1 Ben's birthday weekend festivities start with a beach party to celebrate along with friend Eva, who turned 4 a few days ago. This is Jonah splashing and the other boys are in the tidepool in the background.
2 Underwater picture! Sam and Aiden!
3 It was a little wet at first - but the cave provided shelter for the sprinkles and shade for when it warmed up.
4 Sam found a lava shelf to jump off of.
5 And I sneaked out for a snorkel, and found this fish! Big one! And relatively new to me I think. Must look him up. - Ringtail surgeonfish. Apparently surgeonfish are so named because they have sharp scalpel-like things near their tail fin that can really give you a nasty cut.
6 Time for cookie cake! Look at Ben's face - he kept wanting more and more and more! Nice new swimmers thanks to Gramma!
7 Rinnah has frosting-stache :) That's Giji, her sweet mommy.
8 MD, Sam and Jonah in the tide pool.
9 Giji going in for more shells to decorate the sand cupcakes.
10 Ben wanted "swings!"
11 Ok little buddy...birthday swings it is!
12 Like a kettlebell, only he laughs :)
13 Whew! Looks like my face got twisted, doesn't it? That's some G forces, man!
14 There we all are...Mike and Mary are with us soaking in some sun. Liisa is waving. I don't have any pictures of Michelle standing guard on the lava shelf before almost being swept into the water by a rogue wave...maybe Giji or Liisa got one of that :) Thanks guys for a great time!
15 Enjoying a visit with Mike and Mary before they head to Maui for a week.
16 The boys just adore them! Ben especially likes an audience.
17 Now the boys and I are off on a camping trip, to celebrate Ben's birthday but really just to get off the grid and refresh our connection with each other. Sam is strong enough to bang in al the stakes now. I guess this is a tradition - taking pictures of Sam banging in the stakes. Some day I should line up all the camping stake-banging pictures to enjoy his growth into manhood :) What a big help he is.
18 Then off to the playground for some fun after setting up camp. We were at the campground and checked in by 9:21 am. At the playground less than an hour later. Nice to check in 5 hours early and get that much more camping time in :) Sam really liked that we got an early start. Ben looks like he's snowboarding down the slide.
19 A nice shave ice reward for hot boys!
20 This was a cell phone pic sent to daddy so he could enjoy seeing the boys.
21 Now Ben is napping (after some convincing) and Sam is enjoying some quiet time in the shade, building.
22 An after-nap swim in the little channel, which is calmer than the body-surfing quality waves at Bellows. The wind was really howling. I got cold!
23 We got a little sprinkled on and cold in the wind, so we went to the bathrooms and ended up taking a hot shower, after which dinner seemed in order. He we are grilling spam (yum on the grill!) and spaghetti and meatballs in a can. This is ultralight camping at its best. See the boys' faces? Pretty funny looks they're giving their dinner :)
24 But boy did they chow it down! If you cook stuff that is already ready to eat out of the can, all you have to do is warm it up. Easy. Then if you cook in a can, you just ditch it, no cleaning. Like that when camping solo.
25 Whoa! Look at the face! Sam and I enjoyed watching Ben eat! That rain jacket works well as a bib, too :)
26 See how clean Sam's face still is? Amazing! And corn out of the can. That spam was good, I tell you.
27 Lots of roaming around possible at our campsite - this is an after-dinner hike that Sam took Ben on while I cleaned up. He took care of his little brother. Love seeing them have space to roam. Sam really enjoyed spreading his wings, later saying "That's how a boy's life should be, room to roam."
28 Now mom is along for the hike!
29 This is all space around our campsite - it backs up to the woods. There are little trails that Sam finds and follows, then takes us on a route nearby.
30 Ben found a little military figure - appropriate at Bellows! - and we managed to hang onto it for two days. This is "the Bellows guy" to add to his other "guy" at home.
31 And the boys found lots of tree snail shells, which we later turned into a neat craft. I think they found a dozen of them!
32 And here's our bee hive in a nest.
33 Ben is handing Sam a huge snail shell as we get set up for s'more time. Sam kept them safe in the cup holder in his chair.
34 Sam is roasting marshmallows with his own method - he says "You've gotta get it in the barrel, mom."
36 See how we have clothes drying on the truck rack? The tie-downs work perfectly to keep them stowed and not blow away.
37 Nice moments together. Ben rarely (RARELY) sits, so had to capture this moment of us together.
38 Awww...and even a cute smile from Ben! Let's see if we can get Sam to smile, too?
39 Goofs! Ok, one more try...but notice Ben's cough style. He covers like a little old man, sometimes doing fake coughs for attention.
40 Cutie guys! I love you!
41 First morning wake-up was funny - I had dropped a fleece over Ben to keep him warm at around 3am, but look who got wrapped up in the fleece? Thomas pillow! He was like a huge tortoise with Thomas stuck between the fleece blanket and his fleece top! Every time Ben rolled over, Thomas rolled, too!
42 And went with him as he stood up! Sam and I were cracking up!
43 Good morning Bear!
44 Hi Sam! Happy morning to you!
45 Ben and I went to the bathroom while Sam lounged for a bit more. Love the morning sunlight. Thomas along for the ride, of course.
46 We are among the first up. There are very few other people as it is midweek and school is still in session for a few more days. The sun sparkles through the ironwoods.
47 Morning hike to go get some breakfast. Sam loves to take us on all kinds of paths he finds in the woods.
48 Silly pictures full of happy memories. This is a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Cake - hey it's got oatmeal in it, right? Figured it'd be good emergency food should we need an energy boost. We're getting coffee for mommy and pancakes and eggs for us all.
49 LOVE YOU SAM!
50 And look at this big paw grabbing at his!
51 For some reason he stuffs it WAY back in his mouth. I guess so as not to lose even a morsel :)
53 Back at the playground again! This time a bunch of kids were there with us. Sam enjoyed being the sky-diving teacher, showing the kids how to jump off this 5'6" stair top. All the kids wanted to do it after watching Sam, there were five of them lined up at the top. Sam was the youngest at 5, then the next oldest was 7 (pictured here, with great flair!).
54 Look at the smile and the hands, ready to spread his wings for flight.
55 Taking Ben on anothing hike! (Of course mommy is along all the time, but they look so cute almost out on their own :) ).
56 Hey mom - took the kites for a spin. Little tricky in the big wind but fun to watch them dance and do fast circles! Sam took some big waves, then we dug a tunnel together, a big one. Ben swam and then looked for sand crabs with me.
57 After nap, Sam took the chairs one by one up to a special "reserved seating" area for snack time, in a little clearing by a tree.
58 We sat and chatted and laughed, enjoying the sounds of nature, the breezes, and watching clouds fly by.
59 Oh look at these feet, filled with fun dirt!
60 Look at Ben's face - he's always making a comment or a look!
61 There's lots to do if you don't bring any distractions. This provided Sam and I some balancing fun, seeing how far up we could get. And Ben found a tree on the ground that he could walk on.
62 Poor Ben had a cold, going on a week now (brought home by Daddy from his cousins - cross-country colds :) ), but was a real trooper, just a bit crankier than usual perhaps? Or maybe that was the molar that's coming through? Who knows! :)
63 Daddy joined us for a gourmet meal of hot dogs, canned beans with more tiny weiners in them, wine, and fruit cocktail! "That's daddy right there! What's he doing with my dinner?!" says Ben in my lap as I type up these notes. The one toy we brought can be seen by the chairs - a little dumptruck.
64 After dinner romping can be a very funny, messy affair. This is Roach Hill. Sam is digging around looking for baby roaches (yes, yuck indeed!) and Ben is running the hill to the sound of Daddy playing "Up on Cripple Creek" on Sam's uke. Good times.
65 Oh boy! Nice and messy now! Off to the shower :)
66 Then back for more uke playing and s'more time. Love this shot. Can you picture us in 5 or 10 years? I hope we continue to have times like these.
67 Me and my boys - thanks Daddy!
68 Benji asleep like the Princess and the Pea!
69 Awww...love you Sam! Good morning!
70 Boys like to romp first thing in the morning! This is our third day so we are going to find some coffee (didn't end up having any until 10am!!!) and then pack up. Had Little Debbies for boys, first, then packup, then hit Jack in the Box for breakfast sandwiches! yum!
71 Having the Little Debbies on our morning walk.
72 We stopped off at Bead It! on our way home, truck full of gypsy-camping stuff, to get beads and string to make wind chimes out of our snail shells. We spent a wonderful two hours together on this craft, chatting softly in each other's ears as we worked in close quarters stringing beads. Loved reflecting on our time out in the woods with this wrap-up craft. Sam said "thank you for taking time off work" many times to me.
73 And we're done! Driftwood from Hawaii on Sam's right, and from Washington on Sam's left.
74 Daddy did the finishing touch of stapling the rope to the driftwood so we could hang it. Thank you!!!! Amazing memories, again, boys. I love you all!