This Thanksgiving we did not plan any long-distance travel, and did not have any out-of-town relatives visiting, so we decided to spend some of our long weekend on a family road trip to explore parts previously-unknown. Our good friend Reen came down from San Francisco to feast with us on Thanksgiving day, and by the time we went to bed that night, we had booked a motel in Cayucos, CA and had plans to visit the beach, San Simeon, and nearby Hearst Castle - all of which are just off the gorgeous coastal California Highway 1, south of Big Sur.
On Friday, the trip took a little over 3 hours, and we asked the boys to draw maps of what they were seeing as we headed south. Both boys did a fantastic job drawing mountains, trees, vehicles, road signs, oil pumps, freight trains, vinyards, and other things that they saw out the window, and the mapmaking kept them engaged and busy the entire trip. Listening to Johnny Cash on the stereo was also a crowdpleaser.
We checked into our vintage motor court motel room that evening, just after stopping at the beach to watch the sun go down. We popped some popcorn and watched a movie before bed, and then got some rest for the big day ahead. Friday we visited Hearst Castle (opulence is an understatement!), and spent some quality time horsing around on the beach before dinner. Sunday was rainy, so instead of spending tons of time on the windy, cold, wet beach, we toured Morro Bay's famous Shell Shop (Excelling in Shells since 1953!) and then drove up to poke around some of the art galleries in Cambria, just south of the Castle. Then we drove home through the mist and fog.
Here's a gallery of the weekend's proceedings.
[Dad-O addenda: We were charmed that for some reason Finn took to referring to William Randolph Hearst as simply "The Hearst." Henry asked our tour guide whether the castle featured a dungeon or a dragon, giving us a chance to learn about the fur-stocked basement & a statue of St. George battling a dragon (as glimpsed in the gallery). Finn named a little stuffed lion from the gift shop & named his shell-based race car driver "Shelby" (transporter of Henry's little shell owl "Shelly"). Mom-O's art history background came into play as we checked out the lion-heavy statuary, and Finn was fascinated to learn about the lion-headed Egyptian deity Sekhmet. Henry, meanwhile, was delighted to learn about The Hearst's wiener dog swimming around in search of goldfish, and to point out the little ramp a gardener built so he could stop fishing the dog out of the pool (see also the gallery). —J.]
Greetings from some truly micro Micronaxx, daily lovers of Lego Advent calendars.
From our turkeys to you, Happy Thanksgiving!
(Click for larger version.)
Here's another little animated memory surfaced by Google Photos, this time starring 3-month-old Finnster.
Following our trip to the aviation museum, I drove the dudes to Half Moon Bay's famous pumpkin patches. It's something we'd wanted to do for years, but traffic horror stories kept us from chancing it. This year, though, with Mom-O in Seattle for the weekend, I figured, hey, I'm going to be on the hook for keeping these guys safe & entertained, so why not do so while they're physically restrained?
I had fun filling the boys with sugar, then letting them burn if off by dead-lifting giant pumpkins & wheeling them around. Back at the ranch we applied kitchen knives, crowbars, and shovels to the pumpkin-carving process—and somehow no one lost a digit!
Check out the gallery from our adventure, and see also the crazy high-speed "hyperlapse" video below.
Last weekend the dudes & I checked out the Hiller Aviation Museum's Haunted Hangar event, featuring a witch dropping a pumpkin from a helicopter! We enjoyed a little scavenger hunt & some craft-making before the signature event. Check out the gallery plus this video of the drop:
You know that thing where you’re enjoying an ostensibly quiet Saturday afternoon on the couch, and then one kid comes inside insisting that you close your eyes, take his hand, and follow him outside to see what he’s done to his brother? Yeah, I know that thing.
Kids these days, with their crazy long hair…!
The dudes implored me not to take them for haircuts last weekend so that they could really do up their ‘dos for this past Friday's Crazy Hair Day at school. Check out Mom-O’s fun styling job:
This year, the boys came up with the idea of throwing a costume party prior to Halloween. They even came up with games and ideas for party activities all by themselves! We invited lots of family and school friends over to party. We had a station for making "mummy hands," which were clear plastic gloves filled with popcorn and candy corn for fingernails. We played Pin the Spider to the Spider Web, where our small blindfolded contestants had to place their plastic spider the closest to the one in the middle of the web. We also played Halloween Bingo with candy corn and candy pumpkin bingo markers. The big finale was watching Hotel Transylvania while snacking on mummy hands, while all of us parents hung out and relaxed in the backyard.
Attendees included an Eskimo, some ninjas, a Pokemon, a zombie, some superheroes, the Flintstones, and even a family of pirates! A fine time was had by guests big and small, and it was a lovely, warm afternoon for a party. Here's a little gallery of the day's proceedings, complete with Admiral Henry and Private Finnegan.
Yesterday the boys were extremely excited to journey up to San Francisco at the invitation of my old Navy buddy, Commander Chris Peppel, to attend the commissioning of the brand-new USS America! They were so hyped the night before that they wanted to go straight to bed, with Henry announcing, "I'm going to get up, get dressed, and eat breakfast in the car!" We had a great time attending the ship & touring the new 45,000-ton ship (a small aircraft carrier—"small" being a strictly relative/only-in-America term!) and seeing Mr. Peppel. Here's a gallery from the visit, plus a very short video below.
Remember the bit where Tom Sawyer sweet-talked all the neighborhood kids into whitewashing his fence, making them believe the chore was really a special privilege? I'm pleased to have pulled that stunt on the guys, turning them into crazed car-washing zealots!
Among all the delights in our recent trip to Galena, a standout for all the kids (young & old alike) was when cousin Tony brought out his set of Legos & let us each build & arm our own minifigures! Even now, two months (!!) later, it's a ball to see these little parts (backpacks, katana swords, ghost bodies, and more) float by in the basement & remind the guys of Tony's generosity.
Check out a little gallery of the goings-on.
Just as we've done in the last couple of years (see pics & vids from 2011 & 2012), on Sunday we headed over to Watsonville for some quality apple picking. Highlights this year included seeing a little girl carrying her own Leo blankie; Henry "Strong like Bull" Nack supplying the power for a girl in a little John Deere vehicle with spent batteries; running into some Google amigos; and Finn very reluctantly petting Roscoe the apple-eating tortoise. Here's a little gallery from the day out.
An exchange with Henry prior to my Mom’s arrival:
“Henry, Grandma’s coming tomorrow.”
“WHAT the—? YOUR mom? She’s the BEST!! (She really plays with me!)”
As predicted, the guys are having a ball with Grandma, walking all over the neighborhood, grabbing ice cream, helping with gardening, and more. I haven’t had much chance to document the trip so far, but here are a few samples—including shots of the boys delighting in the new Lego car carrier Grandma sent!
The boys & Grandma Nack share a love of our neighborhood bakery/flower shop, Flour Flower. In anticipation of her visit this week, we visited the shop on Sunday and made sure that the crepes are as delicious as ever. Henry was so jazzed about buying Mom-O some flowers that he kinda fell apart when she tried to politely decline. Thus we’re the proud new owners of a cluster of sunflowers.