Unplugged and Glamping

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We spent Labor Day weekend in Palomar Mountain with tons of good friends..glamping. What a fantastic way to spend the weekend. I can’t believe we have such a rustic beautiful area close by (door to door it was less than two hours!) and we are just now finding it.

We stayed in a cabin a Baileys Palomar Resort with the Radcliffe family (Thank goodness for Terri – she took a bunch of photos – I didn’t even take one!!), and a bunch of our friends came up and tent camped right by it as well. We didn’t do a whole lot – and cell phones don’t work – and the kids were in heaven with all the dirt and crazy kittens and such – and I think we just had a good time hanging out together. My favorite was checking out the Boucher lookout – you can see all the way to the ocean from the mountains – and next time we go, I really want to check out some of the trails in the Doane Valley camp ground – as that area looked beautiful. We picnicked by the pond the day we left. There will definitely be a “next time..”

It is so much fun to watch Bella play with the other kids and see how much she has grown socially. Kaelyn and her play really well together. They have VERY different personalities – and I think that is what makes them enjoy each other so much. Kaelyn had Bella playing with princesses, and Bella even got Kaelyn to play with worms (they made a house in the picnic area and were protecting the worms from bees…hilarious…) It will be fun as we watch them grow and hang out as families to be able to tell them that they have been friends since they were teeny tiny babies. I hope Audrey and Hannah will grow to be good friends as well. They were pretty funny playing out in Nate’s makeshift camp play pen this weekend. Both seem to be pretty happy and mellow “second” kids, despite not sleeping very well all weekend.

Speaking of second kids. I was thinking this morning about the differences between raising your first versus your second. With Bella, I nursed in private in my bedroom day in and day out, and was mortified every time I had to nurse in public. Little Audrey is more likely to be nursed in the Ergo Carrier out and about than she is in the home since we are constantly on the go. I don’t even think twice about it anymore. I sleep trained Bella gently using the Baby whisperer method and spent many a night on her floor with my hand on her belly – and in general she was a pretty good sleeper – by 8 months we were easily getting a full night of sleep, even if it took a good 30 minutes to put her down. Audrey learned quickly to fall asleep on her own, but still wakes in the night and I have no clue how I am going to address it. With Bella, I was constantly taking her temperature, worried about a little sneeze, bringing her to the doctor for them to just tell me she was just fine. With Audrey, I am much more relaxed, realizing babies just cry sometimes from teething, etc. and comfortable just offering her the comfort I can without heading up to the doc. I made most of Bella’s baby food, and as a result, she wouldn’t even touch the jarred stuff. Audrey has gotten about half/half – there are so many good organic options now – and she seems to be doing just fine. I felt so guilty leaving Bella for half an hour at the gym to workout, and they would call me every time because she would cry so hard for me. With Audrey, I realize that it is good for her – and me to allow her to have some time trusting other adults to care for her while I get a little exercise so that I can be more energized for our day. I guess it all just boils down to experience. I feel like I am definitely more relaxed this time around. I still worry about big stuff (Audrey’s weight, whether she is going to choke on something, whether Bella is going to break her playing “nicely” with her, is she getting enough one on one attention from me…), but it is nice not to have to dwell on the small stuff.

I was also thinking about being a mom this morning. The last few nights have been particularly hard, as I think Audrey has a little cold or teething or something, so I haven’t been sleeping a bunch. (I am a big fan of sleep as most people know…) So instead of working this morning I went straight to the gym when Annie arrived to try to get some exercise to help with my energy levels. So often I hear complaints and worries about motherhood that are so true, “I can’t even pee by myself”, “she doesn’t play with other kids all she wants is me”, “when will she learn to follow directions”, “I can’t wait until…” all of these things are valid – and believe me I have been there and said many myself. It is really hard to try to teach kids to behave kindly and be helpful and thankful… But at the same time, I was thinking how lucky I am to have these two precious beings in my life. How lucky am I that one of them would prefer to be with me over any other kid in the whole world even though I am grumpy some days, and the other just wants a glimpse of or cuddle from me at night so she can feel snuggly and warm as she gets her rest. These kids need me – and I need them. Motherhood is such a hard right of passage for women – as often you lose yourself in the needs of your kids, but at the same time it is just the most rewarding experience you could ever have. Every once in a while I have to pinch myself to remind me that I need to be grateful for these wonderful people in my life (including such a wonderful husband that works so hard and helps with the kids too) even when I am tired. 🙂



1st Annual Family Vacation

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Today is my dad’s birthday. I’ve spent a few moments today reading over his obituary and reflecting on his life and our relationship (and mourning my loss again), and so I thought I would spend some time writing about the past 10 days, since he has been in my thoughts a lot during them.

We started our vacation by heading to Houston to visit Jeremy’s family. Jeremy suggested that we take Bella to the Houston Livestock Show for the first time. This idea actually brought tears to my eyes because I have so many wonderful memories going to the Rodeo with my dad – I loved the idea of sharing that part of my childhood with Bella, but was sorrowful that my dad would not be a part of the experience.

Bella,

Your PaPa was a Lifetime Director of the Rodeo – which is a very special Honor. He was very involved in the many different committees, but I most remember him as the Swine Auction Chairman because he was involved in that area of the Rodeo for a long time. As children, he and DeeDee would take me, Chrissie & Kevin to all types of Rodeo events during the months of February and May. We would all get dressed up in cowboy boots and hats and western garb. (You will probably crack up when you see photos of our fashions when you are older.) We always felt like we had extra special privileges, because he would arrange for us to sit in special sections, take us to see private areas other people couldn’t see, get us access to take pictures with the musicians (I even have a picture with Billy Rae Cyrus – you won’t know who he is…but you will probably know his daughter Miley when you get older…) – we even got to ride in the Grand Entry Parade a few times! Everyone knew who he was. His work at the Rodeo was important, because the money he helped raise would provide scholarships to children who couldn’t afford to go to college so that they could get an education. Coming from modest Luling, Texas, and being a self-made successful business person – he really believed in helping people become the best that they could be…You really enjoyed seeing the animals at the Livestock Show – especially taking the pony rides. All of those animals have a purpose (not just as food and pets) – they help raise funds for children to go to college. (As an aside – Your “aunt” Lizzie even raised a pig named Squeeky when we were in High School. She wouldn’t eat pepperoni for a few months after the auction as she grew pretty attached…ask her about it sometime.) We had a wonderful day with Grandpa George and MiMi taking you to see the Livestock Show even though we probably only saw 3% of it as it has really grown even bigger over the last 10 years. When you are older, I would love to take you to see the Rodeo – it is quite an experience. My favorites growing up were the Bull Riding and the Calf Scramble – I know you will love them too.

You had a really nice visit with Grandpa George and MiMi, and then MiMi took us down to Galveston (another place I have alot of childhood memories) for some fresh gulf seafood at a restaurant your Daddy went to ALL the time growing up, “Shrimp & Stuff”. We ate TONS of delicious gulf seafood. While your daddy, MiMi and I opted for the delicious fried gulf shrimp, you were content with Catfish. (You still haven’t taken a liking to our favorites shrimp and crab…more for me :)…

Then MiMi dropped us off at the BIG cruise ship to meet up with 4 generations of our family. My MeMe, Big Don, DeeDee, Aunt Sissy, Silly Uncle Charlton, your cousins – Chandler, Caden & Conor, Uncle Kevvy and your 2nd Cousins Chantelle, Brian & Brody, and your Great Aunt Pam were all already on the ship. I wish that PaPa could have come – he had talked about us all going on vacation together after he got out of the hospital. This was Daddy’s (and your) first real “cruise” experience. We all had a really nice trip. You really enjoyed the pools and the fact that you got dessert after almost every meal. Each night, the entire family would sit at one big table in the dining room – that was one of the biggest highlights for me during the trip. It is such a rare thing to get to share meals with so many people that I love. Since they were two hour meals – we would let you watch a movie on the DVD player – which was just fine by you. Bernadette, our waitress, made sure that you were stocked with your favorite foods and we let you finish off every meal with cookies or ice cream. I’m actually kind of surprised you haven’t asked for it even once since we got back.  The excursions off of the boat were some of our favorite experiences. In Cozumel, you 2nd cousin Chantelle suggested we all visit Chakanaab National Park – there is a great beach there, and they do Dolphin Experiences (you were too young for that – but someday, I’d like to do that with you). I took you for your first snorkel (you couldn’t quite master your goggles, but you looked down though my snorkel mask). You loved the fish – and really wanted to touch them (my little dare-devil!). There was a great pool there where daddy took you swimming – and he really got you going with kicking and pulling with your arms so you could “swim” around in your life jacket. We even saw a sea lion show. I think it was my favorite day of the vacation. We also visited Grand Cayman, and we went on a boat with a recessed glass bottom so that all of the kids could get an even better idea of the beauty within the reefs and number of fish out there. We saw a shipwreck and cheeseburger reef. It was pretty amazing. I think you will love snorkeling when you get a little older. The other “off the boat” day was spent in Jamaica. We went to a little beach near Montego Bay. It had crystal clear water and a great swim area – and it was a beautiful, hot sunny day. You spent most of the time in the water collecting seaweed in a bucket and doggy paddling around with Chandler – and Daddy and I enjoyed a beachside massage and the delicious local beer – red stripe. You really had a great time playing with your cousins and snuggling with Dee Dee. You light up when you see them, and have been asking already when we get to go back to Texas to see Dee Dee & Mi Mi. I love that even though we live far away, you feel a strong connection to your family.

Mi Mi and Go Go picked us up at the end of our trip – and we got to spend the day eating more of that delicious gulf seafood and reminiscing about Galveston and driving and seeing the changes since the big Hurricane Ike that passed through a few years ago. It was a perfect ending end to a wonderful week off.

I really look forward to our next family trip – and know this will become something that you look forward to as well each year.


Annual Pumkin Carving 09

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Last night we had all the neighbors over for our annual pumpkin carving. I made a bunch of cupcakes and as we got all the kids on a big sugar high, and they began the task of cleaning out the pumpkins and carving scary faces (the parents did their fair share as well 🙂 )We roasted up the pumpkins seeds, and posed for a few photos in the yard- I’d say it was our best pumpkin carve yet! Even better, afterwards, the mommies of Calle De Madera decided to head out for sushi….what a nice break that was!! Yum…

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Visiting Dee Dee and Pa Pa

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Dee Dee and Pa Pa were supposed to come out to CA this month, but since my dad got some bad news about his cancer progression (please keep him in your prayers), we decided to go visit him last week. It was a really nice visit! Bella was so good the entire trip – and she even said “Pa Pa” a few times. Since I know dad is going to go through a very tough next few months, it really meant alot to us to get out there and have a nice visit while he was feeling good still. Bella is finally at the age where she will goof around with them – and she really took to Pa Pa, I got some cute pics of them goofing off together during dinner one night…


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Summer Vacation: Austin, TX

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img_2039Since Jeremy had a conference in Austin this summer, we decided to take advantage and go and visit Aunt Sissy, Uncle Charlton and the kids for a week. We had SO much fun!! Bella really enjoys “playing” with her cousins – they even taught her how to play peek-a-boo with her hands. img_20541We went to the pool, and to a indoor play area (it is 100 degrees here, so water or A/C are pretty key…) but I think everyone’s favorite was hanging out on Chrissie and Charlton’s boat on Lake Travis. We spent two glorious afternoons on the water. The boys tubed and Connor skied and we swam in a cove with the kids and friends (Lie Hao, Lisa and Mandy joined on Sunday!). The Lake is sooooo relaxing, and Bella LOVES the water. She didn’t even mind it when I dunked her a couple of times on Monday. (Of course, I counted with her to warn her…it was hot, I was trying to cool her off, not be mean 🙂  The breeze and whirring of the boat motor along with the img_20611gentle vibrations of the boat skipping over the water put her to sleep for a nice long nap both afternoons.  She has really taken to the bath tub during this trip as well (we still bathe her in the sink at home…but I think that is going to have to change…) Every time we go into Chandler’s bathroom, she crawls to the tub and points and grunts. It is so funny – one day we took two baths, and she was thrilled. On Tuesday, Grammy and Go-Go came in from Houston to visit as well. We all went to Going Bananas (an indoor playground), and the kids loved it. Chrissie was so kind to open up her house and we cooked a big family dinner on Wednesday night with everyone, even Paul & Taruko joined. All in all, it was a great trip, despite the crazy July Texas heat (I think I have been totally Californified to weather – I had forgotten how insanely hot it can be in TX in the summer :).


Bella’s First Wedding and Camping Trip

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This weekend our friends Jamie and Anne were married in Coloma, CA at a campground next to the beautiful American River. (Jamie and Anne were some of our first friends to know I was pregnant with Bella, as we took a trip to Costa Rica with them the week after I discovered my pregnancy.) Taking advantage of the event, Jeremy and I decided to pack up the fam and head up early Thursday – and rent an RV at the local campgrounds. Ok…life has been a bit busy lately… I must admit, that I didn’t even know the name of the town we were going to until the day before, when I emailed Jeremy to find out so that I could get a local weather forecast…I frantically packed until 1am, and tried to finish up as much work as possible knowing that I wouldn’t be back until Monday. To say that I was stressed and didn’t sleep much before our travels would be an understatement. Also, knowing how big of a planner that I am – it was so strange to me to be heading on a trip that I knew absolutely NOTHING about.

img_1770img_17802When we finally arrived, I was overwhelmed by the serene beauty of our little site. (The top photo is the view from our site – and it really doesn’t do it justice…the wedding site was even MORE beautiful!) Listening to the river gush by, smelling the trees and dirt, watching the fire as Jeremy grilled us up some burgers after we put Bella to bed – and knowing that we had this cool RV to sleep in at the end of the night…this trip is what I always imagined camping should be! 🙂 Not to mention, there was EXCELLENT WINE COUNTRY nearby!!

We had such a good time – and I’m absolutely certain Bella did too!! Bella loves looking around at nature…the big trees, the funny birds, the whooshing river, the nooks and crannies in the RV – were all plenty to captivate her. She explored the deck of the winery we visited (playing with tissue paper happily). And she flirted with everyone at the wedding – and crawled and wrestled around with the other babies attending (there were quite a few!).

img_18171Unfortunately, our camera broke halfway through the trip 🙁 – but here are a few of the good pics we got early on. I couldn’t resist with the dimple butt pic…:)


First Family Vacation

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I’d say all in all our first family vacation was a huge hit. We went to Sayulita, Mexico – which is about an hour north of Puerta Vallarta. It was a great way to spend a week relaxing and a very mellow first vacation for Bella. We rented a great little house north of town with our neighbors, Phil & Kirsten and their son, Owen. The house was in a little complex with a shared pool, all of which looked out to the beach. Walk into town was about 5 mins by beach or dirt road – and the town was very family friendly – tons of family tourists, and it felt very safe and welcoming. Probably the only hiccup on our trip was that Jeremy got sick 🙁 – Mexico is never friendly to his tummy ) – fortunately, he was only sick for a couple of days. The locals were friendly, and mellow, and the restaurants were plentiful with great Mexican seafood. Bella was an excellent traveler, as usual. She did decide to wake up around 5 am every morning, though – but it didn’t really surprise me all that much considering her naptime and feeding routines were nonexistant most of the week. She had quite a few firsts during the trip – first time in a pool, first time in a boat, first time getting a kiss from a cute boy (you should have seen the way Owen leaned in for her – cocking his head to the side – it was absolutely priceless, if only I could have gotten it on film!!) She loved the pool. The first day, she clung to me a bit, but she was definitely happy and curious about playing in the water – but by the second day, we tried Owen’s ring float. She leaned back like an adult would, just lounging in the crystal blue water – she OWNED that pool :). She was totally at ease, and enjoying every minute. The boat rides mostly just lulled her to sleep. The highlight of our trip was on Jeremy’s birthday – we took a 30 minute boat ride to a secluded beach near Punta Mita, where we snorkeled in clear water (and saw all kinds of beautiful fish – even lobster and octopus!) and hung out on the soft white sand. Our boat captain/snorkel guide, Jose, was amazing – definitely a sea lover. Jeremy caught a jackfish on the boatride home (which he made into some delicious ceviche that evening), and we even saw a baby humpback whale! What a day!!! It is one that I am sure that I will not forget.

Other “Bella” News –
She learned to really crawl the day before we left (of course!) and then really enjoyed practicing every day that we were there. She can crawl about 8 paces before tiring out and flopping onto her tummy – but she definitely gets the idea of the movement, and when she is determined to get to something, she goes straight for it. It is definitely going to take some getting used to for Jeremy and I – we really need to keep an eye on her now!! She also has a new tooth coming in (the top right one broke through yesterday, and the other one is definitely on its way. So – it was quite a big week for her. I think after all the excitement she is happy to be home. Getting back into her routine, and sleeping in her crib (she slept ALOT in my sling during the trip) during her naps will probably be a challenge as it usually is when we return from a long trip. I can tell that she is happy to be home and sleeping in her own crib though, already at night – she slept past 6 am the past two mornings! YEA!!! I’ll post video of crawling soon – but for now, enjoy the photos from our vacation.


2nd Mammoth Trip and More…

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img_1241bimg_1245bLast weekend, we took our second trip up to Mammoth. We shared the condo (at the Courchevel) with the Tieman’s and their son, and the Spencers and Woods stayed in the complex as well. It was a great trip all and all – and so nice to see our friends. The weather was BEEEEEEAUUUUTIFUL – sunny, spring skiing – which is exactly what I am all about. Bella was inside most of the time, but she did make it out to the lodge a couple of days to socialize with everyone when we got off the mountain (I boarded Fri, Jeremy boarded Sat). She always gets lots of ooohhs and ahhs when wearing her cute little bears suit. I swear she loves the attention. 🙂 I must look trustworthy holding a baby (HA!) – as I had a mom ask me to watch her 6 year old while she went into the lodge to grab a drink. As the adorable little girl (with fairy wings attached to her ski suit and all) told me all about how she had been skiing since she was two years old, I couldn’t help but imagine what Bella will be like – and if she will even like skiing or boarding at that age. I hope so!

img_1270Jeremy and I decided to hit the road early Sunday, so that we could head back and see Sam and meet Pasqualle (for the first time!), who were in town visiting Grandparents. Bella was enthralled by adorable little Pasqualle (she reached out to touch him immediately) – and it was great to see Sam and Dale – it has been WAY too long. (Although I would have loved to see Lane and Sandy, too! I think we may try to hook up with Sam and Lane in Nov…YEA!) We got some cute pics of the daddies with the kids.


Bella’s First Hike – WOW!

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What a great day! Days like today remind me why we live in Southern California. The weather was gorgeous, blue skies, 75 degrees…I’ve been dying to try this Torrey Pines hike trail close to our house since we moved in, and we thought it would be fun to put Bella in the backpack now that she is big enough. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT TOOK US TWO YEARS OF LIVING IN SAN DIEGO TO DO THIS!!!!! My only comfort about that is that I was pregnant for one of those years, which kind of gives us a little excuse. WOW – so beautiful. The water was soooooo clear today as well – and calm. In one of the pictures you can see a pod of dolphins swimming in the waves. The paddleboarders looked like they were having so much fun. My only regret was that we did not bring bathing suits and a board to paddle out on after the hike. The pictures speak louder than my words, so take a look. Visitors – this is an absolute must on your next trip out. Jeremy was a champ, carrying Bella through all the hard parts (he said he wanted a workout!) – I decided to try it out once we got to the beach. (BTW – WE LOVE THIS BACKPACK!!! THANKS KIM!!) Bella had a good time looking around, and then got a little tired, so she took a nap. (Good to know that she will do that – we weren’t sure what would happen since we knew the hike was going to go into her nap time). Enjoy the scenery!


Let it Snow, Let it Snow,
Let it Snow!

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This weekend was Bella’s first trip (of many!) to Mammoth – and it was quite the snowy weekend! We stayed in an awesome house that was beautifully arranged by Jeremy and Allison. Nate, Terri, Kaelyn, Brad, Sheri, Greg, Allison & Jeremy all stayed at this huge house – and we even got to see our Simi Valley friends while at the mountain – Eric, Michelle, Treyton (we missed Taylor – she wasn’t feeling well), Jim, Heather (we also missed Cole & MacKenzie – although Terri found Kaelyn playing with MacKenzie in the daycare when she picked her up on Saturday!), Suzy & Dan . And boy did it SNOW! It was pow, pow everyday on the mountain with foggy, white conditions. I got to try out the new snowboard that Jeremy gave me for Christmas – and it was a perfect trip to do it! After spending the last year off of the mountain (due to being preggers..) I was a little nervous as I hopped off of the first lift, but it comes back just like riding a bicycle – and I was reminded why snowboarding is my favorite sport ever. There really are few things better than looking out on that beautiful mountain as the wind whips through your hair and you fly down the hill. With my ipod cranked, it is almost like dancing when I float down the mountain – my mood is always instantly lifted to such a euphoric state. This trip – I really noticed all the little ones learning to ski around me. I know it will be a few years – but I think it will be so much fun to teach Bella how to board. Hopefully, she will be more like Jeremy than me – and pick it up quickly without much fear. (My poor parents, they must have had a LOT of patience that trip to Park City where they taught me how to ski – I remember that I was a very timid skier.) Most of this trip, Bella stayed inside and hung out in the warmth of the house (we did spend quite a bit of time staring out the window at the snow and evergreens). She is grabbing for EVERYTHING right now – so I layed her on the blanket alot on Saturday, and let her log roll towards everything (including this pic, where she was coming for the camera). But, we of course had to take advantage of the photo opp with such a beautiful snowy setting. The top pic was my favorite from the weekend – you can see the snow falling all around Jer and Bella – it was taken right before we headed out of town, but you can get an idea of what our weather was like by looking at it.

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