Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sweet Nothings

Andrew is not a snuggly, sit-still kind of baby. He is constantly on the go. Throwing toys, emptying drawers and cabinets, hitting his siblings, climbing on the table...you get the idea. He tends to only come to me for his basic needs to be met. To be nursed, or held if he's upset. Otherwise he wants to be down playing and exploring.
The other day he was upset over something and I was trying to snuggle him and calm him down. He started smacking me, to which I gave him a firm NO and put him down. We have been working hard to teach him to be gentle, but it's tough when you have some wild older siblings to model! Anyways, on this particular day he continued to fuss and cry. I ended up leaning over and whispering in his ear.

Now, when I whisper in my other kids' ears, it just tickles them and makes them screech. But Andrew quite literally melted into me. I picked him up, he put his head on my shoulder, and listened as I whispered sweet nothings (or nonsense) into his ear. When I tried to stop, he grabbed my face and pushed it back to his ear.
I have figured out how to turn him into a cuddly calm little boy! If only for a moment.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bear Valley Vacation

Last week we went to the Bear Valley area for 4 days and 3 nights for our summer vacation! We rented a cabin in the town of Dorrington, just a couple streets over from where I went with my family as a young teenager, as well as where Adam and I went with friends about 15 years ago.

On Monday we stopped halfway for lunch in Angel's Camp. We ate a quick lunch at Rodz Grill, during which Jenna stared out the window and refused to eat...
 And Andrew threw silverware.
We arrived in Dorrington late in the afternoon and got the first glimpse of our cabin. From the outside it didn't look like much.
 But the inside was so nice!! The entire cabin was decorated in red white and blue Americana d├ęcor, with a cute cabin feeling from all the wood. It was very clean and updated and just perfect for us.
We unpacked the car and went for a little walk to explore the area. Those pinecones!
We went into town for dinner at Snowshoe Brewing Co and had a delicious meal. While we were eating we noticed another family with 4 young kids. Their 2-year-old boy was being really loud and at one point their parents said loud enough for us to hear "See those kids over there behaving so well and eating quietly? Why can't you be like them?" Adam and I were both like What? Our Kids? It sure was a nice compliment to receive!

After dinner we went to the grocery store to get a couple days' worth of groceries. Back at the cabin we played Go Fish before calling it a night. Unfortunately Jenna was getting sick that day, and we had a rough night of croupy coughing with her. I was worried about her (plus it's always hard sleeping in a new place), so I only got about 2-3 hours of sleep.
Tuesday morning we did some bear hunting from our window. We talked about bears a lot during our trip, and I think the kids were half scared/half excited to spot a bear. Unfortunately (fortunately?) we never saw one!
You know Jenna isn't feeling well when she won't eat her eggies for breakfast.
After breakfast and some video-game playing, we packed lunches in our cooler and set off to find Snowshoe Lake. When we arrived I wasn't sure we were going to stay. The water looked a bit murky and there were lots of fish in the lake.
The lake was completely deserted so we figured we would at least have a little picnic lunch since we were there.
And then this happened. These boys spent almost 2 hours trying to catch fish in their sand pails. They never caught one but they had so much fun trying!! Ryan was better at it because he was quieter. Lucas would charge at the fish in typical Lucas-style.
I even got to wade into the water because of this. See Andrew on the blanket up on the sand? He stayed there almost the entire 3+ hours we were there! For some reason he was kind of afraid of the sand, so he just stayed put on the blanket. Can't say I was upset about it!
Let me just say....staying in a house that isn't toddler-proofed with a curious 16-month old monkey is downright exhausting.

 Awwww!
 It was a really nice day at the lake!
After we left the lake Adam and I were feeling a bit tired after being up most of the night. So we stopped at a coffee place in Arnold for a little pick-me-up. Jenna fell asleep in the car so I took the boys inside and let them pick out treats.
 And Adam and I got coffee that was basically dessert in a cup.
Back at home we attempted to play Monopoly but I had to quit early due to the aforementioned 16-month old who wouldn't stop climbing on everything. I cooked us spaghetti for dinner and we played more Go Fish and ate more candy.

Wednesday was a full and fun day!
 We headed to Calaveras Big Trees State Park mid-morning and walked the 1.7-mile trail.
 Can you even believe they are standing on a tree stump??
 Andrew really wanted to get out and walk but we didn't let him. Mean parents.
 Adam was our tour guide and he read about each special tree that we passed.
 These trees were amazing!
 So many of them were damaged by fires.
I'm pretty sure I have a picture of myself, my sister and my friends posing on this exact bench over 20 years ago.
 So sweet!
I kept telling the kids there would be a tree that we could walk through, because I remember doing that as a teenager.
 Unfortunately that tree fell over last year, so we didn't get to walk through a tree.
Inside the visitor center we posed with a bear and learned about all the animals that are local to the area. I personally think Lucas is doing the best bear impression here.
We went back to our cabin for lunch and an outfit change before heading to the Big Trees Village Rec Center.
 We were ready to swim!
It was exactly as I remembered it from the 90's. Old-school games like this pinball-style baseball game, ping-pong, and air hockey. We let the kids buy 7Ups from the snack shack and we swam for a couple hours.
 Good old-fashioned fun!
We were pretty pooped after our full day, so we went into town for a quick Mexican dinner. The boys' side of the table.....
 And the girls' side!
I must mention.....as we were finishing up our meal the couple sitting at the table next to us got up to leave. They patted me on the shoulder and said we should be proud of how well-mannered and quiet our kids were. Adam and I just had to thank them and laugh silently. If only they knew! But seriously, it was so nice to hear that from strangers. Our kids really were great on this trip. (Except you Andrew. You were nuts!)

Thursday was our last day in Bear Valley. We were up early, looking for bears from our back deck.
 We cooked breakfast, packed up all our belongings, and Andrew bid farewell to his bear friend.
We stopped for lunch in the town of Murphy's. By this point it was close to noon and Ryan had not eaten breakfast. He ate a few chips in the car, but I think the combination of an empty stomach and windy roads was just too much for him. Right after we parked our car to walk to lunch, he jumped out of the car and threw up. Wouldn't be a vacation without a couple of sick kids I guess.

Adam stayed in the car with Ryan and Jenna while I walked across the street with the other boys to get lunch to-go. We picked up food from a place called Firewood that ended up being really good!!
And as we left the town of Murphys I had to stop to take a picture of the stop sign. And then we introduced our kids to the music of MC Hammer on the drive home.
Besides the various sicknesses and the tiring toddler antics, this really was a fantastic vacation! Our cabin was nice, the weather was great, and there were just enough activities to keep us busy without it feeling rushed or overly touristy. The kids had fun and really made us proud with their good behavior. Until next time Bear Valley!