A hair sassy

Greta has a wonderful temperament. Like the other two, she is pretty laid back. Rolls with most of our routine, or lack there off. She prefers to be in bed between 7:00 and 7:15, but it is summer time and she accommodates an evening concert in the park or late walk one or two times a week with out much fuss. She has an opinion about a few things. She has decided she no longer likes her changing table (unless you allow her to stand and bang on the window while you change her). When she is hungry, SHE'S HUNGRY!!! And she does not appreciate the parental, aggressive finger sweep of the mouth (enforced regularly because she taste tests everything). So far I have found 3 necklace beds in her diaper - hot pink, red and green. But she is definitely a bit more of an entertainer than the other two. Olivia just always stared at people. I remember the first time we took her to story time at the library and she actually looked offended that all those crazy people were singing and acting so silly. But she was really just taking it all in. Still does that. Joseph, he just always seemed happy to be along. Greta is engaging. She puts on shy, then she starts to work the eyebrows and cut her eyes.
She's fun.

Stinky farewells

I realized recently that I have always been the leaver. Since high school I have moved every 2-3 years. Graduated, job, new job, husband to school, graduated, job. I never loved leaving friends behind, but when you are the one leaving you are usually going to something relatively exciting, so it numbs the pain of the departure a bit.

Since living in San Diego we have had two dear families leave. You know Ms. Minna and Roger (his name is actually Justin, but their last name is Rogers and Joseph used to call him Roger...so I still do). They moved to San Francisco about a year ago (more soon on our recent visit with them). That was sad, but I think we were still so new here and it didn't feel like home yet...and they weren't actually moving out of California...it just did not feel so...permanent.

Well, the Dashers sublet the house across the street for the past year. You've seen Lou in the posts before. We've loved the Dashers. Leigh Ann and I were both pregnant when we met and had Bert and Greta just 3 months apart. We swapped kids and recipes. We shared meals and parenting woes. It was just so easy. Similar sense of humor. Similar love of food (have I mentioned that in three different ways already?). Similar longings for our kids. And different enough in world view and life experience to be interesting and challenging. About three months before they were scheduled to move, I warned Mike that I might need a time of mourning.

I had a lump in my throat for 3 days and the day they moved I cried. The kids and I moped back into the house and unintentionally found ourselves at the kitchen table with every craft item we owned spread about. Subconscious art therapy I suppose.

Leigh Ann texted a picture just the other day of Lou's hands - with BandAids on his thumbs - still wanting to be like Joseph. So thankful they haven't forgotten us, even though they were the ones to move on. It's hard being the ones left.

3 birds, 1 bath

She's finally big enough! (Think Joseph must have had to sneeze.)
She splashes crazy like that until she chokes on the water.
Good times.


One of the benefits of calling Southern California home - this is where we stopped for supper on our way home from the Starr Ranch. Come visit us. Our three children will gladly share their room with you.

Audubon Starr Ranch - A Lengthy Recollection

Back in May we took our first field trip with the charter homeschool group we are a part of. Fantastic. (I said after reading Jane Eyre that I was going to strike the cheap and fluffy words from my vocabulary and strive for more mature and inspiring words. I'm off to a slow start...fantastic.) Anyway, we will definitely re-visit Starr Ranch as soon as we can. The 4,000 + acres were owned by the Starr family until 20 or so years ago when the last family member died and left the property to the Audubon Society. It is now and wildlife and nature reserve. The first part of our day was a mountain meadow hike. Our guide (the guy in the front of the line carrying the stick to beat off mountain lions, should we encounter them), was an astute (thank you Jane Eyre) birder. Sometimes we would just stop and listen and he would name the birds we were hearing. He also did a wonderful (sorry Jane) job of identifying the flora.
Here is some of the fauna.
That gold stuff (sorry Jane) is called witches hair. It is actually a parasite and does simply look like long strands of golden hair up close.
I wish I had made the post right after our return. This is some sort of thistle, but I do not remember what kind.
I (meaning Mike) do remember the prickly pear cactus. There are people who actually boil and at this stuff, after the needles are removed of course.

Stink bug
You can't quite tell from this picture, the haze kept it from being very crisp, but you are looking at the side of a mountain where the vegetation was different as the land rolled and certain sides faced more of the sun.
Forgot what this was called, but the little yellow flowers functioned kind of like a venus fly trap.
The web of a trap spider. Ms. Neely (our homeschool teacher/advisor) organized the field trip. The kids love her and stuck with her through most of the day. She taught them about the trap spider. They build their webs over holes or cracks and then wait in the dark for something to enter their trap. If you tickle their web with a blade of grass, they will think their dinner has come and pop out. We were able to see it happen a couple of times.
The acorn woodpecker. There were tons (sorry Jane) of them. Fit to their name, they eat acorns. They stuff them in the holes they drill in trees, etc. And they are loud. You only think of one sound when you think of a woodpecker, but they have calls too.
We saw these...
...in here.
Starr ranch has four main animals they track - the mountain lion, the gray fox, the coyote, bobcat. There are many others - deer (below), raccoon, opossum - but those are the ones they really watch out for.

Ms. Neely always had someone's hand.

One of the coolest (aagghh, Jane!!!) things the kids got to do was learn how to read a scent trap. They were taught how to tell the difference between a cat's paw and a dog's paw (do you know?) and how to tell the difference between dog poop (scat) and cat poop (again, do you know?). Just 24 hours before we arrived they set up a fresh scent station (with nasty smelling stuff that the animals love rubbed on a rock placed in the middle of a bunch of chalk dust). We checked four stations and saw evidence of a coyote, bobcat, and gray fox. Bummer, no mountain lion. I think this was the coyote...unless it was the bobcat. I'll have to ask Olivia.

And Greta just served as a model for Starr Ranch.

Finches, male and female
Black Phoebe
Adios Starr Ranch. We WILL see you again.

Aboard the Midway

Other than my totally offensive comment, "Joseph! Look at the soldier...uh, I mean sailor," our tour of the Midway was fantastic. We spent at least four hours on it and I don't think the kids complained once. I highly recommend it if you visit San Diego and like enormous air craft carriers and war history. Add in a gorgeous day and some sweet out of towners = a wonderful afternoon.

Can you hear the Top Gun sound track?