Monday, November 20, 2017

Fundraising Frenzy

We are just coming off our busiest week in a looooong time, so how nice that we're now sliding headlong into the holidays!

The kids have vacation this entire week, and last week at Ellie's school was a bunch of fundraising stuff. On Monday they had their jog-a-thon. She was initially incredibly upset because I didn't send out the fundraising email to my closest 100 friends, and so she didn't get a bunch of promotional crap (please note, it's just about sending the email and bothering your loved ones, not about actually raising money.) We turned in an envelope with donations, and she was able to claim her prizes, one of which was a small toilet water gun, where when you opened the lid you got squirted in the face. I told her she could use it as a Barbie toilet, but we were never putting water in it.

Ultimately she raised some good money and had a good run. Then on Tuesday they had a school picnic, but also, while you were there having lunch with your kid you could go through the book fair and buy some books and help raise money for the school. Very clever! I bought books despite having just funded the jog-a-thon, because you know I love a book. Then the rest of the week was a lot of turkey crafts for both kids.

Adam had a school feast on Friday which I did not attend because I was helping co-chair the fall craft boutique for my MOPS group. I was at the church for a couple hours on Thursday night and from 7:30-2 on Friday. Thankfully Gigi was able to pick up the kids and put them down for naps, because it was a nutty day. The vendors were great, we had some great home-made craft items, and I had a fun time, even if the turn out was frustratingly underwhelming.

Friday night the kids went to the YMCA for Superhero date night, so Tim and I could go out in peace (and so I could have a restorative cocktail after a long day) and Ellie wore the new athleisurewear she'd suckered Gigi into buying her, declaring herself to be the Superhero.... ZUMBA GIRL. She's pretty cute, that one.

Saturday afternoon Gigi came over for some more babysitting, and we headed up to the Coliseum with Kristen and Jeff for the UCLA-USC game. It was a friendship divided, but we had a really fun night. It also helped that while UCLA made some big mistakes, they didn't get the snot kicked out of them like in humiliating years past. Plus Tim and I wore matching sweaters.

Then the fundraising continued on Sunday we We Run the City, the UCLA-USC rivalry run that benefits Special Olympics. I put together a crackerjack team of Bad News Bruins this year - we had a few new runners and walkers, and Kristen and Jeff brought the kids and walked with us. It was nice on all levels - the children got to learn what a real college campus looks like, we bribed them with Diddy Reese so that they'll like UCLA best, and Jeff and Kristen donated generously to the cause, so much so that they bought my participation in a USC shirt for the second year.

Thumbs down Trojan children

Jake did the run for his fifth year, and this year they had a 10K, which he WON. Truly, Jacob runs the city.

Then we went out for lunch and got cookies for everyone

Back in MY DAY, all four of those cookies would have only cost a dollar!

(as a plug, if you'd still like to donate you can do so HERE)

You might think our rivalry friends would be done with us, but no, they were not. Once we all got home and showered and napped for a bit, it was off to Mike and Nicole's house for a wonderful Friendsgiving evening. I felt like kind of a slouch only bringing cookies and rolls, because the other ladies rolled out an honest to goodness feast. We drank a ton of wine and sat around the table for three solid hours, occasionally getting up to break up a fight between children, help ourselves to dessert, or more wine.

Truly could not ask for a better group of folks, or a better way to end a wild week

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saturday in the Burbs

The kids had their last soccer game of the season today. Ellie scored so many goals that the coach told her she had to play defense and couldn't pass the center line. Adam got a goal too - by picking up the ball and throwing it into his own net. Not quite, my dude, not quite. But there was no weeping on the sidelines this week and overall it's been a great experience.

Then when we got home Adam and I did some yard work - I clipped back the ivy and the overgrown bushes in the back yard, he put them in the green bin, and then delightedly clipped the stuff in the green bin while I mowed the lawn. Team work makes the dream work!

We had our end of season pizza party at a place nearby, and this was the hot song requested on the drive over. Please enjoy our family band.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017



Please remember, last year Adam cried all down the first street, saying that no one was giving him candy (well, you're standing on the driveway in tears, don't know what to tell you) and then finally got in the game, and even consented to wear his costume. The year before, he cried in the driveways and then eventually trick or treated... as a boy wearing a tee shirt and shorts, no costume. But this year, right to the front door and every door after, happy as a clam, ready to say trick or treat and also thank you.

A little black cat and a big truck man

Our motley crew. Todd was the real champion of the night - he'd get the kids to line up at each house, then yelled at them to "attack!" waited for them to come back to him, counted to make sure everyone was there, move forward and repeat. Made it much easier for those of us wandering and nursing our drinks.

The neighborhood we were in has one street that's basically a carnival. The kids received: a hot dog, some popcorn, a donut, a bottle water and a scoop of ice cream with chocolate syrup. It was awesome! We had a really good night overall - started earlier, got home at a more reasonable time, and as the kids get bigger, the strollers were basically a place to throw jackets and empties.

Bargaining with Todd over treats.

The public schools are all off today, taking a teacher in service. If I was a teacher, I'd much rather been in a professional development setting, versus having to deal with a bunch of overtired, sugared up children. We all slept in past 8 today, and then I dragged them to the Y (bribed them with candy) and then we joined Gigi and the ladies at lunch, which is a great treat as well.

Lastly, remember,
Once a trash kitten, always a trash kitten.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

More Changes.

Look who thinks he's people! And now, achieving his dreams of having all his trucks watch him sleep.

But even big guys still need naps

(please note, Elizabeth told me she was seven and didn't need a nap, but it's 3:13 and she's still in her room, which means she's definitely asleep.)

I won't lie, it feels strange and nostalgic to get rid of the crib, even though for the past year it's just been three sides of a cage around a mattress on a floor, and we never intend on having a baby of our own sleeping in our house again. And I do feel bad moving the dresser/changing table, because it's one of Lulu's favorite places to nap.

Don't worry, she's still getting a good snooze as well.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Fired Up Party!

With Ellie's pottery painting behind us, we are officially done celebrating our seven year old, but it was another good one. I love Fired Up and Sarah, the wonderful hippie who runs it. Once again, we had the run of the place to ourselves, so we were able to set up snacks and drinks and stuff for coloring on the picnic tables in the back yard, and once everyone had gathered, Ellie and her girlfriends picked what they wanted to paint, and the moms (and Todd, the one specially invited Dad) were able to get to work being creative and having fun.

When the girls finished painting, there was fun stuff to do outside as well. I stole an idea from the Lighthouse Fundraiser and set up a game where the kids had to throw a frisbee into a pyramid of toilet paper rolls. Which then turned into playing toilet paper bride, and just throwing toilet paper EVERYWHERE.

We had mini corn dogs and chips and juice boxes for the kids, and sparkling wine for the moms (because one of the nicest things about doing a small party at Fired Up is that I get to hang out with my favorite mom-friends) and Ellie and I made some lovely red velvet cupcakes with blue frosting, and lots of decorations from Ro's baking line.

Then opened presents and hung out for a little while long. It's such a great space, and Ellie just loves getting to be "a real artist."

So lucky for all the ladies in this picture, and a few that we were sadly missing.

Afterwards, Tim and Adam came and met a couple of us up at Pizza Port for pizza and a little more hanging around.
Who doesn't love these three little Musketeers?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Lucky Number Seven.

Look at this wonderful little lady, our seven year old girl. How has the time gone this fast? I was sort of amazed when she got herself dressed yesterday morning and picked out her school shirt and leggings. So sporty! So unlike her usual MO which is to weep and ask for me to make alternations if she's ever required to wear a school or camp tee shirt (she picked it out HERSELF!)

She did change for her birthday party.

She started the morning by climbing in with us, then going and getting her presents to open in bed. Did not really care about the books or the sequined skirt (which if I could fit into it, I would wear!) but she was THRILLED with her spatulas and sugar sequins from the Nerdy Nummies baking line, and while Adam was napping, she helped me frost her cupcake cake.

In her Nerdy Nummies apron of course. She also said to me "oh mommy, I didn't know we owned an offset spatula!" as she went to work. She's a true pastry artist.

NOT HELPFUL (please note her blue whiskers.)

As you can see, she was pleased with the final product.

Despite sobbing in the morning about it not being his birthday and him not having any presents, Adam was a much better sport about the evening present opening, mostly because he had a confetti fight with himself.

(I did remind Ellie that during his birthday, since she wouldn't let him help, she can't offer to help him. I also told her after she spent Lexi's birthday party crying about not having Lexi's full attention, she needs to remember how to be the best hostess and play with all of her party guests. Kristen also said she'd bring the decorated limbo-stick from Lexi's party, so that I can hit Ellie if she starts caterwalling. Or so the kids can limbo, WHICHEVER.)

For her birthday menu, Ellie originally asked for pigs in a blanket, which I'm fine with because you can still get nice sausage and crescent rolls and fancy them up for those who aren't super into tubed meat. Then she said she wanted corn dogs, which I am less all about (and not prepared to make myself!) So, we did half pigs and half pre-made frozen corn dogs and everyone was happy. Even used her little onions from the field trip in the salad! And cake, pumpkin pie ice cream and whipped cream.

Parenting, you have to lean in.

We are a very nice family, as always.

We ended the evening with a wonderful dance party, as usual. Including an epic dance battle between Ellie and I. And Jake was a wonderful dance partner to all small children, making them levitate!

All in all, a fantastic night for our fantastic girl. And then I snuck in at 10:30 to look at her, at the moment she was born, and cry a little.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Field Trips!

So many adventures for the kids lately! This morning I chaperoned Ellie's field trip to the pumpkin patch at Tanaka Farms. All of the first grade classrooms went, so it was bonkers. Thankfully (for me, not the teachers) they were able to fit everyone on one bus... if the parents drove themselves. DON'T MIND IF I DO!

I met up with them, got my four assigned children (Ellie, one of her best girlfriends, and two boys besties who were mostly well behaved) and off we went. They took us on a hayride around the property, we got to visit the petting zoo area full of friendly but smelly goats and sheep, we wandered through the corn maze, and then they got to pick vegetables. They were limited to a handful of cilantro, four radishes, four onions and four carrots. Ellie managed to pull two carrots that had four or more little legs growing off of them, so she definitely got her carrot's worth! Then the kids went to a little pumpkin patch where they were allowed to pick one pumpkin, provided they could carry it themselves. There were also tractors to climb on and hay bales to jump over. We ended up having an early lunch, having done all of the activities, and then waiting a half hour for another class to finish up. Poor kids - it was over 90 today and the farm didn't have running water, so no way to fill water bottles. I'm sure it was a very sweaty bus ride back to school!

Not to be outdone, Adam and I spent a really nice morning at Pretend City last week with some of the girls from MOPS. We've only been there once before, and it was on a holiday weekend when Ellie was a toddler and Adam was a baby - it's much more fun on a quiet morning with a great four year old guy. His favorite parts were playing with the giant foam blocks - he built us a bed and we took pretend naps - and farming. They had trees painted on the wall and little bins for fruit, and he loved picking them all, planting them in the fake dirt and then helping me put them back again. 

And of course, fought some fires, drove some cars and was a muscle man. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Totally Rotten.

You'd never know that Ellie wasn't already seven (or seventeen) given the celebrations that went on this past weekend, in anticipation of her birthday.

On Saturday she got to go to DISNEYLAND! Our good friends Adrian and Elisa love Disney, but only have boys, and they wanted to go and do Disney with a girl, especially the bippity-boppity-boo-boutique, which is hair and make up for little girls, inside Cinderella's castle. So Tim took the kids and headed out bright and early (I had volunteer duties for Special Olympics, and also, do not enjoy Disneyland and don't really want to deal with my kids in that mass of humanity until they're a few years older. Meanest mommy forever!) She had a BLAST. Was more difficult about waiting in line than her brother, but overall, they hung in their pretty well. The park was packed, so even though they were there until 6pm, they only went on six or seven rides. Ellie liked the Haunted Mansion, but Adam said it was too scary, and then at the end of the night, I'm proud to say that she told Tim "it's okay that we missed Pirates. Mommy says it's boring and the water smells bad and the line is too long."

They did a really cute job! She's wearing a birthday girl sash, AND got the shirt and the tutu, and then she got to take home a bunch of little hair products (loves the new hair pins), nail polish, and a little make up palate. Elisa had a great time watching her get all done up, and the seven of them all had a good day at the park.

I had a good day volunteering to get people registered for We Run the City with Special Olympics. We got fifty-five racers to sign up at the Long Beach Marathon expo, and the best moment was this very unassuming woman singing up for the race, and then saying "I'd like to make an additional donation." I showed her the sheet we have that outlines the fundraising incentives, and she said "I'll donate $350." Just like that! And when asked about it, she said "I'm not a millionaire, but it seemed like the right thing to do." It was so incredibly heart warming and sweet.

Meanwhile, after their day at the park, Tim went to dinner with Mimi and Poppy, and left Ellie behind so that she could spend the day at the American Girl Doll Store, meeting her new doll. Ellie's been pouring over the Truly Me catalog for months, and so finally, she got to meet her new baby. Bitty came along too, of course.

Such happy little ladies! After some debate, the doll's name is Samantha Rose. Runner up name was Rose Law. No idea where Law came from - perhaps a tribute to her Poppy's profession. Then they all got to go to the cafe and have a wonderful lunch together with Mimi and Poppy. It's a weekend of wonderful memories for sure, though I'm slightly concerned as to how she's going to do on her actual birthday.

The other night though, she asked about presents on her birthday and I did warn her that she's already gotten to do a lot of fun stuff. Plus she already has new pink boots, and she's getting a birthday party at Fired Up, so not to expect a huge mountain of gifts. Then of course we followed up by teasing her that Gigi and Grizz didn't get her any presents, but they took the gift that Lisa left behind last month and took off the tag and wrote their names on it.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Firsts for Small Fry.

This school year really feels like we're in a new phase of parenting. Ellie's in school full time, Adam's happily off to preschool three days a week, and I'm realizing that they're really not little kids anymore. I mean, they're still little and adorable and wonderful, but they're school-aged, they're not babies.

One big thing is, we're officially done with diapers! Almost seven years after we started with all of this nonsense, Adam is now sleeping in his underwear and easily staying dry all night. Up next, we'll have him start sleeping in the queen bed in his room, instead of his crib mattress on the floor, with three sides of the crib still up. He's almost too long for the mattress, so it's just a matter of convincing him that his new big bed will be so awesome (I am willing to bet he'll cry about it at first.)

I tried taking him to his first dentist visit yesterday, and he wanted no part of it. He liked looking at all of the tools and liked watching Ellie get her exam and cleaning, but all he'd let the dentist do was count his teeth, and only while sitting in my lap, reclined onto my chest. The dentist said that from her brief exam there wasn't anything to be concerned about, and that his gray front tooth is fine, and will fall out when it falls out (he smashed his mouth pretty badly on the first night of our trip to Wisconsin, and it's gradually grayed out over time. It's noticeable but not hideous.) Meanwhile, Ellie watched part of Beauty and the Beast, got a good cleaning and a couple of xrays and was pronounced an A+ patient with no cavities. I always breathe a sigh of relief when that happens - the cavities make me feel like a crap parent, even though I brush everyone's teeth the best I can.

His teacher deeply enjoys his commitment to bringing enormous vehicle toys to school for share days on Friday. The other week he brought his crane, today his bulldozer. It took me awhile to get him say it, but he kept calling his bulldozer "Sweetie" while he was carrying it into his classroom. Please to enjoy.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sassy Style

I deeply enjoy Ellie's sense of style. She's gotten slightly more normal, after her TK year of "skirts over pants" but this was her get up for school pictures

She asked that I paint her fingernails, even though her hands aren't going to be shown.

And here she is with everyone's favorite accessory, the Spikey Doodle

Of course, her signature Ellie style is her cowgirl boots, which she's been wearing since she turned four. Her second pair of Target faithfuls was getting really worn out, so I told her that we could go to Boot Barn and get her some "real" cowgirl boots. She was a little overwhelmed by her choices, but ultimately went with exactly what I figured she'd chose, having looked at the wall o'boots.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Working Together.

Not a lot of big news around here this week. The kids started their new soccer league and got their uniforms last weekend. They're the purple team and Ellie suggested that their team name be the Purple Queens, but I suggested that since they're co-ed, maybe the Purple Royals? She is really loving it, because she's bigger than all of the other kids and so is the best on the team. It's going to be a sad wake up if she does AYSO next year. Meanwhile, Adam started a karate class after school on Mondays. It's very low-key, as the sensei comes and gets them after school and they have a half hour lesson. It's about a half dozen three and four year olds, so they're not breaking blocks or anything yet, but he likes it, and was very proud to show me "hands on guard." And I started another round of adult tap dance at the YMCA, with a recital this time. I know you'll all be getting tickets as soon as they go on sale.

Gigi and Grizz arrived home safe from Spain on Tuesday, and we were at home, freshly bathed and fed to greet them, take our presents and then get home and get to sleep. The level of tiredness is still pretty high around this place on weekdays, and it was super appreciated when we were home for early dismissal yesterday at 1:15 and yet no one saw fit to close their eyes and nap their faces. Oh well, 7:30 bedtime it is (they were couch-bound zombies by 6.)

In "funny things kids say," Tim started working with Adam on how to say TH sounds, so now Adam is saying three instead of "free." It's a little bit sad, but it's also funny to watch him concentrate on saying the word correctly. He's also learning new words, as he ran to find me while watching PBS the other day and goes "mom, did you know that burly means big and strong? I'm burly." Sure you are, noodle arms. The funniest was the other night in the car when out of nowhere, he asked me how babies get in their mommy's tummies. Now, I am all for transparency about our bodies and the truth about genitals... but I was not prepared for that question, nor did I think 7pm on a random week night was the proper time for the birds and the bees. And I don't think that was really what he was getting after, anyways. So I told him that the mom and the dad have to work together to get the baby in the tummy, and hoped it was enough. Then Ellie goes "oh! I know how babies get in there. Adam, so the mommy and the daddy get married, and then they wait a couple of years, and then they start working really hard to put the baby in the mommy's tummy. They work together and they keep working and working and working, and the mommy's tummy gets bigger and bigger and then one day, the baby comes out!" They both seem satisfied with that answer, so I decided to let that be enough for them. Hopefully any follow up questions will be directed towards Tim, obviously.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kidney Girls.

It's been a long month or so dealing with kidney issues around here. A few weeks ago Lulu was so skinny and listless that we feared her time had come. Thankfully, after a day full of fluids at the vet, a new diet of kidney-friendly food (sadly, it's low in protein, which is completely the opposite of Thor's all protein diabetes diet) and an appetite increasing antidepressant, she's bounced back quite well. At her two week return visit, all of her blood numbers were better. So, I have narrowly avoided having to be a true adult and deal with making the choice about putting a pet to sleep.

In the meanwhile, I've been worrying about Ellie's kidneys. She's had a series of UTIs this year, and because she's small and doesn't recognize the symptoms as quickly as an adult would, she ends up going down for the count and even missing school, because she's running a 102 fever and miserable. Her doctor recommended we do a medical procedure called a VCUG, where they basically fill up her bladder with contrast and do x-rays as she voids, to see if any urine is backing up to her kidneys, or otherwise being problematic. I had it done as a kid, and it's pretty hard on a little, so I was relieved when they said now, with a kid her age, they put them under. Then immediately started freaking out about the risk of putting a child under anesthesia (which I realize are minimal.) Well, we went into the hospital at 6:30 on Monday morning to get it done, and it went better than I expected. Everyone we came in contact with was so wonderful and kind. The hospital has a child life specialist whose sole responsibility is making sure your child is comfortable. She had a little doll in a hospital gown with all of the wires and tubes that Ellie was wearing, she helped me explain the procedure, and she stayed with us the entire time.

The actual procedure was incredibly quick, less than 20 minutes, and when Ellie woke up she didn't remember a thing, and was plowing a popsicle as soon as they'd let her. We were home by 10am!
The best news is that we've already heard back, and there's nothing abnormal on the VCUG, so nothing wrong with her kidneys or bladder. I will still need to talk with her doc about what we do from here, other than being diligent about wiping and washing and staying hydrated, but it's a relief to have it behind us. I was so proud of her in the hospital. She was so funny and sweet to everyone - she told them she's going to grow up and be the American Ninja Warrior, she joked that she doesn't like having a little brother, and when the nurse was asking me about medical history and brought up diabetes, she piped up "Thor has diabetes!" and I had to explain that he's a cat, adopted, no blood relation. I felt so very proud to be the mom of such a fantastic little lady.

Proud of this little goofball rock star too. It's finally cooling off around here, so yesterday he wore his new back to school outfit from Mimi. Told me the pants are like fireman pants because of the stripes around the bottom (was mad that they were falling down on him, was also reluctant to let me tighten the draw string for him) and he calls his sweatshirt a jacket, but he certainly loved stuff it full of stuff during our nature walk yesterday. He was so funny, asking me if I wanted to kick rocks with him. Sure kid, why not!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ninja Warriors.

Just an average afternoon at the park with these two hooligans. No matter where he is, when Adam takes to the course, he does it shirtless.

But don't worry, he also takes the time to be a caring father to Lamby.