Thursday, September 17, 2009

Annika is 8 months old

Annika is now 8 months old! It is unreal how fast my baby has grown into an actual person with her own thoughts, opinions, and voice. She learned quickly that the most important word in her vocabulary would be da de. I am already wrapped tightly around her and she doesn't even have to say my name. Dad's are a little harder and so saying his name has won her the prize of having Daddy's full attention. (Talking runs in our family and you must be adept at it to belong.) She says da de all the time to get Cameron's attention.

Annika also loves music. Anytime Cameron whistles (not me because my whistles are not musical,) she dances to it. I would love to get video and will have to sometime but I am not able to put that on my blog... yes I blame the computer once again.

She is also on the move. Her army crawl is perfected and she can crawl where ever she wants. She is also capable of a couple of "steps" of regular crawling before she gives in and goes down to what is still faster. I put up the baby gate to celebrate her 8 month birthday.

She loves her sisters and watches them wishing she could get up and run and dance too. Ali danced with her the other day and she was laughing the whole time. She also has become interested in Sierra and crawls over to her and then pulls her ears or fur. Sierra isn't too intersted in Annika but knows better than to complain. We have taught Sierra to move out of the way because Annika is in charge.

Annika graduated from the infant car seat to the convertible car seat that is still facing backwards. She also had to graduate to sitting up in the shopping carts when shopping. At costco Annika got very tired and was falling asleep while sitting up. She kept laying over on Ashling. I laid her all the way down on Ashling and Ashling held her while she slept. (I know I should have took a picture but I didn't.)

The last thing that Annika has decided is that she loves to be home. She isn't too sure of the rest of the world and for sure wants to be in her own bed when sleeping. She does not sleep well anymore unless she is in her own crib. This month has been quite fussy and I think I have gotten less sleep than anytime since she was 3 weeks old. I hope that trend ends soon!

We love Annika and can't imagine life without her.

Post-edit: Last night she slept all night... and I loved it. I exercised today and everyone is much happier. Thanks Annika!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Girl's Day

Saturday I met Carrie and Natalie down by Disneyland. We went to Balboa pennisula in Newport beach for the afternoon. We enjoyed eating, talking, and body boarding and I enjoyed a little time away from the kids. We went back to the hotel in the evening and cleaned up. Then we went to Downtown Disney and had dinner. It was a fun day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TV shows or Movies?

I do not have tv or cable or anything like it. We do not go to the theater to see movies. Ever. I could explain the reasons but lets just leave it as I don't.

We do get netflix and that allows us to keep up with the real world in a limited way. So what I was wondering. Could you please comment and tell me your favorite tv shows, movies or kids movies? I need to add to my Netflix queue and I don't know what else to add. Thank you in advance....

Oh and I expect all of you who read this blog to comment. All of you. I need an idea from each one of you. If you don't comment I will hunt you down and make you wish you had commented.
I promise!

Please Please Please give me some ideas. I am dying here!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Devil's Post Pile Day 4 (Sunday)

Saturday night the sleep was bad enough that Cameron and I had enough. We decided that Annika will not be invited on any more family vacations until she is 10. Hopefully by then she will want to go on vacation enough to not be as attached to her bed. So we decided that we were going home.

After breakfast Cameron took the girls with him fishing and I worked on packing up camp. They fished by the bridge where Cameron caught his fish on Saturday. He caught some more fish and helped Ali to catch a fish too. I cleaned and packed up camp. When they came back we ate lunch and then loaded the car. We really need a bigger car to fit all our gear inside.

We then drove up to Agnew Meadows. I saw signs for the High trail and decided to add that to my list of backpacking trips I want to go on. I really wanted to just go hiking but all the trails out of Agnew Meadows were very steep. It was much colder at Agnew Meadows and would make a great middle of summer campground.

We then drove up the road and took more pictures of the Minarets. We love the look of those mountains. I would like to climb to the top of Mount Ridder which is on the right and is the blocky looking mountain. In Mammoth we went to an area of boiling hot springs that looks like Yellowstone. We could not get close enough to feel the heat so it isn't as cool as Yellowstone but I was more sure that I would lose one of my girls in hot water. I felt it was a good trade off.

We ate dinner in Bishop and then settled down for the long drive home at night. I kept falling asleep and waking up worried that Cameron would be tired too but like the wonderful husband he is he didn't complain at all. We made it home and Annika slept all night without waking in her crib. She was so happy to see it.

Devil's Post Pile Day 3 (Saturday)

Saturday took a long time to arrive. Annika still did not like sleeping when she was not in her own bed. Cameron spent most of the night in the car with her trying to not allow the neighbors to hear her when she woke up screaming. It also began much to early. We enjoyed muffins for breakfast and prepared for our day of hiking. We decided to hike to Minaret Falls from Soda Springs campground. We planned on hiking down to the Devil's Postpile Ranger Station and then taking the bus out. The hike seemed to be about 3 miles.

Right as we got out of the car there was a bridge that connected us with the Pacific Crest Trail. We hiked over the bridge. I stopped to take a picture since I like bridges. Cameron looked down and spotted a large fish in a pool. He told me, "I am going to catch that fish." I thought that it wasn't a bad idea so we all stopped and waited for him to catch the fish. We didn't have to wait long and the fish was caught.

I loved the hiking trail down to the falls. We were once again hiking alone and it was in tall stands of trees. We hiked past a beautiful meadow and mostly hiked the whole way in the shade. It seemed like an easy hike for all of us and I was glad I had the idea to hike down to the falls instead of up to them.

We arrived at the falls and once again started our time there by ourselves. The falls are very different. There is not nearly as much water flowing over the granite but they are very tall. I didn't get good pictures of the top but here are some of the bottom of the falls. We positioned ourselves on a large flat rock to eat our lunch. Ali spent most of her time trying to catch butterflies and she caught two in about 5 minutes. She kept them in her bug catcher. After lunch Cameron helped the kids climb the boulders to a large pool to wade in. Ali decided that she needed to get in all the way and got soak several times. She actually swam around in the pool. Ashling was more timid but Cameron helped her get her hair wet. Then she laid out like a lizard in the sun to dry off. Later when they came down I went up and took a dip in the pool. We didn't think Annika needed to climb the falls.

The hike down to the ranger station was hot and dry. It wasn't fun because once again it was full of people who were hiking up to the falls. I can't believe I was the only one who thought to take advantage of the busses and only hike down hill. It is more fun because you get to see more and the hike was much better only going down. (I guess it was the visit to the Alps where I was able to see how they hike that allowed me to understand how to use transportation to its best while hiking.)

We rested again in the afternoon. Annika in her crib playing, the girls quietly playing in the campground and Cameron and I snoozed in the tent. That evening we enjoyed showers to get cleaned up a little. I met some people who were hiking the John Muir Trail. I wished to put on my backpack and go along with them. I want to hike the whole John Muir Trail so badly... One day I will.

We enjoyed hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for dinner, the kids choice. Then we had smores with our camping neighbors for dessert. It was a very cold night. And once again very long. Annika spent most of the night in my sleeping bag... which is a mummy bag. There wasn't much room for the both of us but at least she kept me warm.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Devil's Post Pile Day 2 (Friday)

Let's just say that sleeping while camping is not on Annika's agenda. That first night there was the best. I think she woke up 3 or 4 times each time screaming at the top of her lungs. The first time she was cold and I felt bad because I didn't expect it would be that cold. The second time I don't know and once again the third time she was cold. She would not keep her arms inside the sleeping bag and so her little hands were freezing.

We woke up and Cameron made his famous put everything in a dutch oven meal. Potatoes, eggs, cheese, sausage and sometimes onions (not this time for the sake of the kids.) While he was getting breakfast I went to check out the showers. I took the most wonderful shower in warm water while it was still freezing outside and I loved every relaxing minute of it. The showers are for me that is for sure!

After breakfast we headed to Rainbow Falls for our hike of the day. It is about a 1.5 mile hike each way with an additional .5 mile hike to the lower falls. The kids are great about hiking now and they were excited about the hike. It was a warm day and we were in tee-shirts and shorts. The hike was down hill which is always a little worrisome for me. I worry about the hike up especially with the kids. But the way didn't seem too steep and I was sure we could easily hike it back up. The area had been burned by a fire long ago and the landscape was parched and lacking in any big trees.

We heard the falls before we arrived at them. It was a nice sound. We were ready for a break and the girls were hoping for a dip in the falls. We had a good view from several points along the edge and then we descended down the steps. I don't know how many steps there were (not as many as Thousand Step beach) and they were the steepest steps I have seen. But no one fell down them and we made it the water's edge. We were the first ones down there that morning or at least the only ones there when we arrived.

Ali kept begging to jump in but I did not like how the water looked around the falls and was afraid that one of my children might be swept away. I let them put their feet in but kept their clothes on for this falls. Then they threw rocks in the river. I read a little and Cameron fished. He caught 3 fish in just about a half hour. Then we decided that there were starting to be a lot of people and decided to go down to the other falls.

I was a little worried as we hiked to the lower falls because of all the clouds starting to pop up. I didn't want to be miles from the trail head with 3 little ones and no jackets. So I kept hurrying the girls. We arrived at the lower falls just in time for lunch. The girls ate quickly and then they changed into swim suits ready to swim. Only Ali braved the cold water and swam out to Cameron where she immediately clawed her way up out of the water. I didn't swim because I was nursing the baby. Ashling enjoyed putting her feet in. Right after they got out the sky was overcast and they got a little cold.

I made everyone hike out quickly because I didn't like the clouds. The hike up was a little annoying due to the many people on the popular trail. I was just a little annoyed. The girls hiked great and they only complained a little. Ashling thought her legs might fall off but rest assured-they didn't.

We drove back to our campsite and rested for a while in the afternoon. Annika played in her crib and the girls watched a movie while Cameron and I cat-napped a little. Then we woke up and got ready to go into Mammoth.

In Mammoth we enjoyed a Mexican dinner, walked around the shops and watched a band set up. The girls enjoyed dancing to their practice songs but we didn't want to stay late enough for the real show. We then stopped at the Minaret view point on our way home. I can't get enough of these beautiful mountains. I am imagining more backpacking trips up to their bases.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Devil's Post Pile Day 1 (Thursday)

The first time I set my eyes on Mammoth was at the beginning of our vacation to Yosemite when Ali was a baby. And I fell in love. I am not sure what makes me in love with it but I think it has something to do with the combinations of sage brush, tall pine trees, and green meadows with creeks running through them. It reminds me of home. I think I love the Mammoth area more than all other mountain areas put together. We have been there several times for vacation and still plan on going many more times. This time we decided to camp at Devil's Post Pile National Monument. We had thought about going there before but the pricey enterance fee always drove us to other cheaper destinations.

Devil's Post Pile is down a canyon from the Mammoth ski resort on the backside. It is accessible by driving over the pass near Mammoth and then down a steep, curvy, narrow road. Only those who camp are allowed to drive down the road... the rest take shuttle busses. As we drove over the top of the pass I knew we had chosen our trip wisely. This is what we saw.... I couldn't believe the beautiful scenery and remembered how much I loved the jagged peaks of the minarets. The drive down was beautiful. Each corner brought a new type of scenery. We saw huge granite boulder fields, piles of volcanic rock, meadows, tiny waterfalls, creeks, lakes and aspen trees.

I had read about the different campgrounds and knew that I wanted to camp in Red's Meadow. There is a hot springs there and they have piped the water down to showers that are a constant warm (the kids think too hot,) temperature. Camping is always nicer with showers. So we drove until we got almost to the end of the road where Red's Meadow campground is. We found our campsite complete with secret hiding spots, our own grassy area and a little creek with a foot bridge.

We spent the early afternoon setting up camp, watching the kids wash their crystal rocks (they picked them up on a break somewhere in the desert,) laying around taking cat naps and stretching from the long car ride. The camp was very quiet and peaceful.

After the tent was set up and our foot was stored in the bear box we headed out for our first outing. We decided to go see what Devil's Post Pile was. We didn't tell the kids where we were going or what we were planning to see. So each new thing was a surprise for them. As we were driving out of camp we saw a deer and her baby in the tree-covered meadow. The trailhead for Devil's Post Pile starts at the ranger station. No one can drive in the area except for those camping and it made the parking lot peaceful and quiet. The first thing you see is a meadow with the San Joquin River running through it. I was in heaven. I loved meadows with rivers running through them high in the Sierras. Ali thought the meadow must be the surprise but we said no. We headed down the .4 mile trail to see Devil's Post Pile. We figured if we did the easiest trail first and then worked up the kids would enjoy it more. I was also eager to do this trail on Thursday afternoon so that we wouldn't have to contend with nearly the amount of people.

The walk down the trail was easy and fun. Ashling loved to be the leader the whole way. Ali was content to follow and worked on her skills as a butterfly catcher. She has evolved from being a butterfly catcher with a net to a butterfly catcher who does not need a net. I think she caught two butteflies before we encouraged her to keep hiking. Cameron then held her hand and it was so cute I couldn't resist taking her picture.

Devil's Post Pile is a bunch of volcanic rocks that have made the most interesting forms. They look like a lumber yard of trees only they are stone. I guess you can google it if you want all the details of how they are formed. But to us it was just really cool to see. The kids pointed to it and we said that this is what we had come to see. Ali wanted to read all about it but when the scientific words had her stumbling she asked Cameron to finish. We decided to hike to the top to see the Post Pile looking down on it. All of the rocks are shaped in hexagons and when you hike to the top of the pile you can see this very clearly. The girls loved to hike on the rocks at the top but I remembered the cliffs and insisted that they sit down. I could just imagine Ashling falling off the edge when she tripped. After admiring natures pavement we finished our loop off and decided that we needed to explore that meadow a little more. We hiked back to the bridge that went over the river and then crossed it into the meadow. In the meadow there was a little soda springs. This is where the water bubbles out of the ground and then runs off into the river. I thought it was pretty cool to see the water bubbling out of the ground. We enjoyed the meadow and Cameron wished for his fishing pole. I was glad we had left it at home. Ali learned to skip rocks and Cameron skipped the flat stones clear across the river. Annika enjoyed sitting in the meadow and taking in the scenery with me. Ashling tried to skip rocks but just mostly threw them in the river. Then the girls decided that they needed to cool off their feet and waded into the river. They wanted to go out to the rocks but I realized the river was deeper than I thought and made them be content to play at the side. This is my favorite picture of the meadow. I would love to put my log cabin here and make my living being a farmers wife. Or maybe a mountain man's wife? When it was getting chilly and we felt hungry we left our peaceful meadow to return to camp. The tri tip steaks and baked beans were calling our name. I love this bridge and would love to take a thousand pictures of it but I need a better camera.