Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Venice Beach

On Saturday we drove up to Venice to meet up with our friends Chris and Hillary. Chris and Steve are friends from their college days, and it had been at least a couple of years since we saw them last. Look at Justus, he was our ring bearer at our wedding, now he's a junior in high school. Daughter Eliza is now an eighth grader, she was at a birthday party when this photo was taken.

We went to Venice Beach for a bite to eat and to hang out and check the sights. This food stand was tasty, Hillary was right. We enjoyed pizza and sausages. Check out the seagull mid flight.

And another seagull hat for Steve. The kids were quite entertained by the birds.

These two fellas washed pots at college, and look at them now.

The kids enjoyed the beach while the adults were able to chat. We were on the sand for at least a couple of hours, that was a nice surprise as just previously Sam was on the brink of demanding that we head home.

Here's Sam, just contemplating life.

Chris and I wanted to get a shot and we were trying to direct Steve to the backdrop we wanted. How bossy...

Cheese! It was a lovely day. Hopefully not too much time passes before we see them again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Knott's Berry Farm

We went to Knott's Berry Farm earlier this month, it was nice having discount coupons. We wanted to check out the holiday decor and the Camp Snoopy kids' area since the kids love Peanuts.

I enjoyed this cute program, three things stood out to me: Charlie Brown's small head, Lucy's fur hair and the sad little tree that exactly matched the one in the comic strip.

This Christmas tree, on the other hand, was a perfect cone shape.

Anna and Sam loved these character cutouts.

Shhh... Sam thinks you can't see him.

Snoopy was a delight as well.

I hadn't been to Knott's Berry Farm for a while. There are several roller coasters, and many tracks run right above you as you stroll the park. It has a more rustic feel as opposed to Disneyland. There are some quieter areas to explore, next time it would be fun to check out the Indian Trails show and Ghost Town.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

San Juan Capistrano, Part 2

There was a nice garden to stroll through on our way to lunch, see the "sheep rock" to the right?

We ate at Ruby's, I think Steve's dad would like the Cola-Cola decor.

Not far from Ruby's is Mission San Juan Capistrano. It was established more than 200 years ago and covers more than 10 acres. It feels spacious, a step back in time. You can have a leisurely stroll on the grounds almost anytime of the year.

We never had access to this Greco-Roman arch area on previous visits, walking up close to it really took my breath away. For a moment I imagined I was at some cathedral in Europe.

Sam enjoyed the atmosphere as well.

You can have a peaceful stroll in the lush gardens so long as you don't have kids wrecking havoc near you...

Another serene spot, beautiful stone cross.

And back to the train station to catch the Metrolink.
This seems to be a habit of mine recently, taking the "good-bye" shots at the end of a trip.
San Juan Capistrano is a wonderful place for a day's visit.

Friday, January 16, 2009

San Juan Capistrano, Part 1

Another activity from late last year... we went to San Juan Capistrano via train. The excitement was tangible as we waited for our ride to arrive at the Santa Ana station.

Can't wait until the train arrives!

We took the Amtrak Train on the way to SJC, and Metrolink coming home. The big differences between the two are (on this route): Amtrak makes less stops, it is an older vehicle, and it costs a bit more. They do run on these same tracks.

We went on the upper deck, where the kids chose to sit across the aisle from us. I enjoy this quiet excitement most of all, vs. the noisy kind.

Of course it became a bit noisy.

It took about a half an hour to get to our destination. Upon walking distance of the station is a petting zoo, Anna was attracted to the larger farm animals vs. the smaller ones.

Los Rios is the name of the tiny historic district adjacent to the station, there are some shops and other areas to stroll around.

I love this sign which points out everything available in the area. Next place, the mission.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mt. Baldy

During our winter break we also took a trip to Mt. Baldy to play in the snow. Steve bought a sled at Costco prior to the trip. It only took an hour to get to our snowy destination and we found a patch of snow off the side of the road to play in.

Here is Steve carefully and dutifully pulling the kids on an icy patch.

Steve and Anna were more in the mood for speed while Sam and I watched with hunched shoulders.

But seriously, out of the four of us, I was least comfortable in the snow. Visions of living in the snow and walking to and from work in Japan and slipping every so often came back to me.

This was not the most powdery stuff this day, but even Sam loved trouncing in it.

We found a premade snowman and added our own carrot-and-raisin touches to it.

Sam joined in on the snowman fun as well.

It was fun for a day bundling up in our warmest gear, to enjoy the brisk weather.

Before we left Mt. Baldy we hiked a bit further up the mountain, where we found a crowd of sledders going down a slick hill. Steve and Anna took their turn on it and found themselves doing several 360's before reaching the bottom, I wish I had a video of it!

Mt. Baldy, a nice quick trip to the snow.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sam's 4th Birthday

Sam turned 4 years old on January 1st. We celebrated with cake and presents in the early afternoon.

Quite recently Sam said he didn't want to be older than 3, he liked being "small" and "young". But now, Sam proudly says he's 4 years old.

Anna and I made Sam's cake together.

This is the first time Sam seemed to enjoy being the center of attention, opening his presents and giving each gift special attention.

Karaoke time! Steve surprised us with his rendition of "Hair", from the musical of the same name.

Yumi and Anna got into it as well.

Anna is thinking, "Mom, not again!"

Rob and Mari had a plethora of songs to entertain us with!

Sam enjoyed all his presents, just a week after Christmas too. Thank you so much!