Kayaking In Lithuania; Day One

IMG_2837 This summer I had the opportunity to spend three days kayaking through various lakes and rivers in the Aukštaitija National Park in Lithuania.  This was my first time going kayaking and I was not too sure about this adventure.  We were kayaking with family and friends which made it easier.  Our friends have been kayaking in this area for about 10 years and knew all the good spots to see and what areas were good  to set up a camp site for the night.

Day one was a nervous one for me.  I was terrified to go in the kayak since I have never been on a lake in a kayak.    I had once been on a lake with a houseboat and a friends power boat but never a boat that required someone to use oars. I was even afraid to put my oar in the water.  I don’t know what I was afraid about since I did have life preserver jacket on. 

The weather was perfect to go out on the lake.  If you know anything about Lithuania, you know it rains in Lithuania. It was very fortunate that it was not raining this day.  So as we set out on our journey, I learned that we were going to be kayaking across multiple lakes and a couple of  rivers for about four hours.  Say what?????  Part of our group was unable to make it until later that evening and I was informed that they were going to have someone drive them to  the campground we were going to. So let me understand, I could either be confined to a two man kayak for four hours or I could have had someone drive me to the campground.  I would have gone with the second option.  I was not able to choose the second option. 

Half ways through our adventure, I was told we were going across the deepest lake in Lithuania, Lake Tauragnas .  I started to think this would be a bad place to tip over the kayak, so I better start oaring harder.  We finally made it to our destination for the day.  The lakes we traveled across were beautiful and it was well worth the four hour kayaking adventure.

 

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Once we made it to  our destination, we set up for camp for that evening.   Since it does not get dark until about 11 pm, there was plenty of daylight left to swim in the lake.  We cooked Šašlykai (kebabs) over the fire and enjoyed a good meal.  We were up late and had fun that evening.

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The funniest show on TV……

I have to admit that there are very few good comedies on TV.  This new TV season, my wife and I enjoy  watching Worst Week on CBS at 9:30pm on Monday nights.  This show is hilarious.  The writers of this show come up with some very funny stories on the episode I have seen so far.  The basic plot is an engaged man tries desperately to impress his fiancée’s parents but his attempts inevitably end in disaster. 

I am not sure if this show will last longer than one season but it is very good for laughs.  I think the show is very original and fun to watch.    I will enjoy it as long as they keep it on.  If your are looking for a good laugh, watch Worst Week on Monday nights.

Kids are cute

We have recently been playing a match game with my son. 

Usually we will play with about 15 matched pairs of tiles…so a total of 30 tiles. Mix up the 30 tiles and then arrange them FACE DOWN in a 6 by 5 grid. Play starts by having one player turn over 2 tiles. If the  picture of the 2 tiles is the same, the player picks up these 2 tiles and turns over 2 more. If the 2 tiles are not the same, the tiles are turned back face down in the same place they were and it is the next player’s turn. The object of the game is to remember where similar tiles are located and to pick up as many pairs as possible. The winner of the game is the one who has the most tiles at the end of the game.

The other night, our four year old son was teaching his two year old sister on how to play the game.  it was so cute to watch them play.  The boy was helping his sister and she did really good with his help.  After they were done, my son counted out  how many pairs he had and how many his sister had.  Of course he won, but then he asked his sister to give him a high five for a good game played.

Moments like this is priceless.  It is interesting to see the habits our kids pick up from us.  After I would finish playing the game, I would always tell my son to give me a high five.  After watching the kids play, my wife and I joined them for another game.

Squirrel Bridge – Longview, WA

On our trip home, we decided to stop by Longview in Washington to see the only known Squirrel Bridge in the world.  It was a good distraction for the kids and a good stop for us to stretch.  They knew our first stop on our trip would be the Nutty Narrows Bridge and the boy was looking forward to it.

 

Squirrels seem to be a running joke in my family. At my mom’s old house, my mom had a birdhouse full of seeds for the birds.  The bird house was more like a bird mansion.  Many times the local squirrels would hang out, eat up the seeds, and leave a huge mess.  Anytime my mom saw a squirrel eating the bird seeds, she would scream, run outside, and then choose her weapon of choice: a broom or the water hose.  Today, my mom no longer has squirrels in her backyard but we, her loving family, love to give her anything that has to do with squirrels.

Longview is about two hours south of Seattle and 1 hour north of Portland.  My mom and brother told us about the squirrel bridge and we knew we had to go.  My brother was planning to drive down there with us but he got sick.  Of course, as we drove it began to rain but when we arrived in Longview the rain had passed.  It took us awhile to find the street where the squirrel bridge is located at.  Eventually we drove back to the library and looked up.  We saw the bridge.  It is quite small but it is for squirrels.  The park next to the library does have a statue of a giant squirrel.

Surprise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My wife wanted to take a vacation, so she decided to spend about three weeks at my Mom’s house in Washington state.  She was planning to drive up from California to Washington with the kids earlier in August.  I drove up with her that weekend and I flew back the following Monday to go back to work.    The plan was that I would fly back up the Wednesday night prior to Labor Day and we would drive home that weekend.

My brother planted the  idea about coming back earlier to spend some extra time in Washington.  My workload was extremely light at my job and so I secretly planned to come to Washington five days earlier than planned.  My brother was the only one who knew of my plan, since he was going to pick me up from the airport.  My brother will often times go into work over the weekend, so he could say he had to go to work to finish a project. I wanted desperately to keep this a surprise from my wife.  I knew I need an excuse to ignore all phone calls for two hours during my flight, so I told my wife I was going to see Clone Wars that Saturday.  On a side note,  I still haven’t seen Clone Wars yet.

After arriving in Washington, I was not sure how I was going to surprise my wife.  My brother called my wife and mom to see what the plan was for dinner that night.  My wife needed to go to Target to pick up some diapers for our daughter prior to dinner.  My brother and I arrived at Target before my wife.  I spent a few minutes wandering the back aisle of the store.  I wanted to find the right opportunity to surprise my wife.  I was concerned that my bright Lithuania Basketball shirt would give me away but I made every effort to keep out of my wife’s and kids’ line of sight in the store.  When they finally arrived I saw both my mom and sister at the front of the store. (My sister and niece were visiting from Eastern Washington that weekend as well.)

It took them awhile to reach the back of the store but I knew eventually my kids would want to check out the toy section.  If the kids went to the toy section then my wife would be there as well.  It is funny as I was standing in one of the aisle, I saw my sister and niece pass by and they did not even notice me.  My mom also walked by and she did not notice me.  This was quite fun but the ultimate question would someone notice me first or would I totally surprise my wife?

As I heard my wife and kids approach ( both my kids are loud), I took precautions to hide between the aisle to conceal my whereabouts.  I waited patiently for the right opportunity and it came.  My wife went to take a look at some toys in a different aisle without the kids.  The rest of my family were scoping out the toy cars.  (My kids can spend hours looking at toy cars. )  With my wife’s back to me, I quickly swooped in behind her.  I think at that moment my mom and sister noticed me but my brother kept them quiet, and they were a little shocked and surprised.  I was behind my wife and then I tapped her on her shoulder.  The shock and surprise on her face was worth it all.  It had only been about two weeks but I truly missed my wife and i was very happy to hold my wife in my arms again, even in a Target store.  My kids were like there is dadda and then the went back to checking out the toys.

My wife, mom and sister were very happy to see me.  I had not seen my sister and niece for over two years so it was a great weekend to get together.  This was a great vacation and i am so happy that i went up early to spend some extra time in Washington with my family.  I even got some time to play basketball on the X-Box 360 with my brother.

Activities with Toddlers in Southern California -Story Time In The Park

Earlier this month was the first installment of story time at one of our local parks.  As summer approaches many park districts will put on story time for families in the park.  This activity varies from one park district to another park district throughout Southern California.  We grabbed a blanket and put it on the grass and watch the humorous performance by the actors

Our story time was presented by three amateur actors portraying Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey from the movie Shrek.  My wife and I  had expected them to present a skit from the movie Shrek.  Instead, each character retold a childhood story such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Three Little Pigs.  Audience participation was encouraged.  It was a fun to get out with the family for the evening.  I can’t wait until the next one.  I really think the actors did a good job with this performance.  Our kids sat for most of it.  It was funny when we first got there and I asked my boy if he sees Shrek.  His response was “That’s not Shrek!”

 Overall this was a great outing for the family.  I am glad the kids had fun.  Well, we will see how the next performance will be next month.