Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy Birthday to Noah!!

We just love this picture of Noah--we don't capture his looks very often, but he does them all the time. Both the one above, and the one below are classics. The one above is him on the Carousel at Discovery Kingdom, and the one below is him looking out at the Sea Lions off of Pier 39 in San Francisco.

We wanted to take some time to focus on Noah. A boy who knows what he wants 98% of the time, and the other 2%, his brothers decide for him. As of 12:10 a.m., August 1st, he will officially be 4 years old. It has been odd for Rebecca on this trip looking at each one of our children and how they are growing up so fast. Noah can out-talk, out-argue, and out-run the majority of his family members now, including his parents. We were out to dinner tonight at a Chinese restaurant, and he was politely talking to the waitress, asking her for some milk when she had a minute. He is such a little man now. He got out of the shower tonight and wanted to make sure to show us his muscles and asked if we saw them growing bigger now that he is going to turn 4. He is one in a million, a true character. The things that come out of his mouth make us howl with laughter, and he doesn't even know they are funny. We are both so excited and so sad to see our little boy grow up to be a 4 year old. He is ready, but we aren't. So, Noah, Happy Birthday little champ.

Tomorrow we are going to have breakfast together and then spend the day in Santa Cruz. We should have some good pictures from this day. We will try and get today's pictures up just as soon as we get these little guys to bed and asleep.


Discovery Kingdom on July 30, 2007

This morning we meandered a little around San Mateo so I could show the kids where I went to school. We drove by my elementary school, middle school, and high school. Then we drove by the church where Papa was the pastor, the kids liked that. Also, we headed to the house where I grew up to take a picture. My, how property values have soared. This house is worth about $1.2 million in the current market!!!

Then we made our way to Vallejo to go to Discovery Kingdom. When I lived here, we used to take Youth Group trips there in the summer. But, at the time it was called Marine World, and there were no rides. It was more of an animal and marine park. It's kind of sold out since then--there are 'sponsors' like Papa Johns and Cold Stone Creamery, whose signs are all about. The whale show even had a commercial on the big screen before it started, from the sponsor, Toyota. And, Toyota's were on display throughout the park! But, the kids were no less impressed.

When we first got there, Jacob was so excited to ride the upside down rides. We headed straight for the roller coasters. He didn't meet the height requirement for the first one, so we went to the 'junior coaster' next door so all the kids could go on. Noah was hesitant, but went with me. Jonah completely refused and stayed off with Robb. Jacob was Mr. Confidence. When we emerged from the ride, Noah said, "That was awesome!" Jonah wished he had gone, and Jacob was wailing because he was so scared since he'd had to ride alone. Jonah did go on later with Robb and he loved it, but still had to be cajoled to actually get on.We saw a dolphin show, an acrobatic show called MaBoomBoom, and a show with a killer whale named Shouka. Even though they were really excited about the rides, they also were really captivated by the shows.At the end of the day, even though everyone was totally wiped out, we all wished we had more time. The kids got to go on lots of littler rides towards the end.
Here, we were standing in line for the water rapids line. It was hot and the kids were spent. It wasn't too long of a wait, but boy did we all get drenched!

As you can see, while we were on the water rapids ride, Rebecca, Jacob, and I went right under a water fall and it drenched us from head to toe, right down to our underwear. The kids thought mom and dad looked funny so wet. What do you do?

This is one of those rare moments, that when you are a parent, you take it it, take pictures, and stand there in awe. Thought this was a cute picture. This was how the whole day was.......right!
Noah loved the Tomas the train town the best. We rode the train and the kids played in the gift shop afterwards with all the trains.

We took the tram back to the parking lot with the same family who had sat behind us on the tram on the way in this morning. They took an after picture of our whole family. We all had a great time today, but were so tired. We had an hour car ride back to our hotel and the kids fell asleep since we didn't get home until 10:30 p.m. To another full day of play.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Happy Anniversary to us, San Francisco Part I, July 29, 2007

We got up this morning by about 7:00, which is sleeping in for all of us. We headed over to find a Starbuck's near the mall in San Mateo because we were going to take the Cal train into San Francisco. We ended up driving by Rebecca's old house that she lived in while she was here in San Mateo. The kids thought that was great. We are going to try and go back on Monday where we can go to the park behind her house so the kids can play. We got our Starbuck's and headed to the train. The kids were very excited to take the train and were very into the "rules" that we told them. They were in awe when the train came. All the kids wanted to sit up on the second story of the train, so of course we did.

We have also been teaching the kids how to take pictures with our camera, with close supervision, and so Jonah took this picture of Rebecca and I. Kind of nice to have a picture for our Anniversary. Noah thought it would be fine for him to hold onto the camera for awhile so he could snap a picture when needed. That's not going to happen. The kids wanted us to take this picture of them in front of their train. They have all collaborated and said we are moving down here when we get back home just so they can take the train all the time into the city. We reminded them they get to take the ferry, which is fun, but they didn't think so.

When the kids saw this on the street, they thought it was great. Jonah thought it may be real, so he was pretty cautious when he had to stand next to it. As you can see, Noah wanted to take it home as he just about hugged the thing during the picture.

We got off the Cal train and headed for the number 10 bus so we could bus the 3 1/2miles down to Fisherman's Wharf instead of walk it. Noah raced on the bus and went to the back. When the bus started going and he noticed that he was alone, he got scared and started to have that intense fear, quiet cry. I had to come "rescue" him from the back. The kids thought that was incredible that dad stood up on a moving bus and got Noah. You would have thought I repelled down a cliff to save Noah from the alligators. Hey, whatever it takes.
After getting off the bus, we were walking by a homeless person who was occasionally yelling at random people as they walked by his cardboard house. Knowing Jacob may say he is being rude, Rebecca took his hand and diverted his attention, and I took Jonah and Noah's hand. After we walked by, Jonah asked if it is normal for people to be angry in the city. We talked for awhile about how he may struggle to think clearly--you like that interpretation? He was also blown away that someone would sleep in a cardboard box. The one part he would like is not having to shower all the time. He thought about this man the rest of the day and wondered what he was doing tonight for sleep. So much to learn about the world. With Jonah, we try to teach empathy whenever we can. Teachable moment.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

In the City of San Francisco, July 29, 2007-Part II

We finally made it to Fisherman's Wharf and immediately, the kids wanted to go see the sea lions. They loved watching them bark out. In fact, they barked along with them of course. They really loved the foul smell that came floating over. They had a magic show going on for free, so the kids sat down and watched that for a long time. The kids went on the Carousel and made Rebecca go with them, spinning the tea cup the entire time. Rebecca used to love the tea cups at Disneyland, but age seems to be catching up to her. She did look a little green when she got off. We did find San Francisco hats and they all got to pick out their own. We ate at Boudin's and Jonah found that he now loves sourdough bread, especially in bowl form, filled with chili.

We walked down to Ghirardelli Squar,e for the chocolate of course. There is certainly a lot to see when you walk along the Piers. The kids stopped and got balloons in the shape of swords and ended up losing them with in a half hour. Like I said, too much to see and a short term memory. We got one big ice cream sundae with lots of dark chocolate sauce. The kids played around the fountain while Rebecca and I ate most of the ice cream ourselves. We then headed down to stand in line for the cable car. Rebecca took the kids over to get their charicatures done. They turned out great and the kids got a kick out of it.

Jacob really wanted to all sit on the front of the cable car and have dad hang off the side holding on for dear life as we rush through the city. Well, we ended up getting the place we wanted and they had a great time. I think this is probably the highlight of the day. They didn't want to get off. We rode it down to Chinatown. That was a sight to behold in itself.

Jacob rarely gets excited about a 'thing,' so when he identified a tie-died SF t-shirt hanging in the front of one of the many many souvenier shops, we obliged. He then insisted on taking a picture of the man we bought it from who didn't really understand why. But, he gave us great directions to a public bathroom around the corner, which turned out to be at a playground. Noah fell asleep on Rebecca's shoulder as we walked there, so we sprawled out on the grass for him to nap while Jacob and Jonah played and stood out as the only toe-heads in the entire park.

We got a little lost on the way back to the train station. In search of it, we ended up on a bus, whose driver gave us directions. They included a ride on the Muni subway, which took us straight to the Cal Train station we needed. So, in total for the day, we rode on 5 different forms of SF transportation. The kids had a ball totalling them up, first, our own car. Then, the train to the city. Then a public bus to Fisherman's Wharf. Then, a Cable Car to Chinatown. Lastly, a trip on the subway back to the train station. They also included their ride on the Carousel. This is the picture of the kids on the subway with thier tickets, which they kept for their trip journals.

We had our Anniversary dinner when we got back to San Mateo. We went to Macaroni Grill, which was great. The kids had a good time drawing on our paper tablecloth. We enjoyed our time with them, stealing romantic glances at each other between cutting food into bite-sized pieces, and games of tablecloth tic-tac-toe. Our waiter was great, and the one benefit of having children who have never met a stranger is that an announcement to the waiter that, "Our parents got engaged on the Golden Gate Bridge! It's their Anniversary today!" guarantees you a free dessert.
That's all for tonight. Tomorrow we head off on another child-indulgent day to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. They don't know yet what we are doing. They will be so excited to see. If you haven't heard of it, it's a combination of an amusement park and Sea World. Until then...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

July 28, 2007, Dunsmuir, CA to San Francisco!!!

We woke up in our train this morning and the kids immediately started hanging from the hand rails on the ceiling of the train. It was fun to sleep there, and it was surprisingly comfortable. Everyone had a bed and we all slept well. We headed off to San Francisco, which the kids have been most excited about. After traffic jams coming in the city, we made it to Muir Woods. It is a mini Redwood forest with old growth trees topping 250 feet (Jacob wanted me to mention this). It was busy there today, so we had to drive around for a half an hour to find parking. We had a good time walking around and looking at all the enormous trees. It took every ounce of strength for the kids to keep their bodies out of the stream, but they did a good job. The weather was a comfortable 80 degrees, so walking around in the shade of the trees was nice. We headed from there to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.

The boys had actually wanted to have the picture done sitting on top of the log, but it wasn't allowed.

It took us about an hour and a half to drive from Muir Woods to San Mateo, which is 20 miles south of San Francisco. In all, it was about 32 miles, but there was a lot of traffic on the bridge. The kids loved it and they were great sports. That is a long time to be in the car. They just wanted to see the exact spot that dad asked mom to marry him. I pointed it out and they kept saying, "where dad?" We drove through the city and pointed out some of the building and different sites that we have told them about for so long. They thought it should be fun tomorrow to ride the train back into the city from San Mateo. Tomorrow we are going to hit Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, and try to ride the Trolley Car. If we can, we want to go to China town to just walk through to show them the differences. That seems to be a big focus of the trip so far. What is similar and what is different between Bremerton/Seattle and San Francisco area. They love pointing everything out. We finally got to our hotel tonight, grabbed Chinese food (Jacob's request) and the kids were off to bed. We have a big day tomorrow, we Reba and I need to get rested up. Until tomorrow.

**This is a picture of Noah in the car after hours of boredom. He finally had to cover his ears and scream in the car. He seems to be the little comedian on the trip so far.
Great quote of the day:
Jacob said, "Pappa Doug told me that it was true and I believe Pappa Doug"
Jonah quickly responded, "This is the same guy that told you it was alright for you to put gum behind your ear, and it ended up sticking in your hair." Jacob said, "Yeah, you may be right, but I believe him this time."
Until later,

July 27, 2007 Portland to Dunsmuir, CA

We had a great time at Tim's. The kids sat on the couch with him this morning and watched cartoons on the flat screen T.V. Jacob thought Tim's pad was "fancy". We headed out about 8:00 in the morning, hit Starbuck's like any self respecting coffee-aholic should, and then we were on our way. We ended up driving about 375 miles today. We stopped in Shasta for lunch and saw this enormous caveman. No idea why, but the kids loved it. Mt. Shasta and Lake Shasta were beautiful scenery for our long drive.

Then, we reached our destination, Dunsmuir. Hearing that word became the bain of our existence throughout the long drive. "Are we in Dunsmuir yet?" "When are we going to get to Dunsmuir?" "Is this Dunsmuir?" "How long until we get to Dunsmuir?" Ugh! It was a relief just to arrive. We had told the kids there was a pool at the hotel, and that the hotel was special, but we didn't tell them why. So, they were thrilled when we arrived to our traincar for the evening. It really was cool. We actually slept in a converted traincar. Even better, there were beds for everyone. When we got there, we had a great time in the pool. Despite the 95 degree heat, the kids were pretty insistent on going in the hot tub. Fortunately, the heat was not turned up very high. After swimming, we had dinner in the old passenger car and took a walk around the little lake and creek. Over all, a very fun night.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Journey Begins...

Can you feel the craziness? I mean, come on! Three boys, two insane parents, and one mini van on the way to California. Robb said tonight, "Who drives to California anymore???" So, we set out for Portland after lunch in Tacoma. Marna and Papa graciously braved the back seat to escort us to Tacoma to pick up Robb's car and drive it home. We know driving the Jeep with the top down on an 80 degree day was hard, so we really appreciate it.
So we drove south and Jacob asked over and over when we were going to cross the border into Oregon. So, we took a picture.
The kids were excited to see Tim, and we had been talking about it for awhile, when Noah said, "Who is Tim?" When we arrived to Tim's the kids took a short basketball break in Tim's backyard of his house, which they quickly declared was 'fancy.' Then, we headed off to Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. Jonah wanted to know why they let people eat in the Factory?
After dinner, the kids played at a park near Tim's. They made quick friends with the girls who were playing there and spun to the brink of vomit on the tire swing with one of them.
The kids couldn't stand the thought of going to bed dirty from their play at the park. They begged and begged us to allow them their monthly allowance of one bath. I'm sure it had nothing to do with Uncle Tim's enormous bathtub with jets?
Tim had a great time with the kids, and wanted to spend every last minute with them. I'm sure that's why he fell into a depression after they went to bed, so this is him trying to recover from the loss of time with them.
Tomorrow we are off to Dunsmuir, California where we will stay at the Railroad Park Resort. The hotel rooms are each a converted train car. Ours has a bunk bed, a queen size bed, and another twin. All the kids know is that there is a pool there. We haven't told them anything else yet. Jonah is super-focussed on the candy he saw (that was supposed to be a surprise). Jacob is having fun with his Gameboy, and Noah keeps asking, "What can I do?" He is listening to his little MP3 player, which he loves. Hopefully all this and the trusty DVD player will keep them entertained tomorrow on a longer driving day. They are really excited just to get to California. We plan to leave around 8 tomorrow morning so we can make use of the pool in the 94 degree heat in Dunsmuir. Wish us luck!