Tuesday, August 25, 2015

First Day

Noah started Joy School again today.  He's got a fun new group of kids, with just Everett being his only buddy from last year.  But the four boys and two girls in this mix are going to be such a great combination of happy, creative and sweet.

We're shaking our heads in amazement that the next 'first' picture this kid will take is for kindergarten next August.  Time is going fast, and it really is so exciting to watch Noah learn and experience so many new things.  Here's to a great last year of Joy School for this guy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Baldwin Beach

We've been lucky this summer to squeeze in more than our fair share of beach days.

 Last weekend we spent a couple of days in Tahoe and made sure to stop at the beach for some fun. 
After walking from the parking lot to the sand Luke excitedly said, "Hey I 'wike' this beach!  It has 'wittle' waves, and I'm a 'wittle' guy!  Let's play!" 

Maybe those ocean waves at Manresa Beach were a little more intimidating for him than I realized.  At Baldwin he swam, but especially loved just sitting on the shoreline waiting for the 'wittle' waves to rush over him.

The water was cool, the air was warm and we were all happy as could be.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

When We Weren't Off Playing...

Life at the house was practically perfect.  I loved seeing little bunnies running across the road on morning walks.  On a clear day we could look out and see the ocean.  And having some time (and energy) to finish a book and start another one felt so good.  But being all together with some of our most favorite people was, by far, the very best part.

I mean look at these faces.  They really couldn't get any happier...
  ...or any sillier.

Noah stayed pretty true to his early morning wake ups and was usually the first kid awake every day.  He squeezed in some extra reading time with Nate on a few occasions.

There was lots of time for games -- for everyone.

Noah's new favorite is 'Sorry' so Nate got all of the littler ones engaged in a game.

Everyone got involved for bocce ball. 
 Some of the kids and adults cheered the players on.  Those players were generous and let the littles throw out the pallino when it was time for another round.

This was the first time we've had our big Boyce family trip to Santa Cruz, but I don't think it will be the last.  It was the perfect place: not too far from home, a balance of awesome activities and relaxing, and loads of opportunities to be together.  We can't thank Grandma and Grandpa enough for planning a week that is now one of our favorite memories together!

Annie's Art School

Annie's girls make the most darling self portraits every year.  I was excited that she brought the supplies for them to create their masterpieces during our trip.  Art is not my thing (love it, but definitely lacking in talent there), and I've joked for years that when my kids are old enough I am sending them to Annie's art school.  Thank goodness art school came to us, at least for the first round!

Annie was super patient and guided Noah through his drawing. 

He felt like a big kid using oil pastels for the first time and worked diligently to get all of the skin color filled in.
 Look at the finished result!  Noah was proud of his creation and also excited that he was able to do something that his older cousins can too.
 Olivia, Abby, Sammie and Noah with their finished self portraits.  Just darling, right?
 After waking up from a nap and realizing he didn't have a self portrait, Olivia came through and made one for Luke.  He was proud and as appreciative as a two year old can be.  Thanks Liv for making his day.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Back to Manresa

Our second trip to Manresa State Beach may just go down as the best beach day yet for this little family.  The weather was beautiful, the waves were perfect, and there was just so much fun to be had.
Minutes after arriving Noah and Luke were covered in sand.  They couldn't wait to start digging and playing.
They were quite the sand babies, especially Luke who was sporting his own little sand beard for most of the day.
I looked down after hearing Noah say, "Hey Mom, look!  I'm making a sand angel!"
That sand angel prompted him to start burying himself in the sand.
But he soon realized this was not a one kid job and some additional sand diggers were needed.
So, he called on Grandpa, and Grandpa sure came through with the burying.
This boy was all smiles and laughter through the whole thing.  
He was also very particular about making sure none of his skin was exposed and that he was completely buried.  When the job was completed to his satisfaction, Noah had no interest in moving.  He just hung out with his 'sand blanket' as he called it for a while and continued smiling and laughing.
Eventually he did decide to unearth himself and headed into the ocean with Nate. 

 But then, as would be expected, he was back to working in the sand in no time. :-)

All of the men in the family took advantage of the perfect waves and spent a lot of time in the ocean. 
Nate did take a break for a little while to fly the kite another time.  

 Luke tried out his boarding skills on land first.
 And then with Nate's help, he caught a tiny wave and rode it in.

I was proud of that little two year old for giving all of it a try in the cold ocean.

These happy kids and their happy faces sum up the day. It was just perfect in every way!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Roaring Camp Railroad

I had heard about Roaring Camp from a few friends and it seemed like the perfect adventure for our train loving boys.

Admittedly, I teared up as we drove in the parking lot and thought about these boys' train loving Papa who would have loved to be the one explaining the ins and outs of a steam train.  But I have no doubt that he smiled that day seeing Noah and Luke having so much fun with trains, something that is practically part of the Hall DNA.
  Everything during our trip was more fun with cousins!

Luke liked the train itself, but hated that steam train's noisy whistle.

Nate and I took turns holding our hands over his ears for almost the entire ride.  Whatever it takes, right?
Roaring Camp was a great adventure! It was beautiful taking a ride through the redwoods, but even better was watching the excitement Noah and Luke had as they rode on their first real steamer.  We'll definitely be back!

Thursday, August 13, 2015


The fun started at one of our favorite places -- The Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

Grandma was awesome and made us a group reservation so we got in a little early at our own entrance, which was conveniently far away from where everyone else came in.  We started with the Jellies Experience.  Talk about interactive and fun.  All of us especially loved being able to finger paint jellies and then send them up to the large screen to float in the 'ocean.' 

I don't know how many creations we each made, but since that area was still practically empty, we definitely took our time. 

That's Noah and Nate's creation on the left and Luke's "I do it myself!" creation on the right.  Love that independent spirited kid.
The next few hours were spent touching, interacting and observing all kinds of sea life. 
Noah remembered the eels from last time and was excited to find them again.  Looking back, this is a day when I definitely wish I had taken more pictures, but we were all having so much fun looking and exploring together that my hands were busy doing other things. 

We squeezed a few cousins into that clam shell for some extra cuteness.

The boys each left the aquarium with a new stuffed animal.  Noah chose a squid who, according to him, would be able to sleep in his bed and squirt ink at any enemies.  He went back and forth between naming it 'Evil' or Chloe, but ultimately settled on the first one.  And then I was reassured with, "Don't worry Mom, he's actually nice."  Luke came home with a sea turtle and wasted no time naming him Cuckoo.  Evil and Cuckoo.  I love these boys and their creativity.
 After the aquarium we drove over to Denace the Menace park.  Noah is a big fan of the bumpy slide.
 Luke was a little unsure of the suspension bridge but found lots of other places to climb and play.

We love this simple city park and it seems to be a bit of a tradition to stop there when visiting Monterey.
 After playing we met up with all of the family for dinner in Carmel and then headed back to Santa Cruz.  It was another perfect vacation day!