Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Paling Around.

Only the best uncles get promoted to great uncle. Fun fact: John was a name we seriously considered when naming Adam Howard. But we thought since I already have an uncle and cousin by the same name, we'd give Adam a name all his own. Still, looks like they enjoy each other.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Day Photography

The kids slept in well enough and woke up ready and raring on Christmas morning. As usual, the favorite toy for Adam was a cheap stocking stuffer.

And then he tried to use it on Ellie. She got a spirograph from Santa! This is in no way related to her mom's love of spirograph. Just a happy coincidence. 

Post brunch dance party!

Also some tea party action

Mimi and Poppy and Jake came over afterwards, and in addition to some loud driving around of new RC cars, there were some quiet moments of reading (Adam is reading to Jake, obviously.)

He also got a chance to snuggle with his godfather Daniel, home from college, at Cathy's that evening. And Hailee got to come along and run around with the scrum of little girl cousins.

Today in big fun, Adam got to have a day with Grizzy, the cousins all went up to LA to tool around, and Gigi took Ellie, Hailee, Aunt Betty and Grandma Rosie to the American Girl store at the Grove for tea with their dolls.

Which, it seems like they had quite the good time. The Grandmas came home as enthused as the girls, and they didn't even get any matching clothes for them and their dolls!

I got to eat Diddy Reese and spend the day with my cousins and their spouses. Everyone wins!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve!

A crazy night of opening presents, including the cousins White Elephant, in which Kari and David ended up exchanging the toilet themed items that they'd brought...

And in the morning, perhaps Santa will leave something for these two cute little elves.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Birthday Poppy!

Here's to 70 more wonderful years!

Here is the poem that Tim and Jake wrote and read for their dad tonight, after a rousing game of Don Ford/1945 trivia.

To see the world through dad’s eyes
Is to see the world as great.
Every person does their best
No hearts are filled with hate.
But look too long through dad’s eyes
You’ll want to turn and run
You’ll find that every word you speak
Is a groan-inducing pun

To see the world through dad’s eyes
Is to find the good in other folks
If you deprecate yourself
He likely won’t get the joke
To count ourselves among his friends
Is a monumental treasure
To see us grow and lead good lives
Is his life’s greatest pleasure

To see the world through dad’s eyes
Is to see it pure and good
An optimistic view for sure
Not often understood
But I also see the world his way
You might think us both mad
How could this world be any better
When you have him for a dad

Also, good news, Adam and Santa made up. Though I think in the end, Adam's favorite part person of the night was Uncle Brad, who gave him a tickle attack and had a pillow fight with him. Tomorrow, finally some time with the Thiel cousins!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Vacation.

It all starts tomorrow! Tim took the day off of work, we have Poppy's 70th birthday party in the evening (I hear Santa might come!) and the Thiels are on their way in from Wisconsin for the first Christmas with our cousins in twenty five years (I hope this year Santa brings me a present that's as awesome as the Samantha doll I got back then! Or maybe I'll just bust Samantha out and play with her. OR let Ellie bring her to the American Girl cafe on the 26th.)

This morning we went over to Nicole's house and decorated a whole bunch of cookies for Santa. It's the fourth year we've been doing it with those girls and their little ones, and it runs smoother every year - the kiddos had a blast, and it was nice to have a glass of champagne and some lunch with some mom friends who I sadly haven't seen in awhile - things just feel so crazy now that everyone's in preschool!

The kids have been loving having Grandma Rosie in town. When I asked Adam what he was going to do with her, he said "play marbles!" Sadly, she didn't bring the marble game, but she's willing to read any book he picks up, as always, and both kids ran in and gave her huge hugs on Sunday afternoon. That's the Christmas spirit, right there! (it's always more present after everyone takes a good nap.)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Love Remains an Open Door.

Over a year ago, we bought tickets to see Frozen On Ice. Different than Disney on Ice, because it has the Frozen princesses - everyone's favorite. Yesterday was finally the big day, and it was really fun. We were there for a matinee, so got great seats for much cheaper than it would have been in the evening. Ellie, Lexi and Whitney wore their matching leather jackets from Sara Jo, because they are a girl gang, and Ellie also wore her Anna dress and her hair in pigtails. It was like I was there with the REAL ANNA!

I thought this production was even better than Disney on Ice. Perhaps because the moms had a couple of glasses of wine while watching, along with all of the snacks we bought for the kids. But the best part is seeing the looks of pure joy on the girls' faces. They LOVED it.

Ellie informed me that she's going to be in the production next year, and we're going to have to come see her in action. I don't know if she realizes that the child skaters were played by adults. Or that Sven was actually two dudes in a reindeer suit (very impressive, really.)

Speaking of costumes, check out this sweet sequined outfit I got for $5 at a yard sale today. The elastic is totally blown on the skirt, so I'm going to sew on some buttons for straps so that Ellie (and friends) can wear it as a dress. It's not one, but TWO new Elsa costumes.

Lastly, here is Adam helping me make lemon bread on Thursday morning.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ho Ho Ho!

We had a really nice pizza party last night for Tim's final birthday party of the weekend. Ellie didn't do any planning, because she was dedicated to running around with Lexi and Whitney. I bought a ton of chips and dips, because that's what the man loves. What a fun weekend!

Today, ALSO AWESOME! We picked up Sara after school and went and had lunch with the ladies, and then Nana Jill invited us over to her house to meet her new kittens, Wesley and Rikker. Ellie is absolutely and truly IN LOVE. The kittens are sweet natured and friendly and adorable, and very willing to let the kids love on them. They were in their kitten bed when we arrived, and immediately began purring up a storm when we petted them, and then happily let us scoop them up and snuggle them. Ellie was over the moon to hold them, and tonight when I tucked her in she said "I can't believe I got to hold a tiny baby kitten!"

By the time we got Sara home and said a quick hello and goodbye to Gigi and Grizz, and then returned to our own house and read stories, went potty and got ready for naps, it was almost 2pm. Both kids sacked right out, and slept until almost five, when I woke them up so we could go to the Christmas train. This year, we were able to buy tickets for a particular time slot, as the Irvine Park Railroad is trying to make sure that things never get too crowded.

It went really well! We met up with our awesome neighbor friends, and got on the first train, after a little wait. I had let Ellie pick out her own outfit to meet Santa, and she wore a floral party dress, striped pants, and her Hello Kitty hoodie. She also had a braid in her hair, and not pictured, a ribbon tied in a bow. She'd even drawn me a picture of how she wanted the bow to look before we went, just so that I'd be clear on the look she was going for. Adam was wearing a perfectly nice sweater under his coat, but refused to take it off. This is after I had to fight him to get him to put it on and keep it on while we were in line.

Suffice to say, it was a fun night. Despite being cooooooooooold.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Happy Birthday Tim!

Tim is a nice old man, and officially 36. We've had a wonderful, whirlwind weekend. Friday night was his company party, and it was the best one yet! Not only because they did a great job, but we finally got our stuff together about our timing. The team party starts at 6, and the overall company party is then at 8. The traffic to get to Anaheim at that time on a Friday night is MURDEROUS. One year, I was so irritated at sitting in dead stop street traffic that I got out and walked for a bit. I am a treat.

But this year, we arranged to have the kids nap (and sleep over) at Mimi's house, and then slipped out early, checked into our hotel early, and got a chance to nap and have a drink and relax before heading to dinner, and we got there right away, instead of half way through the meal. It was great to spend time with all of our Overwatch friends, eat and drink for free, and celebrate the great year they've all had. Though, my favorite moment was when the game director was up talking to everyone, and he said thank you to all of the spouses for all the support they've provided, and my looney tunes friend Robyn yelled "YOU'RE WELCOME!" She also did an amazing Tina Turner karaoke at the party, and I almost died laughing. The only downside was that the theme was Roaring 20s, so there were a bunch of other women in sequins and vintage dead things, which is my signature look, so I had to beat a bunch of them up and take their fancy garments.

Yes, I wore the same dress two years in a row. Tim is wearing the spiffy new tie that I bought him for officiating Ed and Erlynne's upcoming wedding.

Then on Saturday morning, Tim's actual birthday, we headed over to pick up the kids and have brunch with everyone. Behind the scenes, Ellie has been a busy little bee for months, getting everything ready for a surprise party. She is the sweetest little party planner.

She and Mimi went to the party store and got beautiful napkins and snowflake decorations and balloons, and then she and Poppy went and got the donuts, which were then frosted green. She also made name tags for everyone so that we'd know where to sit.

Please also notice the paper bracelet she made for him. It was such a wonderful morning, AND Tim finally received the Play Station 4 of his dreams (that I made him select, then had shipped to his mom's house and refused to give him until his birthday. Best wife!)

He and Jake went to see a movie, and the kids and I came home and took naps, then took our lemon birthday cake down to Oceanside for Chris and Jolie's holiday pot luck.

The girls had a great time running around together, and Adam loved their new play house. I was so tired that I wanted to fall asleep on the way home, but was driving the car with Sara, so thought better of it.

This morning Ellie and I went to a birthday party for a neighbor friend at the indoor play ground, which was great. Ellie only cried a half dozen times. If you think I am kidding, I am absolutely not. That kid!

Now the kids are napping, and we are prepping for having some friends over to eat pizza and watch football, in celebration of Tim. The fun never stops! We also get to run through the wedding ceremony with Ed and Erl - premarital counseling at its finest. If this seems like a lot of action, crazy to think that six years ago we had almost 100 people come through our house for our birthday party/housewarming. This is a house where entertaining happens, and that makes me incredibly happy!

Sunday, December 6, 2015


On Friday we had a speaker at MOPS who talked about keeping the joy in Christmas. It was obviously very timely, and really got me thinking, because her main point was to stop focusing on your list, and start focusing on what makes you happy. I feel like as soon as Thanksgiving was over, I had a list on my phone of groceries I needed to get for holiday baking, present ideas for our families, things I needed to buy for the kids, list of things that needed to get done around the house...

We talked a lot about the traditions we have in our families, and what things we carry on from our childhood. The main thing I want to do with my kids is try to emphasize the non-present parts of Christmas. The fun we get to have with our families, the holiday baking together, the Jesus Was Born Today dance parties, the Angel Lady, sending holiday cards and making new wishes to put in our wish ornament, and most importantly, remembering to be kind to others, and not making it all about what we're getting out of the holiday, or for the holiday.

To that end, we had a great day yesterday. We made a batch of cookies, and then took a trip to Target to pick out some presents for Toys for Tots. I was SO proud of both kids. Ellie was so happy to get a Frozen Fever Anna and Elsa, and even though she mentioned she wanted a set of her own (said it would be fine to get it for her birthday) she didn't cry about not getting to keep the set we'd bought, and was proud to carry them to the fire house and put them in the donation box. Then we rang their door and gave the fire fighters a plate full of cookies. The kids were incredibly thrilled when the fire fighters went and got them some plastic helmets and Junior Fire Fighter badges.

We also had a plate of cookies for local law enforcement. I thought the police station was across the court yard from the library, but apparently it's just that cops are sometimes at the city council building - it's not actually their station. So, cookies and our thank yous for the librarians! They actually have a great set up at the Civic Center, with a Santa's village going on right now (yesterday your pet could take their photo with Santa - Thor and Lulu passed on the opportunity) and a model trail club had one room of the civic center totally tricked out with model trains. There was a huge display that Adam loved watching, two smaller trains that the kids could drive, and then an enormous table of Legos next to the whole train set up made of Legos. We spend a good forty five minutes enjoying looking at everything, and it was a great opportunity to talk to the kids about the importance of being present in our community.

They took a much needed nap, and then we had a whole evening full of fun with friends. We went to the ceramics studio to work on some artsy holiday gifts with our neighbor friends, and then headed up the street for pizza and beer at Pizza Port (water for the kids!) We got a table near the arcade corner, so we could sit and let them run around and pretend to drive the cars and play the games. And then on the way home, a stop off to hang out with our mom friends, watching college football, and finally, letting ourselves into Gigi and Grizz's house and waking everyone up at 9:30pm (they know how to party.)

The kids were also thrilled because on Friday night they got to go to Winter Fest with Mimi and Poppy. Much sledding and throwing of snowballs, and drinking of hot chocolate. And laughing like crazy on the ride home because one of the neighbors has these light up penguins sledding down their roof, and it always cracks me up because that's a terrible place for penguins to sled! They're going to fall off and break their necks! So Tim and I made a bunch of jokes about penguins going splat, and Ellie laughed until she cried while also trying to correct us that it's JUST PRETEND.

In the end, everyone needs to go to bed early tonight, but it's been a fun weekend so far, and I'm glad for the memories we're making.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Holiday Spirit.

Grinch house no more! Ellie and Adam were so pleased with our new and beautiful holiday lights. How pleased you ask?

This pleased.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ellie Blurt, Mall Cop.

Title courtesy of my mom, after hearing about the report I got at Ellie's parent teacher conference. Her teacher said that she's hitting all of her marks academically and socially, except that she tends to talk out of turn and blurt things out, and she sometimes has to be reminded that it's not time for stories. Ellie Blurt, Mall Cop. I asked her teacher if she ever bursts into tears over anything, and apparently not. Saves it all for home, for mommy. When we went over to Sara Jo's on Sunday night, we joked about the fact that it was a new record - Ellie was in the house for literally less than 60 seconds before she started sobbing about something (because Whitney said Lexi wasn't coming over, which was untrue. Never trust a three year old!)

So, overall a good report. Ellie is really flourishing in her new classroom and enjoying every minute of school. Her teacher and I nerded out about the fact that she's on the verge of reading, and how very exciting it is to be able to read - she and I both have very visceral memories of the first time the letters on the page made sense as words. Because reading is the best! (sorry, video games.)

It's now December, which means that the angel lady arrived. And by arrived, I mean that thank goodness Adam woke up first this morning so that the angel lady could bolt down the hallway and put out some candy before Ellie woke up. We also put up Christmas lights last night, after 5 years of being a Grinch house. I had to go to the hardware store, and the kids had been talking about it, and I figured, how hard can it be to put up a single strand of lights above our garage door? We have a single story house - it's only 8 feet up. So, we bought the lights, we already had an outdoor extension cord, and twenty minutes and a handful of nails later, we have some multicolored icicle lights up front! Because if I'm going to decorate, it's going to be gaudy. OBVIOUSLY. I didn't realize until I was an adult that people actually bother buying and using white lights - so boring! Or having a tree with ornaments that match. I mean, mine match! They're all ornaments!

Back to school this week has been tough on the little ones - yesterday and today Adam has napped more than three hours, and even Ellie's been sacking out pretty hard. The holidays, it takes it out of you!