Tag Archives: Adventures

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.


Colin grew up skiing. Besides soccer, it’s what gets his blood pumping. However, it’s a passion he has to keep at bay living here in beach country. He misses it terribly and begrudgingly takes yearly trips to Mountain High or Bear Mountain just to satisfy his cravings.

The lack of mountains with snow makes it difficult for our children to get exposure to such downhill activities. But Colin decided to take Warren up to Bear Mountain this year and give him the opportunity to try it out for the first time. He let him choose between snowboarding and skiing. He chose snowboarding, “So I can get practice for skateboarding,” he said. What a California kid.

Colin and Warren left at 4AM on Saturday morning and drove the 3.5 hours to the resort by Big Bear Lake. Colin reports that Warren chatted the entire trip down. Nothing like an excited 6-year-old to keep you alert in the wee hours of the morning.

Wanting to give him the best chance of success, Colin enrolled him in a day class for beginning snowboarders. We weren’t sure how he’d take to the adventure, especially the chair lift, but he did surprisingly well.

He got up on the board and had some moments of downward momentum.

He also had quite a few moments of sitting around, thanks to a full class.

But despite some boredom waiting his turn, he had a really good attitude. He tried everything and had a good time, especially when Colin took him up by himself during the second half of the day.

Even though he was clearly worried about the chair lift, Colin said he grabbed on when told and made in onto the seat without requiring the operator to stop it. He held on super tight to the bar across his lap, but didn’t freak out. He even dismounted without problem. Better than I had anticipated!

He threw snowballs and tasted the snow and generally enjoyed the day. Colin called the trip a success. Considering Warren wants to go back again, I’d have to agree.

Maybe next time we can make it a family event at Whistler.

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.

Cinnamon Roll Making Day

We spent a wonderful day down with our “extended family,” friends that I have loved for years and years and years. Julianna’s sisters (Tara and Wendy), Wendy’s son’s (Ashton and Aiden), and her mom and dad (Sharon and Robert) all came down from Utah to be with Julianna’s family for Christmas celebrations. If Julianna is my pseudo sister, that makes Sharon my second mother and all the rest pseudo-relations, as well. And that’s just how I think of them. It was one big, happy reunion.

The time was spent eating, and chatting, and catching up. All of the kids had a good time together. Laura was a great helper with all the younger ones, especially with Jake.

The day unfolded without any planning or particular agenda, other than to consume chocolate in all its various forms.

We had an indoor picnic.

Some spent most of the day hard at work…

While others were hard at play.

Then Julianna decided to take advantage of her mother’s fantastic cooking and baking skills and enlist her in a cinnamon roll making tutorial. Recently receiving this KitchenAid from generous sister Wendy helped seal the deal.

It had to be properly broken in. Plus, what was she to do about those pregnancy cravings?

I documented the experience.

We’re always laughing. Always. Didn’t you know baking was funny?

The tried and true method for cutting the dough: using thread. Way better than using a knife.

They are phenomenally good! Better than Cinnabon, I promise you!

I think I discovered the beginning of my holiday decorating obsession. It all started in 1st grade with Mrs. Fugate’s tissue paper projects. This is Julianna’s that she (like the rest of us) labored over, rolling each square of tissue paper into a tiny ball and then gluing it just right onto the particular pattern. Hundreds of tissue balls later, you had yourself a Santa or an angel tree topper. Somewhere, in my parents’ garage most likely, is my own Santa creation that looks similar to hers below.

Speaking of decorations, check out this cute Snoopy gingerbread house Julianna’s kids decorated. One of 5 Peanuts-themed houses they made. Adorable.

Aunt Tara and Aunt Wendy met Jake and Joe for the first time. There was mutual love.

After a great day of baking and eating and laughing, I was reminded how blessed I am to know this family. They are wonderful people that I love dearly. I’m glad I got to grow up with them. And I’m grateful that my kids get to now, too.

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.

Lowly the Fish

Meet Lowly, the newest member of the family.

He is our first long-term pet, proceeded slightly by Goldy and Goldy II who both went the way of all gold fish last year. Only living one day, we ceremoniously (think Rudy’s fish on the Cosby Show) flushed Goldy down to the great pond in the sky. Warren cried. Even upgrading to the 99 cent version (Goldy was only 20 cents), Goldy II met the same fate, so we waited until a year later to try again.

Lowly is a beta fish. Strong and tough, we’ve forgotten to feed him on a few occasions and he continues to thrive.

Everyone loves him. Maddie and Warren argue over who’s turn it is to give him his nasty smelling fish flakes. Warren even drew the background picture you see behind his fish bowl. Hopefully, he’ll stick around a long time.

Thanksgiving Weekend Get Away

We are gluttons for punishment. That’s the only reason I can think that we would take a road trip over Thanksgiving Weekend where we weren’t trying to attend a Turkey Day feast. We left for Sacramento Friday morning and returned home Sunday evening, along with everyone else and his bird.

But we love Kelley, Ben, Levi, and James so enduring the Sunday-after-the-holiday-traffic was something we willingly chose to do. And it’s a good thing too! A visit was long overdue. We all needed to meet the newest members of each family. Time was short but we made the most of our trip.

Napping boys in the morning meant that the dads could take the bigger kids to the Sacramento Zoo in 45-degree weather. Kelley and I stayed home to catch up over some hot chocolate.

Much of the afternoon (and then the evening when all children were down for the night) was spent playing one game or another on the X-Box. Maddie was partial to the Guitar Hero guitar.

And if that became too much, they could always turn to artistic activities. Maddie, Warren, and Kelley spent time experimenting with watercolors.

A quick trip to a neighborhood park allowed the kids to get some of their energy out before bedtime.

Sunday morning we said goodbye and headed up to attend church with Colin’s cousin Lorie and her family (sadly, no pictures). After a good lunch and visit with them, we embarked on what would end up being an 8.5 hour drive home.

At one point we were bumper-to-bumper, completely stopped on I-5. We had to take a dinner detour to allow some of the traffic to lighten, though it never really did. Surprisingly, the kids did pretty well. No real tantrums, screaming, or whining. And they all fell asleep without protest. It was a good feeling when we rolled into our driveway, even though it was 2 hours past the time we’d hoped.

Traveling on such a busy weekend would not be our first choice again, but we’re glad we went. We’re thankful that these loved ones are relatively close.

Family Night Bowling

We’d been talking about going bowling together for months and finally took the opportunity during Family Home Evening one Monday night. Maddie fell asleep on the way over so she was super grumpy when we arrived. She didn’t even want to try using the dragon bowling ramp we set up for the kids. Jake and Joey hung out in the stroller and watched us play as they snacked on pretzels. I can’t wait for them to start walking so that they can join us in these kinds of activities.

At first, Warren only used the ramp, but once he got going decided that he would try throwing the ball himself. More like chucking it in the air and having it come crashing down in the middle of the lane. Despite the crazy throws, and thanks to the side bumpers that came up during his turn, he actually started doing pretty well. Many spares and a few strikes. We won’t mention the gutter balls that rolled along the bumper and dumped to the side before it ever hit any pins.

Finally, Maddie warmed up to the idea and gave it a try.

I think she got more strikes than all of us combined. We are not bowling pros, to say the least. Maybe Colin and I should have used the bumpers on our turns, as well.

We ended the outing with bowling alley food. French fried dinner sounded good to me after a low-scoring but fun game.