Monster Trucks

The boys (including Paul’s best friend) went to the Orange County fair last night.


They ate snow cones in the heat


and sat next to more friends inside the stadium.


I am guessing it was loud and crazy


with old cars being crushed. As Henry said with excitement “wheels flew off” and “one almost caught on fire”.


They were thrilled!


On the way out, they stopped in the ice house to check out the ice sculptures


I waited up and heard all the stories about Bigfoot and the other trucks.

Summer Books

So many noteworthy moments this summer. But Paul being a reader might take first place in the “warming my heart” category. Because every time I turn around he is devouring chapter books.


I find him up late at night, trying to finish “just one more chapter.” He has yet to discover as I did, how much fun a flashlight under the covers can be.

He is reading at the breakfast table. If I squint I can imagine him older, reading while eating yogurt or oatmeal, just like he does now and I am reassured that he will be fine as an adult.

For all the parts of parenting I feel like I might be messing up, I am so grateful he is learning how to read for pleasure. As school has become more serious I was afraid he would develop negative associations with reading.

Some books we read together, like the one below (so good and suspenseful). Bonus: surprised to find a character named Etienne, Paul’s middle name. Score!

But for the most part he is wanting to read on his own. DSC_1564I am finding that has to do with not always being available to curl up on the couch for extended periods of time. He is also bringing books in the car to pass the time. He laughs out loud, and when asked to read dialogue and he gets the expression perfect, my heart swoons. He was just a baby. Now he is a full grown avid reader. Yes…nerd power!

DSC_1555He is even opting out of story time to find a more quiet place to read his own book. Which might be sad, but also completely understandable. He is not interested in hearing “Cat in the Hat” again.

I love reading. I loved the Babysitter’s Club and Anne of Green Gables growing up. So believe me when I say I am over the moon to hear my kid say he is interested in going to the library or wandering around a bookstore. Me too! Perfect date time.


Cara’s Celebration

Cara finished her doctorate from Cal State Fullerton, and is definitely a reason to celebrate.
DSC00385 Her and Madeline are friends from the Master’s Program at CSULB. Madeline just finished her admin. degree while I am inspired to go back to school. Plus, Cara just accepted a teaching position at Long Beach City College (on top of her high school English classes). Over achievers, maybe. But we have great conversations that are motivating and supportive of one another.DSC00384Cara’s mom and I have similar taste so I was all about the decor.
DSC00358A type writer
DSC00359with a hand typed note
DSC00389plus flower arrangements in old books
DSC00363and school themed favors.
DSC00391 The notebooks were an instant hit with the kidsDSC00380and yes even those..had stamped messages inside!!DSC00365The party included brunch at the Orange Hill restaurant
DSC00370with a fondue fountainDSC00387 that included dipping treats in chocolate.DSC00373You know how brunch is, we ate until we were stuffed. But I was surprised that the youngest was going strong, even when everyone else was done.DSC00393She went slow and steady, enjoying those bites of cake.




Belated Birthday

Yesterday my mom came over to celebrate my birthday. At the last minute we decided to get manicures. Except that I recently read a New York Times story that broke my heart over the conditions of many salons (particularly those that are inexpensive) and was reminded again that cheap is not always better. Especially when it comes to people and jobs.

When my mom suggested a manicure I remembered the fancy shop near my house (By fancy I mean pays people a living wage, is a local business owned and operated by women).


And yes there are complimentary cupcakes and champagne. Love it!


We both went a little non-traditional. My mom is the red-tipped french manicure.


And I got a design with golden confetti ring fingers. Love it! This place is small so walk-ins are not always convenient. I called and they squeezed us in.


Also, sometimes as a mom I am still surprised at mom skills when it comes to gift giving. So my mom clearly knows me. She doesn’t ask what I want. Once in awhile she will give me a gift card to a shop I love and just encourage me to “think selfishly” and other times it is like she went in my brain and pulled out from my sub-conscious what I really wanted.

If you  know me, then you know I love polaroids. But since having kids, I hardly ever buy myself items like this. It symbolizes life before kids when I could spend money on something very un-necessary. Now everything is mentally categorized into “need” or “want.” Although I might classify a polaroid camera as a “need” not everyone in my family would.

My mom knows none of this. So here is my confession- A good friend in San Francisco has one that I envy even from a distance. Then at Christmas last year a different friend had one. I wanted it so bad. Silver and shiny. I could almost tuck the little treasure in my bag and runaway with it (I never would). But I let it go (physically and mentally). I saw it again at Urban Outfitters. It was calling my name, mocking me, as teenagers carried them to the cashier. Sad to think by the time I can afford one the company may go out of business again. I had even resigned myself to the thought that realistically I would get a cell phone (really??) and then an instagram account before I got a polaroid camera. These are not stories I tell out loud.

Then yesterday, in a bag, I was handed one for my birthday. Only a mom would know this, without me having to say so. She knew it would make me happy on multiple levels. Thank you mom.

Because really who doesn’t love the instant gratification of tiny picture popping out of a camera and magically developing before your eyes?

Little Momma

She is still carrying babies aroundDSC_1567while doing other activities, including laughing.
DSC_1569She cracks up over every little question. Here I was trying to get her to stand still for a non-blurry photo and she kept laughing. As if the task of being serious is too much.DSC_1570Her reaction was to start dancing and closing her eyes.


USC Language Lab

Olivine participates in experiments involving developmental research on children.UnknownThis was the first time I thought to ask for examples of the photos they took.Unknown-2She is watching a puppet show and these are some of her expressions.Unknown-1She is also being filmed because she had to answer questions and interact with the puppets. I am fascinated by this type of research.


With 41 pools on site we spent most of the time near or in water.
DSC_1626With two kids swimming, and all three water safe, we had plenty of time to do this:DSC00334and enjoy the view.



There was a pool ten steps from our door and that meant we had to have rules about no one going in the water until one of us were there. This was all about practicing patience.
DSC00344and they listened.DSC_1598The heat made it so that there was never much time spent laying out
DSC00325instead lots of playing.
DSC00329There was a family pool area where the boys made friends and borrowed swim toys.
DSC00331Olivine loved the shallow, kiddie pool
DSC_1608she might have felt differently if it had been crowded,
DSC_1611plus the water play fountains.
DSC_1614Paul did bring his snorkeling gear
DSC00349and you can see why I imagine the fun in a few years taking this kid to Catalina would be:



The walk to and from the different pools was easy.DSC_1634There was an amazing storm on Sunday night. Joe and Henry went night swimming, while the rest of us stayed inside.DSC_1586The pool made us feel spoiled and grateful all at the same time
DSC00345and now for trying to get them to understand that it was a hotel
DSC00279 not a “new, little house” that they already want to go back to.

The Resort

It was a good deal (cheaper than all of us trying to go to Catalina Island) and we were looking for family-friendly which was definitely this place. Somehow also managing to feel quiet and spread out.

DSC00343The five of us can still sleep in two beds, in one room, which won’t always be true.


The first night it seems like there is always some pillow fighting and jumping around crazy style.

DSC00300 We ordered room serviceDSC_1585and birthday desserts to share
DSC00305 swam, watched a movie or two, snuggled up, and got close (but did not touch) the cactus.DSC00316 As for the drive,DSC_1738we stopped in Cabazon and can you guess what we found a deal on?DSC_1582 We also couldn’t help but stop to see the dinosaursDSC_1719of course they have seen Pee-wee’s Big AdventureDSC_1734and so this made sense.DSC_1728 It felt spoiled, luxurious, and definitely a memorable birthday.


Today I am over the half-way mark of my thirties and I can honestly say I don’t feel that different. I mostly feel like I am “in my thirties” or “thirty-something.” But I do love that this next year marks huge shifts for my family. I realize it might require me to be thirty-six to fully process how much change is going to take place. And in that case, my arms are wide open to welcome this coming year.


Joe listens well and has heard me talk with fondness of these drinks. The bottle size is perfect. The labels are colorful just like I remember. These little seltzers take me straight to my grandparents house where I played “waitress” with my sister. My grandparents had every flavor and color stocked in their bar, along with a mini fridge, and we were given trays and notepads where we would walk around to people at the parties they hosted. We would take orders and organize the bottles. Oh the nostalgia. I look at these little bottles and can almost hear my grandparents laughing. DSC00278

And then there are these postcards. Building the anticipation of my birthday all month long from my dear friend Angela. The one I last saw a year ago when Olivine and I flew to Portland. It always feels like too long but she is my craft partner for life. She did these simple potato stamps with little vignetters of her life on the other side that leave me grateful for far away friends who remember and reach out. The kind of friend who has lived through dorm life (ahhhh), weddings, babies, and it only makes sense that a birthday reminds me that one more year of true friendship is lovely.


Our family wish has been to go to a hotel (maybe more mine, after camping and beach days). So that is where we are headed the next three days. See you back here, once I have laid near a pool and read a couple more books.

Tooth Pillow

Henry lost his second tooth the other day. He was bummed that we had not made his tooth pillow, with a pocket, like Paul, for that first tooth.


This time I was prepared because his tooth has been loose for weeks. So I had felt out and already cut the shape. He just needed to join me, by making the face and starting to sew.

DSC_1536He broke the project up all day, taking breaks, but was determined to finish before bed.


What I am learning about Henry is he is a hard worker who is stronger in gross motor skills (running up and down a soccer field while kicking a ball) and he gets easily frustrated by fine motor skills (sewing with a needle and thread). But he does have perserverance. He enjoys accomplishing and finishing what he starts. He has more focus than I sometimes give him credit for.

DSC_1533I am happy to report that he did finish and he is reminding me that making time for crafting is important.