Learning to serve the Lord and my family one day at a time.

Learning to serve the Lord and my family one day at a time.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

California or Bust

I believe "California or bust" is an apt title because anyone who has ever traveled with young children knows how difficult it can be. But we made it and the only thing about to bust was our midsize SUV that was crammed to the gills!

David had two weeks off between his first and second years of residency last month and we decided to visit my dad's father in California who will be 91 this fall and has never meet David or my children.  My dad's brother and his wife graciously offered to host us in San Diego for four days. My younger brother Brian came along as well.

We left from San Antonio and arrived midmorning at the San Diego airport where we picked up our rental car. Flying west is wonderful because we gained two hours. The kids are great flyers now and did wonderfully on the plane.

I was concerned about space in the rental car with two suitcases, five people, a pack 'n play, an umbrella stroller and Brian's wheelchair and luggage. I just couldn't bring myself to spring for the insanely expensive minivan rental so I reserved a midsize SUV. I was hoping to get a car with a roof car but they didn't have anything available. The rental car place was rather odd. The 10'x10' office was spilling over with people and rather chaotic.

It was directly below the flight path and every time a plane came over it was so painfully loud I had to cover my ears. I'm sure the people who work there probably had hearing damage. Once I gave the attendant our reservation paperwork we were free to checkout any car in the lot that was the type we reserved. They all had the keys in them and then you hopped in, drove up the the gate and they checked you out.

Uncle Mitch and Aunt Cheryl live in North Park just north of Balboa Park. Their house is a charming 1920's Craftsmen bungalow that has been kept up to historical standards. They were incredibly gracious hosts and we were so thankful to be able to stay with them. The most relaxing part for me was having lots of help with the babies and no house work or cooking to speak of! It's not vacation if I have to cook.

We visited Cabrillo National Monument with my grandfather Saturday afternoon. He is doing incredibly for his age and gets around as well as many people in their 80s. The Hall men live along time and I hope he has many more years to enjoy life.

The monument at Point Loma commemorates the landing of Juan Cabrillo in 1542. He was the first European to explore the America West Coast.

Sunday we visited a PCA church in downtown San Diego. We always enjoy worshipping at new churches when we travel. It's wonderful to see God at work across in country in different congregations.

After a quick lunch at In 'N Out Burgers we drove over to Petco Park to attend the afternoon Padres baseball game. We were able to get great seats with a Sunday military prices and enjoyed the perfect San Diego weather and a win by the Padres. David loves baseball and I'm slowly learning to appreciate it. I think I will find my self in the bleachers of many little league games in the not too distant future.

A trip to San Diego with kids isn't complete without a visit to the zoo. We got there midmorning and road the bus tour around the perimeter. The zoo is so huge you really can't see all of it in a day so we hit several highlights before heading home for lunch and naps. We went back after dinner but it seemed like many of the animals were asleep which I was somewhat disappointed by. All in all, it is a great zoo  but I don't think it warrants the steep ticket prices and I will always miss the Colorado Springs Zoo.

On Tuesday we drove over the bridge to Coronado Island to spend a few hours at the beach. As the locals say "May gray, June gloom." and gloomy it was. By the time we headed home at nap time (my life is micromanaged around certain tiny people's sleeping schedules) the gray overcast skies had cleared to blue. Laura enjoyed digging in the sand and Daniel enjoyed eating it despite my best efforts to keep him on the towel.

Wednesday we rose early than should be allowed on vacation (3 am to be precise) and began our six and a half hour trip north to Yosemite National Park. The kids were amazing in the car and David did the majority of the driving.

Pictures of Yosemite cannot do it justice. Beauty this stunning always reminds me of God's incredible goodness, power and glory. Mountains and the outdoors are something I miss greatly after living in Colorado for a year. I might be a native Texan, but the Hill Country pales in comparison to Half Dome or waking up to a view of Pikes Peak every morning.

While in Yosemite, we stayed in Curry Village on the Valley Floor in the heart of Yosemite. For the price of a nice hotel room you can pay to "rough it" in tent cabins which are simple hard floor cabins with a single light, beds and canvas sides. They have been described as a "refugee camp" but the location can't be beat. I was anxious about how the kids would sleep and nap since your neighbors are just feet away with only air and two pieces of thin plastic to guard against noise but they managed to sleep relatively well.

I was able to get away by myself for a few hours on a trail ride which I really enjoyed. There's no cooking allowed in Curry Village and all food has to be placed in a bear locker outside you cabin which is a major pain considering my kids want to eat every two hours. Our camping food wasn't hot or glamorous but we had full bellies. The Village has a very well stocked store as well as a pizza restaurant and cafeteria. I stumbled my way over to the coffee stand each morning and enjoyed my coffee in the cool morning and towering cliffs above me.

With my brother now in a wheelchair much of the time our hiking was limited to accessible trails and what we could see from lookouts along the road. Despite this, we were able to hit up most of the major views and take in the park from along the paved trails.

All in all, we had a great trip and it was a nice break for me from the endless cycle of dishes, dinner and diapers. I love my job as a mom but I was in desperate need for a change of pace for a bit. When we got back a friend told me it's not a vacation if your kids come along, she calls those "trips" and I heartily agree. David and I will celebrate five years of marriage this Christmas and we are hoping to get away for 24 hours for a true mini vacation.

Seals at the Children's Pool in La Jolla

Tunnel View of the Valley 

Grandpa Stafford and his great grand kids 

Laura holding a picture of her late Grandma Margaret at age 3 

Mariposa Grove of the Sequoias 

Half Dome from Glacier Point  

Mirror Lake 

Merced River 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Daniel is 10 Months and Us Lately

How time has flown by. In May we hit our one year mark of living in Texas. We visited David's family for his youngest brother's wedding. Then David wrapped up his first year of residency and we headed out for a family vacation in California. I may post a recap on that later.

It has been a wonderful year of many transitions and exciting changes. We love living here in Texas close to my family and will be sad to leave in another year from now. We are all (and David most of all) ready for David to finally be done with his residency and schooling. By the time he completes residency next year, including college, dental school, general dentistry residency and now orthodontics he has been in higher education for the past 11 years! To our friends in medicine, I know that is just a drop in the bucket compared to the decades you spend preparing for your profession.

In baby news, Daniel is a busy boy and keeps me on my toes constantly. If he's not pulling skillets off the counter onto his head, he's cleaning the toilet bowl for me or getting some extra calories in via puppy chow. I have never seen such a happy, go lucky baby. He never cries unless he is out of food on his tray or he's just woken up and wants someone to come get him. He doesn't need entertainment, just supervision to ensure his safety (from himself mostly) and to keep him from destroying whatever Laura's playing with.

He appears to be over whatever dairy intolerance that plagued us for the first six months of his life and I am loving having dairy again. He is still small at less that 17 pounds at his 9 month visit and barely hanging onto the 5th percentile but he's meeting and surpassing all his developmental milestones. Thankfully, our pediatrician wasn't concerned about his small statue which put my mom guilt on the back burner until next week. The boy eats like his daddy and I find myself feeding (and cleaning) him five times a day plus nursing five or six time as well. He is finally filling out a bit too.

Laura is learning to play with him, but he is still somewhat of a nuisance to her as he is mostly destructive. I joke with my sister in law that Daniel has been taking secret lessons on mischieviousness and peril from her youngest boy. Trouble with a capital T that boy. He even ended our evening last night with a lovely surprise in the bathtub. Maybe boys just really are gross?

He loves pushing the walker around and Laura's metal shopping cart. He has even taken a few tiny steps so I wouldn't be surprised to see him walking in the next few weeks.

Also as a random side note, we have the creepiest ice cream truck that trolls around our neighborhood that makes me laugh and it just drove past our house as I'm typing. It plays a little tune and then says "Hello?" in the weird mechanical voice. Am I a bad mom if I tell my children "that's a truck that plays music" and leave the ice cream part out of the explanation? It will be half a decade before they're any wiser!

Sibling love

We call him "smiley boy"

Standing all alone!

Ehh, Deh-doh (Daniel) is touching my chair!