Saturday, July 11, 2015

Crazy Larry's Berries

There's a fun U-Pick-Em blueberry farm in Monitor (between Cashmere and Wenatchee) that I'd heard about for a year or two and kept forgetting to check out. 

It's called Crazy Larry's Berries and it's run by a husband and wife team who have a lovely house and two big plots of blueberry bushes.

The kids and I picked up Charlene and headed out mid-morning on Saturday.  When we got there, Larry's wife was handing out the buckets and actually walked the kids to the unpicked bushes and showed them how to choose ripe over unripe and pop them off the stem without squishing them.  We learned about the different types of blueberries they grow and what each are good for such as eating, baking, etc.

Jensen basically went into each bush with his mouth wide open.  His little bucket stayed half full the entire time because he either put handfuls into his mouth or dropped the two or three berries he actually did pick into my bucket instead.

Due to the weather being so hot early in the year, all of the fruit crop seasons were advanced. Normally, the berries wouldn't be ready for picking for another two weeks and suddenly this is the tail end of their season in early July.

I'm glad we took a chance and headed out when we did - they decided this would be the last weekend for picking since the crop was half sun burned and mostly picked over. Everything was half-price and we went home with a couple of pounds of blueberries to enjoy!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

CA vacation - epic pool party

The easiest way to get all of my cousins and their families together is to plan a party - so (with grandma's permission) we threw a pool party/barbecue at her house Sunday afternoon!

Mark and the guys were in charge of the meat, so they hit the Mexican market and bought a bunch of carne asada while the ladies made dips, snacks, and desserts.

Grandma found a comfy chair and enjoyed watching the shenanigans of little kids and the big boys all afternoon.

The big boys tossed the football around...

and my cousin Katie and her boyfriend, Daniel, kept the little girls entertained in the shallow end.

Jensen was still man-crushing on Pete from when he and Lauren came up to visit us in June, so they continued their friendship and palled around the pool.  They played in their "flying saucer" and had water gun fights in their floaties.  A true match made in heaven!

It was hours upon hours of fun!

How about these two little red-framed cuties.  They are a mere six months apart in age and get along like gangbusters when together!

I love the nervous smiles of "we weren't doing anything!" on both of the boys.

I'll just repeat myself and say that I adore my family and am so thankful to have such a great bunch of people to spend time with when we are visiting!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

first vacation of the summer

We risked our sanity and flew down to California to visit my grandma.  With our children. On an airplane.  With our kids.  And other people.

Obviously, we made it and it truly wasn't bad.  I think it's just better practice to expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised when the world doesn't explode because of something rotten your kid did on a plane full of strangers.

We only hit a slight hitch when our car seats - which I checked for free - didn't show up when we landed.  Mark and Jensen stood and waited at baggage claim for our car seat and booster while I took the girls to the car rental area to pick up the car.  By the way, if you happen to fly into Bob Hope (Burbank), understand that it is a three-mile trek, uphill both ways, from the terminal to the car rental counters.  

Did I mention that I forgot my phone at home?  This comes into play during our lengthy excursion from terminal to car rental counter and back.  And then forth again.  I'm annoyed just typing this.

Realizing that I wasn't sure whether Mark was going to bring the boy/the car seats and luggage up to the car rental area and then further realizing that I didn't have a phone, I made the executive decision to walk back down to the terminal instead of drive.  This sounds nuts, I know it does, but if you knew how my mind works, you'd get it.  Here were my options:

1.  Get the girls in the car and drive back down to the terminal to pick up the other two.
  • I don't have any car seats for the kids
  • I don't know if the luggage has even arrived
  • There is no where to "short-term" park there 
  • Mark may already be hiking the boy/luggage/car seats up to where we are and then we'd totally miss them because NO PHONE.
2.  Walk the girls and their bags/my bag back down to the terminal
  • It's a long walk and we are already cranky because it's dinner time
  • We will have to walk back up anyway to get the car
  • We may meet Mark and the boy/luggage/car seats on our way down because NO PHONE
I went with option two, which worked well because Mark and Jensen were standing in line to register the complaint of having no car seats.  Apparently about 25 bags/containers just didn't make it on to our flight.  The airline was going to put them on the next flight down which meant they wouldn't arrive in Burbank until 10:30 pm. They would loan us the appropriate car seats to get us through the night and then FedEx would come swap them out the next day at my grandma's house so we didn't have to drive back to the airport.  It was all an easy fix EXCEPT for the elderly couple in line in front of us who took a good 25 minutes to gripe to the customer service agent about how they needed their 100 pounds of fish for the fourth of July party they were hosting that weekend.  The fish won't last that long!  The people expecting to eat fresh fish will be angry!  Who loses 100 pounds of fresh fish.  FRESH FISH!! How could this happen?!

I give the agent major props for keeping her cool, answering their questions appropriately (and repeatedly), and doing her best to appease them.  It wasn't her fault, she had absolutely nothing to do with the mix-up, but the elderly couple just kept needling her as if she was personally responsible.  It was painful to witness.

Other than that slight misstep, we made it to grandma's a mere 45 minutes later than planned and she had pizza hut and bread sticks waiting for us.  It was perfect.

Our agenda for the trip was such:  visit with grandma, swim, entertain family as they appear, swim, and swim some more.  We totally nailed it.

Thursday was all about the pool.  We dug through the pool house and found floaties, water wings, squirt guns, and goggles/masks.  Jensen just wanted to shoot everyone, Ilsa "swam" like she knew what she was doing (she didn't), and Freya clung to the steps and the sides.

Here is an action collage of Ilsa fearlessly jumping off of the diving board.  We convinced her that doing it with water wings meant she didn't have to have one of us down there to catch her.  That idea was a good one until she felt like she didn't need water wings and took them off to jump without telling anyone.  I worry about this kid!

Friday, my cousin Allison invited us to go to the movies to see Inside/Out with her kids and her sister, Lauren.  Allison's husband, Travis, ended up having to go to work (construction foreman) and Lauren's husband, Pete, invited Mark to help on a building project at his dad's house, so it was just ladies and kids.

Grandma had all of the toys ready for anyone interested, so Mark built fun Lego creations for each of the kids Saturday afternoon while we all watched the Dodgers game on tv.  We all decided that a low-key fourth of July would be best so Mark hooked up the new table top grill and cooked some hotdogs for us.  No fireworks were allowed because of the drought in California, but we could hear the spectacular shows that were going on at the city parks and stadiums all around us.  Too bad we couldn't see any of it!

I had the privilege to spend a little time with the newest baby, Richie, who was born to my cousin Jonathan (Allison and Lauren's younger brother) and his wife, Jackie, in late June.

I very rarely get the baby twinges, but this sweet little pumpkin made my mama heart all fluttery! 

We finally sat down for a movie before bed one night - Jurassic Park, because that's sure to settle small children - and Jensen snuggled right up to Gigi and fell asleep.  Grandma and I talked a lot about my last visit down to see her and Papa and how we both felt like Jensen had some memory of being there.  He seemed to know that someone was missing (Great Papa) and knew where some of the toys were kept without being told.  He wanted to look at the calendar constantly to see himself with Great Papa and it was all I could do to keep my emotions in check.  That boy is such a sensitive soul!

Not having my phone meant I didn't take as many picture as usual because I was always borrowing the iPad or Mark's phone to do so.  We did get a great one with grandma and the kids -  but it was after about 10 takes of me positioning children, hair, and pleading for them all to smile!

Grandma was a lovely hostess and we certainly appreciate how much she bent her schedule to accommodate us.  We can't wait to see her this Thanksgiving when she comes up to Spokane to stay with my parents!

Monday, June 29, 2015

hot streak

Welcome to Cashmere, the Mordor of Washington State!

The nasty hot weather just keeps holding steady in the 100's, with a welcome break down to 97.  Who ever thought that a low in the upper 90's would be something to look forward to?!!

We've found a few good ways to cool down, don't worry!

Coda woke up one night at midnight and wanted to go outside.  Mark got up to let her out and she decided not to come back.  I happened to look out the sliding glass door in the morning and she was sleeping away on the bed I'd thrown out there because it needed a bath.  I'm happy that A. she is smart enough to come back to her own house, and B. she went to the back porch after no one let her in the front door!

Our lovely across-the-street neighbor, Paiton, took the girls down to the tennis courts to have them hit the ball around for a few hours.  She is a stellar tennis player who took 2nd in state last year as a freshman, so who better to work with our kids?  Paiton made them run, do drills, and compete in little contests - plus she bought them candy prizes when they were all done, what a gem!

Jensen had some berries and gave them one dirty face and a thumbs up!

Skip and his kids came up for the weekend to go to the Upper Valley Connection play (Allie was the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland), possibly partake in some Founder's Day activities downtown, and do a lot of swimming!

Jensen took several breaks to rummage for non-scorched raspberries in grandma's raspberry bushes.  That's the picture of good parenting right there - swim hair that rivals the Flock of Seagulls lead singer and a diaper so full of water that it has added five pounds to his tiny frame.  

This was the adult idea of cooling down.  Don't mind if I do!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

it's good to be a tadpole

We have a wonderful city pool and we never use it.  With full-time jobs and three children, it's pretty difficult to find the time in the middle of the day to get them to the many great activities (like swim lessons) without a struggle.

The girls are finally both old enough to enroll in swim lessons at the same time, so we took advantage of the first session and got Ilsa signed up the two-week long program. Unfortunately, Freya had tennis camp in Medical Lake that first week so she wasn't able to participate.  Good thing there are four more sessions this summer!

As you can see, Ilsa loved it.  They worked on "ice cream scoops" to practice swim/walking from one end to the other.  It is a really nice system for little kids who can remember tips that are given to them in a fun and engaging way.

On their last day, their instructor, Cameron, got everyone into a life jacket and they floated around the deep end, jumped off of the diving board, and went down the slide!  Ilsa has no fear so she had a great time jumping and sliding.

I got a couple of videos before my phone ran out of memory (thanks, iPhone 5s) and she loves watching them over and over.



Ilsa mastered all of the tasks taught in the tadpole class, so she will get to enroll in the seahorse class next time.  We'll have to miss session two as we'll be down in California visiting my grandma, but since she has a pool, Ilsa can practice the skills she's learned and we can work with Freya on getting ready.

Here is a picture of Freya and Papa at tennis camp:

And some screen shots of the kids on Face Time while Freya was gone:

Hard to believe that month of summer break is already over.  On to our next adventure!