Monday, April 14, 2014

A Day Trip - The Monterey Aquarium

The morning began with oatmeal waffles (okay okay, chocolate oatmeal pancakes) and actual time to enjoy our coffee and chocolate milk.

Then baby took a fantastically timed morning nap while we all loaded up and prepared to head to Monterey for the day.  It is one of the most beautiful places on earth and one of our favorite places to visit.

There is a new exhibit called Tentacles so naturally there were inflatable octopus legs coming out of the top of the museum.  I'm so thankful for my one child who will participate in my photography funnies.

Harbor seals with their pups - the cuteness was astounding.  We talked about mammals and nursing babies, which I love is so natural for my boys.

Then Colin hatched out of a penguin egg.  Okay, not really Monterey local or anything, but still fun to watch.

Once Baby Sister was released from the stroller confinement she was wide opened and having the time of her life.

Being able to stand under the tide and stay dry, fantastic.

Then there was the point where she tried to throw her bow into the open ocean. I think she has underestimated my commitment to her accessories. She will wear bows and she will like it.  I got nothing but time.

And this - this just makes my momma heart overflow.

She did keep coming back to them in the "tide cave," but she did her fair share of stretching her legs at the same time.

And those legs own me.

A few more in the cave, because they won't fit forever.

Of course we rounded out our visit with a stop at Pinkberry.

No one complained.

Walker kept saying how much he loved Monterey and wants to live there.  I secretly hope he does end up living there one day and wants his momma to visit often to make his chocolate milk and chaperone his visits to the shore.

And visits from the past: October 2013, September 2012, and our first trip in May 2011

And and aside - as many times as we have made this drive south the hills have always been brown.  This time they were vibrant green.  It was breathtaking. We could not stop commenting on how amazing it looked.  I don't know if it was because of the recent rain, or if this happens every year but the green only lasts for a short window that we have missed. In any case, we feel blessed to have witnessed the rolling green hills of the California shore.

{shot out the car window as we buzzed along home}

Friday, April 4, 2014

Stitch Fix

I've been using Stitch Fix for several months now.  I have had a few people ask about it. So I thought I would take some truly awful phone pictures and share them all with all of the internet.

A brief description of the service:

Either monthly, or as scheduled a stylist picks out five items based on your style profile and feedback you have included from previous Fixes.  There is a $20 fee, but if you make a purchase from the Fix the $20 is applied to your purchase.  The prices are reasonable.  Maybe a bit higher than what I would pay in a department store, but not having to go to a store and trying things I wouldn't pick out for myself is worth it

This is my most recent Fix and what I thought of my choices.

Prior to this fix I have kept one item from each batch.  Partly because I don't need 5 new things each month and partly because I haven't wanted all five items.  Each time I have gone online and provided feedback on what I liked and what I didn't like.  I felt like with this Fix I saw the fruit of that.  Each item reflected something I had included in my comments.

They provide get this stylist card for each item, which gives you ways you could mix the item with others you might own. Mine also includes ideas for matching new items with purchases I have made in previous months.

It's like Christmas.  A special treat just for mommy.  I usually rip open the box immediately, but then wait until the kids go to bed to try things on.

This was my husband walking in on me taking timer phone pics of my Fix because I was too embarrassed to ask him to take the pics.  But here I am posting them anyway.  I love this dress.  It fits great and is light.  It has tiny cap sleeves and a tie waist that is very forgiving. I think it will be something easy for summer.

I was most surprised by this top.  It was on top of my package and my first impulse was that it was an old lady pattern.  But when I put it on I really like it, even Jason liked it.  I can't decide if I will like it forever or if the pattern will stop me from actually wearing it.  But it is super comfortable and different from what I already own.

I think with a jacket or sweater (as shown on the stylist card) it could add some fun to a simple outfit.

I like this sweater/jacket/wrap thing, but the color wasn't quite right for me.  This makes me want to look for one of these in a bolder color.

Now this shirt is great. Perfect pick for my style. So much so that I already own something very similar.  I seriously have a cream top with orange stripes that wear every chance I get, but I don't think I need two.

I had requested no accessories because I like to buy handmade or local items.  But this time they included these earrings made by a local San Francisco boutique.  I don't have anything like them and think they are great!

From my previous Fixes I have a skirt that I love and wore to every slightly nice event all winter, a button up casual top, a sweater and a jacket.  I also have bought things similar to what they have sent me.  For example they sent me a pair of mint green jeans.  I really wanted them to work, but they were eight feet to long for this short girl and I felt like altering them would make them look odd.  So I ordered a pair in a brand a knew would fit.  I never would have ordered them if the stylist hadn't included this option and shown me how to wear them.

It is something fun to try for a $20 risk.  And I know I have lost more than $20 on clothes that I have picked out myself and hated.

Here is a link if you want to check it out for yourself!

*Full disclosure they give a credit when someone actually orders from my link. I found them because someone shared their link and am so glad they did!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Eli's Seventh

My lion hearted seven year old.  He thinks of others.  He loves well and expresses it without reservation.  He is a collector of all things, most recently of sand dollars. He loves to build with Legos and draw and create. He follows his big brother but is slowly starting to make his own choices even if they involve choosing to spend his birthday money on a stuffed animal (something big brother would never see the value in doing).  He is reading well, but he isn't willing to admit it yet.

We are so blessed to have him in our lives.

This is how the we spent celebrating.

The morning began with presents mostly picked out by big brother.

Then the requested breakfast of banana chocolate chip muffins and bacon.

And lunch at his favorite spot - Rubios

Then, jumping with friends

(yes this is horribly out of focus, but it is what I got - so it is what we are going to use)

And baby sister continues to believe she is a big kid

Finally cake and celebrating at home

Then, the very day after his birthday, he was able to go with daddy to Birmigham on a business trip.

He has grown into such an amazing boy. Can't wait to joyously march through another year with him.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin, Oh My!

Uncle Matthew, Aunt Elaine and Baby Evie came to visit last week.  We were excited to have this time with them.  Right now they are only about 3 1/2 hours away and we are grateful they were willing to take the time and make the drive for a visit!

Upon their arrival we hurried off to the beach.

Which is what's appropriate when you are thirty minutes away from sand and sun.

It was sunny and not too windy for just long enough to enjoy the-baby-allowed-amount of play time.

It would have been a perfect trip had poor Evie not gotten car sick on the ride home.  It is a pretty curvy drive through the mountains.  I have several memories of my brother not making it through car trips and it seems as though his daughter has inherited this trait. But aside from the baby losing her lunch it was a great trip (sigh).

The next day they joined us for a park day with our friends.  Aunt Elaine bought the girls matching outfits and the cuteness was almost unbearable.

And this outing did not end with baby throw up  - so everybody won.

I tricked them into taking a date night out so I could have some alone time with Evie.  With the right combination of the color crew and her evening milk we made snuggly peace.

They wanted to go to the zoo and we had never been. The San Francisco Zoo was great.  It was clean, well maintained and had a great variety of animals. We will be back for sure.

(Lydia's first zoo visit)

All Colin could talk about was seeing gorillas when we were making our morning predictions.  And boy did we ever see gorillas. It was a great exhibit with many active gorillas.  But most importantly, a tiny baby gorilla.  The Best Ever.

A family meeting. I feel like they were discussing the quality of the human exhibit for the day.

We might have been a disappointment.

And there was great playground where the littlest among us got to express their independence.

Or stay close to daddy, whatever.

(this is my baby brother, y'all.  and his baby. how is this reality?)

A napping koala, yes please.

Even Colin wanted her to stay sleeping.

It is worth noting that my sweet sister-in-law, Elaine, was taking all these trips with her busy twins in her tummy (due early summer).  So long story short she was willing to buy train tickets for the boys if that meant sitting down for a few minutes.

It was an absolutely lovely outing with happy children, perfect weather and fun for all.

We wrapped up the day with greek food for dinner and big hugs all around.

The next morning they stopped by IKEA (who doesn't?) on their way out of town and made it home safely.  We are already planning our next visit down to see them!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Post-Vacation Reality

We made it home from our Disney vacation on a Saturday night.  The plan was to spend Sunday relaxing and resting from a busy vacation.  The point of that information is that we didn't leave the house at all on Sunday.

Monday morning Walker woke up with a fever.  The fever moved into a cough and he was pretty miserable. Tuesday morning I took him to the doctor to rule out strep (he has only had it once and it was horrible for him). The diagnosis was just a virus.  Then the durn thing made the slow move through the all kids.  Monday - Walker, Wednesday - Lydia and Eli, and Finally Friday - Colin.  So everyone was coughing and I was dosing out the tylenol and motrin for seven days.

Now I am super glad that it was a rather mild sickness, but we were house bound for an entire week.  Gosh.  That is a long time for these busy adventurous kids to be trapped at home.

So when the fevers broke and the coughing calmed, we headed out and and didn't look back.

There was park hopping:

And big brother's making sure sister got her turn on the slide:

{Now this picture would be perfect if that was Eli in the middle, but it isn't.  Just some stranger.  No matter, I still like the capture.}

And the perfect beach day with friends from around the corner and all the way from Canada.

And these little legs marching through the sand.  I can't even.

And a mid-week outing with daddy? What a gift.

And that beach trip was so fantastic we tried again on Sunday.  It was windy so we didn't say for long, but the kids still had a fun.

They dug holes and made fortresses to keep the wind at bay.

{Even if they had to wear fleece jackets while working away.}

I'm grateful for the days out, even more so when we have had a stretch of time at home.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Then and Now - Disney Style

And a quick look back, because ultimately Disney trips are not about the rides or the food or the characters.  It is about forming these family memories.  Placing anchors on these "things we do."  That will bring to mind our togetherness our shared experiences and hopefully tie our childhoods to our parenthoods and hopefully to our grandparenthoods.





And just for kicks at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom




2008 - Apparently the only family shot we took on the entire trip.  I cannot believe there is no entrance shot. Sad Momma.

Until next time! So glad to have the memories with my favorite people in the world.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Year in Pictures

When Aunt Ally gave me a package of the once-a-month stickers for baby pictures, I laughed.  I predicted there was zero chance I would follow through with this concept.  Fourth kid, homeschooling, moving, and so forth.  But this baby has wooed us all into doing unexpected things, including the once monthly photo sessions that turned out to be fun for all of us. So here are Lydia's monthly pictures for her first year.  It really is amazing how much she has changed.  Gosh this baby...

Lyida - 1 Month

Lyida - 1 Month

Lydia 2 Months

Lydia 3 Months

Lydia 4 months

Lydia 4 months

Lydia 5 Months

Lydia 5 Months

Lydia 6 Months

Lydia 6 Months

Lydia 7 Months

Lydia 7 Months

Lydia 8 Months

Lydia 8 Months

Lydia 8 Months

So she turned 10 months the day after Christmas.  It is the one month I didn't make the sticker thing happen.  Considering I did this with zero of the boys, I'm gonna go ahead and count eleven out of twelve months as a victory. So this shall stand as her 10 month picture.

So much happy! Cannot wait to see this next year unfold.