Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Makeup Hike To Sandia

After the long hike that we took on Valentine's Day, Dave and I felt that it best that we do a make-up hike for Caiden as he seemed apprehensive about going hiking again. What am I saying...he outright said. I don't want to go hiking -it was too far.

The location of our makeup hike

We made a deal with Caiden. That we would go at his pace, and stop whenever he wanted, and it we did. We literally walked 2 seconds in, and he said he wanted a break. Both Dave and I knew he was testing us, so we did. We sat until he said he was ready to go again, and then a few minutes later he wanted another break. He did this a few times before he realized we were serious...we just want him to enjoy hiking, and guess what. He still does!

Our first rest stop...we stayed here for a few minutes
And we are back on the trail...
Dave and Caiden took off in search of bugs

While Kiya and I played in the sand

When we got to the hike, we met a family who brought a grasshopper with them. Of course I didn't realize this until they were yelling at me, as the grasshopper flew right over and landed on my arse. I was about to sit down on Dave's truck when the family was like..."wait.....".

The lucky grasshopper

It was a nice slow paced hike, and it brought Caiden back to the basics. The thrill of hiking while walking through the beauty of the nature that surrounds us.

the view...there were two guys in a canoe that were fishing (not pictured)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Career Day At Caiden's School

A few weeks ago, Caiden's school asked some parents to come in and present to the class about their careers. I thought that was interesting considering this is preschool, but thought it was nice for the kids to know what their parents DID all day while they were at school.

Well, my job is definitely not as exciting as Dave's, so imagine my surprise when they asked Dave to present. They were so eager for him to present that they told him whatever day he chose, they would block the whole day off for him, so he would be the ONLY presenter. They even asked if he would be willing to do the presentation for the other classes too, which of course Dave agreed to do.
This is Caiden's class that Dave was speaking to

Dave brought in a bunch of fire gear, including an SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus), a pick headed axe, turnout gear, radios, flashlights, his boots and of course some gifts for the kids (coloring books, stickers, pencils, etc...). They combined classes together for the presentation, so he only had to do it twice, but performed for 4 classes. He talked about stop, drop and roll, what to do in a fire, smoke detectors, calling 911 and other important tips and information for kids to know.
Dave in full gear
Dave showing the kids the flashlight

Dave explaining the SCBA and how it works and why they use it.

Dave in full gear
Dave showing the kids how the mask works

Dave is a pretty charismatic instructor, and really got the kids involved, and the teachers too. In one of the classes, he had to put on the gear himself because the teacher who had volunteered became claustrophobic in the fire gear once she put on the SCBA and mask. He had to take it off quickly. The teachers and kids really enjoyed it, and were very thankful that Dave agreed to present. Overall I think it was very successful, and who knows...maybe the information the kids got that day will open the door to conversations with their parents about emergency preparedness! :)
Teacher turned firefighter participant. :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dirty Test Tubes...

I thought that title might get your attention, but despite what you may be's not what you're thinking. :P

You see...Dave had this great idea. I know right? But it DOES happen occasionally. :P We have been doing a lot of hiking, and he thought it would be cool to mark this moment in time, and preserve some of the dirt from all of the various trails that we have hiked with Caiden. This way, long after we are gone, Caiden can look at all of the hikes he went on when he was a young lad. :)

Dave told me about the idea to take a bit of trail from our hikes and put them in test tubes with labels of the month and date. He talked about making a wooden case, or buying a wooden case to contain these vials of dirt. The idea has evolved a little bit further in that we are going to include a photo book alongside the display so that you can see the ages and time pass as we hike with Caiden. We may also get the display engraved with some meaningful words (feel free to provide your ideas of what we should engrave).

This is the finished wooden block that Lance, Dave, and Caiden made

Here Dave and Caiden are making the labels for the hikes we have already completed

Anyway, I thought this was a really good idea. We went online immediately and bought the test tubes and wooden corks. Dave, Lance and Caiden then made the wooden display case that the test tubes will go in. So far we only have 6, but hey we just started. This has inspired us to find hikes in different places, with different textures. This way we will stop going to same old hikes, and venture out into the world in search of new adventures!!!

Hikes we have already least since this idea.

Caiden is really excited about this project, and is already talking about showing them off to his friends. In fact, at Caiden's birthday party today they became quite the topic of conversation, and we already have a play date to go hiking with another family. :) See...who thought that dirty test tubes would be bringing people together :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Surprise Egg Hunt?

Well I know it's not quite Easter yet, but a few weeks ago I got a call from Caiden asking me to come home early from work. I decided that I could do that, and arranged to leave earlier than I had originally planned. When I arrived home, I was greeted by Caiden and a big sand bucket.

Dave handed me a note that said something like
"Well I wanted to ride my jeep today but it was raining, so instead we decided to do something nice for you". (this was transcribed by Dave from what Caiden was telling him).

It was cute. He had hidden Easter Eggs all over the house and there were secret prizes in there. Even Dave didn't know everything that was in there. I had 30 minutes and I had to find as many eggs as I could, and the prizes had to be used that night.

I was looking in the drawers in the coffee table, Caiden and Kiya store toys there

I found ALL of the eggs, but only with help from Caiden who didn't quite get the concept that he wasn't supposed to tell me where they were. He LOVED that part, but Dave was getting increasingly frustrated by it. He kept trying to get Caiden to keep it a secret. Caiden was getting increasingly upset as he wanted to help, and hey...I welcomed the help. :P
Looking under the couch...had I know I would be doing this type of investigating, I would have chosen a better outfit :P

Inside the eggs were:
*Pictures that Caiden drew of us
*Money from his own piggy bank, and he gave me "big money" (quarters - his favorite) Now that is love!
* notes with things that I would get like a big hug from Caiden or a smile from Kiya (at her leisure of course)
*Of course Dave added a few notes of his own in there as well.

And at the end we all went out to dinner. They treated me to sushi while they ate Chinese food. It was very sweet and very unexpected. Who would've thunk that I would be coming home to a surprise Easter egg February? Not me, but I am sure glad I did :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hiking To Tenaja Falls - A Valentine Hike

On Valentines Day, Dave and I decided what better thing to do but go hiking. We figured the trails would be pretty clear as people may have other plans. I'm not really sure why I keep waiting so long after the actual events to post these pics to the blog, as the exact memories of the events tend to fade a bit by the time I want to write the post. One thing that stands out crystal clear in my mind with regards to hiking to Tenaja Falls is how very proud and impressed I was with Caiden. This was a nearly 9 mile trek and he hiked all but maybe the last 1 mile himself (at this point Dave had to carry him on and off for the last mile).

When you look up in books and on websites what kind of trails and the lengths of hikes one should take a child of his age on, it states no more than 1 mile, and here my little man is hiking nearly 9 miles. I will fully admit this was NOT our intention (we miscalculated), he did amazingly well. Thankfully he had new magic hiking shoes (as we had stopped at REI right before the hike to buy me some backpacking shoes, and Caiden some new hiking shoes).

A few a short way through our hike

I just thought these were pretty

We then set out for Tenaja Falls. Now it is quite important when exercising or really when approaching anything in life to set a goal. Caiden had set a goal at the beginning of the day that he was going to hike 10 miles. He even conserved his energy all day until we made it to the hike, because he was dead set on hiking ten miles. While again, we had NO intention of going that far, we were proud that he was setting a goal and trying to reach it. He nearly did too, had the light and our legs not given out.

The kids before the hike. All smiles... you can tell we are hiking. Kiya has a bug on her face. :P
Look at this happy boy with his goal of 10 miles!!

We parked in a bit of a remote location, and I don't even know if where we parked was ACTUALLY a parking spot. It was off the beaten path, and only large enough for Dave's truck - nestled in some trees. We figured we were at a good spot though because there was a post that contained a paper and pencil in which hikers were supposed to check in (how many people where in your party, when you arrived and when you were leaving the hike). That should have tipped me off that we had a slight miscalculation if we were having to SIGN IN to a hike. We hadn't done that for a day hike before.

Dave signing us into the hike
And we are off...with Caiden in the lead

There were some elevation changes, and some hopping of streams and water crossing which was fun. I say that because I was able to stay standing on all 6 crossings - Dave did not fare as well - of course he was carrying Kiya and Caiden. He kind of got the short end of the stick there, but I am blessed with an unnatural sense of grace - yea right...I am SOO klutzy, so I say we were even. :) Dave had a few unfortunate accidents when crossing the water when Caiden would shift his weight so he could see better, but other than that we were unscathed!

Some of the water crossing were challenging.

Hiking up some rocky terrain

Parts of the trail were really pretty and tranquil
So we thought we would take a picture :)

Just another view of the water crossings

We actually crossed a couple of trails in order to hike up to Tenaja Falls. And when we were about a little less than a mile we saw the main area where MOST people parked. We did not know that it existed, but it was just as well...that would be been WAY too short of a hike for us. When we made it to the Falls we took a quick break and had a quick snack. Even though we were a bit tired, we really could not afford to take a substantial break as we were going to run out of light and did not have flashlights with us.

Me sitting on a rock by the Falls. There was a cute couple laying on a blanket by the falls with Champagne, or we would have taken a better pic of the falls.

Caiden chilling. He was doing so well. :)
Kiya wanted a quick snack :)

The way back seemed a lot harder as we were all very tired. Caiden did VERY well and kept himself hydrated, and walking. He didn't complain until the VERY end when we had a little less than a mile left. He kept walking, but slowed a bit. The first sign that he was done was when he drifted behind Dave. He likes to lead the trail and we try and go at his pace. He then started holding Dave's hand. I found him a hiking stick on the trial, but that didn't last very long. I ended up carrying it. Dave ended up being a real trooper and holding him. I was really worried about that though as he already had Kiya in a pack on his back, and now he was carrying Caiden and he was really tired as well. I couldn't carry Kiya because my back is not stable enough to carry a full pack yet. I have to say the last mile was hard. I was done, Caiden was done, Dave was done, and it seemed like every time we thought it was "just around the corner" the corner came and there were miles of trail left. Plus I had to go to the bathroom, and didn't have the luxuries that Caiden and Dave had of christening the trail multiple times.

Dave with Kiya and Caiden

What a trooper Caiden was...this was a long hike for him!!

We FINALLY made it back to the truck, which was SUCH a welcome sight. Then we just had to try and get back to the main road and a gas station before we ran out of gas, which thank God we made it to a gas station. Hiking to a gas station with the kids would NOT have been fun. Dave - always playing games :P

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Snow Firsts: Skiing, Snowboarding and Snow blowing!

So I played hooky from work and Dave, the kids and I drove up to the snow for some snow firsts. Well, technically I didn't play hooky as I DID get my time approved (see how responsible an employee I am *said for those employees of mine who read the blog :P*).

Sounds like a simple plan right? Collect kids and gear, get in car, drive to snow. (I WAS going to say drive north to the snow, but then I thought...maybe north is not the right direction and I didn't want people to correct me so...). The plan was simple enough, but the journey did not come without excitement. We got an early start, and didn't want to backtrack so I met Dave at the fire station as we were going up with Mark and John (Engineer and Firefighter respectively).

It had been very rainy and stormy, so I was a bit nervous about making it up the mountain in Dave's truck. Even though it is an HD truck with 4 wheel drive, we didn't have snow chains for it, so we weren't sure if we were going to make it up without getting turned back around.

Confident as always Dave hopped in the driver's seat and began the drive up. Everything was fine until we got to the snow. That's when it all got a bit too scary for my taste. Scary because we are Cali people not accustomed to driving in the snow, and scary because Dave is quite the adventurous driver (see previous blog entry about our last snow accident...I mean experience). We are on our way up the mountain and the roads were incredibly icy. We didn't have many options for roads as many of them were closed because of treacherous conditions and avalanches. We were doing ok until we got to a hairpin turn on an incline where a bunch of cars had stopped. People were jumping in the backs of their pickup trucks trying to weight them down. They were slipping and sliding, and it was a accident waiting to happen. There were people out of their cars, and one guy who was trying to stop people from going up the mountain.

Some of the cars coming down the mountain would slide right into the guardrail and then have people down at the guard rail guiding the car with their hands away from the other vehicles. Cars were sliding down the mountain, fish tailing, back wheels spinning. Honestly, it is NEVER a good idea to stop on an incline in icy are you REALLY supposed to get traction to get going again. Even people in chains weren't making it.

This is actually of a picture AFTER the hairpin turn. I was too nervous to take any pictures.

Dave jumped out, still in his work clothes, and walked up the mountain to see if there was a wreck which was causing the guy to stop traffic. No wreck. The dude just thought the conditions were too bad and that it was too dangerous for people to go up to Big Bear. Dave had a few choice words for him, and he moved out of the way. A few brave people decided to banzai up the hill, and we didn't see them again. We figured A. They wrecked or B. They made it. We decided to vote for was the nicer of the two options.

We sat contemplating whether to keep going. The scene was scary. No one was able to get started and people were just losing control of their vehicles on the ice. Finally we turned around and started heading back down the mountain until this little voice from the back seat (aka Caiden) said. "But I wanna see Papa and Grammie. I thought we were going to see Papa and Grammie?"

Dave and I exchanged looks, and I told him it was up to him. He could feel the vehicle under him, he was the driver. If he felt that we could get up there safely without wrecking then I would trust that decision, but that I didn't want to risk the safety of our family. I have already been over a cliff once, and it was not an experience I would care to repeat. (Many of the turns did not have guard rails).

Again AFTER the hairpin turn

We decided finally to banzai up just like the two cars we saw before. And guess what - we made it!!! It wasn't so bad. We had to drive slow and keep a steady pace, but we made it safely and without incident. In fact the worst of it was when that tool of a guy who made everyone stop because that's when the accidents were starting. People couldn't get started again, and then they were sliding down the mountain barreling at the other vehicles.

We FINALLY made it up to see Jim and Sue. The kids were so excited! Kiya quite enjoyed being out in the snow, and Caiden got to try out snow blowing with Papa Jim & SKIING!!!!

Papa Jim explain how to use the snow blower
Papa Jim teaching Caiden how to snow blow
Caiden snow blowing

Caiden took ski lessons and did SO well!!! It was so cute, and I am very proud of him. He couldn't stop talking about it. I had to steal the following pictures from Sue's blog as I don't have copies quite yet. We were nervous about going down the mountain as it got colder, so we didn't have time for me to download the pictures she had taken with her camera.

Caiden is the cute one in front with the orange hat :)

He did so well, and LOVED it!

He talked about this part for awhile. He liked this escalator part
And here is the grand finale!

I even got to try out snowboarding. Despite the less than friendly people that worked at Snow Summit, Mark Murphy (Dave's engineer) took over as my snowboarding instructor and taught me the basics. It was extremely nice of him to do that, especially since his family was there and I am sure he would have preferred hanging out with them.

Me halfway through the day. I'm actually ON the snowboard, but it's covered with snow so you can't really tell.

After several runs on the bunny hill, Dave decided to take me up the REAL mountain. I cautioned him that I was new at this, so I didn't want any black diamonds. He tells me "don't worry...I know the perfect hill". Famous last words. As we are riding up the ski lift, I see signs that say "Inverted aerials not recommended". I'm thinking..."well, I sure as heck am not going to TRY to do an inverted move, but I can't really control myself that well" but as I am looking around there are ramps, and jumps and all sorts of inappropriate maneuvers for someone like me with 2 hours of snowboarding under my belt. We get up to the top and jump off the ski lift. I gaze down the mountain and all I see are hills.
Dave skied instead.

I look at Dave and say "I don't think I can do this."
He says "Well, you have to get down one way or another."
My response: "I think I'm going to go down on my arse".

I decided to man up and try to get down on two feet (one one snowboard as it is). At this point, I am only praying that I get down safely. I strap my foot in and start down the mountain. I am LITERALLY praying that I get down the mountain without the assistance of one of those big dogs with the barrels around their necks, or worse the snowmobile unit. I am goofy footed, but unsure so I am basically trying to head straight down switching my positioning of my lead foot every few seconds. I get halfway down and am so thankful that I have made it halfway and I am not in traction yet. Then I realize that they have closed the rest of the mountain and they are sending me back up a ski lift and now I have to do it ALL OVER AGAIN. I am nearly in tears at this point.
That's me, and Mark is the guy in the background. He had a prime spot for all of my falls :)

We get back up to the top and I sitting down strapping my foot in the snowboard when I see Mark. I swear angels could have been singing at this moment! I was like Great!!! Someone who can help me get down the mountain, because that is my only goal - getting down in one piece. But no...Mark doesn't let me just take the safe route...he makes me do tricks and learn. Which at the end of the day, and when I finally made it down the mountain I appreciated, but at that exact moment I was less than sure.

All in all it was a really fun and excitement filled day and I can't wait to go again. :)