Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Video Round Up

Enjoy!

Once again this year, Ellie is missing her dance recital, but she's practicing like a pro. The teacher had us come in and take video the other week, so that the girls could practice at home if needed. I can't get over how sweet and grown up she looks.

This past Sunday was like a dream come true - we spent the whole day at home, and the kids just relaxed with us. They played nicely together, they built a lot of Legos, they finger painted and pounded rocks outside (for serious - they'd gotten a kit with a bunch of polished rocks buried in chalk "boulders" so we gave them some hammers and they went to town for a solid hour) and allowed Tim to play Overwatch, while I sat outside and read an entire book and did crossword puzzles. And played my favorite smooching game with my favorite boy.


These videos are over a week apart, but they're wearing the same clothes, both of them. I swear they have more than seven outfits!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter, et al.

We survived the rest of spring break, thankfully by keeping busy. We went to the Y almost every day, and I was able to get a cute picture of our kids with the neighbor kids in the mustard blooms - easier than driving out to the wildflower fields. This will be the album cover for their first band.

No one is really looking or smiling! Another perfect shot!

Wednesday we were able to go with Mimi for our traditional jaunt to the mall to meet the Easter bunny. Last year, Adam was tepid at best about the giant rabbit, but this year he ran right over and gave the bunny an enormous hug. While I'm a little sad about no more crying pictures, there's also something nice about having beautiful, sweet children.

We also got to have a delicious lunch and go to the little indoor play ground, so another perfect bunny trip with the lovely Mimi.

On Thursday, our big fun was going to have frozen yogurt before picking Sara up from work.

We had some time to kill before Sara was done with work, and since the pet store in the shopping center is closed, I offered that we could walk through the hard ware store, and they were so excited that it was like I'd told them we could go to Disneyland. So many house wares! So much stuff for improving your yard!

We also spent a lot of time with the kittens.
Baby Wolf

Baby Lynx

Then, on to Easter. Last year, the Easter bunny put out a fairly well stocked Easter basket, to which Ellie responded "why isn't there an egg hunt?' This year, the Easter bunny brought bathing suits and a small item for each kid, and then hid many eggs instead. The Easter bunny would definitely rather just buy a bunch of candy than toys, especially because the Easter bunny likes to eat the kids candy after they go to bed sometimes. Don't judge the Easter bunny, he's just a magical animal doing his very best. 



They were able to go a fully 20 seconds at a time without injuring themselves or torturing each other. So great! We had brunch at Mimi and Poppy's house, and I thought we'd manage two or three hours, but the kids were having such a great time that we finally had to haul out at 4:30 for dinner with Gigi and Grizz (and because I had a side dish that I hadn't bothered to make in the morning, thinking I'd get it done during naps. Oops.) They went to bed tired and hopped up on sugar, which is the way to end a good spring break. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Aquarium.

It's spring break for the kids, so we're trying to keep things busy, in order to cut down on the amount of time they can spend arguing with me or bickering with each other (I can't decide which I enjoy more! All of the back sass all of the time!)

I've taken the kids to the aquarium in Long Beach a couple of times before, and every time I leave physically and mentally exhausted, because the kids have been too little, and I end up carrying one (or both) of them around, or turning my back for a fraction of a second to turn back and realize I can't find them in the maze of other small children, or them just being regular old small children who get tired and hungry and overwhelmed quite easily. This time though felt like the sweet spot. They're both big enough to walk the whole aquarium under their own power, and also big enough to not do a runner or dart too fart out of sight. We met up my old coworker Emily, her husband Brad, and their son Liam and daughter Jordan. Jordan and Ellie walked around holding hands the other time, and having a third parent with us was great in terms of managing all of the littles.


How great is this? We were on the second story, outside, petting some rays and looking at the penguins (also nice, Ellie is big enough to pet all of the animals in the touch tanks without having to be on the verge of falling in) and the sea lion show started. This big guy was up on the high stage right next to us, so they got to have a VERY front row seat to some of his tricks and antics.

Ellie, Emily and Liam, touching animals gently.

The kids loved watching the seals and sea lions, and the otters swimming around. The other thing is that the otter tank is set up with several viewing levels, and then pretend rocks in the back against the wall, which was like a rock climbing wall for small friends. Adam says that was his favorite part, of course. Ellie loved the touch tanks and and sea lions.

And then they both loved getting to pick out a stuffed toy in the gift shop afterwards.
Welcome, Spotty Spot and Winter Cloud.

My favorite are all of the sea horses and sea dragons. And I love how soft the little sharks and rays are (and yes, I'm also finally tall enough to reach in and touch them without needing a boost.)

It was really a fun day with our friends. And, though the kids didn't fall asleep on the car ride home, we all took a nap from 2;30 to 4pm, which is the REAL victory.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Activity Report.

Uff da, it's been a busy week!

Our cousins are in town from Chicago, so there's been a lot of celebrating over at Gigi's house. And at our house, having a pupusa party on Friday night, ending with some good disco ball dancing. They're a funny little foursome. Adam wants nothing more than Olivia's attention, Olivia wants Ellie more than anything, and Ellie basically wants Gigi's kittens nonstop. And James just wants to be along for the ride. Is fine if I give him a kiss attack while Kate's holding him, is horrified if I pick him up myself.

The kids are loving all of the action, and all of the attention from Gigi Ann and Gigi Lisa. John is even in town, and when I was explaining to the kids that it's Kate's brother John, not Grizz's brother John Ellie goes "oh, so baby Uncle John." Baby Uncle John it is!

Here's Ellie, tamer of ferocious little panthers.

Loving their fur right off.

On Friday when everyone was over, they got some good dress up going. Ellie wore last year's dance recital leotard for the first time since her recital pictures (please recall, was in Wisconsin and missed the recital. This year, she's doing all of the dancing, but I managed not to spend money to buy a costume we won't use.)



Then yesterday, no foolin', we were out to Redlands for Princess at the Castle at the Kimberly Crest House with Mila and Pari. The boys came too, and hung out with James and Rahim (aka the dads watched TV while the boys took a nap, and then went to a party at a coworker's house) and we celebrated our newest four year olds, as Mila is only five days older than Adam.

Princess at the Castle was even better this year, mostly because the temp was fifteen degrees cooler and I didn't feel like I was going to sweat to death. Though the day was sold out, it felt less crowded than last year, and we were in the first group to be announced, so Ellie was the second girl through the door, giving us the rest of the two hours to visit all of the activities, hang out and take pictures. A board member was able to secure decorations from a Rose Bowl float, and it was really beautiful.



Cinderella let us use her carriage

Princess school, balancing a glass slipper on her head

Catching herself a fish

Meeting a handsome prince

Her dress is a skirt that I found at a yard sale (also has a matching top.) The elastic was shot, so I made some straps and sewed in some buttons so it could be a dress. She got that little green cat as a prize from the gift shop, and I think someone hand sewed it. Ellie named it Rocky Yogi, and she loves it.

My very best girl

Pari and James have several orange trees in their back yard, so the kids had a great time doing an orange harvest and playing together. Rahim is only two, but is almost as big and as chatty as Adam. And I can't believe our March babies are already four - it seems like Pari and I should still be 20 years old, 22 at most. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Adam is FOUR!

Hard to believe, but the littlest member of our foursome is finally four. He's so cute - he woke up this morning and came and crawled into bed with us, and we said happy birthday Adam, you're four! It took him a minute - he said "today is my birthday? I'm four? Not yet," unlike his sister, who never has a problem on her birthday, remembering that it is in fact her birthday.

The morning was fairly slow going, and then I remembered that we had the Spectrum kids club tickets that we could pick up - it's just a little packet of freebies and coupons, but it made for a nice morning. We rode the train around, went and had a little lunch at Corner Bakery (I let them eat their cookie first) and then all rode the ferris wheel, where at 12:57pm, Adam became officially four years old.




Please enjoy that he insisted on wearing his new pajamas out and about. Ellie brought a shawl and a purse, so that she'd have some place to store a spare necklace and her chapstick. She basically doing a Gigi impression.


As usual, I made him a birthday cake. Friday afternoon I attempted to make a cake with Oreo bits crushed in, but of course, didn't really follow the recipe to begin with, and then substituted applesauce for eggs since we have a little friend with an egg allergy. Yeah. It was an ultimate cake fail. It was too moist, and would have been fine and delicious if we were just scooping it out of the pan, but I was trying to cut it and stack it into a trash truck for Adam. I ended up salvaging an egg-free piece, but tossing the rest and making a straight yellow cake last night around 9:30pm.

I'm not saying it's not a cake fail, but I'm saying it's better than what it could have been. Please enjoy Mario, Luigi and Yoshi driving the trash truck.
We also ended up just ordering pizza. Adam is such a pain about eating - I'd been joking that if I wanted to make a dinner that he'd be sure to eat, it'd be peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt pops, and chicken nuggets for everyone. As it was, he only ate four bites of cheese pizza because I chased him down, but hopefully, as it's been all this past year, he won't starve. (As a funny programming note, Tim left to get pizza wearing his house slippers... but not carrying his wallet.)


It was just a fun, relaxed night. We had our families as usual, and our best friend-family (framily) so it was easy and fun to hang out. Adam got a razor scooter for his birthday, so our friends brought scooters for the kids, and we turned the back patio into a drag race arena. It was actually funny - our kids' helmets were at my parents house, so until Gigi and Grizz arrived, they were riding without helmets, and Ellie said to her friends "when Poppy gets here, he's going to tell us to be careful and wear helmets" and lo, the second Poppy walked outside and saw what was going on, he observed that they should all slow down and put on their helmets. He's concerned about safety, what can he say?

Good news, Adam got a new helmet from Uncle Jake for his birthday! Bad news, was not that into trying it on.

He also got tons of trucks and a big (loud!) crane, and his favorite bug game

All of the little ladies had a good time, playing dress up and playing around. Adam and Judd can be a tough twosome to play with, so thankfully the girls also let Thomas tag along with all of their antics.


And of course, we ended with a good dance party. Earlier in the night, Whitney had asked me if we were going to have a dance party, and I assured her, it's always a dance party if it's a party at our house. Tim and I felt very lucky when we were done tucking everyone in and cleaning everything up. Our kids are amazing and sweet and funny and fun, and getting better with every day. Adam can be impossible and a terrible listener, but he's so snuggly and goofy, and the older he gets, the more we enjoy having actual conversations with him, and listening to him sing in the car and be a funny little person. And we're fortunate to have our families nearby to spend time with him and us every week, and our framily who help keep us sane. The evening was loud and a bit chaotic, but ultimately a pretty relaxed, fun time with some of our very favorite people.

And our favorite little four year old, of course. We're so fortunate to be our little family of four.

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Kittens.

After Rocky died, Mom said she wasn't going to get a new cat until after Petunia passed on. And she wasn't going to have three cats again, three cats is too much.

BUT NOW SHE HAS TWO NEW BABIES! Because let's be real, one cat is not enough, and if you're going to jump through a thousand hoops to get kittens from a rescue league that treats stray cats like hidden treasure, you might as well get two and be done with it all.

So now, she has two kittens that were found by a garage man, after their mom left them on part of his truck during a rain storm. They were only ten days old when they were found, and now they're six weeks and part of Gigi and Grizz's crazy house. Spikey Rahrah is on the left, Yogi Bear on the right. THEY ARE SO FREAKING CUTE. I cannot stand it.

The kids are in love, as any decent human would be when presented with a kitten that weighs barely more than a pound but purrs like the dickens the second you touch it. Yogi is especially snuggly, and Spikey is a little more nervous about being scooped up by the kids, but seems to be getting along. The kids are absolutely thrilled with it all - other than a few incidences of needing more gentle hands, they've been wonderful with their new little friends. It makes me feel a little sad for the feral brothers that mom met but didn't adopt, but really, the kids are at such a good age to have a set of sweet kittens around. I teased Mom that it's like I'm the Gigi now, because I come over and pet her kittens and love on them and squeal over them, but I don't have to clean up after them or hear them if they wake up and get into trouble in the middle of the night.



I mean, com'n. Look at these tiny balls of fluff sleeping in Ellie's arms. It's like Christmas morning and her birthday, all rolled up together, every time she gets to cuddle up a sleeping cat (I feel much the same. It's a long, proud line of cat ladies.)

Also, today was the first day of spring, so here is the traditional time out chair picture, plus bonus Indian Hawthrone photo before the rain hits and all of the flowers come apart.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Snow Bunnies.

We had an amazing, rather impromptu long weekend this past weekend. Our friends Kristen and Jeff are both avid skiers, and I remember being absolutely AMAZED when Ellie and Lexi were newborns, that they were going to brave taking a newborn up to Mammoth Mountain for a ski weekend. They go a couple of times a winter, and have gone every year as their kids have gotten bigger. We've talked about joining them since Tim and I both skied as kids, but it seems like such an ORDEAL to make it happen. It's a six hour drive, kids are time bombs, and there is so much gear involved in a ski weekend. Especially when you live some place warm and your kids don't even own a pair of mittens. But, even though they know we are a circus of ding dongs, they invited us to come up and spend the weekend and go skiing with them. So we did! 

And lo, it was great. I managed to beg borrow and steal from family, neighbors and friends to get winter gear for everyone (though, I'll be honest, Saturday our kids wore dri-fit long johns designed for the weather, and Sunday they both wore pajamas underneath their bibs.) I dug out my old ski gear, which I haven't used since 2000, but which all thankfully still fits, because if you never have a growth spurt, the slightly too large jacket that your parents buy you in eighth grade will still be workable. We packed up a million bags (some of which we had to have our friends haul for us - another hard thing about skiing is that we own a subcompact and a sedan with a tiny trunk) and a million snacks and our two children, and right as Ellie got out of school on Friday, we headed out in our caravan to Mammoth. 

The drive up was uneventful. I've only been that way twice in the 20 years we've lived here, and the second time was when we drove all the way to Tahoe for Jake's Ironman (which seems unbelievable now! Who does two twelve hour drives over the course of four days with a toddler and infant?!?) I find the constantly changing geography so interesting, and it was beautiful to be driving through the snowy mountains on a moonlit nice. The kids did great - we were able to have the boys in one car and the girls in another for a stint between a pee break and dinner, which had them all thrilled. Everything is easier when you're hanging out with your bestie!


Technology, I love you!

Our condo was really nice, and the kids were thrilled to sleep in sleeping bags. Poor Adam didn't sleep at all on the drive up, and then woke up early on Saturday morning, which set us up for him refusing to do ski school. I mean, he probably would have fussed even if he hadn't been exhausted and hungry, but uff da, he REALLY wasn't going on Saturday. After being so frustrated that I was near tears (which would have gone great with Adam having a full scale meltdown, and Ellie quietly weeping because she was nervous) I told Tim I was cutting bait, and Adam and I went back to the condo. We ended up having a good day - we had lunch and puttered around a bit, and then he slept for over three hours, and only woke up when I had to wake him up for apres ski beers. And it was better than paying for his rentals, my rentals and a lift ticket only to be called off of the mountain an hour later. 

Meanwhile, we signed Ellie up for ski school and she was nervous, but did well. Tim got to spend the day out with everyone - Kristen and Jeff have a private instructor who works with their kids and is unashamed to give pointers to the adults (she told me to quit holding my arms up like a t-rex, and at one point I was nervous that she'd take my poles away and make me practice!) and so they were mostly moving as a foursome. 




Everyone had a good day, and then we met up at the lodge afterwards - it was really nice that our condo was seriously across the street from the lifts. Ellie reported her glee with ski school, we all had a drink, and as the crowd cleared out the kids slid down the little slope on their butt, and I got in a pretty great snowball fight with all four of them. If you think I won't white wash a child, or put snow down their neck, you'd be wrong. 


Sunday I went skiing and Tim was on Adam duty. They went to a little snow park and had a busy, fun morning together, throwing snowballs into a river and climbing in caves.

Meanwhile, it was a beautiful day. The slopes were uncrowded, the weather was gorgeous, the snow was good. It was a wonderful way to return to skiing after such a long absence, and though, if I'd had another day, I probably would have done some harder runs, for my first day back I was content to ski with Lexi and get my legs back under me, versus ending up at the top of a black diamond, wondering what on earth I was doing with my life.




It was a wonderful day, and one of the best parts was meeting up with Ellie at the bottom of the hill at the end of the day, and having her ask if we could all go on a run together. So, I pulled her over the chair lift (which she had not been on before, eek!) and the girls had a run together. It was SO CUTE. As we were heading over, Lexi said "I'm so excited to get to ski with my bestie!" And after a day on the magic carpet and the t-bar, Ellie thought the chair lift was AMAZING (she did eat it at the top, but what can you do.)


Ellie and I skiing together was basically a direct repeat of the first time I ever went skiing. Had a good day, and then my dad took me to a run I had no business being on, and we went down the hill like this:

She knows how to get her arms up and her pizza set, but she can't turn! So, she can't slow herself down, and she was scared by how much steeper the hill was. But, I shoved her inside my pizza, and with our friends' encouragement (Lexi was so sweet, telling Ellie what a good job she was doing, and Kristen documented the hilarity) we made it down to the bottom with only one big spill. It was tough, but it was fun, and then at the end she told me that she wanted to go one more time, which made me burst with pride. She'll be a Grizz-level skier yet, heading back for the very last chair of the day. The second run went much like the first, her between my legs and crying part of the time, but she was happy when we were done, and even happier when we turned in our equipment and got a hot chocolate. 

Sunday afternoon was even nicer apres ski because it was so much less crowded. I mean, it's the life, right? A good day skiing with great friends, sitting with a cold beer while you watch your kids have a great time. 


On our way back to the condo the girls talked about wishing they could sit on top of a snow bank (the amount of snow they've had is intense - these girls are at least 12 feet up from the road) so I chucked them over at the edge of our stair case. SAFETY FIRST. When Tim went and stood to keep an eye on them, they dropped some snow down on him, which of course makes me proud.

Their little foursome is so funny. They wake up and look for one another, they hold hands walking together, they're thrilled when we threw them in the shower together at the end of the day, and they're happy to sit together on their iPads playing games together, or making pillow forts, or just generally being a bunch of wild animals. Being with our friends made everything so easy and so fun. We may be a family that goes skiing yet! 

This morning we rode the gondola before we headed out, which they all thought was amazing
(please note Adam is wearing our friend Aislinn's snow boots, and LOVING them. He misses the puddle splashing of his old explorer boots, RIP) and then the caravan home was pretty smooth - we had the girls for the first bit, and they were so happy to listen to Moana and color together, and the boys were playing Mario in the other car. Adam took a quick nap right as we got back towards civilization, and after a 5pm stop for chips, guac and potty, we had to say goodbye and head on towards home. On our way back to the car, Ellie asked when we were going to do something FUN, and Lexi had asked if we were going to all be able to hang out tonight and have supper. The fun never ends!