Monday, June 30, 2014

More Catching Up!

Our time with Brian and Becca was wonderful! Ellie has made an almost full recovery from her little fever - she's currently got a runny nose, and I can tell she's running at 90% instead of 100%. And then last night Adam felt a little warmer, and warmer still this morning. Thankfully, after a couple of doses of Motrin, he was back down to room temperature before his afternoon nap. At least we know they didn't get it from baby beach, as Adam didn't go in the water.

So now I will do a catch up in pictures. These first few are from a few weeks ago when Gigi took us into the Mission to get a few shots of all of us with the flowers in bloom and the mulch freshly laid.

Me: Ellie, let us take a picture of you with the hollyhocks! Ellie: Where are the hollyhocks???

"Gigi! I PICKED THIS FLOWER FOR YOU!" (not allowed)

My sweet little jewels at the Jewel of the Missions

Moving on - Friday we all drove up to LA to visit the La Brea Tar Pits. It's an LA institution! It was so surreal for me to be back on Miracle Mile, sight of one of my early grant writing jobs, except now with my two children in tow. We actually walked into the lobby of the Petersen to use the bathroom and it's very different. The Tar Pits are the same as ever, however.

Becca and Brian got caught in the tar, so we left them there.

Yes, he does wear that outfit a lot.

We walked back through the LACMA plaza and enjoyed some of their outdoor art. Ellie: What is this? Me: It's contemporary art. No one knows.

Tim was told he couldn't have Ellie on his shoulders because it was a liability. Thanks, sue-happy Los Angeles!

She also loved the Urban Light installation outside of LACMA. Again, it's contemporary art. Who knows what it means!

Saturday morning we went down to Salt Creek Beach for some good old fashioned ocean time. Ellie was, as usual, delighted with the waves, though I think Brian enjoyed the ocean the most. It was a perfect morning for it - cloudy as we arrived but sunny shortly thereafter. Nice breeze, nice waves, and a nice couple of hours in the sun and sand. We were home before lunch and the kids took three hour long naps. All of that outdoor fun can tire a little one right out!

Saturday night we got to go on a really lovely double date while Mimi and Pa babysat. We went to the Old Vine Cafe in Costa Mesa, where they specialize in tasting menus and wine pairings. Four courses of gorgeous food and wine, plus we ordered a bonus dessert that featured blue cheese ice cream. Blue smelly cheeses, my true love forever.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Catching Up.

Sorry, sorry, so sorry! Things have gotten crazy around here, in a good way! Monday Auntie Becca arrived for a week's vacation (Brian arrives tomorrow) and we have been doing a lot of good hanging out, even though right before she arrived, poor Ellie spiked a fever out of nowhere. She did manage to rally to go out to lunch on Monday, and has enjoyed the repeated watching of Frozen, and her repeated wearing of her new Queen Elsa dress, courtesy of Gigi.

Finally, a dress with a train that drags!

Meanwhile, we had a really nice first weekend of summer. Saturday morning I spent a lot of time trying to clean up the front yard, and Tim and Ellie went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 in the theater. He is so excited that his little lady is big enough to partake in his favorite hobby. We grilled burgers for dinner, and then Ellie said she wanted to go to the ocean, so lucky little California girl that she is, we went down to baby beach in Dana Point after dinner for a little bit of splashing. Baby beach, not the cleanest beach in the world. Perhaps that's why she spiked a fever a day and a half later.

Sunday morning we went for a nice family walk and then played around the house for the afternoon. Mimi and Pa came over for pizza dinner, and Ellie was so excited to help me spread cheese and stretch the dough, and both kids were so glad to be out enjoying the back yard with their grandparents. And even more, enjoying when we went to Golden Spoon (aka the ice cream store) for a little bit of ice cream. What better way to start summer time?

Even though the kids didn't feel 100% yesterday, Mimi still came over and graciously allowed Becca and I to escape for a lunch date and a little shopping. And last night we met up with my girlfriends for a little professional development while Tim put the kids to bed. Tomorrow we have a trip to the Korean Spa (aka Korean Beauty Jail or Korean Naked Time) with two of our girlfriends, and then Brian arrives in time for dinner, hooray! It's fun to feel like I'm getting a little bit of vacation in my own area. Fabulous staycation!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Forward Progress.

Ellie at swim lessons five weeks ago:

Ellie at swim lessons yesterday:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kiddo Videos.

Here's Ellie in the wading pool after swim class today. As you can see, she's much more comfortable in the water, and trying to swim a few strokes here and there.

I must say, having Adam stay home with Sara during swim class is SUCH a relief. It's like I'm on a spa vacation, just having to worry about one kid.

I love this goofy video of album. As you can see, he is already trying to say "cheese," which is hilarious. My favorite part is how he makes that weird noise in the back of his throat when he's wrassling and being tickled. He's like a rabid dog! A goofy, happy little rabid dog.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Company Picnic.

Tim's company's "Summerfest" was this Saturday afternoon. I was looking forward to taking down all challengers to my pie eating contest title, but they didn't hold a contest this year. THUS MAKING ME THE NOW AND FOREVER UNDISPUTED CHAMPION!

We had a nice time - there were food trucks and bounce houses and rides and farm animals on display. Plus kids and dogs and friends of all kinds. People were very impressed with Ellie's dog petting manners - she is very good about asking if she can pet dogs, usually by saying "does your dog like little kids?" and then she will ask "how many is your dog?" and "what kind of dog is this?" This is in between squealing about how soft the dog is or how nice or how cute. She's a funny little muffin.

The big bounce house had a wall to climb in order to go down the slide, and Ellie was climbing it with a big kid behind her, who kept trying to pull up on the rungs before her foot left it, and she turned around and told him "EXCUSE ME," which cracks me up. She actually sat for face painting this year and got turned into a kitten (though I think she looks like a Day of the Dead skull.) She also loved her time on the Scrambler (rode it three times!) Adam loved the little bounce house, and just hanging out with us. Everyone loves a family day!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day.

It started early today, with Adam getting up around six and Ellie a little before seven. But it gave us time to work on putting together the ingredients for pancakes, and making a batch of snickerdoodle cookies (which Ellie calls snicker DOOOOODLES. It cracks me up) and of course, time to shower and change diapers and clean up the whirlwind messes that seem to happen every time I turn my back.

We spent the morning with Pa - I made a triple batch of pancakes since Jake was coming over after a run (and because Ellie has been known to eat three adult sized pancakes when she's hungry) and Tim brought over his new bags game, so there was bags and golfing and playing around in the back yard for a couple of hours, and then after Adam went down for a nap, the boys played catch, and the ladies went to go feed the ducks. Jake helped Ellie fit her helmet and she did some good pedaling on the way over to the boat house. And on the way home we fed a mama duck and her three sweet little babies!

When Ellie went down for a nap, Tim and I went out for a drink and some quiet time, which was really nice. We usually end up at this Irish bar in downtown Fullerton, which is near a bunch of thrift stores. Poor Tim. He is so nice and patient with my need to scout out for gently used sequined items. When we got back, we rounded up our brood and headed over to bother Grizz. They'd warmed up the spa (aka Gigi's pool) and we did some good soaking and splashing and Ellie showed off her swimming, and then we had brats and snickerdoodles (which were good, but not correct, per Grizz. My cookbook led me down the wrong path! I should have done more research, but you know, it was 7am when I ran to the grocery store.) And then a little bit of race car driving and playing out in the yard.

Overall, a fun and wonderful day with some of our favorite guys.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday.

We had such a busy, nice day today. I got everyone ready this morning with enough time for us to go and buy supplies for the cats, and therefore visit all of the nice rodents at the pet store. Our favorite pet store guy let Ellie pet a binny pig AND a hamster and chatted with us for a bit. And then even after all of that lollygagging, we still arrived at music class with twenty minutes to spare, so we went across the street to Starbucks and I got an iced coffee, and we each got a vanilla bean "stone," as Ellie calls them.

Look at these two. I mean, are you kidding me?

This was our last week in this session with Miss Elena, and as usual, Ellie had a melt down in the middle of the class. She loves to make a stink on the final day! Thankfully, she recovered more quickly than normal, and I only had to spend one song with her snuggled up in my lap, boo-hooing into my shoulder (with tired Adam also trying to crawl all over me.) We still love that crazy Miss Elena, and the kids are so cute with their instrument playing and singing.

Then we headed over for lunch with Cara and Clare, which was great. Their new house is really coming together, and Ellie is so excited for Clare to get a little brother next month (everyone gets a little brother!) Came home, thunked my two little fish for nap time, and then when they woke up, we went over to Gigi and Grizz's to do some play doh and run around the house yelling. As we do.

Gigi and Grizz had a Wednesday night date night, and Tim is at E3 tonight, so we were on our own. Ellie suggested that we go have a picnic, so we did exactly that. I packed sandwiches and snacks and sand toys in the stroller, and we headed down. The kids both wanted to play before they ate, and I got to sit on a bunch with my sandwich, watching them have fun. It was really wonderful. They are finally starting to really play together and entertain themselves.

I wish I'd had my big camera with me - they were so sweet and it was so wonderful to just enjoy the nice weather and the beautiful scenery. Ellie made me many kinds of "soup" (aka a pail full of sand) and Adam wandered around and hooted and played in the little house area. Then we came home and got everyone ready for bed. I realized tonight that after three and a half years, the thought of doing dinner, bath and bed time by myself no longer makes me want to weep with fear and frustration. They easily take a bath together, I can lotion Adam while Ellie finishes splashing, and then he is happy to cuddle with Lambykins in his crib while I'm putting her down for bed. Though tonight she did get out of bed at almost 10pm with the claim that she had to go potty, but she barely produced. She should be good and tired tomorrow! On one hand, it's a little depressing that it's taken me so long to feel like I've hit my groove, but on the other hand, it's only onwards and upwards from here. I love those two little Muffinhead Freds to the end of the earth, and it's so wonderful to have such a great day with them. Domestic bliss!

Monday, June 9, 2014


Now even better with a sibling.

(from two summers ago)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Field Trips!

It's been a busy end of the week! Gigi and Sara are on a "field trip" to USC for the Special Olympics Summer Games, and Sara is taking pleasure in sending me disgusting pictures of Tommy Trojan and the USC Marching Band. Gigi enjoyed getting a voicemail last night that ended with Ellie sobbing because "WHY ISN'T GIGI TALKING TO ME?!"

But in the meanwhile, we've had other fun. Thursday Ellie's class went on a field trip to the Long Beach Aquarium. The thing with kids that little (3-5 years old) is that they can't really ride on a bus, so a bunch of parents agree to chaperon and the parents who aren't going help by installing their car seats in another parent's car. Since I couldn't dump Adam off with Gigi, I ended up just taking both my kids, which meant I was about zero percent help in actually monitoring the other kids. Thankfully, there were a lot of parents and grandparents in attendance, because Adam fell asleep on the drive up and woke up sour and grumpy, so I had 20 pounds of him strapped to me in the ergo, whining (he screamed when I tried to put him in the stroller.) And of course, Ellie is a handful in and of herself, not to mention just the logistics of herding 20 preschools around a facility that's FULL of field trips during the morning. Still, we had a nice time. We started off in a class room, learning about some of the marine life, and getting to use a smaller touch pool. Ellie said she was scared, but she did touch a sea star. The rest of the morning was just sort of herding the kids and looking at all the animals. Ellie loved seeing the sea horses and the otters. It's hard with such a big group of little kids to really stop and do much teaching, but they just did a unit on the ocean in class, so hopefully it was more fun for them to just see everything in action. My poor kids were totally pooped by the time we finished lunch and got in the car, and extra pooped when I had to wake them both up to take Ellie's swim lesson.

Not interested in doing any touching

Watching the seals

Friday we had lunch with our girlfriends, and then dinner at home, just playing around with Tim (who had been working late on Thursday night.)

And yesterday, a field trip for the grown ups! For Christmas, we discussed with Jake, Dawn, Don and Eileen that maybe instead of exchanging presents or gift cards, we could all just go DO something, and arrived on the idea of going wine tasting during the spring, before it got too hot (but after Adam got big enough to leave.) Since Gigi was out of town, we asked our friend Erlynne to stay with the kids, and she did an amazing job (I was a bit of a nervous Nellie about it, since you know, kids can be tough if you're not their parent.) And then the adults met at Don and Eileen's to hop in our limo and head out to Temecula. I highly recommend it as the only way to travel. We drank a little, we ate a little, we arrived relaxed and ready for our lunch and wine tasting.

(you guys, I'm not really that short, am I?)

Here's a picture of my sparkling sweet flight. You know, because if I'm going to get drunk, I want to make sure I have the gnarliest hangover possible. Highly recommend the pomegranate sparkling though.

We had a nice lunch on the patio, did our tasting at the table and learned NOTHING about wine (except that it is tasty.) There was live music playing and Tim and I got up and danced for awhile, and it was a lovely way to spend a few hours of family time. From there, we went over to a brewery for some beer times, which Don and Eileen survived like champs - Eileen drank more beer than I did! (I prefer Miller Lite, and I have no shame about that fact.)

Tim's flight, my favorite was #3

And then a relaxing limo ride home, and back to our house, where Erl reported great success with the kiddos. She is a doll. We briefly went over to say hey to Grizz, and then I fell asleep on the couch by 9 and Tim offered to carry me to bed when I didn't want to get up and walk by myself.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Kicks.

Oooh, look who's got some big boy shoes!

The transformation from baby to toddler continues around here, with Gigi buying Adam his first pair of shoes this week. Unlike Ellie, he did not immediately begin sobbing when shackled into footie death traps. He did look a little confused and dropped to his knees to start crawling, but before Gigi could even pay for his shoes, he'd started walking and begun to make his way out of Stride Rite. He was quite proud of himself and his new kicks. They seem so much bigger than the little soft soled "moon boots" that we bought for Ellie, but then again, he's already 14 months and walking better than she was when we bought her first shoes a few days after she turned one.

Cute as he is, all of these changes are not without their critics. My friend Sara Jo acted like I'd ruined her baby by having his hair trimmed, and I know somewhere my mom's friend Ceanna is shaking her head at us, because she said many times that she didn't like when babies got their first shoes, because they weren't really babies any more. The good news is that he gets sweeter and funnier every day.

Also, now that he can walk, we can put him to work.
His latest obsession is getting the broom out of the front hall closet and going to work.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Weekend Warriors

What a nice week-end and weekend we've had! Thursday evening there was a Tip a Cop fundraiser for Special Olympics at the Irvine Spectrum. A bunch of restaurants were participating, from high end to family friendly, and they had lots of police out in uniform, with the paddy wagon, a couple of motorcycles, and a police dog in training. There's a lot to see and do, in addition to getting a good meal. We met up with Tim to have Ruby's, and Ellie happily ordered a grilled cheese, a milk and some fruit, and behaved well enough to earn herself a milk shake at the end. She was so happy to be wandering around the Spectrum - petting dogs, riding the CHiPs motorcycle, and dancing to the music that they play. On our walk back to the car, she begged to go on the ferris wheel (the carousel is still broken, but she's resigned to it now) and so we went. Sadly, it was sort of hazy so no beautiful views, but she had a fun time snuggling with her daddy. And Adam had a fun time waving my Costco card around (they won't let you hold a baby in your lap, so he had to be strapped in.)

Friday Ellie was horribly bored, because we did nothing until we went over to Gigi and Grizz's for dinner. No friends over, no errands to run. She found our house very boring, which it sort of is. Thankfully, she got to paddle around in Gigi's pool and then have pizza and ice cream with Grizz.

Yesterday morning we headed down to Crystal Cove to celebrate Mimi's birthday with the family - it was a big birthday (30!) and we were ready for a good time. Ellie was SO EXCITED about going to the ocean. I let her splash a little before we were seated at the restaurant and then she managed to sit nicely through the meal, but the second her plate was clear of pancakes, she was ready to go. Oh man, she is just the cutest little thing. She loved running around at the edge of the water, chasing the waves. She loved having me take her out to where the waves were breaking, and laughed so hard any time her face got splashed, happily spitting and yelling "don't get in my mouth, ocean!" We got knocked over once, and when I pulled her back up, she continued as if nothing had happened. Then I carried her back up to the car on my back, so that she wouldn't get the stroller or the ergo soaked and sandy. Adam enjoyed the beach too, just shoveling and wandering around, and dipping his toes in at the end. Another little water bug on our hands!

After everyone took a nice nap, we decided that it was time to get Adam's first hair cut. I've been going back and forth on it for weeks, but Tim needed a hair cut pretty badly, so I figured we should kill two mullets with one stone. My friend had recommended a nearby barber shop, so we headed out and hacked away at all of Adam's hair. He did pretty well during the appointment, though the guy cutting his hair was a little nervous about it all. I simultaneously think that Adam looks a million times cuter, and regret having done it because he looks so grown up.

This is probably the first of many father and son trips to the barber shop

This morning we headed down to Lake Mission Viejo to watch Jake cross the finish line at the Orange County triathlon. Yay Uncle Jake! Again, Ellie had some nice dogs to pet, and some nice grandparents to run around with. Poor Adam fell asleep on the way home, in the ergo, on my back. Piggy backs for everyone!

And this afternoon we're having friends over for brats! Such a fun life.