Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

This year we had an intimate Thanksgiving at Megan's apt. That's Audrey in Megan's kitchen, trying to get more food - she can never get enough!
We all brought over a couple of dishes and had a relaxing afternoon. Alex watched some football and we played with the kids.
The next morning, we packed up for 2 nights in Big Bear with the Velez branch, at Christy and Mike's cabin. We stayed with the girls in a room on the first floor. Alex's parents with Cyndy, Rob and family, rented a house right across the street. They held their Thanksgiving for us to join them on Friday, so that was nice and a great treat to have another round of excellent food! A couple of Mike's kids were there, along with Mike's mom. The cabin is very cozy and i enjoyed just relaxing and pretty much doing nothing else. I think I barely stepped out of the front door! Alex took Laurel with the cousins up the street to sled in a patch of snow. The ground wasn't bare, but the covering was sparse. It was Laurel's first time in the snow:). She loved it - and I also realized I don't have enough cold weather gear! No water resistant mittens at all. Both nights, Laurel stayed over with the cousins. A treat for her, pretty much her first sleep over that wasn't down the street at Grandma's or Aunt Meg's. Granted, across the street from us, but in bed with other kids, in a house she isn't used to. We heard she did just fine! Audrey was pretty good most of the time. She didn't nap super well, so she had trouble at dinner time and was pretty fussy during thankgiving dinner. But as usual, ate really well!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Birthday continued

Here's a few pretty and funny faces from the weekend plus a couple of shots of Audrey opening some presents on her actual birthday.  I like to have something for them to open on their actual birthday.:)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Audrey is One!

We had a little party for Audrey's birthday this weekend.  Just a few friends and grandparents.  Like Laurel's party, I had much fun finding cute desserts to make and fun games on pinterest.  Seriously, what would I do without it now!  
We had the party in the late afternoon with snacks and desserts only.  I heated caramel and we had a make your own candy apple set up. 

We had a pumpkin roll with brooms and decorated mini gourds with feathers, sparkles, paint and other add-ons.  I thought the halloween theme would be fun to do while Audrey was small and didn't have an opinion:). Hopefully she'll enjoy her halloween birthday timing when she's older!  

Though she loves to eat, Audrey didn't really dive into her cupcake.  But we got enough for the camera:).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Disney Halloween

Halloween is quickly creeping up on my favorite time of year. No shopping and weeks of preparation. No long hours in the kitchen or wrapping presents. Just lots of fun with little people in costumes and of course - candy. I thought it was fine as a kid, I did look forward to it. But it was pretty much one night of the year, no big deal. As an adult, I'm managing to drag it out all month long for my kids! And Disneyland is a great help:). Tuesday I took the kids and met up with some friends to do the Mickey's Trick or Treat party. The park is always decked out, the candy is flowing big time and there's characters everywhere. This was our 3rd year going and I just love it. The candy "trails" were all over this year and moved quickly. We even got on a couple of rides. Laurel looks so cute in her costume and her recent obsession with pigtails looked great with the ensemble:). I also brought some face paint and tried to give it a go!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

These faces

These faces make everything worth it, every day.  No matter how trying, how many tantrums or exhausting errands.  They are sweet, loving and so very fun.  They're my companions day in and day out.  They are always up for anything and are patient with me when i'm not at my best.  I always wish for and want the best for them.  They're my babies, my life's best work.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First bike

Laurel's birthday present of note this year was a tinkerbell training bike from us.  Here's a quick shot of her "in action".  She's quite excited!  She'll grown out of this size quickly, but hopefully it will help her learn and move on to the next stage.  She always enjoyed riding her trike down the sidewalk, so now we're growing up.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vegas 2011

We made it to Vegas again this year to meet up with the Ondercin family.  A smaller group this year, but it was nice to see the few that could make it and have some fun time out of the house.  We stayed for a few nights in the meeting hotel of choice, The Flamingo.  Laurel loves the novelty of staying in a hotel.  She always asks when we'll stay in a hotel - especially one with a pool.  So we spent lots of time at the pool:).  The water is always colder than I'd like, but we go in anyway cuz that's what the child demands, lol!  Audrey loves the water and enjoyed the trip in her own way.  Still being pushed around since we still have no crawling action.  She's starting to show a little zest in her temperment - doesn't like anything taken from her without her ok.  But she travels well, sleeps fine in the pack n play.  She's content with her tray of snacks in her stroller and takes it all in.  We journeyed to the bellaggio fountains and conservatory as always.  Saw the animals where we could.  In honor of our anniversary, Megan stayed with the girls and we went out for dinner.  We detoured for dessert and found the yummies restaurant that had a happy hour dessert/drinks bar.    Anne also moved to the city just this summer and so we met up with her as well.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday, Laurel!

Laurel's 4th was celebrated with a picnic and games a the park.  It was a hot, hot day.  But that was probably the only bummer - everything else was great and the kids had a lot of fun!  We picked a local park that has a playground and picnic benches.  We had aimed for the pavilion, but this particular park didn't allow reservations and I think the person that took over the pavilion showed up at dawn or something!  


Laurel's friends - Ryder, Delaney, Lauren, Kalia, Aidan, and cousins Sierra and Amber were there.  So was family and parents.  We made picnic food - chicken and tuna salad, fruit salad, veggies, chips, etc.  The kids played on the playground and we took mini breaks for games.  The party was strawberry shortcake themed - Laurel wore her favorite strawberry dress:).  

I made strawberry cake pops and a cake to look like strawberry shortcake's house.  Overkill to have so much in the end - i even made strawberry shortcake cups with shortcake from scratch, for the adults.  But I enjoyed planning it and making all of the details:).  Laurel was thrilled to have all of her little friends around.  It was a great day!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Birthday prep mode

Here's a few pictures prepping for Laurel's party this weekend.  I found tons of great ideas on Pinterest and am making most of them - regardless of how much leftover food that will mean in the end!:)  The cake pops were very easy to make - I made a sheet of chocolate cake and crumbled it up.  I mixed in a tub of icing and then molded the strawberries by hand.  For future, I would refrigerate the pops to keep them more firm.  I bought red chocolate chips and melted it.  Keeping that liquid enough to dip was difficult.  But they ended up turning out ok!  I made the cake out of a 2 layer circle and lots of fondant.  I think this was my best cake yet!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

End of summer camp

For about 2 months this summer, Laurel has been attending a summer "camp" through the mar vista parks system. Not sure if I've mentioned it. It's play-based, so they spend time outside on the play ground, make crafts, play with toys and dress up clothes, sings songs, etc. It ended up being a good decision to try this out with her because she's going to be continuing in through the school year. Most of her little school friends from her 3 year preschool have other arrangements for 4 year. Plus, the cost is a fraction of the cost of the first preschool. I do like the intimacy of the first one, and it was around the corner from the shop. But with the change of kids and the pricing, we decided to move her to the same school as her camp. Not much will change during the year from the camp, it will run on the same basic schedule. The class is larger, about 20 kids instead of 10 or so. They also do very little academic prep, so I'll be trying to continue that at home. I really believe play time is important since every year after this will be devoted to academic learning, and some day, working. Laurel enjoyed her summer and finished it off with a mini concert with her class. It sure is sweet to see the little ones sing, even if they're mostly disctracted and wandering off at times:).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Playing together...or at least near each other

Laurel and Audrey are really starting to play together...or at least next to each other and tossing toys back and forth. Audrey will usually want what Laurel has, but Laurel is pretty good at sharing. Laurel thinks Audrey is pretty fun and usually announces proudly when Audrey is doing something new. "Look! She's reaching for it!", "Mommy, watch! She's trying to stack the blocks!" Audrey is more possessive of the toys than Laurel. Laurel will share easily but you can't take anything away from Audrey without hearing about it! She's a feisty one and is really starting to show some new colors. Audrey plays very well by herself as well. She loves to sit infront of the basket of toys and touch and explore. Laurel will play with the baby toys too just to spend time with her:). It's so nice right now!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

my birthday

Last weekend we celebrated my birthday. At my age (generally not an old age, but not an exciting one either!), birthdays come and go and there's not much pomp and circumstance. I was actually more focused on Laurel's birthday, still to come on the 31st. She is focused on her birthday too, to say the least! My birthday was pretty chill, spent the Saturday afternoon at the studio, but in the evening we went to Huntington Gardens. I love the gardens, so peaceful and it's such a nice atmosphere in late afteroon. The early evening gets cooler too, so it's a nice chance to picnic in the gardens - the only time they will allow it (member only summer evenings). Here's some pictures of our picnic - both girls being sweet and cute as usual!

(that is audrey's "snorty" face:))

All day during my birthday, Laurel was asking when it would be her birthday. "Mommy is your birthday over yet?" "After the presents is your birthday over". She knows hers is the next birthday we'll be celebrating at home, so she's been asking about it constantly. Even toy she sees in a commercial is something she wants for her birthday! She decided she wants a Strawberry Shortcake birthday party. Appropriate since she still insists on being called "regular strawberry shortcake"! I just took her to party city to choose decorations and we're all stocked up. I also went to Carter's and toys r us for her presents. All set! Her party will be at a local park so that the kids can play on the playground and we have access to picnic tables.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

whew! busy summer!

The summer is flying by, as it tends to do - and we're busier than ever!
In June, we started a remodel at Copper Willow. We've been in our space on washington blvd. for about 1.5 years now and after some time in there, we wanted to move things around so we had more space and the space we have it being used well. So one thing led to another and we added a door, a window in the front wall, painted the floor, added retail space, furnishing, decor, and an office. Yes one thing did lead to another. And we just had our 5 year anniversary, so we're planning 2 celebratory events as well. I will need a long nap:).

The girls are enjoying the summer too in their own ways.
Audrey is wearing her super cute sun suits and little dresses and knocking everyone's socks off. I can't count the number of people who fawn over her every single day. The second they get a glance at her in the carrier or in my arms, they gush:). Such a sweet baby, or how adorable, or she's so pretty! And she is:). A very cute and pretty baby for sure. And very playful - she loves to sit (up right on her own now for a couple of weeks) and play with toys and explore and enjoy time with her sister. Laurel doesn't necessarily play with her, but sometimes next to her and hands Audrey things to examine. Audrey is not going to crawl afterall. She'll sit and play like Laurel used to, but not go anywhere until she takes off walking:). If I try to put audrey on her belly, she fusses and rolls over. Audrey is changing up her taste in food. She used to eat baby food from the jar and then came down with a cold (caught it from Laurel!) and her appetite has decreased. And she's gotten suddenly picky. She didn't want to eat from the jar anymore, so i started making my own food. I have a great food processor and started blending foods and she liked it at first and now jams her hands into her mouth and over her face so I can't get any food in her mouth. She seems to just want to eat off of our plates but she has no teeth except for those 2 from months ago - so I'm not sure how she expects to eat! But she does happily eat whatever small pieces I can tear up or mash for her. Regardless of her eating, she's growing healthily - bigger and longer than Laurel at this age. She's fitting 9 months perfectly and even some 12 month clothes are fitting just fine.

Laurel has been attending a summer camp at the neighboring rec. park. She's met some little friends and seems to enjoy it. I will be volunteering 3 times during the session to "co-op" with other parents. She mostly plays, does some crafts and games, and plays outside on the playground. All things I want her to do over the summer. We've also been playing constantly with friends. I've gotten to know a few moms from her school-year pre-school and they are very active ladies. They are always out on play dates and going to parks to play. We've been tagging along a lot and I haven't had a chance to breathe, we've been so on the go! Audrey tags along of course:). Laurel continues to wear her pretty summer dresses and regardless of the temperature outside, she will NOT let me put her hair up. Laurel's biggest change seems to be intellectual - she is in the "why" stage - big time. Pretty much anything we talk about results in a long chain of "why". I do try to be patient, but I have definitely used the "because I said so" and "because god made it that way" phrases a lot:). She has also jumped into a cooperative play phase. She wants to play with me or anyone with her figurines and dolls. She went through a phase of playing lots of educational games on the computer and her iphone and now she has rediscovered her doll house, castle, princesses and pet shop animals. At one time she wanted to be in her kitchen constantly and then another time, dressing up a lot. Always changing:). She hasn't change physically all that much. Her feet are going to be small for her eventual size - like me. She has maybe grown a 1/4 size or a 1/2 at most since last year. We finally replaced her sandals from last year with a nice versatile pair of sneaker styled sandals.

Alex has recently started working for his Dad in Orange County. He has chosen to commute every day (1 hour or more in traffic each way). Life for me hasn't changed much, I am with the girls all day every day as before. But he gets home a little later, by about 8 pm. It wasn't his first choice of course, but a career change is needed and we'll be trying this for a few months to see how it goes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fourth of July

This year for the 4th, we went down to OC for what turned out to be a beastly hot day. We went to Mission Viejo's street fair and sweated it out. The kids didn't care too much but my tolerance for that is low now! We spent the afternoon at Alex's parents' for a bbq and the kids ran around the back yard playing with the sprinkler and water balloons. I bought some little water guns for them to play with too. It was a really fun day, and a nice break from work and the every day run around. When the kids have each other, it's easy to sit back, relax, and just watch them play. We went down the hill to their local park and camped out on blankets for the fireworks. It was a great day:).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Camping - Sequoia 2011

Laurel and Audrey took their first trip camping in Sequoia National Park last week. An adventure for all! We left on Sunday, June 19th and drove to the park all packed up in the Camry. Megan and I alternated in the back , squished between the 2 carseats. Alex stayed home to work - also not a camper:).
Both girls were great car travelers. Audrey is so easily entertained now - quite a "handsy" baby - touching and reaching for anything. Just throw a few books and toys in her car seat with her and she's good to go! We spent a lot of our drive singing songs, playing "i spy" and just chatting. Mom needed to drop Molly off for boarding just outside of the park, but we made it into our camp site in the late afternoon. We spent 1 night in Lodgepole and had to move after that. We had reservations at another campground that were canceled due to slow snow melt. Our 2nd and 3rd nights were spent north, just inside Kings Canyon. The 4th night was back down in Lodgepole. The packing up was really the hardest part, otherwise, moving from place to place wasn't too bad - but not preferable!

Laurel handled the camping pretty well for her first time! She was super excited to put up the tent. The bubble guppies cartoon has had a camping episode on and Laurel had been counting the days until we were on our own camping trip. She helped us put up the tent and bounced around all over putting everything away. Food went immediately into bear boxes. She was also excited to roast marshmallows but after one taste, she wasn't really interested. Laurel is easily deterred from eating things because of the potentional mess and stickiness. Once i decided to hold it for her, she was willing to eat it, but she'd rather go without all together than get her hands sticky! Knowing her need to be neat and clean, I figured the dirt would be much more of a problem, but it really wasn't. She threw a fit over not being allowed to wear dresses and she was a little afraid of the dark. The first night she constantly asked what the various noises were and nervously shines her flashlight around. She quickly settled in and got used to it. I ordered her a tickerbell sleeping bag and brought her fleece little mermaid blanket. The nights were quite cold, we had to bundle up. But Laurel stayed up later than normal, so she was out the second her head hit the pillow (her lady bug pillow pet!). She also slept in each morning.

Audrey was a real trooper for beign just 7.5 months old. She napped on the go, she ate on the go. The days were warmer than I had expected, so I tried to carry her around by hand instead of pressed up against me in her carrier. I bought her a tiny pop up tent that went at my head in the tent. She went to sleep in it just fine with her music player, blanket and baby. But we had trouble getting into the tent ourselves to go to sleep after her. She would wake up and act frantic and ended up sleeping with me all night. It was definitely not comfortable and I realized I wasn't a teenager anymore when my body screamed at me every night from sleeping on the hard ground. I'll know better for next time!

Laurel enjoyed the sightseeing but was always anxious to get back to the campsite. I'm pretty sure she thought we'd just be in the tent all day and night:). Our 2nd and 3rd nights spent up north, we met a family that had a 3 year old boy and a 10 month old girl. Laurel and the little boy hit it off and they played each night. It was nice for her to have a little play time and run around. The campsite those nights was spacious and really lovely. Towards the end of the trip though, she started to get tired from all of the walking. She really kept up for a while, but she started to get a cold and all of the walking was wearing her out. On the 3rd day she crashed and we had to take some time out of the day to let her nap. On the last night, our neighbors were a german couple with a 4 year old girl and a 1 year old boy. The little girl was so infatuated with Laurel. It was quite enlightening to watch them play - not speaking each other's language.

The park on the whole was a great introduction for her to camping life. Fairly easy activity, reasonable weather, and bathrooms we could deal with:). No showers, so on the 3rd morning, Megan and I held her over the large wash sink and cleaned her hair and body. Audrey received a sponge bath on the 2nd night. Each day we took different walks to see the great sequoias. Laurel was excited to point out the large trees and collect pine cones.

We drove home after a detour to visit a cave. The drive was later in the day and Audrey was so tired. We had a great time! Laurel crashed on the drive home too and we came back to LA in peace:).