We arrived at the Shield's place a bit before 9pm on Friday night. We called Jack the caretaker about 10 minutes out and he met us at the house to turn all the lights on, etc as it was dark already. Thankfully we have been here before so the review of how things work wasn't too long. The kids were thrilled and just ran around like crazy. The house is pretty large, and they loved just getting lost in it. The playroom was the hit - with pool table, ping pong, pop-a-shot, a puppet theatre and more. We finally got them to settle down and go to bed, as it had been a long day. Here is a pic of the house from the outside - from the front and back.
The inside is great because it has a gigantic great room that you can really spend all your time in. The funniest part is we have been there twice and never used a TV - you just hang out, sit by the fire, play games and more. All day you just want to be outside by the lake and enjoying nature, but the house is large and can accommodate a big group so it is nice to be with friends. Our friend Marcia Hunt was coming up on Saturday with her twins KK (Caitlyn) and Matthew to spend the weekend with us. Like Louisa, Marcia interned at P and G with me. Her and Loud both went to Chicago for their MBA's. Unlike Lou Marcia stayed in CPG for a while- stating at Kraft and most recently at Petsmart. She was in our wedding 12 years ago, and Arnie had not seen here since here wedding 8 years ago in Phoenix. I saw her at our girls weekend in February, but was still so excited as I finally get to meet her 5 year old twins.
Before Marcia and the kids arrived, my kids found the dress up playchest and went hog wild. I hat to take pictures, because I can probably bribe Ben in a few years and they were really cute. THe decided to combine "two outfits" in one - so Sarah was a Clown Chef, Ben was a Cowboy Ballerina, and Claire was Fireman princess. Check out this pic. Sarah took her chef theme even further and wanted to pose while cooking. Of course she saw a bottle of wine and being our comedian picked it up and posed for the camera.
When the guests arrived the outdoor fun began. Our first stop was the hot tub. My kids, and frankly me love hot tubs. I would get one at home, but Arnie says no way. Often our kids will describe a vacation and lead with "remember the place we went with the hot tub." All we have to do is mention the presence of a hot tub and they get really excited. So we definitely used this one quite a bit. Here is a cute pic of the kids enjoying it.
After the hot tub it was time for a different kind of water, the lake. The water temperature was quite cool, but the kids waded in it a little bit. They really wanted to take a boat ride with dad. As we prepared for the boat ride we discovered a new fact about our dog Henry, he can swim. We know Henry is part Lab, and part something else (or a bunch of something else) but not sure which. We are not surprised he swims, but we never saw him do it before so it was a surprise. The bad news is every time a boat took off, he wanted to go with it. The lake is pretty big so we were afraid he would get too far out and then have trouble, you know it is hard to do the doggy paddle for too long. The kids played around a bit with him, but then Papa came to the rescue and he got him on a chained leash so the boat could take off. In the pics below you will see him in the water trying to follow the boat.
But the entertainment didn't stop there, we have five kids under 10, you know their attention span. We then had puppet shows, ping pong tournaments and basketball. The Shield's have a tennis court with a basketball hoop, so Ben was very happy. We worked hard on his left hand, tons of dribbling and trying left lay-ups, which are tough to get the hang of, especially when your left hand doesn't have the strength like your right. He would get mad at me for putting this pic on here, but I took some to show him what he is doing right and wrong, this one he did pretty well.
This is beautiful KK when we taught her how to wrap her hair in a towel, my girls love it and she did too, so cute with mom smiling in the background
Papa made us a great dinner - steak, baked potatoes, some pasta, green beans and more. It was very yummy and we all had fun chatting away. And of course we topped it off with smores on the fire outside. It was SUPERMOON night, we had some a gorgeous view of the lake as we sat outside roasting marshmallows, priceless for sure. We were all beat so it was an early evening after some games of Uno by all, we retired to bed.
Sunday wasn't as great of a weather day as Saturday. It was still warm, but a bit overcast. We would take it thought, as the last time we were here in June is SNOWED! You just never know what you are going to get in the mountains (which is why we love them). Lots would happen today, we would lose Grandma and Papa, they had a red-eye flight back to NY, to be back in time for my niece's high school graduation on Tuesday. Marcia and the kids would also leave late afternoon to get back to Sacramento as they were headed to Southern California on Monday morning. But we still had lots of exploring to do, a big hike was first on the list. There is tons of exploring to do here, my dad leaves for hours and finds the trail markings, and more. Here are some pics from our hike, you see the Indian art on the rocks, and views back to the house (look for the beach around the lake) from afar.
We were all a bit sad when 4:30 when the last car pulled away. Lots of sad goodbyes, but it was so great to spend three full weeks with Grandma and Papa, just creating priceless memories. The kids were quite sad as were Arnie and I. Of course we just love seeing my parents, but they were so helpful too. My dad did most of the cooking and just was a workhorse like he always is. So Arnie had a ton of help and got educated on how everything works. Grandma was laundry lady and child entertainer. So it would be a huge shift when they would no longer be around. The good news is we had a bit of a transition in California as we rented a car for "the state" so my parents could take it to the airport, and to make getting to the parks easier. Yes we broke the law and had 7 people in a sedan, but it worked for the short drives. Due to this, Arnie and I knew what it was like to not have them in the RV while driving, which was hard. This meant we both had to be up front for the most part, so the kids didn't have someone to play games with besides each other :)
We did spend Sunday night at the house as planned, we debated leaving and heading towards Lassen Volcanic national park about 3 hours North. I had not heard of it so didn't plan it in, and tried to convince Arnie we could pull it off, but he didn't bite. He liked the plan of another night of relaxation. This also gave us time to clean the house, re-organize the RV clothing storage since some opened up based on my parents leaving, and so forth. So we slept in heaven one more night and headed out Monday morning, of course not as early as planned, but it worked. It was raining today, but we were ok with it, we thought it was a message from God that we were sad that Grandma and Papa were no longer on our trip with us. The first order of business was getting an oil change, Neff Brothers (who we rented from) found a place in Sacramento and they were waiting for us.
Here is a pic of Sarah, this is what happened about 6:30 on Sunday night after all of our adventures. Believe it or not, she never woke up, slept through dinner and made it until Monday morning. That is a barometer for how much fun she had. While she slept, dad, Ben and Claire tried some fishing, got some bites but couldn't real them in, but another fun thing to do.
We are off to Redwoods now, about a 4.5 hour drive but that is after the oil change and lunch. We are staying in Redcrest, CA on the "avenue of the giants" our first night, looking forward to it.