Thursday, January 28, 2016

Valencia Peak

As I mentioned earlier, we hiked Valencia Peak 2 days after Thanksgiving. It was lovely!

There are several things I love about this hike. 
1. It has great views of the ocean pretty much the entire time. 

2. It's not too steep. Don't get me wrong, it goes up, but it's totally doable. It's fairly gradual and flattens out from time to time so you can catch your breath. 

 3. Apparently it's great for mountain boarding. Spencer kept running ahead and riding down. 

4. Since it's right next to the coast, it never gets too hot. Perfect hiking weather every time.

5. It's a good distance, although it is more than 2 miles up now. They've blocked off some sections and made it longer, but it still isn't too bad. It's probably around 5 miles round trip.

6. It has a very satisfying top with wide open views in all directions. 

I loved the soft colors and lighting at the top. I could have stayed up there longer, but we had to get back down before dark. It took us about an hour each way.

Enjoying the view!

Spencer had fun with the camera remote!

 I love hiking with these people!!

Chloe is a trooper! She hiked almost the whole way up, but Dave put her in the back carrier for part of it so we could move quickly.

Everyone looked so great in this lighting.

Ok, time to head back down.

 I dragged a sweatshirt up with me but was glad to have it on the way back down. It got chilly!

It was almost completely dark by the time we got back to our car. What a fun day!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Family Pics

We went to Barney Schwartz Park to take pictures the day after Thanksgiving. We hadn't gotten family pictures in a couple of years, and it was time. We didn't want to pay for a photographer, so I bought a little camera remote for $20 and took our own. I was happy with how they turned out. Everyone was cooperative, and the smiles are natural. 

I took several pictures while I figured out lighting and such. Then I got everyone into position and jumped in. There was a lot of running back and forth.

We walked all around the park and took individual shots. 

I had to give everyone haircuts beforehand and make sure we all had somewhat coordinating outfits. Plus it's hard to find a day when nothing else is scheduled. There's a reason these things don't happen very often!

Chloe was freezing cold at this point, but we managed to take off her coat and grab a few quick pictures. I love that skirt! Too bad you can't see it very well in the family picture - she wanted to be close to dad to keep warm.

I'm not very good at posing people for pictures. Luckily the kids are naturals!

They had fun choosing their picture spots!

We snapped away until we ran out of daylight. We'll have to take them a little earlier in the year next time, so it's not so cold!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Happy Birthday Brennan!

Brennan turned 9 the Saturday after Thanksgiving. He opened his presents first thing in the morning and played with them all morning.

Later that afternoon we did a family hike at Valencia Peak. We got out the door a little later than we planned, but that meant we had gorgeous lighting at the top. We happened to still have our tripod on us from our Christmas pictures the day before, so even though there wasn't anyone at the top, we were still able to get a family picture! That's the remote in Spencer's hand.

We did this hike a couple years ago, and we love it. Amazing views the whole way! It's steep, but not too bad. And since it's right next to the coast, it never gets too hot. We saw a beautiful sunset over the water while hiking back down. Great choice, Brennan!

Brennan requested grilled tritip steak for his birthday dinner. He reminded me of that for a couple months beforehand. I made him 2 cakes - chocolate and vanilla, both with caramel frosting. So delicious!

He loved the window cling maker from cousins. He said it made him feel like a mad scientist. 

One of my favorite birthday traditions is getting the kids out of school and taking them out to lunch. He chose Philly cheese steak sandwiches and onion rings at East to West.  He especially enjoyed the condiment bar with lots of spicy peppers! He has the widest food pallet of any kid I know. We attribute it to his early food allergies, which kept his from eating all the regular kid foods - chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, etc. He can eat all those things now (minus the peanut butter), but he likes pretty much everything, including veggies and spicy foods. 

Oh, how I love this kid! He is so creative and fun, and he sees the world in such an imaginative way. He is always making things out of random items from around the house. He loves tape, rope, poles, and anything he can find in our junk drawers. We gave him painter's tape for his birthday. It's his most played with gift. 

He has started taking violin lessons, and his teacher is impressed with his ability to sight read music and pick up rhythm. He is gaining confidence in school as he excels in reading. He just started reading big chapter books (he especially likes Percy Jackson). He loves boogie boarding, riding bikes, playing with cousins, swimming, and giving me hugs. I love being Brennan's mom!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Thanksgiving Staycation

We debated going somewhere for Thanksgiving break, since Dave and the boys were off the whole week. But then we decided we'd really rather stay home and do local stuff, i.e., a "staycation."  

So one day we packed up the kayak, surfboard and boogie boards and headed over to Cayucos. 

It turned out to be a beautiful day there! Sunny and warm, over 80 degrees. The next few days were stormy and cold (remember our anniversary trip?), so we definitely chose the best beach day. I love Chloe's overlapping reflection and shadow!

The kids ended up spending most of the time gathering sand crabs. There were tons of them! We couldn't see anything from the surface, but as soon as they dug down just an inch or two, the ground was crawling with them. 

Another day we went rock climbing at Cabrillo, which is between Morro Bay and Los Osos. We've been there lots of times, but this time we climbed a different rock. They all seemed to really like it.

Great view of Morro Bay from up there! 

Have I mentioned how happy I am that Spencer does half the belaying now so I don't have to? My fingers get sore and I can't take pictures.

It was a beautiful day, but it was much cooler than our beach day. In other words, perfect for climbing. There's no shade there, so it tends to get really hot.

Often I'm tempted to just send Dave with the older boys while I stay home with Levi and Chloe, our non-climbers. It can get a little boring for us, and I have to spend a good bit of the time making sure they don't get into poison oak. But everyone seems to want me there (I feed them and take pictures, so I guess I'm useful). This time I agreed to hang out at the rock for a little bit and then leave to take the little ones over to Morro Bay. I liked this way better. Sure enough, after a short time, they both had to go potty. That was our cue to leave.

Levi found a fishing boat for sale. He was convinced we should buy it. Chloe was not in a picture-taking mood, but at least you can see her cute french braids. 

We walked along the Embarcadero and went in a few shops. Of course our favorite is the Shell Shop.

As you can see, he is listening to the ocean.

There was a little bit of a hike from the car to the rock. Here's a great view of the whole rock they climbed. There were several anchors up above and a few different climbs for each anchor.  

I love this picture! I walked up the side of the hill next to the rock a little bit to get it.

They all got to do several climbs. They also did some mountain boarding around all the trails.

Afterwards we drove back to Morro Bay for fish-n-chips at Hofbrau. We decided I wouldn't have to cook dinners that week (except Thanksgiving dinner, of course), since we were on vacation. It was lovely.

Afterwards we walked around to kill some time before heading down to San Luis Obispo. There's the fishing boat Levi thinks we should buy :)

Then we went to the Drive-In to watch 2 movies: Peanuts and The Martian. This is the best time of year to go because it gets dark early. That way we don't get home TOO late. 

 I sat outside and froze (I need to dress warmer next time), but it was still a fun night. It just feels so classic.