Last week's main event was a 2-day trip to Legoland, which strategically coincided with John's birthday. I think Dad-O was even more excited than the boys about our visit! We went all out and stayed at the Legoland hotel, which, as you'll see, was great fun and perfectly suited to families with young kids. Our pirate-themed room came with bunkbeds for the dudes, a bucket of Legos to play with, a treasure chest whose combination we had to determine via a scavenger hunt, and a view of the park entrance. The hotel lobby contained several "Lego pits," a giant Lego castle to play in, Lego sculptures, and an entrance to the park. The 3 Nack men were in heaven!
The park itself was phenomenal, and perfectly designed for families and kids under 12. While parents stood in line at various rides, there were play areas chock full of Legos for the kids to play with until their turn on the ride was up. There were rides of all sorts - rollercoasters, ride-on vehicles, boats, pedal cars, squirting cannons, firetruck races, and a pirate ship ride with water cannons. We spent an entire day just taking advantage of the water attractions in the pirate area and the Lego water park! [Poor Henry found the "lazy river" not so relaxing as he slipped through my hands, through our double inner tube, and completely under the water! Fortunately he recovered & excitedly joined me in collecting the giant rubber Legos that floated alongside us. --J.]
There were also tons and tons of Lego sculptures of all sorts — life-sized Darth Vader & Chewie, the biggest Lego-model ever created (of a Star Wars X-Wing fighter), tons of miniature scenes from Star Wars movies, and miniature Lego cities like Las Vegas, Washington DC, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Henry enjoyed the miniature cities the most - and returned over and over again to observe all the little moving Lego vehicles, boats, trains, animals, etc.
Here are some vids and a gallery of pictures of all the things we got to see and do!
The dudes (now happily slumbering) are having a ball so far. More news to come, but first we're off to Legoland!
Family Adventure Week has begun! This week we are planning visits to California Adventure at Disneyland, Legoland (for Dad-o's birthday), and the San Diego Zoo. We'll also be tucking in visits to various beaches and even the La Brea Tar Pits (thanks to pal Samantha for that suggestion!).
We set out for Los Angeles yesterday morning, and after a not-too-long car ride, we arrived at Santa Monica around 5pm. We figured after a day in the car, the guys would appreciate some good beach time. And boy, did they ever! Braving the gusty and cool conditions, the guys horsed around in the sand and surf until we tore them away for some dinner and a car trip to our hotel in Anaheim. Here are some fun shots of their antics plus a little video at the bottom:
- "Dad-O, I'm a new superhero called Bat Saber—like a bat lightsaber! He crushes old people who don't like bats!" (Henry adds, "Yeah, and I'm Rain Man!!" #VerySpecialPowers)
- "Dad-O, do pirates sometimes have to get blasted by otters?" Um, otters? Took me a while to realize he meant SEALs (specifically, Navy ones).
- "Dad-O, those cats want to fill up our sandbox with poop," says Finn, "which I call 'butt presents.'"
- I dreamt that our boys—like bats—navigate by echolocation. They were ceaselessly repeating "Mom-O, Dad-O! Mom-O, Dad-O! Mom-O, Dad-O!"
- I let the boys watch nature videos unattended on YouTube this morning. It's all fun 'til a croc bites off an antelope's hoof!
- Finn describes his birthday wish: "Well, it's a really expensive Lego set for teenagers…" He tells me that to save up, "stop buying food"!
- In the fall Lego time spontaneously turned political: "Dad-O, this is Obama. 'Come here, Romney, gimme your butt cheeks to kick!'" (Unprompted!)
- I offer Henry some Lego-ing help. "No, I can do it," he says. "It's a little be complicated for dads, but not for kids." (Maybe true!)
- "Dad-O, this is my Lego chase truck. It was chasing a bird, which turned out to be Henry's hand, which made off with a Lego sailor hat…"
- "The hand-bird was carrying the hat on its thumb." Good to know!
Two very small slices of life, featuring our very small percussion enthusiasts working unusual instruments today:
Clearly G-Man finds miso soup very stimulating. A random snippet from our sushi outing last night:
"It takes a village," they say—specifically, a village of mischievous dads planting ever-so-slightly bad ideas in kids' heads.
On Sunday our motorcycle-riding neighbor Chris had just returned from the racetrack & invited the lads to sit astride his sport bike—and even give the throttle a loud rev! Having long been dubbed KOBI (King Of Bad Ideas), and with Margot safely out of the country, I thought it great to plant this seed in them now. (Seriously, though, Chris made the boys be super careful around the hot tailpipe, and they were quite respectful & well behaved.) A few pics:
Back in March the boys (especially Finn) got a huge kick out of a performance of traditional Chinese "lion dancing." Somehow I never managed to post the videos, but we got a second chance a couple of weekends ago at San Jose's History Park. Sorry that this very short vid is a bit glitchy. Maybe someday the Micronaxx can be a two-man lion team of their own!
Our boy Henry has become well known amongst our friends for the "Henry Face." He's reliably grumpy about something or another when we're out having a good time - like at birthday parties, the pool, holiday celebrations, you name it. In fact, our friend Shay's daughter Tegan started making The Face herself after watching Henry melt down at his brother's preschool graduation ceremony ("No one is playing with me, Mom-o! No one is paying attention to me!"). Our friends love to snap photos of Henry grumping out at parties. Here's a prime example:
We recently had some family photos taken, and as Henry was getting grumpier and more short-tempered about the length of the photo shoot, we decided to go for broke with The Henry Face, family-style. Because when you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
Following a little outing yesterday to see mechanical dinosaurs, the lads watched some Dinosaur Train & got into sidewalk chalk with Mom-O. Watch as Finny questions her grasp of dino species.
As Margot detailed the other day, we had a ball traveling to Sacramento by train with my folks. Here's a gallery from the excursion, showing off the deservedly famous California State Railroad Museum.
Just like their human master, Finny's lion pride is blonde & meat-lovin'. As Henry would conclude the ABCs song, "...next time won't you sing with meat."
"Equal parts grumpy old man and delightful, snuggly, hilarious kid," says Margot of Henry*, and I fully agree. Amazingly it's been a full four years since our crazy little "El Segundo" barnstormed into town. What a crazy ride...
We're a bit pooped from taking the lads out for some celebratory sushi, but here's a little gallery of the terrific party we had on the Fourth with our wonderful pals, plus some delightful present-opening with my folks & then this morning.
And from memory lane:
* She also says this about me
This year marks the second year we've taken the Micronaxx camping at Big Basin with a bunch of our Las Madres friends and their kids. Last year John was flying solo with the boys because I had a weekend workshop. So, this year was my first time going! We had a blast! We were the first ones to arrive at the camp site on Friday afternoon, so we had our pick of places to pitch our tent. The boys always get really excited about setting up and then testing out the tent and air mattresses, and then proceed to running around and exploring the campground.
There were tons of things for everyone to do, thanks to many of the crafty and camp-expert moms who helped plan the trip. We checked out a tipi made of large branches at the edge of the campground. And of course, we had s'mores after roasting hot dogs for dinner on Friday night. Then the kids ran around in the dark with their headlamps on - which looked like a giant swarm of fireflies.
On Saturday morning, the kids got to paint some bandannas and water bottle holders, which they then took on a short hike to the little waterfall down the trail. We also looked for, and found, banana slugs, which are now known as "bonobos" based on a TALB that was borne out of last year's sighting.
Here's a little gallery of all the proceedings.
Our overnight trip to Sacramento to visit the Railroad Museum was a big hit with everyone, but especially with birthday boy Henry! The guys loved riding the Amtrak up to Sacramento with Grandma and Grandpa Nack. We got to pass by the mothballed navy fleet in the East Bay, and saw some other interesting sites on our way up, including an old C&H Sugar processing factory outside of Richmond.
Our motel was literally right across the street from the train station on one side, and across the street from the Railroad Museum on the other side! And wow, the Railroad museum was amazing. It is huge! 2 acres of historic engines, passenger cars, memorabilia, a dining car, sleeping car, surveying gear, model trains, a mail car...well worth a visit. It is beautifully maintained and well-presented with lots of docents around and neat exhibits.
Our motel had a pool, which was great because it was 109 both days! I forgot to pack my suit, but the guys all got in the pool Monday night. Afterwards, we hung their trunks on the balcony rail to dry overnight, but when we awoke in the morning, they had disappeared! The motel housekeepers claimed not to have seen them, nor the front desk, and we looked on the balconies below and in the bushes. Not a suit to be found - and we had planned on enjoying the pool until our noon train ride!
But - the silver lining: there was a Macy's 1 block away on the *third* side of the motel. Finny and I headed over there at 10am Tuesday, found 2 clearance sale suits for him and Henry ($4.50 each! what a bargain!), and I picked up a clearance swimsuit for myself because I was HOT. We spent the rest of the morning in the pool, then dried off and headed for the train station.
Our original train was having engine trouble, so they moved us to a back-up train further down the platform. Then that one had no fuel, so we had to wait for the fuel truck, and while we were waiting, the first train's engine got repaired, so we shuffled back to that one and finally took off around 2 hours late. The boys were fine with their iPad & movies, and the snack car. Henry was wiped out from all the fun, and finally crashed out on the train ride home for about an hour - a sign of a great adventure!
As you may well know, Margot & I have long enjoyed calling one another "Peanut" (feel free to roll your eyes—I'll wait ), and long before we were even engaged, I made her a sort of bizarre "peanut car" from Legos. It carried peanut M&M's, and I added the license plate "BIFURC8" for fun:
Here's a clip of the boys discovering it yesterday in Margot's office.
Anyway, it only took us the better part of a decade, but we've now kitted out a real car (the A8) with "BIFURC8"! That is some nerdy, nerdy family love—i.e., just our two-lobed cup of tea!
"Dad-O, this is me, thinking of you," says Finn. Aw shucks—is this a great first homemade card or what?
For some reason a couple of months ago, Finn decided that once a month, Mom-O should do a sleepover in his room (cuddling with him all night). Never one to be left out, Henry decided that he should get a similar arrangement with Dad-O, and thus on Monday night we each headed to one of the dudes' rooms.
Henry persuaded me quite foolishly to agree to stay in his room after I tucked him in, doing "homework" on my laptop in the lower bunk. Even after I shut its lid, he was so jazzed about my presence that he couldn't stop monologuing into the darkness. Later I jotted down some of his bizarre utterances:
- Dad-O, why do you love Manti Te'o so much?
- I love Manti Te'o, too. We all do, 'cause we're Irish people.
- [singing] I just haaate my daaad doing home-worrrrk...
- Your computer keeps winking at me!
- When do construction workers build volcanoes?
- Lava & magma are cousins.
- Sometimes when smoke detectors get dusty, they freak out.
- I'm playing tricks with that light [crossing his eyes]. Do you see??
- Air conditioning sprays out ghosts.
And so on, and on, for hours. I was of course tired, trapped, and frustrated (just go to bed, Goonie!!). And yet I finally just laid back & resolve to enjoy the ride. We won't have the wee man just like this for long.
...it just might look like this. Their desire for cheese sandwiches knows no bounds. Margot thinks they should start a tiny, orange-bandana-sporting gang, throwin' cheese-signs and getting into scuffles with rival preschoolers (the Colbys vs. the Muensters, etc.).