t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.


Baby Carriers: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

This post is written by my dear friend Brittney. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to baby carriers. Her blog is private, and when I saw this on there with so much amazing information I begged her to post it on my blog! My sentiments are Brittney's, I love my babies close to me. We are not a car seat carrying family. Car seats are for cars. That's it, in my humble opinion. Enjoy this post and all the cute pictures of Brittney and her beautiful baby.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

About Baby Carriers

I love baby carriers. I don't know what I'd do without them! I love having my baby close and having my hands free to do other things. While I'm intrigued by attachment parenting and the philosophies surrounding babywearing, I mostly do it for convenience purposes. Having a good carrier really makes my life as a mom so much easier!

I started learning about babywearing in the months leading up to my son Matthew's birth. I knew I wanted a carrier of some sort, but I was only familiar with Snugli's and Baby Bjorn's. Somehow I stumbled across some websites that introduced me to a whole new culture surrounding pouches, ring slings, wraps, mei tais, hip-carriers, and soft-structured carriers. I discovered how seriously some people take babywearing - we're talking women with closets full of carriers, several of each different kind in various colors, patterns, etc. I became obsessed with researching styles, brands, and fabric options, reading countless reviews and browsing through forums dedicated to anything and everything you'd ever want to know about babywearing. Did I mention that I was a little bit obsessed? Yeah. My husband thought I was crazy. For some reason it totally consumed me. Maybe it was some part of my nesting instinct going wild. I felt an intense need to find the perfect carrier(s) for when Matt was born, as if my success as a mother of two depended on it.

The most addicting thing about it was that there were online forums where I could buy used carriers for cheaper than normal and then turn around and sell them if they didn't work for me. Since before Matt came along until now I've bought and sold more carriers than I can count! After a while I either decided that they weren't all that comfortable, or they just weren't that cute. (There are SO many cute options out there!) Currently, I've just got 4 that I've decided are good to have - a hemp pouch, a Mei Tai Baby mei tai, an Ergo soft-structured carrier, and a Catbird Pikkolo soft-structured carrier. My daughter, Ariana's too big for the pouch now, but I've kept it and the mei tai around for lending purposes. If I had the money, I'd buy even more, but I'm doing fine with the ones I have. :)

Lately I've had people asking me what I think about different carriers, so here's a run down on different types, what they're good for, and why they're a better option than the standard carriers you generally find in stores. I'll start with the "why." I've been rock-climbing enough to know that hanging in a harness is not the most comfortable thing. With most standard backpack-style baby carriers (aka soft-structured carriers), the baby hangs in a similar manner, placing their weight on their lower spine and crotch area. Whether they're facing inward or outward, they're just kind of hanging there w/ their legs dangling straight down. Some people say it can cause hip or spine problems and hinder proper development. (Check out this article if you want to read more about this.) Of course, there are many people that have used carriers like this (myself included) and never had any problems... to me it just looks so awkward and uncomfortable!

Since there are better options available, I like to use carriers that allow babies to be carried in a more natural position. It's recommended that babies be carried with their legs wider apart and their bum down, in a frog-like position - the way a baby is when he's straddled on your hip. Also, it's not recommended that babies face outward in a carrier because it's easy for them to become overstimulated. When babies are carried facing you they can still look around, but they can hide their face if they get tired or overstimulated. For people that insist that their baby likes facing outward best, it's possible to do with different slings and even some other soft-structured carriers that cinch at the bottom (like the Pikkolo) while still allowing for a bum-down sitting position. Another option is to do a back-carry, though that's not possible until the baby is older (6 or 7 months old).

Now for the types of carriers... This is by no means a complete list. These are just the ones I've used and am most familiar with.

Pouch sling

This is the easiest option since it just goes over your shoulder, you pop the baby in and you're good to go. There's no bulk, so they're easy to keep in a diaper bag, and they're super snuggly for newborns especially. I use pouches a lot for the first couple months when my babies are still tiny and sleepy and need that womb-like environment. By they time they're more alert and starting to get a little heavier I prefer other options, but it's possible to continue using pouches in a hip carry until babies are much older. The important thing w/ a pouch is finding the right fit. Though there are some good adjustable pouches available, most are fitted, so you just have to take your measurements and follow the brand's size chart to find the right fit for you. If it's too big or too small, it won't be comfortable. They're supposed to be tight-fitting around the baby, though. It may look like they're being squished, but that's the point! Some popular brands include Hotslings, Peanut Shell, Karma Baby, and Slinglings. (They generally cost around $40.)

Stretchy wrap

Everyone says this is best for newborns, but I've tried it twice now with both Matt and Ari and only ever ended up using it a handful of times. It consists of a long piece of jersey-like material that you wrap around you to hold the baby in place. It allows for a really snuggly carry, like the pouch, but the baby's weight is distributed over both shoulders and your back so it's comfier and easier to do for long periods of time.

I really like the idea of it, I just never liked dealing with so much fabric. Had I figured out how to nurse in it and not have to take it off so much throughout the day, it may have worked better for us. They don't work so well once the baby gets bigger. Popular brands include Moby wraps and Sleepy wraps. (Around $40)

Mei Tai

This is an asian carrier with essentially a square piece of fabric to hold the baby in place and four long straps - two to tie around your waist and two to go over the shoulders. I love this kind of carrier because it allows the baby to be upright but you can get a cozy custom fit since you tie the straps however tight you need them. I used this when both Matt and Ari were tiny and just scrunched their legs up inside. Around two or three months they were able to go in it with their legs out, although I cinched the bottom a bit so it wasn't quite so wide. I used it a lot around the house, especially. Right now I've lent mine to my sister-in-law, otherwise I'd probably still be using it. They have them now with padded waists for when the baby gets bigger. I haven't tried a padded one yet, but I'd like to! The straps are really long, but they're not complicated to use. They can be used for both a front and back carry. Well-liked brands include Babyhawk, Mei Tai Baby, Kozy, Freehand, Bamberoo, and Napsack. (Usually around $80 to $100)

Soft-Structured Carrier (SSC)

The backpack-style carrier is my favorite since for me it's been the one I get the most use out of, and David's willing to use it, too! Really, it's like a mei tai but with buckles, so you don't have to mess with the straps. Many come with sleeping hoods, pockets, and toy rings, which are nice little perks. The Bjorn and Snugli fall under this category, but like I said before, there are so many better options available - more comfortable, better for baby, and cuter! Basically they differ in the width and height of the fabric panel behind the baby, the amount of padding in the shoulder straps and waist, strap configuration, and of course, fabrics. Right now the Ergo is probably the most common, and it's the one I've used most with both Matt and Ari. It's shorter, so the baby's arms can be out, and it's a little more rugged than other options. I'm still using it for front carries with Ariana, but pretty soon I'll probably switch her around to my back. The great thing about this style of carrier is that, if you choose to, you can use them with kids up to around 40 pounds! They distribute the weight really well so you don't feel it like you might with other brands.

My Pikkolo also falls under this category. It's a lot cuter than the Ergo and has great memory foam straps. It doesn't have a padded waistband, though, so the weight distribution is different. What really sets this one apart from others is that you can cinch the bottom to make it narrower for small babies, and you can use it to have the baby face outward if you choose. For me, it's definitely a keeper. Other brands include Beco, Angelpack, Connecta, Babyhawk, andOlives and Applesauce. If I had the money, I'd try them all! (Around $100 to $150+)

Hip Carrier

Basically this is like a SSC, but it just goes around one shoulder instead of two and you carry the baby one your hip. It's especially convenient for errands and things. I had one of these - a Scootababy - and I loved it, but somehow it got lost on a trip to Disneyland. :( Ellaroo is another popular brand. (Around $100)

Ring Sling

I've never used a ring sling, mostly because they look a little too fancy for my taste. A lot of people really like how you can get a nice custom fit, and like pouches, they work especially well with small babies.

So there you have it. Plenty of info and some not-so-great pics. :) If I were to suggest just one carrier, it would either be a pouch or a soft-structured carrier. Really, I think it's good to have at least two - one for when the baby's tiny (a pouch or stretchy wrap) and another for when the baby's a bit bigger (SSC or mei tai). Even though I only use my pouches for a few months, they're invaluable to me during that time. Now, though, I'd hate to be without my SSC. Ariana's 9 months old and I still use it all the time - shopping, hiking, going to the park, going to museums, picnics, etc. I carried Matt until he began walking at around 15 months (he was a late walker!), but I'd like to carry Ari for even longer than that. She's a good little snuggler so I don't think she'll mind. And she's light, which makes it nice. :)

For anyone wanting to learn more about babywearing and carriers, go to The Babywearer website. Once you register you can read all sorts of reviews and visit forums, including their "For Sale or Trade" forum which has some great deals on used carriers. Another good one-stop site to see a bunch of different carriers is Attached to Baby. Happy babywearing!


Homeschool and Public School Combination

Here is the Utah law code if you are interested in partially homeschooling your children, as I have done with Ellery this year. Your principal must comply. I would begin to open the dialogue now, before the new school year. This will allow the school to place your child with an appropriate teacher who communicates well with parents.

Utah Law: Dual Enrollment

53A-11-102.5. Dual enrollment.
(1) A person having control of a minor under this part who is enrolled in a regularly established private school or a home school may also enroll the minor in a public school for dual enrollment purposes.
(2) The minor may participate in any academic activity in the public school available to students in the minor's grade or age group, subject to compliance with the same rules and requirements that apply to a full-time student's participation in the activity.
(3) Except as otherwise provided in Sections 53A-11-101.5 and 53A-11-102, a student enrolled in a public school may also be enrolled in a private school or a home school for dual enrollment purposes.
(4) A student enrolled in a dual enrollment program is considered a student of the district in which the public school of attendance is located for purposes of state funding to the extent of the student's participation in the public school programs.
(5) In accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, the State Board of Education shall make rules for purposes of dual enrollment to govern and regulate the transferability of credits toward graduation that are earned in a private or home school.
(6) The State Board of Education shall determine the policies and procedures necessary to permit students enrolled under Subsection (1) to participate in public school extracurricular activities.


Sunday Insights: Identifying False Doctrine

"Money can't buy ev'rything! Money can't make you a king.
Money may not bring success; Money can't buy happiness!
But of one thing I am sure: Money doesn't make you poor.
Money doesn't make you sad; Money can't be all that bad!"

(Alfred's Basic Piano Library. Lesson Book 1A pg 8)

Sometimes we have those talks we read or listen to which just stick with us. Years later we remember where we were, who was speaking, how we felt, what the message was... This was the case with me around 9 years ago. I was in a large church meeting (a Stake Conference) with around 600 members probably in attendance. The presiding authority spoke (the Stake President).

What Was I Missing?

His talk was on identifying and correcting false doctrine. He spoke powerfully about how he was concerned with the amount of false doctrine being taught (almost always because of benign ignorance) in our churches. He challenged us to identify and publicly correct these doctrines, when it was our responsibility, ie. under our stewardship. I remember feeling struck by his words. And at the same time I was disturbed by them. I was disturbed because I couldn't think or recall hearing anything false taught. I was certain I was in many of the same meetings he was referring to. I wondered what I was missing and why I was missing it.

A Message to the Women

The monthly message in our church magazine this month encouraged women to become "Gospel Doctrine teachers in their homes" and "sister scriptorians." It is we as mothers, who must be able to identify and counter the false doctrines that can overwhelm our children. There are two parts to being successful in this challenge. One, we have to be there and aware. Two, we have to understand true doctrine and the subtle falsities we must correct.

A Lesson at the Piano

Just this week, Ellery came home with a new song in her piano book (as seen above). Most subtle and dangerous were what is unwritten. The melody is extremely catchy. The first two lines are to be played forte (loud), and the last 2 lines piano (softly). It is the quiet little secret of the last two lines that we share and giggle about together...

"But of one thing I am sure: Money doesn't make you poor.
Money doesn't make you sad; Money can't be all that bad"

It is what we think, not what our words profess, which truly describes how we feel. I spoke with Ellery about how the message of this song was disturbing to me. We talked about the true purpose of money, how it certainly can make one sad and extremely poor. My concerns were validated as I shared this story with a neighbor. I began to hum the melody and she stopped and said "Wait! I know that song. I played it when I was little!" She proceeded to sing the entire song word for word. She is 30 years old.

You would think a chilren's piano lesson book wouldn't be suspect to destructive messages. And yet this week, I found it was. I am grateful I am there with Ellery when she practices. I am aware of what she is learning. I am also grateful I can recognize these little things. Another example would be the movie from the Aquarium I mentioned in a post a week or so back. It is the sum of thousands of catchy little tunes, cartoons, commercials, textbooks, slogans etc. that add up to the eventual internalization of false principles in ourselves and children.

Time Equals Insight

I feel my ability to be prompted and directed to recognize these small things has increased significantly. Ten years ago, the subtleties eluded me. However, I believe, in direct proportion to the time I invest in serious study of the gospel, my insight has increased. A major turning point was eliminating the influence of media, in my life. Whereas 2 or 3 years ago, Brent and I would rent movies to watch on the weekends, now we read, study and talk together. It is so much more fulfilling. We reap benefits personally and collectively as a family.

Positive Feedback Loop

As I receive these little insights and find teaching opportunities with my children it is incredibly rewarding. In these moments I feel I am truly fulfilling my roles to nurture and teach my children in a way no one else ever could. It gives me motivation to spend more time with them and to become even more intimately aware of the things they are exposed to. It will only become more difficult as my children get older and experience more independence. Now is the time for me to help them build a solid foundation. Finally I am inspired to search more diligently so that I can understand with increased clarity the true doctrines of Jesus Christ.


Snakes in the Bush

We love them. A little family has moved into our lavendar bushes. Nothing for pest control like a few little garden snakes.

Last year our snakes were MIA. The neighborhood boys took a liking to slaughtering all the snakes they could find. They have been directly instructed to let these little ones be.

When we moved into our home over 5 years ago, we found our house came with quite a bit of stories. Most infamous were the snake stories. The original owner of our house was a Botany professor and the local university. He believed in natural pest control. Under that philosophy he introduced quite a population of snakes into his yard, and consequently the neighborhood.

I don't think any of the ladies on the street were very thrilled. The second owners who "flipped the house" purchasing it at auction literally took a bulldozer to the yard. I guess it was quite the wooded Shangri La. Thankfully they left most of the trees in the backyard for us to enjoy, and a few snakes.


Pink It Is

Little Baby In Me, showed no modesty for our latest ultrasound. All views confirm, there is a little girl swimming around in my belly waiting to make an appearance in just 3 short months.

I even think we have a name picked out. Which is amazing for us. A first. I think I will keep it under raps for now though.

All lab tests confirm my body is functioning healthy and strong so far. And large. (I have put on 25 lbs with still 13 weeks to go... Ahhg!) No protein in my urine, no low platelets... Thankfully, now I believe I can convince the doctors not to jump to any conclusions, without further investigation, if my BP elevates again later in my pregnancy. I really would like to make it through a birth without the nasty pre-eclampsia medicines. They are horrid, causing nausea, panic attacks, chills, convulsions...need I go on?

I am already dreaming up a blessing dress. I have always wanted to make one. And it will be summer, so the fabric textures are so much more delightful for an infant.

Brent is feeling even more outnumbered now that everything is firmed up. He and Mr. Em are going to have to stick close together. But a soft side, never harms a little or a big boy.


How You Know You Roll Ghetto Style...

You take down your Christmas Lights on March 20th.


Disneyland 2010

Disneyland 2010

Be prepared for a family scrapbook post with tons of pictures. We were so lucky to actually have 2 free days at Disneyland. Day one, was courtesy of a work acquaintance of Brent's. He was so wonderful to meet us there and to let us in. Day 2 was our day of service vouchers. It was a close call though, I failed to read the fine print and didn't bring Ellery's birth certificate. They barely let her in. I pled. Each of us experienced it a little differently. Here goes...

Ellery emerged as an ultrabrave little girl on this trip. Somehow she was completely disinterested in the "little kid" attractions, and only sought the thrills. Hence, I don't have many pictures of her, as she was off with Brent on Tower of Terror, Indian Jones, Splash Mountain, Toy Story etc.

She loved loved holding hands, and receiving devoted attention from Uncle Mark, Mimi's youngest brother. Mark is recently retired from being a Disney Executive for decades. Below they look a bit woozy coming off Big Thunder. Apparently Ellery kept raising her arms, and Uncle Mark was panicked she would fly out at any moment.
I think she saved a few big ones for next time, Matterhorn and Space Mountain. If it meant a little time with Papi though, Ellery was just fine on the tamer rides...

Sharing many grapefruit juices with Callista, which came at staggering prices! They use two straws and only drink on the count of three. Then they have to stop at the same time. It has got to be fair right? Also you may want to take note of the sweatshirt Ellery has on. It was a gift from Mimi and Papa. She is so in love with it, I'm not sure she has taken it off since. In her words "Mom I feel like I'm 11 in this sweatshirt. It is just so cute."

On occasion she stole some restful moments in the stroller with Callista...

This seemed to work out fine, considering Emmett would have zero to do with the stroller the entire vacation...we should have packed the chariot... Ellery and Callista are holding their little prizes Mimi and Papi allowed them to pick out.

Highlights for Callista were certainly tracking down as many characters as possible. Cinderella, can you believe we only saw 1 princess our entire visit?
Pluto, multiple times....
Mickey Mouse...she was tickled pink as she received kiss after kiss from the snuggly giants...
Mickey again...I spent an entire morning taking Callista to find the characters. Ellery was much to mature for this (much to our surprise).

Callista also happens to measure exactly 40" and so she rode any of the "big kid" rides she felt inclined to. This included Big Thunder Mountain twice, and California Soarin.

Mostly she just enjoyed the younger rides with Emmett and me (or more appropriately me, as you can see, Emmett wasn't too into the rides ...
...and sometimes Mimi...
and Aunt Cathy when they were a little fast for Mommy.
Highlights for Emmett included riding on Papi's ultra cool motor scooter...

Snoozing for several minutes with Uncle Mark while the rest of the family enjoyed California Soaring...
Receiving his first toy ray gun as a gift from Papi (His face actually lit up the most, with a giant round, puckered mouth "OOOh" when Papi presented him with a skull key chain. Go figure.)...

I think it brought the most smiles of the trip...

Holding hands with Papa...
Doing a lot of watching from the sidelines with Mom...
and lots of waiting in lines with big sister Callista...
Driving the car on the way home to our Huntington Beachhouse after a long day at Disney, he chippered up enormously when I put him behind the wheel as we stopped to pick up some burritos at Chipotle...
Our favorite moments as parents as grandparents...
Posing for endless pictures with little angels that are growing up far too quickly...

Savoring the snuggles...

and giggles...

and silly faces...
and dizzy rides.
Experiencing the excitement through their little eyes...
and faces.
This vacation definitely deserves an encore in a couple years.



Sometimes I just can't help but laugh at my life as a mother with these three little munchkins. As I got ready for bed last night, the following images played back from my day, a typical day...

On my bathroom counter lay this uncapped, tube of lip gloss. I reached to put some on. Then, shocking image came racing into my head. I threw it back to the counter. There it was, this particular tube of lipgloss in the hands of Emmett my 2 year old, during a diaper change that morning. He gleefully smeared the tube from his gooey tongue straight to his bare, barely wiped, bottom. He had the most delighted smile as he spread the lipgloss all over that little bum. Defiled!!!

After brushing my teeth I climbed into bed searching for my alarm to set. No where in sight, I found it laying behind my bed. As I picked it up, it slipped through my hands. It was covered in a nice thick coat of coconut oil, lovingly smeared in all cracks and corners. Then it was further dusted with hair and lint from lying on the floor behind my bed. Hmmm...coconut oil. Callista's favorite lotion. Defiled!!

As I lay there laughing at the silly things my children do, one last incident of the day came back to me, and my giggling climaxed. Dinner was finished. We were working as a family to get the table cleared and then kids up to bath. Brent had sent the girls into the laundry room to strip down for the shower. I wasn't paying attention and called out for Ellery to come unload the silverware from the dishwasher. Feet scampered. I called again. This time Ellery came rushing by in her birthday suit, with her little hands pulling her bum cheeks apart behind her... "Okay Mom I'm coming!" I gasped. Needless to say, I quickly excused Ellery to go upstairs straight to the tub. Almost defiled. Significantly defiled!

Quinoa Veggie Burritos

I wish I could say my children devoured these...they don't. They are quite delicious, but far too complex in texture for the taste buds of my three silly eaters. I should probably just puree the filling and they would gobble them up. Brent and I love these. They are super healthy, and easily vegan if you choose to leave off the cheese. Delectable both ways. The way these are toasted, also adds an excellent texture twist to the common burrito wrap.

...recipe from Kitchen Kneads

1 (15 oz.) can black beans (or 2 cups cooked)
1 (15 oz.) can white hominy
1 (15 oz.) can black eyed peas (can substitute other bean of choice)
1 cup frozen (or freeze dried) corn
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1-2 Tbsp. diced green chiles
4 green onions
½ cup yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper
2 tomatoes
¼ cup cilantro
1 (11.5 oz.) can V8 Juice
½ tsp. cumin (optional)
¼ tsp. oregano
1 small lime
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 or 2 avocados
Raw cheese, grated (opt)
Whole Wheat Tortillas

Drain cans of black beans, white hominy, and black eyed peas into a colander. Add corn. Rinse well with cool water.

Dice or chop green chiles, green onions, yellow onion, green pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado. Reserve ½ of the second avocado for dip if desired. Mince the garlic.

In a large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, black beans, hominy, black eyed peas, and corn. Add above mixture. Stir together. Pour V8 juice over the top. Add oregano and juice from the lime (and optional cumin if desired.) Mix together. Gently fold in the chopped avocado.

Place 2/3 cup of burrito filling in the center of a whole wheat tortilla wrap. Fold burrito style securing with a toothpick if necessary. This recipe makes enough filling for 12 to 14 burritos. It huge. Plan to freeze or give some away.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place burritos about 1 inch apart from each other and lightly coat the burritos with olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, until the top of the burrito is toasted golden brown. Turn burritos over and coat again; then bake for 10 additional minutes until all the burrito is toasted and the filling inside is hot. Serve with avocado ranch dip and garnish with cilantro.

Wrap leftover burritos individually in aluminum foil. Reheat in oven set at 400 for 10 minutes.


Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach California!

Our first night in Huntington we stayed at the Hilton Beachfront Resort. Our house was not available until Monday. I do not recommend the Hilton. While the room was nice, and the view great, there was much left to be desired.I thought it would be fun for the children to have a swimming day at the pool. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. It was windy and about 60 degrees. But we made a valiant effort regardless. Perhaps it would have been okay if the hotel hadn't decided on this particular day to replace their transformer, causing the entire hotel to lose power. They failed to mention this slight inconvenience. Think hauling a pregnant body and 3 kids up 11 flights of stairs, in our swimming suits and flip flops. We still may have been okay with the hotel if maybe our "snack dinner" hadn't cost $100 for side salads and extremely unhealthy grilled cheese for the kids. Frustrating to say the least.
After our freezing cold swim we explored the boardwalk and sucked our daily Jamba juices. Tragically, we forgot our blendtec at home. It sat lonesome on our counter, and we had to accept the fake, veggie-less versions offered at Jamba. I don't think the kids ever complained ;)
Mimi and Papa arrived Monday afternoon. We moved into our beautiful rental house, a block off the beach. (I found it on a website called Vacation Rentals By Owner, it wasn't a steal but it is still off peak and so it was a bit better than usual.) It had this fabulous porch to sit on in the front of the house. I spent hours sitting there, soaking in the Vitamin D and reading, and speaking with Brent's parents all about Nibley, materialism, our responsibilities and requirements pertaining to the law of consecration, children...It was so pleasant and relaxing. The girls romped around, trying to sell dandelions and water in dixie cups for $1.
The children all enjoyed the luxurious "jet ski" tub. If it has jets, it is a jet ski tub. They especially enjoyed extravagant bubble baths everynight they could talk us into it.

We tried our luck riding this family bicycle on the boardwalk. I will freely admit, and we all did, Brent did the majority of the work. With a single gear it was a bit rough going in places!
Emmett was enthralled watching the women volleyball players from the pier. Oh no. Already? Thank goodness Uncle Jesse was kind enough to give Brent this subtle sweatshirt while we were in Las Vegas. I may not have been able to keep track of him without it. I certainly wouldn't want him wandering around aimlessly lost among all those bouncing, bikini-clad volleyball players. (Brent says I need to clarify here, there were only about 6 of them, and they weren't even cute.) Whew.
Of course, we had to eat at Duke's, the classic restaurant on the beach. It is our favorite in Hawaii, we've eaten at the one in Tahoe, and now in Huntington beach. We actually ate there twice and the children loved it. One thing I have learned is steer clear of childrens menu's. Who decided the best foods for kids are deep fried chicken fingers, grease laden grilled cheese, mystery meat hot dogs...need I continue?
I always order a meal from the adult menu for all three of our children to split. Their favorite at Dukes was the Opah fish. We had a both, and this one restaurant and it made a world of difference. Emmett was actually manageable, because he could run around behind us all.
Certainly, whenever the weather and wind cooperated we headed down to the beach. The house was equipped with beach cruisers, wagons, sand toys, beach chairs, it was fantastic.
Emmett was actually a bit of a stinker this trip. He got pretty tired and wouldn't give Mimi and Papa the love they are so accustomed to receiving from him. This was a typical face for this trip. What a faker. I know.
I was certain to get lots of snapshots of Callista on the beach. And notice the great pier in the background. She still mourns over how she didn't get to go to "Heewaii." I had no idea it would be so emotionally traumatic for her.
This was her first real trip to play at the beach and she loved it. I love her wiry little frame. The way she moves, and the tone of her body, it is like every muscle is on alert at each moment, ready for movement.
The water was so cold! I longed to slip into the Black Pearl (remember my ultra cool wet suit I bought last year for triathloning, in my peak fitness physique) and slide into the water and duck through waves. But alas, it was certainly not to be. I think the Black Pearl would make to my calves and I'd be in eminent danger of losing circulation.Callista loved to make sand castles with me. I taught her all the finer points of sand castle making, from my early adolescent days of living on the shores of Lake Michigan, in the gorgeous dunes of Holland.
Ellery's favorite was to comb the empty beaches for sea shells with Papa. She filled all his hands, pockets, and anywhere else they could stuff them.

One of the things unique to Huntington beach is there are no houses on the beach. It is open beach for miles and miles. It is great because in town, and from our house, there are unobstructed views of the ocean everywhere. Plenty of room for crazy kites, lots of volleyball and tons of surfers.
I think my favorite part of this vacation, was simply the time to sit around and talk as adults. On the beach, the porch, in the car...It was so relaxing and intimate.
We will surely be returning to Huntington Beach.