Sunday, August 31, 2014


Today was my half marathon! And it went surprisingly well, despite the fact that I parked in the wrong place and had to walk a mile through all of Downtown Disney to get to the start. The whole thing was really overwhelming, in a lot of ways. For one, they start the race at 5:30, so that they can clear the park by the time the tourists arrive. For two, there are 25,000 participants, so it's very, very crowded, especially back in the cattle corrals. And for three, unlike Tim, I am not familiar with Anaheim and the Disneyland area, so I didn't really know where I was going or where to park or essentially, what was going on! All I knew was that I had many, many miles to run. But I'd eaten my good breakfast and had some coffee and water and I had high hopes that I could shuffle my way through the whole course.

I accidentally got in the wrong corral, but that ended up being okay because I was more than able to keep pace. I was back behind the 3 hour pacer, and I passed them along the way. The first couple miles are all through Disneyland and California Adventure, and there are characters out to cheer you on, and for picture taking. I didn't have my phone with me, so there are no Disney-magic selfies of my sweaty face. Also, they allow costumes, so there were a lot of people dressed up - mostly girls in princess get ups, including tutus, fairy wings, and Mickey ears. It made me itchy just to think about. I did however, proudly wear my Special Olympics Southern California shirt. Next year though, I will give into my own vanity and put on some eye make up, since there were people in full faces, including false eyelashes.

Around mile five, we were dumped onto the streets of Anaheim. They had marching bands, cheerleaders, and some very nice people holding signs. My favorites included "worst Disney parade ever," "best Disney parade ever," and "Chuck Norris never ran a half marathon." My other favorite people were the folks with a bunch of orange slices and Twizzlers, and a sign that said "free candy from strangers." OKAY, SIGN ME UP! I took a Twizzler, not an orange slice, obviously. We passed mile nine as we headed by the Pond and under the Big A into Angels Stadium. The course went along the dirt of the warning track, and they had a person calling out our names as we ran by - my name went over the speakers at Angels Stadium and a bunch of spectators cheered for me! And as we left the stadium, it was only a 5K left to go.

I knew I could make it 10 miles, and I felt good up to that point. Miles 10 and 11 were harder because it seemed so long, and I just wanted to be DONE. Thankfully, as we approached mile 12 we were back to the park and there were lots of spectators cheering us on. Then during the last mile I passed the 2:45 pacer and he was leading a group of people walking, and I thought, I'll be damned if I'm going to get beaten by people who are walking like that (true story though - I'm sure I got beaten by a lot of people who took walk breaks. I ran except for when I stopped to get water, but I'm slow enough that someone doing a brisk run/walk combo could have probably passed me.) HOWEVER, I did manage to suck it up enough to blow past the 2:45 people and put together a pretty good kick towards the finish line. My splits show that I got a lot faster as the crowd cleaned out a little.

Disney loves to print money, so if you wanted to spectate at the finish line, you had to pay to be there. And yet, those people were not cheering very hard for those of us hobbling toward the finish! It was really crowded too - I was glad I hadn't demanded my family buy their way in. I was zonked enough without having to search around for my personal cheerleaders. Then I had another mile walk back to the car, which took me forever to find, since I had parked it at a random hotel on Harbor. I'm lucky I didn't get towed. Unlucky in that I spent twenty minutes looking for it, while wishing I wasn't using my legs any more.

I had joked with Eileen that instead of coming to see me race, they could really be supportive by inviting Tim and the kids over for breakfast so that I could nap. She and Don were happy to oblige, so I got to take a bath in peace and then sleep for a few hours. Tim and the kids came home for nap time and Ellie asked me how my sweaty run was, and then she was INCREDIBLY impressed with my medal, because I told her that it was Anna and Elsa's castle, and I'd seen them during the day.

Ultimately, I finished in 2:37, which was better than what I was thinking. I felt good, I feel good, and now I don't have to run any more unless I feel like it, which is the best reward of all!

Next year, more eye make up.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Morning in the 'Burbs.

First off, we had a rare sighting of the two stripey boys together.

Then, our usual walk, talking to neighbors, petting dogs, commenting about pinecones. We stopped to pet Star on the way out and again on the way back.
That's Star on the left, and Blue on the right. While we were saying hello, the front door opened and we finally met the owner. Turns out, they have not one, not two, but FOUR big fluffertons. Plus a little black pug dog. THEY ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD! She says the cats are ragdolls, and that she had two, and then a friend who was moving out of town asked her to take care of the other two. Two of them stay inside, but Star and Blue are allowed out. So now I am even more dedicated to my cat-napping plans.

Since we were so close to the house, I let the kids walk the rest of the way home. Won't make that mistake again. Please enjoy what happened when I took my eyes off Adam long enough to say hi to our neighbor.

Plus tonight is pizza and ice cream night with Gigi and Grizz!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chatty Chatterson.

Please to enjoy Adam giving the neighbor dogs what-for.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pictures and Stories.

Oh, those funny little kiddos.

Adam is talking more and more. He can say Gigi pretty clearly, and last night when he saw Sara after work, he started making the S sound. He is also pointing at Don (and at pictures of Don) and saying "Poppy" clear as a bell. So sweet! It's also sort of funny to me because during the great grandparent renaming of 2011, Don was the only one who 1) didn't want a new name and 2) was actually renamed by Ellie herself. He went from being Grandpa to just being Pa, and now both kids are starting to call him Poppy. Maybe he'll get to be Grandpa to his great grandkids. Yesterday when we were in Trader Joes I gave Adam a bite of the food to sample without checking it out first. Turns out, it was a spicy curry and he was less than pleased. The poor little guy started crying and then pointing his finger and yelling "NO!" incredibly loudly. We shop at a Trader Joes near a retirement community, so all of the older people were giving me the look like he was a brat. Poor guy, his mouth was burning and he can barely talk!

Diaper hats, the new hot fashion.

He's a funny kid. Still a very sweet personality, but becoming more and more stubborn as he grows. He's becoming more of a mama's boy, which is not my favorite. I mean, I love the kid, but I could do with a little less pulling on my legs, and demanding that I hold him while trying to cook. I am excellent at making coffee one handed. When he's tired or hungry, he enjoys following me around the house, wailing at top volume. One morning he was doing it as Tim was trying to escape to work, and I turned to Tim and said "no, no, you go. I know you're jealous." The other fun thing is when Adam is too tired and too hungry to get his crap together enough to actually eat supper. So he'll scream in his high chair, we'll take him out, he stands next to me and cries, and eventually we shove a few bites of food into his mouth and put him to bed. And then some nights, he shovels food in faster than I can put it on his plate. Most of the time though, he's so busy that we can barely get him to eat.

Friday night everyone else was busy, so the kids and I went on a hot date before picking Sara up from work. Adam fed himself most of that mac and cheese and then the kids switched plates and Ellie finished off the noodles and Adam plowed down on some grilled cheese. Thankfully, it was one night that he actually decided he could have some snacks.

And then there's Missy Moo. During the past week or so, she has spent almost every waking moment carrying either her little cat or her baby doll around, loving on them and insisting that we hold the baby, that we be quiet because the baby is napping, or that we change the baby's diaper. She's a nut.

She also got a new car seat, which she's very proud of. CHECK OUT HER SWEET CUP HOLDER!

And this is what nap time looks like at our house. And arranging them all properly for snooze time is why she's in bed for three hours but only napping for two.

Here is Ellie's new pet, Dead Butterfly 2. Not all of the monarchs at Gigi's house make it from caterpillar to butterfly, and when they don't, Ellie carries them around and talks to them until they go to shreds. She also likes to make sure that all the neighbors know "this is my dead butterfly. He died. He loves me though! Oh, it's okay dead butterfly!"

And here's my future new pet, Star the Neighbor Cat. I love him so.

I mean, are you kidding me? Look at that love muffin! I am not saying that I'd outright kidnap him, but I'm also not saying that if he tried to follow me home, I'd shoo him back to his own yard.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kissing Bandits

My children, they are the sweetest. Adam is reaching the age where he finally understands English, and can talk just the tiniest bit. Unlike Ellie at this age, he's not big on repeating things back to us. But he very politely says thank you (tank-gu) and no thank you (no tank-gu.) He can woof and meow, say hi and bye, and is working on saying Gigi (even though she's left us again for vacation!) And the other day when I offered him a banana he said "nana" and made little monkey noises. So cute!

The other thing is that now when I ask him to give me a kiss, he will immediately lean in with a huge open fish mouth. Sometimes he even does it unsolicited - he will just grab my face and go in for the smooch. At bed time, he knows that after we rock and sing his lullaby, it's time for a little goodnight kiss. It just kills me dead. He also likes to squish Lamby into our faces and make kissing noises - in addition to how he will sometimes honk Lamby's face and beep, like he's beeping his nose.

Meanwhile, Ellie has also upped her affection game. She has taken to holding my chin or cupping my face before giving me a kiss goodnight, or I'll be in the middle of her lullaby and she squashes her whole face against my cheek for a big wet smooch. She's spent the past week carrying around one of her stuffed animals (a cat that someone gave her when she was a newborn) and telling us to be nice to her baby, she has to go feed her baby, time to go put her baby to sleep. She also likes for me to wrap the baby up in a scarf so that she can babywear. Hippie!

Our other big fun over the past week or so is petting one of our neighbor cats on our walks. The cat is this enormous ball of fluff - I am not kidding, it's probably a thirty pound cat. When we leave in the morning, he's laying outside in the garden and he'll come over to us if I call, and he lets us pet him and even lets me pick him up and sit him in the stroller, where he immediately snuggles in with the kids on the foot board, and slams his face into them, demanding more pets. We found out from the owners that his name is Star (their teenaged soon caught us mid-pet) and there is also a second large cat who we see much less often (who I have decided is named Storm.) Now that we've seen both cats together, it makes me feel less guilty about my plan to steal Star and make him my own. It's probably for the best that we see him at the start of our walks and not the end. Otherwise I'd be tempted to just let him ride in our stroller alllllll the way home.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Vegas baby, Vegas.

In the continuing adventures of August 2014, Tim and I spent 36 hours of this past weekend in Las Vegas. Our friend Todd had his birthday on Saturday, and he and Sara Jo's favorite comedian, Whitney Cummings, was doing a show at the Palazzo, so Sara organized a big group of couples (mostly parents) to escape for a quick trip. We flew out on Saturday morning, and got home Sunday afternoon in time for dinner.

It was such a fun trip! We stayed at the Flamingo and had a cabana at the pool. Six couples spending the afternoon drinking, floating, mouthing off, and being disgusted by the realization that with only three stalls for each gender, the hotel basically expected that all of the drunk idiots would just pee in the pool. Then upstairs for quick naps, a little food and some cleaning up before our evening out.

I have only been to Las Vegas twice before - once with Tim  to see Beatles Love, and once for my old boss's 40th birthday. It's not my favorite town in the world because I am easily overwhelmed and cheap. I don't gamble, the very thought of a yard of margarita makes me barf everywhere, and while I appreciate the thought of going to a buffet and eating myself sick, I feel like a lot of the shopping and dining options mirror ones that are already available to me living in Southern California (I know, I'm oh so fancy!) But going with a big group of friends was absolutely great, even though I still found myself really overwhelmed by how huge everything is - I'd forgotten how massive all the hotels are, and how great the people watching is. I mean, especially by the pool, yikes!

That said, the comedy show was great, and then we walked over for our dinner reservation at Lavo, which was not AS great. The service was very soundly meh, and I was so tired by then that I could have keeled over and fallen asleep under the table (except that my sequin dress would have been too scratchy.) But Sara Jo surprised me with my own little happy birthday dessert, and that made me feel incredibly special. Plus you couldn't beat the company and all of the conversation. So nice to just be a grown up person out with other fun, grown up people, not having to worry about getting home or dealing with kids (Adam and Ellie were with Saint Gigi for the night. She is so nice!)

As soon as we got back into our hotel, I fell asleep and slept like I was dying. It has been a loooong time since I've been able to sleep like that, and it was the best ever. Then we met everyone for a buffet breakfast and a little more hanging out before heading to the airport. Carpooled home and met up with our darling kiddos, who were happy to see us, but not as insane as expected. It's so nice that they're getting big enough that we can do the occasional couples trip without feeling like the work required to leave is not worth the trip, though most of that credit goes to our amazing parents.

The good news is that Gigi has a vacation of her own this week, hanging out in Door County with her sister. Everybody wins!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sir Paul

Seeing Paul McCartney has been on my bucket list for several years now. The last time he was in LA, he was doing a secret show at Amoeba Records. It was when I was working at the Petersen Museum, and I went and asked our director, who was a big music fan and had been in a fairly well known punk band back in the day, if I could go and stand in line outside of Amoeba to meet Sir Paul. He told me I could if I wanted to take a sick day, but that was not possible, because I knew I needed both of my sick days for that year (because I was going to have to take them in order to spend Christmas Eve and December 26th with my family, but that's another sad story.) So Tim and I promised that next time we could, we'd go see the old man.

And lo, he released a new album this spring, and announced plans to perform at Dodger Stadium. I was all over those tickets. I chased them down like the girls chasing the four lads from Liverpool in the beginning of A Hard Days Night. Sunday was our big night out, and it did not disappoint. I was worried that it might end up being some sad nostalgia tour and that I would feel embarrassed for our 72 year old friend Paul, but he was great. He's definitely lost a little bit in the vocals, but it was clear how much he still loved performing and playing rock music. I discovered the Beatles when I was 14 and moving to New Jersey, and immediately threw myself into all of their albums and all the trivia I could possibly shove into my brain. 

I was born after John Lennon died, so I never had any thoughts that I'd hear these songs live. This was music that I listened to in my car, or in my room for hours and hours alone (being the little book worm that I was.) So to hear some of these songs that have defined my life in a huge stadium with 50,000 other people, under the brilliant super moon was utterly amazing. We had floor seats and were so wonderfully close that I could actually SEE Paul without having to look at the big sceens (depending on how the people in front of me were standing. I'm still short.) Plus, since Paul McCartney draws quite the crowd of baby boomers, floor seats actually meant that we had a seat to sit in during the ballads. Because I am rapidly approaching middle age and I like to sit and not get shoved around during concerts (because I'm still short. And actually, this is one of the few concerts where I haven't wanted to pick a fight with a jerk seated or standing near me. The last time we had floor seats was at Coldplay, and some drunk guy kept slamming backwards into me while trying to dance. And he was tall and annoying. Thanks for not being drunk and rowdy, concert goers near us!) 

It was three hours of solid awesomeness. A little fireworks, a lot of singing, and a wonderful night with my boyfriend. The only downside is the hour it took us to get to our car and get onto the freeway, and then the other hour to get home. And poor Adam wasn't having his best night, so he was still awake and giving Gigi the business. A preview of the fun they can have together over the weekend!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mother of the Year!

...or at least, mother of the morning.

Our swimming lesson was canceled today, which left us with nothing to do and all day to do it in. THE WORST OF ALL POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES! However, then I remembered that I'd recently gotten an email saying that the carousel at the Spectrum was fully repaired and that we could get ourselves a free ride for all of our trouble (I should have gotten 3-5 free rides for how hard Ellie cried the first time we tried to go and were turned away.) But still, I don't like to turn down free things. So I packed a lunch, packed up the kids and off we went. It was really nice - I went through Target and bought some household supplies, and then they were both totally delighted to ride the carousel.

Well, Adam wasn't totally delighted. He was gripping my neck for dear life, so I took him off his horse.

Then we went and sat in the shade by the big wheel and ate our lunch

Adam did like that I let him walk around on his own. It's funny to watch him get distracted by grates on the ground, and plants, and music. Trying to walk back to the wheel took quite awhile but hey, jog some of that energy out children! Then we took our free train ride around the joint. I had to go in the car so that I could take Adam, and we shared the car with two little boys, maybe about 2 1/2. They told me all about their favorite movies and sang some Frozen songs. Their moms were totally jealous that they didn't have to cram their buns onto a little bench on a train for children, I know it. But Adam was trying to stand on benches and fall out of the train car, so it was good I went with him. And again, FREE!

We ended our adventure playing in the little playground area that they have near Target. Ellie got to ride down the little slide holding Adam, and he tried to make a break for the parking lot, so everyone had a good time! I think they enjoyed their morning out more than they enjoyed yesterday's afternoon in.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sad Face.

Our baby Olivia went back to Chicago today, much to our lamenting. The three kids had a great time together, as did all of the older ladies. I love this crazy family.

Ellie and Olivia in their matching butterfly shirts

Olivia Newton Jane is not that into it, as you can see

Adam is like, "what is up with you two loony toons?

Ellie kept telling us that Olivia was a baby cheetah and she was the mommy cheetah. Here you can see her feeding her baby out in the wild (ie: El Maguey at lunch yesterday.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Runner Runner.

A bit of shameless self promotion here. As you may know, I took up running (again) after having the kids. It was something I could do for myself, without having to inconvenience any one else. I don't have to ask for babysitting, I don't have to put the kids in skeevy gym day care, and most importantly, I don't have to wake up early or stay up late. We get up, we have breakfast, I throw on my workout clothes and slather myself in sunscreen, and off we go in the fancy jogging stroller for about an hour. It's an hour where I'm with them, but getting time to myself. They get some fresh air, the chance to see animals of all types (dogs, birds, the occasional bunny) and importantly, they get to see me take care of myself. I tell Ellie often that exercise is something I do to make myself feel good, and truly, it's a huge sanity saver for me. Pushing two enormous kids and an enormous stroller wears me out, but skipping my jogging makes me feel sluggish and crummy for the day.

So. Mondays and Thursdays I run longer distances because Ellie's in preschool and so I only have a twenty pound ham in the stroller. Plus, he doesn't yammer at me nonstop, so I usually listen to my iPod and feel a little more motivated. I was bragging to Jake about my recent accomplishments, and he encouraged me to sign up for a half marathon. AND LIKE AN IDIOT, I DID.

I am running the Disneyland half marathon over Labor Day weekend, and I signed up via Special Olympics, which means that I am not only running for my own terrible, foolish pride and sense of accomplishment, but to fund raise for Special Olympics of Southern California.

If you are feeling up to it, please support SOSC, and my insanity via my fundraising link. Hopefully I can keep up my mileage over the next few weeks, and come back with some fun photos of my sweaty, sad misery.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Safe Returns.

All of our grandparents have returned from their vacations. Ellie ignored all of them, because we let her watch Frozen on Thursday night. She only talked to Mimi for a minute on facetime, and when Gigi and Grizz came home she came out and hugged Gigi, then ran back inside to get back to the TV. Adam however, was very excited to see them, and kept following Grizz around, demanding to be held. He's a snuggler, that one.

We've been having such a nice time with everyone. The cousins are absolutely in love with each other. Ellie loves anything that Olivia does, and Olivia is very intrigued with Adam. They've played lots of blocks and followed each other around the house, taken group tubs and squealed at each other. It's very, very cute.

Ellie said that there were only a few puffs left and so she was going to give them to Olivia... then she dumped out half the can.

When Olivia started fussing at the Hat today at lunch, Ellie immediately jumped into entertaining her. There was some peekaboo and a funny face contest. The best.

And you know, just some laying around. Relaxing.

Our other big fun over the weekend was going to a Frozen themed birthday part for our neighbor friends Alexa and Cole. She was turning four, he was turning one. We were informed to be there on time because a "special guest" was arriving at 11:30.


It was unbelievable. Queen Elsa was a fantastic entertainer - when she came in, all the little girls were shy, and then they quietly crept closer to her as she introduced herself and talked to the birthday girl, and then they all began chattering at her. Ellie showed Elsa that she was wearing purple, like Elsa's coronation cape, and she had her coronation hair! Queen Elsa was so great with the kids - she listened to and answered their questions, she rolled with all of their goofiness, and she really kept up a great show. First there was some magic (some of which even I didn't understand. SHE TRULY HAS POWERS) and then she led them in a round of Let it Go, and then everyone got their face painted. It was perfect that while they were waiting for face painting, most of us took the time to make our kids eat some pizza, and then it was time for birthday cake, and Elsa led the song. She was so entertaining, and so enthralling. I swear, she could have told the kids that they needed to sell their souls, and those little girls would have handed it right over.

Then Saturday night Mimi and Pa came over to hang out with us for a bit, and then babysit so Tim and I could go and have a belated anniversary dinner. Ellie had a fantastic time with them, AND got to make her party favor Olaf!

Do you want to dementedly eat your snowman?