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California Here We Come: Day 1: We drove to Aunt Pat's house. We stopped in Beullton for lunch at Pea Soup Andersen's, and then went to Solvang so John could see if it was a fun as he remembered (it was). In between, we went to Ostrichland. Cheaper than Disneyland, scarier than Jurassic Park. We fed the ostriches and emus and did not get bit. In Solvang, John got a bear claw and some marzipan and we walked around and looked at the quaintness and windmills.

Day 2: We've both wanted to go to Hearst Castle for a long time, so we finally went. It was $25 each for the bus and tour, rip-off, but it was cool to see. We enjoyed the bus ride and the grounds, especially the fancy pools and seeing his personal zoo polar bear cages! We even spotted the zebras feeding with the cattle.

We also stopped at the elephant seal viewing area to check out those cool creatures. And finally went to Moonstone beach on our way back to Los Osos. The kids and I went sea-glass hunting while John stayed with sleeping Sienna in the car. It was a pretty cool beach. The kids enjoyed playing with their cousins. They colored with Leah and Joel taught Maggie how to play baseball in the backyard. Garry and Joan drove down to see us, also. Garry and Sienna have the same reddish blond hair. I hope I get a strawberry girl!

Day 3: We drove to San Francisco. Since rain was predicted for Monday, we decided to do one of our activities earlier and went straight to the Golden Gate Bridge. And of course, it rained on us. We walked about 1/4 of the way in the rain and wind and still enjoyed it, even thought we couldn't see much. After, we went to Leonard and Jeff's and had a great dinner made by Jeff.

Day 4: We headed up to Muir Woods, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (Maggie's favorite part) and not realizing we needed Dramamine. Both kids threw up just as we were arriving. Ugh. We had to park reallllly far from the parking lot. John took the kids in the umbrella stroller (which died on the way) and I finished cleaning out the car and carried Sienna. We bought Dalton a new shirt, then enjoyed the trees on a 1 mile walk.

After the hike, we went to Fisherman's Wharf where we had soup in bread bowls at Boudin, went for a walk, and bought candy at a candy shop. We parked on top of a parking structure so we had great views of the city and the bay, which was finally clear. Another great dinner by Jeff greeted us when we got back.

Day 5: Tuesday we headed to Yosemite. We stopped at Costco for provisions. We were the first in the family to arrive at the cabins, and made dinner for everyone. John did a treasure hunt for the little kids.

Day 6: We drove into Yosemite Valley, went on a very long walk to the Yosemite Falls. John took each of the kids scrambling on the large rocks at the base of the falls, which was very exciting. A highlight of the trip for all three of them. We ate a packed lunch, then went to Bridalveil Fall. More rock scrambling.

Day 7: On Thursday, we got up early and drove to Curry Village to do the Vernal Fall hike. This was adults and nursing babies only. Maggie and Dalton stayed behind with Grandma, Sabrina, Kyli and Morgan to play with. Dalton followed Sabrina around, and Maggie really enjoyed playing checkers with Morgan. The cabin had some awesome swings in the trees, and lots to do outside, so they all had fun.

The hike was awesome. A moderate climb up to the base of the fall. Then, we began climbing steps carved into the granite cliffs, under the spray of the water. We were worried it wouldn't be safe to carry the babies up the steps but it turned out fine. It was a hard climb, though. At the top, there was an emerald pool, and plenty of shady spots to rest and have a snack. Then we had to climb back down all those big steps. We got back to the cabins around 2, but were too exhausted to do much else. John, Sienna, Jamie, Dave and I went for a drive on the cabin dirt road to find the nearest river. It took a lot longer than we thought.

Day 8: Finally a lazy day. Half the group drove down to see Sequoia trees. We, Franco and Jodi decided to have a more relaxing day. We drove to Glacier Point and had lunch and popsicles there. Did a little bit of boulder climbing for the kids, and enjoyed the amazing view, including the view of Vernal Fall where we had just hiked. We were planning to do a short hike, but John and Franco had sore backs and the kids were whiny and it was hot, so we gave up on that. Instead we went to Bridalveil Fall, and played in the pools of the stream. The kids had so much fun splashing around. The last stop was another tour of the valley, and a stop at the gift shop to buy a Christmas ornament and a magnet. We had a really great time hanging out with Jodi and Franco that day.

Day 9: The drive home. We left about 10:45 and got home by 7. We stopped at Dewar's in Bakersfield, but it was 111 degrees, so we didn't stay long. We just wanted to get home. Thanks to John for doing most of the driving. He had me drive for a while, but I had taken a Dramamine in the morning and I was SO tired!

California: The Lighter Side: Here are a few quotes and funny happenings I wrote down from our California trip.

Garry to Dalton: Pink can be your favorite color. Just don't tell anyone about it.

Dalton (asleep): Waaaaaah! The alligator is going to bite me!

Maggie: Can I have some of those chips like Aunt Rachel likes?

Dalton, praying at Uncle Leonard's house: Thank you we could look for the kitties.

Maggie: Volcano interrupted. (I think she was telling Dalton a story about dinosaurs, but she kept saying the volcano "interrupted" instead of "erupted")

One of the funniest moments in Yosemite was when we were eating lunch and overheard a mother reacting to her teenage son throwing his retainer in a bear-proof trash can.

We saw a coyote standing by the side of the road, basically begging for food. That was pretty much the only wildlife we saw.

Dalton, hiking in 90 degree weather: I want to go back to the two cabins because I'm cold.

We Are One: I've been thinking about this for a while and even blogged about it before, but I wanted to blog again about how lucky I am to have John as my partner. At least once a day I look around and think, "This is why God intended for children to have two parents." When we find ourselves in the car dressed, fed, packed and on time for church (with hair fixed, no less). When we are able to each read a kid a different bedtime story. When John needs someone to complain to about work. When I can't entertain a grumpy baby for another minute. When he needs to do chiropractic exercises without kids climbing on him. When we are dragging stuff for a family of five up the hill from the beach. When we're unpacking from our trip, doing laundry and getting tired, hungry, dirty kids clean, fed and in bed (with bonus car wash).

I wrote the above on my phone in the mother's room during Sunday School yesterday, and then went into Relief Society to hear a lesson on marriage. The main thing I took from the lesson was charity, it all its forms, and thinking the best of your companion. I also remembered sharing a cabin with Jodi and Franco in Yosemite and seeing ourselves reflected in them - The complicated bedtime dance, the day-to-day handled together, the need for two parents, the partnership.

It's like a [mostly] seamless dance. Everything gets done. Everyone is happy. Needs are met. It's amazing. I'm so blessed.

*Title taken from an April 2013 General Conference talk on the Priesthood.

Shinguards: At the cabin in Yosemite, I tripped on some uneven flagstone and fell on to the gravel. I scraped up my hands and banged my knees, and scraped and hit my shin on something - not sure what. I also twisted my ankle. but the shin was what really hurt. It's been weeks and it still hurts! The kids try to use my legs as a slide and it feels like it was just freshly bruised. Now I know why soccer players wear shinguards.

Speaking of, I signed both of the kids up for soccer during the month of August. Maggie's class is actually a sports combo, and Dalton's is soccer, so I had to order him some shinguards. He thought they were pretty neat!

Sienna's New Talents: Sienna is 8 months this week. She celebrated by practicing her backwards crawl, pushing up on her knees, and learning how to suck baby food straight from a pouch. Not sure I should be proud of that last one. She is really thinking about crawling and I'm trying to teach the kids to keep their choking hazards out of reach.

Sienna has also been waking up at night a lot lately. I am too nice to make her cry. Partially because I don't want to disturb John, partially because I keep hoping she'll just stop doing it, and also I have no idea what time it is until I get to get room. Why is how I ended up tapping this at 2:15 am.

ABCs of Me Right Now: Stealing this idea from Jill for something to blog about. I'm trying to blog more.

Ambition: Be an awesome mom. Specifically, I am wanting to do homeschool preschool with Dalton this fall.

Bad Habits: fingernail biting

Celebrity Crush: No idea. We are watching the first season of Glee right now and that Asian kid is kind of cute.

Drink: Water. Lots and lots of water.

Education: B.S. in Recreational Therapy.

Food: Salad and Ice Cream as always. Lately I've been eating a ton of chocolate covered blueberry/acai/pomegranate "fruit juice pieces"

Guilty Pleasures: Going back to sleep after I feed Sienna in the morning and letting John get up with the kids.

Hometown: I suppose I will claim Bakersfield since John added it to my Facebook profile.

Ice Cream: Ben and Jerry's Phish Food.

Jonesing For: A nap. A long walk with John. International travel.

Kryptonite: Sleeping babies.

Look-a-like: My cousin Laura.

Movie: Wreck-it-Ralph

Nickname: Dalton still calls me "Susie Chadwick" sometimes.

Obsessions: Disneyland, apparently.

Perfume: I don't really wear perfume.

Quirk: Rolling my eyes.

Regret: Not being a better mother today.

Saver/Spender: Lately, I've been more spendy. Always frugal, and cutting back again as we save for a trip to Europe next year.

The Last Book You Read: I can't remember. That certainly says something about me right now.

Unique Feature: I have squished thumbs.

Vacation: Getting ready to go to San Diego next week! Legoland, Wild Animal Safari and San Diego Zoo.

Wardrobe: Jeans and t-shirts. Well, it's summer. Jean capris and jean shorts and t-shirts. And Rainbows and a ponytail.

X-ray: I don't know what this means. I haven't had an x-ray since I was in Romania

Years: We've been in California for just over 1 year. It's flown by. The days are short and the years are shorter.

Zen: Nursing my baby. I truly love it.

And the Park is Free: Today on our way to swimming lessons, then craft time at the library, and after Maggie's Hero Camp and lunch at Carl's Jr., I told Dalton I was taking him to the park tomorrow with the two kids I'm watching. Maggie interrupted with a whiny "you never let me do fun things!" I was pretty mad about it all day. She's only six, but a little appreciation would be nice. Seriously. It didn't help that her attitude all day was argumentative and just plain annoying.

But when I was complaining to John he said, "That just goes to show that sometimes as parents we miss the mark." (And THAT goes to show why kids need two parents.) Maggie would just as soon go to the park as go to Hero Camp, regardless of how much work I put into it. It also goes to show that Hero Camp isn't worth the effort. I think the moms are more impressed with it than the kids.

Just some food for thought. My friend Amy and I were just talking about it, too. Her kids lucked out with a less creative mom who takes them to the park and mine got one who gets sad if they don't appreciate all my creative work. Sheesh.

: Dalton, in Sacrament Meeting: Is that Grandma June?!?

The lady was actually not even that old...

: Maggie: I can eat popcorn with my pink teeth. (gums)

Where Did This Come From?: Sienna has a tooth! My friend Amy pointed it out to me at the park. It's already completely out and the one next to it is pushing up on her gums as well. With Maggie, we would joke, "she's teething!" every time she cried about something. Because it was never her teeth. So when Sienna didn't sleep well a few nights last week, I didn't think anything of it. But there it is.

She is so proud of herself, pushing up on her knees and wiggling around the room. She'll be crawling very soon.

Hero Camp: In which Maggie goes to day camp, I take a nap, Dalton is saved by a real hero, and Sienna continues in long-suffering.

This week was Hero Camp, put on by some women in the stake. It started out innocently enough, but is now over 200 kids. It's only $35 for supplies, including the t-shirts, and moms have to volunteer. This year was a detective theme. Each day Maggie learned about a new hero, did some themed activities and games, crafts, had a lesson, and a treat. It was very detailed, overly planned, and kind of amazing. It was also exhausting.

Some of the best activities Maggie liked were a laser maze (white yarn strung up between chairs and black lights), a cardboard box maze, and a gumball machine filled with candy. There was also a "bubble man" doing bubble tricks for them.

My day was Thursday. I was on the activity committee. We had 5 different activities to rotate the kids through (15 or so groups of 10-20 kids for 7 minutes each). My activity was digging in inflatable pools filled with pit balls for fish stickers (a la Moses parting the Red Sea). So I was in charge of finding and borrowing pools and balls, and getting them set up. It was way more work than it sounds like. I am sore today from squatting down next to the pools and leaning over hiding the fish (4+ times for every group). Ugh. I was so exhausted after the late night set up and the early morning get there and the long day doing it and cleaning up that I took a nap when we got home.

Today there was a cutie performance with each group doing songs they learned. Maggie's group did a rockin' version of The Army of Helaman. After the songs and a slideshow, we went to the Lagoon. This was on our summer list. We got a great spot thanks to friends saving extra. Sienna took a little nap. It was great fun.

Until Dalton followed a mom he made friends with over to an area I didn't realize was a little deeper, and couldn't keep his head up. It's true what they say about drowning - it's quiet and you might not even notice. The moms right next to him didn't, but the lifeguard did and was headed over as I noticed my little blondie had disappeared under the water. He wasn't drowning though, just got in a little too deep. But yay for lifeguards doing their job.

He Finally Said It: "I miss Disneyland." Dalton has been telling me several times a day for the last week or so what rides he wants to go on next. We're going to Legoland in two days, we'll see if that quells anything.

A Day: I got up at 12:50 am to nurse Sienna after she cried for 20 minutes. Ugh.

At 6:45 I can hear that Maggie (who has no quiet voice) has found the two key elements of mornings at our house: Daddy and the iPad. Sienna hears her, too. Ugh again. I nurse her in bed because we're both tired. But the kids have gymnastics class at 9 and I have to work on Monday mornings, so no more sleep for me.

John leaves for work around seven. The girls play (Maggie coloring and Sienna trying to eat the coloring book) and I work until 8, then we get ready for gymnastics. I have to wake Dalton up and we are late.

Maggie gets to ring the bell and show everyone her kickover. She does a bridge, then kicks her legs over and stands up. Her entire class figured it out today. Sienna gathers admirers and I make friends with the mom next to me.

After gymnastics, the kids eat fruit snacks in the car on the way to Target. We buy lots of baby food pouches with Target coupons, a new leotard and a backpack for Maggie, and a couple other little things. The cashier is impressed with my coupons, but those baby food things are expensive.

Sienna falls asleep on the way home. The kids play on their ride-on cars in the garage while I bring the groceries in and start a load of laundry. I nurse Sienna and put her in bed. The kids are noisy and she refuses to sleep until the minute I send them downstairs. I do another 1/2 hour of work and we eat lunch around 1.

After lunch, I sit on the couch looking on Pinterest while the kids invent games in the living room. Sienna wakes up around 2.

The kids play and I do more work. We get the slide set up in their room and they go crazy on it. I go through my fabric scraps and make Sienna a baby wipes box full of fabric scraps to play with and a treasure basket - a basket full of natural (not plastic) items around the house (I couldn't find much, but she loved it). The kids and I also make her a baby toy by filling a plastic water bottle with tiny pieces of aluminum foil that shake around. She is almost crawling and it's hard to keep the foil out of her reach until it's safely in the bottle.

At 4, she goes down for another nap and I start dinner. The kids are watching Madagascar. I try a new homemade tortilla recipe, and get out burrito stuff. John is home for dinner because he has a chiropractor appointment at 5:30. Maggie and I eat burritos and Dalton invents a peanut butter tomato tortilla and eats half of it.

By the time I got dinner cleaned up, Sienna fed and the movie is over, it's time for baths. Sienna sits in her whale tub in the big bath tub with Maggie and splashes to her heart's content. After Sienna gets out and I am feeding her, Dalton gets in. When Sienna is in bed, the big kids get out of the bath and we read stories. Dalton picks a favorite, The Sleepy Little Alphabet, and Maggie chooses a book on Macaws from the library. She is very into birds right now. Then we watch some Fantasia clips, starting with the ostriches dancing. Finally: bedtime. I manage to get off only being medium-mean-mom because I won't let Dalton go eat.

Back to work once the kids are in bed. I am adding pictures to threads on craft ideas and frugal tips. John has been working this whole time because he'll be off most of the week. We are going to San Diego on Wednesday! John and I sneak out for a walk, then watch an episode of Glee. We'll be up too late tonight. One of my favorite parts of the day is sneaking into Sienna's room to plug my phone in and seeing her sleeping. I always leave the room smiling.

Tomorrow is another day!

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