Our first stop on vacation was at Grandma and Grandpa's summer home in Butte Meadows. We took the older kids every year when they were growing up and have wonderful memories of the time spent there. Now we're excited to create new memories with Ella.
This is Grandma and Grandpa (a.k.a Connie and Ren Wakefield) and Ben.
Ella and Ben became pretty much inseparable the entire visit. There are two things in life Ella wants more than anything: a baby sister and a dog. The first is NOT an option. The second is highly unlikely. Ella Brucker was over playing the other day and I overheard Ella tell her, "My Grandma and Grandpa have a dog and his name is Ben and he has three legs. Aren't you impressed?" Obviously our Ella was. Not only does she want a dog, she now wants one with three legs.
This is one patient dog.
My favorite part of our stay was taking walks in the morning and evening and just kicking back and relaxing. I read (finished the first of the Fablehaven series), finished binding a quilt...
watched the birds...
and laughed at Ella running around chasing squirrels up the trees.
Then waiting patiently for them to come down.
The Meadow Fairies left Ella a special gift. It was a new easel and lots of art supplies. She colored and crafted for hours out on the deck. Grandma joined in too.
That's Ella's "thumb guard" in the third photo. It was to prevent her from sucking her thumb. It worked like a charm (we kept it on for 30 days) and she hasn't sucked her thumb since we took it off.
We played school. Ella and Grandma took turns being the teacher. Ella is a much bossier teacher than Grandma.
This is Grandma and Grandpa's "backyard". Ella and I went exploring and picked lots of flowers. Ben joined us and somehow I ended up covered in more mud than the two of them combined.
Our budding photographer.
We took a half day trip to Mt. Lassen Volcanic Park and had a picnic. They have a beautiful new Visitor's Center.
More relaxing and down time. I love these pictures of Ella. They are such a reminder to me that we need to take more time to just "be and become", instead of always "doing". We were all so relaxed the entire time we where visiting. I've made a conscience effort to chill and enjoy the little things more often since we've gotten home.
Grandma and Ben chillin'.
We let Ella try chewing gum again "since she's four now". She's hooked.
Exploring the forest and picking more flowers.
A morning walk still in our jammies.
I want in on this action.
Collecting pinecones for the fire pit. One of my absolute favorite smells is a campfire.
And what would a campfire be without S'mores? Our family still talks about the first year we made S'mores with Grandma and Grandpa and how Grandma bought those huge one pound Hershey bars by mistake. (Those were good S'mores!) I brought it up again, only to find out after all these years that it was Grandpa who bought them and let Grandma take the fall! :)
Waiting patiently and watching Grandpa build the fire.
So what's a little ash and dirt with your marshmallow?
A little assembly help from Grandpa. Ella decided she didn't like everything smooshed together. She preferred to eat the graham crackers, roasted marshmallow and chocolate all separately.
It was hard to say good-bye. We are so grateful to have Grandma and Grandpa in our lives. We noticed after the trip, that Ella had a far more solid sense of family--not only with us because of the extended time we'd spent together--but of her extended family. We look forward to visiting again next year.