I can hardly believe we've been here three weeks tomorrow! Time has just flown by. We've been having tons of magnificent adventures with GranEde and GranDude, as well as having some really nice hanging out time. The first week we procured some ride on toys. GranEde and GranDude have a not so small house, with a not so small driveway/parking area that is PERFECT for riding around on. We got two trikes and one push with your feet toy. The driveway has a small slope that is just enough to get the kids going pretty fast. On the first few days, they were pretty cautious about it, but they have since learned that they can zoom down the slope and turn to make a full circle at high speed. Thanfully we've only had one moving accident and that was a minor one. We've actually had several more serious accidents, but those were low speed, head to pavement ones. It is certainly nice to sit outside with the kids, nursing Leila, in the beautiful weather, on vacation!
I've really felt like its vacation because I've had very little house running or errands to do. I mostly take care of the kids (even that I'm getting some vacay from) and the laundry for my heathen horde. GranDude and GranEde have pretty much been taking care of all the choosing what's for dinner and then the emplimentation of said meal. I have to say, I seriously LOVE this part of being on vacay. I really enjoy cooking at home and the kids eat really well, ie there is generally very little complaining about what we're eating, BUT it is soooooo nice not to have to think about it at all (if I don't want to)! We join GranEde for lunch when she isn't crazy busy, which has been most days. Then we get dinner fixin's and run errands. We've been to the library, down to play in the river, down to the playground and done other fun 'round the city activities.
On the weekends we've also had a chance to do some more sightseeing type things. We hiked to a waterfall one Sunday afternoon and had a GREAT time. The waterfall was beautiful and the kids had a blast playing in the water. Talia kept wanting me to take her all the way out to stand under the water fall. I was not really keen on this idea as 1) the water is from snowmelt and is COLD 2) I thought she'd probably flip out when she got soaked and wet and then I'd be stuck with a screaming Talia! I finally convinced her that wading was just as good. Isaac, on the other hand, was more than content to stand with his toes barely in the water. He wanted to throw rocks. No wait, he NEEDED to throw rocks. We got down to the water and the first thing he does is picks up a rock and looks up at me to check if it was alright. I thought it would be fine because there was noone else in the water. But GranDude had witnessed some adolescent boys throwing rocks (one nearly hit Talia) whose parents had made them stop. So we thought it wasn't a good idea to allow Isaac to throw rocks and possible encourage the older boys. I told Isaac no and he said "What if I throw them underhand?" And I said "No, we aren't throwing rocks." Then he looks down and looks up at me, "Well, can I drop them?" Oh my gosh. He just HAD to do something involving rocks falling through the air. I did consent to allow him to drop the rocks because I figured the only person he could hurt would be himself, when he dropped the rock on his own toe. It was amazing how content he was to pick up handfuls of rocks and drop them in the water. The hikes that we go on to see the waterfalls are so nice because they are all relatively short. There are longer hikes to take, but the shorter ones are just perfect for little legs and short attention spans.
GranEde had last weekend off call, which meant that we could go anywhere and do anything since she wasn't in danger of being called in! Yippee! She has no office hours on Friday, so we took the day and went to a place called Wildlife Safari, just south of where GranEde and GranDude live. It is a giant wildlife refuge that is drive through! That's right: a super cool, really nice to animals, driving zoo. My big bone with zoos is that the animals are kept in relatively small cages. Now I don't know if this bothers them, but it always seems a little sad to me. This refuge is huge and has tons and tons of space for all the animals. We saw lions, ostriches, bears, cheetas, buffalo (we even saw a buffalo baby that had just been born, it was still wobbly and the mom still had afterbirth stuff hanging out), giraffes, hippos, elephants etc. The kids had a blast. They really enjoyed looking out and seeing the animals. Plus they got to be unbuckled from their carseats and move around to get a better view.
On Saturday we had a fantastic and fabu visit to the ocean! The day was sunny and warm, the breeze was light (sometimes at the coast the wind just howls and makes a visit pretty miserable) and it was a perfect day for walking on the beach! We first visited a lighthouse that sits on the beach at the mouth of a river. The kids had wanted to visit a lighthouse, but were a bit underwhelmed because we couldn't acutally go up into the light portion. (This was with good reason: the stairs had rusted out and were no longer useable. They are in the process of being fixed, but it will be a while.) So we headed out to the water. Boy were the kids a kick! The water was cold and the waves have quite a strong undertow, so we didn't let them go out very far. They were all very cautious in the beginning, but Talia and Elie soon got more comfortable with the feeling of the waves. When a wave would come, Talia would lean backwards with the rushing water. I am sure it was because she felt like she was moving with the water. Isaac did not ever get comfortable with the water because of that very moving sensation. He was convinced that he was going to get carried away by the waves. However, he did love the giant sandbox and all the treasures that the waves washed up. At one point he had picked up a rock about 10 inches long and a good 8 inches around. I asked him what he was doing because he was trying to carry it while he walked. He told me it was his "plant" and he "was going to take it home." I asked him to put it down, as I feared greatly for the general health and well being of his toes, and he replied "but it's my plant and I need it." I did finally convince him to put it down and he went on to digging in the sand with a broken shell. Whew. Elie is the only one who got soaked and that was completely unententional. She was squatting down to rinse her hands and a wave took her by surprise. It totally knocked her over. She came running over to us, spitting and rubbing her face. "That water tastes salty. Ewww, that is terrible." The beach sure did wear them out though and it was amazing how fast they fell asleep and how hard the sleep was. It was a wonderful day.
GranDude's work here is drawing houses. He occasionally visits work sites where they are building and is occasionally called upon to inventory building supplies recieved from the supplier. We were lucky enough that he was supposed to inventory some supplies at a work site and so he invited us to come along. Boy was it exciting! First we got to see a forklift type machine take the supplies on pallets down off the bed of a semi. One of the workers even rode on the forks of the forklift to help hold on some tippy boxes. Then GranDude took the kids inside the house, where they got to "walk through the walls!" For the grand finale, the contractor offered to take the kids up on the man lift. It is a machine designed for, well, lifting construction workers and their tools. Elie was the only one who was comfortable enough to do it. She was hilarious. She got up there and had a HUGE grin on her face. Then it went as high as the roof and the grin was still there, but her eyes weren't grinning anymore. So she said it was high enough and they moved back down to the ground. She had such a great time.
We've also had the opportunity to attend an outdoor concert series they have here at a local park. The concerts are free and open to the public. Sometimes the performers are a little random, but often they bring in well known artists. This week we saw The Wailers. They are headed by Bob Marley's son and do reggae. We had a BLAST! We took a picnic dinner, walked down to the park by the river and listened to some music. The music really was good (they even played some old standbys that I know) and the kids really enjoyed dancing and picnicing. I was so surprised that we stayed through the whole thing. GranDude and I were completely prepared to leave at a moment's notice due to meltdown or tiredness or boredom, but that moment never came. They were totally consumed with dancing around and listening to the music.
There are even adventures at GranEde and GranDude's house. They have a "windup cd player" (victrola, which we are going to demonstrate one of these days), a "bottom washer" (a bidet, which the kids absolutely cannot get their minds around and keep asking hilarious questions about), a "potty kitty" (portia the cat who comes to get pets whenever somone uses the potty) and deer and other wildlife. Today I discovered that Talia has been hanging from the toilet paper holder in the bathroom (it is just mounted on the wall and apparently seems as though it should be used for hanging oneself from, instead of just toilet paper) and all the children are drawn to rock as furiously as possible in one of the rocking chairs to make it jump on the floor. It is so much fun being here and it is amazing how much they all have grown and changed in the three weeks we've been here. I just wish we lived closer. Adam comes on Sunday and we'll have another week of supreme adventures and some whole family vacation. I can't wait to see what happens next!