Monday, March 31, 2014

Sequoia National Forest

The previous post was supposed to be about our trip to Sequoia National Park. Once I started writing I found myself going a new direction.  My intention was to encourage everyone to take advantage of each duty station you live in. No excuses. By the end, it was a bit more personal and I may have not made any sense. You will have to go check that out if you missed it. It's a goodie. Ha ha.

Today I will try with all my might to keep the post about our little trip. A trip to see trees. Wow in print that makes us sound very exciting! But they aren't ordinary trees. Sequoias only grow in California. They are the biggest and the oldest trees in the entire world. What's four hours in a car? Did I mention there were three kids and a dog in that car? Ei-yi-yi! How does one manage such energy? Buy a boat load of junk food and let them have free rein. Surprisingly or not, it works. So our trip up was pleasant. By the time we got to Three Rivers it was mid afternoon. We stopped off along the Kawaeh River/Lake and hiked along the banks. Beautiful.

Next, we headed into the Sequoia National Park just to see how far we could make it. The ranger at the gate told us it was snowing up at the Giant (Sequoia) Forest and we would need chains. We had chains but hubby really didn't want to put them on. We decided to drive as far as we could without and turn around. We would get a hotel and head back up the following day.

Thursday morning we headed up to the Giant Forest. A steep climb up to 8000 plus feet. Not a drive for super paranoid people with big imaginations. Mudslide, earthquake, dysfunctional brakes, faulty steering systems, crazy drivers. You know just your normal everyday happenings! All worth it when you get to the top. The first glimpse was breathtaking. Most of the Sequoias in the Giant Forest are over 200 feet tall. 20-30 feet wide. The bark up to 31 inches thick. 2000-3000 years old. My brain cannot process these numbers.

The trees alone were enough but then God had to go and sprinkle snow all over the branches and ground. Four inches of the whitest, cleanest, untouched snow. I felt like I stepped into the set of Narnia.  I'm walking around in absolute awe, taking pictures, and talking to myself about how amazing the trees are. All whilst, my kids and husband are engaged in an all out snowball fight. Just a typical family outing with my crew.

They did stop for pictures now and again. Who can blame them? They live in the desert. The only snow they see is in the freezer section at the commissary. And that is just gross when they try to put that in their mouth. And by try I mean when Derrick puts the icy crap in his mouth. That's my kid!

We weren't expecting snow. Little did we know there was less snow than normal up there. We lucked out to be able to get up to the Giant Forest. Typical annual snowfall is 200 inches. This year they have had 61 inches total. The moral of the story is go to Sequoia National Park mid April through October. Any other time you chance not being able to get up the mountain and the hiking trails being closed. We were only able to hike at the foothills near the entrance of the park. Very short river trails.

On the way down we stopped at the Giant Forest Museum and Hospital Rock. Both are must see sights. After leaving the park, we headed back to the river. I think the kids were more impressed by the river than the trees. Reminds me of the cardboard box on Christmas fascination. Kids are so strange.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Making B Your A

One of my most favorite things about military life is the chance to see the world. Many many years ago when I was a naive gal freshly transplanted from small town Iowa to big city California, I thought we would spend our life moving. Knowing my life would be full of adventures and three year stints in every region of the country made me excited! I couldn't wait until our three years was up and we would be off to the East Coast.

True to military life, this young spouse found out pretty quickly the lifestyle is full of surprises. Murphy's Law of Military Spouse Expectations... if you want A then you get B. My A was moving every three years and my B was his career spent at Camp Pendleton, California.

Almost 15 years spent on one base. 11 years with the same squadron. Luckily our one other duty station was Japan which pretty much trumps New River any day. Things could be worse, I guess. We could be in 29 Palms! Joking aside, our immobility just wasn't what I imagined for military life. We never really thought California was the right fit for us. We still don't. But we quit fighting against the Plan. We are suppose to be here. At this point, we are so far into his career it wouldn't make sense to try to leave. Of course, the Marine Corps always  decides. Any day my husband could receive orders anywhere in the entire world, accompanied or unaccompanied. We pray that won't be the story.

How do you make the most of military life? You start with buying a house. Second, get a great job. Last, send your kids to a ginormous off-base school with a bigger student body than your hometown elementary, junior high, and high school combined. You lay down roots so when it's time to leave, you won't. Slow down. I don't honestly know if I recommend any of those things. What I do recommend is embracing whatever the military throws your way. You cannot control anything about this lifestyle, you just have to roll with it.

Most people who know me would probably guess I like living in California. People might even assume I prefer to live in this state. The honest answer is I don't. There are things I like. The weather. The location. The openness to differences among people. Other things. It's not my perfect but  I am going to embrace California. I am going to see everything I want to see. I'm going to sit on the beach watching the waves roll in on a Friday night. Just because. I'm going to hike the mountains. Tour LA like I lived here my whole life.  I'm going to enjoy these moments.

When his four years are finished, we will move on to a better fit. Perhaps, take some time to see the country since the Marine Corps didn't want to foot the bill. I imagine we will settle some place less polluted, less populated, and less developed. Do those places still exist? Any time I get lonesome for California, I will pull out my albums filled with pictures of our adventures. Get my little Marine Corps/ Cali fix and go back to breathing fresh air in small town America.

However, until the retirement ceremony we are going to keep checking off the Camp Pendleton Bucket List. The little things, big things, and even the repeats on the favorites all are getting checked off. Ehm...Disney. I think the best thing a military family can do is embrace the B, even when they really wanted the A. Just go with it and pretend it was your plan all along.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Hair Is Black

I thought hair horror stories were only urban legends. Unlucky for me I found out otherwise. Hair horror stories are real. They can happen to anyone, even the most neurotic Yelp users.  Consider this a public service announcement. Next PSA... do not trust Yelp! It makes me so very sad to say that too. I love to use Yelp for everything. But I just have to wonder how my former stylist is the number 1 Yelp stylist in this town. I think the numbers may be stacked but I'll get to that.

The whole issue started when we moved. I decided to stop seeing my gal in San Diego. It was just too difficult to drive to San Diego appointments to maintain the blonde highlights. So I turned to Yelp as any social media loving gal would do. I found the number rated stylist and made my appointment. I admit I freaked out a bit before the first appointment and I had my daughter take my place. The second time I skipped the color and let her cut my hair. It wasn't terrible but not what I expected from the "best". I decided to let her color on my third appointment. We decided to go between a medium and light brown. Something close to my natural color. What happens?!? Black hair. Or should I say allegedly black.

Because someone won't admit that the color is black. Technically, it may not be black. But...

Clearly my hair is black. Honestly, do you even see a hint of brown? 

So as I keep going about my daily business which is hanging out with kids all day... I get all kinds of comments on my hair. Surprisingly or not, most aren't positive. I have a pretty tough exterior so I don't take it too personal. In fact, it gets to be amusing at times. I have this one little blue eyed blonde hair kindergartener who hates my hair. She is trying everything in her power to change it. She even enlisted her mommy hair stylist to make it happen.  

When her mom picked her up on Day 2 of the black hair she pulled me aside. 'My daughter says you don't like your hair'. I was caught a little off guard, 'Kind of. But I think it is M who doesn't like my hair'. I tell you people, kindergarteners are smart and ruthless. They will manipulate and recruit the support they need to get what they want. And that little girl wants my hair... any color but BLACK. Anyways, mom the hairstylist, set me on the road to recovery and by using a clarifying shampoo to fade the color quicker. I'm on it.

But now the question is what to do next. Black is completely out of the question. And I really don't want to be blonde again just yet. It seems between blonde and (the middle photo) brown there is a middle ground. I just need to find the one who can make that happen.

Until then, I will be living the life of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. That is what I feel like. Black is such a peculiar color. Kids hate it. I make babies cry and small children cower as I enter the room. Every day they remind me, "Your hair is still that color".  Yep, still THAT color. Got it! Maybe black hair represents evil to kids, the wicked witch association? Just one time let's make the evil one a blonde, m'kay? Dogs hate it too. I peeked my head over the fence at the neighbors dogs yesterday while they were going crazy. I always do when they need to calm down. Usually the dogs will jump up, tails wagging, and lick my hand. Yesterday I got evil stares and growls. That I took personal! Men react differently. Why wouldn't they? They seem to be a little more intrigued. It's probably the evil witch thing in an inappropriate way. When I get my coffee in the morning, doors get opened, smiles, and occasional double takes. Believe me my brown hair doesn't get the same reaction. I open my own doors and no body bothers to look once let alone twice. Maybe it's not so much who they think I am with my black hair. Maybe they are just trying to get a closer look, wondering why a white girl would do this to her hair?


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Break Begins's the sound of a long relaxed sigh. Day one of spring break under the belt. Two weeks of freedom ahead. As much as I love my job, there is just something about not having to run a schedule day in and day out.  I would complain if I didn't have it but for two weeks I will take the freedom to do whatever I want for a while. No waking up early, even though I still will. I can't train a body otherwise! No rushing kids through the morning and getting out the door by a certain time. Maybe I will find a little extra time to blog. It is one luxury I can't seem to keep up with when I am working.

My first thought was to spend two weeks in Iowa. I have been terribly homesick. But it's still so cold there and the cross country travel burns up a good chunk of time. So we decided to stay in SoCal for break. After spring break, there is only six weeks from summer break. We will be sure to take full advantage of two months off with time in Iowa. The trials of military family life. There is too much time away from extended family.

Back to the spring break agenda, we have lots of house stuff planned. Today we worked in the yard laying sod. Yippee for manual labor at 7am. It's my (least) favorite! But now it's done and we have green grass for-hopefully-ever. My husband has wood floors to install and a few other small projects that I won't mention just in case we don't get to them! So embarrassing to have those things in print and then fail to complete. I hope this doesn't become a DIY blog with all the house stuff we have planned.

Flooring to be installed.
There will be adventures too. We are hoping to get up to Sequoia National Park next week. Just  a couple of days. I'm sure there will be a trip to the winery, the beach, and Camp Pendleton for sure. Some of our favorites.

And the kids will have plenty of play dates. With both of us working, the kids don't get a lot of friend time. So the plan is to see old and new friends as much as we can.

Hoping the next two weeks go very slowly. We have so much planned. I want to savor every minute!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Shopping for Lamps

Who knew picking out the lamest of all accent pieces would be such a battle. It took us two Target trips (I'm not complaining) to finally agree on something. Every time I liked it, she hated it. It was our first real mom-daughter battle in the teen years. Oh how I can't wait until the thing we are battling about means so much more to her than what lamps will be in her room. Ugh!

Her favorite.

My favorite.

Nobody's favorite.

The one we agreed on. Only took us two days and a couple embarrassing moments in the Target store. But a decision was made.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Roadtrip to Ventura Beach

There is so much happening around here. I don't blog nearly enough to keep you in the loop. I feel like our weekend needs to be prefaced with a couple explanations. I will try my best.

This weekend the kids and I decided to go on a road trip. A) Because my husband is doing Marine stuff in the desert so we like to be busy and B) Because we have a rental van that is way nicer than our van so we should drive it. Which needs to be prefaced with I got in an accident. Just a minor fender bender where someone crashed into the back of my car. His fault. No insurance. Head ache. Head ache. Thankfully we are insured and we don't have to pay for the uninsured driver's mistake. Thankfully.

Now we have this beautiful roomy minivan and what is one to do? Go for a road trip to the beach of course. Yes. The plan was to make it to Santa Barbara. Maybe even Ojai. I have never been north of Long Beach when it comes to the California Coast and beaches. Given the distance I thought I could make it to Santa Barbara. What I didn't take into consideration was it was an 80 degree Saturday. Everyone was headed to the beach. We hit traffic from the minute we started heading west on the 91. Oh such a novice I am! When we finally saw water near Ventura I just stopped.

 Ventura isn't any different than most San Diego County beaches. Although, they do have sand dunes. My kids loved it. Sand body surfing. It's the new thing. We didn't find our tide pools filled with colorful sea life but we spotted sea urchins. The kids were very happy.  And the sand dunes. We have never been to a beach with giant hills of sand. My kids spent more time throwing themselves down these steep hills and climbing back up. I will never understand. I just took a seat in the warm sand and took pictures. I figure they are creating memories that only brothers and sisters really understand. I can't interrupt that.

 We decided to drive home along the 101. We made a stop at Point Mugu, a cute little Navy base in the middle of nowhere. I forget  about life on a small military base. Everything closes at 3pm on the weekend. No public restrooms anywhere. No food sold at the gas station. Yes, we were hungry and had to pee! But neither was happening on Point Mugu!

We headed back down the 101. Gorgeous views through the Santa Monica Mountains. Soon we were in Malibu surrounded by big movie star mansions. Finally, we made it to the LA freeway system. Bad timing. It took us three hours to drive 67 miles. It was a Mickey Ds kind of dinner.

I thought for sure the road trip was a bust in my kids eyes. All that traffic. But my lovely children redeemed the trip. Thanks for taking us on the road trip mom. I loved it. How about that! All three. I'm not sure what there was to love but they did.

I guess we can check Ventura off the bucket list... as soon as we add it to the list for the sake of crossing it off the list. You know you do it too!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cereal and Doritos

It's What's for Dinner! Cereal and Doritos. What are we celebrating you ask? Another day of TDY under our belt. The joy of a life filled with acronyms, right?!?  For all you normal folk, aka non-military, the husband is away for a few. Training in the desert.  Me and the kiddos are holding down the homefront. I've long given up the hope that I can be a stellar mom when I'm outnumbered 3 to 1. I just let it ride. Frankly, I'm just happy to not have "forced" my kids to eat another meal out tonight. Believe it or not, kids do eventually groan at the idea of going out to eat. I just found that out tonight.

I decided to heat up my leftover soup and offered cereal, eggs, or a sandwich to the kids. They all chose cereal and then asked for some chips after. In my mind, the two don't mix but whatever. I promise tomorrow I will cook. I promise.

In less interesting news, I found out buying a dozen bagels from the local bagel shop will get you an entire day's worth of meals for a family of four. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Score!

We are ending our day with Lilo & Stitch 2. It's 8 o clock ish and the kids should be reading. If the husband was here, they would be reading. But tonight, I say no reading. No, really, after the movie I know I am going to have to tell them No Reading.  Let's rebel and be unproductive couch potatoes, k. It's almost the weekend. TGIF!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Our Pseudo Celebrity

I have to admit I've got nothing. Things are happening. I'm not taking pictures. Typical blogger problems. I thought I might go one more week without posting anything but where is the fun in that? There is no fun in that. 

Just to make sure I had nothing to share on the blog, I flipped through my iPhotos. What did I find? Lots and lots of pictures of our dog, Charlie. Not sure if you know but Charlie is kind of a big thing on the Instagram. 1090 followers and counting for @pupstigram123. My daughter loves her dog. And she loves to  pimp show him off on the Instagram. I guess people like it. She makes me laugh over the crazy things she does with him and photographs him doing. Poor doggy!

It's her hobby. It keeps her out of trouble. She is learning an art form. All good things.

But really the dog is insanely loyal and he bring it on himself.  Don't get me wrong Charlie is a smart dog. Heck, apparently he knows how to play board games.

I guess he can even pick stuff up. Connect Four, really? Pulled a fast one on me. Had I known, Charlie would have a chore list too.

 Spelling?!? I had no idea.

He plays all sweet and innocent with me. But all the kids know we don't play Nerf War in the house. Someone didn't think it applied to him. Imagine that!

Then there is just the weird stuff I have no comment on....

Oh Charlie.


Photography: Courtesy of my super cool daughter