Thursday, October 2, 2014

California: Part 3

Here are a few cute pictures from our stay with Jessie...

I love this one of the two girls looking at each other!

These pictures are from the airport.  Me and my kids, Jess, and Leah flew to San Diego.  Brett got some one-on-one time with Alexis for a few days.  

When we got onto the plane, me, Jess, and Audrey sat in a row, and Leah and Phoenix took the row in front of us.  Phoenix was talking a mile a minute about anything and everything.  Me and Jess laughed when a young guy sat down next to Phoenix because Phoenix wouldn't stop talking.  When we got off the plane, Leah told us that Phoenix had pointed to the guy's earrings and said something like "Why is he wearing earrings?  Earrings are for girls!"  and the guy was wearing a tank top and Phoenix saw his armpit hair and he pointed at it and said that his Daddy has armpit hair also.  Leah said that the guy was busy rocking out to his music with his big earphones on the whole time, so he may not have heard anything that Phoenix said.  

California Trip: Part 2

Alexis loves being read to, and Audrey really enjoyed reading books to her.  It was so cute to see!  There was one morning that Alexis was being clingy to Jess, so I took her upstairs so that Jess could eat her breakfast, and Alexis was not too happy with me.  After a few minutes of literally trying everything I could to cheer her up, Phoenix walked in, and she immediately calmed down.  Then Audrey came in, and Alexis sat happily between her cousins while I read books to them.  Another time, Alexis bumped her head on the wall and she was crying.  Jess was holding her, and then Audrey picked her up and Alexis immediately calmed down.  The more I see our kids interacting with their cousins, the more I believe that they can innately feel a strong bond with each other.  It is incredible!

We got to go to Train Town, which was this cute little place geared towards kids.  

Brett is an awesome brother-in-law.  He is hilarious, and he is a great father and husband to Alexis and Jess.  I loved visiting them. 

There was this little roller coaster (emphasis on little) and Jess and Leah took the kids on it while I watched.  Both Jess and Leah were laughing so I thought they were having fun.  Then I went on it, and I realized they had been laughing because it was so jerky and uncomfortable that you had to laugh.  

California Trip: Part 1

Me and the kids skipped town the first week of September and went to visit my sisters in California (Jess who lives there, and Leah visiting from Chicago).  My kids haven't seen Alexis since last year, and she has grown and changed so much since then.  When we were in the parking lot of the airport, after Jess and her family picked us up, Alexis walked over to Phoenix and gave him a hug, and then she walked over to Audrey and gave her a hug.  It was the cutest/sweetest thing ever!

Audrey loved holding Alexis and carrying her around, and Alexis loved being carried around by Audrey.  

We got to go the Jelly Belly factory!  It was quite interesting to see how much goes into make the small little jelly beans, and I really enjoyed hearing the history of both the company, and the jelly bean.  

Our tour guide said everything with artificial enthusiasm, so fake that you couldn't help but laugh.  It actually made the tour a bit more amusing.  

Camping at the Outer Banks

When I was younger my family used to go camping at the Outer Banks every summer. I have so many wonderful memories of our vacations, that I have always wanted to go back to the same campground and create new ones with my kids.  This summer we finally took the plunge and decided to do it.  We only went for one night, and I think that was enough.  The campground had upgraded the showers (still ice cold, but now tiled), but most everything else was the same.  It was fun to imagine my 9 year old self running around with my sisters, likely annoying the heck out of everyone else that was camping there.  The best part about the campground is that it is a short walk to the beach.  We enjoyed a peaceful evening at the beach, we ate Mountain Man Stew for dinner (an original recipe that my Dad came up with backpacking in the Rockies), and we topped the night off with s'mores and scary stories.    

Phoenix tells the funniest scariest scary stories.  The Holy Ghost makes it into almost every one (despite the many talks we have had with him that the Holy Ghost is good and friendly), and skeletons, bears, lava-bears, dinosaurs, and fire-breathing dragons also frequently appear.  He likes making sound effects (like running his fingers across the wall to sound like scampering), and he always tries to one-up previous stories.  The last scary story that he told had one billion one hundred skeletons in it.  Audrey was telling one and she had 4 skeletons in her story and Phoenix leaned over and whispered "No, Audrey, make it be one billion skeletons" as if he was giving her expert advise.  

The kids got to experience the thistles and the cacti of my childhood memories first hand.  Phoenix had to learn the hard way why you should 1) stay on the path and 2) wear shoes.  

On the way home we stopped by the Somerset Plantation. It wasn't opened that day, but we walked around the grounds.  Whispers of the lives that once were on those grounds were everywhere.  I want to go back and get the guided tour.  

We had an enjoyable weekend camping trip.  Camping is a lot of work to pack, set up, take down, and unpack, but it is worth it for the memories made.

A New Lens

After much internal debate (as in like 2 years worth) I finally made the decision on what my first lens upgrade would be for my (precious) dslr.  I went with a 50 mm, for several reasons.  I wanted a good lens to take pictures of my kids with, one that would be good indoors as well.  With all of the warm tones going on in our house, it has always been a struggle to get a clean looking picture indoors.  

Here are a few shots with my new lens (I know they aren't amazing to any trained eye, but they are SO much lighter and prettier than the typical image from my kit lens that I had to have a mini celebration).  I am still extremely unskilled in the photography department, but I feel like I am finally starting to make small strides in the right direction (after no progress for a few years).

A "Normal" Evening

Tonight was a rare occurrence in the Andrew household.  Travis got home from work early enough to go for a run, and shower before dinner.  I made a real dinner (the kind that take more than 5 minutes of prep work), and after dinner and the dishes were done, Travis played with the kids in our family room.  It was awesome.

Travis works long hours for more than half of the year.  When I say long, I mean he is gone by 6 am, and generally not home until about 9 pm.  If he did go for a run, it would be around 10 pm.  During these months, I lack motivation to make a "real meal" for dinner because the kids are just as happy with Kraft Mac+ Cheese, or Campbell's Tomato Soup.  We squeeze as much quality time in with the family during the weekends, but the weekends always pass too quickly.  I am OK with it because Travis is working hard to support our family.  I am so grateful for him and all of his hard work.  I think it also makes me appreciate the small things that may seem like no big deal to someone dinner as a family, and enough time before the kid's bedtime to play around.  Fall is my favorite season of the year, and the biggest reason why is that we get to spend way more time together as a family.