Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer Break in Oakland

I packed up the kids and headed to Oakland on Friday afternoon. We had a lot of stops on the drive... for potty breaks and for a sleepy mommy who needed to wake herself up on boring I-5. But I made it to Oakland safely and with two very excited kids. We had a fun weekend, filled with tons of Franco-family time. My parents had a big landscaping project planned, which turned out to be a great way for the family to get together and hang out- while working towards a better yard for them! My brother Dave was up from LA, and my brothers Tom, Paul and Pete have all been stopping by to chip in and help out where they can. It's been great to spend time with my brothers- and for the kids to get some special time with this side of the family. Not to mention- the weather couldn't be better! We've been enjoying the cool foggy mornings (my poor, "smoke scarred" kids keep asking if it's ok to be out because it looks "smokey!" Owen even tried to keep Grandma's windows closed the first night, he didn't want to let the smoke in!) And beautiful sunny afternoons. Between working out in the yard, we've been walking, playing in parks, spent a day at the zoo, and an evening at the A's game. Owen is a bit homesick, and asks for his Daddy a lot, but he is still having a great time doing fun things we don't get to do everyday. Kylee is enjoying being silly with her Uncles, especially singing with Uncle Dave and chanting A's cheers with Uncle Paulie and Uncle Tom. Both kids truly love the morning routine with the grandparents, including running and the coffee shop! Here are a few pictures from our excursions so far this week.

The kids say goodbye to Uncle Dave before he heads out.

Fire-Truck ride at the zoo

Airplane ride

Walking around to see all the animals

The elephants were a favortie

The kids were very intrigued by the alligators

Zebras are pretty cool, like Kylee :)

The kids enjoy their big bag of kettle corn at the game

Our group loves the night game, even though we didn't win :(

Another group shot- notice: Paulie lets me hold his beer so I can feel like a part of the party!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

34 Days

I really hate to whine on my blog, but today, I feel the need. Lighting lit forests in our county on fire 34 DAYS ago, and 190,000+ acres later, we are still only 65% contained. I'm not going to complain about the efforts of the firefighters- they are working like crazy in the heat and smoke, and they really haven't lost any major structures with all the acres burned. They have become a staple of our community for the past 5 weeks. There are trucks from all over the state, and other western states constantly cruising through our town or hanging out in our parking lots. We got to know one nice strike crew from Arizona who hung out in the park with us one day. They gave the kids stickers and chatted about all the crazy fire we are having... a good attitude for dealing with it for so long, so far from home. But, IT'S RIDICULOUS here! It's unlike any fire season we've ever seen. Kylee's elementary school, across the street from us, continues to be both a Red Cross Shelter and a place for fire crews to rest during the day. My friends are teachers at the school, and with school scheduled to start in mid-August, they are a bit frustrated with not being allowed inside to prep for the year. There are still new mandatory evacuations almost everyday, and some of the families being evacuated are doing it for the 3rd and 4th time. It is beyond frustrating for these families, who are constantly wondering why this is happening AGAIN- and getting very little info.

The hardest part of everyday life is, without a doubt, the smoke. There are all these visibilty and air quality guides for us to follow. The guide says the air can be: healthy, moderate, unhealthy, very unhealthy, and hazardous. They basically say that even in the "moderate level" children, elderly, and people with respiratory or heart conditions, should limit outdoor activity and just stay indoors. That if you can see or smell smoke, stay inside. We have been in the very unhealthy range since June, and this week we just entered the hazardous range. We have less than 1/2 mile visibility, sometimes much worse. Some evenings we sit and watch the ash fall from the sky, like we watched the snowflakes in the winter. We all still go out in it, Wes is in construction, and they have long hours in the summer- and he still has to work, and we still have to pay our bills, regardless of how smokey it is. We really don't know what damage is being done to our lungs, we just keep hoping that one day we will breathe clean air again. It's just frustrating to know that all the other fires in the state have reached containment, and we are still sitting in this nasty smoke. We keep hearing how this is "healthy" for our forests, that this kind of burning is natural and good in the long run. I'm sure it is, but what good is 190,000+ acres of healthy forest, when the thousands of people who live around it and take care of it, are all dying off from these toxins. I know that is so drastic, but seriously, I don't know what breathing "hazardous" air is doing to my family- but it can't be good.

They aren't thinking our fires will reach containment until mid-August, so we are looking at dealing with this situation for more weeks to come. I'm tired of wondering if I should let my kids jump on the trampoline or run around for a couple of hours to burn off some energy outside, this is their summer break! We should be outside all day! My mom convinced me to come enjoy a week of fresh, breezy air in Oakland, so I'll take off with the kids tomorrow. I feel lucky to have a place to go to get a break, and feel awful for my community who can't leave, and have to sit and endure it. Let's hope they decide that enough is enough- and find a way to just put the fires out, for gosh sakes!

Somedays, we can't even see the sun- today it's coming through just a bit!

Here's our smokey house today, I used to be able to see the backdrop of mountains from this view of our house.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Super Fun/Busy Weekend in Pictures

Last Day of Swim Lessons

Owen Graduates to Level 2 after doing his "Face-Down Airplane float" by himself for 5 seconds!

Hanging out with the twins at a Weaverville Birthday Party- Kylee holds twin sister Claire...

Owen holds his favorite baby, with whom he shares a name, twin brother Owen!

The kids get some swim time at the water hole

Saturday, we traveled to Granite Bay (east of Sacramento) for our good friend, Jimmy's 1st Birthday Party!

Jimmy's checking out his cool baseball Birthday Cake

We got to do a 3D/4D Ultrasound of our new baby at a great place in Roseville, and found out FOR SURE- that we're having a new baby GIRL!

We visited our new 2nd Cousin, Jacob, in West Sacramento

And got back to Trinity County for Kylee to get her EARS PIERCED by Grandma! Here she is trying to pick her favorite earrings.

The Family gets her ready for the piercing

She was so excited for earrings, she didn't even make a peep! No tears, nothing but smiles!

Cheers to Kylee's new bling!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We love our pool!

We are finishing up our 4th week of swim lessons, and are sad it's ending. Lowden Park Pool is right across the street at our community park, and we have been enjoying swim lessons there every summer since Kylee was 8 months old. This was the first year that I didn't get in and swim with my kids in a Parent/Tot class- they were spoiled with AMAZING coaches who taught them in small group settings. Kylee passed Level 1 the first session and is doing great at Level 2, while Owen is still the youngest little guy out there, enjoying all the attention from Coach Heidi in Level 1. They are getting to be very comfortable in the water- floating, dunking under, and jumping in is no big deal! Kylee is even pushing off the wall and gliding to her teach for short distances, we're hoping to keep coming for open swim, so they can continue to practice their skills.

Wes found out they have a kayaking roll class on Thursday nights, so he's been enjoying some free time to perfect his kayaking skills- without having to drive to the lake or river.

This summer we have gotten so attached to our pool. Not only our we enjoying all the recreation it has to offer, but a lot of the community is getting involved in making it a better/safer place to swim. LAPP has been raising funds for years to build a new aquatic center, and last week they broke ground on the project! They didn't get all the funds to complete all the phases of the project, but they have enough to get started, and many local contractors and crew, led by Scribner Construction, are donating labor on the weekends to get closer to our goal! You can read more about this exciting project here and even donate if you feel moved by the cause. Our family feels especially close to the pool, as all of the old exterior walls, asphalt, and dirt were excavated last weekend and brought to our front yard by the truckloads. Wes turned it into an extra large driveway, and now we can forever feel connected to the history of the Lowden Park Pool!

Here are some fun pool pictures to enjoy!

Our first session- Kylee and Owen sit poolside (notice the old wall in the background)

They love having their own private lessons with Coach Heidi

One of the piles of the demolished wall in our driveway.

Practicing kicking (notice the missing wall + excavation of new pool in the background!)

Owen hangs out with his class

Dunking under is fun!

Coach Quintin catches Kylee after her backwards "streamline"

Kylee's Cannonball!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fourth of July

We had a great weekend, which we kicked of on Thursday night in Weaverville. We met some friends at the park for train rides, "carnival food," and played until dark. The next morning, we had a big trip planned. Weaverville has an awesome, small-town 4th celebration, but we had planned early in the year to go with the whole extended Scribner clan to Fort Bragg to celebrate in the town where Wes and I lived the 1st year of our marriage. It's about a 5 hour trip with no stops- it's beautiful, but filled with long, winding roads. Because of the winding terrain, Wes, his brother, and his dad wanted to make the long trek on their motorcycles. So, Friday morning, they headed out on a sport bike adventure, and all the moms and kids piled into cars and headed out, as well. The kids did good, considering they were strapped into carseats for most of the day- they were great about taking advantage of all potty breaks, and kept the whining to a minimum. Saturday we enjoyed time at Glass Beach, The World's Largest Salmon BBQ in Noyo Harbor, and their Fireworks festivities- which were a bit hard to see through the thick fog that had rolled in. But, since all the fireworks in our part of the state had been cancelled due to fire, we were happy we got to see any! Sunday, we had a big breakfast together celebrating my nephew, Taylor's 4th Birthday, visited the skunk train depot, and hit the road for our journey home. It was a jam-packed weekend, but was fun to spend some time with the whole family in our old hang-outs, AND away from this darn wildfire smoke! Both the motorcycle riders and the minivan travelers made it home safely, and with our sanity :) We hope everyone had a Happy 4th of July!

We'll miss our town's festivities... but love saying goodbye to this smoke!

My kids on top of the rock they climbed at Glass Beach

Finding a sea star in the tide pool

The cousins with the Fisherman Tribute at Noyo Harbor

Getting ready for the foggy Fireworks!

Owen get's Daddy to cover his ears, just in case it's too loud :)

One of the big one's

Kylee and Owen hope the guys will take them home on the sport bikes

Taylor's 4th Birthday!

All the Car/Minivan travelers pose for a shot at the Skunk Train Depot before the drive home.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's a....

girl... maybe. Or it could be a boy. Our sonogram tech couldn't get a clear shot... she said she's leaning towards a girl, but don't go painting any rooms pink and we should probably have another sonogram to check again. Stay tuned in coming weeks, we'll let you all know when we get a more positive answer on the big gender question.