Thursday, April 26, 2012

Finances, Immunizations and Autism

Back in college, I worked as an intern for a Senator on Capitol Hill for a summer. There was a lot of copying and reading long boring briefs involved. But I learned a lot. One of the things I learned was that just about every day, week and month of the year has been proclaimed something like Seat Belt Safety Month or Recycling Awareness Week or National Ball Point Pens Day (some proclaimed special occasions seemed a little more important than others...).

Anyway, there are three things for this month that I think are really worthy things to be more aware of so I'll share them here:

April is Financial Literacy Month.

We work really hard with our kids to help them learn the beauty of hard work and the value of money. Until the end of this weekend, Power of Moms is offering a free one-hour online training by me and April that offers lots of tried-and-true ideas for teaching kids about work and money.

Free Online Training: Teaching Kids About Work and Money
(feel free to pass this link along)

This week is World Immunization Week.


When we were first married, Jared and I spent some time in a tiny village in Kenya. They held school under a tree outside for a couple weeks so that Jared and I and the other volunteers could sleep in the mud and thatch school house. We helped them build a new room on the school, helped build a water cistern, taught English and Jared taught the older kids some math, and assisted the doctor and dentist in our group with the make-shift medical clinic set up during our stay. Moms walked for hours at the crack of dawn and lined up with their sick children outside the school building in hopes that they would get a chance to see the doctor or dentist. The line was very long and some moms had to camp out and try again the next day. The doctor trained us to help with the things that were fairly simple. We cleaned and dressed infected wounds. We gave out vitamins to malnourished kids. And we saw so many children suffering from so many diseases that could have been prevented by a simple shot of vaccine.

Did you know that for $20, a child can be vaccinated for life against 4 deadly diseases? Don't we all have a way we could spend less on treats or entertainment for a week or two and save $20 that we could put towards saving a child's life? Check out the information and think about donating a bit if you can. We can't help with all the sadness and suffering in the world. But we can prevent a needy child or two from getting the deadly diseases our own children will never get.

Learn about the United Nation's Shot at Life Campaign and donate here.
(feel free to pass this link along)

April is Autism Awareness Month. 

I have an aunt whose just recently been diagnosed - sort of - she has either Aspergers or Autism - it hasn't been confirmed which. Growing up, everything just thought she was strange. She's had a hard life in a whole lot of ways. I sure wish there had been more awareness of Aspergers and Autism when she was growing up! I have so many friends with children who are on the Austism spectrum and I'm always learning more. I think it's important for everyone to understand at least a bit about Austism. Check out this article on Power of Moms for some great perspective:

http://powerofmoms.com/2012/04/autism-awareness-are-we-speaking-the-same-language/
(feel free to pass this link along)

So there's a little food for thought today!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Simple Weekend Pleasures


The weather has been gorgeous. Tulips, daffodils and blossoms are everywhere and the sun has felt so good. People are on their front porches until late at night. And neighborhood friendships have been rekindled in full force as the sun has drawn us all outside.

We had a great weekend. Simple, nice, productive.

We started off helping put in the new garden at the kids's school:


It was great seeing so many kids and adults who didn't really know each other previously work hard together. There's nothing like shared work for building friendships. And I love that some parents at the school got a grant and made this whole garden plan happen despite all odds. I love it when people have a dream and keep their focus and work hard and make things happen.

Yep, Oliver needs a haircut. But he's taking after Ashton and really fighting us on it!


Saturday we worked on a bunch of projects on the house and yard alongside our great neighbors. Jared rebuilt a rotted section of our front porch. I planted new flowers in the back that make me feel so accomplished and happy. We did lots of weeding and started prepping a garden area. There was a good mix of some work and lots of play for the kids all day and we ended the day with a tasty barbeque with our next door neighbors. Perfect day. Everyone went to bed happy and tired from the sun and the work and the play.

Isaac and our very cute 4-year-old neighbor are best friends. Isaac likes to carry him around while he rides his rip stick. Great exercise!
We had our first sprinkler party of the season - it was so hot and the kids had so much fun!

Ashton and a friend prepared and put on a fairly elaborate magic show for all the kids.

Then on Monday, we had a great time with our neighbors, the Ballards. The kids had the time of their lives jumping on the trampoline while spraying each other with the hose.


After the fun in the sun and water, we enjoyed a great dinner of combined left-overs and our two families joined forces to do the "trash-a-thon" fundraiser their school has going on. I'm loving this fundraiser idea. The kids went door-to-door on our block asking for donations and then spent about an hour picking up trash around the neighborhood. It was like a treasure hunt! And it offered a great object lesson in why littering isn't a good thing. The kids were very proud of the 18 grocery bags of trash they collected plus the money they collected for their school. I think this is SO much better than having kids sell over-priced stuff no one really wants!
  

You know, I think our kids will remember things like playing in the sprinklers and picking up trash around the neighborhood and planting a garden and enjoying our first barbeque of the season as much or more as they'll remember and cherish the memories of vacations and expensive outings. I think they'll cherish the time they've had to play with siblings and neighbors and wander over the library to explore books as much or more as they'll cherish the extracurricular activities they've been part of. We just cut way back on structred extracurricular activities and it's feeling great. I think the simple stuff is the stuff of which a great childhood is made. 

In our house, TV and electronics are only available on rare occasions - Friday night movie night and Saturday morning cartoons are traditions plus we look things up on the internet together and we just don't have many options around - just my laptop, Jared's laptop and a Kindle Fire.... Consequently, the kids spend a lot of time reading and imagining and playing together. They make up plays all the time. They build cool things with legos and K'nex. And they spend tons of time outside on bikes and scooters and shooting hoops as well as working on various projects and acting out various scenarios in the backyard. This past winter and spring, we've had at least a couple days a week when it's been nice enough weather to play outside and outside play has ramped up considerably in the past couple weeks. The kids have worked with neighbors and friends and on their own to built all kinds of forts in the backyard. They've built swings in the tree out there. They've fought off invisible enemies with sticks. And one of their favorite things was this obstacle course they created using all the great raw building materials in our yard (that might look like junk that needs to be thrown out to some people...). They had a balance beam, a stick fort to crawl through, a little plastic slide to slide down, an series of sticks stuck in the ground around which they needed to kick a soccer ball...: 



Yep, we need to rebuild that fence that fell down in a windstorm a while back (working with insurance on that - and as you can see the part that didn't blow down needs to be replaced pretty desperately as well). Yep, the grass in the backyard is a mess (but it's better than the dirt that was there when we moved in!). Yep, the backyard has a bunch of old boards and sticks and rocks and other random stuff in it. And yep, our backyard doesn't boast much conventional backyard beauty. But you know what, in our kids' eyes it's a mecca of exploration, adventure and creation.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!


Today my amazing mom turns 65. I hope I can be half the woman she is by the time I'm 65.

My sisters Shawni and Saydi are with her in England today (Shawni and my mom are there to attend a conference about the syndrome Shawni's little girl has and Saydi lives outside London). They've got 65 envelopes for my mom, each containing a memory from someone who loves my mom. She'll be opening the envelopes one at a time throughout the day. I wish I could be there with her in person but I'm so glad she's with people she loves and along with opening envelopes today, she'll be visiting a place in England where her ancestors are from. One of her passions is learning and sharing the stories of our ancestors so this'll be a perfect way for her to spend her birthday!

Mom grew up on a little farm in Idaho, driving the farm truck from the time she was 8 and practicing piano and violin 2 hours a day. In high school, she won the "Miss Bear Lake" title and headed off to college at Utah State determined buck the trend and see the world and do exciting and fabulous things before she'd marry and have children. But then she met my dad who convinced her that they could achieve their dreams together - with a bunch of kids in tow.

Me and mom

Mom with me and Shawni enjoying the cherry blossoms in Virginia where we lived


one of many road trips - me in the back seat, Josh, Mom and Shawni
When they were in their late twenties, my mom and dad were asked to lead the England London South mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and oversee the 200 missionaries there. I'm sure this seemed pretty daunting - my dad's fledgling company would surely fold without his presence, they had 4 young children, the oldest of whom was a 5-year-old - me, and they'd never left the United States before. But they packed up and headed out and it proved to be a marvelous experience for everyone. My mom had two more babies (one of them - Jonah - very premature - scary stuff) during their 3-year tenure in England. And somehow she helped all those missionaries and all those babies feel completely loved and cared for.

Here we are in England - Mom is pregnant with #6


At the hospital meeting baby #6, Talmadge

Mom made us these matching British flag pj's for Christmas.
I love that Mom's in her purple quilted  bathrobe here -
I remember her wearing that every morning for years and years!
After our time in England, my mom and dad kept traveling and we moved every couple years. They loved meeting new people and wanted to raise us as "citizens of the world." Plus they started writing parenting books - and as authors, they could live and work just about anywhere. They didn't have any background in child development or family sciences - my mom's trained as a musician and my dad had a career as a political consultant. But they had a lot of tried-and-true ideas and knew how to explain them in a way that really resonated. They started a program called Joy School that exploded into 1000's of parent-run co-op preschools around the United States and across the world. They started giving speeches all over the place. And they kept having kids until there were nine of us and nine just felt right.
book tour photo in the 80's

Here we are traipsing around Mexico - we lived there for a summer to learn Spanish and experience a different culture. My mom had her "learn Spanish" book with her all the time and worked so hard on it. The rest of us, not so much. I love how mom is always seeking to learn something new.


Here we are in Oregon - spent a summer there building this log cabin - my dad's dream. My mom made camping all summer with 8 kids work somehow - she came up with amazing campfire dinners and somehow kept us all happy and fed and safe while we lived in tents and built this basic cabin and came to appreciate our pioneer ancestors immensely. Mom definitely has the grit of a pioneer woman.



Here we are with mom the day she and dad brought Charity - #9 - home from the hospital. We were all over the moon about our new little sister - especially after 4 little brothers in a row! Mom taught us to adore babies. She was always so in love with her newborns and made us all so excited to be parents some day.
Through all the busyness and book tours and travels, we all knew that being a mom was by far the most important thing to my mom. She somehow found time to create beautiful memories with all of us. She shared her passion for nature and literature and art and music and travel with us. Through her example and her "buck up" attitude, she taught us to work hard and be tough. She taught us to embrace adventure. She taught us to notice those in need and reach out to them. She taught us to be interested in everything and everyone. She taught us to always be kind. She taught us to embody our family motto: "Broaden and Contribute."
Here's Mom with me and Saydi making dinner - good thing we had photographers pop
in sometimes or I doubt we'd have any photos of this sort of every-day stuff.
(and good thing I've got a photo of my awesome hair...)
Mom pushing Noah on the swing 


mom and Josh
mom with newborn Noah? Eli? Oh, how Mom loves little babies!
This is a staged story time for a magazine photo shoot - nope, we didn't read as a group like this.But reading was really important in our home. And we did read scriptures together early every morning in the living room - half-asleep, curled up in our blankets on the couch.

Here's another staged photo. My mom did have us all learn instruments - music was so important to her. And the older kids did get up each morning and play string quartet pieces together with my mom and dad. But we didn't all play together like this. And Jonah doesn't play the mandolyn (he played the drums but I guess they were too hard to bring up from the basement). Tal doesn't play the guitar and I don't think Eli or Noah played the violin - I guess too many people on the piano wouldn't work for the photo. But the rest of us are playing what we really did learn to play! You can see my parents' musical instrument collection on the wall - they gathered a new instrument as part of all their travels. Many of us didn't love playing instruments and Mom was wise in not pushing certain people too far. But we all gained a great appreciation for music. And we won "Western musical family of the year" or something like that one year. I'm not sure if it's an award anyone else had ever heard of but my mom was pretty happy to get that plaque and feel that at least a piece of her dream of a family orchestra had come true!

Mom teaching Saydi to play the piano (with Eli's help)

Yep, another magazine photo but this is something we really did every day and I'm so glad it was captured - we had breakfast together every morning and had a serious family dinner together every evening.

But this is what my mom was doing during most dinners - I don't remember her sitting much:

When I was a missionary in Bulgaria, my parents' newest book, Teaching Children Values reached #1 on the NYTimes Bestseller list (being on Oprah with the whole family helped...) and their writing and speaking was elevated to a whole new level.

Here are everyone's intros on Oprah. Shawni, Josh and I were in Romania, England and Bulgaria on missions so we weren't there. Sorry I don't have the whole segment but these intros are pretty funny!

Since that NYTimes Bestseller boost, Mom and Dad have written a lot more books and travelled the world and speak in just about every industrialized nation plus do quite a bit of work in the 3rd world. But most importantly, my mom has been an amazing mother to her nine children and anyone else who crosses her path and seems to need a little mothering.

Here's my mom on a humanitarian service expedition to Bolivia that we went on as a family - Mom somehow made great friends despite the language barrier.
 
Mom is still playing regularly with the string quartet she got together with when I was a baby.
I love that! She's such a good example of keeping friendships and passions alive.
image
Here's mom at a recent speech in Poland. They're always somewhere exciting giving a speech.
Check out mom's blog - eyrealm.blogspot.com for TONS of photos of their travels.
They're helping SO many families through their books and speeches and they just keep going and going!






Mom's the best grandma ever. She does "Grammie Camp" every summer with the kids and 
teaches them all about their ancestors while showing them the time of their little lives.

My mom is probably the most kind and hardworking woman alive. She plows right into any task and never seems to get tired. She can talk to anyone about anything with genuine interest and concern. She's smart as a whip and kind as a saint. And yep, she's gotten more mad about things that she should have sometimes and she hasn't always handled things right. But she's great at apologizing and learning and moving on. And I especially love her for that.

Anyway, I thought I'd finish by sharing some of my favorite memories with my mom here as well as some of my favorite photos. I'm SO amazingly blessed to have such a mother!

A FEW SPECIFIC MEMORIES WITH MOM
When I was about 4 (we were in Virginia), I yearned for pig tails or braids but my hair was so darn short and just didn't grow. I was always begging mom to do my hair in various ways that I saw on other little girls and that I thought would work for my hair that seemed like it was getting plenty long. Mom kept explaining that my hair just wasn't long enough. But one day when I asked, she dropped everything and did my hair in two miniscule braids. I was over the moon about it. I'm sure it looked ridiculous but I was so so so so happy.
wish I had a photo of the braids - but you can see here how little hair Mom had to work with!
When I turned 5, my mom made me the most amazing Winnie the Pooh cake. I wish I had a photo of it - but maybe it's good I don't. I don't think it could possibly look as beautiful in a photo as it does in my memories.
this is my 5th birthday party - no Pooh cake in site - but I love the way my mom is looking at me


For every birthday, Mom made us a great cake in the shape of something and that meant so much to us. This photo shows the "little girl" cake I requested for my 6th birthday party right after we moved to London.

Here's a close-up of the cake - work of art, huh?

When I was six, I was shopping with my mom for a new coat and found one that I absolutely fell in love with - gray/blue velvet with fake fur trim - the most beautiful coat I'd ever seen. But it was wasn't exactly cheap and my mom was all about shopping on the sales racks and making due with whatever was a good price. I was thrilled when she agreed to buy me that coat. It was my most cherished piece of clothing for years. And then one day it disappeared from the school cloakroom. That was a sad sad day for me. Here's the coat (and Saydi and Shawni):


On the same note, years later, when I was going to my first formal dance in high school, I showed my mom this dress I thought would be absolutely perfect. I was sheepish about even showing it to her because it was really expensive - and while I'd saved up quite a bit of money (we bought all our own clothes after earning money in our family economy system), I knew I couldn't buy it without some considerable help from my mom. Much to my surprise and delight, my mom said she'd be happy to buy it for me and I didn't even have to use any of my own money. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world and had so much confidence wearing that dress!

When I didn't have any friends my freshman year of high school, Mom would come pick me up at lunch when she could squeeze it in. I loved those days when I got to hang out with Mom rather than wandering the halls and trying not to look lonely and friendless at lunch. I realize now how hard it must have been for her to fit in those lunch visits when she still had preschoolers to take care of as well as SO many other things on her plate! To help me make friends, she arranged for me to be in a violin sextet that performed all over. She had to take me to rehearsals at 5:45am at my violin teacher's house and drive me to performances. But I made great friends. I also made great friends when she totally supported me in being in a play that involved rehearsals every day and she had to drive me to most of those.

My first year at Wellesley College, Mom sent me a lovely postcard with an art print on it EVERY SINGLE DAY. She'd fill up the backs of those postcards with great bits of news about everything going on at home. She'd often start by telling me where she was as she wrote the post card - often the line at the grocery store or the post office, often waiting to pick up a carpool. My roommates and friends were amazed (and jealous) at the postcards I received every day. And those cards were a beautiful lifeline to home during that first hard year away. Plus it was great to have those beautiful postcards - I decorated the back of my dorm room door with postcards of my favorite art prints. I love how mom's postcards helped me feel a bond to her and to everyone at home while strengthening the bond we share through our mutual love of art.

When we moved to Ogden last year, mom carved out time to be here with me to help unpack and help with kids and get us pizza and make a hard and crazy move as great as she could make it. Having her help and having her offers of help even when we didn't end up needing it meant so much to me!

Mom has been the #1 supporter of Power of Moms. She immediately jumped at the idea of doing Retreats back when the twins were babies and did so much to make those first Retreats possible. She's hosted and been a keynote speaker at 3 Retreats at her house in Park City and is doing another one next month. She's always willing to do absolutely anything I ask and has great ideas. Plus pretty much all the best stuff I can offer other moms through Power of Moms is directly thanks to her example and writing and ideas! Here's Mom, me, Shawni, Saydi and Charity at the Retreat at my parents' house last year:


Thanks for everything, mom. Happy birthday!


Look what you've created:


And my brother Eli summed up a lot of great stuff about Mom that I couldn't squeeze in here, so I'll just end with his words:


Mom,
You rule the earth! 
The world's best mom
The world's best charades player
The world's best story teller (don't you wish you had a camera, singing toilet) 
The world's best cook
The world's best conversationalist 
The world's most understanding person
The world's most tolerant person
The world's most loving person
The world's best short phrase person (to die for, fab, she she) 
The world's best caregiver 
The world's best traveler (she can travel for weeks out of that little red roller bag)
The world's best friend 
The world's best encourager 
The world's best believer in others/me 
The world's best weeder 
The world's best throw anything together an make an amazing meal person 
The world's greatest mom! 

Love you mom! Hope you had a great 39th!!!
Eli 

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Future of Krawnchie Boo

I'll post the rest of my great photos from spring break soon. I really will. I know you're holding your breath and all. It's been a crazy few days with unpacking and laundry and catching up on like 1000 Power of Moms details and exciting new opportunities - my rear end and back are killing me from all the time I've spent sitting at this computer. But the main thing on my mind is our beautiful and empty St George house.

The search for new occupants for Krawnchie Boo (the name the kids gave our beloved house in St George) continues and it's so heavy on my mind. We've got some rental prospects but selling would just be so much cleaner and nicer! I know it's a hard time for the housing market and there are a lot of houses and not a whole lot of people looking at them right now. But come on! Our house is by far the best price per square foot in the area, the views are unrivaled, the design and materials involve tons of quality, thought, and uniqueness, and we were able to build it for a great deal thanks to my brother who's a builder and got us good prices on everything - which means we can sell it at a really excellent price.


We need to get it sold or seal the deal on some great renters so we can stop worrying about it all the time. And it would do our hearts good to see another family enjoying all that it has to offer - amazing trails outside the back door, gorgeous community swimming pool, great theater room, you name it...

Know anyone who wants a great house in St George? I know this is pretty unrelated to the sorts of things I usually post about but I really need a little help here. We're negotiable on price and we're open to renting or selling. We just want to get good old Krawnchie in the right hands NOW. Here's a whole blog about the house with lots of photos. Pass it along to anyone who might be interested!
http://snowcanyonhome.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break in the Bay Area - Part 1





The Bay Area is where life really started for our family. We accepted a job there for Jared as he finished MIT, bought our first little house in San Jose and all five kids were born at the hospital right down the road from that house. We made wonderful friends and got really involved in our community there in many ways. A piece of our hearts will always be in the Bay Area and we want our kids to know their birthplace well. Plus Jared and I each have a sister in the Bay Area. So we like to get back there every chance we get.

When the opportunity arose to do a Retreat in Palo Alto, we figured we might as well combine a fun spring break trip with a Retreat trip. So we've spent the past week with our sisters and friends, exploring all our old favorite places, and presenting a Retreat.

We really had a great week despite some less-than-ideal weather and more worries and stress than was really necessary. It rained - a lot - and we had to switch up some plans based on weather. I think we found pretty much every free and worthwhile museum in the Bay Area - and looking back, it really turned out great.

I know realize it wasn't the best idea to combine a family trip with a Retreat because I've felt torn between what needed to be done to prepare for the Retreat at the end of the week and what needed to be done to really enjoy family time. Plus the timing turned out to be a bit hard with all the things we've needed to do on the website (thanks to the exciting fact that we've had over 1 million hits in the past few days thanks to a wonderful article by April that I wrote about in my last post). There were a lot of things I needed to do but couldn't do very conveniently on the road or while trying to enjoy time with the kids.

Still, it's worked out really great and there have been lots of great bonding experiences and memories created despite some of the hard stuff. I need to be better at remembering during times of stress that things always work out pretty darn well in the end. I need to learn to have more faith and squash worries away more effectively when there's not much I can do about them anyway...

Anyway, here's the overview of the first part of the trip in words and photos (the kids have helped me remember everything we did and I've typed in our memories while we've been driving for hours and hours across the nothingness of Nevada to get back home...).

Saturday - We explored Big Sur with Charity – never been there before and it's GORGEOUS! Craggy coast, green water, water fall, redwoods, hiked up waterfalls clinging to the huge roots of redwood trees, walked across a high log bridge, explored hollow trees, waded through a freezing river to cross fields of gorgeous wild flowers and play on the freezing beach where we had an Easter egg hunt, found a ½ alive starfish and lots of cool sea shells, Isaac and Jared jumped in the freezing cold ocean, enjoyed amazing scenery on the long windy drive, had a picnic dinner of crusty bread and cheese perched on a cliff watching the sunset. Had a crazy slumber party with all 8 of us packed into Charity's room at the house she shares with 5 other girls. Not a lot of sleep but every so often, you need a good old fashioned slumber party!

Here's a sampling of our Big Sur photos - such a beautiful, fun day.


such a beautiful spot - amazing blue water, gorgeous waterfall


 
right across the street from the beautiful cliffs of the beach, there's a gorgeous redwood grove

we hiked up this waterfall using the roots of redwood trees - it turned out to be quite the hike!
I LOVE redwoods - how they grow in groves, using each other's roots, how the new ones grow
from the old ones, how the ground is spongy underfoot with 100's of years of old redwood needles...
We had great adventures wading through a freezing river and walking through
fields of wildflowers to get to a secluded beach
It was cold. but they didn't seem to mind much!

The 1/2 alive starfish was a great find - plus we did an Easter egg hunt on the beach


Charity, Liza and I snuggled on the sand

Jared and Isaac braved the freezing water
  
On the way home we found this lovely spot to watch the sun go down
while enjoying a picnic of crusty bread and cheese
(our favorite thing on trips is to stop at Trader Joes and grab a loaf of bread,
some sliced cheese, some grapes and some baby carrots and have cheap tasty picnics)





Saturday was pretty much a perfect day.
Here's a little glimpse of our slumber party in Charity's room -
fun to see these boy who tend to fight a fair amount snuggled together in their sleep!
*** For more great photos of our time with Charity at Big Sur and on Easter, visit Charity's blog HERE.

Sunday - Easter – had a special breakfast with Charity (scrambled eggs with ham and asperagus and banana coconut muffins), went to Charity's ward in Palo Alto and enjoyed the beautiful Easter program with Charity playing the flute, fun to share the super-quiet sacrament and the super-loud and lovely congregational singing of a single's ward with the kids, remembered the days when Jared and I were in singles wards, tried to pick out some good dating prospects for Charity, took Easter pictures at the church. After church, we made lunch at Charity's house, went up in the foothills for a picnic and a special Easter egg hunt for our Easter eggs with the symbols of Easter in them. Ashton led us in reading the scriptures and talking about the symbols in each of the Easter eggs. Then we stood on top of a hill looking out at the vista and belted out “He is Risen.” Then we headed to Oakland for a delicious Easter dinner with Kathryn and MJ. Kathryn and MJ's gorgeous old house has so many great memories for us - we spent so many holidays there with them and their kids while living in the Bay Area. It was so great to stay with them for a few days - last chance since they decided to down-size and just sold the house. They're busily house-hunting for a new home. We so appreciated their hospitality during this time of transition for them!



after church at Charity's ward

Easter egg hunt in the Palo Alto foothills - eggs with scripture references and symbols of Easter in each

hunting for eggs

Easter dinner at Kathryn and MJ's house (not sure why I didn't get a photo of the adult table...)

Monday – San Francisco – walked across the Golden Gate bridge, enjoyed amazing views, saw Alcatraz and watched the boats and some dolphins, marveled at the engineering and aesthetics of the bridge, went under the bridge to see the structure. Then we found a huge cool tree to climb, had a picnic at the Palace of Fine Arts, watched the sea lions at Pier 39 and found some great t-shirts there, climbed up and down steep streets for great vistas and thrills, and wrapped up the day by walking up and down Lombard street.


It's the 75th anniversary of this amazing structure this year. I love the aesthetics. Jared loves the engineering.

The kids fell totally in love with this tree by the Palace of Fine Arts - one hour of climbing

You just can't beat the Palace of Fine Arts as a picnic spot

Like Ashton's pose? They said they really wanted to do their own special pose for a silly photo.

Lombard Street from the bottom

Lombard Street from the top
There are so many amazing vistas in San Francisco!
The sea lions at Pier 39 never cease to amuse. The kids kept trying to guess what they were thinking
as they flopped on top of each other and fought for the best spots on the docks.

I'll get part two up tomorrow!



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