came with 3 of her kids - Luke was home sleeping and the rest were busy. I love this casual, sunny, back-lit picture of her. Beautiful!

Poor Elizabeth was the only girl there, and she mostly hung out with the adults.

On the way home she rode with Kristen in her new car. She told her that her boys remind her of a boy in her class. Then she added that the boy has autism. She wants to go visit girl cousins next.

Here are some more cool back-lit pictures. I love how they still have so much light and detail, even in the shadows. This is Jonah.

And here is his identical twin brother Ethan. I'm getting so good at telling them apart! (I am right, right?)

After awhile we looped back towards the cars and found a cool grove of eucalyptus trees to climb.

You can't see it in this picture, but Asher was holding some kind of centipede. I'm still not used to having a prime lens, and it sometimes takes closer pictures than I want. I have to move myself back and forth, and there was limited space for that.

That night all the adults went out to dinner without the kids. It's one of my favorite things we do when family comes to visit.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Zoo trip with cousins

We went to our dinky little zoo with a couple of cousins that week after Christmas. Levi wouldn't get in the picture. He was too busy looking at the turkeys.

I kept telling him not to get too close, but the next thing I knew he was screaming. Apparently the turkey bit his face!

I didn't take too many pictures of animals this time, since they were all too far away for my lens, but this monkey was nice and close.

Jacob got a camera for Christmas, so we were both snapping pictures.

This picture of Peter cracks me up!

Talking to the birds.

After the zoo we ate donuts and played at the park. Then they wandered over to the lake and found a totally cool bridge to play under.

The lighting was awesome under there.

Then someone gave us some bread to feed the ducks and geese. They came close, but luckily they didn't bite us.

It's practically impossible to keep 7 boys out of water, but we managed to stay relatively dry.

I love the rustic grey background in these pictures. It was hard to leave, and we ended up being there a lot longer than I planned. It was a fun day.