Friday, November 12, 2010

august at a glance

August seemed to slow down a bit for us, allowing some much needed hang out time at home in Livermore and recouping from big trips and local travels. Here was our August at a glance.

Enjoying some Cheerios after church.

Practicing some tunes on his 25 cent garage sale purchase.

It was a hard day and we needed a treat. Mama with her Diet Vanilla Coke from the DQ where they know her order before she speaks:) and Grant with his totally California all fruit smoothie.

The perfect hiding place from the vacuum.

Our little Illini.

After running, this is Grant's preferred method of travel.

FINALLY.... our son enjoys books!

His favorite perch. A perfect view of the garbage truck, the front yard birds, the neighbor boys skateboarding, and more importantly his daddy returning home from work!

Look Mama!! I fit!!

yosemite... a family adventure

I know, I know.... it's been FOREVER!!!! I knew when I started this blog that inevitably I would fall behind. I had no idea it would happen so fast! So, please accept my apologies and stay tuned over the next few weeks as I have A LOT of ground to make up:)

And now, let's travel back in time to July 2010...... to a Langstaff family adventure; Grant's first visit to Yosemite!

As most of you know, George would have us living in a tent if I allowed it:) So, you can imagine how excited he was to get Grant out in nature, ensuring that he too would a lover of all things outdoors.

I must admit, there were several things that made me anxious about this trip.

1st- How on earth will we be able to carry all of the necessary gear for a back country camping trip with a toddler?! Our packs were pretty heavy when it was just the two of us, let alone now that we had to include diapers, wipes, toddler friendly bites, along with Grant's sleeping companions monkey bear blanket and musical sea horse. Not to mention we'd be substituting my regular pack for a kid-carrier one which already means less room than normal. And to top it off, we had to carry a weekend's worth of whole milk for the Grant man. Liquid is soooo heavy!!... which is why we always just pump fresh water from running streams while on these outtings.

Solution: downsize your own necessities just a bit, have a husband who can be the work horse and carry ridiculous amounts of increased gear, oh- and don't go it alone!! Our best tip for traveling families is to bring along a couple of friends... preferably who don't have kids of their own yet so you can enlist their help!! haha:) so funny, but I am so serious!

2nd- I'm never going to be able to keep Grant clean!! I love nature, but the truth is, the further you trek = the dirtier you get. With dirt as you're only ground covering, you can bet Grant was a mess from the moment we left the car; and he LOVED it!!

Solution: RELAX and embrace it... and have plenty of wet wipes! It also doesn't hurt to have a kid who loves water and has absolutely no fear of quite literally ice water. We were surrounded by rushing streams, water falls, and wading areas everywhere we went which provided glorious photos and frequent bathing opportunities. I had to dig deep just to dip my feet and hands in the water, but for his own safety, Grant had to be restrained! Sound like anyone you know?! :)

3rd- Everywhere we turn some sort of danger seems to lurk for a curious toddler. Here are just a few that came to mind (we cook our meals on an open flame gas stove, large boulders abound presenting tripping hazards to a kid who's been walking for just under 1 month, small critters are cute but bears are not- especially when they are ravaging your campsite at night, need I list more?!)

Solution: again, RELAX and embrace it... oh, and constant vigilance! We quickly found that food, stick fights, and rock throwing was often able to distract Grant from most dangers. It doesn't hurt to have those extra no-kids-of-their-own-yet hands so we could trade off. Concerning the bear, just hope your kid sleeps as well as ours. He had no idea the bear was running through camp stealing neighboring campers' backpacks!! Kim and I on the other hand were acutely aware of this fact:)

Though it was a lot of work to prepare for this excursion, everything was well worth it and helped lead to a weekend adventure we hope to recreate for many years to come. Breathtaking surroundings, excellent travel companions, and a curious toddler who seemed to find wonder in everything he saw; just another weekend in Yosemite!!

Here are just a few pics from our 3 day journey through Tuolumne Meadows (8600 ft) to Glen Aulin (7900 ft). ~6 miles one-way. For the full web album click here


DAY 1 (Fri.): arrival, set up campsite, night before heading in to back country

Less than 10 minutes from arrival and Grant is already coating on the dirt and preparing to tackle his first log climb.

Even the littlest of hands want to pitch in and help set up camp.

We attempted to nap with him, but he thought that was play time so we got kicked out. Proof that if you're tired you can sleep almost anywhere!

After a snack by the stream and wading with Daddy.

Relaxing after a long day in the outdoors.

DAY 2 (Sat.): break down campsite, load up gear, hike 6 hours to destination

Our fearless travel companions Matt & Kim.

Checking out the pack horses we passed on the trail. There were 2 different sets of horses we passed that bring supplies to and from a site camp each day.

Grant passed out after a hard day of being carried:)

Like father like son. Notice no mama in this pic... the water was FREEZING!

Grant and Mommy playing in the tent while George prepped dinner.

DAY 3 (Sun.): break down camp one more time and hike back out

Seriously, this kid was at home in this tent and actually slept 15 hours!! I'm sure being completely exhausted from sensory overload and being super cozied up doesn't hurt:)

The sweet waterfall by our campsite which George and Matt swam under. Grant was less than thrilled when I wouldn't allow him to go along:) If you look closely you can spot Matt & Kim at the top of the rocks on the left.

We all climbed to the top of the rocks on the side of the waterfall. I'm sure we got more than a few "bad parent" looks as we passed Grant from person to person as we ascended!

Grant man's view pretty much the entire time. Not bad!

Grant's Island: We stopped by a shallow section of a stream for lunch on the way out. Yet again, Grant can't resist. I couldn't resist the opportunity to bathe him:)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

isle of palms vacation

Wow- it's been forever since I've posted anything. That does not mean, however, that nothing has been going on around here:) We've been quite busy!!

Perhaps the best part of summer was our much anticipated Langstaff family vacation to a beach house at Isle of Palms, SC. All of George's family gets together every 10 years to help celebrate the grandparent's wedding anniversary. This year we celebrated the 60 year love of Grandma and Grandaddy Langstaff, which happened to also be the same day as Grant's birthday! So, we had a lot to be excited about and to share together with all of the aunts, uncles, and many many cousins.

Our getaway villa: 11 bedrooms, 9 baths, pool & jacuzzi, pool table & game room, rooftop sun deck, putting green, enormous kitchen, and only a 2 minute walk from the beach. We even had our own bedroom and bath!!

This was the perfect vacation in that it was an excellent balance of family time and relaxation. Everyone pitched in to rent an enormous beach house just one block from the ocean. Each day was filled with chilling by the house pool, splashing in the waves of the ocean, restful naps in bed and in rafts in the pool, bike rides, bean bag toss, world cup soccer viewing, and of course family and food, food, food!!

Since the grandparents had 5 kids, each kid and their families were in charge of planning one of the evening meals. Not only were they planned, but they were themed and decked out with decorations, appropriate attire for the night, as well as evening entertainment. Here was the amazing line-up:

Western BBQ, Beer, & Bingo Night
Jamaican Night with bracelet making and a dice game called Farkle
Italian Night with... I can't remember what
Hawaiian Luau Night with Limbo under the light of tiki torches
American BBQ with Brats, Beans, and Beer

On Thursday we celebrated Grant's 1st birthday with a special lunch and cupcakes and then devoted the evening to loving on the anniversary couple, complete with a fancy dinner in the house. All of their children chose a different part of the meal to prepare and the grand kids were in charge of appetizers. We then enjoyed a delicious meal served in courses before the rooftop champagne toast.

It's so great to have the opportunity to spend extended time with family. I love that although we don't live near each other, when we get together it never seems like we've skipped a beat. God is so good:)

Here are just a few of my favorite pics from a week I can't wait to share again. Here's to planning for their 70th!!! I will be sure to post a link to our complete Picasa album soon. It seems we didn't create one quite yet!!!

First family trip to the beach. Grant LOVED it!!! Almost to the point that it made my heart skip a beat as he was fearless and literally crawled right into the breaking waves! He also ate a lot of sand, saw a lot of birds, and enjoyed feeling the sand move beneath his feet as the tide went back out.

Fun in the sun each day definitely tuckered him out. He took two 2 1/2 hour naps each day. This picture was taken after the nap that followed his first beach experience. Awesome!!

Grant and his Nana and Grandaddy all decked out in their island best! They brought a few outfits to help him look his best for the themed dinners:) Thank you guys!!

Me after winning the family limbo contest!! Who knew an out of shape mama could go so low?! Both of the new mamas did well, Kristen took 2nd place and has a 7 month old baby girl. This was my prize. An authentic coconut dude straight from Hawaii from when Grandma and Grandaddy vacationed there many years ago. He now sits in the garage and overlooks all of my sewing projects!!

The daily information board showing the two celebrations for the day.

Grant wasn't too sure about the cupcake at first, but once I held it up for him to taste it was all over!

Nancy sure knows how to throw a party! Here is the dining table all decked out for the love birds. Nancy brought all of these beautiful decorations from home. Party planner?! She also spear-headed the decorations and food planning for Grant's birthday luncheon. Couldn't have enjoyed either without you Nana!! Thank you!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the beach: northern california style

On Memorial Day we decided to take Grant for his first trip to the Pacific Coast beach at Half Moon Bay. Now, it's nothing like what you typically think of as a California beach. It was chilly, a bit windy and foggy, and there was definitely no swimming to be had. But the day was still a big hit filled with excellent tide-pooling, sand in your toes, kites flying high, a picnic lunch, and friends to enjoy it all with.

Carrying out gear, and our baby, to the shore. We had to walk down a bit to reach the ocean. This is the view from where we parked up high on the cliffs.

If you've been around Grant lately you'll know exactly what he is happily pointing to up in the sky. That's right- BIRDS!!! He is absolutely fascinated:)

A beautiful starfish found in the tide-pools.

We took a quick break from hunting for crabs for this family photo.

Grant chillin in the sand, enjoying the day.

Someone is hungry!!! He knew exactly where the good stuff was kept:)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

double date

Or perhaps I should say triple date. While George's sister Cristina was visiting a few weeks ago, I took advantage of her extra set of hands and scheduled both Grant and I haircuts with our good friend Alana. I was fully anticipating a wiggly little boy, as I experience everyday:) However, I was pleasantly surprised. Grant was nothing but intrigued with the enormous mirror that stood before us, the cape that draped over me, and the people milling about the shop.

Grant mesmerized by his surroundings

The first snips

Relaxing in a nearby park post hair cuts. We thought it necessary to reward him, and ourselves with some soft serve from the local drive thru dairy:)

Thank you Cristina for capturing the moment with photos and for hitting the town with Grant while I got my own hair cut!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

moms' night out

Shortly after having Grant last summer I joined the Livermore Mom's club which is a great network to connect with other mothers in your same stage. Being a part of this group really meant the world to me as we got going in this journey of parenthood, and especially for me staying at home with Grant. These ladies are a support system and have really become my dear friends.

When our 'first time mothers of '09 babies' playgroup got started we had to decide who would be in charge. And if you know me you know I like doing that:), plus it gave me something to keep me busy, as well as a way to feel like I was really helping other people. Shortly after getting on our feet we all realized we needed to make an exerted effort to create 'ME' time; time away from our babies and even our husbands. We needed a time to just be 'the girls' and to enjoy our womanhood without focusing on our new babies, or even necessarily our motherhood.

So, we started having a Moms' Night Out event once a month. It has been tough to focus on everything else in our lives, the things that existed for so many years before baby, but it has been an adventure to encourage each other to not talk about our kids and to remember who we are aside from them:) It has really brought us very close. Here are the details and a few pics from some events so far.

1st Moms' Night: Wine & Cheese Party. This was a joint effort by myself and my friend Hillary who hosted at her beautiful home. We needed an excuse to drink again and to taste some delicious cheeses!!

2nd Moms' Night: Recipe Exchange and Potluck. I hosted this event at my home and although the turn out was small, it was really the beginning of some close friendships.

3rd Moms' Night: Chair Dancing Class. Our friend Mindy had gone to a class at this new gym which focuses on unique ways to get in shape. Anywhere from pole dancing, to urban striptease, you can find a fun way to work out at this location!! And yes, we even did the routine in heels... seriously 10x harder, and more dangerous too:)

Striking a pose.

4th Moms' Night: Dinner with a Personal Chef. I had this idea after finding an add in the newspaper. After pitching it to the ladies, our friend Abbey suggested going with her old friend from college who did this very thing and lived only a few towns away. It was a wonderful night with some of the regulars from the mamas group:) We learned new tricks, heard about how to shop the local farmers' markets, and dined on a delicious meal!

Me working my inner desperate housewife while slicing oranges.

Abbey hard at work rolling out the homemade pasta we later made into both fettuccine and bow tie.

Leslie getting her grate on with the lemon.

Our delicious appetizer of baked brie with mini toasts and apples with mint- oh and the amazing fig jam!!!

The gals: Hillary, Abbey, Leslie, and me.