Camping at Joshua Tree National Park

This past weekend we went camping. Daniel has been referring to it as “glamping” (glamorous camping) … because he’s a punk. For some reason, it is the Forsyth way to not call it a vacation unless you are hurting yourself in some way. Daniel only calls it camping if you are suffering. Evidently, we were not suffering sufficiently enough to call it camping. Moving on …

Joshua Tree is a pretty cool landscape. We took lots of pictures (is it “glamping” because YOU brought the tripod and nice camera, Daniel?? hmm?). I’ll stop harping and let the pictures tell the good story:

Uncle Jeff told stories to the boys and then we put everyone to bed and the parents had fun around the fire, talking, taking pictures of the night sky and then playing with the camera. We used Walter’s phone for a tiny light and then kept the shutter open on our camera and drew all sorts of fun things …

Then we slept … not for very long. But we slept. Daniel slept like a log! I did not. I can now officially deem myself a “light sleeper”. I used to sleep like a log too, when I didn’t have kids, but ever since Noah, I hear everything. I heard the kids moving in their sleeping bags next to me, I heard coughing and sneezing and I heard Ray moaning in his sleep (he does this a lot). I woke up about 7 or 8 times over the span of 5 hours. I kept moving Ray under his sleeping bag covers and moving Liam off the tent floor and onto his mat and pillow … I was exhausted when I woke up the next morning, but that didn’t stop me from making awesome camping pancakes!!

I think it’s my mom’s fault that all of us girls do this. We love breakfast. Whenever we went camping as a family when I was younger, my mom would make an incredibly delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes cooked in the bacon grease, so they were like fritters! I didn’t do the whole sha-bam, I just did Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes. They are Daniel’s new favorite breakfast. It was so much more fun to make all this side by side with my sisters. They appreciate it.

But even before the morning scene got cooking, Daniel and Walter went hiking around the boulders in our campground and Daniel took pictures of the camp site.

Then Emily woke up …

And now I have to make mention of something genius I saw on Pinterest … a hand washing station. It was so useful and since a picture is worth a thousand words here it is. The only difference between this one and mine, was that I didn’t bungee cord the paper towels tot he container. I hung paper towels from a bungee cord hanging from the easy up.

After we packed up camp, we went on a short hike to see an arch.

The boys asked if they could climb on top of the arch and I said no because it was too dangerous, then we looked around for where Daniel had gotten to … and he was on top of the arch.

Let the good times roll

So, a few weeks ago, in the first weekend in December, everyone came. It was the ward Relief Society dinner that Christina and I were in charge of. Well, we’re on the RS Meeting committee and that means that we and about 4 other ladies put this on. It was supposed to be a really nice evening, with a guest speaker and pretty musical numbers and it was a sit down dinner too and it was adult only.

Somehow, Christina convinced Mom and Dad, Bethany and then Mina to all fly down for the event. Mom, Bethany and I sang a trio of What Child Is This (Sally DeFord) and then we had to have Mina fly in if everyone else was going to be here too!! Anyway, it was just for one night. Mom, Dad and Beth flew in Friday and flew out Saturday. Mina made her stay a little longer, but it was awesome for about 24 hours there.

I cannot express how good it feels to hang out with my family. I just love them all. And we are better together. When we get everyone together, stuff gets crazy fun. Friday night, after the dinner, we were going to try and drive into Santa Monica and go to this swanky dessert place that Dad found. And afterall, we’re only all together for one night, so why not? Right? And how often do we all get together? … But Santa Monica and traffic sounded cumbersome so we opted for Cheesecake factory close by. It was magic. I know, of all places, magic at the Cheesecake factory … but it was.

Even waiting in the entryway was a blast. We took pictures and picked out which cheesecakes we wanted to order (basically one of everything) and laughed and talked and pinched each other’s cheeks. Such a blast. All the time. And it’s not like there’s one funny person in the group. Everyone is hilarious and good storytellers and everyone has something interesting to add to the party. You should see Daniel Cakes come alive around my family and tell stories. serious good times. Anyway, it was too chort, but so good. It’s fun that I get to see everyone again next week for Christmas. Damiano Christmas year! Woo hoo!

Don’t judge … this was Saturday morning, before Daddy had to leave. He wanted a picture, so we did it. But we all were in our jammies and no makeup on.

Good way to spend September

It’s still pretty hot around here … like in the 80’s kind of hot … like you wonna go to a Farmer’s Market and then play in a fountain kind of hot. So we did. Aria, Christina and I went to this Framer’s Market in Rancho Cucamonga at this shopping center called Victoria Gardens. And it was a beautiful day. Sometimes the boys are crazy and fight and it’s too hot, but not today. It was wonderful. We bought flavored honey sticks (they had rootbeer honey!), strawberries and the best hummus on the planet along with the greatest pita bread. Then we went to the fountain, let the boys run around in it and sat and talked on a bench in the shade with the babies. Dream. come. true. The boys continued playing by running around on the grass once they dried off from the fountain. And we watched and handed out food and water when they ran by. So good. So fun. Such an awesome way to blow a September day, eh? This is Fall around here I guess :)

Honey sticks

Luca turning his honey sticks into, of course, a gun.

Now this is a rare siting … Rocco in a picture.


I blame ridiculous faces like this on Daniel. Daniel makes the same faces when I hold up the camera ….

At least this shows how Noah has lost his two front teeth and his adult teeth are coming in.

Now Luca is just a child model. He is so gorgeous. His luscious lips (which you HAVE to appreciate in person) and the perfect tan skin and deep, dark, brown eyes. He is just so pretty!

you’re welcome.

Then there’s Chiara, who is THE perfect baby. She was sick today. But still beautiful. I look like someone hit me in the face with a frying pan when I’m sick, but Chiara dons sickness a little better than me.

Emily painted her toes for the day.

Thank you Daniel for creating weirdos that don’t know how to pose for a picture …

Enzo, telling me something.

Zacky. He is fun. He embodies what fun is.

He is being a zombie in this picture.

A little chilly with the wind blowing, but it was 84 degrees. It must be so fun to be Zacky. Eating pita bread, running in fountains, being a zombie for a minute. It’s the life basically.

The sun dried tomato hummus. Ben is taking a swipe with pita bread. So yummy.

Nice moves in the water by Liam.

Noah knows how to get air when he jumps. Noah is a fierce player.

Emily got in on the fountain action too. This girl is a thrill seeker!

Ray … not so much of a thrill seeker.

The scene

Cousins. I don’t know if I ever tire of seeing my boys lined up next to their cousins, enjoying life.

The End :) courtesy of the Blackburn boys.

dancing with total abandon

Is there anyone you can do this with? Dance around with total abandon? I can’t do it with Daniel because he doesn’t dance with me, so I’m always conscious of how I’m dancing because he’s usually just watching … with a huge grin across his face. And with friends, I always wonder if they think I’m weird, or if I’m doing cool enough moves, ya know? The only people I can really let loose and dance with are my sisters.

Well, Aria drove the 30 minutes out here to my house and Christina, Aria and I hung out at my house this morning. The big boys were at school so we let the little boys have a play date (totally unsupervised). We watched the babies, then set the babies up to play and worked out with Jillian. We decided, while hanging with the babies, that we should squeeze in a trip to Michaels for Halloween costume/party supplies and use our 50% off coupons that were expiring tomorrow. While on the way to Michaels, each in our separate vehicles, but caravanning in a row, something happened.

Have you heard that new Katy Perry song? Eye of the Tiger? It’s so fun. It came on the radio and as soon as it did, I called Christina in the car ahead of me and told her to switch her radio station, then I called Aria in the car behind me (twice) and got her to switch to the same station. Then all three of us, while sitting at a couple red lights, danced our hearts out in our cars, waving our arms around and punching the air with the rhythm. I haven’t danced that way in I think … years? And I was smiling so big that my face felt stretched out afterwards. It was so awesome.

Part Two – Christina had left to go home and I was just getting into my car. A few cars over, Aria was sitting in her van nursing Chiara before her 30 minute trek back home. I turned on my car and it was still on the same radio station as Aria’s, and you’ll never believe it … that same Katy Perry song came on again. It was hilarious. I looked over at Aria, through the 2 empty car windows between us and we couldn’t help ourselves. We were wildly dancing again, shaking and punching to the beat … I think I closed my eyes a few times and got some serious moves going. But every time I looked over at Aria, she’d be doing the same thing – just lettin’ loose. I realized at one point, that she was nursing and had a baby attached to the front of her and it made me laugh out loud because I don’t know how she was groovin’ so crazy-like with Chiara nursing! It all kind of ended abruptly when some chick drove up in the empty parking space next to me and Aria and I could no longer stare at each other dancing through blank car windows. ahhhhhh, nothin’ like a good ol’ jam session with sisters.

We used to do this as little girls. And when I say “little girls”, I use that term loosely … we were teenagers doing this. I really remember the best jam sessions happening at the Concord house. But sometimes, when mom and dad were gone and we were all alone at the house, we’d turn on the radio and really blast it, then totally let loose and dance wildly around the family room. Sometimes there was leaping off the furniture and sometimes we were trying to gyrate in the same fashion as Mina. Mina was really the best dancer. She had some pretty cool moves – I think she just had better control of her body in motion. I remember specifically doing a few jam sessions before my first church dance. I wanted to know how to dance there, in front of my peers. So one time, Bethany blasted the music and we figured it out. So fun.

Still jamming after all these years.

the hidden park

Christina called and said her family would be eating dinner at the “hidden park” tonight and wanted to know if we’d like to join them. I have been trying for two days to get out to Home Depot to get more ant killing liquids and I was going to get out tonight. But man I’m glad I didn’t.

She told me to call her for specific directions, but I didn’t. I was pretty sure I knew how to get there well enough and it was the kind of weather that you don’t mind driving around with your windows down in. It must’ve been in the 70’s and the sky was clear, a slight breeze. Just perfect. Turns out, I did know where to go, and as I drove into the parking lot I thought I should be, it was confirmed by the happy faces and waves from 3 dirty blonde headed boys.

We drove up and parked next to them. Christina and Jeff were eating Chinese food on the hood of their car with Emily in Jeff’s arms, getting noodles every so often. Beautiful sight, no?

I got out of the car, the boys ran off in the half empty parking lot with their cousins and I got Ray in his stroller. We headed up to the park. It’s a gated park, kind of up a tiny hill, really hidden by bushes and small trees. The ground at the park is soft, kind of spongy stuff, like turf, that Ray was able to crawl around all over and that was wonderful! Because Ray is turning into the age where he doesn’t want to be held by mommy all the time. He’s his own 15 month old self now and he can crawl faster than some adults can walk. He’s a man on a mission and does things with vigor!

Nothing really eventful happened. But I had a few moments of pure joy. Watching Jeff play football with all the big boys. And really engaging them, playing with them. Jeff is a good big kid to play with. But the highlight was something so small. Christina and I were holding one another’s baby. I had Emily and she had Ray. We would count to three, then drop the babies back and swing them up again. Ray and Emily were all smiles and giggles. For a minute, I had a flash. I thought, “how funny. I grew up with Christina. I know what she was like as a baby, little girl and teenager. It doesn’t feel that long ago and here we are, holding each other’s baby. Babies?! We each have multiple babies! This is crazy and so cool at the same time”. This little flash, seeing Christina and I as little girls and then seeing us in the moment. It was fast, a flicker really and then Christina turned to me, as if she had heard my thoughts and shook my arm and said, “We’re holding our babies and swinging them around together!” We both laughed.

What a moment.