Friday, July 18, 2014

Sweet Sixteen Pool Party

 Madeline is good at doing so many things, and likes to do so many things, that Rob and I are really puzzled by the few things she doesn't want to do. One of those is calling people up and inviting them to do things. Another is having a party. We don't get this (heck, we threw ourselves our own 90th birthday party this year). Since Maddie is turning 16 this year, Rob decided that she was getting a party. He approached our neighbors, who have this magnificent pool park, and asked if we could hold her party there. They generously agreed. 
 Here's a little view of one side of the pool. It has a slide (which I got no pictures of!), a high dive, a hot tub, cabanas, and a full kitchen and sound system and lots of seating for those who just want to lounge by the pool and not get in.
 They have it all decorated with palms and bamboo, so all I did was gather and arrange the food: pulled pork sandwiches with potato salad, coleslaw, chips, watermelon, corn, lemonade and birthday cake. It was perfect weather for a pool party -- in the 90's, and so it was nice to have some shade too.
Maddie's friends come from lots of different areas of her life, and they don't all know each other. It was gratifying to see how supportive of her they were to come to the party, and how well they got along.
 Rob and Curtis were some of the first to have a go at the high dive.
 Then a girls' jump: Abby, Taylor, Abby, Deanna, and Maddie.
 Then it was in pretty constant use: here are Tomas, Sebi, Will and Joss taking a leap off.
 And Adam and Joss.
 Another great thing about this party is that we got to have one too, at the same time. Maddie Lou actually felt better about having some family friends around, so we had many adults and several little kids splashing around too.
 And some of them even got to know each other for the first time.
The kids all seemed to have something to do at every minute.
 Joss even got to play with his cousin Adam. They are both strong enough swimmers that they could go everywhere and do everything.
 And they did.
 Charlotte, Malcolm, and Declan.
Will and Eleanor even learned how to do flips.
 I took a break from food prep and first aid to dip in the pool. A pool is a sublime thing on a hot day. I'd take a swim every day if I could!
 At some point we did eat . . .
 But there was a whole lot of swimming going on too.
 Abby, Hadley, and Molly.
 A whole crowd tried an Ethel Merman-style entrance.
 We had to change the date of the party because Maddie will be up at girls' camp on her actual 16th birthday. Then we had to change the time because they were holding a camp meeting at the time of her birthday party. We were flexible and it all turned out fine.
 And we tried unsuccessfully to get the candles lit. We sang to Maddie Lou even though it looked like she was turning three.

It was a lovely, lovely time, and we're indebted to our neighbors who let us use the pool, and all of our friends who came and helped us.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Scouting a la Scofield, Part II

 Waiting for their 1000 calorie breakfast.
 Frying up the hash browns and the sausages and bacon.
 Sebi came up with one other Cub Scout and he got a taste of scouting. He also got to try wake boarding. 
 And he got up! He was thrilled. 
It was a great experience for all three of my boys, but we're sure glad to have them home.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Scouting a la Scofield, part I

The day after we arrived home from California, Rob and Will had to sift through the wrinkled clothes and pack up for scout camp. They left around 2:00, but not before Maddie and Fabs had taught the scouts some lifesaving skills and freaked them out roundly (Maddie assures me that the element of fear is important in teaching lifesaving -- she and Fabs would know, since they went to a pool party with the  lifeguards last Friday night and watched Jaws in a pool dyed red and a guy floating around in a shark head). They drove down to this idyllic spot.

 This is Kirt, intrepid and hardworking scout leader (which is really the only flavor scout leaders come in -- anything less just doesn't last). He and Rob and Len wrangled the boys for four days and had to make all of the merit badges happen too. Rob found he could get phone reception if he sat on the tailgate of Kirt's truck. He texted to say "send umbrellas! and my rain jacket! and an extra fleece for each of us!" It was 90 in Provo, but beastly cold at night in Scofield.
 This is Phatty McFattenstien, the first crawdad that Rob caught. After Phatty pinched him but good in the finger, Rob learned that you catch them behind their pinchers. Life lessons abound at scout camp. They managed to catch 21 of these babies and then Rob boiled them up red and stuck them in jambalaya. My Will would have nothing to do with the catching, but he did eat some.
 Among other activities like the environmental science merit badge, they worked on wake boarding for their waterspouts merit badges. This was Will's first time to try wake boarding. Third try and he was up. I love this picture because he is grinning his new braceless grin.
 Rob said Will was the most improved wakeboarder, starting there from scratch and getting to the point where he could cross the wake (that was the most I could ever do on water skis, so I'm impressed).
It's a loud video, but there are 7 seconds of Will.
 And here was Rob's brief moment of glory, getting up on the wakeboard.
 Here are the boys in a brief moment of respite before those big black clouds you see opened up and poured all over the lake for hours.
Thankfully, in addition to the boys' tent, the leaders had a magnificent, palatial cabin just behind them. So when it started to thunder, they could escape underneath that deer head.
Or play downstairs in the rumpus room.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Monterey Bay Aquarium

My family believes in avoiding crowds. They're not agoraphobic or anything, they just feel that crowds are not the most effective, the most efficient, the best use of their time. This is why my family liked Disneyland in February -- it was rainy and empty and we could run from attraction to attraction as fast as we could get up to the loading point.
This is also why we were up and out the door at 8:15am on our first morning down at the beach. We wanted to be the first people in line at the members-only entrance to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We'd predicted (correctly) that the Saturday of a long weekend in the summer would be one of the busiest times to go. So we were all lined up to get through and see things before anyone else knew about them.
 All queued up and ready to go.
 We got an early entrance and were able to see the Open Sea tank that we love, and then head over to the spectacular Tentacles exhibit and finally to the Jellies Experience.
 I had to lead by example to get Joss to touch the starfish and limpets and decorator crabs. Generally I've been able to sucker the other kids into thinking that I'm touching things too . . .
 But I do like petting the bat rays. They were being extremely coy on this busy day,
 But Joss and Charlie still got to stroke one or two. I managed to touch them, but they managed to get my sleeve wet. We're even.
 Here's the snowy plover, local endangered bird at our beach house complex. It is because of them and their weak hearts and unevolved nesting habits (they just lay their eggs in the sand) that we're not supposed to build structures or fly kids on the beach. It gives them wee avian heart attacks. This particular plover gave me quite the evil eye for daring to snap its picture.
 We also watched Luna, a love story about sea otter rescues and it was cute, cute, cute.
And we saw lots of great things like these: the local sea otter who hangs out in the kelp forest just beyond the aquarium, leopard sharks, cuttlefish, bat ray and a dancing octopus. That place never disappoints. We had lunch out on the bay and then headed back to the beach.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Some Dead Life, and Some Live

 Joss and I took Eli to the newly-reopened Bean Museum on campus. This is the one that our friend Ethan O. calls "The Museum of Dead Life". It is, mostly. Here the boys are playing Ugly Grizzly Bear and as you can see, here they are "shaking their head in anger at the crowd around the cage."
 Here Joss was happy to be wrong that they did not have an elephant. They did indeed.
 Eli in front of the butterflies. I am still such a sucker for a blue butterfly or a green scarab beetle.
 And we imitated many different animals, alternating between fierce predators and horrified prey. We went to Carterville park and played around until nap time (we are specializing in tiring out toddlers right now). 
 That evening, we went out to El Azteca for dinner, Pop 'n Sweets for dessert, and walked around the west side of campus.
 There we ran into a deer who was pretty far from the mountains.
And several new families of ducks. They're doing a lovely job sprucing up these two sections of campus, but please don't get me started on the rest of their remodel.