Natalie's enjoying one of the early Christmas presents from her aunts.
More Christmas presents!
Yes, Patrick is THAT tall!
Lukas is holding Olivia, his second cousin, once removed. I love that our kids know their second cousins!
Then it was off to my sister's home. The kids watched a lot of old Disney videos while the adults were talking...
...and Lukas continued his tradition of making signs for the trails he builds in the back of their property...
...the back of their property being the National Forest, of course. Shhhh!
This was the first time we've put a puzzle together in a long time...that used to be a Thanksgiving tradition, before kids. Now the kids are old enough to even participate! Konrad (our expert puzzler) was especially helpful.
The boys loved playing Monopoly. This was Konrad's first time playing his own money and property and he did well, although he was sad when it was time to go to bed and he hadn't been able to buy hotels yet (houses, yes, but no hotels).
And of course it wouldn't be a visit to the mountains without a good hike each day Here Lukas is posing on a sequoia stump with Natalie in front.
Tom almost got all of us looking at him!
The boys at the base of a smaller sequoia.
Natalie did so great hiking! I know she walked over a mile each hike, each day. That walking to school (3/8 mile) each day is really paying off with her improved stamina. Of course I encourage her with discussions about "looking for Bambi" and listening to the birds in the trees. We wouldn't win any races, but she definitely was able to finish each hike.
The view of the back of the van from Tom's seat.
I love this picture of Dominik posing with a baby sequoia tree. Gary and Rose planted a sequoia tree a few years ago, but it didn't survive. It will be fun to see how fast this tree grows compared to Dominik.
There was some serious Hand and Foot cardplaying going on, too!
A new experience this year was being stung by wasps (yellowjackets). Tom, Lukas and Konrad were out working on trails when Lukas dug into a wasp nest in the ground. He got stung four times, Tom got stung a few times and Konrad got stung once. The next day on a hike, I got stung when the boys climbed a dead sequoia and stumbled upon another wasp nest (thankfully no one else got stung since we were far from home...no baking soda nearby!) When we came home, Tom and Lukas researched California yellowjackets and learned they are most aggressive this time of year: the population is up but the food supply is down, so they were ready to attack if we disturbed their nest.
The boys on a hike around the lake. The cute smiles devolved into silliness, so Tom encouraged them to make silly faces...
...at first Dominik wasn't quite sure what to do. Lukas is giving a great example...
...and Konrad is giving a great example...
...so now Dominik knows what to do!
Tom says this will be the cover of their album one day, when they have a band.
It's amazing how a free game can make the trip go much more quickly!
And we made it home safely...always thankful for that!