Thursday, May 5, 2011

Life in the Muthahood

As little girls, we thought cleaning house and playing dolly was really fun. 'Course, we could put down our play chores anytime we wanted to. So when real life house and dolly came into play, maybe we were more than a little surprised how unrelenting the tasks at hand really were. This woman pretty much sums it all up.
Not really my style of music, but well done nonetheless. And completely kid friendly.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mattie Meets Montana de Oro (or How to Wear Out Horse & Kids In One Fell Swoop)

(For those of you who receive these updates via e-mail, to see photos, click through to the blog.)
 First, don't bring a good map. Bring a cruddy little, general map of the park which spells out WHICH trails are horse accessible, and which are off limits, but omits super helpful info like, oh, topo details or, say, landmarks.

Then, don't bring a GPS. Newfangled technology makes outdoor adventures far too easy. You can't have a properly exhausting family adventure without losing yourself in a small maze of unofficial, but clearly well-established, trails.

Bring only one horse to be shared between four people. OK, we're technically three riders and one dedicated walker, but you get the idea.

Bring only the tack that accommodates the rider with the shortest legs.

Then set out before lunchtime knowing you have a good five hours before you have to load back into the trailer and head for home, and explore trail spurs along the way.

OK, certainly those aren't the ideal pointers, but that's what we had to work with and we had a fantastic day at Montana de Oro where Mr. B and I could never really be lost. The girls played along nicely and traveled well. Mattie performed wonderfullyl. We found a few sticky spots (she wasn't all that thrilled about stepping down over a thick root in a spot where she had to pass between a tall tree and a tall bank), but worked through them. V was onboard when Mattie decided to go UP the bank rather than simply walk past that "scary bank." Mr. B led Mattie across the first water hazard, which she preferred to jump. (HEAVEN forbid she should get her hooves wet.) She and I worked on that issue at a couple of other crossings, including a super challenging step from sticky mud, across a significant log into a running creek. I discovered she was just bluffing about that fear of water when she stopped mid-creek to graze.

While Mr. B and the girls began their return route, I took a short side canyon down to a fantastic stretch of beach before returning to the maze of trails in which we all spent a little extra time before calling it a day.

By the time we returned to the trailer, Mattie was a sweaty, muddy mess and we were all ready for naps. And I'm not sure any of us have fallen asleep so quickly at bedtime in recent history. I can hardly wait to do it again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Easter: Grandma, Eggs and Hunting

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 This year, thanks to my impeccable (ahem!) scheduling, E's birthday party shared the weekend with Easter. Thought it made for interesting travel for those coming from afar (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!), and those trying to take part in the myriad family friendly Easter-related events here on the coast, the unintended back-to-back special events also meant Grandma was here to help us decorate eggs.

Flo's output is great, but with one chicken laying one egg per day in a family of four, well, there just aren't many eggs left over for the decorating. So, we resorted to free-range white eggs (who knew?) found at a local market. The end result: fun, festive, tasty creations.

The girls found most of their morning goodies with little effort, despite the Easter Bunny's effort to increase the degree of difficulty. They still love following the bunny's tracks through the house on their initial hunt for the baskets, then searching out the plastic (and some real) eggs in the yard. Mr. Bunny's going to have to step up his cammo efforts next year if he wants to keep them on board! :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

What We Did On Our Spring Vacation - San Antonio Lake

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 What would we do without our friends? Oh, sure, we'd explore, but there's nothing like sharing adventures with friends and family. This spring break, we did exactly that thanks to an invitation by former neighbors and now long-time friends.

Spring break saw the girls and me packing the little trailer with all the water toys we could find in the garage - inflatable boats, inner tubes, body boards, water guns - you name it. Oh, and we packed pillows and blankets, sunscreen and more food than we could have eaten in that week. (Family tradition, it seems.) Then we hit the road for the relatively short jaunt north to San Antonio Lake.

Not to rub it in or anything (really!), but while our relatives and friends far afield suffered in the snow and torrential rains of an unusually stormy spring, we enjoyed largely sunny skies, warming lake temperatures (though not QUITE warm enough for an early morning, dive-in approach), and good company. The kids spent most of their daylight hours in or on the water, sharing water toys so willingly and freely it was just plain peaceful. This must be The Age - there was no bickering over toys, no "it's MY turn," no "gimme," no whining or fussing. They just played, and when one kid would get out of kayak, another would crawl in. They knocked each other off their inflatables, or towed each other. The parted ways, grouped and regrouped.

And the adults...had! We talked, we read, we stared in wonder at our growing children.

These are, indeed, the magical years.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Short Hikes with Great Friends

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 After E was born, my good friend and former roommate joined us regularly for hikes and other adventures throughout the Central Coast. In fact, she was with us for a fair amount of research on that first book, and has provided her editorial services on those projects (not to mention a healthy balance of shopping assistance, girls nights out, and critical sounding-board services). When V came along, the treks were tougher, but she took my older child's hand while I carried the baby. We still made it happen, albeit with less regularity.

My friend is beautiful, strong, intelligent and wonderful in every way I know, but she isn't me. That is to say, she's not nuts enough to strap a baby to her chest and continue hiking or climbing, to drive thousands of miles with small children in the car only to camp, night after night, in the rain. So when she had her first child, these regular romps came to an end. Instead, we met in safe spots, like our living rooms and play rooms, the parks.

So what a wonderful surprise it was, then, to receive an invitation to join her and her nearly-four-year-old daughter on a hike. How fantastic it was to watch the three girls tromp up the trail to Nojoqui Falls, certainly the shortest, easiest and, for kids, most rewarding hikes on the Central Coast. There's water involved, and rocks, and dirt. But best of all, there was great company.

Thank you, Dear Friend, for the invitation and your ongoing gift of friendship.

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