Okay, Hawaii is officially 🍌🍌🍌: I mean, where else can you walk outside of your room, clamber over a few boulders on the beach, and come across nearly a dozen giant, ancient sea turtles basking in the sunset glow? And yet thanks to a thoughtful neighbor giving us a heads-up, that's exactly what we discovered. Check out a few pics of the fam getting up close (but not too close!) with these old gentlemen.
The dudes have been busy "basementing" up a storm lately, crafting all kinds of Lego maritime misadventures using teams of hapless soldiers, pirates, sharks (real & mechanical), and more. Here's a little stop-motion film that Finn created last night:
Labor Day Family camping at the Boy Scouts' Camp Cheesebrough is legendary. We missed it last year but made sure we took the boys this year so they could get in on the fun. The camp is only about 30 minutes away, along highway 9 in the Santa Cruz mountains, has a nice big lodge building and kitchen, and tons of tent camping sites.
Many of the boys' friends and their families also attended, so the adults actually had time to chat and get to know each other a little better while the boys honed their skills at whittling, archery, bb guns, rock climbing, blacksmithing, slingshots, and "human fooseball." Here's the gallery of their adventures.
Other highlights from the weekend included campfires with s'mores, running around in the woods (while hopefully avoiding poison oak), "battling" other groups of scouts, and putting on skits in front of the Saturday night campfire. Cami, the 3 year old sister of Cub Scout Colton, offered to count in Spanish: "One, Spanish. Two, Spanish." Cub Scout David (whose dad Sabu was managing the bb gun range) kept in contact with his dad via CB: "Dad, whittling time is over, over." Sabu: "You are free to play, over."
As we prepared to depart on Sunday afternoon (after picking up trash and cleaning bathrooms), we realized somehow Henry's pillow pet "Peendee Bee" didn't make it from the campsite back to the car. We retraced our steps, hoping we'd either spot him or that he'd been turned into the lost and found. As we rounded the corner on the way back to our campsite, Henry spotted Peendee, who'd been set atop the large propane tank near the lodge, and absolutely shrieked with relief and delight. Phew! Crisis averted.
Upon returning home, we spent the next several hours washing the dust and grime off ourselves and doing load after load of laundry. We had a blast but were all excited to be sleeping in our own beds.
No childhood would be complete without a nice baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano, and as part of their super fun times with Grandma Nack, the boys constructed one along with a whole set of Lego mining vehicles. Here's a quick handful of shots (click any one to see it larger):
How would you catch it, then? 🙂
Idea by Finn, art by Hen.
As if we hadn't crammed enough adventure into our Colorado trip this year, we crowned the whole shebang with a trip to Denver's legendary Casa Bonita.
For those of you unfamiliar with La Casa, it is an enormous Mexican restaurant-cum-amusement park. Not only do you get heaping plates of food, and a potentially endless supply of hot, fresh sopapillas (courtesy of the signal flag on your table), there is cliff diving, an arcade, a cave room, a mine room, magic shows, strolling musicians, and skits featuring pirates and gorillas!
Since it was Henry's actual birthday, we decided to hit the Casa after a fun afternoon at Elitch Gardens Water Park - a perfect way to wind up our day. We were seated in the magic show room, and our man Henry got up and planted himself smack dab in the middle of the first row so that he would be picked to get up and assist the magician - and boy did he have a good time doing it! He hammed it up like crazy and proclaimed the magic show the BEST part of his birthday. Here's a video (below) and a gallery of highlights from our evening.
This year, at Henry's request, we finally toured one of the old mines that Leadville, CO is famous for. Much to our delight, it was fascinating, and far exceeded our expectations!
We were led by Bob the Miner, who owns the Hopemore mine a few miles out of town. The Hopemore was established over 100 years ago, and produced gold, copper, silver, and iron, in addition to lead. Bob told us the Leadville area is one of the most richly mineralized areas in the world—a literal goldmine for prospectors!
We got to watch Bob demonstrate all sorts of mining equipment and machinery, including drills, a tunnel mucker, the cage that took us down the mineshaft, pulleys, and ore chutes. The boys were absolutely rapt. He pointed out the vein of ore slicing through the granite on either side, and showed us pictures of a huge ore pocket when it was being mined out - it was dozens of feet high and a hundred feet deep!
We all had a great (and very cold - 42 degrees!) time 600 feet below ground. Henry and Finn even got to push around an old ore car on the narrow tracks. On our way back to the shaft, Bob shone his flashlight on the ceiling of the tunnel, where we could see a bright vein of gold gleaming in the light. ("I never show dentists until the end," Bob chuckled.)
Check out our photo gallery from the adventure.
We could really tell the boys soaked it all in, because once we got back home to San Jose, the boys immediately went downstairs to the basement and built their own Lego mine, including tools for blasting through veins, an entry chute, and a mine car riding on tracks!
Part of Henry's birthday present from his Colorado family was a visit to the Colorado Train Museum in Golden, CO. If ever a kid loved trains, it's Henry Seamus Nack, so it was a perfect gift.
We spent the entire afternoon (gallery) looking at, wandering around, and venturing inside various types of rail car, locomotives, cabooses, and even a push-me-pull-you! We also got to take a ride around the property on a coal-powered steam train. Oh - and there was a spectacular model railroad (featuring Legos!) in the basement of the museum that the boys really enjoyed checking out.
Thanks to the Lingles for the tickets! Our newly-minted seven year-old was beside himself!
Lately the boys have been really taken with cooking competition shows, in particular anything involving kid contestants (e.g. “Chopped Junior," “Man vs. Child”). Inspired by all this, Finn’s been cooking up a storm, often preparing his signature “tuna crumble” for Henry, who happily serves as his waiter. Check out "Finn’s Famus Cafe” that they set up a few weeks back in the gazebo.
Of course, none of this is really new: Six years ago today Finn was helping out in his first chocolate chip cookie-making session. Keep it up, kiddo, and long may we savor your creations. 😀
This weekend marked our 5th annual Las Madres family camping trip. (I think there've actually been six, but we didn't go the first year.) It's become a much-anticipated event every summer - the guys get to run around all day and late into the night with their friends, and all the parents get to hang out, socialize, and relax (mostly!). We leave on Friday afternoon and stay through Sunday morning. The boys were so excited this year they were literally leaping and dancing around the kitchen on Friday morning asking me how soon we could leave.
This year we had a total of 44 kids and adults spread out over several camp sites at Portola Redwoods State Park - a real gem deep in the redwood forest of the Santa Cruz mountains. Here's a gallery of our adventures, which included gorgeous weather, giant trees—including one dubbed the "man cave" by the Nack boys—hiking, a crystal-clear stream with swimming hole, Ranger-led Junior Ranger programs, s'mores (of course!), delicious homemade cookies courtesy of our friends Lorraine and Dina, making sunprints with found items, counting the scores of banana slugs dotting the ground, and religiously reapplying bug spray (LOTS of skeeters this year).
Man cave tour:
And just for fun, here are the galleries from prior years' camping trips.
The Willow Glen White Sox closed out their year with a bang: Henry knocked out a double, both boys hustled after some hits to center field, and Finn—to his great delight—received the game ball! Here's a little gallery.
Just like their parents (or at least their dad), our guys have their share of hilariously forehead-slapping moments. First, the brilliant cyclist Henry gets a little more familiar than he’d planned with a fountain at Google. (Make sure your speakers are on.)
Second, though separated by exactly six years, these two photos both show Finn’s goofy penchant for having crap stuck to/in his face. :-p
Back when the kids were really little, we were always too swamped & tired to figure out what to do on Memorial Day weekend, and thus generally stayed home and bemoaned the fact that we hadn't planned any adventures.
Five years ago we decided to throw a little backyard BBQ on Memorial Day weekend (see gallery), in hopes that maybe some of our friends would show up, having failed to make travel plans as well. Little did we know that pretty much everyone we invited would show up to hang out at our BBQ!
Over the past few years, our little BBQ has turned into an epic event! At this past weekend's fifth annual Nackyard Memorial Day BBQ, we had scores of grownups and kids populating the yard, coolers full of beer and soda, and good times had by all. Here’s a gallery of shots from the day.
A couple of weeks ago, Hen accompanied me to Google for this year's Take Your Kid To Work Day. Finn had planned to join us, but as he'd been sick the preceding two days, he felt strongly that he should attend school. "My team is counting on me, and if I'm not there, another kid is going to screw up our poster!" he said.
Thus Hen & I rolled on our own—literally, thanks to his bright idea of bringing his dirt bike to ride around campus. Who knew we had our own pair of little dirt tracks to race around? We connected with the boys' pal Zack & his mom, fellow Googler DeAnna, for a round of cookie-making & biking, followed by Henry performing some "dogfooding" down at the Imaginarium (Google's lab for building kids' apps). Getting drenched by a sudden downpour en route only added to the fun.
Who's got two thumbs & was excited to be commended for his on-field hustle? This guuuuuuy. 🙂
We've been awfully sad that our beloved Uncle John Murray has been in poor health lately. It's hard living so far away from our great—and great big—extended family, and I wish the boys could spend more time getting to know everyone. I felt grateful that Finn & I were able to make an impromptu trip to Chi-town last weekend to see Uncle John & spend time with much of the Murray clan, especially as Saturday happened to be my cousin Liz's son Patrick's First Communion.
Here's a gallery (slideshow) of some photos I captured during the reception, and later in the park by the Murrays' house (where Patrick, Mary, and Jimmy patiently gave Finn an intro to lacrosse). "We have a really nice family," he told me later. I'm inclined to agree. <:-)
This? Oh, no biggie: it’s just what happens when Henry playfully forces his (fully cooperative & laughing) brother’s face into the sand. :-p
We enjoyed quite the day out last Sunday. First we hit Marina State Beach near Monterey for some baseball tossing (40 catches in a row with Finn!), sand castling, and taunting of waves (which sometimes won!). On the drive north we pulled a spontaneous pit stop to kayak with sea otters, after which we "cooled off" (as the boys love to say) at Marianne's Ice Cream in Santa Cruz. Here's a gallery plus a salty vid from our day out:
Long ago the dudes decided that all of Finn's lions were boys & all of Henry's owls were girls. That way they could get married & have kids (i.e. the many little lions & owls in our pride/parliament). We were thus delighted & unsurprised when Finn noted at the breakfast table the other day, "Look, Leo & Ollie are having an epic romance!" 🙂