Julian is having a grand time with his cousins, able to indulge and be led into all sorts of imaginative play that just doesn't exist in the logical Doudna household. At least, none beyond a 5-year-old girl level.
But every parent knows that kids need to get out, away from the house, a change of context, no matter how much fun they're having at home. It happens that a small local art festival was taking place in "downtown Arnold" (that's an oxymoron), which we rounded the troops up to attend. After fulfilling a promise for souvenirs (they all picked polished rocks and crystals at the festival), and for a gooey sweet kids-drink, we lucked upon a local carnival-type entertainer at the festival. Juggling, magic, unicycle-riding, comedy, that sort of thing. What better for a bunch of kids (and two moms) !!
When the entertainer called for a volunteer, Cousin Aidan eagerly put himself out there, and helped the carnival guy with a 5-ball juggling trick that included catching one of the balls in a hat.
It wasn't easy, but Aidan succeeded and got a big round of applause! (And also he was awarded the first audience donation into the same hat.)
After festivaling, the kids were hankering for a swim. The area we're staying in has two man-made lakes with beaches (very hard to find), and that are unusually warm for Sierra Nevada lakes. Arnold is at about 4000 feet -- above snow line, but bodies of water will be warmer than those around Lake Tahoe. We tried one of the lakes that's close to the cabin we're staying in, and this was perfect. Very pretty, with a nice safe sandy beach, and a dock to swim to, for those so inclined and able.
I went for a short run while Aunt Stephanie minded the kids in the lake, and I marvelled at how lovely this area is. I can't get over the scent of the redwoods and the forest and the fresh earthy air. It's warm enough that we keep many windows open, and every morning the crisp woodsy scent wafts into my room and lures me out of bed just to join the outdoors. The tall trees in the mountains are so cathartic, even spiritual, but in a very tangible, palpable way.
We're finally well into the groove of things here, we have a good routine going and are in tune with the energy swings of five children. These will be family bonding memories we'll cherish all our lives! I already am.