Sunday, September 12, 2010

More Birthday Pics and Camping Dry Run

As you all know, we celebrated two birthdays a couple of weeks ago and we thought everyone might like to see a few more photos. Kate wasn't really interested in a party (she's not a big fan of large gatherings). She decided she wanted to go to the Monterey Bay Acquarium. She's been on a Finding Nemo kick for the past few weeks so ID'ing fish from the movie is a big part of the excitement.

Here are Kate and Ellie looking at one of the exhibits.

The best part of the acquarium is the kid's area. Here are Mommy and Ellie on their way down the slide with Kate (dressed as a ray) lurking in the background.

Kate and Ellie posing for a picture in an oversized clam shell. It was amazing we got them to sit still for a couple of seconds.

The biggest hit of the day though, came on our trip to the gift shop. We promised Kate she could pick out a birthday present and she was ecstatic to find this huge clown fish. It's been with her for every nap and night since.

Back home again, we enjoyed some tasty cake before opening the rest of the presents.

Here's Kate digging into the pink flower on the top of her piece.

All in all it was a lot of fun. We also made a trip to Bubba Gump Shrimp and gorged ourselves on some tasty seafood (probably won't be much of that in Stuttgart).
Over Labor Day weekend, we also made a last minute decision to spend a day camping at Pinnacle National Monument. We decided it would make a great dry run to test out the equipment (and the children) before our multi-day trip to Yosemite next week. It was certainly a valuable expereince. We had some fun and we learned some, er, lessons, for making the next trip a little more relaxing.
Below is a picture of our campsite. We managed to get the last site and thankfully it was actually quite nice (except for a minor infestation of flies that got Kate screaming about the buzzing a few times). You can see the "Taj Mahal" in the background. It's a two-room, nine-person tent that's actually bigger than our bedroom back home. But it allowed us to keep the kids in one side while we slept in the other ... too bad the divider wasn't sound proof.

Here are Kate and Daddy pounding in the tent stakes. She was quite eager to help get camp set up.

Mommy and Ellie relaxing in the camping chairs. Now if we can just get Ellie to relax with a book for a few hours.

Of course we had to make some smores. Here's Kate enjoying hers.

The next morning we broke camp and had time for a short hike before heading home. Ellie was excited to ride on Daddy's shoulders ....

... at least until a bad night's sleep caught up with her. A few minutes after this picture we decided it was time to head home (by way of McDonald's of course).

All it all it was quite educational, and our backs and sleep debt recovered in only a few days. Kate woke up pretty much on the hour throughout the night. The most dramatic incidents occured at 3AM and 6:45AM, when she let out a series of blood-curdling screams that must have woken up half the park (and prompted Mommy and Daddy to make a few apologies to the neighbors the next morning). We think we've got some ideas on how to improve that for next time. We'll let you know how that goes. We'll turn everyone into good campers yet!


Shari Baker said...

I did not find Nemo in the pictures of the tanks, but I found Dory! :)

Anonymous said...

We loved each picture! This post was great. Love all the experessions on the girls' faces and a birthday pic of Jen, too! Wow, the Taj Mahal looks great. Great that you all get out there and do life! Thank you so much for the treat that filled our day. Can't wait to see you all...hope Mommy and Daddy are planning dinner + a movie! Buckets of love, Gram+Pops

Anonymous said...

What a great camping castle! I say - you are ready for the big camping trip! Love the birthday pictures. Two pearls in one shell!!
Can't wait to hear your impressions of beautiful Yosemite.
Love you,
A & J

Nana said...

I love the camping shots and the acquariam. The color backgrounds show off beautiful children. What fun. I remember last year and the big party. You decided to go smaller this year. Good idea. Happy Birthday Jen. What a great shot of you eating your cake. Yum!