Friday, August 28, 2009


Wanna see what I can do?

First you climb up on the side of the pool.

Stand up and get your balance...


and... JUMP!



Who says you can't have fun in a blow up pool? :)

Mommy says I'm a natural athlete, and that I'm head-to-toe muscle. She says it's 'cause I never stop moving or dancing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Day of School

It's the first day of school, and Kate's in the big kid class for the 4 yr. olds.

It was really warm out, so first order of the day...dress cool and pretty.

I'm excited!!

Hurry up Mama! You're takin' too long!

Okay, one more picture, then let's go!!

This is where we hop.

This looks like a fun table.
Kate's new teachers...Both of these women were just made to be preschool teachers. They're wonderful! The one on the right was Ryan's preschool teacher.

In the background, you can see Kate's new best friend. Her name is Katelyn, and she is a Korean adoptee! Her adoptive parents are also Korean.

At the end of the morning when I pick up Kate, she shows me her picture. (I didn't know she could draw that well!)

I think this picture is so funny. Reminds me of Mr Potato Head and makes me smile when I look at it. Kids are so funny.

A hot, tired and sweaty little girl plops down in the chair at school.

It was a good first day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Summer Cutie

As soon as the bow went in her hair, I said, "Oh, we gotta take a look really cute!"

This picture went on her 'About Me' poster for school, under the heading, 'This Is What I Look Like'.

Kate and Ryan watching a cartoon movie on Netflix on the computer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Chance Meeting

Kate's Aunt Shannon and I took the little ones to the Visitor's Center shop, and did a bit of shopping before we left Mammoth, and as we walk out with packages, who is out in front but Kevin and the boys on their bikes.
Oh, uh, hi! Hello.
Shopping again?
Nooooo! Not us. Why would you even think that?

Kate with her new black kitty (she wasn't goin' for the bear I tried to get her), posing with Smokey.

(L-R)Our friend's son Nate, cousins Brian and Evan, Brendan & Bryson.

The guys biked down the start at the ski lodge and ride down, then a tram takes you back up and you can do it again. They said it was really fun.

Brendan, Kate, and of course Black Kitty and Smokey the Bear.

Aunt Shannon & Theodore (trying to hold his new bird with his neck), Ryan, Kate, Mom & Brendan.

Colton and cousin Charlton spending a few minutes in front of the Visitor's Center.

Colton & Brendan

Kate holding onto Daddy's hand, smiling up at him.

Ryan conked out in Mom & Dad's bed.

I stuck this picture in just so you can see what it's like to take a picture of Kate! Ryan and cousin Everett are already being silly, and Kate just can't stand it and starts dancing...which she does A LOT!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is That A Bear...AGAIN?

The McLaughlins must be a wildlife magnet!
Remember last year's Mutual of Omaha's Wildlife Kingdom adventure in Mammoth? There were huge deer on the golf course, a black bear (that was actually brown) while the guys were fishing, and to top it off, a pack of wolves or coyotes howling on the front porch in the middle of the night.

Well, this year, we all go on hike after hike up in the mountains, by lakes and bears. (Which was, just fine with me!)

Then, it's about 8pm and Brendan and I walk out of the condo to get a load of laundry out of the dryer. Kevin is about 30 seconds ahead of us. The one gate closest to the pool and laundry room was locked, so you had to walk through the small parking lot, and come in the other gate. Right as we get to the parking lot, about 2 car lengths in front of us, a big fat dog goes trotting by. It's dark, and I'm squinting...what the heck? Is that an afghan hound? That is the fattest......"IT'S A BEAR!" Brendan excitedly says. I'm sure it's not a bear, I answer, it's just a really big, Just then, Kevin comes over to us inside the gate, and says, be careful, there's a bear in the parking lot. Yeah! Got it!
After a few jokes with Kevin about him being more attractive to the bear than me or Brendan, we headed back to the condo. Kevin stayed inside the gate with his friend Dave and chatted, giving the bear time to move on, before coming back in.

A local told me the ranger station knows the names and locations of all the local bears. He also said 5 home break-ins a year is a lot. This year, they have had 40, 23 by the same bear! I guess they stand up, push on the front door a few times until it opens, then they walk into the kitchen...instant food. No berry picking or fishing. The bears will often have a regular route worked a milkman in reverse, and they aren't wise enough to vary their route so as not to get caught. So I asked if the bear would come back to the condo parking lot looking for food. He said probably, yes. Sure enough, Bryson drove up in his car the next night with his cousins, and he said it was just as I had described...a really furry, big, fat dog trotting through the next complex parking lot, then climbed over a rock and through the bushes to our condo parking lot. Ah, yes, life in Mammoth.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Visiting A Ghost Town

The last time we were at Mammoth, the one thing I wished we had seen (but didn't) was Bodie, the ghost town. So this time we made the trek. Oh, my gosh! This is one of those places that the more you learn about it, the more interesting it gets! Located northeast of Mammoth, Bodie is out in the middle of NOWHERE, and used to be a gold mining settlement.

Bodie's glory years were 1877-82, when it had a population of 10,000! and a bawdy downtown crowded with saloons, stores and brothels.

In 1869, a miner named Waterman S. Bodie found gold there, 2 years later opened a mine with 20 miners, and less than 10 years later, there were 10,000 people living there!
Bodie, himself, unfortunately had died in a blizzard after building the mine, so he never saw how the town grew.

There were over 2000 buildings, Main Street was a mile long, there were 2 newspapers, 3 volunteer fire departments and 65 saloons!! There was also quite a few "houses of ill-repute". Bodie even had it's own Chinatown, having a large Chinese population.

The town produced $34 million worth of gold! The combination of money, gold and alcohol though, was often a fatal one and it was said that a man was killed everyday in Bodie.

Today, it is a state historic park so authentic that rusty mining gear and buckboard wagon parts are left scattered in the streets. It's as if the people of the town just all left one day. You can peer in the windows of the schoolhouse and see dusty primers sitting on desks, a pen in an inkwell and a teacher's final instructions written on a blackboard, as if the children had merely stepped out for recess.

The rangers and crews who work there mend roofs and prop up sagging buildings, but do little more to change the way the town was left.
Bodie has no snack bar, no campsites, and no modern amenities (except a bathroom), giving the town a bit of an eerie feeling. The drive is down a deserted 13 mile road. How this guy ever found gold way out here is beyond me. Bodie is scheduled to be closed and placed under "caretaker" status to preserve the remainder of the ghost town.

Colton checking out the buildings, and a small outhouse.

Brian and Kate.
The valley was actually quite pretty when you sat and looked at it.
Kate giving me a thumbs up. The walls, roofs and doors of the homes were so thin, I do not know how the people did not freeze to death. (Actually, I bet a lot of them did!) The day we were there was quite chilly, and it was August! Kate has on 2 light jackets, and Ryan has confiscated Colton's new 'Mammoth' sweatshirt.

Looking into the corner "goods" store....really interesting to peer in here. (sorry about the reflection on the glass)

Ryan and cousin Theodore giggling together.
Sitting on the steps of someone's home. Inside, a lot of the homes had the same wallpaper. Shannon and I found it interesting that no matter what period of time it was in, women tried to make their house a home, and make it pretty. Some of the houses still had lace curtains up, and one had a baby crib in a small room off of the kitchen...probably for the warmth.