Playing in the Sand

I don’t know why I dread sand. I always loved playing in it when I was a kid. I remember my dad made me a huge sandbox right behind our house that took a whole dumptruck load of sand to fill up. My brother and I played for hours in the sand either playing with trucks and tractors or cooking up a whole array of foods with sand as the primary ingredient.

Now though, I’m responsible to keep things clean, so it has changed my whole perspective on sand. I think it’s the thought of sand in the shoes, sand in the hair, sand in people’s ears, sand in the bedsheets at night, sand in the car, sand everywhere, that I don’t get too excited about. Last week, my sister-in-law decided we should take seven cousins to go play at a beach on the Oregon Coast. It was fun! I enjoyed taking pictures of the kids playing to their hearts content. It was good for the kids too, because they don’t care if there is sand in their hair or in their bed or wherever. They just get to be one with the sand and that’s what matters. (They all did have to take showers that night, because they had sand everywhere, in their hair, in their ears, you name it. I managed to only get it between my toes, but I probably didn’t have as much fun as they did. Although taking pictures is a favorite of mine, so maybe I did.)

JD Boy Buried

Some of the kids dug a deep hole. JD Boy wanted to show how deep the hole was. (You might notice that he has a splint on his left hand. He fractured his hand about a week ago while roller blading.)

Baby and Sand 2

Baby just loved throwing the sand. She just scooped up sand and threw it and repeated the process over and over. She was in sand heaven.

Baby and Sand 3

She also found it challenging to climb the sand hills. She always was asking me to pick her up and carry her, but instead, I stood there and took pictures of her struggling. She doesn’t look too bad for the struggle. It was good for her.

Zippy Jumping

The older girls enjoyed turning the sand dunes into a gymnasium. They jumped. They whirled. They flipped. They cartwheeled. They loved the soft landing.


My kids love it when we go to Nebraska. Here are some pictures of the things they love in Nebraska.

We all love Nana!

Nana and Baby

Some pretty Indian corn that Nana grew and the kids got to pick. Everybody loves picking things from Nana’s garden.

Hand picked Indian Corn

They love Papa’s tractors.

Up on the Wheels of a Tractor

Baby in a Wheel

They love riding on Uncle’s 4-wheeler.

Out on the Four Wheeler

They love playing in the blow outs.

Getting Dirty

G'tums Getting Dirty

And they even think it’s fun digging potatoes, because on Papa’s farm, we get to do it with the aid of backhoe.

Digging Potatoes

Baby Picking up Potatoes

Animals in Everglades National Park

Of course, birds are our favorite to see in new places, but we saw some very interesting animals too. Reptiles definitely ruled the day. We saw very few mammals. I’m not sure if we saw any mammals while we were in the Everglades National Park. We couldn’t even think of any squirrels that we saw there. Oh, I remember now, we saw some dolphins. We weren’t able to identify which kind though.

Here are a few pictures we caught. (Captions: Top-American Alligator; Middle-Congregation of Alligator Hatchlings; Bottom-American Crocodile)

American Alligator

Congregation of Allegators

American Croc

Here is our list from Everglades of non-bird animals that we saw (both reptiles and mammals.)

American Alligator (and a congregation of hatchlings)

American Crocodile

Florida soft-shell turtle (in pond)

Common Snapping Turtle

Unidentified Sea Turtle

Unidentified Dolphin

Birds in the Everglades National Park

We were very excited to take some time to visit the Everglades National Park. We left the rainy Pacific Northwest to soak up some much needed Vitamin D and whatever else we gain from real sunshine.

We saw so many things at the park, that we just can’t find in the Northwest that it was a real thrill. We went on a (long and slow) canoe trip in search of manatee and other mangrove swamp wildlife. We saw—drum roll—a Great Blue Heron and a Belted Kingfisher. I don’t know if you can hear a little disappointment in my voice—both of those birds live in the Northwest. And, besides that, we had already seen a Belted Kingfisher between every pair of telephone poles along the highway. Oh, well, it was nice to get some sun. (And actually, we rarely see the Kingfishers around here, so I rather like them.)

Okay, for real, we did see a lot, but most of it was just along the side of the road.

Here are a few pictures that we managed. As always, there are a few pictures we wish we would have gotten of exciting things we saw, such as the Rosette Spoonbill. But we got some pictures that we are pretty excited about too.

Tri-colored Heron

Tri-colored Heron with his fish

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron watching intently for his next fish

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret checking his hairdo in the mirror.

Great Egret

Great Egret standing pretty

American White Ibis

White Ibis protecting her nest


Cormorant with swimmer’s hair.

All of these pictures were taken at Shark Valley in the Everglades National Park. And most of them were actually taken while we were waiting on the very slow process of getting through the ticket booth. It was an amazing stop that day. If you’re a birder, and in that area, I highly recommend the stop.

Last, but not least, I want to show our very special bird that we got to see on this trip. We were all hoping that we could see this bird on this trip. It is quite rare and, oh so pretty. Check out the feet on this guy. We saw it at the same location.

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

Here is our bird list from the Everglades

Purple Gullinule Northern Mockingbird
Pied-billed Grebe Glossy Ibis
Green Heron Cormorant
Black-crowned Night Heron Rosette spoonbill
American Crow Black vulture
Little Blue Heron Turkey vulture
Anhinga Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret Great Egret
Great Egret White Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron Blue-winged Teal
Belted Kingfisher Green-winged Teal
Tri-color Heron Common Grebe
White Ibis American Coot
Common Gallinule Fish Crow
Cardinal Osprey

Kids in San Diego

We also enjoyed visiting the ocean north of San Diego. I ended up with mostly pictures of the kids rather than pictures of the ocean though. Can’t help it, I think they are mighty handsome kids.

Baby in Playground

JD at Seashore Playground

Zippy at the Ocean

G'tums (6) swinging at Beach Playground

Pretty Sisters

I think I’m done posting about San Diego, although, there are some pictures on my husband’s computer that are quite good. Maybe someday I’ll get my hands on them. In the meantime, I’ll have to share about things that go on around our house. Except I need to take pictures of those things. So maybe I’d better do another trip, I have one of those too.

Pictures from Alaska

I don’t often get to go places with just my husband. This summer, the two of us actually got to take a trip together–just the two of us. It was the first time to do that since our first child was born (over twelve years ago). We were very lucky to be able to make a trip to Alaska together. I do hope that I can take my kids up there someday too, because it was one of the most amazing places I have ever visited.

These are just some (lots of) random photos from our trip. It was stunningly beautiful. The camera just doesn’t do justice of showing what my eyes soaked in every day there. But it’s a pretty good shot at it.

The first several are from Denali National Park.

My photographer (my husband)

Denali National Park

Moose in Denali


Dahl's Sheep

View from Polychrome Peak

View from Polychrome Peak

Wonder Lake

Mt. McKinley
Mt. McKinley (Denali)

These last ones are from Kenai Peninsula.

Kenai Peninsula

Poppies on Kenai Peninsula

Salmon on Kenai Peninsula

I hope I can go back again someday. I sure feel very privileged to have been able to make this trip and at a time when the weather couldn’t have been nicer!

USS Midway

USS Midway (CVB-41) after commissioning

Photo Credit: By US Navy Employee (Naval Historical Center)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the very interesting museums that we visited last week was the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. We ended up spending five hours touring that massive ship. I have no idea how the crew kept from being lost on that ship. I’m afraid I would have gotten lost and never figured out how to see the sun. Just gone in circles in a maze that never ended. We learned that 4500 crew members were aboard that ship when it was in service. Talk about a small town. They had their own dental office, post office, surgery ward, barber shops, jail, laundry (and I mean laundry–if I could have some of those tools, I would only have to do one or two loads a week, but I don’t know where they would fit in my house.) and the list goes on. It was impressive!

Here are some pictures of our day there.

First up is a young lady dreaming of being an Air Force pilot.

Future Pilot

Next is a young lady behind bars, who seems to know how to really act the part.

Baby in the Midway Jail

Just posing by one of many beautiful planes.

Three Junior Pilots on Midway

The USS Midway has a Junior Pilot program, somewhat similar to the Junior Ranger programs offered by the National Park Service. As we toured the ship, the three older kids worked on earning their Junior Pilots. At the entrance to the ship, you are given an audio device that you wear for the whole tour and then as you enter each section, you just dial in the appropriate number and you get an interesting narration about what takes place there. They also had a kids version, which happens to be what I listened to mostly, because my kids kept asking questions about the things they were supposed to fill out on their papers. But, I have to say, the kids version was very interesting and I learned more than I can store anyway, so that worked out great.

Here are photos of the swearing in and pinning as Junior Pilots.

Taking the oathThe pinning

As I said, we spent five hours in/on this ship. They figure that the normal time is three hours. There’s a reason we took five. You can see that we had our stroller with us, but strollers do not go up and down hatch ladders. I carried the baby up and down so many ladders that day, it was unbelievable. That’s the reason for the extra two, I just went a little slower than most and I made sure to enjoy all exhibits that included chairs. I was still glad for the stroller when Baby fell asleep, as you can see in the above photo. But I’m telling you, I figure that I knew what it was like to be one of the package handlers on that ship, hauling packages all over the place–it’s exhausting.

The Baby Carriage on Midway

Rosario Beach

Rosario Beach is one of my favorite spots in the world. (If you’ve followed my blog or Facebook long, you already knew that.) We recently made an unplanned trip there. We just zipped over there, because we had tried to see something not far away that didn’t work out.

We did all the usual stuff that we like to do there. We went searching for those perfectly round smooth stones to use as skipping rocks. Then we had a try to see who get manage the most skips. Those of us that are beginners spent more time practicing and honing our skill, so that we won’t stay beginners forever.

G'tums Skipping Rocks

My boys think they are monkeys that have been moved to the wrong continent. They love climbing. At Rosario there is this one specific root that they always climb. It started when I was pregnant with G’tums. I have many pictures of them at different ages climbing that root. Someday I’m going to compare the series to show how they’ve grown compared to the root. This time it was in church clothes, no less.

G'tums Climbing the Root Rosario JD Climbing Rosario

We climbed rocks.

G'tums Rock Climbing

Climbed stumps.


Ran down trails.

JD Boy (age 9) climbing

Sat down for a break.

Zippy (age 12)

Went tide-pooling in search of the coolest hermit crab in the neighborhood.

Tidepooling Rosario

Gave Grandpa a thorough lesson in nature study.

Grandpa and Baby Rosario

Hollered for the fun of it.

Toothless Grin - Gtums (age 6)

And visited with family that had come to visit.

Three Bumps on a Log

Rosario beach is always a fun place to go. This trip was no exception!

Saguaro Cactus

There are two things that I have wanted to see for a long, long time. I guess when you live in a rainforest, or nearly a rainforest, you long to learn about the desert. Anyway, for a long, long time, I have wanted to see a Roadrunner and I have wanted to see Saguaro Cactus. When we went on our trip several weeks ago, I finally got to check both of these things off my list. I was quite excited about that.

This little Roadrunner came right up to beg scraps from us while we ate a picnic lunch. We were so excited, that we stopped eating for awhile just to look at him. I mean you just don’t see one of these guys in the Pacific Northwest.

Road Runner

Just a few feet from where we ate our picnic lunch, we saw these special Saguaros. These aren’t just plain ole’ Saguaros, they are crowned Saguaros. There are only like 200 of them in the world. I don’t know if that’s the exact right number, but it’s something like that.

Crowned Saguaro in Sabino Canyon

And then a shot of some just plain ole’ Saguaros. They just look so neat, I think.

Sabino Canyon

I enjoyed my visit very much to the Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon and the whole Tucson area in general. I was so thrilled to finally see the giant cacti and the famous Roadrunner. But I’m going to be terribly honest, I was very happy to come home and see the towering trees around my house. I guess rain does bring blessings to our home. And besides, it was cloudy the whole time we were in Tucson, so now I’m wondering if the rumors about the sun always shining there are true or not!