Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's the Most Wondeful Time of the Year

We love this time of year! We love teaching Leo about Baby Jesus, decorating our house with lights, spending time with friends, holiday baking, and all the fun things there are to do and see at Christmas time.
We went to "Posada" at Catholic University in Washington DC with a few friends. Based on a Latin American tradition... they dress the children up as Mary and Joseph, and then lead them on a procession from building to building, where there is no "room" for them. Finally we reach the final building, where we are welcomed in with beautiful songs, and yummy food- taquitos, pupusas, rice and beans.  The children decorated cookies and took took a whack at the pinata. Then we went outside to see a reenactment of the Christmas story. The stable was filled with live animals- sheep, donkeys, and an ox.  The Wise Men even arrived with a camel.  (Leo loved the camel!)  It was a wonderful evening.

We went to see the lights at the temple, and attended a Bell Choir concert there.  The lights were spectacular- we loved all the different colors. 

We went to our Christmas Party at the church last night. Leo joined the primary kids on stage to sing a song, even though he's still in nursery.  He stood right up front, and channeled his inner Elvis.   We were loving his smooth dance moves. 

I took Leo to the mall to do photos with Santa.  This was our 3rd year with this Santa, and Leo was cute and friendly as usual.  He told Santa that he wants a Fire Engine for Christmas.  (apparently the two he has aren't enough)

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth

We flew to California for Thanksgiving, where we spent a week with our extended family at the beach. Our usual campground in Carpinteria (where we've been going for 30 years) was closed for renovations (so sad!) so we stayed at a place in Newport Beach instead. We also bought a 3 day pass to Disneyland, and took Leo to the Happiest Place on Earth for the first time.
My sister and her family, and my parents went to Disneyland with us too. It was great that Leo had his cousin Bridger (who is just a few weeks older) to play with during the day. They were able to entertain each other while waiting in line.

Leo loved Pirates of the Caribbean... he waved to all the Pirates and said "Hi Pirates!" with great exuberance.  He also loved "It's a Small World, which was all decorated for Christmas. He also loved the Dumbo ride, and Autotopia. 

Two of the best rides, which are new, and had the LONGEST lines... were the Midway Mania   (3-D video laser shooting game with Buzz and Woody from Toy Story)   and the new Cars ride (with Lightning McQueen and Mater).  In fact, they have a whole new Cars land, which was incredible! You really feel like you're in Radiator Springs.

The first two days at Disneyland and California Adventure were great- it wasn't too crowded and we hardly spent any time at all in line. Then we relaxed for two days, and went back for our 3rd and final day of fun.  We didn't realize that the schools were out by then, so the park was packed!  We spent way too much time waiting in line.  And poor little Leo was so exhausted by that 3rd day- he actually started running a fever, so we left about 2:00.  He fell asleep as soon as we got to the car.

The rest of the week we spent with our family at the beach. Leo got to play with all his cousins, dig in the sand, and have a great time running around! It was a fun trip.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn Camping

We have discovered that the best time to go camping on the East coast is in the Fall!  The summers are too hot and humid for camping, but in the Fall the weather is just heavenly, and perfect for camping!  Our friends, the Hansens, invited us to go camping last weekend- they found some little cabins for rent at Patapsco State Park in Maryland, about an hour from here. The campground was awesome, and the little cabins were cute and cozy. Two other families came too, so we had a nice little group. Leo loved having so many friends to play with.
Leo was thrilled to sleep in a bunk bed, and in a sleeping bag. 
This was his first night in a big bed, ever! 

 The leaves on the trees were just starting to change color.  It's a lovely park.

Campfires are so much fun!  We cooked all our meals over the fire, and roasted marshmallows, of course.  There was also a small playground adjacent to our camp sites- the kids loved that.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn Camping - part II

We had so much fun camping last weekend that we went again this weekend!  Sadly, our friends were not available, and the cabins were all rented out, so it was just us, and we took Big Red.

We stayed in a different part of the park, where they have campsites. It was fun to camp in our little trailer "Big Red"- which we haven't done in a long time.   (It's a vintage trailer from 1962 that we restored. It's VERY tiny, and the three of us barely fit in there- but it sure is cute!)

The trees are starting to change colors now- they were beautiful.  We hiked down the road to the trail which lead down to the river. It was fun to see all the leaves falling from the trees and to hear them crunching beneath our feet.

We had fun playing with the settings on our camera for black & white, and sepia. 
Of course, it helps to have such a cute model.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fun with friends

Leo loves playing with friends. (He's always been a very social kid) He is especially fond of these two little cuties- Brooks and Hart.  We've been camping with them a few times, and have also had playdates and a trip to the zoo.  They have so much fun together!
Their family came over for dinner a while ago, and we tried to get some photos of them... but they wouldn't sit still long enough to get a decent photo...   So excuse the bluriness. That's what happens when you have 3 crazy boys playing together.
Leo is so ready to have a brother or sister to play with. He talks about it all the time. We sure hope  a new baby will be joining our family soon. We can't wait!  More kids = more fun.


Cox Farms

One of our very favorite parts of Fall is our annual visit to Cox Farms. This was our 3rd year going, and Leo seems to enjoy it more and more each year. We rode down huge slides on gunny sacks, went on a hayride, drank fresh apple cider,  and picked out pumpkins. 


 We played on huge piles of pumpkins, and then looked at baby pigs, cows, turkeys, minature goats, chickens and  little baby ducks. Leo loved all of it... except when we wanted him to pose for a photo... which caused a small meltdown. (sometimes, it's hard being 2 1/2)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Firestation Fun

Jack took Leo to the Firestation Open House last week, where they gave each kid a cool fireman hat, and a badge. They taught them about fire safety and also let them climb into the fire trucks and ambulance. Leo was so excited!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Virginia Beach

We drove to VA beach for the first time this weekend, and spent a fun Saturday at the beach. It was about a 3 hour drive, which wasn't too bad, and we stayed in a hotel on base that was right on the water. And since summer is offically over (school started last week) we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. There were just a handful of people there. It was awesome. The water was about 85 degrees- the same temperature as the air.  (Which is a LOT warmer than the Pacific Ocean temperatures that we're used to)

Leo loved digging in the sand, running up and down the beach, and jumping into the waves. He was covered in sand from head to toe, and loving every minute of it.  We spent the morning on the beach, then had a nap in the hotel.  After that we drove a few miles to the touristy part of town, and walked along the boardwalk. We ate some overpriced seafood, had some ice cream that was melting faster than we could eat it,  browsed some shops full of chotskies, and saw tourists from around the world.  

Then it was back to the hotel, and some more beach time with Leo.  He absolutely loves the beach.  (That's my boy!)  As we drove home Sunday morning he kept saying "I want to go to beach. I want to go to hotel."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Going to Help Somebody"

What is it about fire engines that makes them so appealing to little boys?  Is it the flashing lights?  The loud sirens?  The bright red color?  Their ability to speed through intersections?  

Whatever the source of their appeal, for Leo it was love at first sight. I can remember seeing one zoom past us many months ago. Leo asked earnestly: "Where's he going, Mommy?"   I shrugged my shoulders and said "Going to help somebody, I guess."   And now, everytime we see a fire engine, an ambulance, or any type of emergency vehicle, I hear from the back of the car, in a sweet little voice "Look- there's fire engine. Going to help somebody!"   It is so cute. It melts my heart every time.

I found these cute little fireman boots at a yard sale about a year ago, and Leo liked stomping around in them. But now that the fireman obsession has started- they have been elevated to a higher status.  Then Nana sent a fireman rain coat.  And some nice firemen gave Leo the hat.  His uniform is now complete.
The obsession came full circle two days ago when Leo and I were at Costco. They had these amazing little fire trucks with a motorized ladder, flashing lights and sirens!  All for a bargain price of $19.99.  The fire engine went into our cart.  When we got home, Leo played with the fire engine non-stop. I mean, he literally played with it ALL DAY.  He didn't want to eat, or watch a movie, or play with anyone else. He only had eyes for that truck!  The only way I got him into bed that night was by making a nice little bed for the fire truck and telling him that fire trucks needed to sleep too. He put a little blanket over the fire truck and said "Good night, fire truck. See you tomorrow." 

It's been two days now, and the obsession continues.  The first thing Leo says when he wakes up in the morning is:  "I want to play with my fire engine!"  

Friday, June 8, 2012

New York and Niagara

We just got home from a great vacation to upstate New York and Niagara Falls. We drove to Corning first, where we saw the glass museum and took a glass-blowing class. (very cool) Then we spent a few days in Palmyra, and saw all the sites there. We especially loved the Hill Cumorah and the Sacred Grove. They were wonderful!

From there we drove about 2 hours to Niagara Falls. We spent a half-day on the US side, and did a tour that took us next to the falls in several places.
That evening we drove over to the Canadian side, where we stayed for 2 days. There is a lot more to do and see on that side, and now I know why. The Falls are located on the US side, which means you can actually SEE THEM from the Canadian side. The whole area is full of hotels, restaurants, and touristy places. In fact, it almost has a Las Vegas-y feel, with all the spectacle and cheesy tourist stuff.  But we really enjoyed seeing the Falls, and riding the boat down to them (Maid of the Mist). They are a true wonder.
Leo had a great time pointing at the waterfalls, feeling the mist on his face, and running around wherever we went. He kept us busy, and entertained, that is for sure! He loved saying "Canada", which sounded more like "Cand-ah-dah", and being on the look-out for the "Big What-er-fall".
Here is a photo of Jack getting wet on the boat.  Thank goodness for our free "souvenir" raincoats. We got very wet!

This was both Leo and Jack's first trip to Canada, although it felt like we were still in the US when we were there. Every vendor took US or Canadian dollars, and it looked like any other touristy town in the States. Oh well. One of these days we'll make it to Montreal or Ontario, and see the real Canada.

We did hear lots of people speaking French, which was fun for me. I started speaking a little French to Leo... he would just look at me and say "What you talking about Mommy?"  It was so cute.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Camping Trip

We spent the long weekend in Catoctin National Park in Maryland, about an hour north of here. It's right next to Camp David, but I don't think the Obama's were there this weekend. (They shut down the adjacent roads when the President is around) 
We went with our friends (the Hansens) that have two little boys, just older than Leo. The boys had so much fun playing together, and we had a great time watching them do silly things. Boys are so fun. They caught a frog in a bucket, played with sticks, and collected rocks in their pockets. They hiked and explored, and waded into the creek.

We stayed in small, rustic cabins that were built in 1936 by the WPA.  They had 4 cots, and that was about it. We did all our cooking outside on the campstove, over the fire, or in a dutch oven. We took our kayaks, and spent one day at the lake. We kayaked, swam in the lake, played in the sand on the beach, and had a picnic on the grass. It was a really fun day. The next day we took the boys fishing to a pond nearby, and taught them how to fish. (they liked the casting part, but were not crazy about the waiting part)  Our nightly campfires were the best.  Silly ghost stories, talking, and roasting HUGE marshmallows together was so much fun.

We headed home last night, and were just about to load everything in the car when a huge storm blew in, and rain started dumping from the sky. We quickly tried to get things back into the cabin so they wouldn't get soaked. There was loud thunder, and they boys were getting a little nervous, so we plopped them into our car and put on a movie. They happily watched "Finding Nemo" while we waited for the rain to die down a little, so we could load up our car.
We finally got everything in the car, said goodbye to the Hansens, and hit the road. (they were leaving the next morning) It rained the whole way home. We are so grateful for the nice weather we had all weekend!  We had a great time getting to know the Hansens better, and it was so nice for Leo to have two little friends to play with.  He had a marvelous time!