Saturday, December 31, 2016


We've been making the most of our lazy vacation days. The kids are sleeping in, and now that they're big enough to go and watch a video on the tablet in the living room, Tim and I are sleeping in even more. Going back to school next week is going to be a rude awakening (and also a welcome respite, because we're all pretty sick of each other round about 11am.)

However, I'm trying to keep things fun, so I bought tickets to the Rain Room exhibit at LACMA. It's a small room with rain coming from the ceiling (hence the title) but it's programmed to recognize people on the floor, so if you walk slowly, you can walk across the whole room and stay dry. Or, if you're Adam, you do a runner and get wet. We had 5pm tickets, and managed to not only make it up there in time, but find a parking meter and so only pay a buck to park. And our tickets got us admission to the entire museum. I wish we'd had more time to explore, but in the hour we were there we went through the Rain Room, we saw a big piece with a bunch of matchbox cars zipping around (very exciting for Adam) and we went outside and played in all of the light poles of Urban Light.

The kids thought the whole experience was really cool, and that's what counts. Next time, we'll plan on making a day of it and take Adam to the Petersen, which I'm sure he would love.

However, our day of fun was not done! Our town puts a bunch of holiday decorations in the Four Corners area - there's lots of decorate trees, a manger scene, and a giant dreidel and menorah. A few weeks ago, Ellie was asking about Hanukkah and started crying when I told her we weren't Jewish and didn't celebrate. Auntie Lauren to the rescue - we were able to go up to her house for dinner and celebrate the seventh night with her. The kids thought it was pretty great (though I could see Adam desperately wanting to blow out the candles in the menorah) and loved playing dreidel.

A delightful day of learning, all around!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ho Ho Holidays.

Uff da, another Christmas behind us. We're officially done, especially after I heard the trash truck this morning and realized we had to undress our desiccated tree and drag it to the curb for pick up.

We had an amazing time, between Poppy's birthday, Christmas Eve at Gigi and Grizz's house, Christmas morning brunch here, and then Christmas Day with the Irish Catholic masses. On the 26th, we all stayed in our pajamas all day (I spent most of the day in bed, reading and only getting up for food.)

Both kids got a whack ton of Legos, which they LOVE. Ellie was especially happy to follow the directions and build each of her little masterpieces. Adam got a firetruck and a rescue helicopter from Santa, so did a ton of rescuing. They are such a fun age, so full of imagination and the magic of the holiday season. Plus their sweetness just kills me. Ellie made little art projects for everyone and wrapped them up with notes (I got a piece of a toilet paper tube turned into a cat puppet) and this is her letter to Santa.

I mean, com'n. Doesn't it make your insides crush up into a ball of mush?

And now, holiday photos.

...and then, the afternoon of the 26th.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve.

What a week we've had! We've had friends over every day this week, except for Thursday when we went to see the movie, and we've gotten to celebrate with all of our besties. We've decorated a ton of cookies, we've eaten a ton of cookies, we've gone to the YMCA to work on said cookies. All in all, a good week, and now we're fat and happy and ready for family celebrations.

Apparently, all of her handicrafts have bonkers eyes this holiday season. Between this and her goat-looking reindeer ornament.

Last night was Poppy's birthday, and the annual Parmordsen party at Don and Eileen's. The poor kids were a little tired and nuts going into it, and so at nap time I told them to both stay in their beds and get some good rest. Ellie doesn't nap 100% of the time, but I try to force her when she really needs the rest, so when she wandered out of her room at 3pm on the dot, I told her to go back to bed and actually get some sleep, saying she couldn't come out until 3:30. Yeah. At 4:30, when I went in to wake her up, I discovered that like me, she takes a better cat nap when she gets an actual cat.

As usual, it was a great night with a fun crowd. Now that all of the kids are getting bigger, the adults can relax and be merry a little bit more. Unfortunately for me, I dropped the bottle of gin I'd brought on the drive way where it smashed. Tried to take a sip off of the pavement, but I ended up heading to Trader Joes because sometimes, mommy just wants to drink a Christmas tree.

The kids loved having Santa come. A funny (but not that funny) story about Adam is that he has no shame about peeing his pants. If you don't make him go potty during the day, he just won't. He's peed on the couch more than once (though thankfully, he poops in the toilet every time.) But last night after Santa arrived, he ran to the bathroom of his own volition and told us "I don't want to have a potty accident on Santa's lap!" The kids are at such a fun age because Santa is so real to them, and there's so much Christmas magic all around.

Last night Ellie asked Santa for a Rapunzel scooter (which I've already told her she might not get, since she already has a perfectly good scooter) but this is the letter she put together for Santa the other day. Her sweetness just crushes my heart up into a ball. She's also made a picture of everyone who is coming to brunch tomorrow, as a gingerbread person.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Vacation.

The kids have had this week off, which has been a nice slide into the holidays. We've gone to the YMCA every day, as we do. Adam is always enthused, Ellie always whines, but they have a good time once they arrive, since they get to see friends and hang out with a bunch of nice folks (Adam calls them the "teachers.") He always goes straight for a book about garbage trucks, and Ellie immediately sits down to work on a coloring sheet. She made my heart crush up into a little ball this week when she took the "letter to Santa" holiday coloring sheet and wrote that for Christmas she just wants all her family together.

Monday evening we had a bunch of neighbor ladies over for a cookie exchange and a decorating party. The kids enjoyed making a bunch of gingerbread shapes with me in the afternoon, which none of them seemed very interested in decorating, save for Ellie. The nice thing is we had leftover frosting and supplies, so we've made cookies with anyone who visits this week, including Ellie's old pal Clare.

2012 versus 2016

Since it's so rainy today, we decided to go and curl up in a movie theater. We picked up Auntie Sara, got ourselves some popcorn and saw Sing this morning. Adam actually sat through the show pretty nicely for a small boy - Ellie insisted that she was tired and had to snuggle with me, but I suspect that she was just cold because she ignored me when I suggested that she might want to wear leggings. The movie was really cute, and all of the music kept the kids engaged until the end.

Such comfortable seating!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Angel.

Today was the Christmas program at Adam's school. The invite for each class actually featured several pictures of the kids dressed up. Adam's class is full of kids in white choir robes with halos... and then a little elfin looking kid wearing his FDNY shirt. His teacher said she even tried to bribe him, but no dice. He dresses to himself! It cracked me up, because it's so very Adam.

I went to the program but hid towards the back because I didn't want him to see me and start sobbing, since he refused to sit on the stage during his Thanksgiving pageant. He came in ringing some jingle bells, and when he spotted me he yelled "hi mama!" and then proceeded to have a pretty great morning. He sang along with everyone, but didn't do the hand motions, and had a brief argument with a classmate when she said her brother was a baby (Adam told her "he's not a baby!" with some good foot stomping.) And his screwing around on stage made me laugh like crazy. Please enjoy.

Tim is staying at his mom and dad's tonight, having gotten his eyeballs lasered this afternoon. He has an optometrist appointment in YL in the morning, so best for him to stay with them and save everyone some driving (mostly saving me the driving.) I will say though, ten years ago I would have ORDERED him to stay with his mom because eyeball stuff grosses me out, but after getting poked in the eye by Adam last year and having to be brave at not one but TWO eye doctors, It's going to be weird to see him without glasses! But it'll be great when he can shoot laser beams out of his eyes (that's how it works, right?)

Meanwhile, our neighbor Lisa was also on her own tonight, since her husband had a work dinner. When we were on our way to Vegas this weekend, we stopped at this weird truck stop in Barstow and I bought the kids a bunch of geodes to smash as a souvenir (because smashing geodes is awesome.) I was tempted to buy pieces of amethyst and other crystals on magnets, but then realized, I could glue some rocks to magnets for WAY less than seven bucks. Oh man, did we have a fun time. First, Lisa and I dumped the kids at the Y together to work out, then when we got back, we set up in the garage (with safety glasses!) and hammers. All of the geodes yielded great results, and we made almost two dozen good magnets.

(BTW, Tim and I spent the weekend in that overpriced, smoke filled hellhole known as Las Vegas, because his work took everyone there for a combo holiday party and game shipping party. We had a great time, but because we got to hang out with our friends. I could die without going to Vegas again in my life. But at least four-eyes and I looked good doing it!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Goodyear Blimp

What an amazing day! When the list of incentives for We Run the City fundraising came out, I didn't think much of it, because as I told them when I interviewed to be an ambassador, I'm going to come out and run the race, I'm going to start a team, and I'm going to urge people to donate, whether you take me on in an official capacity or not. So I was in disbelief when right before the race I got the email that I was leading fundraiser for UCLA, and so had won the top prize - a trip on the Goodyear blimp with an athlete of my choice!

After much deliberation, I decided to bring Sara.

It was so cool! I've seen the blimp parked next to the 405, and I've seen it at sporting events and on TV, but I was unprepared for one, how big it is (over 200 feet long) and how tiny the cabin actually is! It's roughly the size of a minivan, and only fits 7 passengers, including the pilot. The blimp we were in is actually being replaced in a few months by an airship that has computer controls and screens and an actual joystick, so I thought it was neat to be in a more old-fashioned, analog one. The pilot uses a wheel for the rudder, because if it was a yoke, you'd be fatigued in minutes trying to steer.

We voted that Sara should sit in the front seat, which she was cool with, other than the brief moment when we descended near the ocean in Manhattan Beach, turning the nose down 30 degrees. She just looked back at me real sharp, but thankfully did not get sick or anything. I get it - she was right near the windshield, watching us point straight towards the water.

Here's some videos I took - you can't hear any of us because we're wearing head sets, so it's mostly just scenery. The blimp only goes 35mph and stays nearer 1000 feet, so it's low and slow, designed for marketing, not for speed. The landing was pretty amazing, circling until we came in and the ground crew could grab the nose lines as the wheels hit the ground. Then we got to watch the second group from Special Olympics get on board and take off, which was almost as cool as being on the blimp ourselves!

Such an awesome day with my very favorite sister.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Are You Not Entertained?

I am pleased to present the Ellie and Adam show. They do their own staging, song writing and original choreography. It's quite impressive.

Man, that kid really loves trucks. Please enjoy this photo of he and I from his Mommy and Me Day at school last week. All the other kids wanted to do arts and crafts and were willing to take a staged portrait. I am in the sand, squinting into the sun like a photo of the Gigis back in the 60s.

Speaking of my little dancer though, she wore a new dress from her Aunt Jolie to school this week, and was a darling fairy princess. Check out those poses!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

All Aboard the Christmas Train!

Tonight was our annual trip to the North Pole via the Irvine Park Railroad's Christmas train. It gets better every year because we know how to keep the kids satisfied in line, and Irvine Park now has to buy a time slot, not just a ticket for a day. Also nice, we went with our neighbors Thomas and Aislinn, their parents, and their grandparents, so there were many adults against the children. Plus every year we bring heavier coats to try to stay warm. It's cold at the North Pole!

A little heart breaking - neither child cried. But they looked cute and had a good time, eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate during their wait to see the big guy.

We also took our picture in Santa's sleigh real quick, and then were able to hop back on the train and enjoy the ride back to Irvine. Ellie and I were sitting by the conductor, so he let her say all aboard and happy holidays into the mic.

She's a goofy little elf, for sure.

We also met Mrs. Claus!

Ellie said it was her best trip to the North Pole ever. And funnily enough, facebook informed me that her first trip was five years ago today!

Sure has gone fast! (look at how young we once were!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thanksgiving and More.

We had a pretty relaxed holiday weekend. It rained here, so it felt like actual fall. Or what passes for fall here. We went and had brunch with Mimi and Poppy, which allowed us to spend more time with them overall, and less time driving around, since trying to get to the family dinner at Cathy's and then back to Jan's for the actual meal is hard with small children and nap times and many freeways.

It gave the kids a chance to sleep in and relax too, which they needed. We've had sort of an off-week, health-wise. Adam was a little warm before Thanksgiving dinner, but definitely rallied to eat four brownies and felt fine afterwards. Tim and I both have gross hacking coughs and the kids are snot factories. Ellie managed to amp it up today by throwing up in a trash can at school, poor thing. I'm hoping it's a twenty four hour bug, and that maybe Adam can avoid it, but considering the way the two of them snuggle, it'll get all of us in the end. AFFECTIONATE FAMILIES ARE THE WORST!

But anyways, here is the cute turkey placecard that Ellie made for me - she made one for everyone at dinner.

She was also delighted to get measured against Granny Janny's dining room wall

Then on Friday we went and got our Christmas tree, which is always a highlight. We convinced Gigi and Grizz and Sara to come over and have dinner at our house on Friday (and by that, I got them to bring pizza and salad and make it here, for me to then eat) and we had our first holiday dance party. Ellie is loving looking at all of the ornaments, though she's embarrassed by last year's home made ornaments because they're "scribbles."

However, she's totally fine with this reindeer she made the other day. I think his bonkers eyes make him absolutely a goat. It makes me laugh so, so hard.

Monday, November 21, 2016

We Run the City.

We had a really great weekend to start off Thanksgiving vacation (that's right, now kids have no school the entire week of Thanksgiving, that way we can all prep for our over-eating.)

Saturday morning they had their final swim lesson until spring time. Adam actually made the promotional video for the Y this year, I found out recently. You can check him out at the 18 second mark.

Then they helped me do some baking for our Friendsgiving extravaganza. Two pies, a batch of cookies, and some party potatoes, as you do.

Then after nap time it was off to see Sara Jo, Todd and Whitney, who hosted a really great evening for a big group of us. The kids all had a great time playing together, there was a ton of delicious food and wine, and wonderful company. Sara is cancer free, and fighting the good fight to get back to full strength, so it was wonderful to be there with her and huge group of wonderful friends. She had mad Whitney a great turkey costume, which Ellie much enjoyed.
At the end of the party, it came up that in the morning I had to do the We Run the City rivalry race in a USC shirt, and Ellie started crying like she'd just found out she had to shoot her own dog, like in Old Yeller. I tried to explain to her that Special Olympics was more important to me than UCLA, and that I'd made a promise, but she kept hollering stuff like "you can't wear USC! You have to break your promise!" through her sobs.

Thankfully, she was much more in control in the morning. We got to campus later than we'd intended, so as we walked to the field they were firing the gun for the kids race. Last year, she cried and dropped out because she wasn't immediately in the lead, but this year I told her to just jump in and do a lap, and she did, happily. We were able to gather all of the fantastic members of our team, and set off towards the way way back of the pack (other than Jake, who is fast) and strolled together. Ellie decided she wanted to run, so Tim kept pace with her, and as we came to where the course doubled back, Adam was getting real ornery about wanting his dad, so I cut the course to catch up, yelling "I'm cheating! I'm a Trojan and I'm cheating!" because I am a total jerk. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

We mostly managed to finish together (Jake came back to find us and walk the course a second time) and at the finish line, we saw a Caped Bruin Crusader!

Then we had a fun time in the bleachers, cheering for Sara on the flag football team. The kids were so pleased with their medals, and the free snacks that were available in the fan fest.

(the other two are our wonderful neighbors, Thomas and Aislinn. I don't know what I did before Lisa lived around the corner.)

Then we took them all into Westwood for pizza and Diddy Reese. The four kids were SO good, for having an early wake up and then a long morning of activities.

And we all had a great time. I wish I'd gotten a team picture, because our entire team was really great. All together, we raised more than five grand for Special Olympics! Thanks to the efforts of our favorite Trojan family, who not only donated, but secured a matching corporate donation, I was UCLA's top fundraiser, and as an incentive, Sara and I get to ride on the Goodyear blimp next year! All in all, a great day for a great cause.

And this morning, since there was no school, I slept in until Tim was ready to leave for work. Now THAT'S a vacation!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Turkey Time Crafts

Tis the season for turkey-themed handicrafts. The other day Ellie made a poster at Gigi and Grizz's house with everyone's hands (Grizz had to put his giant paw on the back side) and then she asked what sort of expression we'd like our turkey hand to have, like some sort of live emoji action.

She also made this beauty in school today:
Please note that Tim and I are not invited on her cruise ship, which is fine. Enjoy reading with your grandparents, but I'll be damned if I'm letting you take Lulu.

Here is Adam's hand, as a turkey. With one single feather, as you do.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Who Watches the Watchers?

Last week was Blizzcon, and a chance for Tim to go and celebrate Overwatch with a convention center of his nearest and dearest nerd friends. This year, since he's so smart and pretty, he got to be a part of the Q&A panel. I missed it live, but had friends sending me photos of him, and was able to watch it all after the fact. You can too, if you desire! (it's nearly an hour long, as a warning.)

And this is what he looked like the morning of, helping Ellie rearrange her hair bows while Adam played Mario in his lap.

This week has been pretty depressing around here. Like the left wing nut jobs that we are, Tim and I were horrified that Trump won. It makes me so sad that someone who spouts such hatred holds the highest office in the land, because to me, those sort of statements are deal breakers, beyond issues of fiscal or foreign policy. On Tuesday when we were driving home "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" from South Pacific came over the iPod, and I was feeling buoyant, thinking that I'd have a moment where I'd be able to tell my kids (who I am teaching to treat people with respect, to treat everyone as an equal) that there was no place for that kind of divisive rhetoric, and instead, in the morning, all I could do was remind them that we have to do our best to treat people with care.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Trick or Treat.

Rapunzel, the Big Truck, and the crazy cat lady had a wonderful Halloween (as did their dad, guy in an Overwatch shirt.) As you can see, we got to go with a big, fun group of friends, including three adults in onesies.

I mean, mine had pockets, a hood, and tail, what more could you want? 

The night started off a little rough for Adam, who got sort of jostled and overwhelmed by the scrum, and ended up at the driveway of the first house, sobbing about how no one was giving him any candy. Well, you're not near their door, you didn't say trick or treat, you're not wearing your costume and you're weeping! It took about a dozen houses, with me going up and helping him, but eventually he came out of his shell, climbed back into his truck and raced hither and yon, getting candy and treats. Seriously - one street in the neighborhood featured a popcorn machine, cups of ice cream, and full sized, cream-filled donuts. Tim and I had to grab the donuts from the kids because we are selfish, and also, because no kid needs a donut on top of their popcorn and ice cream, while they're racing down the sidewalk like a loon. Next year, I'll bring special treat bags so we can save all the donuts for later.