Sunday, October 15, 2017

Oliver's 10th Birthday

We can hardly believe that it's been an entire decade since our family expanded from two to three when Oliver arrived one day early at 3:14 AM.  That may have been a sign of his personality to come.  He is punctual and has anxiety if there is even a chance that he may be late.  He's leaned from his Daddy that if he's not 10 minutes early, he's late.  He also likes to know the plan, like his Mommy.  His due date was October 15, I went into labor on October 13 and refused to leave the hospital without a baby in my arms instead of in my belly.  After 24 hours of labor, Oliver arrived in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday October 14 in between the Colorado Rockies playoff games.  (We'll always remember that Oliver was born the year that the Rockies went to the World Series as the playoffs were often on in the background.)

We approach life in a very practical way.  I didn't cry on the boys' first day of day care, or first day of Kindergarten.  Birthdays are always shocking to realize that the boys are getting older (as are we), but they don't typically cause hesitation.  Typically, we are excited for the boys as they are busting with excitement themselves.  Until.... TEN!!!  As I was driving to the grocery store, thinking about my list, it dawned on me..... I needed TWO birthday candles.  A "1" and a "0".  TWO CANDLES!!!  This was it.  He would forever have TWO CANDLES!!! 

Ten is huge.  Oliver has been anxiously counting down the minutes until ten finally arrived.  We have been holding onto nine as tightly as possible.  

Either way, time ticked on and ten arrived.

Saturday morning, Oliver strolled into our room declaring how tired he was.  Is this it?  Ten is the magic marker for pre-teen exhaustion? 

We rolled out to the kitchen where a stack of gifts awaited his arrival, most of which were wrapped in glorious shipping wrappers from out of town family.  With both boys in soccer most nights of the week, the packages were delivered and stored in Keith's office and nobody seemed to notice.  It made for quite a fun morning for our birthday boy.

First up, a bag from Mommy, Daddy and Kellan.
Mysteriously, there was bag from the Oregon Ducks store.  Interesting considering none of us have been to Oregon lately.
A new #10 Oregon Ducks Jersey for our 10 year old Ducks fan as well as a yellow Oregon football shirt.
(Thanks Chet for helping us make this birthday boys wish come true!!!)
It's funny how Aunt Lindsey and Uncle Jeff knew that a glow-in-the-dark light-up ball would be a perfect gift for his glow-in-the-dark soccer birthday party.
Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Brian must have known that Oliver loves a good challenge with a brain tease.
Nana and Papa's gift got the biggest gasp when he realized that he had an entire box of brand new fluorescent orange golf balls with his name printed on them.
For the breakfast of champions, waffles packed with protein.  It may be his birthday but he's still got a soccer game this afternoon.
Before he changed like superman from Oregon to Edge Soccer, a traditional birthday photo.
We can't believe how big he's getting!
We blame it on the jersey making him look like his shoulders are much broader than they really are :)
Before the party could begin, we had business to attend to.  As we drove to the soccer field, the cloud (singular, one HUGE one) moved in with ferocious wind and the temperature dropped.  The wind howled, the boys jumped up and down in an attempt to stay warm and then the game was on.

Both boys played at the same time, so Keith and I divided our viewership and switched at half time.

Kellan may have had sunshine on his field, but it was still quite chilly and you could almost see his goosebumps from the sideline.  Regardless, it didn't put a damper on his drive to the goal.  He came close, but that goalie had his number and stopped it short.

The boys were freezing (parents were freezing too, but we can't complain as we're actually dressed heat to toe!) and they put up a tough fight but fell short to their opponents.  We packed up and headed into the wind (literally!).  "Lean in, boys.  Put your head down and drive into the wind!"  Seriously!

By the time we got home and Oliver's friends arrived and claimed that they were ready to party into the wee hours of the morning (they were aiming for 2 AM.  Funny Boys!) the wind had slowed down which automatically made it feel warmer.  

After 5-6 years of these boys standing in front of my camera, they have nailed it.  Quickly stand, smile and be done.  It's that quick, then I'll leave them alone and they can go about their  competition of choice.  :)  (My heart swelled with love for them all!)  

Kellan, Luke, Ethan, Adriano, Chase, Owen, Oliver
When it's October and glow-in-the-dark soccer is on the agenda, plates full of lasagna and garlic bread are a big hit.
But first.... two candles.

Happy "10" Oliver!

Also a first... birthday "O"regon donuts in lieu of a cake.
(the donuts were a HUGE hit and they kept coming back for more.)
Happy Birthday Handsome!
The party gang!
Luke, Chase, Ethan, Oliver, Ariano, Kellan, Owen
The singing was loud and proud.  Even if most of them had to hold their ears.  They sang and laughed and loved it!

It was almost game time and Commissioner Keith picked the team, thanks to the help of some playing cards (the boys loved this method.)  The teams changed every time a team got to 5 points and the ref got to pick the next teams (so be respectful to ref Kellan).  It worked like a dream and everyone loved it.
(he seems to think that the party is best when shirts are optional.  that kid!)
Game on!!
Photos in the dark are literally "point and shoot", hoping you get something.
The boys did have a spectator show up (bottom left of photo).  He heard there was a big game happening and he wasn't about to miss it :)

I literally couldn't see anything except lights flashing at me when I took this.  I promised them a quick photo, pushed the button and let them run.  Fortunately, you can see almost everyone.
Kellan the Ref.
He may have found his calling with this job.  He especially loved the whistle and making calls.  He threw out a few "red cards" that were ironically shaped like a red maple leaf.  The boys loved it and amazingly the ref's calls stood.
After the consensus was that it was too cold to play soccer outside at night, they all filed inside for some water, popcorn, Oregon football and another challenge.  Next up, championship corn hole and ladder golf in the basement, complete with their favorite music.
They decided the format, how they would pick teams (again with playing cards) and how they would determine the grand champion.  Then, they all filed downstairs, Keith included.  This may have been Keith's favorite birthday party yet :)
Oh what a night!!!  SO much fun had by all.  By 10:45 PM the boys were all snuggled in their sleeping bag enjoying an American Ninja Warriors marathon.  Before midnight, they were ALL sleeping!!  
7:15 AM, Kellan woke us up and asked if he could wake up the boys.  He had snuck into where they were sleeping and they were all sawing logs.  We gave him until 7:30 and then cut him loose.  We had kids who had to leave and breakfast that had to be served.

Before the morning was over, we got one last photo after some had left and some new had arrived.
The boys in the hood: Luke, Kellan, Ethan, Luka, Oliver
Such a fun birthday for Oliver.  THANK YOU to everyone who came to celebrate.

Oliver, we've come a long way, Baby!
Together, we've learned how to be a family and you were the first to make us parents.  It's the hardest and best job that we've ever had and one that we cherish every single day.  We love you to pieces and hope the next ten years go MUCH SLOWER than the first ten. ;) 
Love You Oliver.  Happy Birthday Buddy!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Our Happy Place

We went into the summer with no plans of taking a family vacation.  Then....  that changed and we booked flights to our happy place in Florida.  We didn't tell the boys.  In fact, they thought we were taking them to a friends house for dinner, since that's what we told them.  We just didn't tell them that it may have been that same friends house in FLORIDA!  They thought that it was strange that we were driving toward the airport on a Friday evening, but didn't notice the suitcases in the back of the car until we pulled into the airport parking lot.  The good news is that we have very trustworthy kids.  The bad news is that the next time we tell that that we are going to dinner at these friends house, they may be disappointed if we don't fly on an airplane to get there.

We landed in Tampa at midnight, drove 1.5 hours to Longboat Key, FL and woke up the next morning to our Happy Place!

We spent the next week working on our tans and not much else.  The boys fished in the canal for fish and the ocean for treasures.  We dodged daily rain and thunder storms, observing how the thunder rolls across Florida unlike the Colorado Rockies where the sounds smacks into the mountains and is shortly cut off with a loud clap.  We survived the melting humidity and took note on all of the new and unique places that we sweat from, a point that we could have lived our lives without knowing.  We confirmed that the bugs preferred a full on buffet of Carrie and Kellan where as Oliver and Keith must be a bitter bite because they were mostly unscathed.  We laughed, loved and lived it up for the entire week, just the four of us, together!

Disclaimer....  you're about to embark on a week of photos from two cameras.  This equates to about 200 photos.  You are spared the iPhone photos since we can't seem to get those photos onto my new PC.  Someday, maybe I'll add those too :)  Enjoy!

The boy have been asking to go fishing all summer.  In FL, they fished EVERY morning, EVERY night and sometimes in the hours in between.

It didn't take long for them to bring in their first fish.

Oliver was stoked with the first fish, which was identified as a sheep's head.

It may have been little, but it was something to be mighty proud of.
Kellan brought one in right after Oliver.  It could be heard from miles away from whichever fisherman had one on the hook "I'VE GOT ONE, I'VE GOT ONE!"  This was my signal to sprint from wherever I may be with my camera.

After fishing, swimming, eating, sleeping, lounging, reading.... we would swim and float at our leisure.

Even if we were on vacation, swimming laps and working on freestyle form was a perfectly appropriate activity.
On Sunday, we had our first full day at the beach.  We hiked it out with our lounge chairs, snacks, beverages, floaty tubes and kites!

It was a PERFECT, GORGEOUS day on Longboat Key!

While the kite marked our spot on the beach, the boys hunted for sand dollars at the bottom of the ocean.  Oliver found this one which was still alive and moving!

We had friends come to see us from a nearby town and we floated the day away in the warm Florida water.
Lorelei and her girls.

Lorelei and I were friends in high school and have stayed in touch ever since.  It's so fun that they now live so close to our favorite beach destination so that we can visit when we go to our Happy Place.

We don't see much of the boys when we are at the beach.  What we do see is their feet in the air before they dive to the ocean floor.

So fun to see you, De La Cruz family!  Thanks for coming to see us!!!
Sometimes, when I leave a camera on the beach, the paparazzi come out (um.... Keith).

That evening, the boys fished.
The next morning, the boys fished.

Mommy.... she lounged.  
Fish, fish bate, fish guts....  they belong nowhere near this lady.
Before dinner... the boys fished.
Oh yes, we missed a day at the beach, prior to this.  Oliver has an expander in his mouth and Sunday afternoon it decided to fall off on one side while he was diving for ocean treasures.  We spent Monday hunting down an orthodontist who would see him so that they could take the expander out until we returned to Colorado.  After that, we dined on BBQ.  What else would you eat when you have struggled eating for weeks?
Put the fishing pole in the canal, pull out a fish.  Even if you're dressed for dinner.
Kellan won the award for the biggest fish, so far.  It was a big (yucky) cat fish.

Another cat fish, this time for Oliver.  I hope Daddy doesn't fall into the canal trying to bring it in.

The next day, we went to "shark tooth beach" or officially, Casperson beach.
The beach was crowded and not nearly as pristine as our usual beach, but we were determined to find shark teeth.
We didn't have the special tools, but the boys dug, sifted, dug, sifted.

They would have dug to China, but eventually gave up.  They found 5 or 6 shark teeth and we called it a day.

The next day, we tried something completely new and went kayaking in the mangroves and across the Sarasota bay.
Kellan was my co-pilot.  He may have been the cutest co-pilot on the bay.
Daddy and Oliver tried to win the race, but we all know who the family rower is.
We made a lap around the bay and spotted a manatee in the distance.  The dolphins were being shy, but fortunately for us, we had watched a pod of dolphins swing near the beach for about 15 minutes one day.  We were quite fortunate.

According to our guide, the tunnels were cut through the mangroves years ago.  There were freshwater ponds in the mangroves which were breeding grounds for mosquitos.  It was believed that if they cut tunnels from the saltwater to the ponds, the salt water would kill the mosquito in the ponds.  Since then, the mangroves are now protected and free to grow.  In time, these tunnels will no longer exist.  It was super fun to explore them with the boys.

After a hot and sweaty kayaking morning, we cooled off with a dip on the pool.
The outtakes were plentiful, but we eventually got a family selfie.  This pool was a piece of heaven and the icing on the cake for our trip.
Of course... more fish!
Eventually, we lost count of the fish and we didn't take pictures of EVERY one!  Some of us may have finally found a few moments of complete bliss.
The pool is divine, but it can't beat the beach.  Back to the beach we went.

Really, as long as there are toes in the air, all is right in the world.

I was the official bucket holder (on my feet) for ocean floor treasures.  This is a VERY important job!

Again... the paparazzi was left alone with a camera.

As much fun as the ocean was, the boys would wander in for lunch or a snack now and then.
Sometimes, Keith would bob along in search of ocean treasures on his own.

Sometime later, Keith and the boys floated out to what became knows as "the sand dollar grave yard."  They looked like they were having fun, so I grabbed the camera and started swimming.
I swam.
and swam.
and swam.
and swam some more.
I think they were more than 200 yards out.  NO joke!
The tide had gone out, so it was quite shallow compared to the distance from the shore.
Eventually, Oliver came to save me.
The fam at the Sand Dollar Grave Yard.
Kellan explaining what they were finding.

The water was about 10' deep.  While one boy would dive down to pick up sand dollars, the other would be the spotter while Keith would watch with the snorkeling gear.  It was a well run operation, so they said.  Most of the sand dollars were still alive, but they found numerous perfectly shaped keepers to take home.

Always with their face down, in search of the next big thing.

Keith, making it rain (dollars.... sand dollars!)

More kite action.
It's not every day that you can sail a kite and it stays in position ALL DAY!

When the lighting is warm, the tide is out, the sand bars are up and the boys are uber handsome, a photo shoot is exactly what is on the agenda.

Watch out Baywatch, the boys are ready for you!

The boys found a heap of miniature clams.  They were awe struck, watching the clams try to bury themselves.

Again.. the paparazzi from the beach.

That night, we opted for something a bit more casual and a sunset on the beach.  The boys thought that it was awesome to have drinks out of coconut carved monkey heads that doubled as piggy bands.  When on vacation... you just have to do it.

The sunset was amazing and did not dissapoint.  So fortunate that we were able to enjoy it.

As it turned out, it was ladies night in St Armonds Circle.  What does that mean... sales for the ladies, ice cream for the kids!!!
We sat on this SAME bench with ice cream when Kellan was 6 months old and Oliver was only 3 years old.
We had one final day in Florida, so we went to the beach!
The waves were bigger than they had been in days past, which made for great fun.

The hunt is always on.  This time, for conch.

I tried to take a photo of the slimy bugger, but he was a bit camera shy.

Our camp was perfect and peaceful.  We set it up daily and had it down to a science.  It was home base after all of the wave riding and treasure hunting.

What a week!!!
We LOVE this beach, we love our family!

We threw all of the fish back into the canal, but Keith carved up one cat fish for the boys to eat.  On the final morning, we realized that we needed to fry that guy up.  The boys dined on a cat fish nugget with breakfast.

Bon Apetit!

Survey says... the catch fish was "good" :)

HUGE Thanks to our friends for opening their home to us.  We LOVED every inch of it and every moment we spent there.

Until our next Ham Fam vacation, this one will forever be locked in our memories.  Memories are what we make, whether they are in our daily lives on on vacation.  They are the moments and times that we cherish forever and nobody or nothing can take them away.  We invest our energy into making memories with and for our family.  They are our favorite times and our best gift to each other.

Related Posts with Thumbnails