I am heartbroken. I took lots of pictures throughout the first part of the summer (see "older posts"), but then when I flew to Utah for my grandmother's funeral last month, I arrived back home without my camera. Documentation of Lucy's birthday (including the most awesome homemade pirate ship cake you have ever seen!!) plus so many other summer scenes.... all lost. And then I haven't had time to buy a new camera yet. So... from the last day of school last year to the first day of school this year (yesterday), you will have to use your imagination to fill in the visuals. Here are some written highlights of Summer 2009 (in no particular order):
1. Day trips without a newborn! Toddlers are tricky, but any time I hear a newborn scream that baby-goat cry and the mother has to screech to a halt to nurse or swaddle or otherwise mimic a womb, I am grateful to be 17 months past the "Child Production" finish line. Day trips were so much better this summer than last! Amusement parks, museums, etc... it's all getting easier and easier.
2. Camping at Kirby Cove. If I were more patient I would browse the web to post a picture of this place. Imagine a forest in the mountains, huge redwood trees and gorgeous greenery. You pitch your tent on the crest of a hill overlooking.... the ocean! And then you hike down the hill, turn a corner, and discover that you are literally at the base of the Golden Gate bridge. Rope swings hang from trees that swing out to the ocean. Seals' faces bob up to look at you from the waves. In the pitch black of night, you see Peter Pan's ship float through the sky, since you can't see where the ocean stops and the sky begins. I took the three girls to this enchanted spot along with a few other families from our ward, and I can't wait to go back next year. Stone is invited when he stops stepping off of cliffs and eating rocks.
3. Sisters Retreat in Utah! I left all four kiddos with Erik for four days in June, and met my three sisters and my mom in Salt Lake for the closeness and hilarity that only happens with family. (Rachel, it is mandatory that you attend next time!) Pedicures and makeovers, long walks, left-handed bowling and arm-wrestling, making homemade cleaning supplies and scrap books, late night grocery store trips, and the familiar comfort of cooking together in Mom and Dad's kitchen, and sitting at that same kitchen table and having Dad call on someone to say the prayer. So much love.
4. Lucy's birthday! I threw that six-year-old one heck of a pirate party, and as I said, I am just sick that there is no record of it. The costumes, the treasure hunt at "CariBUBBean Park," the pinata, the chocolate cake in the shape of a pirate ship, the crafts, the THIRTY six-year-old guests, and just her huge smiles throughout the day. It was a wonderful birthday.
5. An all-day, adults-only cruise around the Bay with most of our best friends. We were all giddy, it was so fun to be out on the water without our kids! An amazing spread of food, games, talking, hiking on Angel Island (and the most amazing views of the city and islands)... it was magical. Thank you, Chris and Wendy!
6. Family trip to Colorado! We found a great deal on airfare to Denver, and decided to take the kids to visit their adopted cousins, the Stouts. We go waaaaayyyy back with Zach and Kristy.... Zach was one of my first friends at BYU (we hung out with the same friends until I started dating Erik and Zach started dating Kristy), and then Zach and Erik served in the same mission in Argentina. Then they were our first "couples" friends when we were engaged and then married.... and finally, they were our best friends here in Northern California until they broke our hearts and moved to Colorado a couple of years ago. Kristy and I have taken turns being pregnant through the years, and our complete gaggle of children include ages 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2, and 1. We made it through the week without a rental car, filling both their cars to capacity with children, and eliciting stares (of admiration? horror? hard to tell...) wherever we went, especially when it was just Kristy and I. We did soooo many fun things:
Boulder Reservoir (Lindsay and Kaylee took a swim test and swam all around in the deep part of the reservoir! And the kids built sand castles, forts and mermaid tails for hours and hours. Stone ate his weight of sand.)
Denver Natural History Museum. So many fun memories for me! And Sophie was particularly enchanted by a bird that looked just like "Kevin" on the movie "Up." A week later I couldn't remember the name of that bird (I had only read it a couple of times on the plaque), and Sophie said, "do you mean the double-waddled cassawary?" Which it was.
Water World!! We left the five little ones with two babysitters, and took the four big girls to Water World, America's largest water park. It was sunny, it was rainy, it was warm, it was freezing, the rides were fun, the rides were scary, and it was overall a wonderful day.
The Bay (another water park), the fitness center pool, and the neighborhood pool. These kids got plenty of water time and exercise!
Kristy and I ran together most mornings. Such great conversation. So much in common. Such amazing empathy and support. Zach and Erik worked side by side in the basement office.
The kids ran around their big, gorgeous house together, and usually didn't want to be interrupted to do anything else. They built a school, countless forts, polly pocket worlds and rock and crystal stores. The Stout kids were remarkably generous and patient as they had their home turf invaded - the sharing and the kindness (and the personality matches!) were incredible.
There was also something so special about being near the Rocky Mountains. My parents don't live in Colorado anymore, but that thin, dry air, the blue spruces and aspen trees, the summer afternoon lightning storms all mean "home" to me. We took the girls for a walk in Boulder Canyon and they were in awe of those gorgeous rock formations. It's Lindsay's birth place, so she feels a connection there too.
7. A visit from Erik's aunt Franceskay and her 6-year-old daughter, Holland. What a special weekend! We packed in a ton - the San Jose Children's Museum, park play time, a Thai dinner out, cruising downtown mountain view and listening to a band of ancient chinese instruments, ice cream cones, the Palo Alto Farmers' Market, and late night talks. Erik was out of town while they visited, so it was a girls' weekend extravaganza, and so much fun!
8. Visits from Grammy and Grandpa to and from their trip to Armenia and Iran (thank goodness they're safe!), and seeing the movie "Up," one of my favorite movies ever, with Erik and his dad.
9. Being with my mom and the rest of my family last month. Even though the reason for the reunion was sad (the passing of my mom's mom), it was a beautiful feeling to all be together, our appreciation for life and each other heightened by the awareness of our mortality. I really, really, really love my family.
10. The best part of the summer for us: Watching the kids' relationships deepen. We stayed busy and had a lot of time with friends and family, but we had enough down-time at home that the children really turned to each other as play mates. Lindsay and Lucy run around holding hands now, and often fall asleep cuddling in one bed (though their beds are right next to each other, it's not close enough). And Sophie is maturing to the point that when Lindsay is gone, she can hang with Lucy as almost an equal. Little Stone is the light of our lives, and will catch up as a play mate soon. This year is going to be so wonderful! What a blessed summer.
Pictures coming next time!