'Muff'in Dome

Lucie at 8 months ~ Evelyn at 2 years, 4 months

smiles

We’ve had a wonderfully, adventurous month with Lucie.

in a basket

She’s in that stage of exploring EVERYTHING. Nothing is safe!

rollin' rollin'

I think I missed a 7 month update, but she’s been crawling for about a month now. Faster every day. She started moving across the floor with a quick roll-over trick, rivaling that of her Uncle Ethan who did the same, moved to a modified army crawl, then up onto the hands and knees over the course of several weeks. She definitely wants to keep up with her older sister.

pulling up

Oh, and did I mention she’s pulling up on things? That didn’t take long.

Her favorite place to get up is on the edge of Evelyn’s bed. It’s the perfect height for her to stand.

gleeLucie joins a family of music-lovers. One of her favorite activities is bobbing her head along to the tune. Up and down, side-to-side…against a wall. Yeah, we’re trying to stop that one.

doorstop music

She’s a music-maker herself, having found the delightful instrument, otherwise known as the doorstop. Evelyn likes to participate in this too. I’m not sure whether I prefer this or loud banging on the same note of the xylophone repeatedly. Too soon for piano lessons?

Lucie is a bit of a thumb-chewer. Although, not to comfort herself to sleep, much to my chagrin. She also likes to pinch those cheerios and get them into our mouth. Peas too. She’s looking to be a lefty like her daddy.

toy in the mouth

We joke that she’s our puppy because she likes to lick toes and legs, chew on furniture and the carpet, grab with both her hands and legs when she’s on her back, carry around toys in her mouth, and likes a good tummy rub. That’s good because I don’t have the stamina to deal with a pet right now too. ;)

She’s inherited the tall genes in the family. Already in 12 months clothes and moving swiftly to the next. I’m never sure what size to get her for the following season!

yummy yogurt

We finally got a hang of eating solids. She was having difficulty swallowing — kept pushing food back out with her tongue. But the night she did, it was like a lightbulb moment, and she wanted to eat ALL OF THE YOGURT in the house. It has made a small change for the good in her sleeping abilities. She’s been easier to get down at night. Although, she is still waking up multiple times throughout the night, but now we’ve got more teeth coming in so that is likely the culprit.


 

Evelyn

Evelyn is both very serious and a complete jokester. She hangs onto bad things that have happened to her and revisits them frequently. We try to reassure her that she’s okay and the event is done, but she still wants to talk about it. She’s convinced that any noise outside is “people on the roof” but she’s quick to be reassured that it is just a car door slamming or someone driving by with loud music. It’s slightly funny.

On the other hand, she loves to play tricks on us when we least expect it! And laughs and laughs! She likes to pretend she’s going to hand you something and as soon as you go to grab it, she pulls it away. And if anyone is changing or lacking a piece of clothing, that bare skin deserves a tickling which she takes care of promptly with a little devilish squeal of glee.

love to laugh!She’s the sweetest girl. She’s constantly telling us that she loves us, which just about melts my mama heart. She wraps her little arms around my neck and gives me squeezes, softly saying it into my ear.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.58.23 AM

Ever by her side: her good friend, Winnie the Pooh.

reading with Meg

She loves to “read” and be read to. She’ll sit for an hour or more, pouring through books.

E painting She’s also really into coloring pictures and painting. We keep her activity table covered with a piece of butcher paper that she can draw on at any time.

creating

I love to see what combo of colors and shapes she comes up with. She’s beginning to pretend that she’s writing ABCs with little squiggles. Too cute! I love to see her creativity.

forts

She’s a big fan of forts. Making them with Daddy is the best! She tries to make them with Lucie by throwing a blanket over their heads, which Lucie puts up with for about 3.4 seconds and then is off again.

choo choo rides

Her obsession with trains is still going strong. Her favorite mornings are ones where we take Daddy to the choo-choo. {Never mind that we have to be up by 5:45 to do so!} Real, live ones are the best! When we pick him up in the evening, she’ll talk about how the train has to put on his jammies, brush his teeth, and get into bed. Anthropomorphism in trains may have come watching a few too many episodes of Chuggington. ;)

with daddy

One of her favorite moments of the day is when Daddy comes home and she gets to sit on his tummy and “talk.” She tells him all about her day. It’s fun to see what she considers highlights of her day. It usually involves trains and treats, and the fact that “Jesus loves me”. <3

gardening

She loves to help out at the grocery, loading the cart with me and handing the checker as many items as she can out of it. She also loves to “garden”. She digs and digs, planting “corn” {sometimes with “sparkles”} while I’m outside working. She’s become rather angry with me f0r pulling out weeds at times, as she believes it is her “corn.”

jump!

She really loves to jump. That includes off of dangerous, unstable surfaces — upturned baskets, her rocking horse, piles of pillows. Her bed is probably the safest spot for her, but not so for her sister who is usually sitting or standing right at the bottom. #sisterproblems

twirling

Ballet classes are still a highlight of the week for her. She’s got most of the basic moves down pat so we might be moving onto more structured lessons soon. It’s been wonderful to see her blossom into more of a leader in the class over the past month or so. We practice all the dances frequently at home. :)


 

photo 5 (7)

I love watching these two grow together. They love each other dearly.

swinging sisters

We caught Lucie feeding Evey Cheerios at breakfast this morning, and it was just about the sweetest thing to witness.

hugs

They giggle and wrestle together all the time.

drumming together

Evelyn seems to read her sister’s cries better than I can, and Lucie cheers Evey when she’s having a rough time. I hope they stay best friends for life.

7QT ~ {How Does Your Garden Grow?}

tomato!

Things have been rather silent here the past week or so. Thought we should remedy that! Mostly, my mind has been on our yard, where I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time the past week or so…..

One) California has been experiencing a rather early Spring. The temperatures have been in the high 60s/low 70s during the daytime. Our yard hasn’t had much love since last Fall, so I’ve been spending some time outside each day attempting to clean things up. I’m nervous to plant anything just yet because we all know how fickle the weather can be this time of year. The last thing I would want is a snowfall on my newly-sown crop of green beans. For now, I’m scheming and planning what will go in the ground when I’m a tad more assured of a steady temperature.

Two) Where we planted squash and watermelons last year, I’m hoping to put in a cut-flower garden. However, I think I need to do some amendment on the soil. Has anyone run tests on their soil before? Is it easy?

Three) I planted a few herbs last year but want to add to the collection. I’m absolutely a fan of fresh herbs  to use in the kitchen and it gets rather expensive when you have to buy them weekly at the grocer. So far, I’m planning basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro. Lavender will go in somewhere separately and we have a considerable growth of mint in the front yard. Any other suggestions?

strawberries

Four) I have a strawberry patch in one of the raised beds. It needs some love and pruning. We had a considerable number last year for new plants. I’m hoping they do even better this year and I can can some jam.

Five) We have a formidable foe in the bird flocks that frequent our yard. I’m pretty sure they were the reason for a lack of sprouts among our corn, sunflowers, leeks and carrots last year. I’m planning on fighting back this year with some reflection tape placed on stakes throughout the yard. Maybe even a little “scarecrow” owl depending on how aggressive they are.

Six) We have an unusable fountain smack-dab in the center of the yard. I want to do something with it, especially the bottom portion as it fills with water which is dangerous for the children to be around and a lovely breeding ground for mosquitoes. It can’t drain so I can’t plant anything directly in it. I’m considering filling it with pebbles and, perhaps, a few pots with flowers. I’m nervous that it will still fill with water and overflow the pebbles.

Seven) We are in the midst of a crazy drought here in California so I’m brainstorming ideas to work with it. We also have very rocky, clay soil so for many things, it needs serious amendment. Our veggies didn’t do great in the ground last year because of this {and the crazy-persistent crab grass that kept pushing through}. I know things improve with each year but I’m determined to get a handle on the grass/weed problem beforehand. I’m planning to put some newspaper and mulch down to control things a bit. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7QT

Easy Meatless Crockpot Meals {For Fridays in Lent}

This girl loves to cook, but most of the time my children don’t like it when I cook. They’d much rather I was down on the floor playing with them or cradling them in my arms for snuggle time. I can’t say I’m not a fan of this too, but when dinner time comes around, a little less of it is often required.

Unless! Enter: Crockpot.

I had my first encounter cooking with a crockpot only a month or so before I got married. Since I gave birth to my first child, it seems like there hasn’t been a week that has gone by without it. My skepticism about its wonders has disappeared into thin air.

Just yesterday, a miracle occurred. I put dinner together inside the crockpot around 10:30 in the morning and we went about our day with the scent of dinner bubbling away on the counter. When the usual meltdown moment of 4:57pm came, I was in the midst of reading to the girls….and it completely passed us by. It made a huge difference in the atmosphere when daddy walked in the door, and helped keep up the morale for the remainder of the evening until bedtime. {I can’t promise it was entirely avoided when pajamas came out.}

Lent is just around the corner {Ash Wednesday is February 17th} and my mind is turning to meatless meals. I gathered up a list of a few favorites from around the web to share with you here so that despite your Friday Lenten penances, listening to the wailing of your littles and having your limbs hung on like tree branches won’t be one of them.

moroccan-stew

Crockpot Moroccan Stew

crockpot minestrone

Crockpot Minestrone Soup

lentil chili

Slow Cooker Lentil Chili

tomato basil soup

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

pasta fagioli

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli Soup

red lentil curry

Crockpot Red Lentil Curry

potato and corn chowder

Slowcooker Potato and Corn Chowder

What is your favorite meatless crockpot dish?

Mahi-Mahi with Citrus and Avocado {Eat Seasonal}

mahi mahi with citrus

If it is a tad gloomy where you are, and you’re tempted to give into the winter blues, this quick, little recipe will help perk up your evening meal.

grapefruit

Citrus must be God’s little spot of sunshine in the midst of dreary, wintery days. It certainly makes me long after sunshine and gives me hope for warmer days.

avocado and citrus

A bit of fish in your dish will also, perhaps, elicit thoughts of toastier day spent at the beach soaking up the sun’s rays.


This dish requires a little trick called “supreming” but I promise it sounds fancier than it is. I will give you a little three-step process to get you going.

oranges

 1) Start by cutting the two ends off of your orange.

oranges

2) Next, place your orange flat on one of the ends you just removed. Take a sharp knife (paring knife is perfect for this) and slice around the orange to remove the pith and rind.

segmented orange

3) Once your rind is off, holding the orange over a bowl to catch the juices, carefully slice into each segment removing it and putting it to the side for later use.

orange and grapefruit juice

Once all the pieces are out, squeeze the remaining juices from the orange into the bowl. Do the exact same thing with the grapefruit.

Easy peasy, lemon — I mean, orange — squeezy.

You’re halfway there to a complete dinner!


mahi mahi with citrus

Mahi-mahi with citrus and avocado

approximately 1 lb. of mahi-mahi
salt and pepper
1 orange
1 grapefruit
1 avocado

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Following directions above supreme your orange and grapefruit. Reserve about 1/2 c. of the juices for later. {Drink the remainder??}

Pat dry the mahi-mahi. Season with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, place your fish in an oven-proof skillet (I use cast iron for this) and cook for 5-7 minutes on one side, until mostly opaque. Turn over the fish carefully and place in the oven for 3-5 minutes to finish the cooking process.

Slice avocado lengthwise. Place avocado, orange and grapefruit slices on plates. Put fish on top. Pour a little of the reserved juices over the top of the fish.

Enjoy! It goes wonderfully with a green salad and a few slices of toasted sourdough.

Serves 2-4.

Using the Internet with Intentionality {And How It Can Be a Saving Grace}

computer

{Source}

One of the things I’m striving for this year is better use of my time online. For a while, I was really frustrated with how much of a time-suck it could be. I considered giving it up altogether. But after some time pondering this in prayer, it was clear that such a drastic move wasn’t what the Lord was calling me to. There are definitely some huge good things that come from my time spent on here, but, as with most things, what was key is balance. {Virtue is the mean between two extremes, right?}

The past few months or so I’ve been meeting and connecting with some incredible women all made possible through these online mediums. I’m quite the introvert and find it much easier to just sit back and “listen” rather than engage with others, more often than not. But I challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone a bit and interact more. I began making more of an effort to ask questions, make comments — not just like a status or photo. Once I became more intentional about doing this, I started to feel like I was really connecting with people not just merely perusing their Facebook feeds and Instagram snapshots.

I congratulated a friend on the birth of her little one. I gave feedback to a friend attempting to choose colors for her new kitchen. I suggested a similar, new read to a friend who had just finished an excellent book. I rejoiced with a friend whose son had finally slept through the night. I sympathized with a friend going through a difficult situation, perhaps sharing something that helped me work through something similar.

I love the camaraderie that has developed with fellow young mothers in similar circumstances at home. It is such a blessing when I’m feeling on the verge of a break-down, to send a message out — a call for prayer, asking for words of encouragement.

I know this has begun to take the place of many long phone conversations with friends and family. But, to be honest, with two littles, two and under, scurrying all over the house, it is easier for me to take five minutes here and there to stop and connect online, rather than call up and spend an hour on the phone. If it comes down to that, it will probably be a year or more before I catch up with many people! Reality.

It’s just hard to connect that way in this season of my life. I used to fight this because I want to have longer-lasting connections, but I’m coming to accept this method for connecting at this time. Hopefully, further on down the road, I can get back into writing more handwritten letters and chatting for hours on the phone with friends. But, for now, I’m enjoying the few snippets throughout my day that I can steal away and connect online.

Our Mosaic

wedding day

Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story. 

~ Jennifer Smith

We really are only just beginning to create our mosaic together but, boy, what work we have done on it over the past 3 years!

Happy Anniversary to the love and light of my life. <3

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

blood oranges

I don’t have the excuse of a wintery, frozen tundra keeping me locked up indoors for hours at a time every day, but we do spend a lot of time at home. This is partly because of napping schedules {or the lack of them}, partly due to my fear of catching all the nasty viruses lurking outside my door, and partly due to our limited time with a vehicle {we’re a one-car family right now}.

Here’s a list of things helping me currently get through my days:

  1. Nap-time. Although that seems contradictory to the above, there is nothing more glorious than when the girls fall asleep at the same time, and we are slowly moving towards achieving that more regularly. But even having one of them down takes the pressure off a bit.
  2. An understanding husband. Lack of sleep and crazy postpartum hormonal changes make for one shaken soda pop lady, ready to explode on contact sometimes. :( He does SO much to settle the bubbles and make my days easier.
  3. Hot tea. Warms the body, soothes the soul.
  4. The library/good books. We try to visit at least once a week for a new selection. The girls love when I read to them, and I love to sit sometimes by myself with #3 to relax for a few moments on a hectic day.
  5. Sunshine. Because I’m a California girl and too many days without it can put me in a very serious, dour mood.
  6. Our local farmers’ market and fresh produce. The citrus we’ve been loading up on currenty makes sunshine on a cloudy day. I’ll be sharing a great recipe with mahi mahi and citrus soon…stay tuned.
  7. Pandora Taylor Swift radio station. There is nothing better than shakin’ your groove thang when the mood leans more towards depressed than uplifting. This station’s got a good mix just for that very thing.
  8. Photography. This creative outlet is both cathartic and inspiring. It helps me find moments of gratitude on difficult days.

 

What is saving your life right now?

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy

What’s in a Brew : In Praise of the Belgian

beer at the lake

We are rather enthusiastic imbibers of craft brews in this family. Steve and I are constantly on the lookout for new — and bonus points if it’s daring! — beers to try. Luckily, we have a crafter of our own in the family. On long holidays, my brother-in-law likes to ‘stir the pot’ with a new brew or two, adventuring out with seasonal flavors when inspiration strikes. In fact, my first memory of him doing so was at Steve and my engagement party, where he helped entertain many of the guests by explaining the chemistry behind the process. Way out of my league — I will just drink to that! ;)

I am still quite the amateur but enjoying discovering and learning more about the craft as the days go by. If anything is indicative of how my enjoyment of such things has changed over the years, the fact that I requested the Yard House for my birthday dinner the other night should be a good indication. Steve and I both chose a porter with coconut notes from Maui Brewing Co. to go with our meal. I am rather picky about my darks (not a fan of too much carbonation) but this one was a winner.

Boddingtons - Yard House

Top on our list most days are the Belgians. {And, no, it’s not because of the alcohol content — usually hovering around 7-9 percent — although that doesn’t hurt anything. ;)} In recent years, the monasteries have been making a comeback in the brewing business, returning to their roots, including a handful in the United States. {Like this one at Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon.} Beer-making has a long history in the monastic tradition, dating back to the 6th century. St. Benedict included it in his Rule as one of the means by which his monks earned their livelihood and offered hospitality. The monks also drank the beer they brewed, but, typically, a version with about a 2 percent alcohol content. These methods at the monasteries are making a comeback with the new Brew Evangelization.

 

You’ve probably heard the terms Dubbel, Tripel, etc. thrown around when referring to Belgians. It used to be that this referred to how many times they were fermented — so a Dubbel: x2, a Tripel: x3 and so on. The weakest one was the one reserved by the monks for their own consumption. They would sell the ones with the stronger flavor {and, subsequently, higher alcohol content} for a decent sum. Nowadays, the terms have more to do with marketing. The “doubles” are usually the darker ones with alcohol in the 6-8 percent range with the “triples” hovering around 8 percent and above, and are lighter in color. The stronger the beer, the higher the value. The price of the Belgians today runs in the $8-$20 range depending on its potency. {And sometimes more.} They certainly are a treat, though. The flavor is strong and has a fantastic finish.

summertime brew

Trappists are often associated with the Belgian as they have kept the style alive the longest. In fact, after a legal battle over the name recently, there are only ten who are allowed to mark their brews with the Trappist stamp, including one in the United States. Most are in Belgium. Chimay, one of those located in Belgium, is a favorite of ours. The Chimay Grande Reserve is one of those must-try, Belgian treats. It is a dark one, but oh-so-smooth and caramel-y.

Another favorite we recently stumbled upon was the Tripel Karmeliet at one of our favorite local hotspots, the Little Belgium Beer Bar and Deli, in our hometown. {They always have a great selection on tap (and numerous ones by the bottle). They also make a mean reuben.} Brewed in Belgium by Carmelites, it is made with wheat, oats and barley from the original 17th century recipe.

kwak

A really fun one to drink is the Pauwel Kwak. Served on tap, you will receive it in the original holder used by monks on horseback, which made it easier to drink while riding.

A Canadian brewery by the name of Unibroue serves up one of my all-time favorites, La Fin Du Monde. {It appears that members of Beer Advocate feel the same way.} Sorry, Miller High Life but this is the true “champagne of beers.” Like most Belgians, it comes in a large bottle so there is more than enough to go around. I have not tried any others from this brewery but I would like to get my hands on a few others.

Our favored California brewery, North Coast Brewing Co., makes a fantastic Belgian called Pranqster. It is of the golden variety. If you favor a darker brew, Brother Thelonious, is your match.

So many to try, so little time.

What are some of your favorite Belgian brews?

31 Lessons Learned in My 31st Year

mama and Lucie

With the flurry of {unexpected} activity that came with the beginning of the year, I haven’t had much time to be introspective. But my dear husband gave me a few hours to think and write the other morning, and I thought I would share the fruit of a bit of it as I wave goodbye to my 31st year this morning.

 

31 Lessons I Learned in My 31st Year

1. I need to lean on others and stop trying so hard to rely on myself in all things. GOD especially.

2. With two babies at home, if I can accomplish one chore in a given day, I have accomplished a great feat.

3. Hospitality is always more important than a spotless house.

4. Finding time for reading every day, even just a page, keeps me sane.

5. There is an incredible support team to be found online. Although we may live at a distance, we can cheerlead each other through the tough days. We can pray for each other across the miles. The lack of adult interaction is better fulfilled. It makes the days spent exclusively at home seem much less lonely.

6. It is important to be intentional with my time spent online so it doesn’t end up burrowing into the rabbit hole of endless clicks.

7. Facebook and Instagram {and Twitter, although that is not my jam} can be useful tools of human interaction. It’s all in how you use them.

8. Equally important is the community of women surrounding me at home. As a new mother, I found it difficult — frightening, even — to connect with other mothers, as I felt so unsure of myself. But soon came to understand that in that uncertainty, we could all be bonded together.

9. This is truth —> “Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure. Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth. Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; and those who fear the Lord will find them. Those who fear the Lord direct their friendship aright, for as they are, so are their neighbors also.” Sirach 6:14-17

10. Having photos of beautiful moments with my family scattered throughout my home is a great morale booster. {It brings great delight even to my two-year old!}

11. Forgiveness not only makes the heart lighter, but lifts the bodily oppression as well.

12. A five minute massage on tired shoulders results in a range of motion to my shoulders I forgot possible.

13. The difficulties of pregnancy are worth the reward at the end.

14. Sometimes mommy needs time-outs too.

15. Taking a few minutes to meditate on Scripture each morning makes a world of difference for how the rest of the day will turn out. {This is one place I love to do it. And I’m writing there today. :)}

16. God gave me the greatest gift in my husband. He is my best ally, my closest friend, my safe confidante, my greatest treasure. I love him more every day.

17. When someone is having a bad day, taking just five minutes to sit with them one-on-one and give them one hundred percent of your attention often turns everything around. This applies equally to toddlers as to adults.

18. Your heart can heal. You can trust again. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5

19. Even when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom in the sleep department, there is always a little reserve somewhere in there that you can muster up. {Either that or I have a superhero husband who will come to my aid. God bless him!}

20. This stage your little one is in will both feel like it will last forever and go by way too quickly.

21. Although it is important to me to cook and bake from scratch, it’s okay to cheat a little in the kitchen (i.e. go ahead and buy the pre-cut veggies).

22. Similarly: Although homemade may be the best, it is not always the best way.

23. California sunshine is the best medicine.

24. A cup of hot tea warms the soul as well as the body.

25. {Good} food is equally the way to a woman’s heart as it is to a man’s. {At least this woman.}

26. Just when you feel like you’ve got one parenting technique mastered, the next one will prove to you that it is worthless and you’ll have to start from square one.

27. There is nothing a great dance party can’t fix. {….oh, wait, I already knew that one.} But watching your little girls find that same joy. Priceless.

28. Having a mother and mother-in-law at a close distance can be an absolute saving grace. {And a gift I truly treasure.}

29. When your core is the weakest its ever been since the day you were born….whoa. It can be the cause of great ache. Time to get a routine going for building it up again.

30. The art God intended for me to paint with my life is not always what I had necessarily envisioned. But His way is always the best.

31. Docility is key to alleviating much frustration.

Monterey Bay : Homeschool-Style

school of fish

Our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is turning into an annual tradition. My mother, the savvy homeschooler of 25 years and counting, knows the ins-and-outs of just about every field trip offered in California and set us up for a visit again this year. The Aquarium offers a series of homeschool days where admission is free {a HUGE steal when tickets are normally in the $30-$40 range}, but you have to reserve tickets months in advance. We settled on the beginning of January back, I think, in September, hoping for the best, that nothing pressing would pop up and derail our trip. My girls barely made it after fighting a horrible cold for the two weeks prior.

We extended our trip an extra day this year, arriving two days before so we could settle in and explore more things. It just makes sense when you’re driving 3 hours+ to make the most of it.

wading Raphy

We stayed in the quaint town of Carmel {my favorite place on earth}. We were sad to find our favorite breakfast place still on holiday so we settled on Friar Tucks for a quick bite to eat. Lucie had her first experience with a Bumbo seat. I believe these things are supposed to be secure in holding children inside but she kept attempting to test the limits.

L in bumbo

We attended Mass at the Carmel Mission from the very last pew in the church. Evelyn switched between relatives’ laps every 5.6 seconds and asked to see the fountains outside which she could easily spot from any seat. Lucie didn’t try too hard to sing with the choir which was fortunate as the acoustics were quite wonderful. We toured the grounds after Mass, making sure to stop at each fountain for a viewing.

at the fountain

fountains!

Carmel facade

from the fountain

cross at Carmel

details at Carmel

courtyard at Carmel

succulents

Bl Junipero Serra

{Sidenote: Did you hear this guy ^^ is going to be a saint come September?? So exciting!!}

The afternoon was spent resting and the evening with college friends of mine who live in Pacific Grove. I, sadly, didn’t capture any photos while we were there but the girls had a blast playing with their girls and the children of another family that was over. The adults were definitely outnumbered. :)

On Aquarium day, we headed to Monterey early to meet Aunt Teresa and the girls’ cousins at Dennis the Menace Park. If you are ever in town with children, this place is a must. I still have very fond memories of exploring it as a child. {Although, they closed down one of the main attractions — an old locomotive for exploring — due to safety issues. Sometimes these mandated safety regulations are just over the top. Let kids be kids.}

swinging at Dennis the Menace

flying high

lulu

green slides

sand play

more sand play

over the arch

sliding with Uncle Raphy

Teresa and Rosie sliding

kisses at the bottom

racing to the top

cousin love

Owen climbs

train at Dennis the Menace

After grabbing a quick bite for lunch, we showed up on time for our 12:30 entrance to the Aquarium. We got there just in time for feeding time with the divers. They were hand feeding squid to some of the larger fish in the tank. {Made me squirm — I don’t like slimy cephalopods.} The kelp forest was captivating.

underwater

feeding time

Aaaand I definitely got photo-bombed by a shark.

shark photo bomb

Highlights of the day included a wetlands viewing, petting mantarays, standing inside of the ocean waves, a visit to the ocean depths, and watching the sea otters receive their dinner.

sea anemones

sanddollar forest

starfish

 

wetlands viewing

underwater

L and mama at the bay

We finished off the day indulging in chocolate treats at Ghirardelli just down the road.

ice cream!

so big

Our day of departure dawned sunny and bright. We planned on a quick trip to the beach which turned into several hours. But how could you not with a day so gorgeous and DOLPHINS entertaining us with the jumps and flips?? Plus, Lucie had to get in some exercise. ;)

at Carmel beach

digging in the sand

push ups!

wading Raphy

Look carefully at the waves in the next three shots. You can spot dolphins “surfing” the waves! {Sorry for the half-naked man in these shots — he and the surfer were out there with their go-pros trying to catch a few great pics. ;)}

dolphins!

dolphins!

dolphins!

dolphins!

A few more souvenirs in the bag {including some expensive diapers because mama can’t count well when packing} and we were off to Mission San Juan Bautista so Uncle Raphy could get in a viewing for a school paper he is supposed to write. We captured the gorgeous sunset there.

San Juan Bautista sunset

Mission San Juan Bautista at dusk

gang at San Juan Bautista

An alternative route up I-5 was necessary so we could stop at Pea Soup Andersens for supper. {If you’re not a fan of split pea soup, this place will make you change your mind.}

pea soup

Somehow, we made it home before ten and quickly, sleepily all crawled into bed. And I wish I could say slept soundly through the night, but certain ones of us haven’t mastered that skill yet. ;)

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