Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Play's the Thing...

And it's elementary school play time again!  Actually, this play should have occurred back in November, but the teacher-in-charge realized that they had not had enough practice time for it to be ready at that time, so it was pushed back to January.  Oh thank heavens!!  I was sick as a dog during November with pregnancy nausea.  Now that I'm feeling much better, I was actually able to enjoy the show.

Meriel was the drama star from our family for this show.  It was actually the same play that Rheanna had done back when she was in elementary school, so I already had the poodle skirt made for her costume.  Score!  Meriel is seen in the above picture during her big moment with the spotlight upon her.  She is playing a nerdy student ("Isn't it great that I have real glasses that I can wear to play a nerd, Mom?"  "Yes, honey.  When we got you those glasses, I thought to myself how wonderful it was that you were near-sighted and needed expensive glasses so that you could one day play a nerd in a future play with authentic glasses.  Not like those other poser-kids with good eyesight who had to go and get cheap, fake glasses.  I pity them.").  She is rattling off a rather long Shel Silverstein poem with perfect precision to stand in contrast to the girl after her who plays a forgetful student who completely forgot her poem.  This is the poem she recited which I don't necessarily intend for you to read, but merely scroll through it and be dutifully impressed by it's length:

True Story by Shel Silverstein

This morning I jumped on my horse
And went out for a ride,
And some wild outlaws chased me
And they shot me in the side.
So I crawled into a wildcat's cave
To find a place to hide,
But some pirates found me sleeping there,
And soon they had me tied
To a pole and built a fire
Under me - I almost cried
Till a mermaid came and cut me loose
And begged to be my bride,
So I said I'd come back Wednesday
But I must admit I lied.
Then I ran into a jungle swamp
But I forgot my guide
And I stepped into some quicksand,
And no matter how I tried
I couldn't get out, until I met
A water snake named Clyde,
Who pulled me to some cannibals
Who planned to have me fried.
But an eagle came and swooped me up
And through the air we flied,
But he dropped me in a boiling lake
A thousand miles wide.
And you'll never guess what I did then--

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take a video instead of a picture.  I was so unprepared!  Unlike Meriel who recited the poem flawlessly.  She also remembered to go to all of the practices this year.  We've REALLY struggled with that in years past.  Awwww...she can be so awesome sometimes.

In other news, Mitchell had a birthday this month...

Isn't he cute!  He's super-excited about his cream-puff dessert.  He also got 2nd place in the Pinewood Derby yesterday.  He managed to pull that off even after we found out at 5 o'clock Wednesday evening that the weigh-in was taking place in an hour when we thought it would be happening Friday evening.  The wheels weren't even on his car yet.  Daddy and Mitchell managed to get it ready in time, though.  Oh, the craziness of life.

And in other, other news I got to enjoy a women's church meeting with my mother- and sisters-in-law which featured Wendy Nelson, the delightful wife of Pres. Russell M. Nelson.  Rheanna and Ian also got to hear the two of them in a youth meeting, along with other general authorities.  We were told the doors would not open for the women's meeting till 6 pm, which was an hour before the meeting started.  We were there at 6:06 and the chapel and multicultural hall were already full.  We ended up in the Primary room.  Hmmm...I'm suspecting foul play.  Or we were being punished because I joked in a planning text to the afore-mentioned family members that I would trip a certain sweet 90-plus woman from our ward in order to get a good seat.  Sorry to everyone who went with me.  My wickedness held you back.  It was still a wonderful meeting.

And in other, other, other news, here is a picture of my drama queen Meriel NOT being awesome and secretly stealing my phone in order to take funny pictures of herself.  You brought this on yourself, Meriel....and you're probably pretty pleased about it.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

It's Been So Long

Yes, such a very long time since I posted.  Over two years ago.  I doubt I have anyone reading this blog anymore, but I'm going to pick it up again, nonetheless.

I think I would like to post some photos of my kids from this last year that make me smile for different reasons.  My kids are average kids with average failings.  I will not represent them as possessing any more gifts or goodness or potential than what I believe all children have.  Their worth comes from them being the only one of their kind, anywhere.  And as such, they have a unique purpose here and a place that can be filled by no other.  This is just a peek at the place they fill in our family.

This is my oldest.  And as the oldest, it has been her special responsibility and burden to "break in" her parents, introducing us to each stage of development in a child's life.  This is her at the end of one of those stages--getting her driver's license.  It took a while for us to let her start the process because it is different than what it once was and I had to be told many, many times exactly what needs to be done and when. And, once started, it took a whole year for us to get her from having a permit to having an actual license because the required driving instruction is EXPENSIVE.  She has been very patient with our faltering dives into each of these stages, and rather than defiantly challenging our reluctance to let her move ahead, has instead quietly taken the opportunities to demonstrate her competence as they have come.   She's a very good driver.

Here is my second oldest.  He is in the orthodontist chair about to get his braces put on.  This particular orthodontist has won the patronage of the entire Ryan family thus far, treating our oldest child, their cousin, aunt and grandma.  In fact, by sheer coincidence, when he was in the chair to be evaluated before getting his braces on (which he had to wait to do until his older sister had hers off and paid for), we realized his aunt was in the next chair getting hers off.  He has also had to be patient and break us in since he is the oldest boy, and he is also not like his sister, so we have learned new things from him.  I get to teach his class in Sunday School.  I assumed my presence would cause him to be reticent to participate and answer questions, but he is also not like me.  He participates and answers questions with complete sincerity.  In fact, if I were to pick a word to describe him, it would be "sincere."  He is sincerely trying to be a good person.

Here is my quiet child #3.  Funny thing about him is that before he was born, I was worried that, because he was the third, he would reject the status quo set by the other two and challenge me in new, inexplicable ways.  I was worried that I wouldn't understand him.  I wasn't at all prepared for a child who is so much like me, but much better.  Here he is sitting with his trombone (I also played trombone) after a Christmas parade that he marched in.  He has never had private lessons, but he practices faithfully and without any reminding needed.  At the beginning of the school year he told me, with a smile and a little bit of a smirk, "Guess what Mom, I made 1st chair trombone. Now ask me how many trombone players there are in my class."  "How many?" "Two!"  This December he tried out for the annual Honor Band group that they form from band students throughout the area.  The group, once assembled, practices a couple times, then puts on a performance.  He practiced and stoically tried out despite being very nervous.  He can be pretty insecure, so when he came out of the tryout saying that he actually felt pretty good about how well he did, I was pleased that he was being so positive and felt pretty sure that his uncharacteristic confidence would be rewarded.  And then he didn't make it.  And the 2nd chair trombonist who is a year younger than him did.  He did his best to be gracious about it in front of his classmate, but I could tell it really stung.  We left quickly and there were quiet tears on the drive home.  I told him that this rejection was not the final statement on how well he could play.  It's just a a suggestion that there might be some things he could do better on if he was willing to keep working at it.  I was pleased to see him silently put this setback behind him and continue to faithfully practice his trombone as he has always done.

My fourth child came along and showed me that there was still so much for me to learn about parenting.  She thinks outside my box, and our relationship has not always been smooth, but it has been enlightening.  This last summer my mother-in-law said she would take me on an overnight trip to see Hearst Castle as a birthday present.  We set a date and excitedly planned, and then she got sick.  Very, very sick.  I figured the trip was off, but she so generously suggested that I should still go, but that I should take Meriel instead (I really don't like traveling by myself).  After some hesitation I decided to go for it.  And in doing so I was able to learn some wonderful things--first, that I could handle being the driver and navigate my way through the trip, and second, that when Meriel and I are one-on-one and a few external stressors are removed, we get along just fine.  I was able to say "yes" more often and she took the no's more easily.  We explored Santa Barbara and Hearst Castle and seafood pot pie (her idea) and olallieberry pie (my idea) and Elephant Seal Beach and had one of those nice vacations together that let you know that the two of you are going to be OK.

This is my wiggly fifth child.  His wiggly-ness doesn't cause behavioral issues, but I felt it would still be nice for him to learn to direct his excess energy towards productive ends.  So we've been putting him in different sports.  Not with the intent to turn him into a sports superstar, but just to enjoy physicality with a purpose.  This is a picture of his soccer game.  His soccer team lost every game this season.  The first one I went to was like a beginning scene out of the Mighty Ducks.  The other team was there more than half an hour before the game doing precision drills.  Our team was lacking a coach until 5 minutes into game time, and the players were filling the time by jumping on the bleachers and accidentally kicking balls over the fence into neighboring yards (our coach was good, he just experienced confusion about the game start time on this particular day).  The other team's coaches (they had two!) looked like they should be coaching high school football, and one could be heard yelling throughout the entire game.  Some of it was instruction, some was encouragement, but some made me cringe.  They obliterated our team, and I wondered how Mitchell would handle it, but following their after-game talk from the coach, Mitchell came bouncing over like nothing disappointing had happened.  In the car he even said, "I must be the luckiest boy in the world!"  Insteresting declaration. I asked, "Why?  Because you get to play soccer?"  And he said, "Yes, and because our coach doesn't yell at us.  He understands that we're still learning."  That's Mitchell.  He's very good at seeing the positives and just enjoying life.

Oh, Declan.  My sixth.  He has also come into our family to push us in new directions.  He is impulsive and emotional and frustrating and tiring and also a lot of fun to watch.  This is his Kindergarten picture, and I laugh every time I see it.  Most likely he is not trying to be funny here, it's probably a sincere effort to do what the photographer asked.  But it's being made by an intense little boy who is often quite oblivious to how far off the mark he is.  In spite of this intensity and obliviousness, he's doing fine in school.  He does not suffer from shyness, is not afraid of engaging others, and social interaction appears to stimulate him in mostly a good way.  With these rare qualities which he did NOT get from his parents, he brings a lot of understanding and balance to our family.

My seventh child, a little girl, came when I was hoping to add another girl to our family.  She spent the first couple years of her life contentedly sitting on someone's lap with a thumb in her mouth just watching what was happening around her.  When she finally started venturing off of the laps, she revealed a bubbly, bouncy personality with a tad of kooky and a thirst for exploration of the physical world.  She has been my dirtiest toddler, by far.  When I found that the next baby after her would also be a girl, I was pleased, but I also groaned because I knew that meant I couldn't throw the near-ruined toddler girl clothes away, I would have to clean them.  She may be dirty, but she's still a little girl with a love of ponies and sparkly hair bands, and the whole family finds her adorable.

This is my eighth. She was, in a way, unplanned.  I had been trying for the next baby but then had three miscarriages and also suffered some issues with anxiety that left me mentally shaky and on medication.  Tim and I had decided that it would probably be prudent to wait before trying again, but lo and behold, I was already pregnant.  The pregnancy was emotionally trying and physically exhausting.  During the first trimester when I found myself in the room of an ultrasound tech tearfully awaiting to see if the symptoms I was having heralded yet another miscarriage, I told Tim, "I know this is not the right time to make such a decision, but I don't know if I want to try to have any more children.  I don't know if I can do this anymore."  Baby was still there, I was able to work off of the anxiety medication,  and eventually she came to us big and healthy and full of smiles.  Her presence has been healing.  We have all been soaking up the dimples and hugs, and she has given me the courage to attempt to welcome the next baby into the family.

I won't deny that bringing these babies into the world tested me in ways that I didn't foresee.  I didn't and couldn't understand the sacrifice involved beforehand.  But though I have moments of heavy doubt about my capability, or times I worry about their choices and future, or periods where I sincerely mourn the loss of my personal time and ambitions, it remains obvious to me that each of these children were meant to be here in our family.  There are no regrets.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Though I walk through the valley of the poison oak . . .



If you will just look beyond the cute boy in the tree, you'll see the ground is covered in . . . DANGER!!  Poison oak, to be precise.  The little plants growing in front of the bushes are some of the poison oak that was spread throughout the entire campground that we recently stayed at when we went to the coast for a quick trip.  When we learned what it was, during an exchange in which Rheanna bet Caleb $5 that it was poison oak and which he has yet to pay because he LOST, we felt we needed to instruct the kids how to recognize it so they would stay away from it.  When we saw that it was literally everywhere, we gave up on the detailed instruction and told them they were not allowed to touch any plants, period.  We seem to have come out unscathed.  And we had a lot of fun in the process.

So first we spent an afternoon on Sunset Beach.  Cassidi spent the entire time rolling in the sand.




DSC_0019Rheanna is becoming obsessed with (sigh) photo-bombing.  I thought they were supposed to grow out of that when they were eight.









After the beach, we went to camp to spend the night.  Cassidi spent most of the time rolling in the dirt.


Then the next day we explored the Redwood Trail.  Beautiful.










I shall fear no poison oak, for Tim is with me.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

In honor of our pioneers . . .

Pioneer day is coming up this week.  While I’ve always held our ancestors in proper awe, it is probably always good to have a little personal taste of what things were like for them so I never take what I have for granted.
That was not the purpose for the Law Family camping trip this last June, but . . . well . . . look what happened:


I don’t know if you can see it, but it’s hailing.  This is what we encountered during our drive over the mountains and into Bear Valley where we were camping.  And it kept hailing off and on while we were setting up camp and trying to make and eat dinner.  My fingers instantly lost circulation while setting up the tent.
Tim and Stephen cutting woodDSC_0788

Someone managed to get a fire going.  In between hail storms everyone would huddle around the fire.  When the hail started, we would reluctantly pull ourselves away and huddle underneath a tarp we had stretched between the trees to cover the picnic table.


By the time we had eaten dinner, and though it was still light outside, I was done with the day.  I grabbed Cassidi and figured I would huddle with her in our tent in my sleeping bag in order to stay warm and go to sleep.  I had just gone inside the tent, decided I was too cold to change out of my clothes (and I wouldn’t change out of them for the next two days), and Tim was herding the kids to the bathroom when I heard exclamations and Tim saying, “Irene, you have to see this.”  Through the open tent door, I saw the hail had changed to big, fluffy snowflakes.  Great.

Cassidi had no intention of going to sleep.  I don’t know what is wrong with toddlers, but they seem to be oblivious to cold, and all Cassidi wanted to do was run around outside.  She squirmed and cried until Tim took her and strapped her into her carseat inside the van.  Then she was immediately docile and sucked her thumb for an hour, but didn’t go to sleep.  But she was calm enough to put into her sleeping bag.  I worried a lot about both her and Declan being warm enough, but they seemed to sleep the most soundly out of the whole family.

My feet were icy all night, but I managed to sleep up until who-knows-when in the middle of the night when I realized that I had never used the bathroom before going to bed and now I had to.  It took me FOREVER to get myself out of my sleeping bag and looking for my shoes.  Everything seemed cold and wet.  Throughout the night, each one of the older kids woke up and had to be helped because their sleeping bags had gotten wet and cold and uncomfortable.

While I huddled in my sleeping bag and tried in vain to warm up my feet and thinking how miserable camping could be when you’re cold and wet, I thought a lot about the Martin handcart company being stuck camping out in the snow for days and starving and freezing to death.  I knew that in a couple of days, I would be back in a bed, and the thought of freezing feet would seem so remote as to be unbelievable.  I would have preferred a quicker escape from the conditions, but I was in a tent which was relatively dry.  We had food.  And although I hated walking to an outhouse in the middle of the freezing night, at least it was there.  With toilet paper.  And it was designed not to smell if the seat was down and the door was closed—and it didn’t!

I didn’t experience anything close to what they lived through, but I got enough of a taste to think of them and sympathize heavily.

We woke up the next morning to snow on the ground.  The snow you see in the picture below is merely a remnant of what was there before.  And I’m sure you can tell that you are also viewing the remnants of my good mood.  Cold, cold remnants.

Sarah’s in a better mood.                                                  DSC_0790                                  So is Keller.DSC_0797

We kept busy that day by having the kids take trips in Grandma and Grandpa’s heated van to the meadow we drove through as we were coming into camp.  It was a wildlife viewing area and at that time was full of elk.  Tim and I and the older kids went on our own as well.

Here’s a shot of it as we were driving to camp the day before:DSC_0781
I wish I had pulled out the camera to take a picture the day we left.  
It was beautiful.

We also drove to . . . hmm . . . I think it was called Dagger Falls, just to check it out.


This is a shot of Mitchell’s white belly, not the falls, which are just beyond that fence.  Why on earth I took a picture of this and not the falls, I’ll never know.  This is what cold does to a person’s mind.
So the day we left, all the storm had blown through and the weather was wonderful.  Some of us even got to take off the coats that hadn’t been removed since we put them on two days ago.

    Are you seein’ Ian?


    Our cute nieces, Cati and Cari.

The rest of the reunion was spent in comparative bliss at the homefront.  Food, movies, late-night chats, and cake (we had two birthdays).  Oh, we picked lots of cherries too.  But my most lasting memory of it all will be when I gained a better understanding in the middle of a freezing night of why pioneers are amazing.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Keller's Creation

We recently celebrated Keller's birthday, so it seems appropriate that I post something about him at this time.  The picture above is from our recent Law Family camping trip where we were unintentionally introduced to the novelty of snow camping.  I can't say that I recommend it.

But back to the subject at hand.  Keller is very good about staying on top of his responsibilities and he has been independently working on his Faith in God award.  So occasionally he'll come up to me with his Faith and God book and say something like, "I'd like to pass off number 4 in Learning and Living the Gospel."  I'll say, "Ok," and then he'll tell me what he did to pass it off, I'll say "Ok" again and send him on his way while I congratulate myself on my excellent parenting skills.

So about a month ago, he came to me saying he'd like to pass off one of the requirements where you are asked to learn about the Creation and then do a play, or a picture, or song or something of that nature about the Creation.  Keller studied the Bible version of the Creation and then chose to write a poem, and I thought it was cute, so I'm going to share it with all of you.  Enjoy!

(There is no title)

The Lord created the world,
way before our time.
The first day he made the light and dark,
(I'm adding this to make it rhyme.)
The second day he divided the waters,
he put some on Earth and in the sky.
With the water in the sky he made the clouds,
I couldn't do that if I tried.
On the third day he made dry land
and also the great seas.
When he looked at it he saw it was good,
but it sill needed trees.
So he also made every herb,
and many plants and trees.
Of course we can't have one of each kind,
so with every plant he made seeds.
On the fourth day he made the Sun and moon,
one for the night, one for the day.
To accompany the moon he made the stars,
so at night they would both shine away.
The fifth day he made swimming beasts,
and the flying birds.
They prospered and spread all over the Earth,
this is what I heard.
The sixth day he made the animals,
the smallest bug to the biggest beast.
Then he made men after his own kind,
this was his last creation but not his least.

After that, doing his best,
the seventh day he took a rest.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

National Irene Day

Yes, all hail National Irene Day!  It really is a national holiday now.  I submitted the paperwork and everything.  You don't need to verify whether I speak true or no.  You can trust me.

So your first question probably is, "Just what IS National Irene Day?"

Well, for my birthday, my husband asked me what I wanted.  His memory isn't good, so I made a list.  I started with things like:

--gift cards to Lowe's or department stores
--parsley, sage, (already have rosemary), and thyme (these are vital for my sausage-making escapades)
--I actually mentioned jewelry and clothes, but with no serious intent

Then after that I started getting creative and just a tad ridiculous:

--a non-toxic, effective sedative for Declan
--a sick day all to myself
--extra doses if vitamin P (patience) and Q (quick-thinking)
--someone to stand beside me at all times and say, "You can handle this.  You are a strong, confidant woman."

Not being ones to take the easy way out, my in-laws all got together and decided to give me a day all to myself.  And they didn't even require me to be sick.  They each took responsibility for watching 2 or 3 of my kids for the entire day, even picking them up from school and feeding them dinner.  Thus, I would be left to my own devices till dinner time, which would be made for me by Timothy.  The hard part after that was actually scheduling a day for all of this to occur.

So a month and a half later, we arrived to May 16th which will forever afterward be hallowed as National Irene Day.  It also happens to be another family member's birthday, unfortunately, but as I said, the forms have been filled out and submitted.  Along with a NON-REFUNDABLE processing fee.  I might let them have their birthday back next year.

So now you're probably saying, "National Irene Day sounds so awesome.  How did you celebrate it?"

Well, it only seemed fitting that it should include hammers, screwdrivers, a garbage bag, a staple gun, dirt, a venture into the unknown, and calluses.  I decided to rip apart this chair:

You can see the upholstery starting to be removed from the left side of the chair.  That was my handiwork.  I got that far before I thought to take a before picture.  The hole worn through the upholstery on the arm on the right side of the picture, exposing the foam underneath which is also being picked apart piece by piece, is my kid's handiwork.  This patient was in critical condition.

 So most of the day was spent pulling off all of the old fabric and getting a feel for what was underneath and how I should put it back together.  It was pretty gory.  There were staples and fluff everywhere, along with some dangerous tools and the contents of the chair crevices (lots of legos).  I was so happy my baby girl and 3 year old weren't anywhere in the house.  And the experience of being able to just run out and buy more staples when I discovered I was out of them was really fun.  I imagine that's what birds feel like when they're flying.

So by the end of the very quiet but very focused day, this is what I managed to accomplish (with a shot of Declan already swooping in to cause mayhem):

And the chair still looks like that.  National Irene Day comes but once a year . . .uh, and only this year . . . so I guess what I'm saying is that it only happened once.  So I'm back to working slowly and fitting progress in between loads of laundry and lunch.  But I have faith that the chair will get finished.  Does anyone remember my 4 year long cabinet restoration project?  Boy, I sure do.

So your final question most likely is, "I absolutely LOVE National Irene Day!  How can I celebrate it?"

Well, my friends, all you have to do is grab an ugly chair, muster up some primal rage, and start ripping away.  And as you do that, let your heart go out to all the family, friends, neighbors, school teachers, Sunday school teachers, or whoever else you know that occasionally lovingly whisks away the darling little Main Focuses of your life in order to give you a little variety and a breather.  I can really see this day catching on.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Break 2014--HUZZAH!

We were very, very busy over Spring Break.  Awesome busy!

Way, way back on New Year's Eve, a certain grandaughter (*cough* Rheanna *ahem*) tried to wheedle her grandparents into coming to visit for New Year's so she wouldn't have to go to Avila Beach with her family till after attending the Stake Youth New Year's Eve dance and the super-girly dress-up party preceding it.  Then said grandparents could drive her to Avila Beach to join her family.  She was unsuccessful, but did receive a consolation prize.  They promised to come see us during Spring Break.  And thus, from such humble beginnings, the planning began.

We first traveled to Uncle David and Aunt Lizzy's house to join up with all the fam' and hob-knob.  The next day we moved the hob-knobbing to the grounds of the Sacramento temple.

 Above, you see Rheanna taking any opportunity she can to stand next to someone and establish that she is taller.  She will tell you that she was just trying to get a picture with Lora, but I am not fooled.

Below, Grandma is pondering whether anything will entice Grandpa to leave the comfort and solitude of the minivan to enjoy a picnic with the rest of the family.  Lizzy looks doubtful.

Grandma will tell you she was just enjoying the view of the beautiful (and large) park in front of the temple.  Again, I am not fooled.

While Meriel climbs a tree, Cassidi fills up on vitamin Dirt.

  After we had eaten lunch and I had laid the foundation for a good sunburn on my neck, we headed to Sutter's Mill.

 Here, my dad is explaining the way the mill works to Lora.  Unfortunately Lora doesn't understand his crazy Moon Language.

Luckily, I am fluent in Moon Language, so I translate for her.

We continue to explore . . . .

Tim directs traffic.
David and Lizzy
That kooky Mitchell.  He's always huggin' trees.
Believe it or not, Ian actually wanted to push the stroller.
She kept these on long enough to get the picture--then I think she broke them.
Rheanna is strill trying to be taller than everyone.
Keller puts up with it all.
So does Grandpa.

So after ransacking Sutter's Mill and leaving it utterly desolate, our motley crew eventually made it's way to our house to recuperate on Thursday.  On Friday, it was on to Yosemite.  Some of us were a little concerned about trying to get in on a Spring Break Friday which also happened to be the day before Earth Day.  There was a bit of a line to get into the park and once we were in, we were led farther and farther away from Mariposa Grove (our destination) by primitive signs that enticed us with taunting promises of "Additional Parking," but we were able to finally find a place to park and eat some lunch.  For which Sarah was very grateful.  Because she was the one who was worried.  Not me.  Never me.

I'm sure that Sarah is laughing at my children's discovery of an ant's nest full of super-friendly ants.

It seemed like we were parked so far away from where we needed to be, but it turned out to be a small jaunt down a hill and through the historic pioneer village.  Then they had free shuttles running every 20 minutes that picked us up and drove us to the trail head.  Very convenient.  Sarah is very grateful for the shuttle too because she was also very worried about how we would get all the way to Mariposa Grove.  But again, I wasn't worried at all.  I never worry.

The bus quickly filled up heading to the Grove, and the kids saw that some people had to stand.  They thought that was the coolest thing ever, so that's what they did on the ride back even though there were plenty of seats.  Declan has been giving me fits lately by unbuckling himself while we are driving and crawling all over the van.  When he saw that there were no seat belts on the bus and that he was actually allowed to STAND, he was in heaven.  So after about a 15 minute drive, the shuttle spit us out at the Grove and we started on our trek to see some big ol' trees.
Rheanna is kinda mimicking quite a few of the tourists we saw.  They sure do love to pose for the camera.

"I once saw a tree trunk THIS BIG."  This is the bottom of the Fallen Monarch.

Little Lucy

Declan thinks everything Grandpa does is the coolest.  Especially the way he sits on wooden fences.
So we got to see some pretty big trees, but just a head's up for you:  if you want to get a family picture in front of the California Tunnel tree, you will have to get in line behind the large family taking every conceivable sort of group photo they could think of, and not letting ANYONE walk through.  But we waited, oh so very patiently, and they finally moved on, allowing our miniscule family to get this memory-maker shot and then head back.

"Whew!" says Cassidi.  "Being carried or pushed in a stroller all over historic parks, in shuttles, and up hiking trails to see massive trees for a week sure does wear a person out!"  Amen, Baby Girl.  Amen.