She was sitting in this beautiful light, chit chatting with her Grammy. We had just dropped her off for Camp Grammy (her brother is at real camp) and I snapped off a couple of pictures of her. Love this girl.
The hubby and I are off for a 3 day get-away, all by ourselves. Destination: beach.
Today we are heading up the mountain to send Zach off to his first summer camp experience. Feel with me, if you will, the heart strings snapping. This is my first real moment of letting go.
It was easy to watch him learn to crawl, walk, ride a bike, go off to school. All those moments were exciting for me to watch. I rejoiced in the milestones because I somehow deceived myself into thinking that he was still "little" and that "we still had so much more time". I also was a participating witness to those moments-- I felt a part of them.
But today I hand him off to a stranger (a responsible, loving, caring young adult--yes?) and a week of summer that will be all his own. I will only hear the stories that come back with him. (I'm not counting on any mail.)
For some reason this makes me feel old, not the fact that I just turned 40. I have a growing son that will spend a week away from me.
I will not be there to:
remind him to brush his teeth
wash his hands
eat his veggies
put on a clean pair of socks
close his mouth while he eats
kiss him goodnight
watch him experience the blast that summer camp can be
But the coolest thing...my first summer at this very same camp was my summer going into 5th grade. (I pulled out my camp picture to show Zach my 70's hair and t-shirt.) The highlight of my summers was flying off to camp with my best friend. (I went every year till I graduated from high school.) I then worked five college summers as a counselor there, a dream I had when I was that little camper.
Now my son is completing the circle. For the last few weeks leading up to this day, he has been living off my memories, asking me questions. Starting today, he will make them his own. For this I am excited...and sad. I wish I could go with him. :)
Zach, I will think of you every minute you are away from me and pray for your safety (and cleanliness).
I cannot wait for you to come home.
(Dear God what will I be like when we're driving him off to college?!)
First Day: Get off the couch you lazy butt, this is vacation! Oh wait, you're right, this is vacation. BUT, the word "bored" is banned from use.
Off to go find a geocache somewhere in Alpine Meadows. (Click here to find your own.) I think we might be going in the wrong direction...
Found it! In an old ski lift operator's booth/shack. Pretty cool. (Though the old shack out in the middle of the forest reminded us all of a another popular Shack.)
Joshy...on his way up for a picture opportunity. I liked the pre-shot best...
Day Two: Bear Pond, near the cabin, complete with Tom Sawyer rafts and poles. A complete boy's dream. They could have spent all day out here.
Adult activity: the crossword. I won't comment on someone's (Aleta) spelling skills (did you just spell who...w-o-o?) No wonder Scott had to come in and clean things up.
Day Three: My 40th bday! We took off for my favorite place, Sandy Harbor, on the northern Nevada shoreline. I've been going there since I was a kid and now my children claim it as their fave too. Crawdad fishing, rock climbing, floating on tubes...
The ONE picture he let me snap. He actually held a pose for two seconds...
Day Four: We went bike riding along the Truckee River. (forgot to add pic here, oh well.) We came back to the cabin and the kids wanted to get back to The Pond. Michaela found a stick and immediately imagined it into a microphone. (Too much Hanna Montana you think?) I took a whole series of these and I am thinking about what I can do with them. (Priceless)
After her performance she thought she'd take a tasty taste of the water. Michaela Hope! Get that water out of your mouth!!
This is the look...the I won't smile, but I will give you a split second look up from whatever I am doing so you can at least capture my face look. The oh so patient tolerance is palpable. (Said with a heavy dose of sarcasm.)
Doing what they do best, what they'd do for hours, what they did not want to leave when I told them it was time to go.
The next, and last, day, Scott took them back to the pond for an hour while the moms cleaned and packed. We'll be back boys...we'll be back.
We just got home from a week in Lake Tahoe. I love that place, sun or snow, and have gone there all my life. It is super cool to hear my son list the reasons why he loves the place: all the trees, the smell, the water, the cabin, being with family and friends. Exactly what my memories are made of too!
I uploaded 500+ pictures from the week and just deleted over 150. Weeding, as I call it.
So these three pictures caught my eye and gave me a chuckle. Meet...The Littles: Joshy and Michaela. They were "wearing" their "fruit by the foot roll-ups". Michaela taught Joshy how to make it into a necklace and a bracelet. (I swear this is why M loves Tahoe--the fun snack food and sugar cereal we bring for "special times".)
Off to do loads and loads of laundry. I'm heading to bed early as I have one of those I-just-came-home-from-a-trip-and-I-did-not-get-adequate-sleep-or-hydration headaches.
I will post more fun pics from our trip tomorrow...
Leaving for Lake Tahoe today--a much needed escape, break, rest, etc. This was a picture from our trip last year. We camped in our favorite State Park, D.L. Bliss, and was visited by a mama bear and her baby cub on the last night. I, ummm, left the bear locker open while we were sitting around the campfire and she just sniffed sniffed her way on up to the open invitation and helped herself till I spotted her 10 feet away and uh, freaked out! The rest of the story is a long one that included some amazing feats by my husband involving his big manly roar, mag light and axe. Let's just say that it took a while, but the mama bear and baby bear came down from their trees which were in our campsite. No, Scott did not use the axe to chop down their trees, we just turned off all our flashlights, sat in the silence and waited. It was pretty cool to hear the mama speak to her baby (see their claw marks in the trees the next morning). All this chaos and my kids were snoring like logs, in our tent...which was in the middle of it all. (Now you know why Scott was wielding the axe.)
So we are off today, not to camp this time, but to stay at a friend's Tahoe cabin. Did I tell you that the bears break in to the houses there? Not. Kidding.
A friend of ours was married today, a beautiful garden wedding as the sun was setting. Have I mentioned that I love paper lanterns? I love paper lanterns. These were illuminated by the setting sun...and all the love in the air.
Sweet Natalie, a friend's daughter...whom I took pictures of when she was a baby. Her mama bought me my first real camera. See where Natalie's sweetness comes from? :) (I think I've improved since then, huh Erin?)
Such a good idea: the guests blew bubbles while the happy couple danced their first dance.
And here's the happy couple...
Makes me want to plan a wedding again and throw a party...and go on a honeymoon.
Her dear friend is leaving the country for the summer...off to visit her homeland of Germany with her parents. Eight weeks of travel and adventure while Michaela is left to scooter past her empty house.
Goodbyes are hard, even harder for a 6 year old. And eight weeks of separation is forever.
I tried to keep from smoothing over the pain of it, telling her that the time will speed faster than she will remember. Because honestly, I feel like it's somewhat of an invalidation to gloss over the immediate sadness by placating her with promises that "it's only eight weeks and it will go by fast."
The truth is, that when you are in the middle of an emotional moment, it is hard to imagine feeling any other way. I would rather let her know the sadness, and then the elation of reuniting, because each have their beauty. I want her to identify and articulate both.
There is also something to learn from saying goodbye...that you will be okay...eventually.
This was one of those moments that I almost missed. I saw it coming and just aimed my camera in the general direction, having no clue what manual setting it was on. I feel lucky to have just caught it in some form. She worships her daddy. The lucky guy that marries her has tough shoes to fill...
A visit to a friend's house left me absorbed in trying to capture Peanut and Pumpkin who are orange and taupe tabby kittens, and brothers, and of course, buddies. My challenge: trying to capture them without doing the sticky sweet calendar-type shots. You know what I mean? I think every girl has had one of those calendars somewhere in her lifetime.
So this is Pumpkin...
And then I just had to throw in the boots to round it all out...
I think today was the first day I did not bust out my camera. Was out the door this morning and back eight hours later and then jumped right into a meeting that lasted two hours. I had two bites of my daughter's mac-n-cheese and an oatmeal raisin cookie for dinner. I'm still in my pool clothes.
I stumbled upon this picture in my files and thought, Sweet Jesus, how do I get myself to Cowboy Church?! Right about now, I need me some grace and mercy! I'm in need.
We leave for vacation on Sunday and it cannot come soon enough...
(Other than...what is UP with this Bay Area June weather?! And, how many days till school starts? Kidding. But not really. And, I sooooo do not want to cook dinner right now. And, I'm so bummed I read my Real Simple mag all in one sitting and I don't have a good book to read at the moment, so I can't go properly veg. And, my house is a mess--surprise surprise--I just had 4 girls, and one 9 year old boy who basically wanted to flee, roaming about.)
Went wine tasting today...in Hollister. (What?! You did not know that Hollister was one of the key wine regions in California? Come on!) Please, I ask, do not so quickly dismiss this cow-poke town from your list of possible wine regions you would like to visit. I mean, it cannot compete with Napa in regards to its yuppie atmosphere, with its quaint down town, BnB's on every corner, or five star restaurants with their celebrity chefs. But if you do decide to put those need for extravagances aside and just focus on tasting some darn good wine then you will actually discover that a dusty little city with its rambling hills and roads can actually proudly boast of several great wineries. Of the many, we went here and here.
My Life Lessons learned today?
When you are having a fun day out with friends, sans kids, you really do not give a hoot as to where you are.
You can laugh at the fact that you are in a silly little place called Hollister, driving down old streets lined with weathered houses, used car lots, Burger Kings, and laundry mats, but once you hit the outskirts of town and find yourself meandering along the country roads and winding through the gentle hills (spotted with my favorite ancient oaks), you realize that peace and quiet (and good wine) can be found anywhere, if you are willing to explore...and, what's the cliche...don't judge a book by its cover, or a wine by its name, or a wine region by its locale. You get my drift.
Good fruit (literally and figuratively) can be produced in the unlikeliest of places...as long as the conditions are right. How many times have I limited my expectations because of my inability to believe in the possibilities?! Or, failed to see that the conditions of the soil or the weather patterns were just right for fostering growth?
Oh, and all these lessons were equally applied as we drove up to the restaurant at which we had made dinner reservations. Many had recommended it so we gave it a try (with a spirit of adventure I might add). Upon arrival, it was no posh style eatery--from the looks of it. Sooooo glad we stayed. Dang. It was G.O.O.D. Ribbit!
Strike number one: This morning I had time and reason to get out my camera, but I did not--opting instead to do laundry, clean, go for a walk. All important things but, oh well.
Strike number two:
I had another opportunity to get my camera out at a birthday party, but instead, picked up the party host's camera and used his--capturing the many adorable "pirates" in their eye patches, head scarves, beads and earrings. It was even a momentous occasion for my son who painted his nails for the first time, pink and black. (Obviously real pirate colors.) Shoot, I know, that would have been something fun to post. Yeah, Zach would have vetoed that for sure.
My husband and I took off from the party and headed to the mall to shop for some badly needed work clothes. When he scooted back over to the party to pick up the kids I was left to wander the beautiful outdoor mall with its shady trees, hanging planters, blossom filled urns and water fountains. Ask me if I had my camera...
When I finally met up with my family in the grubbin' Max's Opera Cafe, I made my way up to the hostess and spotted my camera strap hanging off my daughter's shoulder. Michaela spun around to greet me and immediately pushed the camera into my hands, her face lit in an eager smile to capture her painted face from the party "so that you can put me on your blog today mommy!"
Her one little desire to have her painted face immortalized in digital pixels...her sweet eagerness to help me accomplish my daily task...her excitement to get out the door into the light and strike a pose, or two, or three...all simply saved me.
Today we took a trip to the "pick your own" berry farm.
(Glad there was a lifeguard on duty.)
An abundance of strawberries and ollalaberries awaited us.
The big kids picked from the tops
and the short cake, Colettey Cakes, picked down below.
Here's Zach, the number one berry picker. We just got finished making a strawberry pie with his flat of strawberries and he was really into it. I mentioned that he could also make a strawberry shake (his fave) so he's eager to do that. With the ollala's I'm making mini pies and freezing some for future use.
Some of wanted to eat more than pick.
And some of those somebodies discovered from another somebody
that you could squish the berries between
your fingers and paint your hands with them.
All I can say is--thank God for wipes.
Off to go make more pie crusts and cobbler crunch toppings.
I'm wishing right about now that I knew how to make jam.
Today we went to visit some friends who just welcomed a new addition into their lives...sweet baby Marea. The plan was to bring a meal, visit, and take some pictures of Marea. But you see...well...Marea had a little delicate issue going on that inhibited me from really snapping off some close shots...a small matter of pre-teen baby acne. (When you're a baby, you gotta be flexible with your oh so important photo shoots.) So I turned my attention on capturing little big brother, James, and big big brother, Ben.
James: master escape artist (engage all door locks), all round tinkerer (engage all toilet seat locks), and inspector (engage all dishwasher locks). If you can't find him he is one of four places: out the front door, inspecting the toilet bowl, inside the dishwasher, or in the toy box. Picture above: priceless.
Ben: exceptional big big brother, master of the top bunk, weed puller, and proud owner of his San Diego Padres pin....the pin he donned this morning in expectation of his picture being taken. He even moved it a bit to the right mid-morning so that the "Life is Good" logo would be unobstructed. I know that he makes his Dad proud wearing it. Very very special. (Hi Ben!)
Marea: beautiful, wearer of pink (no hand-me-downs here!), good sleeper, smiley, cherished little sister. ALL this and more despite her tiny issue. My favorite part of the day: wrapping her up burrito-style and rocking her while she was just nodding off, then putting her in her basinet and watching her slowly, slowly, blink, blink, off to sleep. I'll be back Marea. :)
(Apology first: so sorry if this post works your gag reflex.)
So I announced to the kids a few days ago that this summer I wanted them to pick one night of the week to plan and make dinner and I would take them shopping for the ingredients. For Zach, I knew he would love the entire process of list making, shopping, bagging up the food, chopping, cooking and serving. When I asked him what he would like to make for his first meal he immediately told me about a "special" burrito his friend's dad, our friend Bill, had made one evening when Zach was over at their place. Of course my eye brows raised with anticipation at what "special" meant. Zach explained the ingredients: tortillas, refried beans, cheddar cheese, hotdogs, and hot sauce.
But Zach was very eager and thus I made one special call to good 'ol Bill and with a chuckle he walked me through the recipe, confirming, yes, the hotdog ingredient, and the specific hot sauce: Crystal. He also detailed how to use the hotsauce (best squirted on each bite) and shared that Zach had totally loved the meal. Yes, I got that.
So this afternoon Zach and I entered Safeway. A place I rarely enter being the Trader Joes (and Whole Foods when I can get there) girl that I am. I am now reminded why I rarely take my kids into that store--the rows of high fructose corn syrup laden foods and the pre-packaged, processed, dyed, modified, food galore. Don't get me wrong, I actually would eat most of that food and love it (mini chocolate donuts, Cocoa Crispies, Doritos...) but being the self-taught geeky nutritionist that I am, I am aware of the bad bad, but oh so good, evils of such food and do my best to limit them to "special" times.
And tonight was "special"--Zach was cooking. Plus I couldn't buy Crystal hot sauce at Traders.
We came home and Zach threw himself into the process of cooking up dinner and getting everything ready. He made a salad and also set out some peaches (at the encouragement of his mother who was also trying to teach some nutritional squareness in regards to a meal). And then he demonstrated how to make the special burrito---no, the Billritto. We assembled ours and rolled them up and...and...they weren't that bad. Really. I would eat another one. As I break out in familiar verse...
"Say! I do like green eggs and ham! Sam I am! I would eat them on a boat and I would eat them with a goat. I would eat them in a box and I would eat them with a fox!"
The wheels of my mind are working on how I can spin a healthy version of this new fave of Zach's but somehow I think it wouldn't fly. And I do agree, it's the hotdogs and the hot sauce that make it work. (I can't believe I just said that.) Gonna send a call off to Bill and tell him about how he will forever be a legend in our house, how he will always be remembered every time we sit down to Billrittos.
p.s. I'll have to pass on to him Scott's favorite childhood recipe that his dad would make for him: hotdogs sliced down the middle, piled with fake mashed potatoes, and topped with a slice of american cheese--all baked to a fattening, sodium-laced perfection. (I'm noticing a hotdog theme here.)
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