Monday, May 22, 2017

Half Pint.

In summary, I am the worst blogger, and the highlight of Mother's Day was the fact that I got away for a night, then went to see a concert and was basically the worst mom ever, and so I probably deserved when Ellie wrote in her "about my mom" paper that her mom is as smart as "a dog," knowing that I think dogs are stupid (and look, we can debate it, but I'm not talking a police animal or a service dog. I am talking your average garbage-eating, butt-smelling, scared-of-its-own-farts type of mutt.)

But that's all us. The big fun is that this past weekend Sara, Ellie and I got away for a girls weekend with our ultimate girl, Grandma Rosie. Earlier this year, when Ellie and I finished reading the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series, I decided it'd be fun to take her back to Wisconsin to see the Museum and cabin in Pepin, and it worked out that we were able to come into town for Grandma's 88th birthday.

And it was great! It was everything I hoped for when I planned our pilgrimage. The Laura Ingalls Wilder museum has been redone since Grandma and I last visited, but it's still pretty small. Ellie was so cute - she kept asking about every artifact, asking if it belonged to Laura (spoiler, only one item actually belonged to her) and when she kept getting disappointed, I finally started saying "yup, that was Laura's!" I was really impressed with how much she remembered from the books - she clearly was listening to what I was reading. They also have a little one room school house replica and a lighthouse thing that the kids can climb, so she and Hailee had a great time playing pretend together (and they were great road trip buddies.)

Grandma wasn't feeling 100% on her birthday, plus she had a water leak in her basement, so celebrations were slightly subdued, but still great. Everyone came over for pizza and Ellie got to roll around on the floor with her new baby cousins, and during the afternoon we took grandma out for a manicure, and Ellie got her first pedicure, because I told her in Wisconsin you can get one before ten (because I am not the type to take a six year old along with me during quiet, relaxing mommy time.) She was the best little pal though, through all of it. She was a superb plane traveler, coloring and relaxing. She loved following Grandma around and baking brownies with her, and she adored being the big girl cousin. The only snafu we had was the first night when she was so restless and I was so tired that I eventually moved her out of the bed and onto a pallet on the floor. Who's the dog now, kid!

Assistant pilot Elizabeth Beans

Yes, I picked these up at ShopKo

Nelson, always delicious

With Laura's quilt

Many years of Little House love

We also visited Grandma Pat

Birthday Brownies

Ellie and Leah

Ellie and Clara (who is a month older)

Meanwhile, the grandparents stepped in so Tim could get to work last week. Lest you feel bad for the young man left behind, he got to to Knotts with Mimi and Poppy, visited the Mission with Gigi, spent a whole afternoon the care of Grizz, and then Saturday he and his daddy went to a touch a truck event. Both kids were great on their own... and of course, fussing at each other the second we all got home. You can't win them all!

Yesterday we had a really nice day with Mimi and Pa and Jake and Karen - we went out to YL for lunch to celebrate Mimi's birthday a little bit early (I'm going to guess that after they have the kids for three days over the long weekend, she will be okay with missing them on her actual birthday, ha!) and then in the evening, everyone joined us for a service project at the church where I do MOPS. The leader of the children's ministry is a wonderful, inspiring woman, and she put together a project with the nonprofit Together We Rise to build 100 bikes and 100 'sweet cases' for kids in the foster care system in Orange County. The bikes are self explanatory - we built a beach cruiser and a big ten speed (thanks Jake!) and then Ellie and I decorated a whole bunch of bags for the sweet cases - they give them to kids who may have been removed from their home without even a chance to grab a tooth brush or a comfort item. So we wrote messages of love and drew photos on the bag, and then packed it with toiletries, crayons, a coloring book, a blanket and a teddy bear. It was a really wonderful, meaningful evening, and I'm so glad that I had the whole extended family there helping us building. I felt very lucky and honored that we could give back, and that I have such a wonderful family around me.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Friend Time.

Sorry for being the worst blogger - it's been a busy week. Really, it's been an embarrassment of riches when it comes to us getting time to hang out with our friends. We've had several backyard-y parties in the past ten days, which I always love. The adults sit outside and watch the sunset and drink booze drinks, and the kids are in and out, playing dress up, riding scooters, doing art projects. We had a friend sleep over last weekend and went to a pool party at another friends house, and last Sunday our neighbors came over for lunch, and after the kids finished splashing around in the wading pool, Lisa and I got in the pool and drank beers in the sunshine, thus living our absolute best lives.

Plus, we have to check on Spike and Yogi every day. Now that they're all healed up from being fixed, they're ready for lots of loving. The kids are mostly gentle, though about every ten minutes we have to tell someone to put a kitten down. Yogi Bear is the biggest mush and doesn't react to anything, even Adam manhandling him like a rag doll. Now that Spike is fixed, he's turned into quite the lap cat, which Ellie of course loves.




Ellie got student of the day one day last week, and her teacher said it was because Ellie is a good listener and is a kind friend to everyone, which absolutely warms my heart to hear. In an area that's very focused on looks and status (even down at the kindergarten level, believe me) I'm glad she's extending friendship to everyone in her class. She's a good little egg. And reading more every day!

Adam had a Mother's Day presentation at his school this past Thursday (because next Thursday is parent teacher conferences) and it was so darling. They sang us a couple of songs about how much they love their moms, and then we had scones and got the crafty little gifts they made - a little towel with their hand print as the blossom of a flower. He also drew a picture of me and said that his favorite thing was that sometimes I give him a cookie after supper. I especially love that my four year old calls it supper, because as Tim would say "that's Midwestern as hell."



I also deeply enjoy this picture from last week at the Hat with our friends, because the kid will eat next to nothing some days, and everything is yucky, but he went to TOWN on those onion rings, and I myself wouldn't eat an onion ring until I was well into my twenties (still would rather have french fries, sorry Mom.)

Last night we were up late with friends, having tacos and relaxing, and this morning we had to wake them up for swim class, which they did well at, despite the drizzly weather. So today I'm hoping for big long naps, because we're dropping them at date night at the Y for the full five hours this evening. Farewell, suckers! Time for your dad and I to go hang out with grown up friends!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Video Round Up

Enjoy!

Once again this year, Ellie is missing her dance recital, but she's practicing like a pro. The teacher had us come in and take video the other week, so that the girls could practice at home if needed. I can't get over how sweet and grown up she looks.

This past Sunday was like a dream come true - we spent the whole day at home, and the kids just relaxed with us. They played nicely together, they built a lot of Legos, they finger painted and pounded rocks outside (for serious - they'd gotten a kit with a bunch of polished rocks buried in chalk "boulders" so we gave them some hammers and they went to town for a solid hour) and allowed Tim to play Overwatch, while I sat outside and read an entire book and did crossword puzzles. And played my favorite smooching game with my favorite boy.


These videos are over a week apart, but they're wearing the same clothes, both of them. I swear they have more than seven outfits!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter, et al.

We survived the rest of spring break, thankfully by keeping busy. We went to the Y almost every day, and I was able to get a cute picture of our kids with the neighbor kids in the mustard blooms - easier than driving out to the wildflower fields. This will be the album cover for their first band.

No one is really looking or smiling! Another perfect shot!

Wednesday we were able to go with Mimi for our traditional jaunt to the mall to meet the Easter bunny. Last year, Adam was tepid at best about the giant rabbit, but this year he ran right over and gave the bunny an enormous hug. While I'm a little sad about no more crying pictures, there's also something nice about having beautiful, sweet children.

We also got to have a delicious lunch and go to the little indoor play ground, so another perfect bunny trip with the lovely Mimi.

On Thursday, our big fun was going to have frozen yogurt before picking Sara up from work.

We had some time to kill before Sara was done with work, and since the pet store in the shopping center is closed, I offered that we could walk through the hard ware store, and they were so excited that it was like I'd told them we could go to Disneyland. So many house wares! So much stuff for improving your yard!

We also spent a lot of time with the kittens.
Baby Wolf

Baby Lynx

Then, on to Easter. Last year, the Easter bunny put out a fairly well stocked Easter basket, to which Ellie responded "why isn't there an egg hunt?' This year, the Easter bunny brought bathing suits and a small item for each kid, and then hid many eggs instead. The Easter bunny would definitely rather just buy a bunch of candy than toys, especially because the Easter bunny likes to eat the kids candy after they go to bed sometimes. Don't judge the Easter bunny, he's just a magical animal doing his very best. 



They were able to go a fully 20 seconds at a time without injuring themselves or torturing each other. So great! We had brunch at Mimi and Poppy's house, and I thought we'd manage two or three hours, but the kids were having such a great time that we finally had to haul out at 4:30 for dinner with Gigi and Grizz (and because I had a side dish that I hadn't bothered to make in the morning, thinking I'd get it done during naps. Oops.) They went to bed tired and hopped up on sugar, which is the way to end a good spring break. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Aquarium.

It's spring break for the kids, so we're trying to keep things busy, in order to cut down on the amount of time they can spend arguing with me or bickering with each other (I can't decide which I enjoy more! All of the back sass all of the time!)

I've taken the kids to the aquarium in Long Beach a couple of times before, and every time I leave physically and mentally exhausted, because the kids have been too little, and I end up carrying one (or both) of them around, or turning my back for a fraction of a second to turn back and realize I can't find them in the maze of other small children, or them just being regular old small children who get tired and hungry and overwhelmed quite easily. This time though felt like the sweet spot. They're both big enough to walk the whole aquarium under their own power, and also big enough to not do a runner or dart too fart out of sight. We met up my old coworker Emily, her husband Brad, and their son Liam and daughter Jordan. Jordan and Ellie walked around holding hands the other time, and having a third parent with us was great in terms of managing all of the littles.


How great is this? We were on the second story, outside, petting some rays and looking at the penguins (also nice, Ellie is big enough to pet all of the animals in the touch tanks without having to be on the verge of falling in) and the sea lion show started. This big guy was up on the high stage right next to us, so they got to have a VERY front row seat to some of his tricks and antics.

Ellie, Emily and Liam, touching animals gently.

The kids loved watching the seals and sea lions, and the otters swimming around. The other thing is that the otter tank is set up with several viewing levels, and then pretend rocks in the back against the wall, which was like a rock climbing wall for small friends. Adam says that was his favorite part, of course. Ellie loved the touch tanks and and sea lions.

And then they both loved getting to pick out a stuffed toy in the gift shop afterwards.
Welcome, Spotty Spot and Winter Cloud.

My favorite are all of the sea horses and sea dragons. And I love how soft the little sharks and rays are (and yes, I'm also finally tall enough to reach in and touch them without needing a boost.)

It was really a fun day with our friends. And, though the kids didn't fall asleep on the car ride home, we all took a nap from 2;30 to 4pm, which is the REAL victory.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Activity Report.

Uff da, it's been a busy week!

Our cousins are in town from Chicago, so there's been a lot of celebrating over at Gigi's house. And at our house, having a pupusa party on Friday night, ending with some good disco ball dancing. They're a funny little foursome. Adam wants nothing more than Olivia's attention, Olivia wants Ellie more than anything, and Ellie basically wants Gigi's kittens nonstop. And James just wants to be along for the ride. Is fine if I give him a kiss attack while Kate's holding him, is horrified if I pick him up myself.

The kids are loving all of the action, and all of the attention from Gigi Ann and Gigi Lisa. John is even in town, and when I was explaining to the kids that it's Kate's brother John, not Grizz's brother John Ellie goes "oh, so baby Uncle John." Baby Uncle John it is!

Here's Ellie, tamer of ferocious little panthers.

Loving their fur right off.

On Friday when everyone was over, they got some good dress up going. Ellie wore last year's dance recital leotard for the first time since her recital pictures (please recall, was in Wisconsin and missed the recital. This year, she's doing all of the dancing, but I managed not to spend money to buy a costume we won't use.)



Then yesterday, no foolin', we were out to Redlands for Princess at the Castle at the Kimberly Crest House with Mila and Pari. The boys came too, and hung out with James and Rahim (aka the dads watched TV while the boys took a nap, and then went to a party at a coworker's house) and we celebrated our newest four year olds, as Mila is only five days older than Adam.

Princess at the Castle was even better this year, mostly because the temp was fifteen degrees cooler and I didn't feel like I was going to sweat to death. Though the day was sold out, it felt less crowded than last year, and we were in the first group to be announced, so Ellie was the second girl through the door, giving us the rest of the two hours to visit all of the activities, hang out and take pictures. A board member was able to secure decorations from a Rose Bowl float, and it was really beautiful.



Cinderella let us use her carriage

Princess school, balancing a glass slipper on her head

Catching herself a fish

Meeting a handsome prince

Her dress is a skirt that I found at a yard sale (also has a matching top.) The elastic was shot, so I made some straps and sewed in some buttons so it could be a dress. She got that little green cat as a prize from the gift shop, and I think someone hand sewed it. Ellie named it Rocky Yogi, and she loves it.

My very best girl

Pari and James have several orange trees in their back yard, so the kids had a great time doing an orange harvest and playing together. Rahim is only two, but is almost as big and as chatty as Adam. And I can't believe our March babies are already four - it seems like Pari and I should still be 20 years old, 22 at most. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Adam is FOUR!

Hard to believe, but the littlest member of our foursome is finally four. He's so cute - he woke up this morning and came and crawled into bed with us, and we said happy birthday Adam, you're four! It took him a minute - he said "today is my birthday? I'm four? Not yet," unlike his sister, who never has a problem on her birthday, remembering that it is in fact her birthday.

The morning was fairly slow going, and then I remembered that we had the Spectrum kids club tickets that we could pick up - it's just a little packet of freebies and coupons, but it made for a nice morning. We rode the train around, went and had a little lunch at Corner Bakery (I let them eat their cookie first) and then all rode the ferris wheel, where at 12:57pm, Adam became officially four years old.




Please enjoy that he insisted on wearing his new pajamas out and about. Ellie brought a shawl and a purse, so that she'd have some place to store a spare necklace and her chapstick. She basically doing a Gigi impression.


As usual, I made him a birthday cake. Friday afternoon I attempted to make a cake with Oreo bits crushed in, but of course, didn't really follow the recipe to begin with, and then substituted applesauce for eggs since we have a little friend with an egg allergy. Yeah. It was an ultimate cake fail. It was too moist, and would have been fine and delicious if we were just scooping it out of the pan, but I was trying to cut it and stack it into a trash truck for Adam. I ended up salvaging an egg-free piece, but tossing the rest and making a straight yellow cake last night around 9:30pm.

I'm not saying it's not a cake fail, but I'm saying it's better than what it could have been. Please enjoy Mario, Luigi and Yoshi driving the trash truck.
We also ended up just ordering pizza. Adam is such a pain about eating - I'd been joking that if I wanted to make a dinner that he'd be sure to eat, it'd be peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt pops, and chicken nuggets for everyone. As it was, he only ate four bites of cheese pizza because I chased him down, but hopefully, as it's been all this past year, he won't starve. (As a funny programming note, Tim left to get pizza wearing his house slippers... but not carrying his wallet.)


It was just a fun, relaxed night. We had our families as usual, and our best friend-family (framily) so it was easy and fun to hang out. Adam got a razor scooter for his birthday, so our friends brought scooters for the kids, and we turned the back patio into a drag race arena. It was actually funny - our kids' helmets were at my parents house, so until Gigi and Grizz arrived, they were riding without helmets, and Ellie said to her friends "when Poppy gets here, he's going to tell us to be careful and wear helmets" and lo, the second Poppy walked outside and saw what was going on, he observed that they should all slow down and put on their helmets. He's concerned about safety, what can he say?

Good news, Adam got a new helmet from Uncle Jake for his birthday! Bad news, was not that into trying it on.

He also got tons of trucks and a big (loud!) crane, and his favorite bug game

All of the little ladies had a good time, playing dress up and playing around. Adam and Judd can be a tough twosome to play with, so thankfully the girls also let Thomas tag along with all of their antics.


And of course, we ended with a good dance party. Earlier in the night, Whitney had asked me if we were going to have a dance party, and I assured her, it's always a dance party if it's a party at our house. Tim and I felt very lucky when we were done tucking everyone in and cleaning everything up. Our kids are amazing and sweet and funny and fun, and getting better with every day. Adam can be impossible and a terrible listener, but he's so snuggly and goofy, and the older he gets, the more we enjoy having actual conversations with him, and listening to him sing in the car and be a funny little person. And we're fortunate to have our families nearby to spend time with him and us every week, and our framily who help keep us sane. The evening was loud and a bit chaotic, but ultimately a pretty relaxed, fun time with some of our very favorite people.

And our favorite little four year old, of course. We're so fortunate to be our little family of four.