Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We're home!

Well, we made it. We're all back home and no one got killed. There was more arguing and sass-n-attitude spread around than we expected, so not everything was as fun as planned, but all in all it was a good trip. The best day was Saturday, when we got to go kayaking in a sheltered bay. Levi absolutely loved it. He was in the red boat with me, while A.J. went in the green boat with Aaron. He had a pretty good stroke technique with his smaller paddle. With every dip of his paddle, he would say "stroke...stroke...stroke." Or he would sing songs he thought were appropriate. The boys loved camping, especially getting to be the stake holders while Aaron and I pushed the stakes in the ground. They liked having the firebuilding job of stick-gatherer. A.J.'s face was priceless when he saw that his last smore had two marshmallows squishing out the sides. We saw so many beautiful places, from deserts to mountains and seashore to savannas. We didn't get pictures of everything, things like kayaking aren't well suited to taking cameras along, especially when children are involved. We did get some good ones, though. Here are some of my favorites. Right, Along the lower yosemite falls trail.

The coyote we saw off our balcony one morning.

The top of Mammoth Mountain (we rode a gondola to the top).

A butterfly that kept landing on us at the Bridalveil Falls campground.

The almost dried up Bridalveil falls.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday!!

It's A.J.'s birthday! We're not at home, so we went to Denny's for his birthday dinner. The boys had the smiling alien pancakes (no cherries) and a side of colored goldfish. Appetizing, isn't it? Afterwards, he got to pick a dessert, so he chose the very large piece of chocolate cake. They didn't have any candles, but several waiters came and sang to him. He was pretty happy about all of it. He and Levi shared the cake, Aaron and I nabbed a few bites. They devoured it awfully fast, but I managed to get a few pictures of them working on it.

We also went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium today. It's an amazing place. They have the most sharks I have seen in an aquarium, along with several very large tuna and giant sea bass. A.J. really wanted to see the penguins, and was rewarded with one tapping its beak on the glass right in front of him. Levi's greatest desire was to see the jellyfish. Wow. MBA has a jelly exhibit like no other. Several tanks with as many varieties. Some were colorful, others completely transparent. We got a couple of shots of the boys in front of the sea nettles. I'm not so sure why Levi was pouting in the second one, but it's cute anyway.

Tomorrow it's farther south, and some oceanic kayaking, which I am really looking forward to. And then...HOME!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our Vacation (1)

Hi I'm on vacation


I'm in Yosemite National Park.   It's been fun the last couple days.  I've been in a few forests and Yosemite National Park is mostly a big valley.  We rode on a couple buses today.

Yesterday we got stuck in a little creek on our way to Mono Lake.  Some people in a truck stopped and helped us get out of the creek. 


The lake was huge, and had lots of seagulls on it.  The water smelled weird.  A seagull sat on the sign at Mono Lake. 

Tomorrow we're going to Sacramento.  We're going see the governor (maybe).  We are going to see the Capitol building and maybe get a tour.  Later on our vacation we're going to San Francisco and we'll see a Giants game.  They are playing the Florida Marlins.  I'll tell you more later.



Monday, August 11, 2008

They're Here!

Can I just say that I LOVE the Olympics? You only get to see the athletes every four years, wait with great anticipation for the opening ceremonies, and get a little boost of patriotism. It started way back when I was just four. We didn't have a TV at our house, and my lovely grandparents thought we might like to watch the Olympics. They were held in Los Angeles, which meant that most of the events took place when we were awake to watch them. They gave us a small black and white screen, and we were able to watch some of the most remarkable performances ever. I remember watching Mary Lou Retton get her 10, then in 1988 watching Greg Louganis crack his head wide open and the teddy bear he bandaged up. I love the Olympics. I remember watching Katerina Witt practice in the hallway, and when she skated to Bizet's Carmen. I remember Gordeeva and Grinkov in their navy blue outfits, and then being devastated when he died. I remember watching Carl Lewis win race after race and event after event. My heart rate shot up when I watched a little girl about my age sing while rising to the night sky in France. I remember watching Janet Evans pass the torch to Muhammad Ali, shaking mightily from the Parkinson's that resulted from his ferocious boxing. And I wondered if my grandfather, who had helped spark my Olympic fanhood, would one day shake like him.

Now I get to introduce the Olympics to my sons. Levi doesn't quite get it yet (of course he also doesn't quite understand that the world is divided into countries.) But A.J., on the other hand, is starting to really get into it. He looks for the Americans in every race (he likes the swimming a lot). The "Go World" commercials that have been playing often remind us of great accomplishments, or great efforts, and I try to point them out to A.J. One of my favorites is the British runner who got a horrible hamstring cramp in the 200m sprint in 1992 and fell to the track, only to get up and start hopping toward the finish. In the ultimate gesture of unconditional love and family support, his Dad ran on to the track, picked up his son, and together they finished the race.

Of course, the likelihood that either of them ever go to the Olympics is insanely remote. But maybe by watching the effort and work of all the athletes, even the ones with not even a prayer of a medal, they will want to emulate that. In just the last Olympics, a swimmer in that very position persevered. Third world countries are often given "freebie" entrants into track and field and swimming events. Three of these participants were in a heat of their own for the men's 100m freestyle swim. Two men had false starts, so only one man swam in this heat. He had never swum even 50m at once before. His swim trial was held in a hotel pool, with no full size pool in his African country. Some of the crowd noticed that he was faltering, and might not be able to finish. They began to cheer as if he were their own and was racing for the gold. He was boosted by their support and was able to finish, even though he was exhausted. Camaraderie and kindness such as was shown by the crowd that day are what the Olympics are all about. He could barely swim, but he did his absolute best.

The Olympics make me want to do better. To be better. To work harder. To give my all.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fun times with Uncle Jon

Jon was in town this week, so the boys had a great time playing with him. They didn't let him rest much, waking him up early every day to jump on his bed and watch Noggin in his room. Wednesday I made him my slave, asking him to do a lot of cleaning in preparation for Aaron's birthday party (surprise!) that night. He scrubbed the boys/guest bathroom, the stove, and some windows. Many thanks! I spent the day making and frosting the cake, and shopping for all the stuff Aaron would have found suspicious (large amounts of salad mix and soda, for instance).

On Friday, we decided to go to a local water park. The water was pretty cold, so after Levi stuck his toes in the first pool, he decided he wanted nothing to do with it and go home. A few minutes later, however, he found a little slide that went very slowly, and we couldn't get him off for half an hour. He was going down head first after a while, the faster way down. He kept trying to jump the line, but finally got busted by the lifeguard monitoring the ride. He even loved the bigger slides we rode, one of which gives you a face full of water at the end. He would come up sputtering but when asked whether he liked it, he responded with "Oh, yeah!" and jump back down to go again. After lunch, we rode a group ride called Thunder Rapids, which was supposed to be a "moderate" thrill. It's basically a giant inner tube with a floor, everyone holds the handles and ride down the huge slide. What we weren't expecting was the rocking back and forth within the slide, feeling like we were about to flip over (even though we really weren't). Jon's face was priceless. A.J. just kept yelling about how cool it was and how it was like skateboarding ramps, while next to him, Jon was absolutely frozen, gripping the handles like there would be no tomorrow if he didn't. We had a great time, the adults got a little sunburned, and Levi even tried to take a nap.

Now, Jon is on his way to Missouri and then Brandeis. This Thursday we'll head out on our vacation. We may or may not be able to post with pictures during our trip, but we should have a lot to show when we get back.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Too much excitement?

So along with everything else that's been going on lately, we had even more excitement this week. Aaron's office picnic was on Thursday, so he took Levi to work with him and then they went to the picnic and party at lunchtime. Levi found some other kids running around the office and made some new friends. He was watching the Jungle Book, and a little girl heard the song "the Bear Necessities" and came in and said, "Hey, I know that song!" They marched up and down the hallway singing it together, but unfortunately Aaron didn't take the camera, so there's no video. They both had a lot of fun, with Levi managing to snatch three cupcakes for lunch. Three! The drive home, however, was not so fun. A truck turned left right in front of Aaron, who swerved and tried to stop, but clipped the back of the truck with the corner of his car. No one was hurt, just tore up his fender. Levi didn't seem to notice what was going on, until they were on their way home again, and he told Aaron very matter-of-factly that he shouldn't crash into cars. This morning, after being told that we were going to spend some time getting the car to the fix-it shop today, had more words of wisdom. "Daddy," he said, "you should drive more carefully and gently and when a car comes in front of you, you should use the honker button and the car will move to the left." Hopefully, Levi will never be in a wreck while he is behind the wheel, but we will remind him to take his own advice when he starts driving.

So, does anyone think it's possible to finish the summer without any more crazy things happening? We'd really like the relaxation part of summer to show up any time. The door is open and we are waiting...