Thursday, February 9, 2012

Big Bear and Birthdays

Family visit, Big Bear and 2 birthdays. There. That summarizes the past 2 weeks of our existence in short.

The more informative version:
Two weeks ago, my parents (Opa & Oma) came to visit. Yes, they were just here for Thanksgiving, but they wisely decided to escape the brutal cold and snow in Europe for 2 weeks and soak up some Vitamin S in SoCal. Smart. Very smart. We love having Opa & Oma over to visit, but this time it was more of a house-sitting & birthday-celebrating sort of visit. They generously offered to house, dog & cat sit for us, while David and I took the boys for a week to Big Bear. A wonderful prospect: a snow vacation in Big Bear. The drive was do-able, a cabin up in the snowy mountains, sledding and hot chocolate.

Unfortunately, there was a slight gap between the theory and the practice. (Or: my expectations versus reality). The lack of snow made for less than “snowy mountains”. The slopes were beautifully white, but aside from my legs, that was the only whiteness to be found. In addition (and this is a quote from my friend Nina), this didn't turn out to be “a vacation". It was "a trip”. "Vacation" implies that you have down time; time to relax, do nothing, while the children entertain themselves. Sit in the hot tub, without worrying about the children wanting to join you. Reading a book.
Young kids + unfamiliar surroundings + different sleeping arrangements (sharing a room, versus individual rooms) + lack of routine and naps = the need for high parental involvement and with that the sense of vacation is slightly decreased.

However, we had a blast. The cabin was lovely.

Inner tubing down the slopes was the highlight for all 4 of us. The kids loved it and we loved the kids loving it.

If only Ryder wasn’t so darn stubborn and would just allow us to put some sun glasses on his face, he wouldn’t spend the entire day rubbing his eyes, and be irritated by the brightness of the snow.

We tubed, drank hot chocolate

We walked and enjoyed the endless beauty Big Bear nature has to offer.

On Ryder's birthday we visited the Moonridge Zoo; a zoo that houses elderly and rescued animals, all either local, or comfortable in Big Bear’s climate.

The week was filled with lots of cuteness and giggles

yet also with fussing from Ryder who decided that his 2nd birthday (celebrated in Big Bear) was the perfect timing to cut 2-year molars and throw himself full-force into the “Terrible” part of the “Terrible Twos”. Not pretty.

5 days Big Bear was great, it we all decided that it was also nice to return home. Kai’s stomach wasn’t agreeing very much with the bends and turns in the road on the way down to the valley. We stopped pretty much every mile to get fresh air and to allow Kai’s tummy to “feel a bit gooder”.

It took David and me a WHOLE LOT of distracting tactics (I think we exhausted the “distraction tactic supply”) to make it down the mountain, but we did. That night, both boys (and Mama & Papa too) were happy to be sleeping in their own beds. Uninterrupted. Nice.

So, Ryder turned 2 last week. His birthday was filled with the most fussing he did during our trip away.  Molars, frustration, disrupted sleep and routine and "missing" home were all underlying causes I assume. 
Kai turned 4 this Sunday. I spent Saturday in the kitchen, baking cupcakes. A lot of cupcakes. Cupcakes for soccer practice, cupcakes for the little family gathering on Sunday and cupcakes for school today. That was a lot of baking and a lot of frosting. But, the result was awesome and the most important thing is that Kai loved them.

The b-day started with the discovery of the living room AND his chair (Dutch tradition) being decorated. Next was Soccer practice with Coach Rocco & Coach James. Fun fun fun. The theme: CARS. Lots of revving up engines, sprinting, sharp turns and crossing the finish line (aka scoring goals). Cupcakes to share at the end.

Upon arrival at home:

followed by cake & pizza with the Opa, Oma, the Godparents, Godbrother & sisters and our friends Amy & Danny with their daughters.

In the afternoon we went to see Puss in Boots and on our way home we made a stop for frozen yogurt. Once home, the new bike had to be put to the test. Without any prior practice (well, once, but that wasn't a success), Kai took off.

Ryder followed in his brother's footsteps with his newly acquired SKUUT, only to decide that he didn't like groove on it too much.

On Monday, the birthday celebrations continued at school.

In class the party continued

and Mommy brought in the aforementioned cupcakes, which were much enjoyed by his class mates. The extent of helpfulness among the kids amazed me when 2 of them expressed the cupcakes weren’t quite up their alley and a couple of others generously offered to consume their cupcakes for them. Gotta love it when kids are there to reach out for each other (‘s cupcakes) when needed.

The past couple of weeks have flown by. Opa & Oma left his morning and Mommy started to: return the house and its members to a certain routine, prep to go back to work to start the Spring Semester, clean the house, do last year’s taxes and … the rest I don’t remember as Ryder shredded the page with my 2012 to-do list in a million plus 1 pieces. Oh well, I guess I’ll be done quickly this year.

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