Introducing Irene

Our #fourthandfinal child, Irene Jane, was born via scheduled c-section after 40 weeks and 2 days at 9:46am on Monday, January 11, 2021. Her birth was not my easiest (William’s was), but also not my most painful (Lillian’s was), although my overall recovery from it was probably my most difficult. She was our biggest baby at birth at 8 lbs. 11 oz. and she had the most hair out of any of our babies at birth. She was 20″ long. Her middle name is in honor of my paternal Aunt Jane, with whom I am close. We also found out after she was born and we had picked her name that Dan’s maternal grandmother’s middle name was Irene, which is a nice coincidence.

My hospital stay with Irene was the shortest out of any of my births – just over 48 hours. Part of this was due to COVID-19, but part was also due to the fact that she is our fourth. The nurses and doctors clearly expected us to know what we were doing. No one ever asked if I needed help feeding Irene or if I wanted to see a lactation consultant. I don’t think anyone really even asked if I had questions about her care. She was our fourth birth and all of the nurses assumed that I knew what I was doing. And…I can say that finally, after four kids, I do think I’m getting the hang of it. But, it honestly has taken four kids! It’s a shame that now that I do finally feel a little confident in this whole having-a-baby-thing, that I’m done doing it.

Irene is now seven weeks old and is the absolute sweetest little thing ever. She has, so far, been a very easy-going baby. She kind of has to be, though, as she doesn’t have the luxury of just peacefully sleeping and eating when she wants or on a set schedule. She’s constantly being awakened to pick up or drop off one of her big siblings and her meals are squeezed in between all of their activities. She seems to be fine with it all, though, for which we are very thankful.

I have never been a fan of newborns – until now. This time, with Irene, though, all I want to do is hold her and snuggle her and freeze time, even if it means little sleep and frequent nursing sessions. Now that I know that this is it…this is the last time that I will snuggle a newborn baby of mine close and that I will sniff my own newborn’s head, well, now I appreciate it and don’t want it to end and I get choked up about it on a daily basis. All I can say is that life is truly a wild ride. And it’s a blessing to experience each part of it.

Without further tears or sentiment, let me introduce you to sweet Irene, our beautiful fourth baby:

Introducing Irene
Princess Irene
I is for Irene
Irene is Covered in a Blanket Knitted by Dan’s Mom
Pretty in Purple
Irene is Covered in a Blanket Made by Dan’s Great-Grandmother
Irene is Covered in a Blanket Made by Dan’s Great-Grandmother
Pretty in Purple
Sweet Irene
Proud Parents
And Then There Were Four
Chambers Children
Nana and Her California Grandbabies
Family of Six
Posted in Baby & Kids | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chambers Family Five Year Photo Book Catch Up (2016 – 2020)

I have been behind on our annual family photo books for five years. At this point, you would have thought that I’d give up and abandon this family record-keeping project. Instead, year after year, I kept adding “2016 Family Photo Book,” “2017 Family Photo Book,” etc., to my New Year’s resolutions and constant to-do lists. The reminders to complete these projects just stared me in the face and year after year I failed to make any progress. But, there was nothing like a year of unemployment, pregnancy, pandemic lockdowns, and an impending newborn and new job to light a fire under me and finally truly motivate me to get caught up. So, the day before our fourth baby‘s arrival, I finished our last five years of photo books and ordered them. Without further ado, here they are (click on the link below each image to view the full photo book):

Posted in Baby & Kids, Our List, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

New Year, New Baby, & More

It’s 2021! I don’t know a single person who was not glad to leave 2020 behind. In one way or another, we all suffered, some big and some small. Although I unexpectedly lost my job of 16.5 years and therefore nearly half of our income, I consider our sufferings very small in comparison to what many others experienced – we were never in danger of losing our home, we were blessed with near perfect health, and we experienced no violence or racial discrimination. Mostly, we suffered inconvenience, which continues to make us extremely privileged and lucky. But, 2021 is here now and although there will always be hardships, there are some very good things already on the docket:

  • Our #fourthandfinal baby is scheduled to join our family at 9am on January 11.
  • My Mom, who hasn’t been able to visit us in California for a year, will be staying with us for two weeks to help us when the baby is born. Although she would have come to help us and be with us no matter what, because she works in healthcare, she has already received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which makes her trip out here feel slightly less risky and stressful.
  • President Trump is leaving the White House on January 20 and Joe Biden will be taking over as our new president. We.cannot.wait.
  • I accepted and signed a new job offer to work as a full-time technical writer at a software company beginning on May 3 when my maternity leave is over. This new job removes a huge weight from my shoulders, as now I don’t need to search and interview for jobs while taking care of and nursing a newborn. Of course, being a mom of four small children while working two jobs for at least 48 hours a week and managing a house and family, all with zero family nearby to assist, will be insanely stressful. But, I’ve done it before with three kids and I’ll find a way to manage with four kids (plus, my Mom retires in one year and we expect that she’ll be spending a lot more time with us after she retires!).
  • We will be able to get vaccinated (maybe this summer? or Fall?) against the coronavirus and hopefully begin to put this pandemic behind us.
  • Although we’re not exactly sure where our travels will take us in 2021, we expect to at least visit my family in Ohio and take a Christmas trip to Denver and hopefully experience a white Christmas with my sister and her family.

First things, first, though…that baby (pictures taken when I was 34 weeks pregnant)!

Lillian Kisses for Baby Sister
Vivian Already Loves Baby Sister
William Will Learn to Love Baby Sister
So Much Love!
From Two to Six
Posted in Baby & Kids, Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Merry COVID Christmas

Never, ever in my wildest dreams did I think in March 2020 that we’d celebrate Christmas 2020 under a county-wide, state-mandated lockdown during a raging pandemic. But, we did. Thankfully, everyone in our family has remained healthy and safe. And since we hadn’t planned to spend the holiday with friends or extended family, it wasn’t a big deal that we had to stay home. We were able to still participate in a few holiday traditions, such as writing letters to Santa, accepting a phone call from [city-employed] Santa, seeing Christmas lights, and more, and we were able to participate in some new activities that were available because of the health and movement restrictions, like new drive-through light exhibits.

Our Christmas celebrations started in the middle of November with a day trip to SeaWorld, which was already decorated for Christmas (this was before they had to close again due to the lockdown). Then, the day before Thanksgiving (which was also spent quietly at home, just the five of us, this year – no preschool feasts, no early morning turkey trot, no Friendsgiving) the girls and I visited beautiful Roger’s Gardens and nearby Fashion Island. On the day after Thanksgiving, we decorated our house for the big holiday.

SeaWorld Christmas Fun
The Only Santa the Girls Saw This Year
Sweet Sisters at the Fashion Island Christmas Tree
William Had the Tree-Topping Honors The Year

Our community hosted a pop-up holiday event where we could take pictures in front of festive displays and props and the kids could play in bubble “snow.” This was a fun activity and also allowed the kids to “mail” their letters to Santa.

Baker Ranch Pop-Up Holiday Fun
Mailing Letters to Santa

The girls completed a lot of holiday crafts in preschool, catechism, Daisy Girl Scouts, and on their own. They love crafts!

Vivian and Her Reindeer Daisy Girl Scout Craft
Lillian and Her Reindeer Preschool Craft
Gingerbread House Success

Right before our county’s official lockdown began (again…), we spent a short evening walking around the Dana Point Harbor to see their lights. Normally, we’d also have dinner at a restaurant and watch the boat parade, but that was cancelled this year, so we just walked around.

Dana Point Harbor Lights

We went for many drives to look at neighborhood Christmas lights and went to three new drive-through light displays: Tanaka Farms Hikari – A Festival of Lights (expensive, but well run and beautiful), Saddleback Church‘s Light of the World Christmas Lights (free, very close to our house, fun, but long (and expected) wait to get in), and OC Night of Lights at the fairgrounds (very long unexpected wait to get in). We all had different favorites. We also took many walks around our own neighborhood and even went on a scavenger hunt hosted by our neighbors (we even tied for first place!).

Neighborhood Christmas Displays

One night, I took the girls on a boat ride around Newport Harbor to see the lights on all of the harbor houses. The official boat parade here was cancelled this year, also, but it was just as fun (and way less crowded) to cruise around on the water and see the lights. After our boat ride, we rode the Balboa Peninsula Fun Zone’s Ferris wheel and then took the auto ferry across the harbor to Balboa Island.

Cruising Around Newport Harbor
Ferris Wheel Fun

Since I am unemployed (and now, technically, disabled due to pregnancy), I had plenty of time this year to bake. So that I remember in future years, here are some of the things that I made (basically, we always had homemade goodies available to snack on):

I cooked our traditional homemade spaghetti sauce and meatball Christmas Eve dinner and then switched traditions and religions and made homemade brisket and challah rolls for Christmas dinner. The kids opened lots of presents and, of course, Santa came!

Ready for Santa!
Santa Came!

Technically, Christmas isn’t over. We have until Epiphany arrives on January 6 to celebrate. We normally leave our decorations up until then, but we will probably take them down right after the new year this year since my due date is very soon. For now, though, we are still enjoying the nightly glow of our Christmas tree lights and eating lots of cookies!

And, lastly, I’ll end with this short poem that Dan was inspired to write in verse after seeing this longer poem that he penned four years ago in 2016.

Check out this memory from my Facebook feed,
It was four years ago I completed this deed.
It made me laugh out loud since we now have one child more,
And as most of you know, it soon will be four
And although COVID is not cause for cheer,
At least I got out of church for this year!
Viv is bigger now, and the most sane of the crew,
Although she is always telling her siblings what to do
Lil is no longer a wee nursing child, but rather a 4 year old who is crazy and wild
William is crazy and always causing a ruckus,
If we had gone to church this year he would royally f*ck us!
Of course I am joking, he is a sweet boy
And by far his father’s coolest new toy
This is by far the chillest Christmas there’s been,
Although that is likely due to self-quarantine
So I hope that your Christmas is peaceful and fun,
As we all look forward to twenty – twenty – one.

Posted in Baby & Kids, Eating, Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Great Western American Road Trip

Prior to COVID-19 and my last pregnancy, we had planned to travel to certain locales in 2020 – like Death Valley National Park for Spring Break and Yosemite National Park for Christmas. But like most people’s plans for 2020, ours had to change. Oddly enough, we had planned to visit only two other states this year (Colorado and Ohio), but instead, we visited eight states (Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, New York, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon). Yes, we’re in the middle of a pandemic – one that is raging right now. But we traveled safely, wore masks, did not gather with crowds, washed our hands, and stayed outdoors for most of our activities. We also seemed to unknowingly and miraculously schedule our road trip right before the current drastic spike in coronavirus cases.

For this trip, in mid-October, we took advantage of the time that this pandemic had given us – time that we will never get again. You see, on October 1, I was permanently laid off from my job of 16.5 years. And although I am still teaching at CSULB, all instruction is currently remote. Vivian is only attending school in-person for 2.5 hours/day and all of her school work can be done remotely online. Lillian and William are in preschool and daycare only part time. What all this added up to is the time and freedom to [responsibly] travel where we wanted. I wasn’t tied down to a job and could teach from anywhere. Vivian could complete her schoolwork anywhere without negative consequences. Pulling the littles out of preschool and daycare wasn’t a big financial loss since they were only part time. So, I planned, in detail (of course!) a two-week family road trip – the first we’d ever done – through Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and California. We wanted to escape the SoCal heat, see some real Fall colors, experience new places and adventures, get in one last trip before our #fourthandfinal arrives, and make some lasting family memories. And although it was exhausting to travel for two weeks with three small children while also being 27-29 weeks pregnant, it was also a lot of fun and went better than we expected. Our goal was not to spend time in museums and indoor exhibits simply reading about our locations; instead, we wanted to be out and about actually seeing and exploring them. Since we were traveling during COVID times, this goal aligned well with open activities available to us.

This is long blog post, but I wanted to keep all of our our road trip adventures in one place. Here’s what this post covers:

Our Route

We traveled over 40 hours and 2,500 miles in our truck in a big circle loop through five states (technically, we drove through a small slice of a sixth state, Arizona, also, but since we didn’t sleep there, we didn’t count that in our travel adventure). Among other logistical reasons, we drove our truck (and not our full-size SUV) so that we could bring our bikes and so that we’d have plenty of room to store our bags and suitcases. I planned our route so that we generally wouldn’t have to spend more than 5 or so hours in the truck on travel days.

Road Trip Route

The kids did remarkably well on their first really big road trip. We only allow mobile screen time for Vivian to complete schoolwork (the littles are not allowed any tablet or phone time), so our kids (ages 2, 4, and 6) spent exactly zero minutes zoned out with tablets in the car, at meals, etc. Yes, they annoyed the heck out of us at times, but they also played with each other, pretended, listened to music, drew and colored, and saw the country that we were driving through.

Stop 1: Las Vegas, Nevada

Vegas is not exactly our favorite place, but we thought it might be a good break point on the way to our real desired first location – Zion National Park. Our kids are more used to air travel than car travel and we thought that it would be best to break up the first leg of our trip with a one-night stay in Sin City. The kids had never been to Las Vegas before and so we spent less than 24 hours giving them the [kid] Vegas experience. We packed a lot into our time there and now feel like if we don’t go back to Vegas for another 20 or so years, we’d be fine.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!

We drove into Las Vegas from the south, past the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, and checked into our hotel – The Mirage. Despite me having already checked in online and us arriving during the check-in window, our room was not ready. While waiting for it, we went to the pool. When we got to the pool (you know, five miles from the hotel entrance), they told us that we couldn’t bring our luggage into the pool area (this would have been nice for them to tell us at the front desk after they told us our room wasn’t ready and we asked directions to the pool). Dan left the pool area to deal with our luggage and room and I swam with all three kids in the pool. Fun! Except that William kept running away from me and attempting to jump into the pool when I wasn’t near him. They all thought that the waterfall that they were so excited to swim under was way too loud (it was). And, the water was cold. So, mostly I tried to keep all three kids alive and warm until Dan could come back and get some of them. After he figured out the room situation, took our luggage to our room, and took William and Lillian out of the pool area, Vivian and I did have a nice time swimming around.

The Mirage in Masks

After our pool time, we settled into our Strip-view room and then ate dinner at The Still. It was overpriced, but had decent kid options. Then we drove to The Neon Museum for a night-time 45-minute outdoor tour. Dan had heard about this place and we both thought it would be cool to check out, and it was, but it would have been more fun without a 2, 4, and 6 year old in tow – they just weren’t as interested in the neon lights as we had hoped they’d be, William wanted to touch everything that he wasn’t supposed to (which was everything), and none of them cared about the interesting historical stories that accompanied the light displays.

Touring The Neon Museum

After our museum excursion, I was ready to call it a night. But we were in Vegas, Baby! So, we went back to our hotel and waited for the 9pm eruption of the famous volcano in front of it. We had hyped this activity up to the kids for awhile and they were all super excited – until the actual five-minute show began. Then they were scared out of their minds. William screamed the entire time and the girls huddled behind me, peeking out only periodically to see the flames that we were close enough to feel.

Pre-Volcano Eruption at The Mirage

Okay, now I was really ready to relax in our hotel room. But Dan wanted the girls to see the Bellagio fountain show. So we walked about a mile down the Strip to see the show. The kids got to see many “dancing girls” and the craziness of Vegas at night, which was not on my original well-planned itinerary. However, weeks later, Lillian still says that one of her favorite parts of our trip was watching the Bellagio fountains. And really, how can you go to Vegas and not walk the Strip at night?

Pre-Fountain Show at the Bellagio

Since we’d already walked all the way down to the Bellagio, we decided to go into the hotel and see the seasonly themed conservatory & botanical gardens, which are always so beautiful.

Night at the Bellagio

By now, it was nearing 11:30pm! We walked the mile back to our hotel and finally went to bed. Day one of our vacation was fun and full and we were tired! Normally, we all wouldn’t sleep well in a double queen hotel room with a Pack n’ Play, but we were so exhausted that everyone zonked out until a reasonable time the next morning.

Prior to leaving Las Vegas on day two of our trip, we visited Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. This was a great kid activity. The gardens and habitat were smaller than I had expected, but perfect for a quick visit.

Visiting the Dolphins
Visiting the Tigers (There were real ones, also!)

Stop 2: Zion National Park, Utah

Before noon on day two of our trip, we felt like we’d seen and done enough in Las Vegas to give the kids a real taste of it and we were ready to move on. We drove through Nevada, a slice of Arizona, and into Utah to Springdale, right outside Zion National Park. We checked into our hotel – a remarkably nice Holiday Inn – and then drove into the park to begin getting acquainted with it. We drove through the tunnel and then parked and went on our first hike of the trip. This moderately difficult hike, on the Canyon Overlook Trail, was only a little over a mile, but is described by the park as having “long drop-offs, mostly fenced. Rocky and uneven trail ends at viewpoint of Pine Creek Canyon and lower Zion Canyon. Be aware of steep drop offs.” Admittedly, we didn’t read the description very well before beginning our hike. It was short and not very difficult, so we figure it would work well for our brood. In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to the “long and steep drop off” part of the description (although, honestly, it probably still wouldn’t have deterred us from hiking it – we like a good challenge!). We spent the entire hike trying to admire the views while yelling at the girls to stay away from the ledges. We didn’t trust William for one second not to fling himself off a ledge into the canyon, so I carried him on my back for the entire hike, against his loud and angry protests.

Hiking the Canyon Overlook Trail

After completing our hike, we were all ready for something less death defying, so we got takeout pizza and pasta for dinner and ate it poolside at the hotel while the kids swam.

Hotel Pool with a View

Like I mentioned above, our hotel was nicer than I had expected. We stayed in a “family room,” which consisted of two bedrooms (although there was only a corner and no door between them) – one with a king-size bed and one with bunk beds. Our room looked directly out onto the pool (in fact, when we looked out our windows, the view was the exact same as the picture above). The hotel offered a complimentary modified full breakfast; shared computer/printer; outdoor rocking chairs and firepits; pool noodles for play; free parking; and close proximity to restaurants, shuttle stops, and the park. And, it was reasonably priced. I highly recommend it! We all slept well here with the kids in one room and the parents in the other and we all ate well here, too.

We started our first full day in the park with a 3.6 mile bike ride on the paved Pa’rus Trail, the only trail in the park on which bikes are allowed. The trail hugs the Virgin River and crosses over it many times. The views were spectacular and we all enjoyed it.

Biking the Pa’rus Trail

After our bike ride, we walked around the visitor’s center area (the actual center was closed, except for the gift shop (of course – you can’t catch COVID if you’re spending money!)) and boarded our timed shuttle to adventure deeper in the park. We rode the shuttle to the end of the line at the Temple of Sinawava and then circled back to Zion Lodge where we disembarked. We bought a picnic lunch from Castle Dome Cafe and ate it on the large lawn in front of the lodge. With full bellies, we then crossed the road and hiked two miles to both the Lower and Middle Emerald Pools. There were waterfalls at both pools, but it was so late in the season that they were tiny trickles. It was a good hike, though, with more amazing views.

Hiking to Middle Emerald Pools

After this second adventure of the day, the kids were exhausted and they all fell asleep on the shuttle ride back to our truck.

Sleeping on the Shuttle

Of course, though, the kids rallied as soon as we got back to the hotel and they quickly changed into their swimsuits and jumped right into the pool. After swimming, we walked across the parking lot to eat dinner at Jack’s Sports Grill. I left dinner a little early to go back to our hotel room and teach my class and Dan got dessert for the kids and let them eat it around one of the hotel firepits.

On our last day in the park, we surprised Vivian with her very first horse trail ride! This was a dream come true for her. Although the outfit required kids to be seven years old to go on trail rides, when I asked if they’d allow an exception for Vivian since she is 6.5, they said yes (file under things that would never happen in California and ask-and-you-shall-receive). She and Dan went on an hour-long ride by the Virgin River in Zion Canyon while I took the littles to a local town park.

First Trail Ride!
Park Play in Utah

We left Springdale in mid-morning and started driving north towards Salt Lake City. We detoured to drive through another section of Zion National Park – the Kolob Canyons – and go on a short mile+ hike on the Timber Creek Overlook Trail. The views were amazing and the girls loved climbing every tree along the trail, but after this hike, they were ready for a break from hiking (specifically, Vivian stated that when she’s a grown up, she’s “never ever ever ever ever ever ever going hiking again”).

Hiking on the Timber Creek Overlook Trail

Stop 3: Salt Lake City, Utah

It was a long drive from Zion National Park to Salt Lake City, so we were very happy when we arrived at our rented house in Sandy, just south of the big city. This was definitely the best accommodation on our trip – we were even greeted with homemade brownies from the host when we arrived! Staying here gave us a chance, after three very busy and active days, to rest and recharge. We settled in, ordered Indian delivery from Curry Up Now, and let the kids relax in the backyard hot tub until bedtime.

While in Salt Lake City, we wanted to see the lake up close. We figured that we couldn’t drive all this way and just see it from the freeway. However, after seeing it (and smelling it), we know why many people never get near the lake. There really is very little to do in and around the lake. It’s too salty to support fish and too shallow to support much recreation. We spent the majority of our first full day in Salt Lake City checking it out, though, and learning about it, at Antelope Island State Park (where we saw lots and lots of buffalo, but only one antelope).

We drove all around the park, stopping at the Fielding Garr Historic Ranch to explore it, hiking half a mile on the Lady Finger Point Trail to get a good view of the lake and Egg Island, walking through the visitor’s center, and making one final stop to dip our hands in the yucky lake to say that we actually touched it.

Exploring the Fielding Garr Historic Ranch at Antelope Island State Park
Hiking on the Lady Finger Point Trail
Buffalo Near the Visitor’s Center at Antelope Island State Park

Before heading back to our rental house, we parked downtown to walk around Temple Square. Due to COVID restrictions and major construction on the temple, though, there wasn’t much we could see. We walked through the open grounds and watched some of the construction, but cut our visit short to head back “home” for naptime and an early Gobble dinner (we had our weekly box delivered to our rental house).

Our Catholic Babies in Temple Square

That evening, we participated in one of my favorite activities of our trip – a night at the BOOtanical Garden at Red Butte Garden. We toured the gardens, following a trail of clues through Halloween lights and decorated stations. It was very well done and fun for everyone. I was so pleased that I stumbled across this event online and bought tickets in advance.

BOOtanical Gardens

That night, the kids once again got in the hot tub and then we let them watch a movie and eat popcorn. The following morning, after takeout breakfast from Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade, we checked out of our lovely rental house and drove into the Big Cottonwood Canyon to see the Fall leaves and go on a very short hike to Hidden Falls before leaving Salt Lake City and heading north to Boise, Idaho.

Hiking to Hidden Falls
Fall Leaves in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Stop 4: Boise, Idaho

The drive from Salt Lake City to Boise was another long one, so we stopped midway for lunch in the small town of Rupert, Idaho. Although we wanted to picnic in the Rupert City Square, it was too cold and windy, so we ate inside the deli (we were the only patrons in the restaurant) and then let the kids run around and play on the swings in the town square afterwards. After filling their bellies and running off their energy, we finished our drive to Boise and checked into our rental house. We cooked another one of our Gobble meals for dinner and had a quiet evening inside. This house was decent, but since the owners allowed dogs, it still smelled like dogs and had wear and tear from them. It also wasn’t well stocked and I was annoyed that an Amazon package that I had delivered there was never found. The price and location were good, though, and it worked for two nights of our trip.

On our first full day in Boise, we got out our bikes and rode 5.5 miles on the well loved Boise River Greenbelt. We parked our truck at Julia Davis Park and first biked to the MK Nature Center and then biked all the way back to our rental house near Esther Simplot
(Dan then biked back to Julia Davis Park to retrieve our truck). The trail hugged the Boise River and offered beautiful Fall views.

Biking the Boise River Greenbelt

The nature center was really well done and the kids had fun completing an outdoor scavenger hunt that I had printed in advance. Our biggest excitement while visiting, though, was when we were kindly asked to leave the area for ten minutes so a ranger could shoot a hurt deer that had wandered onto the property.

Fun at the MK Nature Center

We ate a casual picnic lunch at Kristin Armstrong Municipal Park and let the kids play at the playground (all of the playgrounds in our California city were still closed and the kids were thrilled to play on any structure that we found) before biking back to our rental house for naps and another early Gobble dinner.

On our last evening in Boise, we went to the Boo at the Zoo event at Zoo Boise. Although not as well done as the BOOtanical Garden, the kids still had a blast seeing the animals, getting candy at trick-or-treat stations, riding a carousel (the first since before COVID!), seeing the Halloween decorations, and making an owl craft. I grabbed coffee at Flying M Coffee in downtown Boise afterwards and we settled into our last night at our Boise rental house.

Boo at the Zoo in Boise

After checking out of our rental house the following morning, we stopped downtown to get coffee and walk through Freak Alley. What I will remember most about this morning adventure is that while Dan was taking forever and ever and ever and ever to get himself a coffee, I was left alone to entertain the kids outside on the pedestrian street. William eventually got away from me and ran down the block, around the corner, in between two parked cars, and out into a busy street. I was 28 weeks pregnant and had to run after him and catch him before he got run over by a car (because trying to get him to listen is impossible now). When, what felt like three days later, Dan emerged from the coffee house and we walked through Freak Alley and back to the truck, I realized that when I had gotten out of the truck earlier, I had placed my purse on top of our luggage in plain view in the bed of the truck. And it was still there! So even though it can take three days to get a coffee on a Saturday morning in downtown Boise, you can leave your purse out in the open unattended and no one will steal it.

Coffee in Downtown Boise
Freak Alley Gallery

Stop 5: Sunriver, Oregon

We left southern Idaho and drove west across most of Oregon to Sunriver, just south of Bend, a destination we’d been to three years ago. We checked into our rental house, which was tucked into the forest at the end of a cul-de-sac, and grabbed a pizza takeout dinner from the village. Dan and the kids took a dip in our rental house’s hot tub and we settled into our cozy woodsy retreat. Later that night, Dan put the littles to bed while Vivian and I went to a “nighttime experience” show at the nearby Sunriver Observatory. At the observatory, a very knowledgeable docent gave an interesting 30-minute talk outside and then we were able to look in four different telescopes that they had set up. The sky was so clear and we were able to see shooting stars, many constellations, multiple planets (Jupiter, Mars, Saturn), and even the Milky Way ring. Although it was cold, I loved experiencing this amazing night sky with Vivian and was again glad that I had purchased tickets for the experience in advance. One thing that I think I will always remember about this night (and being in Sunriver in general) is how absolutely dark it was without all the light pollution that we are so used to. It was good to be away from big cities.

We got our bikes out the next day and rode them for 6 miles throughout Sunriver, which is known for its many winding paved trails. We biked along the Deschutes River to the Sunriver Nature Center and visited it. This nature center is small with ambitions to become bigger with additional funding. We saw the few animals that they have there and walked along the paths surrounding it, including the entirety of adjacent Lake Aspen.

Biking in Sunriver
Visiting the Sunriver Nature Center

By the time we got back to our rental house, everyone was very ready for some downtime. Later in the early evening, we met up with some local friends at Drake Park/Mirror Pond near downtown Bend and then all of our kids had a blast playing at the playground at Harmon Park. We finally pulled the kids away from the playground with the promise of food and we all enjoyed an outdoor dinner at McMenamins Old St. Francis School. By the time we got back to Sunriver that night, we had three sleeping kids in the truck.

Our friends recommended that we take a drive on the Cascades Lake Byway to see the mountains up close and the beautiful pine forests, so we did just that the next day. We also went hiking (of course!) for 2.5 miles on the Ray Atkeson Memorial Loop Trail.

Hiking on the Ray Atkeson Memorial Loop Trail

The trail that we hiked was next to Sparks Lake, so after our hike we ate a picnic lunch by the lake and explored the shore.

Beautiful Sparks Lake

We completed our loop on the Cascades Lake Byway back to Sunriver for afternoon naps and rest. We ate an early (and delicious and well-served) dinner at Sunriver Brewing Company in the village so that I could be back back at our rental house in time to teach my class.

Stop 6: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Although we didn’t spend the night in or near Crater Lake National Park, it was a trip highlight and is deserving of its own section. After we checked out of our rental house in Sunriver, we drove south and entered the park from the north. We drove halfway around the lake and stopped at Rim Village for a grab-and-go lunch overlooking the lake and then walked along the rim to take in the magnificent views of the deep blue lake. A sweet older lady tried to tell me that she saw on TV that the lake is 20,000 feet deep and I couldn’t help but correct her and tell her that it’s actually nearly 2,000 feet deep (which is still very deep!). We would love to come back here in the summertime to take a boat ride on the lake and explore the area more via hiking trails. For now, though, we came, we saw, and then we continued our drive south back into California.

Amazing Views at Crater Lake
Family Photo Opp Along the Rim Village Walking Tour at Crater Lake National Park

Stop 7: Shasta Lake, California

With a little sadness, we drove from Oregon back into California. We were back in our home state and our trip would be ending in a few days. But first, there were a few more places to see! The kids and I had never been north of the Bay Area/Napa area and so we spent two days exploring the Shasta Lake area in northern California. Upon a recommendation from a friend, we stayed in a cabin (#14) at the Tsasdi Resort overlooking the shores of Shasta Lake (which is actually a man-made reservoir).

Our Shasta Lake Cabin

On our first night in the area, I had two Zoom meetings. Dan explored the resort grounds with the kids, including the small, dirty (literally) playground, while I attended my meetings and cooked our last Gobble dinner. By this point in our trip, the girls could sleep sweetly with each other in the same bed, if bunk beds weren’t available. William, though, who was sleeping great at the beginning of the trip, started getting up earlier and earlier and getting out of his Pack n’ Play and room and waking up the rest of the house (it took a child-proof door lock and light-up alarm clock back at home to finally break him of this habit). Although the wifi was spotty at this resort and we’d run out of data with our phone carrier, we were still able to keep up with work, teaching, and learning obligations – it’s amazing how mobile you can be in our digital age!

Since we were all up bright and early the next morning, thanks to William, we ventured out to see and explore the Shasta Dam. This wasn’t on our original literary since the dam was closed for tours, but we’re glad that we went to check it out ourselves. We walked halfway across the dam and learned a lot about it.

On the Shasta Dam

Our main activity for the day, though, was a tour of the Lake Shasta Caverns. We rode a pontoon boat across a section of Shasta Lake and then a bus up the steep side of a mountain to the cave entrance. Then we toured the caverns, ascending and descending 617 steps while doing so (thankfully, all three kids walked on their own for the entire tour). The caverns were interesting and the guided tour cumulated in a grand cave that had bats flying around the ceiling of it (very appropriate for the upcoming Halloween holiday). The most challenging part of the tour was not the stairs or steep bus ride or flying bats, but keeping William from touching anything in the caverns. Thankfully, we succeeded!

Overlooking Shasta Lake
Lake Shasta Caverns Tour

We fed the kids ice cream for lunch from the gift shop and then rushed back to our cabin to get William down for his nap (and give the rest of us a little break from his shenanigans). While William napped and Dan read, I took the girls to the resort’s [cold] pool. In the early evening, we went off in search of dinner and ended up driving down to Redding and first seeing and walking around and over the Sundial Bridge, which was designed by one of Dan’s favorite architects, Santiago Calatrava. This was another activity that wasn’t on our original itinerary, but we were glad to have experienced. Afterwards, we got takeout for dinner at Bonsai Sushi Fusion on our last night in the Shasta Lake area.

Visiting the Sundial Bridge at Sunset

Stop 8: Oakhurst, California

We checked out of our Shasta Lake cabin early and drove south for six hours to our hotel just outside of Oakhurst, near Yosemite National Park. The historic hotel was quiet and we rented a larger, two-room suite with a beautiful [non-working] stone fireplace. We explored the hotel’s grounds and the kids chased the wild turkeys running on it. Then we drove into town to visit our one-and-only pumpkin patch of the season. Even though it was small and in a parking lot, the kids still had fun and picked out their pumpkins to carve on Halloween.

Family Photo at a Parking Lot Pumpkin Patch

We ate our last family dinner of our trip on a deck overlooking the sunset on Bass Lake. It was a beautiful ending to our nearly two-week trip.

Stop 9: Kernville, California

But wait, there’s more! On our long drive back to our home in Southern California, we first detoured and stopped at a campground in Kernville. A group of neighborhood dads had gathered there for a weekend fishing trip and Dan was joining them for the next two nights. The kids “helped” Dan set up his tent and get settled and then we left him to finish the long drive home by ourselves.

Camping in Kernville

The end! Whew! What an adventure – one that we will hold close to our hearts forever. I am so, so, so glad that we don’t always take the easy route with our kids and family and that we embark on excursions like this one and so many others. Yes, it’s exhausting. Life with small kids (especially while being pregnant) is crazy no matter if you’re at home or on the road. Making memories like we did on this trip will always, always be worth it, though.

And now on to our next big adventure – our fourth and final baby! She’s scheduled to arrive at 9am on Monday, January 11!

Posted in Adventure, Arts, Baby & Kids, Drinking, Eating, Hiking, Sightseeing, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BirthAnniMaybeBabymoon Weekend Away

For my 40th (eek!) birthday at the end of August, Dan planned an upcoming weekend away at a local beachside resort in Huntington Beach and his parents graciously prepaid for it (Dan said it was the perfect gift – he got the credit for gifting it, but didn’t have to pay for it out of our family funds – and I agree!). A week after my birthday, we also celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. Since I’m over halfway through my last pregnancy and we’re not sure if we’ll have the opportunity to go on a babymoon this time around, this weekend away tripled as a birthday getaway, anniversary trip, and possible babymoon. We had a lot to celebrate in less than 48 hours!

I checked into our ocean-view room on Friday night and my friend and neighbor, Melissa, joined me so that I wouldn’t be alone while Dan stayed home to watch the kids. Melissa and I got drinks and appetizers at the Offshore 9 Rooftop Lounge and then had dinner at Henry’s Uncorked, a patio restaurant and bar that also had live music. Night one without kids was well spent!

Room View

On Saturday, Melissa and I lounged by the Driftwood Beach Club pool all afternoon. I got in the water for a quick dip, but spent most of my time reading (and eating and drinking). Then Dan and Melissa switched places – he joined me at the hotel for the night and she watched our three kids (and her two kids) overnight at our house!

Overnight Date Night

23 Weeks Pregnant

Dan and I ate a quiet dinner at The Boardwalk Restaurant before retiring early. The next morning, after coffee from the Surf and Go Market, we parted ways so that Dan could get a massage at the spa (I would have preferred a facial, but they didn’t have any available appointments) and I could go on a 10-mile bike ride by the beach. We had time to grab takeout ahi burritos (so good!) from Bear Flag Fish Co. and then it was time to return to our crazies.

Post 10-Mile Bike Ride

Although I shouldn’t have to mention it, I will: We, of course, wore masks at all times in public and when social distancing wasn’t possible. We ate outdoors or far away from others. We washed our hands and used sanitizer. We remained safe for ourselves and to others while still enjoying life!

It was so nice to get away [from the kids and house] for a bit, especially after all of the intensity of the past six months. We took full advantages of all of the restaurants, amenities, and activities at the resort and I’m so thankful to everyone who made this happen (Dan, Diane, Frank, and Melissa)!

Posted in Adventure, Drinking, Eating, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fourth and Final

Our family is once again growing! On or around January 9, 2021, we will be welcoming our fourth and final baby to our crew. This last baby is a girl, which means that William will always remain our one precious prince. It has been fun experiencing this pregnancy with the girls since they are older now. They were both so excited when we told them that we were going to have another baby in our family. Lillian had really wanted it to be a girl because she and William can get into some epic physical fights, so in her mind, a girl baby will be nicer. Vivian had wanted it to be a boy so that William would have someone to dress alike with. Truthfully, Dan and I were both hoping for a boy, also, to even out the score, but trying to keep up with a boy toddler has made us all happy that this last baby is indeed a girl!

A new baby is going to rock all of our worlds, especially William’s. We recently saw the girls interact with a friend’s baby, though, and it was the sweetest thing, so we think that the girls are going to love having their own baby doll sister. All the kids know that the new baby will be born “after Christmas” when Nana is visiting us. When the new baby is born, we’ll have a newborn, 2-year-old, 4-year-old, and 6-year-old. It’s going to be crazy, but good!

Right now, I’m 24 weeks pregnant, but in the pictures below, I was only 6 weeks pregnant.

Here we go again! Soon we’ll be parents to FOUR children.

The kids are excited for one more baby!


Posted in Baby & Kids | Tagged | 5 Comments

A Midwest Summer

Early last Spring, when I planned our summer, Vivian was supposed to go to all-day TLC (school district before/after school care) and a month of Spanish immersion camp. Lillian was supposed to go to the full-time preschool summer session, weekly dance classes, and swim lessons 4 days/week. Both girls were supposed to go to VBS for a week. William was supposed to go to full-time daycare. And I was supposed to be fully employed. And then, of course, the coronavirus pandemic hit our country hard and everything changed and everything was cancelled. Our summer was, for the first time, and possibly for the last time, wide open with nothing scheduled. So, I scheduled something – a long trip to Ohio to spend nearly five weeks of quality time with my family. This was an opportunity we might never get again, especially as the kids get older and more involved in activities and, hopefully, I become re-employed. Yes, a pandemic was raging, but I knew that flying was considered relatively safe (constantly recirculated air, sanitization, masks) and we’d be staying in a much, much less populated area with a drastically lower opportunity for virus exposure (Orange County, CA, has 3.2 million residents; Sandusky County, OH, has 60 thousand residents, my Mom lives in the middle of the country, and my Dad lives in a town with a population of 200). Dan, thankfully (like, super, super, super thankfully) is still fully employed, so he had to stay back in CA to work. The kids and I, though, jumped on two planes in the middle of July and flew to Ohio, not to return until the middle of August.

Even though my family lives across the country from us, it’s important to me that our kids truly know them, as if they lived down the the street. Seeing our kids bond and play with them and develop memories with them is priceless (and this summer, since we used miles to fly to them, it really was!). Yes, I want my family to have memorable experiences with our kids, but much more importantly, I want our kids to make and hold those memories – to remember the thrill of riding with Papa on his ATV, baking cookies and cupcakes with Nana, playing with the kitties at Uncle Matthew and Aunt Katie’s, flying a kite with Great Uncle Lee, reading with Great Aunt Jane, catching fireflies with Great Uncle Gerry, and playing with Aunt Anna and cousin Ava. This past summer provided us with five open weeks to do just that – what a gift (an exhausting and crazy one!)!

Family Love

Five weeks is the longest time that the kids had ever been away from California and in Ohio. It was also the longest time that I had been in Ohio in nearly two decades. We had plenty of time to spend with family and do things that we typically don’t get to do on our shorter trips, like finally visit my brother’s “new” house and spend time at our family cabin in western New York. The coronavirus numbers in the places where we stayed were drastically lower than the numbers in Southern California and many more things were open for the kids to enjoy. I quickly realized how many amazing education and community resources I’ve taken for granted in the past. In CA, libraries, museums, playgrounds, nature centers, and zoos were all completely closed. In Ohio, though, the kids were able to go to all of these places (safely!) and it was such a blessing. I’m all about health and safety, but I also don’t think it’s beneficial for children to stay cooped up indoors for months on end. And I refuse to sign our kids up for anything “virtual” – they watch way more TV now than ever before and they certainly don’t need to be staring at another screen while sitting inside. While in Ohio, they could play and explore outside, immerse themselves in books instead of screens, and really, just be kids. I hope that they forgot for a little bit that we were in the middle of a pandemic.

We spent every day in Ohio with family and on most days, I tried to do something fun locally with the kids. In five weeks, we did A LOT. My Mom was still working full time, but she took off a few days each week to spend with us. My Dad is retired and is still not in good health (in fact, he was hospitalized two of the nights that we were in Ohio), so we visited him and brought him along on small outings, like getting ice cream. The kids visited my brother at his house twice; he met us at the cabin; and he came up to our parents’ houses once (he lives 2.5 hours away from my parents). My sister and her daughter flew in from Colorado for a week. And my aunt and uncle drove five hours down from northern Michigan one weekend to see us. When we weren’t visiting family, we were exploring, riding bikes, hiking, and playing. If I detailed out all of the things we did, this blog post would be so long that no one would read it (including me, who is my primary audience for memory’s sake!), so here’s a visual snapshot of our fun in Ohio in the crazy summer of 2020:

We have arrived (in masks)! Thankfully, this was one of my absolute easiest cross country flights alone with the kids.

My Mom bought and refurbished used bikes for the girls and a bike seat for William. The girls had so much fun riding their bikes in Ohio!

Praise the Lord – the library was open! Vivian, especially, was thrilled. It is NOT the same for kids to request books online and pick them up curbside (which is what we’ve been doing and continue to do in CA). We took multiple trips to the library.

Outside! Outside! The rain didn’t stop us from walking around Spiegel Grove on President Hayes’s estate.

One day, we took a ferry to Kelleys Island in Lake Erie and spent the day exploring the island and swimming in the lake. The girls much preferred the fresh lake water to the ocean salt water.

Ice cream! We ate in Ohio. Sometimes, we had ice cream for lunch!

Vivian loved flying her kite with Uncle Lee at a park.

The kids used natural materials found in the woods to play at a local nature preserve.

Vivian loved baking with Nana from a book that she picked out and read at the library.

One very muggy day, we hiked my old cross country trails at White Star Park (and then had ice cream for lunch).

Zoo day!!

We went on an outdoor scavenger hunt one morning (and got caught in a downpour) and then the kids got to play in the park’s nature center (we were the only people there!).

We spent one weekend together at my brother’s house in very rural central Ohio. We hiked and played on a waterfall and in the Mohican River and, of course, ate lots of ice cream (homemade frozen custard, to be exact!).

We didn’t swim in any pools in Ohio – only rivers (like the Mohican River) and lakes!

Ohio has lots of farm/barn kitties and the kids found them wherever we went!

Art museum day! We experienced a cool light/water/reflection exhibit, saw the permanent exhibits, played outside with the mobile “family center,” and ate a picnic from the museum’s delicious cafe.

We cut our own lavender at a local farm.

Another muggy day – another scavenger hunt. We hunted for fairies at a county park.

We visited the Mull Covered Bridge to experience some local Ohio history.

The kids loved the outdoor sculpture garden at Williams Park.

We spent one weekend at our cabin in New York. The kids hiked, ate ice cream (of course), rode the ATV, and played with the Amish neighbor kids.

Lillian did so great riding her bike in Ohio, even on 5+ mile bike rides like the one we took from Fremont to Lindsey on the North Coast Inland Trail.

We took a day trip up to Michigan to visit a small zoo that we’d never been to before.

The kids played for HOURS at local playgrounds. It was so nice to see them have so much fun doing this since it’s not something that they have been able to do in California.

One last scavenger hunt – this time at a local garden with my sister and her daughter who had flown in from Colorado.

The kids loved picking sunflowers (and playing with farm kitties) at Haslinger Orchards.

Aunt Anna took all three girls down to visit Uncle Matthew and Aunt Katie overnight. My girls were so lucky to get TWO trips to visit my brother and SIL while in Ohio.

While the girls were in central Ohio, I took William to the Lagoon Deer Park.

My Mom always puts up swings for the kids in the big sycamore tree in her yard. Of course, the kids love swinging on them.

We explored the Toledo Botanical Gardens one afternoon.

We visited a sunflower farm with fields of stunning sunflowers.

Summer in Ohio in one picture: Catching fireflies after dark with sticky ice cream hands (and also with Uncle Gerry).

Whew – that sums up our five weeks in Ohio. We were able to do a lot of “Ohio favorite” things and a ton of new-to-us activities. Coronavirus couldn’t stop us and I’m so glad that it didn’t! We have special memories that we will all treasure forever during a time when there are a lot of things going on that we wish we could forget!

Posted in Adventure, Arts, Baby & Kids, Eating, Hiking, Sightseeing, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colorado Corona Resort Getaway

Six months and 100 years ago (or so it seems), in a time before social distancing, masks, runs on sanitizers, and hundreds of thousands of coronavirus pandemic deaths, we booked a three night stay at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center outside of Denver, CO. Of course, the resort closed due to the pandemic, but it reopened on June 25 (with safety measures in place) five days before our scheduled stay. We all had been looking forward to this getaway – and to seeing my sister and her family who live nearby in Colorado – and we decided to keep our reservation. We’re glad that we did.

We flew from Orange County to Denver on Southwest. I was surprised how busy both airports and the airplane was. Everyone wore masks, though, and kept to themselves. Last year, we took the light rail from the airport to a nearby station and then took a hotel shuttle to the airport. This year, the shuttle wasn’t running, so we just took an Uber, which, despite not having car seats and just strapping the kids in the seats and hoping for the best on the quick 15 minute ride, we will always do from now on – so much easier!

The resort had a totally different vibe than last year. It was way less populated and much quieter, which was nice. We checked in early and settled ourselves into our “family room” – a larger room with bunk beds and an extra TV for the girls.

Bunk Bed Movie Night

Most of our time, obviously, was spent playing in their large indoor and outdoor pool complex. We did it all – splash pad, water slides, hot tubs, lazy river, infinity pool, and water fountains. Vivian is a strong enough swimmer that we allow her to swim in a pool without us. Lillian’s swimming is coming along, but we still want to be close to her. William developed a no-fear attitude and he’ll run and jump into the pool even when you’re not looking, so you must always, always be watching him. My sister and her daughter joined us for three of our four days at the pool and between the three adults and four kids, we were all able to remain safe and have fun.

Indoor Pool Time

Lazy River

Splash Pad

Infinity Pool

Cousins Swimming

Family Swim Time

This year, only one restaurant in the resort was open, but we never went to it. You could order “take out” at the pool or Grand Lodge and that’s what we did for each meal. We were able to eat distanced from other people without interacting with servers. One night we were even able to heat up leftovers from a few prior meals and eat those. We also ordered a lot of strawberry daiquiris at the pool – nonalcoholic ones for the kids – and slurped those down.

Living Her Best Resort Life

Resort Activities
When we weren’t swimming (or napping after swimming), we went putt-putting, went on a Colorado scavenger hunt, played lawn games, and did crafts.


Scavenger Hunt


Family Love
Although we have spent a lot (like, a lot a lot) of time together these past four months (seriously, it’s been a lot), it was nice to spend time together somewhere outside of our house. It was also so nice to see my sister and her family and give the cousins some bonding and play time.

Sister/Sister Cousin/Cousin

Family Pic in the Grand Lodge

Cousins at a Colorado Sunset

We hope to be back in Colorado again next year and we hope that this awful pandemic is finally a memory by then!

Posted in Baby & Kids, Drinking, Eating, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quarantine Continued

Oh how utterly naive I was three months ago when the coronavirus hit the U.S. I was hoping it would only last a few weeks. Ha ha ha. I remember when the girls’ schools closed, I was so stressed because at first they were initially closed for two weeks and I just couldn’t fathom doing distance learning with them while working full time for two weeks. If I had known then that they would never go back to school for the 2019-2020 school year and would continue distance learning for three months; that we would still be quarantined in the summer; that I would lose my job of 16 years as a result of the virus; and that our original ideas for summer fun would be drastically changed, well, I probably just flat out would have had a nervous breakdown.

Since my last post about quarantine, Vivian has finished kindergarten (online) and Lillian has finished her first year of preschool. After I was furloughed from my job on May 1, William switched to part-time daycare. So, the girls are home with me full time and William is home with us Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every-other-Friday. Three months after quarantine began, many, many things are still closed (playgrounds, museums, libraries, zoos, etc.). We mostly do activities outside – lots of hiking, biking, walking, and swimming. It’s taken me – well, it’s still taking me – a long time to adjust to this new forced nonworking routine. I’m not used to being not busy and, frankly, I don’t like it and I don’t do well with it. I think back on what I used to do in a day and it blows my mind – I was so busy, so organized, so efficient, and so productive…and now, well, I feel like a sloth. As if I didn’t already know it, this time at home has confirmed that I am not cut out to be a full-time stay-at-home-mom (or a homeschool teacher!).

Despite my uncertain feelings, we are forging ahead. What else can you do? We have no control over this pandemic and I have no control over when/if my company will bring me back to work. I can only be extremely thankful that we are all healthy, will not be living in a cardboard box anytime soon, and that I have the unexpected gifted time to spend with the kids doing fun things and making special memories. And, speaking of that, here are some of the things that we’ve been up to in quarantine recently:

Backyard Water Play

Creek Play at O’Neill Regional Park

Hiking to Patriot Hill in San Juan Capistrano

Hiking to Aliso Peak in Laguna Niguel

Biking the Serrano Creek Trail

Walking Around the Lake in Rancho Santa Margarita

Hiking the Pecten Reef Loop

Watching the Airplanes Take Off and Land at SNA

Hiking in the Oak Glen Preserve

Walking Around Lake Laguna Niguel

Climbing Trees at Laguna Niguel Regional Park

Finding Hidden Waterfalls in Aliso Viejo

Beach Play in Newport Beach

Freezing in Laguna Beach

More Beach Play in Newport Beach

Train Rides in Irvine Regional Park

Exploring the Children’s Garden Trail in Irvine Regional Park

Pony Rides in Irvine Regional Park

Another Beach Day

Exploring Tide Pools in Laguna Beach

Exploring the Nature Park

Exploring Trestles in San Clemente

Finally – the Pool Opened!

I know enough now to expect to be writing a third quarantine blog post in three months. By then, school, in some form or another, will be back in session. I’ll be teaching online at CSULB for the Fall semester. And maybe (or maybe not…who knows!) I’ll have my job back. Most of all, though, hopefully by then, the coronavirus case numbers will finally be on a downward trajectory!

Posted in Baby & Kids, Hiking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments