Birds and the Bridge

One afternoon my mom and I took the boys and one of my mom’s friends to the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene.  It’s a neat place that rescues injured/sick birds and nurses them back to better health.  It is a small outdoor location that makes it perfect for little kids to run around and learn about different types of raptors.


They had many types of hawks and owls,


and my personal favorite was the Eagle.


Jake made a friend, and they chatted their way through the center.


It was a fun afternoon adventure!

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That evening, back at the ranch, Jake was happy to be back doing chores with grandpa and daddy.  And this year his favorite chore was picking up the horse poop.  Over the last two years, he has always “helped” grandpa pick up after the horses, but he really was just sitting in the cart dancing away to the country music on the radio and talking to grandpa.  This year, he actually wanted to do it “all by myself” which is a phrase we hear frequently these days…so consider yourself warned…if you are squeamish by the sight of horse poop, you can quickly scroll over this next batch of pictures to the second half of this post.

Jake looked forward to doing this every single day.  And anytime he saw horse poop he had to stop what he was doing and announce that we needed to pick it up.

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He did have his few trips and face plants into the piles,

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And he was mortified that I was taking pictures of him…


Really mom?? Are you really taking pictures right now?


Ugh!  I can’t believe it!


Still taking pictures??!!

IMG_7311edWhatever, I’m going back to work…


And this little guy, is still too young to be wielding his own pooper scooper…


But he was watching closely, and taking notes.  I’m sure he will join them next year.


All this talk of picking up horse poop makes this an appropriate spot to share this adorable photo of Dylan taking a bath in grandma’s bathtub.


On our last day there, we had some more rain.  We had a few errands to run and shopping to do in town and we even drove 30 minutes out of our way to go back to Brewers Union for fish and chips for lunch.  And I love this picture of the boys/guys with the dark storm clouds in the background, cheering for the rain!


And one thing that we never did and had been talking about doing since our first day there was visiting the Lowell covered bridge.  Other than walking through the bridge and reading about the history of it, there really isn’t much else to do, so the guys were not too excited about going.  But those kind of places are what make people like me, who are interested in photography, drool.  So the guys obliged and we headed over there.  I wish we had easy access to a place like this in San Diego to do photography sessions.


As I said it had been raining off and on all day, of course right when we pulled up, the skies opened and it was POURING!  But we were there (the only ones for that matter) and we weren’t going to let some rain stop us. So we ran…all the way to the safety of the covered bridge and we were soaked!


Once out of the downpour, we walked around and read about the history of the bridge, and looked out over the lake and watched the storm.

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Then it stopped, and the sun came out!


Cheering for the sun!


And we were able to have a much more leisurely walk back to the car.

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We always have so much fun visiting the “big ranch up in Oregon”!  And I love that every year we do some of the same things as well as some new things. I am looking forward to all the fun things we can do in the coming years as the boys get older!













Around the ranch

The baby calves on the ranch were just couple months old and needed their medications and ear tags, etc…and the momma cows needed a check up as well, so we had a roundup!

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Friends and neighbors came over to help.

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Everybody had a job to do

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And this little cowboy was loving all the action

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When our other little cowboy woke up from his nap, he sat in the stroller and watched all the action while having a snack.


Towards the end, Jake thought daddy was spending way too much time with the cows and convinced daddy to pick him up and get him closer.

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We heard a lot of MOOOOOing that day!


Later that afternoon we got the horses out, and Dylan thought it was pretty fun.

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We ended our roundup day pretty much the same way we end every day when we are at the ranch…Playing marbles!  This is a game that has been in my family forever and I grew up playing this game all the time.  It’s fun, it’s competitive and the girls always win 🙂  After the dinner dishes are cleaned, kids bathed and in bed, the 4 of us sit at the game table and play the marble game all night long.

IMG_7220edThe next day the sun came out again and we just played/worked around the ranch.  The boys were moving tractor equipment to get it ready to cut & bale the hay, re-positioning electric fences, and Jake took over for daddy when he was taking the covers off the vents around the house.  He watched daddy do a few and then declared “I can do it ALL BY MYSELF!” and he did.  This kid likes to work his tools.

We also played…pushed toy tractors around

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Played with the giant ball

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Went for rides in the wagon


And flew a kite


After the kite got stuck in a really tall tree…we moved on to riding horses.


There is always plenty to do and I love the experiences that our boys have while there.  I think I have one more post left…be back soon!









Sunny to Rainy Days

After our very hot first day there, the next day was still warm, but much more pleasant to be outside.  So we played around the ranch.


We sat out on the grass and played with a giant ball, and Dylan was practicing his walking skills back and forth between mom and grandma.


We drove into town to do some shopping and for lunch at Track Town Pizza.


We’ve always visited my parents in Oregon during the summer when it is hot, and all the grass is dead and brown.  One year we went up in the fall which was pretty since all the leaves were starting to change colors and we went to a fun pumpkin patch.  But we always hear them talk about how pretty it is during the spring when everything is blooming, the grass is green and the hay fields are thriving.  So that is why we decided to go in the springtime this year.  And obviously the reason everything is blooming and green is because there are lots of rainy days.  Being from Southern California, rainy days are so much fun!  So it made for an exciting morning when we woke up to cool temperatures and grey skies warning us of the coming thunderstorm.  After breakfast, Jake and daddy sat out on the porch watching it rain…

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They were looking for lightning and counting until the thunder hit.  The thunder was close and LOUD!


And Jake loved it, but the dog, Jane…not so much…in fact after a particularly loud thunder which rattled the windows in the house, she bolted to the safety of her crate in the mud room.


After the big storm passed, we had a consistent drizzle for the rest of the day, so it was a good day to visit some neighbors and friends.  First we went to Bob’s house so he could show Jake his train village he built in his basement.


He let Jake sit in the controller’s chair and Jake loved watching the train going around and around and over the bridges and through the tunnels.


The view of my parents ranch from Bob’s driveway

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Then we went to Vicky and Roscoe’s house to meet their miniature donkey’s


When we got there Jake took one look at the donkey, then turned around and saw all of Roscoe’s tractors and farm equipment and said WOW!  You have a lot of cool stuff!  Clearly, he is a motorhead and has no interest in animals.  Dylan on the other hand thought they were pretty fun!

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Then the boys started exploring the tractors

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And the toys, and they have a lot of them!

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IMG_7107edThat evening the rain let up a bit so Jake was thrilled to be able to go out and do the chores.

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And of course drive his tractor around in the barn.


These Southern California people love rainy days!





Fish Hatchery

Three days after Dylan’s birthday we hopped on a 6:30am flight to visit Grandma and Grandpa at what Jake calls  “the BIG ranch up in Oregon”.  We really missed not taking this annual trip last year since we were still in the middle of our move/remodel/newborn baby/etc…Since we left the house so early, we pretty much scooped the boys out of bed and put them in the car, so they were cozy in their pajamas during our flight from San Diego to Seattle.  And we think that because it was so early in the morning, they were still kind of half asleep while taking in everything around them, which made for an easy flight.  Jake was so excited to be on an airplane and kept talking about the jets, and asking what every single picture and symbol meant.  So when he saw the seatbelt light and the no smoking light overhead, he asked what they were.  We explained the seatbelt light and just dismissed the no smoking light.  But anyone who has ever been around a persistent three year old knows that he wasn’t going to let us just dismiss it…instead of launching into a discussion about what smoking is, how bad it is for you, etc… Justin came up with a great idea and told him that it means no yelling or talking loudly on the airplane. Since the light is on the entire flight, Jake kept telling us that there was no yelling or talking loudly on the airplane...Hey, it worked! And the funny thing is now whenever he sees a no smoking sign anywhere (and for some reason our Target has them everywhere, I never noticed them until Jake started pointing them out), he tells me that it means no yelling or screaming! One day we will have to tell him what it really means, but for now, I’ll take no yelling or talking loudly! I just had a thought…maybe I should put no smoking signs all over the house and in the car!!

Ok, back to our trip, of course the second we landed in Seattle, Dylan promptly fell asleep. And he stayed asleep while we got off the plane and made our way through the airport to find a restaurant for breakfast.  We found the perfect spot by the windows so Jake could watch the airplanes.


After breakfast and changing the boys out of their PJ’s, we found a quiet corner where they could run around and burn some energy before the last leg of our trip. After his little catnap, this guy was ready to go!


It was a bit of a challenge to keep Dylan in my lap and quiet during the flights, but all in all, the boys did great. And we were so happy to see grandma and grandpa when we arrived!

The next day was pretty hot, so we decided it would be a good day to start our adventures by driving into the mountains and visiting the fish hatchery.  But first we had to stop for lunch at the local pub, Brewers Union.



Aside from it having bad lighting inside for taking pictures, this was such a great place! Not only do they have really good fish and chips…


But it was very kid friendly.  They had all kinds of toys for them to play with, including a kid sized pool table.


I can remember my mom doing this same thing to me, teaching me how to shoot pool.

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When our food arrived we had to corral the monkey’s to eat.


Jake stuck with the grilled cheese sandwich


And this guy was being a cheeseball while eating his sweet potato fries

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With full tummies, we made our way to the fish hatchery.


First, we got some fish food to feed some really big, over 50 year old, sturgeons.

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The boys loved seeing the fish jump out of the water to get the food

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We walked around the rows of fish, where you can see them as teeny tiny little babies and each row they were a little bigger and bigger.


It was fun watching the little fish swimming against the current and jumping into the water pouring in the channels.

IMG_6947edThere were other things to do at the hatchery as well.  They had some small animals and birds to look at.

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And Jake and Daddy’s favorite was the miniature golf!

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Our last stop was the tiny museum.  After looking around we sat down and enjoyed the cool AC blowing while the boys chased each other and the fish around in the big tank.

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It was a great way to start off our vacation!












Summer fun

More catching up here…

I’ve learned that with a two year old, it is better to get out of the house for a few hours rather than try to keep him happy and entertained at home all day long (it is good for mom to get out too!)  Even though it was a really hot and humid summer, it didn’t stop us from going outside and taking advantage of all the fun things there are to do in this wonderful city we live in. So when my mom came to visit in August, we took her to some of our favorite spots.  First up was Lake Poway to feed the ducks.


Even thought it was miserably humid and we were drenched in sweat, it is so worth it to see the pure joy and excitement in Jacob’s face as he turns around and races back to us to get more bread.



Then after a quick “thank you grandma” he runs back to throw the bread into the water.

IMG_3389ed IMG_3394edOver and over and over again…

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Trains have been a big thing in our house lately and Jacob is always asking to go ride the train, more specifically Thomas the Train.  And is always on the lookout when we are driving for train tracks and train crossings.  So we made a special trip to Old Poway Park to “ride the train”.  While daddy and Jacob were buying tickets and standing in line to board the train we were playing around with this blue eyed boy.

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Then it was our turn to ride the train with Jacob, and daddy did his best to get a picture 🙂


On Saturdays they have a nice farmers market, so we wandered around and got some lemonade, sunflowers and looked at all the other goodies.


Then we walked down to the park to find some shade to drink our lemonade, “cool off” for a bit and wave to the train as it went by



you can tell by how miserable Jacob looks in that last picture that humidity was killing us so we packed up and went home to the AC and story time with grandma.

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Still playing catch up here…

We had such a warm summer.  Actually the heat is pretty much expected since we moved inland from where we were, but it has been SO humid, which makes it seem much worse.  Needless to say I am thankful for air conditioning (not necessarily the bill though!)  We did have some nice ordinary warm days, and on those days I tried to come up with a fun outside activity.  Jake has been getting in touch with his creative side during arts and crafts at Preschool so on this August afternoon when I said lets go paint, he was all for it!  I put some paper on the art easel that my mom got him and put some paint in some cups and gave him some sponge paint brushes.  Actually it was finger paint, but we’ll keep that our little secret, I wasn’t up to the task of cleaning up after a finger painting activity so I told him to use the paintbrushes.



This is the look I get when I ask them to look and smile at the camera…seriously mom can’t you see we are busy here

IMG_3297edAt first he was keeping the red on one side and the blue on the other, I kept encouraging him to mix it up.

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Which gave us a lovely shade of purple


Then he decided that it needed some chalk to liven things up


And I love the look on Dylan’s face in these pictures.


He was so proud of his work


Then he started telling me all about the colors he was using.  This one is red…


And this one is blue…


Just look at that face…with or without paint splattered on him, I think he is one handsome dude!


And my plan to keep things relatively “less messy” started to backfire when he began wiping his face with hands that had paint on them.


And it was then that he realized that he was getting paint all over him, and for being a rambunctious little boy, he does not like his hands to be dirty/sticky.


When he started coming at me (and my camera) with those paint covered hands, wanting me to get it off of him, I knew this activity was over and it was time for me to get this little Picasso cleaned up.


Fourth of July

For the past few years it has kind of been a tradition to spend the 4th of July on the Bay with some good friends of ours who live there.  Before we left we took some patriotic pictures of the boys with some flags that Justin bought for Jake to hold while he marches (one of his favorite things to do around the house now).

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Then we headed to the bay.  It was a fun day of food, games and friends.  If you are a regular on this blog then you will probably recognize Jacob’s friend Kennedy, born only a month apart, these two have shared lots of fun times together over the last two and a half years.  It had been a little while since these two saw each other though and they picked up right where they left off.  They got ahold of some flags and started walking down to the water.  My heart melted when I watched them and I knew I needed to capture this sweet moment.


They just stood there on the sand right where the water came in and waved their flags,


pointed to things out in the water,


discussed something very important,


laughed and marched around,


and they were the cutest all American kids on the beach!


Julia and I took our traditional picture with our newest babies who are 4 months apart.


And here are the boys in their matching camo shorts.


That night after getting the boys in bed, we walked out through our backyard onto the golf course and met up with our friends (who are also now our neighbors) and watched the fireworks. It was pretty cool since we could see two different shows from the comfort of our own home.  Next year I think I may try to master taking good pictures of fireworks…

Horsin’ Around

Every year when we go to Oregon, we always spend one afternoon setting up some props for a fun little photo shoot.  You can see what we’ve done in the past (2012, 2013).  This year was no different, although it was more challenging to get an almost 2 year old to sit still and smile for the camera.  But we did it!  IMG_0264ed IMG_0260ed IMG_0270ed IMG_0282edIMG_0296ed IMG_0295edThen the boys saddled up the horses to move the neighbors cow back into the neighbors field and we spent the rest of the afternoon horsin’ around the ranch. Justin and my mom gave Jake his first horse ride on my mom’s horse, Checkers.  I would love to say that this next batch of pictures is because I think our son is just adorable (which I do)…but in reality they are just pure comedy because Checkers can’t take a decent photo to save his life, you’ll see what I mean. This first one is actually one of the best pictures I’ve seen of Checkers, he looks like a model horse.



But then he does this…IMG_0311edIMG_0314ed IMG_0316ed IMG_0323edThen we get another decent one…

IMG_0318edLike I said in the first Oregon post, Jake loves his cowboy boots and wore them all day, everyday, even while waiting for his bath to be drawn and saying goodnight to the cows out in the fields.
















That’s my Southern California beach boy, look at that white booty!
















It was another fun trip!  On the way home we had a 30 minute layover in LAX and our flight was late leaving Eugene, so we missed our connecting flight, by just minutes…which turned an easy 30 minute layover into a 2 hour layover to get the next flight.  But our little guy is such a great traveler and I’ve learned that an easy way to distract him are lots and lots and lots of stickers.



Tractors and Lone Pine Farms

Once Jake was introduced to all the animals on the ranch he didn’t really seem to care too much about them.  His main focus was the tractors!  My dad has 3 good sized tractors and from the time Jake woke up in the morning until he went to bed at night, all he wanted to do was drive the tractors.  In fact, if my dad would go outside to start the morning chores before or while I was feeding Jake breakfast, he would refuse to eat because all he wanted to do was go outside with grandpa and ride those tractors.

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When they would go on their rides, grandpa taught him which lever made the bucket in front of the tractor go up and down, so he knew exactly what he was doing.
















And when he was on the smaller tractor he would point to the other tractor
















To let us know that he wanted to go on the BIG tractor, which is what he is signing below

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And any mention of the tractors, leads to them being in or near the barn which always leads to the cat who lives in the barn. That was the one animal that Jake had an interest in. Here he saw the cat and started signing cat.
















I think grandpa is going to have a ranch hand who is very eager to drive the tractors pretty soon.

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IMG_2487 IMG_0240edOne day we went to Lone Pine farms which is a really nice farmers market and they had a pumpkin patch set up with fun activities for the kids to do.  We did some shopping and played among the carts of pumpkins they had out front.

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One of the stems broke off a pumpkin and Jake kept saying Uh Oh! and trying to hand it to me like he wanted me to fix it.

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Then we fed the goats

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And I was trying to get Jake to stand by the ruler to measure how tall he was, but he was not having it, so we left shortly after that.  But not without a large box of the apple cider doughnuts, YUM!
















Later that day back at the ranch, my mom got out the bag of train tracks that my grandma had for my brother and I to play with when we were younger and then my nephews played with them and now Jake is having his turn.

IMG_0225ed IMG_0234I have one more to go before I wrap up this trip!

Oregon 2014

We planned our yearly trip up to visit my parents in Oregon a little bit later this year.  It is usually pretty warm when we go in the summer and since we have had such a hot summer in San Diego, I was longing for some cooler fall weather, so we planned our trip for the end of September through the first week of October.  Justin already had a business meeting planed in North Carolina for a couple of days, so we were able to arrange flights leaving within 50 minutes of each other on the same day to avoid multiple trips to the airport.  Justin left for North Carolina and Jake and I flew to Oregon.  Jake did great on the trip, when our 1 hour layover turned into a 3 hour layover at LAX I was a bit worried that I didn’t have enough stuff with me to entertain him for that long in one place, plus all the air travel time.  But it seemed to go by really fast and he provided lots of entertainment for the frustrated and weary travelers at our gate.  By the time we got to my parents house it was dinner time, then bath and to bed.  The next day is when the fun began!  And I will warn you in advance this trip is going to span over a few posts heavy with pictures…

First up on the agenda was feeding the cows.


IMG_9927ed IMG_9930ed IMG_9939ed IMG_9945edAnd while seeing real live cows that close was fun and all…Jake was much more interested in driving the Kubota around.  So Grandpa let him drive all over the ranch, and he was one happy boy!


















After all the morning chores were done, we had lunch and a nap before heading into town to find Jake a pair of real cowboy boots.  Our shopping trip was a success and he loves his new boots and wore them every single day we were there.














The next day my mom and I took Jake to the Children’s Science Museum in Eugene.  They had lots of hands on things for kids to do.  Jake was immediately drawn to the floating boats in the water.

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Then he found this contraption that had a powerful suction that pulled these balls into the tubes and spit them out at another station at the other side of the room.  At first we couldn’t figure out where the balls were going, but once we did, I sat at the other station for a bit and Jake and I sent balls back and forth to each other.

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There was an area that was full of these red balls and he and my mom played in there for a while.  He loved the pulley system and kept winding up the bucket full of balls
















One of his favorite things to do is shout the word GO after counting to 3.  Here my mom was lining up balls on a slanted track
















And she would count 1…2…3… Jake would yell GO and chase the balls down the IMG_9997ed IMG_9995edtrack



























It was a fun place to go and let him run around and play.  Late that evening after Jake went to bed, Justin flew in from his meeting in North Carolina.  The next morning he was happy to see his daddy!  That day my parents invited some of their friends over to practice cow sorting.  This was something new to us, but apparently it is a pretty big sport among some parts of the country.  Basically, there are two round pens set up side by side with an opening between them.  There are 10 cows in one pen that have numbers on them and two people on horses.  A number is called out and one person/horse is guarding the opening while the other person/horse is trying to get the cow with that number away from the others and into the other pen without letting any other cows in as well. It is actually pretty entertaining to watch.  First everyone saddled up the horses and rode around to warm them up.  Jake didn’t like being on this side of the fence, he wanted to join the big boys.


After the cows were rounded up in the pen the games started.

IMG_0054ed IMG_0051ed IMG_0050ed IMG_0061edWe wrapped up the day with dinner at the Dexter Lake Club.  Jake was really loving all the new sights, sounds and things to play with.  He quickly learned how to pick up the grain bowls from the horse stalls and where to put them.  As you saw from the picture above, he loved pushing the broom around the barn and fell in love with the barn cat! I have lots and lots more to share so I’ll be back soon.