Monday, May 28, 2018

A Visit from Grandma and Celebrating 7 Years

Grandma Jamie came to stay and we tried to show her a good time, she in turn spoiled us all terribly and had a lovely visit. We met up with my cousin and played at Marina Del Rey:

Grandma took the boys to Build-a-Bear and each of them now have new best buddies:

Laszlo and his Sea Monkey named Georgie

Paul and his sparkly Elsa bear, dressed as Spider-man, named "Jackson Storm"

Just the cutest fox in the forest.

Paul was so looking forward to taking Grandma Jamie to Knott's Berry Farm (AKA his favorite place). I was really looking forward to it as well because I spent that morning at the DMV waiting in line for the most depressing ride: the Carousel of Human Misery.

As if that weren't enough fun for one week, we also went to the Aquarium of the Pacific. If you ever find yourself near Long Beach in need of something to do, you ought to check it out--but always with a coupon because full price is a bit much--especially if you have hands on kids. We got to touch Moon Jellyfish, Zebra Sharks, Sting Rays, Horseshoe Crabs, and Lorikeets. There was a very fun play area, Seal Lion training demonstrations, and interactive dive presentations.

Don't worry, these are not real penguins..

Paul wanted to hold his breath for the picture because he
was "swimming"

All either kid really wanted to do here was play on this boat.

Paul desperately wanted a Lorikeet to land on his arm, but those birds are smart enough to stay away from kids. We did get some nectar to feed them. For your enjoyment here is a video of my mother walking into the Lorikeet habitat with a little cup of nectar in her hands:

We were able to transfer some birds to me, but you'll notice again that none of them would land on Paul.

He was so patient and sweet, trying to coax the birds into landing on him.
I'm guessing none of you were keeping track, but last weekend we celebrated our 7th anniversary! So we've been married long enough to have to think about it for a couple seconds before answering the question "How long have you two been married?" But not long enough for anyone to be asking us for the secret of our success. (By the way the secret to our success is pizza).
We try to plan fun anniversary dates, but it doesn't always work out well. Last year was, "Happy Anniversary, honey" at Firestone while we got a mini van fitted with new tires. Imagine the romance of A) Owning a mini-van, B) Having to have spend money on said mini-van, and C) The horrible burned rubber smell of every Firestone ever.
This year we did a bit better, we planned a family camping trip up to Sequoia National Park. This is my new favorite place. It is difficult to describe without using tired old cliches, but I will try.

It is challenging, capturing the overwhelming size of these trees in a photo. However big you think they look, double it. A Sequoia is so massive, it has such a presence, almost like it is a person instead of a plant.

Sequoias are so monumentally huge. Over 300 feet tall, 2,000 years old, 8 ft or more in diameter. They are fire proof, bug proof, and fungus proof. They don't die until they are good and ready and their roots give out and then they just fall over.
Here we are inside a fallen Sequoia, one of the small ones.
The park is really diverse because of the elevation changes. The 4,000-7,000 ft range is the Giant Forest. There were also a few interesting things in the foothills, below the fog line:
Hospital Rock

There's the fog line, right there.

Tunnel Rock
Laszlo was a pretty good sport even though it was very chilly up there. Paul alternated between eager explorer and whiny stick-in-the-mud. I think we figured out that he likes climbing but hates hiking.

Hospital Rock

I hope some of these photos convey just how breath taking it is to see one of these giants emerge from the fog, like a leviathan, and how small it can make you feel. Ladies and gents meet General Sherman, the biggest tree in the world:

275 ft tall, 36 ft diameter, normal trees and kid for scale.

We climbed Moro Rock, a slab of granite about 6,700 ft above sea level. The reward of the 300 ft vertical climb of 350 steps is supposed to be a stunning vista. The fact that Paul wanted to do it and didn't complain about it was our reward, because we were literally hiking in a cloud. Here is the awesome view we got:

It's the stairway to heaven. Get it?

It was extremely eerie to see the path below us disappearing, and not really knowing how high up we were.

The famous Tunnel Log! We saw a car drive under it, so that is a thing. You can also climb on top of it.

This is what the roots look like once the tree has fallen, I thought the shape and texture of them was just mesmerizing.

The bark is even beautiful close up, everything about these trees is amazing!

Tree Hugger.

We found wildlife. It's Woody Woodpecker!
 This might be my favorite moment from this trip. The trail we were hiking went right along side this fallen giant, nearly as long as a football field, then we got to the base of the tree. If this doesn't wow you I don't know what will.

And with that we packed up our tent and headed home, Paul begging us to never take him to a National Park again. Well, the joke is on him because we have a National Parks pass and already have a few more trips planned for this year. We'll turn him into a hiker yet!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Good-Bye Sahuarita, Hello South Beach

It is time for my quarterly blog post, it has been a wild and busy time for us with a lot of changes. January was performing Boeing Boeing! with the Santa Cruz Shoestring Players:

And redoing the floors in our house. Grandma Karen and Grandpa Dave came to help and play with us:

We went to the zoo several times, getting good use out of our membership before our move, and a few times just us and few times with friends.

We did a couple trips, one to house hunt in California where we stayed with family so our boys got to play with their cousins:

Another to St. George to give Lee a chance to pack and get our house ready for listing without our human tornadoes around. We went to Snow Canyon, the St. George Temple, and played with cousins:

We tried to get together with friends and say some good-byes. Finally, we packed up (with a lot of help) and headed out to start a new chapter in the Phillips family adventure. We had some obstacles to settling in initially (imagine soggy laundry all over the house, waiting for a functional washer to be delivered) but after moving past that things got easier.
We spent Easter with our cousins, it is really nice to be able to see family more than once a year. A mere 1-2 hour drive (traffic, amirite?) is such an improvement:

And, yes, if you were wondering, Laszlo is putting a fully wrapped candy in his mouth. These guys had a blast doing their egg hunt and dying and decorating eggs.

We figured as long as we are in SoCal, paying through the nose for the "privilege" of being so close to so many things, we should take advantage of it. Last week we took the kids to Knott's Berry Farm. We have season passes, so please come visit and bring your appetite for thrill rides, Snoopy, and Boysenberries.

The Doctor is "in" but not particularly qualified.
Maybe next quarter we will have more adventures to share. Adventures like "We had to make an appointment 4 weeks in advance to go to the DMV," or "Claire figured out how to get to Costco without google maps," or "How to cook in a tiny kitchen, spoiler alert: it sucks."