Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Avila Beach

I've been looking over photos from this summer and realized I hadn't put any up of our trip to the beach this summer. We took a longish road trip down to visit with friends, who took us to one of their favourite ocean hang outs: Avila Beach.

First, we found a parking space on a weekend (!) Next, we visited their small but wonderful aquarium. I think our house is bigger than this place, but they have a lot of heart, and good exhibits:

Main room, showing regional fish in their natural environment.
The starlight netting on the ceiling is a nice touch. Gives the place an air of excitement.

James people watched for a bit, then got a proper look behind him ...

Jellyfish! As in SpongeBob and
Finding Nemo - JellyMan!!!

Lots of round tanks, some with currents swirling gently.
After this, we ate some packed snacks and headed for the beach! Kids frolicked and adults looked on in second-hand happiness. It was a lovely, lazy, refreshing visit.

How he usually starts off.


James got very confident, letting the low waves crash into him and laughing with joy.

Special Exposure / Wordless Weds: Camp Wacky

Yes, TWO Special Exposure / Wordless Weds. posts this week!

The kids are attending their second week of summer camp and today was Wacky Wednesday. James' sister was so excited about it that he was too. They both took care to dress up. The counselors dress up and encourage all the campers to as well. I was so glad I'd had my coffee -- it was quite a site to see at the morning drop off!

James picked out a wacky outfit of his very own for the first time (last year he was content to let Mom slap a huge sombrero on his head and call it wacky-fine). The hat that his dad got for him, Dad's tie, and his shoes on the wrong feet. Wow he loves that last one, every day! His big sister racked up another award ... and she didn't even bring the hand puppets!

Prizes are given out to those who make an inspired effort at wackiness. It's such a smart idea, because getting to wear strange things like PJs, ties, and feather boas (and monster feet) to camp makes the day seem extra special - like a summer Halloween.

For more images from the heart and to share some of yours,
visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs

               and ... Wordless Wednesday

The Fuzzy Kid

This guy keeps life interesting in our house. He's a sweet adorable menace of a kitten-cat who will turn 1 in September. Oh how he wants to be outdoors, but we're keeping him in. It's just safer that way, and our outdoor cat has taken down enough birds for them both (and an awesome tally with the rats from the field behind us).

Today he wanted to bug his mistress, James' sister. She was picking every ripe grape from our vines.

Yes, they are very early this year!

Special Exposure / Wordless Weds: Ice Cream Clo-n

Sonoma County=Agriculture. Summer=County Fair. Clover Dairy booth=Free ice cream!!!

Is this not the perfect summer pic?

yessir, good to the laaaaast drop!

Clo's a popular kind of cow!
It's true: For several hours each day the fair is open, Clover-Stornetta hands out free scoops to the public. And it's mighty delicious too!

I've seen Clover milk cartons at our summer breakfast table for decades. Their clever ads crack us up. As their memorable tag line says:

For more images from the heart and to share some of yours,
visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs

               and ... Wordless Wednesday

Monday, July 29, 2013

Magic Marker Monday: Fair Contest Entry

I took James and his sister to our County Fair this weekend. It's a summer tradition for my family. It's been harder and harder for us to finance outings like the fair, however. Last year, I stumbled across a great way to get in free: enter a contest.

In May I watched the public notice shelves at our library. When the fair contest book and entry forms come out, a healthy portion of them get delivered to the branches. The 3 of us sat down and ... procrastinated. Until the very afternoon the entries had to be postmarked. Then, I rounded up the kids, markers, and crayons: Time to colour!

Here is James' (a little blurry):
Entries were on display in the craft hall, in big binders

and his sister's:

and mine:

A couple of weeks ago, our entry tickets and participant ribbons came in the mail. So not only did we create something, we got prizes for doing so. I think this could be the start of a new family tradition.

For more great masterpieces or to share some of your own, visit
5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

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An Excellent Time at the County Fair

A summer weekend, and the kids want an outing. I want time to enjoy with them and the great weather outdoors. Luckily, I planned ahead! Last month, we entered a Fair contest (colouring a pre-printed drawing) and were mailed free tickets to the fair to go see our entries -- and a whole lot more. Because I saved a lot on admission, I was able to buy some ride tickets.

But first, let's start off right, with perfect weather and crowds. It was hot, but with breezes off the coastal fog bank. There were enough people to create an upbeat buzz but not so many that it was hard to wander and look at things. Our entry price? Free! We participated in a contest and received tickets to come see our entries.

We began with the kids spinning for free prizes at the credit union booth, and I being handed a credit union backpack to hold the won articles. We then mooved along to free ice cream from Clo at the Clover-Stornetta booth. Yum, it was so good! James and his sister tend to be picky about their ice cream and they ate every bite.

As we finished up we realized we were standing practically at the boarding stop for the buggy ride, so we caught ourselves a pleasant little tour of the fair, driven by a cowboy and his daughter. James tried asking a couple of questions, but I really think he was trying to engage with the cute cowgirl. Her dad explained to my daughter how to properly use a whip (which she'd seen and asked him about) and the spurs.

After this, we decided to try the Butterfly Adventure - a new exhibit to the fair. That was a hit, especially for James' sister. James liked the butterflies, but began to freak out when they fluttered close to him, so our visit was a little shorter than we might have liked. Still, it was a great experience, and no butterflies were harmed by our group.
Intro & info

A look into the butterfly room

This man was very funny; right here he's explaining that the Q-Tip-like objects were truly
handcrafted by Tibetan monks ... during a full moon


I fed one, with my magic Tibetan stick!

It's a moth, I know ... but still!!


Continuing our enjoyment of free fair entertainment, we cruised through the craft halls, where we admired some thematic displays, pies, and quilts. We came across a tiny railroad, complete with some of America's natural wonders ... and dinosaurs. What a find! Even more fortunately, the gentleman who made the entire project was there. He talked so nicely with the kids, eager to share his love of trains and to ask what they thought after watching the cars go around through the fantastic landscapes. I love coming across people like that man.
Jluy 4th display

It's not a county fair without pie!

Just really liked this; the artist is only 16!

Heh. The 10th took 3rd at the LEGO table.

tiny train and park. I wish I had gotten this man's name. He was so genial and nice with the kids.
James surprised me by asking to go on the small roller coaster. o.O  So we all went. He did very well all the way through, but once was enough. His sister took a second ride while we watched. After a long walk through the Midway, big sister decided to try the Fun House. It was okay, but too short. We wound up that area by playing one of the midway games. James actually landed a ping pong ball in a bowl. Alas, it was the colour that earned you more balls to toss, but still, it prolonged the excitement for a bit

We did pause for some nutritious snacks: popcorns, kettle corn, and a snow cone. Then a final look another hall of crafts and art pieces before viewing our entries in their binders.

We saw and did more things ... but they're for another post!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sleepy Saturday

My first weekend morning after my first week back at work started about the same time as usual, but with a sweet twist. James woke up and found me asleep. He woke me up with "Mommy! You're here. Is it the weekend?" "Yes," I told him. He then proceeded to lay down across me sideways, so I could not get up, and announced "I need to stay with you."

 This tall guy is 2 inches shy of 5 feet tall and will turn 9 in January. Somehow, he turned himself into a small cuddlebug, and I sat there loving it.

"What are we doing today?" he asked. "Not a lot this morning. Maybe later we'll go to the county fair," I replied. If James had more mainstream communication, he'd have shouted something like "Yay!!" Instead, he wriggled with delight, hummed happily, and gave off waves of contentedness. We stayed that way for almost 15 minutes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Special Exposure / Wordless Weds: Sunflowers

All of a sudden, it seems like long-planted sunflowers have leaped up into sunny giants. Mid summer is here, and the last few weeks of vacation are ticking down for the kids. I like to capture pictures like this to remind me that these moments were here, and we enjoyed them:

For more images from the heart and to share some of yours,
visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs

               and ... Wordless Wednesday