Sunday, March 30, 2014

Very Excited

My parents dropped off the first batch of my childhood toys. This was in the first batch.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Unexpected Compliment

A student came up to me today and said:

"I just want to say, it's your first year and you're doing a great job. Also, your beard is bad ass."

Then he walked away.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Music Store Drum Sets

Today we went to the music store because Enzo insisted that he needed a pick for the guitar Grandma and Grandpa got him for his birthday. I had shown him a beginner guitar video on youtube recently wondering what he would do. He ran and got his guitar and watched the 10+ minute video with complete focus strumming along now and again. He resisted my attempt to show him how to hold the guitar but he stayed focused. So, part of the video talked about picks and he has been mentioning for days since that he needs a pick. Then, a string broke. So, while this guitar is really still a toy for him, we went to the music store today and I let each kid pick out a pick and then I got a new guitar string. I picked the wrong one, by the way, and will be going back. These kids are mostly on their own when they want to play music around me. As it was I bought them "the cheapest thick string for a guitar that you have" and got home and realized I needed the "skinny string." Well, I'll go back soon. Anyway, we had fun for about a half hour (I made that up, I have no idea how long we were there) walking around the store. The kiddos were really good about not touching and then asking if they could touch something that they really wanted to play with. At one point Enzo found the display of different foot pedals for drum sets and he really wanted me to buy him one. I explained that those were for drums and then I took them into a drum room to show them. I let them each play a little bit with pedals actually hooked up to drums. Then, I saw in the drum room two electronic drum sets where I could set the volume control on the amp low and let them play. I showed them how to tap the pads, they got excited, and this is what they did:

Awesome! This was their first time playing drum sets. Leaving that room the kids found smaller hand drums and I bought one for the kids to share. Tami said I am now "on restriction" for buying the kids too much stuff. So, besides the drum they each have a pick and we now have a string, soon to be replaced for the correct string, for the guitar. Pretty fun little adventure.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Baby and a Beach

It may be hard to see in this picture, but.. 1) we finally got some rain in California, and 2) The kids are purposely standing with their heads under big dripping point and letting the water splash on their hoods.

When we got home, Ana jumped to the front to drive. She does this sometimes. But I had never seen her put on the driver seat belt, too.

Last weekend Baby Avonlea was born! Happy Birthday Avonlea!!! Tami was there with Santiago as Melanie gave birth in Santa Cruz. That's the fourth birth Tami was present for and she really appreciates that special experience. The next day, me and the kids drove out to Santa Cruz to pick up Tami, as she spent the night out that way, and take her back to get her car in Boulder Creek. Before getting Tami's car the four of us stopped for breakfast at Aldo's and a walk on the beach.

It was a bit cold, wet, and windy out there. Beautiful as always.

I don't know where their energy comes from, I guess literally some came from Aldo's, but they ran and ran and ran back and forth from the cliffs to the water and all around.

At one point they started walking up one of the steep sides at Seabright Beach.

Me: What are you doing?!
Enzo: Exploring!
When Ana became a little discouraged half way up and decided she would rather go back, she turned to come back down. Enzo called to her, "Ana, come on Ana," he stopped going up and squatted down with his hands stretched out to her. After a few seconds, she was convinced and went back to her brother and they proceeded together. They were both very happy when they reached the top. We could hear them from where we stood at the bottom in the sand. "We did it!!!"

 There are few things I enjoy more than spending time with family and the beach.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

February Break: Scooters and Snow

I love February break. The first days the kids and I got a lot of time to play together. The second half, Tami joined us and we all went to Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park to stay for 4 days.

Of course, scooters came first. They love those scooters.

Then we went to a park with Monte....
Is that a sad sight or what? They were repairing the surface and fenced off most of the playground.

Luckily, there was a part of the playground available as well as another near by play ground.

Enzo and Ana played with several children. Mostly they made food from sand and then Ana would bring me over cookies, a hand full of exquisitely prepared sand, where I sat watching with Monte. Eventually Enzo and one of the boys hoped on their scooters and rode around and around.

Soon, the big day to begin the road trip had arrived.
Enzo was ready for the snow! I had wanted to take the kids to the snow over winter break but decided we had better wait until February break as California has been in such a drought and there was not likely to be much snow. We got reservations for the Muir Lodge in Sequoia National Park. Tami and I have been going to the two connected National Parks since we were just friends. We hadn't been there since having the kiddos, though. Tami and I were pretty excited. So excited, the prospect of no snow due to the continued drought, while not what we had hoped for, still did not get in the way of our excitement.

The kids fell asleep right away as we were off.

Notice that both Soccer Ball Bear and Butterfly Bear were equally as tired and dressed in snow clothes.

Almost there and the kids were awake and hungry. After dinner, another hour or so of driving in the night.

This is the awesome sight the next morning. The kids were very excited to play in the snow and dressed themselves as super guys.

Yes, that is old and dirty snow in a parking lot. To the kids, it was SNOW!!!!!

Here are three of my favorite people standing in the hollow tree.

For comparison, here is Tami in the hollow tree when we we camped in Kings Canyon back in 2003 as friends.
Notice anything the same or different between the pictures?

That's the General Grant Tree. Huge. It's the widest Sequoia tree.

The lodge had a common room. It was really nice to use this living room. The fire was kept going by employees all through the day and most of the night. We made friends, talked and played with other visitors. One of the very fun things, more fun than I would have imagined, was playing a board game with my wife and kids for the very first time. We played chutes and ladders. That really was a nice experience. The rooms were big enough for sleeping and were warm with a coffee maker and other amenities. But they had no TV and that was nice. It was the longest I had gone without watching a TV in a very long time. And that made the big common room so much more appealing.

Here is the other side of the historic hollow tree.

Tami somehow managed to walk amongst the trees even with two leg-hugging-kiddo-monsters running and attacking her.

It's pretty amazing how much the little kiddos walked for four days.

This was my sons idea of smiling for a picture with me.

More friends to make a puzzle and enjoy the fire with. This was pretty early in the night but the room got pretty full with friendly people, children and babies as the night went on.

Tami took the kids out for some flash light snow exploring.

And this is the General Sherman tree, biggest tree in the world measured by mass. There is redwood with the record for tallest and another tree that is the widest. But this is the tree with the most board feet of wood. It is gigantic. Which is interesting because it is a giant surrounded by so many giants. These are magnificent trees.
No tree is too big that my kids can't scale..... the sign that bears its name.

This is a branch of the General Sherman tree that fell back in 2006. A branch! It's huge. It fell in the winter during a storm at night. No one saw it fall and no one was hurt. It came down a long way.

For comparison, here is a picture Tami took of me on February break in 2006, the winter that it fell. It was pretty cool to get up close to an ancient tree branch bigger than so many trees. And we looked forward to seeing it again after the passing years.

I tried for a family picture. Ana looked at the camera each time until just before the timer went and that's when she decided to see what I was up to. I love this family.

Tree hugging, a trait that is being passed down.

We found more snow at the lodge Tami and I had stayed at in 2006.

That was a fantastic trip.There is noting like having days off with family to enjoy each other. And watching kids play while holding my wife's hand amongst the trees was perfect.

On the way back, almost home, we took a stretch and food break at Casa de Fruta and rode the train there. I didn't even know or remember it had a train and we've stopped there a couple of times. That place is like a mini amusement park. A great vacation.