Sheesh - I don't know the last time I had a month-long gap between posts. Things have been so, so busy around here and I don't see them slowing down any time soon. Between our regularly scheduled activities, birthday party planning, halloween party stuff (for Clara's preschool where I am room mom), working at the preschool on occasional days, dealing with braces (longer appointments recently for new brackets and adjustments), eye appointments, photography classes, banjo lessons, swimming and gymnastics lessons, planning for our big November trip, etc...... things have just been nuts and I am a little behind. But I want to start by catching the blog up on a super fun couple of weeks we had at the beginning of the month (how is it the END of the month already?!) when Dave & Deborah came to visit from Colorado with their sons, Colton & Graham.
We had the most wonderful time with their family. And while we did loads of fun things that I am about to overload this post with images of, honestly my most favorite part of having them out here was when we were just hanging out around the house and the kids were playing so incredibly well together. Clara and Colton became the best of friends this trip and interacted in such a great way with no squabbles or anything. Rose absolutely adored Colton and the feeling appeared to be mutual as he would get on her eye-level and smile and chat with her or let her swat at him to "knock" him over so she could giggle and then repeat the game over and over. Rose and Graham even had a lot of moments, especially in the first few days, when they were so happy to be together and would run through our house screaming gleefully. Later on they struggled a bit as toddlers are apt to do when they each wanted the same toy but honestly, there was so much cousin bonding this trip and it was wonderful to see. And each night when the kids went to bed the grown-ups had fun staying up late and talking house projects, photography stuff, or favorite television programs and eating dessert (we made chocolate molten lava cakes two days in a row - yikes).
Dave & Deborah got in late Friday night and the next morning we headed down to Santa Cruz. It was super overcast but we enjoyed walking along the beach until Graham got taken out by a rogue wave and Clara stepped on a yellowjacket or wasp or something and got stung on her big toe (her first sting ever). Things were pretty dicey there for a bit and neither of them were very happy for a while. But after changing locations to the wharf to watch sea lions and a quick stop at Marianne's for ice cream, everybody was feeling a little bit better.
Poor Clara. This was just after the yellowjacket incident. Paul carried her down the rocks to wash her feet off in the water so we could get a decent look at her toe and she was just losing it. I don't blame her - I remember some very traumatic bee stings as a kid myself.
I love this image that I shamelessly stole from Deborah's blog. She has become my photography mentor and has been instrumental in getting me to start really working on improving my photography skills, which has been both fun and frustrating. It was fun having a photography hanging out with us all the time and anytime I am in a picture in this post, it is most likely one that Deborah took and posted on her blog, which I then saved to add here too. But aren't these jack-shaped cement objects interesting? They are there to break hard surf coming in.
The next day we drove to Muir Woods to look at the giant redwood trees. I love Muir Woods. It is peaceful and cool and shady, with a flat boardwalk trail that you can push a stroller on. We meandered our way through the redwoods for a while before stopping to have a lunch/snack break on a bridge over the stream. There is a point where you can turn off the boardwalk trail and take a bumpier, narrower trail up through the mid-tree level. At that point, Rose and I turned around and went back to the beginning of the boardwalk trail since the more difficult trail loops around to meet up with the boardwalk and Rose was the only one in a stroller.
Deborah - thanks for these next two shots. I love them, especially the one where Rose is "chasing" me down the trail. Whatever it takes to keep the kids moving, right?
This is the image I was taking in the picture Deborah took of me sitting on the bridge. I was mesmerized by the vibrant green light reflecting off the water.
And if you look closely, Rose and I are hanging out on the path below. We found a spot where we knew we would be able to see the group as they went past high up in the trees and shouted and waved until we got their attention.
When we got back from Muir Woods, Grandpa Nash came over and everybody played in the backyard before dinner and then watched a little "Wild Kratts" (Clara's favorite show in the whole world) for a while.
On Monday after Paul got off work, we all drove to meet him in Oakland at the BART station, then went to the temple for FHE. There is a new reflecting pool that I hadn't seen, which turned out to be empty (maybe because the temple isn't open on Mondays?). We had a picnic dinner at the fountain (that was also empty) and enjoyed the sunset views looking out toward San Francisco, then headed to Fenton's for ice cream. Paul and I went seperate ways this time and I got a child-size scoop of toasted almond ice cream with caramel sauce and nuts while he got a brownie sundae. Usually we share a banana split and even though this was WAY too much ice cream, my dish of toasted almond was excellent.
I love that Deborah took a picture of us in front of the temple but why, oh why, did I have one leg on the bench behind me making it look like my right leg was amputated!
Um, this is also Deborah's image. I think we might need to frame this to put up in our house.
Tuesday night we hired a sitter and the grown-ups went into the city to eat dinner right on the water at a seafood restaurant. It was so much fun for both groups - the kids seemed pretty thrilled to be left at the house with a sitter and have fun without the parents around and we were pretty thrilled to have a couple of hours to eat a nice meal with no interruptions. I didn't take any pictures other than this one of the Bay Bridge.
This is the point where I really should split this into another blog post, but I'm not going to because I just want to get this posted! Dave and Deborah left for Yosemite a day before us, but we got there Thursday morning and immediately set out to explore on bikes. The Hamby's let us borrow a bike attachment that turned Paul's bike into a tandem bike with a kid-size back seat and it was amazing. Clara hated it for the first couple of minutes and then got over her fear and loved it (which we knew she would). Paul and I took turns with her on this and we even got to a point where I could stop pedaling and as long as we had some momentum Clara could pedal and push us along for a ways all on her own. That first day we explored the valley, rode to Indian Caves, and then Paul and the girls and I headed to Mirror Lake while the others went back.
Rose was a trooper. She fell asleep in her bike seat while we were riding and stayed asleep while I sat with her on a rock and the others were climbing around boulders at Indian Caves.
See the squirrel to the right of Clara's foot? That's what the girls were looking at in this image.
Paul posed for me in the caves while I was doing a quick lighting project for my photography class. He kept giving me "the smolder" and making weird faces at me but I think he looks very handsome in this one.
This is one of the ones I posted on Instagram but I told the girls that I saw fairies up in these rocks and then sent the girls hunting for them. Hunting fairies is one of Clara's favorite games. We pretend to catch them, describe their colors, and then release them (unless Clara decides to stuff a few down her shirt to bring home, which she usually does).
The next day we drove up to Glacier Point to hike the Panorama Trail. We probably made it about half-way to Illilouette Falls before having to turn back, although it felt like we were a lot closer than that. The girls were absolutely wonderful hikers for this. Well, Rose actually rode in the carrier but she didn't complain about it a bit. And Clara just hiked and hiked with a great attitude, which is not our regular hiking experience with her. I think that Colton was a good influence and also she is growing up and getting stronger and more mature about these kinds of situations anyway.
You can tell from this picture that everybody was feeling pretty tired and hot by the time we stopped for lunch.
After the hike we showered and cleaned up because I had roped Deborah into taking a few quick family pictures for us to use for a Christmas card this year. Then we waited for the bus and rode over to Curry Village for dinner at the Pizza Patio. The kids were showing the love for each other while we waited for the bus.
So, forgive me for posting essentially the same picture, but this is the "perfect" shot of the cousins together - each looking at the camera and smiling (well, mostly - Clara, I'm looking at you).
But then I love how the kids started getting goofy.
And then exhibited pure joy when a bus drove past.
After dinner and bedtimes, Paul, Deborah and I went out to a meadow to take pictures of stars. None of us knew much about what we were doing but it was still fun to practice and I like this image of the milky way that we took.
Saturday was filled with more bike rides, another stop at Mirror Lake, this time with the cousins, climbing up and sliding down rocks, getting filthy dirty and lots of running around.
Sunday morning we packed up and did a short little walk to lower Yosemite Falls before heading home.
And then before we knew it the time had come to take Colton & Graham and their parents back to their airport. We sure miss these cute little guys and hope to visit them in Colorado sometime next year. Thanks for coming and staying with us, Dave & Deborah!