Thursday, October 13, 2016

"Life's always better at the beach"

This past weekend we took a little road trip up to Santa Cruz for a weekend at the beach!  It was perfect!  (Little did we know that it's climate is just like San Francisco, it's coldest month is June and it's warmest month is January.  Granted that can be the difference of only 10 degrees, but it was a wonderfully warm day for us to be at the beach in October.)

We arrived at sunset and took a walk out onto the pier and had a nice seafood dinner.  We ordered clams as an appetizer and the girls really had fun trying them.

We loved our clams and clam chowder
Our hotel room was really cute and just across the street from the beach. We had some great lounge chairs just outside our door where we had an amazing view of the pier, the beach, and the ocean. We could hear the waves crashing against the shore, and there were sea lions near the pier we could hear as well.  It was perfect!

The view from our room

We had a great time playing on the beach. The kids spent all day playing in the sand, running into the water, and trying to body surf.  It's always the best watching Lauren and Katelyn laughing and playing together. It was a fabulous day!!  Here are a few pictures:

Digging in the sand

The water was still really cold

We LOVE the beach!

Have to build sandcastles on the shore

Our friends the Sea Lions

On the pier, overlooking the boardwalk

On our way home the next morning we stopped for donuts.  I had a crumb topped bear claw.  I'd never had one before and it was so yummy!!!  Then we stopped at a little place called the Mystery Spot where gravity is supposed to be different.  It was fun to stand at a 17 degree angle and to struggle to walk.  The girls had a blast and even volunteered and were chosen to help with some of the demonstrations.   Here are a few more pictures.

It really looks like a bear claw---and SO yummy!

The craziest cabin EVER

Trying to stand up straight without leaning

Trying to lean as forward as possible without falling

I have a high school friend who currently lives in Nevada who was coming into California and asked to stop by to see me.  We met up for lunch at a diner on the Historic downtown street and then walked on some nature trails and crossed the Historic Truss Bridge.   It was so fun to see my friend! It had been 17 years since we've seen each other, but it felt just like old times.   I also enjoyed the trails so much that I had to go back and keep exploring further.  Here are even more pictures:
My friend Kim and I on the Historic Truss Bridge

The sign is awesome, it reads, "$5 fine for driving over this bridge faster than a walk.  $25 fine for driving more than 20 head of horses, 50 head of cattle, or 200 sheep, hogs, or goats over this bridge at one time"
Love this bridge (It's Folsom's most recognized landmark)

Beautiful tree lined trails. I love how the trees often make a canopy over the trail

This looked a little bit like what I'd imagine the Savanah to look like. I love the diversity of trees and landscape that can be found all around Folsom. 

I think all of our family can agree that we come to love living in Folsom more each day.  It has been an amazing place to be.  We love the city itself and all it has to offer, as well as how close we are to so many different places that are so diverse.  We still plan on discovering more of our surroundings so stay tuned for our next adventure. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"Take a quiet walk with Mother Nature. It will nurture your mind, body, and soul."

In my last post, I mentioned how well James was enjoying his job, and how well Lauren and Katelyn are adjusting to their surroundings, a new school, and making new friends. It's all true and they continue to amaze me at how well they are doing. They aren't quite perfect with schoolwork to be honest, we are still adjusting to homework and getting things turned in on time, but I have faith we'll get there. 

As for me, I've enjoyed taking walks around the neighborhood.  It's been good exercise and a chance to get to know the the area better.  Here in Folsom there are nature trails everywhere some of them just a mile or two, some of them 10+ miles, and some over 30.  However, I'd only been able to find the small trails that connected the neighborhoods together.  But today, I hit the jackpot, I finally found one of the major trails that runs for 14 miles.   Is was the perfect timing as well, it's been so hot lately but just this weekend, we had a nice storm come through that cooled the weather down so that it finally feels like fall is here. It was the perfect weather to ride and it was heavenly.  The scenery was breathtaking. I loved all the bridges, the rivers, the railroad tracks, and the crunchy fallen leaves scattered all over the trail.  I spent just over an hour today exploring a few miles in each direction and I can't wait to go back tomorrow and stick to one direction and see how far I can explore. 

Here are a few pictures from today's ride.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show"

So this quote really sums up how James and I feel. We love taking adventures and seeing all the many wonders there are, some of which we have to travel longer distances to discover, and others are right in our own backyard. Each weekend we've tried to have a fun adventure exploring our new surroundings.

Last weekend we visited San Jose, home of the Winchester Mystery House, and the Headquarters of Apple, Google, and Facebook.  (of course, we had to be creepy and drive by Steve Job's house). Then we had a fantastic BBQ dinner with James's boss and another co-worker (the boss's brother) at his home in Danville on our way back home.

Girls in front of the famous house

We all got to wear hard hats for our "behind the scenes" portion of the tour
that included the haunted basement. Sadly, we saw no ghosts. 

This past weekend we had every intention of staying more local so we visited an apple orchard where we had freshly picked apples as well as caramel apples, the girls rode horses and we posed with some fun signs.  However, since we were only just over an hour away from Lake Tahoe, we just couldn't resist making the drive and seeing Lake Tahoe for ourselves.   The girls LOVED it!!!   Me too, it was so beautiful!  Not to mention the water was incredibly warm as we were on a "reef" that was about a mile long.

So happy to finally get to ride a horse

A nice little ride around the grounds

This was my favorite of our poses. The mental hospital escapees get-away

Thought this was a cute sign, hard to get a good picture from a moving car :)
Lake Tahoe

Lauren the seagull

Such a beautiful Lake

We had such a great time, we are already looking forward to our next trip.  Who knows, maybe even this upcoming weekend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy." Ralph Marston

I was talking with Katelyn as we were driving to school this morning and I was asking her about school and I asked her what were some ways that Utah and California are the same and different.  She said that "the kids are nice and take care of each other in both places, but there are 3 crazy boys in (her) class."  I had to smile at this answer.  First off, I was grateful that the first thing she noticed was how nice people are in general. I'm grateful she realizes that.  I'm also really grateful that she's made a good friend already.  I look forward to watching Katelyn and Brooklyn walk out of class together every single day after school.  And the second reason I had to smile at Katelyn's answer was that the biggest hardship so far with 4th grade is having 3 crazy boys in her class.  I'm so thankful that she is handling this move so well.  I knew she'd be fine. Katelyn has such a great personality.  She is so easy-going and outgoing. She seems to be happy wherever she is and in whatever she is doing and I completely LOVE that about her!

I decided to ask Lauren the same question. I didn't have time to really talk with her, but I asked how California and Utah were the same and different.  Her reply was that school is very different. Everything about her new school is different from her last school in Utah. So I asked her specifically about the kids in her class and she said that the new kids are much nicer.   Again, I am incredibly grateful that she sees the good in the situation because truthfully, I was really afraid of how Lauren would handle this move.  She is change-adverse.  (I will  always remember when my old car literally died and we  had to get a new.  She cried and cried and wrapped her little arms around the passenger seat when it was time to go and refused to leave.)  She took it pretty hard when we moved from our Riverton house to our Daybreak Apartment. She cried a bit, it was hard for her to keep going to school, and on top of it, earlier she had been playing at a friends house when their was a storm that made it so she couldn't walk home until the storm was over.  (She was just at the house behind ours and I would have come and gotten her if I would have known that she was scared) but unfortunately, that event really scared her and left her terrified of the wind.  So when we moved to Daybreak she wouldn't go outside unless there wasn't even the slightest hint of a breeze. Daybreak sits up on a bit of a hill and it was very common for there to be wind and so it seemed that Lauren refused to do many activities with us.  It was a sad year seeing her staying inside because she was "afraid" to go outside.  (Later on, it seemed that things got better for her and she wasn't as afraid, but she learned how to use the "wind phobia" to her advantage).  So for the last year, she seemed a bit afraid to go out and enjoy life. Thankfully she had 2 really great friends.  They were like the 3 musketeers always playing together. And seeing them together made me so happy. Lauren had never been the kind of girl to have a best friend, so having 2 was really great to see. I knew it would be hard for Lauren to give up these friends, and I was worried that our move to a new state would be a little too overwhelming for her.  (Of course, knowing that we were moving for James's health, gave her a good reason to be willing to give it her best shot--that girl is the biggest Daddy's girl I've ever seen!)  Lauren has done a fantastic job making new friends, she has a good group of girls that she "hangs out with" at school. She has been doing a great job at handling all of her 7 new classes and the life that comes with being in Middle School.  She has gotten over her "wind phobia" and has been playing outside and is back to loving life and playing outside once again and I am incredibly grateful!  It warms my heart to watch her outside having fun and being care-free.

I do have to admit that having the same furnishings is kind of nice.  When we moved from our Riverton house, we didn't bring really anything with us other than our clothes, a few toys, and some memories.  When we got to our Daybreak Apartment, we had to furnish the entire apartment.  Thankfully we just went from one 2 bedroom apartment to another with the same square footage.  It was really great how well all of our furnishings fit into our new Folsom apartment. There is a certain level of calmness it brings to see the same quilts on the girls beds', the same couch and paintings on the wall in the living room, and the same kitchen table and chairs to sit around at night for dinner each night.  After that move from Riverton to Daybreak, I know it would still be home even if I didn't have any furniture as long as I had my family, but truthfully, it is pretty nice to see the same stuff in our new apartment. :)

I'm grateful, in a small way, that I get to drive the girls to and from school everyday.  One of my very favorite times of the day is getting that time with them in the car.  I was thankful that within the first few days of moving here we were able to find a radio station almost identical to the one we've ALWAYS listened to.  It's nice to still be able to still jam out to the radio together on our drives. :)  But more important than a radio station, is the time I get to have with my girls. It's been 5 years since I've had to drive to more than one school so it's a little more time-consuming, but worth the extra time as I get to have quality time with each of them separately.  I drive Katelyn to school at 8:10, then James drives Lauren to school at 8:30 on his way to work (truthfully, I think that is really special to get that time with her dad) then I pick Katelyn up at 2:35. (I enjoy waiting out in the amphitheater watching for her and Brooklyn to come out of their classroom and chat while they walk, then Katelyn and I hold hands and walk down the block to the car chatting about her day.  I usually have her water bottle and some treats--just like last year).  We go home and work on her homework if she has any then about 3:45 I leave Katelyn home to go pick up Lauren.  Lauren is part of the "Homework Club" and heads to the library every day after school where she works on homework for about 20 minutes until I pick her up.  Each Monday and Wednesday there are high school kids there at the library to help with math.  This has been really great for 2 reasons---#1 Lauren can have peace and quiet away from home to work on homework and twice a week can even get help from those who obviously understand it better than I do, and #2 California does not bus children to and from school for free.  You have to pay for every single trip you take on a bus, therefore, it is a little crazy trying to get 1500 students dropped off and picked up each day. Having her go to the library and work on homework makes it much easier for me to pick her up after school. (I don't have to arrive an hour early to get a rare and special parking spot along the 2 available streets, and I don't have to park and wait until the busses have left in the small parking lot) this way I can just breeze right in with no traffic, park along the street, and walk into the library to meet her.  I still hold her hand as we walk back to the car (Something I am going to take advantage of as long as I possibly can) and then she gets her water and treat as we talk together all the way back home.  It's these "little things", like a few extra mixtures of alone time, that I think will really be the "bigger things " in hers and Katelyn's life as they look back.  I know it's something I cherish each and every day.

I am super happy and proud to report that James is doing fantastic.  He is happier now than he has been in a long time. It is so great to see him stress-free and happy. Sometimes it's hard to recognize him without his phone. ;)  He can even be found swimming in the pool with the girls or relaxing in the hot tub. I love hearing how well he is doing at work and how much he enjoys it.  James still feels like he is on vacation and one he would love to stay on forever. It's amazing seeing him and his talents being enjoyed and recognized. I LOVE hearing his stories of how he has been so readily and completely accepted as one of the team.  I know he has already made a profound difference on the company.

Yes, Happiness is a choice, and we are all very happy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"If you're going to San Francisco Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair"

Lauren Loved all of the pretty flowers and picked a few for us to wear in our hair

We had so much fun going into San Francisco for the weekend.  Being able to take the train made it even more fun.  We've ridden trains before, but it had been a long time and we really enjoyed being able to talk and look out the windows.  I think if I were to ask the girls what their favorite part was, they would probably say the dining car and bringing us hot chocolate and crossing between train cars.

We took things slow and enjoyed our two days exploring the city.  We visited 3 fun places; the Aquarium of the Bay, the Exploratorium, and the California Academy of Science.  We had some great meals like clam chowder in bread bowls on the pier, an amazing seafood dinner at McCormick's, and ice cream sundaes at Ghirardelli. 

Here are some fun pictures that I'll just add captions to instead of narrorating our entire trip. 

Lauren was my gorgeous model for this trip! We had fun exploring Pier 39

Lauren loved seeing the otters so she posed with this big painted one

We had an amazing sea food dinner with amazing views

We enjoyed watching the cruise ship leave port
We had so much fun walking up the steep hills to get to the top
of Lambard street so we could walk down it. The girls LOVED the winding road!

I think seeing this "Sea Dragon" was my favorite of all the
exhibits at the Aquarium portion of the California Academy
of Science

James took some gorgeous photos, I LOVED this one at the train station

Had the girls pose for a picture in front of Alcatraz

James took this cool picture of this fun fish

Loved seeing all these sharks and string rays together

Lauren and Katelyn getting to "pet" the sting ray

This was my favorite thing at the Exploratorium. You pose and wait
for the most incredibly bright light to flash and it leaves your shadow
on the wall for 10 seconds.  I thought this one was a cute pose---of  course
we had to do this a few times.  Katelyn ape, Lauren jumping for joy,
and me blowing a kiss.

Lauren listening and feeling the vibrations coming through the string

The girls had to match up how long it takes for each of these 8
items to dissolve. The girls got 5 right!  Good job!
This was super fun. Lauren is turning a wheel and it's sending rope
out into a circle. Katelyn and I are trying to jump through the rope
and high-5 each other.  It was lots of fun.

I can't honestly remember what Katelyn was doing here, but
I love how great this picture James took turned out :)

The girls enjoyed looking down into the water and seeing
an actual diver down there. 

We had fun watching this squirrel running around the park

Saw this beautiful blue heron perched on this big tree stump 
Lauren built this beautiful rock monument (You can see there are
some on the rocks behind her)  she wanted to leave her mark on this park
as well.   We had a great time at the Golden Gate Park. It is so big and fun

Thank you San Francisco for such a fun time. The weather our first day let us see just how cold and grey it can be in the summer, and the second day was completely perfect.  We are excited for our next trip "into the city".