Well, I see it’s “about that time”, for an update, that is. So much activity since the past update. Here’s to my family and the quarterly Home Review. For those of you who are not family, this is my mom’s side of the family’s way of keeping in touch on a quarterly basis. It has taken many forms over the decades, but the current one is updates emailed to one family member. The “editor” compiles them into a newsletter format Word document and emails it as one single newsletter. I opt to elaborate here since I’d otherwise be doing double duty for the newsletter and blog.
Memorial Day weekend we had our first company at the new house in Monterey: Aunt Carol, Uncle Dale & Cousin Hannah. They traveled from Maryland to visit friends & family spread across the great state of California. We had a fun time showing them our new area, celebrating Aunt Carol’s birthday, the kids playing, and Aunt Carol baking up a storm for us and others they saw along the way.
Pretty Adeline holding a watermelon basket I made for a gathering. I was going to try and zigzag the edges, but I could tell that without a special tool, my cuts would be irregular. That ended up being the back, probably. Anyway, the pretty girl in the picture is getting so big. I love it when she smiles her true smile. Doesn’t she look more grown up with the retainer?
Random project I did (and have yet to finish). A careful eye will see the change (before & after in same photo):
Chris thinks I’m absolutely crazy because even though we are now renting I am still doing projects…on someone else’s house! This house has so much potential and the landlord is pretty much cool with everything I propose. I’m saving receipts for stuff like spray paint and new appliances. It’ll all come back to me eventually and in the mean time I’m enjoying my little improvements here and there. The landlord is getting free labor and I think he’s glad we are here. (If you didn’t notice, the curtain rod on the right looks much better than the one on the left thanks to my can of Rust-oleum Hammered “Dark Bronze” spray paint.)
Aiden with Coach Gus at the end of the year T-Ball picnic. He is holding his little trophy/medal which is on a ribbon for his neck. T-ball season ended well and Aiden is already looking forward to playing baseball next year.
About a week after T-ball season ended, Chris surprised the kids with taking them to a MLB game. He chose the night that the A’s played the Angels (Aiden’s team was the Angels this year). They were sooo excited, especially since we didn’t tell them where we were going until we got to the stadium parking lot. Chris had hidden their mitts & Aiden’s jersey in the trunk and handed them out upon arrival. The Angels lost that night, but I don’t think that really mattered to Aiden.
It was a chilly June evening in Oakland. We got home very late, which always makes it extra exciting to the kids. (Until we finally make it home and they have to wake up in the van and go inside. I remember that feeling. I always felt like I just wanted to stay in the vehicle and nothing else mattered but staying sleepy and comfortable…even though it wasn’t really comfortable!)
My girls. We took this picture after church because we were all in purple, but theirs was so light that it got washed out in the sunlight. Oh well.
Chris accidentally photographed Maria this way and he and the kids think it is hilarious! We love Sweet Maria. She had to have knee surgery recently because she tore the equivalent of her ACL. She is recovering, but we should be doing her rehab more diligently than we are. Somehow it is never a priority with everything else going on.
Chris took the kids to the local roller skating place one afternoon. It is within walking distance of our new house. The kids have wondered aloud about it many times in the 9 months we had been here. I stayed home that day, but it was funny to see the old brown boot skates just like I remember from the “Roller Barn”, growing up.
Chris found it surprising what a difficult time our kids had skating on roller skates instead of roller blades (what they are used to). I think since I grew up with roller skates I felt the opposite: roller skates were easy and roller blades were tricky. Our kids are generally very quick to catch onto any physical activity, but Aiden especially was discouraged and crying because he was so out of control on this type of skate. He eventually caught on though and had a good time.
There & Back Again
The most impulsive (or 2nd most impulsive) thing Chris & I did this year was to fly to FL on short notice. We may have given our families about 48(?) hours notice that we were coming. It all came together rather quickly, but we ended up taking a military “Space Available” flight from Fairfield, CA to Charleston, SC, for free. From there we rented a car and drove to Melody’s (FL). We vistited mine & his family the first week, then friends for three quick days, bought a mini-van (1st most impulsive thing we did this year), and drove back to CA. Whew, it was a whirlwind to be sure, but now I think we have recovered and are getting back to some normalcy. That is debatable as well, as we never have been quite sane.
Night #1, (hence the one finger)-Military lodging before the flight. Drove to Travis AFB to be ready for the 7:40 AM roll call for the stand by flight.
We rode on a big, old C-5, the Air Force’s largest cargo jet. We had these mega box lunches for about $4, each. The kids thought they were being treated like royalty! We had much room to spread out because of the 73 seats available, only about 25 were filled with passengers. Also, there was much more space than current passenger airliners. The seats are old and roomy. Much leg room. Chris compared it to business class.
At Melody’s we got to meet sweet Daylie, understand little Clara’s grown up vocabulary (she wasn’t talking nearly as much last time we saw her), and Matthew James is old enough to wrestle with Aiden. They had a great time together.
Next was Grandma & Grandpa F and Alysia’s family all mixed together. Grandpa is tickling the kids, of course, and Anabel isn’t in the mood for family photos.
Grandma took the kids for some sprinkler fun. This photo has Grandma F & Anabel in the foreground, and Adeline, Ellie & Aiden in the background.
After that, she treated us to ice cream. See the wet hair? This was before dinner, mind you!
Next was our visit with Mom & Dad B. We had a Father’s Day dinner at a local seafood place. Here are the crab tanks, out back…really.
Aiden got promoted to “6” a little early by G & G B.
Father’s Day photo, before church
Back with my family-Father’s Day photo. It’s no small feat getting all grand kids to look/smile at the same time. My sisters are more persistent this way so I let them take 20 photos each. Hopefully I’ll receive a copy of the perfect shot 😉 Here’s mine: (They are holding their bribery lollipops…grandma’s idea. Grandpa handed them out.)
Unfortunately, Mom had to work.
Next stop was Great Grandma H. It won’t be long before they surpass her in height!
Grandma lives in a golf course community so the kids look forward to a fun golf cart ride each time we visit.
This ended our family week and started the busiest 3 days of the trip. Our church friends graciously hosted us on short notice. The kids played and we got to visit with more friends than anticipated because our hosts were hosting their regular Bible study group on the eve of our arrival. Being that these were our church friends, it meant we knew most of the other people in the group already! What a treat for us to see so many friends in one place and no extra planning because they were coming over anyway! We then proceeded to hop to the next Bible study group (same night) in a more southern area of the county. Again, how fun to see two families at once…and they were going to be there anyway! We felt like we hit the jackpot… really!
No picture of group one, :-(, but here is group two
Girls with daughter of host family. I think this picture makes them look like they could be sisters. Have you told me this before, Penni?
Our friend, Mr Chuck. He took us to the Chinese Buffet that we had been to together, in the past.
Next stop was 2 more families (at once), friends from church
3 families, 13 kids, most looking, most smiling!
Seven girls ages 6-10. That’s a whole lot of giggling!
It was on this trip to FL that we were introduced to “Silly Bandz”. We acquired some, but they still haven’t caught on in CA. This makes it less of a novelty for my kids since “everyone” doesn’t have them. I think I figured out that something was up (a new fad I hadn’t heard about) by the time we got to the 3rd house and they were intensely occupying the girls. I don’t know why the money is on the floor. I mean, I know it was “R’s” birthday money, but they weren’t using it to buy Silly Bandz from one another…at least I don’t think.
Night #10 (hence the 10 fingers) This time it was at Patrick AFB lodging. Right on the river.
Day three: the last day of visiting FL friends.
On this day we visited our dear Friday Circle neighbors. (I also got a glimpse of our sweet house. It made me happy to see it so beautiful & cared for. I can tell the new owner’s really like it there. See the white fence in the background? That was ours.) The kids got to play a few hours while Judy & I talked. Chris ran errands. They fed us lunch. The kids played just like they used to.
The girls & Aiden. Just like old times….
Aiden’s smile here makes me think of a pirate. Maybe he was in his teasing boy mode with the 4 girls to 1 boy ratio.
Here’s the part where I talk about our van purchase & my feelings & how it all came about… right in the middle of my vacation post!
(hotel in Tallahassee, FL after night #1 on the road)
It was quite impulsive (the van) as I mentioned earlier, but not frivolous or un-thought out. I would normally research a purchase of this magnitude for hours upon hours, weeks upon weeks. But Chris only proposed this idea of purchasing a vehicle in FL, while on vacation, to me the night we were driving from SC to FL. I laughed and blew it off because I was on vacation. How would I have time to pinpoint the make & model we wanted and research thoroughly?! (I am the official family researcher. I have to make sure I’ve checked all avenues, know them backwards & front, and am certainly getting the best product for the best price. Blame it on my Dutch heritage if you like. My dad does.) I was not absorbed in this van purchase thing (or convinced) full force until the last 3 days of our trip (in between visits with friends & one trip to Orlando to see this van while the girls were with friends) because I had simply written it off. Chris’ logic about the reasons to buy it in FL made sense I just didn’t think it would happen this way. #1 reason: lower prices in FL. It’s true. There’s a reason they ask you to enter your zip code on those KBB searches. #2 reason: tax savings. True again. We paid 6.5%. Depending on the city in CA, 8.25-9.75% taxes. #3 reason: the FL license plate thing. I’m sure we could have made it happen to buy the thing in CA and tag it in FL, it just makes it a whole lot easier the way we did it. I remember when we purchased van #1 in CA (before Adeline was born) that we just ended up getting CA plates b/c of the extra hassle to get FL plates. I bring this up because it is another cost comparison, not just initially. Also at renewal time. (We keep our FL residency due to our military status.)
We’ve been talking about the criteria for our next vehicle for awhile now so this wasn’t out of the blue. If/when we adopt we really only had one useful spare seat in our current mini-van. (It, by the way, has been faithful for the past 9+ years and would have otherwise remained our primary vehicle.) So we had recently been introduced to the 8 passenger Toyota Sienna by CA friends. This is what we ended up buying even though I thought it would be an Expedition or Suburban type. I was amazed at the amount of space this mini-van had! We once loaded into their van for a field trip and I was able to put Ellie & Aiden’s oversize car seats side-by-side in my friend’s van. I was amazed…really! Usually they have to have a vacant spot between them, but we could have put 3 full size car seats side by side in the middle row. Fast forward to the FL car search again. Once I finally sat in a Suburban (albeit old), I realized the Sienna was what we were really looking for. It was of top priority to me that ALL seats had headrests AND shoulder belts. More often than not, the 3rd row has a lap belt and/or no head rest. I wanted all seats to be usable at different stages of growth AND safe.
(The middle seat is folded down for the trip between Adeline & Aiden. Also, they all had their travel size boosters, not their full size seats along for the journey. We were flying stand by so it could have been brutal lugging those things around!) Oh, examine the roof near Chris’ head. That is where the shoulder belt originates from for the middle seat. When you fold the middle seat down it isn’t in the way because it retracts…voila!
If you know me, you know price factored in as well. The Sienna has 6 cylinders and is strong, but also more economical than the larger vehicles. This saves money long term on gas, but also in the short term as mini-vans are priced lower than SUV’s. I love how it drives. I was fine with our older van, but this one is noticeably stronger and smoother. So far I have been 100% pleased and glad my dear husband talked me into “going for it”. That is until about day 4 of driving in the summer heat…all.the.way.to.California. We were not prepared for a road trip, but did have a few new DVD’s in the travel bag. This helped us/the kids make it.
Look, even XL adults fit comfortably in the 2nd row! Does it sound like I’m doing a Sienna pitch? Heh, heh, heh. I’m not, but I could. Oh, I forgot to mention that we now have 3 extra seats available (instead of just 1).
The van story is over if you’d like to pay attention again!
Probably somewhere in Texas….
Phoenix, Arizona. Granted, the car had been sitting in the sun while we were in a restaurant for lunch, but “ouch”!
The last day may have been mentally the hardest. Remember that we flew out of Fairfield? This is 153 miles (nearly 3 hours) NORTH of our house. We were exhausted and ready to go home, but we had pass it and go get our van (1st one). We made it home in about 4 days. There’s no place like home, especially after driving 3,000 miles in 4 days. Sadly, we had things we needed to be back for and missed multiple opportunities to visit Air Force friends scattered along I-10, or short distances thereof. We certainly considered stops and played with the Google Maps and the many possible routes. In the end we just fixed our eyes on home. It was bittersweet since it isn’t very often that we drive that route and never know when we will run into our friends again.
Congratulations if you stuck with me the whole wordy way. It was a long update, to be sure. I am now “current” within 2 weeks. We’ve spent much of it just re-adjusting to life after the journey. Chris started back to school and God is good. We’ve been abundantly blessed with friends and family. We are glad we got to visit many of you. Now “tag” you are next. We will be in CA another 20 months.