Category Archives: Around Town

The Man in the Ditch

Ice on the windshield

On our way down the hill to swim lessons one morning, we watched a car skid off the road. The streets were slick with autumn rain and the driver of the SUV veered right into a ditch. I felt I had to stop and help since I saw it happen directly in front of me so I pulled over to see if anyone was hurt. Colin and I had traded vehicles that day so Maddie, Jake, and Joey were all sitting side-by-side in the backseat of his grey Camry waiting patiently for me to return.

I walked up to the car and knocked gently on the window to ask if the driver was alright. Yes, he said, he was fine. His ego was bruised more than anything else. The ditch was fairly deep so that the driver’s side was almost perpendicular to the ground. There was no getting out that side. No doubt about it, he was going to need a tow truck. I told him I would call the police and ask for their assistance. They informed me that they’d send a tow truck to pull him out. The driver seemed to really appreciate the time I took to lend him a hand. I wished him luck and the kids and I drove off to class.

Jake and Joey asked endlessly if the tow truck had come to rescue the man in the ditch. By the time we finished at the pool and headed back up the hill he was already gone. They were thrilled to see that help had arrived and could not wait to tell Dad about their adventure.

That night at bedtime Colin posed his usual question to the little boys about what he should sing to them as he tucked them in for the evening. “Wonderful World” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat or Semi-truck or Monkey or [fill in the blank]” are always a hit, but this night they had a different topic in mind.

“Sing about how the man went into the ditch!” Jake and Joe exclaimed.

Colin did not hesitate even for one second. He launched into the first of many impromptu renditions on this theme.

Camp songs, folk, pop, and indie versions, Mexican baladas, dubstep, all performed with fervor and aplomb. The boys ask for it every night and every night he delivers.

They all have the same basic lyrics. Rhyming is optional. Try making one up yourself using this easy formula:

There was a man who slid off the road. He went off into the ditch. We stopped in the gray car to help him. I asked if he was okay. He wasn’t hurt. The tow truck came and pulled him out of the ditch. He was fine.

The other night Colin rattled off a list of song styles from which the boys could pick. You guessed it. They chose opera. Look out, Plácido Domingo!

And on this Christmas day, I got to live out a dream come true. I sang an operatic duet with Colin. I must admit, we were quite good until I got to laughing so hard that I cut out on my soprano part.

I hope they continue to ask him every night for “The Ditch Song.” Colin is up for the challenge. Only please don’t request the country western version. You’ve gotta draw the line somewhere.

Grand Ridge Trail Run 5 Miler

Get ready to run!

I have caught the racing bug.

Colin decided that after his Tough Mudder experience he needed another motivator to keep him running. He found a local race that we could do together before Thanksgiving. He invited Tami and Joe to train and run the race, too. We all signed up for the challenge.

What we didn’t realize was how insane the course would be. “Five miles,” you say, “how hard can that be?” When the first mile is straight uphill and full of switchbacks, you’d think again.

The mountain kicked my butt. I foolhardily made the goal to run the whole race without walking. I did no such thing. But although Colin ran the entire 500 feet elevation gain, he also had moments of walking, so I don’t feel so bad. Thank goodness for the downhill portions of the race!

Trail-running is beautiful, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the surroundings, even though it was quite chilly and a bit drizzly.

It was a great challenge. I’m so glad we did this, tough as it was to complete. We’re going to make it an annual pre-Thanksgiving tradition.

Any locals want to join in?

Fathers and Sons Camp Out

Nearly every year (except for the time we had wildfires on the hillside) our Stake (large church congregation) plans a camp out to commemorate the Restoration of the Priesthood. It’s an opportunity for fathers and sons (of varying ages) to come together for good food (they usually have tri-tip) and bonding by the campfire. Warren loves it and looks forward to it every year.

They head up to camp around 4:30PM on Friday and return home around 11:30AM the next day. Jake and Joey are too little still (Colin is thinking 3 might be a good age, as to ensure they wouldn’t dive head first into said campfire), so it was just Colin and Warren this time. They took their mountain bikes up for a morning outing.

Many good friends from our Ward (unit of the Stake church congregation) attended as well. Everyone had a good time, especially the little boys who collected feathers and broken clay pigeon pieces to bury as treasure.

They came home dirty and tired. Just as it should be after a good camp out.

A Saturday at the Playground

Warren saved up allowance money to buy a new bike. He’s already outgrown the other one. Seems like we just got it yesterday. {I’m sure that’s what I’ll be saying about everything as the years go on.} Eager to break it in, he just needed an opportunity to take it for a real spin, not just down the street and back.

We had the assignment of cleaning the church building one Saturday morning. We took the entire family, though Colin and Warren did most of the cleaning while I tried to keep the boys from becoming counter productive. Maddie assisted where she found necessary. When we finished, we crossed the street to let the kids run free on the elementary school’s playground and give Warren a chance to ride around.

Warren is a pro on his bike. He had a blast alternating between racing around on the asphalt and climbing the monkey bars.

Maddie loves the slide. She didn’t let a little static electricity or wood chips in the shoes stop her from having a good time.

Jake (in blue) and Joey (in brown) enjoyed the sweet taste of freedom as we allowed them to explore the grounds in whichever direction they fancied. They also could not get enough of the wood chips, which are not easy to remove from their hair, let me tell you.

Maddie, Jake, and Joe could not get enough of the drinking fountain at the kindergarten sink. Water is great on a sunny day.

I love spending time together like this. And I love to watch my kids explore and discover new things. Things they didn’t realize they could do before. Their smiling faces say it all.

A perfect Saturday morning, in my book.

Tami and Joe Visit Again

When we told our good friends, Tami and Joe, that we had a date for our temple sealing to Jake and Joey in mind, they started making plans to come down here to attend. We go back many years, back to the days of newly wedded-ness, and no kids, and late night cookie and ice cream study breaks. They’ve been there for us for so many ups and downs. They’re like family. Having them with us at the temple meant the world. And the fact that they’d be bringing their darling children along for a family vacation made the idea even better.

As usual, we spent long hours at night talking and eating delicious food, mostly cheese. 10:52PM on the microwave clock. We were just getting started.

We took a night out on the town to eat tapas after tapas at Milk & Honey, until we stuffed ourselves silly. But not enough that we couldn’t enjoy the Louisiana Bread Pudding Soufflé for dessert at the Palace Grill. To. die. for. I can’t remember a better evening.

And the rest of the time we looked for simple adventures.

We went to the Santa Barbara Mission. The kids ran around in the rose garden and enjoyed the warm sunshine.

We had them join in our Family Home Evening Easter Egg Hunt where the plastic eggs are filled with symbols that explain the purpose of the holiday. (Don’t worry, they still got some candy!)

Most walked away satisfied, except for Jake who felt slighted by a chocolate-less egg.

The big kids even planned their own activities. Like a backyard carnival, complete with popcorn, lemonade, games, and prizes. Below are the signs and tickets they created. These are imaginative kids, I tell you.

We’re so glad you came down for a visit– all of you this time. Come back soon, friends.

Spring Break in Solvang

A year ago, Colin’s mom asked if we would spend Warren’s spring break with them in Solvang, a little Danish town about 40 minutes from our house. For all you Washington State people, think Leavenworth of Coastal California, except with a Denmark heritage.

Little did we know then that this vacation would overlap with finalizing the adoption of Jake and Joey. So, instead of spending lazy days as tourists, there was quite a bit of back and forth between Santa Barbara and Solvang. Especially since Colin still had to show up to the office most days. Thankfully, we had two cars to make it all work.

Despite some scheduling challenges and the general discomfort of traveling with children under the age of four, we enjoyed spending time with Grandma Tuki and Aunt Melissa.

We took a leisurely walk by some shops and saw one of the many windmills in town.

And we even peeked through the window of a motorcycle museum, which was closed much to Warren’s dismay.

Another day we took a drive over to see the lavender fields that weren’t there. Well, a tiny patch was there still but the majority of the farm had moved to Santa Rosa. The kids still had fun digging in the driveway gravel of the lavender essential oils shop.

Melissa spent time knitting hats, a new skill she absolutely rocks. She made a hat for each kid in our family. Yes, she’s that awesome.

We did do quite a bit of lounging, especially in front of the television. And Grandma Tuki’s iPad-like device. Spring Break is all about vegging out.

Thankfully, the kids slept well, except the first night when Maddie waited for Warren to return from an evening movie and fell asleep by the door.

Warren definitely had the advantage being the oldest and a legitimate swimmer. He was able to spend many afternoons at the pool with Melissa and Grandma. It was hard to tear them away.

What a trip! Grandma Tuki and Aunt Melissa, we’re so glad we could be with you for a whole week. And we’re extra glad that you could be here for Jake and Joey’s adoption and temple sealing.

And thanks once again for allowing Colin and me a night away. We’re so glad to know that our kiddos were in loving fun hands.

Butterflies and Lizard’s Mouth

While Jared (Colin’s brother) and Laura (his wife) and their daughters, Evelyn and Miriam, stayed with us to help out with my recovery, we made sure that they had some fun here in Santa Barbara. Colin and the kids took them to the Ellwood Butterfly Preserve and to Lizard’s Mouth to hike on the rocks. I had to do some surgery prep (FYI, not fun) so I didn’t accompany them.

Colin took the camera and had some fun with the telephoto lens.

Viewing the Christmas Lights

We decided to take the kids for a drive around Santa Barbara to see some Christmas lights. There is even a website that gives you a whole route to take, complete with directions of where and when to turn. (Thanks for the tip, MK!) It’s the same path that the touring trolley cars take. It sounded like a great activity for the Christmas season.

There is only one word that can be used to describe our evening of Christmas light viewing: BUST!

And it wasn’t because there was anything wrong with the route or that the traffic was out of hand. No. It was because our children either a) fell asleep or b) complained the entire trip. Specifically, the three youngest nodded off before we even made it off the freeway exit and the oldest whined about every single thing.

Maybe we set the stage wrong, I don’t know. All I know is that from the moment we turned on to State Street and the start of the route, Warren began complaining.

“What is this we’re listening to?” he grumbled from the back, even as the brightly lit store displays and decorative stars over the street lamps gleamed outside the car window. The Christmas c.d. had just switched to a comedic story we enjoy hearing once a year, “Polly Anderson’s Christmas Party.” Perhaps he was expecting “Frosty the Snowman” and was greatly disappointed to hear a Canadian accent instead.

After the fourth time whining to know when it would be over, I turned around in irritation.

“Warren, we’re here to see the lights. Your sister and brothers are asleep. That means this is all for you now. If you’re not enjoying the drive and happy to see the lights then we’re going to go home,” I told him sternly. His half-hearted okay led me to believe that his bad attitude would reappear shortly.

Unfortunately, I was right. We continued on the path and made it to the second neighborhood of many participating houses when he piped in once again.

“I’m bored!” he announced in a surly, Grinchy tone.

I took one last terrible picture of a lighted house (photographing in low lighting from a moving vehicle has too many limitations, even with a good camera) and told Colin to turn that car around. We were going home.

As soon as we stated that we were done and heading back, he let out a wail. And then he kept wailing all the way home.

“I want to go back! Let’s go back! We didn’t see enough lights! Please! Please! Let’s see more lights! We have to see more lights!” he cried in outrage.

In our 20 minute drive home I went from supreme irritation to disappointment to sympathy. In the end, I just felt bad for him. Sometimes it’s hard to be a kid. You just don’t know what you want or how to express it and when you do get what you want sometimes it’s overwhelming to handle.

Too much excitement? Too much stimulation? Too much sugar throughout the day? I don’t know what happened with Warren, but I do know that he deeply regretted his choice of attitude. Maybe next time he’ll think before he complains. At least when it comes to Christmas lights.

And maybe next year, more of our children will actually be awake for this outing.

Choosing the Christmas Tree

It was getting dark by the time we made it to Lane Farms to pick out our Christmas tree. But that didn’t stop Warren and Maddie from hopping up on the old tractor. Or from visiting some of the animals in the stable. The farm owners went all out and had a manger with some hay as a reminder of the purpose of this season. It’s not just to buy evergreen trees, believe it or not.

We decided to err on the cheaper side this year and passed over some beautiful Noble Firs for the more cost effective Douglass Fir. The nice guy working the tree area picked up our selection and tied it to our car before we were even done saying goodbye to the pot belly pig.

Our tree decorations are fairly simple. White lights and many memorable ornaments we’ve been given over the years. But it always makes us smile to look at it. Especially at night when it’s all lit up. I love staring at the twinkling lights while I sip something warm and the Christmas music fills our home. Such a peaceful break from the hubbub of the season.

Visiting Old St. Nick

The big kids were excited to see Santa this year. We didn’t wait in line to chat with him at the Christmas Walk, so we made a date to visit him at the outdoor shopping mall, Paseo Nuevo. The setup is nice there because you don’t have to pay to see him and it’s generally not crowded.

Normally, we would stay for the Christmas Parade, but Colin and I wimped out thinking about how much effort it would take to contain Maddie and keep the babies from getting too cold. Instead we took them shopping for their Christmas outfits at Old Navy. Aren’t we fun parents?

But we did also treat them to dinner at Chipotle. We dined outside and watched all the people getting ready for the parade. It was almost as exciting.

Back to the Santa visit… When we arrived there was only one other family attempting to meet Santa. But the little girl, probably no older than two, that was sitting on Santa’s lap was not having it. At all. She was screaming and screaming. Maddie, who previously was bouncing off the walls to see him, shrank back with reservation.

Warren, seasoned Santa visitor and a boy with an agenda, stepped right up to Jolly Old Saint Nick. Really, this Santa was so very nice. He listened to Warren and gave him a candy cane for his efforts. Maddie hung back, still trying to determine if it was safe.

Meanwhile, we took Jake and Joey out of the stroller to have them take a picture with Santa, their first one ever. “Twins!” Santa exclaimed, in a tone that expressed both amusement and fright at the realization that they were coming his way.

“Do you mind if I put them both on you?” Colin asked with a smile. “Oh no, that’s ok, just fine,” he responded as he pleasantly motioned for them to come forward. What a Santa!

Colin placed Jake down on Santa’s right knee. I had the camera ready. As soon as he tried to release Joey so I could take the shot, he began screaming. He did not want to see Santa. Not one bit.

I wish with all my heart that you could see the look on this poor kid’s face. It is absolutely classic. You can kind of tell by his arched back and outstretched hands. But you’ll just have to take my word for it, he was not happy with our plan.

Despite Joey’s reaction, Maddie finally got the nerve to walk up to Santa. Warren stayed close by to make sure she was okay. She never did sit on his lap, or tell him what she wanted for Christmas, but she walked away with a candy cane and a smile. I’d call that a success.

Maybe Joey will think better of Santa next year when he’s able to eat candy canes.