Monday, June 26, 2006

Celebrating the small victories

For the past year I've felt guilty that I haven't gotten to do nearly as much "big girl" activies with Olivia as I've liked to. Puzzles, coloring, painting, paper dolls, that kind of stuff.

When Olivia was in her 2s and I was pregnant with Noah we used to sit for hours and do playdough or color or just pretend with stuffed animals or toys in the sand box. When Noah was born I had less time to spend doing these things with her, but I still could some.

The real change happened when Noah got mobile. When he started crawling we could still do some things on the kitchen table or on her bed or our bed. But when Noah turned one year, give or take, he could climb anywhere and that all ended. Around that time Olivia started her first year of pre-school and I felt a little less guilty that she was doing "big girl" activities in school and we were focusing on the playing outside (and watching TV) at home.

But now school is out for the summer and the guilt is back. Whenever we try to do anything with any amount of coordination someone ends up crying, either Olivia because Noah has tore it up, or Noah because I keep pulling him away from it, or me just in general.

Today was a good day though. We got out the puzzle with foamy pieces and Olivia and I kept putting it together over and over while we let Noah tear it apart. Then Noah showed up with a plastic hammer and everything clicked. Olivia and I would put the puzzle together and he would help hammer the pieces in place.

I'm sure there are much more complicated things I could be working on with Olivia this summer, but it's better than nothing.

That's the sound of the men working on the chain ga-ang

More jackhammering. Travis spent nearly 3 hours saturday morning busting up concrete. And it was hot. I know because I took the kids to the park to see Olivia's friend's dance performance. I was grumpy when I got back.

Then that night I spent an hour helping him shovel up a bit of the remains. The shovel makes a very loud and annoying scraping sound on the hard dirt at 8pm at night. That after hours of jackhammering in the morning and our neighbors must love us.

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Chillin' Out at the Beach

After the high 90s last week, we decided to cool off at the beach on friday. We left soon after 9am, and Noah fell asleep on the way there! I think the kids weren't sleeping well due to the heat and as soon as we hit the cool northern breezes he conked out.

We went to Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz, which is a habitat for the Monarch butterflies on their migration route. Of course, it wasn't the season they were there, but Olivia and I went in and watched the little movie about the Monarchs while watching Noah nap in the car from the window. It really is amazing the metamorphasis the butterflies go through. Also, I did not realize that it takes several generations of butterflies to go through one migration cycle, so the butterflies that leave one year are the grandparents of the ones that return! We'll have to go back in the winter and see when the thousands of butterflies are hanging out there.

They also had a salt-water fish tank in the building and the park ranger lady fed the fish while we were there. She fed sushi rolls to a monkey-faced fish who hid behind a rock the entire time and only peeked out to eat. And she fed shrimp to the star fish. It was cool to see the star fish eat. They moved the food very slowly from the points of their stars to their stomaches in their middles. And she gave some seaweed to the sea urchins who grabbed it with their pointy things. Ok, I didn't learn all the technical names of everything, but it was really fun for Olivia and I!

Then Noah woke up and we spent a little more time in the building looking at the stuffed animals, real animals that had been stuffed. A bobcat, raccoon, an owl hanging form the ceiling, and a bunch of other birds. Then we decided the fog had rolled off enough to hit the beach.

The beach was still rather chilly. I spent the entire time in my sweatshirt with goosebumps. It's odd to be cold at the beach less than an hour away from home where I'd be sweating, but it felt really good.

The kids did great, we played there for hours. We buried ourselves multiple times. I built hundreds of sand castles for them to stomp on. We ate lunch and the kids pigged out, I think again the heat had been affecting their appetites and in the cool air they realized how hungry they were.

And the best part, they BOTH fell asleep on the way home! Score!

Overall, a tiring and very fun day. We ended up being out of the house 6 or 7 hours. A very good way to beat the heat.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

90 degrees and rising

It just hit 90 degrees in our house in the main room at 2pm with the windows open and the fan going. Sure, there is no humidity in California, but the 90s are hot with or without humidity. Please remind me of this when I am bragging about the perfect weather in California.

I'm sure it's even hotter back here in the bedrooms with the afternoon sun shining in and the computer running, where I am right now. I'm heading out to sit in the inflatable fish pool under the avocado tree.

Update: At 5pm it is now 95 degress in the house. I guess it didn't help I boiled water to cook pasta, pan-fried chicken, and then baked it all. Not the best choice of dinner for today, huh?

Travis also choose the wrong day to do an hour and a half bike ride at lunch. He said it was 101 degrees at the top of it. I believe he said he did a mile just of elevation change. I forget how many miles he rode total, maybe 26? Crazy man.

However, I'm pleased to report that sitting in the baby pool in the shade under the avocado tree with a slight breeze you hardly even notice it's a hot day. I wouldn't say it's relaxing with a scared 1-year-old glued to your lap, but it's much better than the house.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

They Ain't Gonna Paint No More

We once got this really cute book from the library about a little girl who painted all over herself and her mom took her paints away and she lamented, "I ain't gonna paint no more, no more." Little did I know that I'd be living that book in reality.

Today I gave Olivia and Noah paints for the first time. Woah, big mistake. They painted on the paper a little bit. But then as soon as I left the room and came back and saw this

and then this

The paints are definately getting put away for while.

Way to go, Olivia!

Olivia is learning how to jump rope! This accomplishment is extra special because of her tendacy to get really frustrated when something is difficult for her. I don't know if it is her age or her personality, but usually when facing something she can't do, her first reaction is to throw it down and run away crying. My first reaction is to get upset and let her.

But, we've both been practicing and talking about how to keep trying when things are hard. How even mommy and daddy have to practice to get good at things. How each time we try we get a little better.

So, today I taught her the song I used to sing when I jumped rope when I was little, "Cinderella dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss her fella, made a mistake and kissed a snake, how many doctors did it take, 1, 2, 3..." I think singing the song helped it be fun and made her want to keep trying even when she messed up.

She kept trying and trying and was getting better at it. She didn't even get upset when I recommended she hold the rope a different way and stood right behind her and held her hands holding the rope in my hands so she could feel how I did it.

I guess I'm proud of both of us. Her for being persistent, and me for helping her.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day, Travis!

I couldn't wish for a better daddy for Olivia and Noah to stand on the toes of! XXXOOOXXX

Saturday, June 17, 2006

That's a great look on you, Noah

Noah has been expressing his creativity lately by his choice of footwear. Someday he is going to love that he had an older sister and a mom with a quick finger for the digital camera.

Signs of Home

It just doesn't feel like home to me if we don't have a huge pile of concrete chunks in our side yard and an orange, plastic fence up in the back. That's right, poor Travis is at it again with the jackhammer, on June on days that get above 90.

We originally weren't in any hurry to get rid of more concrete, why would we want to seed grass during the hottest time of the year? But we were prompted by a few calls from our realitor who is loaning us his jackhammer. He said he'd like to come by and see what we've done with the place and get his jackhammer back, "no hurry, but I'd like it back eventually." We have had it for over a year.

We realized, what are we waiting for? We want it gone eventually, why not start getting it done. I had Olivia tell daddy a line she learned from seeing The Tortoise and the Hare yesterday, "slow and steady wins the race." There's lots to go, but little by little the concrete in the backyard is disappearing.

In the meantime, we'll live with the piles and fences. I wonder if Noah and Olivia will have vivid memories of our backyard looking like this.

In the first picture you can tell that stucco repair and painting is also on the to-do list. But check out the lovely new downspout that Travis installed.

In the second picture you can see the new and old grass and the line between them. Not bad though.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My new favorite store

I visited Big Lots last night for the first time. Love it! I got a curtain rod, a tube of children's toothpaste, two boxes of organic oatmeal, and a box of organic toaster pastries for all under $9. Cha ching.

Not that I'm keeping track...

but here is what I've had to clean today due to 2 kids and their pee, poop, and puke:

One set of sheets
Two bathmats, twice
A wastebasket
The toilet
The bathroom floor
Three very un-solid poopy diapers

On discovering Noah's third poopy diaper that the whole neighborhood could smell I could barely believe it. I begged Olivia to change it for me. She thought it was a pretty funny request and giggled at me. I think had she been up for the challenge I would have let her have a go at it.

I know someday parenting will give me challenges that I will dread more like girlfriends/boyfriends, friends who are bad influences, bad grades, bad attitudes, things like that; but someone please tell me I'll at least enjoy that they will take care of their own bodily functions.

Unbelievalbe, incredible, amazing

It's 2:10pm in the afternoon and BOTH my kids just fell asleep for a nap. Both of them. At the same time.

Olivia NEVER naps any more. Her nap today must be related to the puking she did this morning. :( I feel fortunate though that it's the first throw-up I've had to clean up in a long time. I just hope Noah doesn't get whatever she has, and I don't either. Oh yeah, and Travis too.

So I got a date this week, and now I'm facing probaby at least an hour of time to myself... I wonder what I've done to be so very lucky. It's a good day for it too since Travis is working late.

I think I'll go make some raw cake batter to eat, water the lawn and fold laundry in peace. Ah, the joys of motherhood.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Noah's First Day of School!

This week Olivia's preschool had some extra fun days you could pay per day. It actually wasn't affliated with her school, I think her teacher was just trying to make some extra dough since she's getting married this summer. The best thing is that she took siblings for half the price. So, for $60 this morning they both went to school for 3 hours. Kinda expensive, but they made a puppet and got a snack too.

Noah did great! Much better than anywhere I've ever left him, actually. I think he loved it since he's so used to me dropping off Olivia and having to drag him away from all the fun toys and playground. I bet he was tickled pink he got to stay and play with Olivia for once!

The teacher did have to call me on my cell phone once just to let me know that Noah fell and bumped him head. She was probably surprised that I didn't react much at all, it's pretty common for him. I did ask if he was still upset by it, I would have gone and gotten him early, but she said that he didn't get upset at all, even when he bumped it. The only thing that upset him was when they tried to put ice on it. Yep, that sounds just like him. :-)

You might be wondering what I did with my 3 hours of free time. Travis and I went on a date! Probably the first time we've been alone without the kids in nearly 2 years. We went hiking for 1.5 hours, saw some deer and wild turkies, then ate a leisurely lunch at a bagel/sandwich shop, then even treated ourselves to Starbucks and flipped through a real estate booklet. It was wonderful.

Her teacher is doing this for 3 more days. I'm so tempted, but it was such a splurge to do it once.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

And yet MORE summer fun

The other day Olivia and Noah kept wanting me to fill up every kind of container we had outside with water from the hose. It got a little tiresome for me, so I put some water in the cooler (which was still outside after our camping trip) so they could fill up their containers themselves. Soon after I found this.

I took this as an indication we needed a new baby pool for the backyard. Off to Toys R Us we went. Twenty-five dollars, a six-pack of bubbles, 2 play watering cans, and one whale shaped baby pool later we were home. Olivia approved.

Noah, on the other hand was a little more tentative. This was about as close as he got to it.

Neither of them liked it when it did this, but I thought it was a pretty cool way to sprinkle the lawn myself.

For any of my new readers, (yeah right) our avocado tree is pictured above the pool.

The Olivia Rollercoaster

As I was preparing dinner, Olivia can roaring through the kitchen with the daddy and boy from her dollhouse hanging out the front of her shirt. I'm not sure why, but I asked her what she was doing. She said, "being the Olivia rollercoaster."

So, what does a 20-month-old boy with hummus running down his face have to do upon seeing his big sister running around being a rollercoaster? Run after her with a big smile copying everything she does, of course!

Is everything around here homemade?

We grow our own avacados, peaches, figs, tomatos, cucumbers, and lavader. I make our own curtains, quilts, and Christmas cards. But, really, Travis is taking it a bit too far, don't you think? He made his own bike. That's right, he bought the parts and built it himself. He really, really, really wanted a road bike but it just wasn't in the budget. Leave it to him to find a way. I shouldn't be too surprised, I believe the computer I'm working on right now was also built by him. How can I beat that?

It's over

Olivia's first year of school is done. Wednesday was the last "real" day and then friday was the end of the year celebration. I couldn't have asked for her first year to have gone any better. I'm sad that it's over. She learned french, new songs, and produced a file cabinet drawer full of crafts. She made new friends and will probably always remember the times she played with them by the creek under the shady trees at the amazing playground and 2 huge sandboxes connected by a bridge. I know I will never forget these things.

Here is Olivia showing off her new tat, I mean hand-painting, that she got at the last day celebration. She was too timid to take advantage of the horse ride or the bouncy house. Still, I couldn't be a more proud mommy.


Thursday night I was reflecting on how much we've morphed into true Californians as we were eating dinner. I had made homemade hummus as I was trying to use up the frozen chickpeas in the freezer. And Travis had picked a few cucumbers from our garden now that they are just starting to become ripe. We made some pita pockets with hummus, romaine, and homegrown cucumbers. It doesn't get any better than this! (Ok, when we can add some tomatos from our garden too, it will be much better, not long now!)

Friday, June 09, 2006

The best kiss

I just got the best kiss. Noah kissed me on one check while Olivia kissed me on the other check at the same time. So sweet!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

More summer fun

Lately Travis has been biking to and from work. I figured when he gets home all tired and sweaty that a milkshake would hit the spot. (I had been calling them smoothies, but let's face it, when they contain ice cream, they are milkshakes. Oh well.)

Today we had ones that are just like the Orange Julius they sell in the mall. SO good. And very cute when they make mustaches on the kids.

They even had to take them with them for a drive in their cars.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Now this is what summer is all about

Cooling off with cherry popsicles. Yum!

Don't my two little babies look just like big kids???

More torture from Olivia

This is what I saw today when I went through the kitchen, baby chick strung to the window crank by a tie that had fallen off one of Olivia's dresses. Is there something we should know about Simba? Hmmmmm

Saturday, June 03, 2006

One more minor detail

All this posting about our camping trip, and I forgot to mention one thing. It was in a redwood forest. Here is a picture of Olivia on our 2nd waterfall hike in one of them.

And finally, the beach!

It was a beautiful day for the beach, windy, but warm. Olivia was very excited when we got there that it had PURPLE sand! You can kinda tell in the pictures. It was a bit too windy to stay too long, but Olivia had a blast while we were there. I could have sat and watched the waves break against the rocks forever.

Waterfall Hike #1

This is the first thing we made the kids do on friday at Big Sur. Olivia was SO excited to get to the beach, but we made her go on a small hike first. It included a view of a waterfall into a ocean cove. The views were pretty amazing. I about had heart failure at the kids near the fences near the edges.

Here they are resting up before the hike.

Here is Noah meeting a blue bird along the way

Here is a view of the falls, you can see in the distance hopefully.

And here is another view of the ocean

The How-Grubby-Can-We-Get Trip

aka Our Camping Trip to Big Sur

Trip Stats:
3 days
2 nights
0 showers
1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 mosquitos

We had an exhausting and beautiful trip to Big Sur. I cannot believe we live just 3 hours away from such spectacular scenery. Noah was a bit out of sorts and more clingy than normal, if that is possible; but Olivia was a camping pro, even asking to go to bed so she could get right to sleep in her sleeping bag and in the tent. Overall everyone had a great time.

I took too many pictures to add in one entry, so I'll have to do multiple entries. I know there are a lot, but they are so worth going through and clicking on them, believe me!

Here is the river that ran by our campsite

Here is daddy showing the kids how to skip rocks.

Here is another view the other way down the river

Even Noah had a ball throwing rocks in the river

And here is a picture from a short hike we did at the campground to Pfeffer Falls, only 0.7 miles one way, BUT I did carry Noah on my hip almost the entire way. Olivia was a great hiker even though it had been a very long day for her, climbing and counting two sets of over 50 stairs in the process.