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Fall is here!

November 16, 2014
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Which means that it is Persimmon Time! We have spent the last few weekends harvesting our persimmons. The boys were great helpers, Henry picking from the ground, Oliver from the tree.

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Look at all those persimmons. I just love their bright orange color!

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My little helpers.

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We are not the only ones who like persimmons!

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Happy (belated) Halloween!

November 7, 2014
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Ack! What happened to the time?! We did celebrate Halloween, I have proof!

We carved pumpkins:

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The boys designed them and carved them by themselves this year:

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OOOOOOOOhhhhh.

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Sccccaaaarrrryyyy!

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And we made costumes! Henry was an Imperial Guard from Star Wars:

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And Oliver was Steve from Minecraft:

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Orange Guy and 70s Girl even made an appearance:

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Happy (belated) Halloween!

Ardenwood!

October 13, 2014
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Today we went on our annual trip to Ardenwood, the historic farm that hosts a harvest festival every year.  This is our fourth year going and by now the boys and I have it down to a science. We knew what we wanted to see and do…

The train ride through the eucalyptus forest:

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Looking for corn in the cornfields:

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Luckily there were a few left:

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Our harvest:

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In fact we had it timed perfectly, right down to the part when two tired kids pose for a photo and carry their pumpkins back to the car:

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What a fun and exhausting day!

Wrapping up another summer

September 13, 2014
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After so much fun and excitement, our last few weeks of summer were quite. We did the absolute bare minimum of learning:

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And the tiniest bit of outdoor fun:

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But mainly we were getting ready for a new year of school! Oliver is going into third grade and Henry is starting Kindergarten! The really fun thing about a having a family blog is that you can look back and see what you were doing in the past.  Three years ago, Oliver had just started kindergarten and Henry was still a toddler.

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My little boys are growing up so fast!

 

Westy Trip 2014 :: Week of Awesome Camping Fun!

August 27, 2014

For the past three summers we have been able to take some time to go on a long camping trip in our Westy. The first trip was 25 days and last year’s was 10 days. This year between Sam finishing up his program and a wonderful visit with family, we were only able to get a week, but it still managed to be a great, big adventure!

Day 1: After a long day of packing we loaded up  the van, the boys, the dogs, and headed up to the Grouse Ridge campground in the Tahoe National Forest. It was Sam’s birthday and we got to celebrate with a beautiful campsite and an amazing sunset!

Lesson learned: Always bring a tablecloth for special camping dinners.

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Day 2: We woke up to a cloudy and drizzly morning and walked up to the Grouse Ridge lookout which was built in the 1920s and used for 50 years as a fire lookout tower. The view was spectacular, if a little cloudy.

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We also managed a hike to Milk Lake before it started to rain…

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…and rain. We ended up spending most of the afternoon in the Westy playing cards, coloring, and listening to music and audiobooks.
Lesson learned: Having lunch and playing cards in the Westy is fun. Eating dinner with tired, dirty, hungry boys and dogs is not.

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Day 3: It rained a lot during the night but the morning was clear so we decided to go on a hike down to Downey Lake, a large clear lake, perfect for throwing rocks and listening to our echoes.

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We walked back to camp just in time for it to start raining so we quickly packed up camp and headed out with no real plan. After a long drive where we saw a bear but no great campsites, we finally ended up in Mendocino National Forest.
Lesson learned: Once Henry starts singing “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC he can’t stop. He might have a future career in Heavy Metal!

Day 4:  After packing up camp we headed farther into the Mendocino National Forest to Pillsbury Lake where we hung out all afternoon swimming and jumping into the lake. After all the rain the two previous days it felt so great to sit out in the hot sun!
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Lesson Learned: You can never have enough sunscreen!
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 Day 5: Glorious, hot day by the lake! We went for a walk, saw some elk, and spent the afternoon swimming at the lake and relaxing back at camp. It was such a hot day that the dogs were hiding in the shade whole time and by mid-afternoon so were we.
Lesson learned: No, that is not a cow screaming, it is an elk.

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 Day 6: After two hot days by the lake we were ready to move on. We packed up and headed out on a long and bumpy drive to the coast. We ended up camping at Manchester Beach State Park where it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, crisp but not too cold.
Lesson Learned: Always book ahead for campsites on the weekend!
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Day 7: We wanted to do one more night of camping, but every single campsite between the Mendocino Coast and home was booked up. It was definitely a bummer, lesson obviously not learned! We did have a chance to visit the Point Arena Lighthouse where you can climb to the top of the tallest Pacific Coast Lighthouse.
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 Man there were a lot of stairs! And one last romp at the beach before heading home:
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Lesson learned:  This trip felt a bit like a dog chasing its tail, going in circles from rain, to heat, to coast. We started up in the forest, but although it was beautiful it started to rain. When it got too wet we headed to a warmer spot. The lake was a perfect way to cool off, but after melting in the heat for two days it was time to move on. The coast was beautiful and crisp, not rainy, not hot, but by then we were wrapping up our trip.  I’m not sure if we ever found our sweet spot this summer, but we had some sweet moments. The boys love camping and had a great time playing and exploring. They did surprisingly well on all the long drives even when we didn’t know where we were going or when we were going to get to camp. They were more upset than we were that we could’t find one more place to camp.  The dogs had an absolute blast running around, checking everything out, and sleeping with us in our sleeping bags. We got to explore some areas that we never would have discovered and we had fun times and made good memories along the way. Where should we go next year?

Week of Awesome Fun!

August 13, 2014

We just got back from a long camping trip and I have loads of photos to go through, but before I share those, I want to tell you about the most amazing visit from Sam’s sister and her family. They were only in town for a week but we did so many fun things!

A trip on the ferry:

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To the Exploratorium! While we were there we had a great time looking at all the displays, but the most fun was had was at the tactile dome. This is a pitch dark room that you make your way through using your touch and communicating with your group. You have to climb, go down slides, and maneuver through the maze like space all while feeling your way through. There are different tactile surfaces to explore along the way and little surprises waiting. I hadn’t gone since I was a little kid when the whole thing was really scary. It still is a little scary but this time we had a blast!

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We also went to the California Academy of Sciences which is always a great time.  Some of the highlights were the earthquake room, the rainforest dome (three levels of an ecosystem), the coral reef, the yummy lunch, and the living roof!

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While they were in town we also got to take everyone to some our favorite places, the UC Botanical Gardens:

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And Adventure Playground:

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What cute cousins!

But the real trip-de-resistance was spending a couple of days in Santa Cruz. The weather was beautiful and sunny and we went to the wharf, the beach, the pool, and of course the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! WooHoo! The kids had such a fun time on all the rides, eating too much junk food, and playing arcade games. We came home with an army of crappy stuffed animals!

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To end the week we had a box at the A’s game and a surprise visit from friends to help celebrate Sam’s birthday (oops, no photos)! It was such a wonderful time with everyone and we were so sad when our Week of Awesome Fun came to an end. We miss you guys and can’t wait for the next visit!

Congratulations Sam!!

July 29, 2014
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Here I have been posting about knitting and hanging out with the kids and it may seem like our family has been having a really mellow summer. Well it has actually been pretty mellow for the boys and I…but for Sam it has been a super busy and productive one. Fourteen months ago he started PLI, a graduate school program for becoming an educational administrator. It has been a really challenging and rewarding experience for him, with night and weekend classes, and a huge amount of reading, writing, and research to work on every semester. It has been really inspiring for me to see him go through this program and work hard for what he believes in.

And he just finished up!

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Congratulations Sam! We are so ridiculously proud of you!

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PS. Thanks Jim for the photo!

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