Scott and Dietmar Arrive

Late yesterday Jamma’s friends Scott and Dietmar arrived for a short vacation. The boys and I went out to the dock to await their boat; Ezra found a coconut along the way.

Heading out to the dock

As a side note, this is the first time they’ve donned any clothing except swimming clothes and underwear. They were very excited that I only asked them to put on shorts and not shirts (“like the big boys,” Finn said).

Heading out to wait for Jamma

They wanted to test the water, so both climbed down the little ladder.

Finn checking out the water


On the ladder

Then a very ferocious dog showed up and Finn cowered.

Finn cowering because of dog

Here’s the dog.

Ferocious dog

Finally, the boat arrived …

Jamma bringing Scott and Dietmar

… and the weary travelers briefly took in the beautiful surroundings and headed for the swimming pool.

Night Walk

There was a full moon last night so we walked out to the end of the dock to check it out and also look for sea creatures. It was beautiful — the pictures don’t do it justice.

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I also liked the way my flash lit up the water.

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More Swimming

I took some swimming photos yesterday during the boys’ afternoon swim-shirt-free swim time. They were really enjoying themselves — diving for the torpedoes, playing swim tag, and jumping in the pool. It’s amazing to me how much more confident (although still pretty cautious) they are in the pool this year, and how it’s now no big deal to dunk their heads under. It’s a pleasure to watch them.

Happy swimmers

Under water

Finn examines the torpedo

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And here’s Finn diving for the torpedo. He’s moved from retrieving it from the steps only to now getting it from the bottom of the pool.


Our first full day in Belize was packed with our regular activities: lots of swimming, a trip to the beach for sandcastle building, rest time in the middle of the day, and then more swimming/building in the afternoon.

Sand castle

Finn on the beach

There are two well-placed chairs for Jamma and me during the boys’ beach time.

Jamma's and my spot

Ezra waded pretty far out into the very shallow water this time. Apparently, he likes the way the sand and turtle grass feel on his feet.

On the beach

Later we made more God’s Eyes and some paper airplanes.

Making God's Eyes

Making paper airplanes

I’ve been surprised at Ezra’s swimming since we’ve been here. He swam everyday at summer camp and he’s much more comfortable in the water. The little torpedo toys I bought are a hit with both boys and I took a video of Ezra diving in the pool to get them.

He also likes to play a penguin game and I took a video of that as well.


I was struck again by the tropical loveliness here so I took a few pictures of the grounds to share.

From the pool.



On the balcony.


Newly painted furniture

From the balcony.

From the balcony

Morning view

Belize 2012!

Yesterday the boys and I traveled to Belize — the first time on our own without Jamma as our guide since she was already there. No worries though, it went off without a hitch. The mad dash in Dallas from gate C-29 to D-16 made things a little exciting.

We started off very early — woke up at 3:00 to leave the house at 4:00. Finn got up at about 3:15 and promptly dressed himself and brushed his teeth. Excited, anyone? Ezra was a little slower and grudgingly got up, but once he remembered what the day held he perked up quite a bit. We got through the hassles at LAX quickly (thank goodness for curbside check-in and a very nice person working the gate counter who got our seats moved together) and went foraging for breakfast. Then we waited for boarding.


The flights were pretty uneventful. The boys stayed busy with puzzle books, the Sky Mall magazine, the iPad, and, of course, the safety cards. Finn, in particular, is a very safe passenger.

Finn -- the safest passenger ever

They also had a few snacks. (Finn didn’t want to have his picture taken.)

Croissants on the plane

Finn was very proud that he stayed awake the whole first flight and made a point to say that he was still wide awake when we got on the plane in Dallas. Then he promptly fell asleep on take-off.

Sleepy Finn (Dallas to Belize City)

Pretty soon we were over Belize City.

Above Belize

Jamma met us there (yay!) and John drove us all to Municipal Airport, where we caught the little plane to the island.

Belize Municipal Airport

I took some photos out the window, which I’ve done every year but I never tire of the view.

From the plane

From the plane

And soon we were over San Pedro Town.

Over San Pedro

I thoroughly enjoyed this sign at the airport in San Pedro. Things are a little lax here on Ambergris Caye.

Um ... something's missing

Then we took a minivan taxi to the water taxi dock and loaded up the boat for the ride to the house. The boys, Ezra in particular, was in his zen place.

On the boat to the house

And after about a half-hour of unpacking time, we gave in to the begging and Finn got to his happy place.

Finn's happy place

This morning, we woke to a beautiful Belizean day and we’re enjoying this view from the balcony, getting ready to head out to the pool.

Balcony view

Laguna 2012

We spent Memorial Day Weekend with the Bannings in Laguna and had a perfect weekend with shockingly little kid drama, lots of fun activities, good food, and tons of laughs from kids and grown-ups alike.

Of course, about five minutes after we arrived at the house, the kids were clamoring for walk down to the beach. And so we went. Happiness ensued.


All four


Finn and Chapin

Something's funny

Waiting for the waves

On Sunday Rob and Bruce took the kids down to the beach while Cari and I took a long walk. The kids returned to have lunch on the deck.

Lunch on the deck

And ice cream cones.

Ice cream on the deck

Next up was a very elaborate road drawing with sidewalk chalk. First, Finn did some urban planning.

Urban planning dept.

Although I think by the time he got outside the road was at least partially drawn. But it was definitely a work in progress, complete with a monster, a jail, weeds, a bat, a raccoon, etc. By the time I came out, they were starting the races. Of course, there’s always lots of discussion before the race.

Pre-race explanation

And Ruby and Finn showed the course to the participants.

Finn and Ruby explain the course

Finally they were off.

And they're off

Ezra took an early lead.

Ezra's in the lead

The course was a bit quirky. You had to stop to jump on the monster’s eyes.

Jump on the monster

And pull some weeds growing by the side of the road.

Pulling weeds

And say hello to the bat and pet the raccoon.

End of the race

Once running became commonplace, they had a bike race.

Bike race

And then a bike/scooter race.

Bike/scooter race

And then the kids decorated Bruce with chalk.

Face painting

The result

And that’s it for the pictures I have. Bruce and Rob took the kids to the beach on Monday morning as well where they all took turns riding on the boogie board while Bruce pulled them. I think it took all of them out of their comfort zones, which is great. Alas, I wasn’t there so there are no photos.

Thanks again for a great weekend, Bannings!!!

Aveson Camping Trip 2012

It’s that time of year again … Spring Break! And, year two of Aveson’s Anza Borrego camping trip. This year we camped again with the Bannings and Heffernans, and we added the Kimbles and Pintos to the fun.

Ezra and Finn were very excited about the trip and did a little pre-camping in the backyard the day before.


The desert wasn’t the blooming mass of wild flowers I was hoping for, but the ocotillos were stunning.

Beautiful ocotillo

We all trickled in to the campsite in the late afternoon, and after being booted out of our first sites for not being handicapped (who knew it wasn’t just handicapped-accessible but rather handicapped-only), we settled in another set of campsites. We got all the tents up and got dinner ready while the kids played and rode bikes and scooters around the loop.

Here are Ezra and Jack.

Kids' dinner

Here are Charlie, Finn, Chapin, Ruby and Lucy (giving herself a cheer, perhaps).

Lucy gives herself a cheer

While the kids enjoyed their hotdogs and mac & cheese, the grownups had chicken chili. And maybe some wine.

Grownups' dinner

After dark, Bruce rolled out his shadow puppet show — The Three Billy goats Gruff …

Shadow puppet show

… to an appreciate audience.

A round of applause for the shadow puppet show

Of course, we had a campfire and s’mores, too. And then we were off to bed, knowing the kids would be up at the crack of dawn.

The next morning we (eventually) joined the rest of the Aveson group on a hike up the Palm Canyon Trail to an oasis. It was hot. Finn walked a lot, but also got some rides from Bruce.

Finn gets a ride

Ezra led some of the kids (and adults) up the rocky side of the mountain.

Ezra climbs

Finn did a little milder climbing.

On the hike

Finally, we made the 1.5 mile trip to the oasis. Here’s Finn walking toward the pool.

Finally, the oasis

The kids (and some adults) had a great time swimming.

"Swimming" in the hole

After a lunch break, Bruce and Ezra went a little further up the trail with some others. Finn and I stayed behind, and Finn spent about a half hour “mopping” this rock with wet palm fronds.

Finn mopping the rock

Then he turned the rock into a rocket ship and counted down to blast off.

Finn up close

Finally we started the trek back to the trail head. Here are Ezra and some friends on a rock about halfway down the trail.

Ezra and friends

On the way, Ezra and I saw this little baby Bighorn Sheep drinking from the stream.

Baby Bighorn Sheep

Finn, who walked the whole way back instead of begging for shoulder rides, promptly passed out in the car on our way to buy ice in town.

Finn passed out promptly after the big hike

That evening when the wind picked up, the Heffs, Kimbles and Pintos broke camp and headed home, fearing a bad night. The die-hard Bannings and Moisions hung in there and had an eventful but not unpleasant night. The scattered rain drops, thankfully, did not turn into a full blown storm. And, hey, who doesn’t enjoy putting up the rain fly at 2:00 a.m.?

The next morning was crystal clear, chilly and beautiful.

Sunday morning

We had a feast of scones, bacon and hot chocolate before packing up and heading home.

Finn has a breakfast scone

Four Days at Jamma’s

The boys and I had four lovely sun-filled days at Jamma’s this week. We swam.

Swimming at Jamma's

Well, they swam. I enjoyed this view from my lounge chair.


They played with the penguin costumes that dropped from Santa’s sleigh into Jamma’s garden.

One happy penguin

They ate cotton candy ice cream at the street fair.

A palm tree just their size

Boys and their Jamma

They squeezed tangerine juice from the fruit from Jamma’s tree.

Juicing with Jamma

They even got a little rest.

Sweet sleepers

And miracle of all miracles, we actually tried taking a family photo.

Family photo

Or two.

Family photo

Laguna, Part II

We got to go to Laguna with the Bannings (well, three out of the four of them, anyway) again this weekend — a much welcomed post-Thanksgiving mini-vacation. First up on Friday afternoon was a walk to the beach for Cari, Bruce and the kids.

First day in the tide pools

I, on the other hand, got a nap … in this perfect spot on the deck.

My nap spot

Saturday, we took a morning trip to the little aquarium in Dana Point, which was mildly successful but I think we were all just too sleepy to really enjoy it. After a little rest back at the house, we took the kids down to the beach where a good time was had by all. Here are some of my favorite pictures.

Ezra and Rub "surfing"


Ezra jumps

Ezra and Ruby

After the kids did more running and jumping than I can imagine doing in a whole week, we finally made it over to some tide pools. Lots of warm water for the kids to jump in and some really interesting sea life.

In the "pool"

Tide pools

Tide pools

Sea star

Bruce found the tiniest hermit crab ever.

Tiny crab

Ezra and Ruby really enjoyed the tide pools.

In the tide pools

We managed to get the kids out and back to the house without too many meltdowns. The busy day paid off — they were all conked out by 7:30.

More pictures are here.

Weekend at Jamma’s, Part II

Sunday brought us some rain, temps too chilly for the pool and a trip to the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert. Fun ensued.

First, how cute is this spontaneous hand-holding on the way to the museum entrance?

Sweet boys heading into the museum

On the motorcycle.

Riding the motorcycle

Making a pizza.

Finn makes a pizza


Ezra does some shopping

Finn shops


Ezra paints the car

Examining a bird at the veterinary clinic.

Finn examines the bird

Taking the bird for a walk.

Finn takes the bird for a walk

And finally, running around like crazy people with hula hoops.

So much fun


After a quick hodgepodge dinner, we headed home and hit a crazy storm — pouring rain, lightning that lit up the whole sky, pounding hail that created hail berms in between the freeway lanes. Scary but interesting, and best of all we made it home safe and sound. Thanks, Jamma!

Weekend at Jamma’s, Part I

We finally got our Jamma weekend before she heads back to Belize next week. The boys couldn’t wait to see her. Before we left our house Friday afternoon, Finn made me go back in to get his haircutting gear because he just had to give her a new ‘do. Shortly after we got there, he and Ezra sorted all the tools and started in on the haircut.

Jamma gets a new 'do

Later, Finn got his secret outing with Jamma — a trip to the pool. They started out in the “cajuzzi” (as Finn calls it) and, therefore, never made it to the big pool because even though it’s heated it’s just too cold by comparison. Needless to say, Finn was thrilled when he got back.

Saturday both boys couldn’t wait to get out to the pool. We held them off as long as we could because although it was sunny and gorgeous, it was pretty chilly outside. But we finally did get to the pool and had an afternoon full of swimming — both in the big pool and the cajuzzi.

Ready to hit the pool

Ezra's quicker to jump in

Ezra's so happy to be swimming

Finn still touching the bottom

Later, we ordered pizza for dinner and the boys had a picnic on the living room floor. Finn was spent from a busy day and he fell asleep quickly just after 7:00. Ezra, on the other hand, got his turn for his special outing with Jamma — they walked across the street to Rite Aid for a scoop of ice cream. He came back covered in blue cottom candy ice cream proclaiming that he had a new favorite flavor.

Jamma and I didn’t make the same mistake Saturday night as we did Friday night when we stayed up until midnight. We were both sound asleep by 10:00.

Quick San Diego Weekend

We went to San Diego over the weekend, first and foremost for my dad’s cousin Dale’s funeral on Saturday. It was a sad occasion — he was a great guy — but it was nice to see some family members I haven’t seen in quite a while.

After that we went over to Grandpa Bill and Grandma Therese’s house where the boys swam … for about two hours. I took lots of pictures and video because I’m still amazed that they’re so comfortable in the pool sans swim vests. Of course, they’re cheating most of the time with paddle boards and/or flippers but I’m going to let that go. Here’s Finn getting a little help with the flippers from Grandma.

Finn gets flippers from Grandma Therese

Bruce and Ezra did some racing. It’s hard to beat Ezra when he’s wearing flippers.

It's a race ... and Ezra's winning

Here’s Finn laying out the rules for Grandma … and eventually doing a little swimming, too.

Ezra spent a lot of time diving for the orange shark. He mostly needed help but toward the end was doing a lot of it himself.

Despite the swimming bonanza, we also got to see Laura and her boyfriend, Eric, for a lovely grownups only dinner, while the boys got some extra grandma and grandpa time. On Sunday we headed to Peter and Kathy’s new house which was spectacular. The boys had a great time playing board games and reading books with Peter. They’ve really taken to him with our two recent visits.

Unfortunately we couldn’t stay longer but we fit in just about as much as we could in a short period of time.

Tuesday – Traveling Home

And now for the long journey home. We spent the last hours at the house rushing around to finish packing and get a little food into the kids. Rachel (the caretaker’s wife) made cinnamon sugar fry jacks for us which was a lovely gesture … and they were delicious. Pretty soon, the bags were all packed and we were headed out to the dock to wait for Armando’s boat. Finn, as he had for the entire trip, refused to wear shoes.

All packed up

The sunrise on the water was a gorgeous send-off.

Sunrise on the dock

Soon enough, we were on the little plane.

On the small plane

Then a bigger plane.

Finn peruses the safety info

Then a tram in Miami; then the biggest plane.

Final plane home

Miami to L.A. was a long flight and I was dreading it. But the boys did unbelievably well. Shockingly, neither slept but were still in good spirits when we hit the ground at LAX. We finally got our luggage (no small miracle after the craziness of customs in Miami), and found the shuttle to our long-term parking lot. Finally, our minivan. Five minutes in both boys were fast asleep.


Monday started as several other mornings did: a walk out to the dock with Jamma to look for stingrays.

Looking for rays

This time I tagged along to see if I could get a picture. We didn’t see the giant one they’d seen other mornings, but this spotted one did show up. Ezra named him “Spotty.”

"Spotty" the ray

A little later, at a more reasonable hour, Janice and I went into town to do some shopping. I got a gorgeous Mayan jade pendant from our favorite jewelry store, and we had a nice lunch before heading back on the 12:30 water taxi. Finn was napping so Ezra and I spent some time on the balcony, where I noticed how sun-bleached his hair has gotten.


We spent a little time in the pool in the afternoon and then Bruce, Janice and I went out to dinner at Mambo. We had a lovely time — good food, good conversation, lovely surroundings. On the walk home we saw this giant hermit crab.

Giant hermit crab

The boys (and Erin) were fast asleep when we got home. Bruce and I spent some time getting us packed up and ready for our early boat ride in the morning. Finally, sleep.