Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A day all about Lola






Tuesday, Lola had a meeting with a talent agency in L.A. I've been blowing it off and rescheduling several times because I really have conflicting feelings about it. When we called to cancel last time, I was feeling pretty much like that was it, better left alone. But Dan was the one to make the actual cancellation call and wouldn't you know it, he ended up rescheduling it to last Tuesday. I decided I would just get it over with and go. I really despise driving to L.A. and this is a major factor to me. How will I be able to commit to drive her there if she gets called to audition for something?
This meeting was just to see whether or not she will be a client so maybe nothing will come of it, which I will be so fine with.
Anyway, it was about 7 hours round trip for a meeting that lasted all of 10 minutes (max!). The highlight of the day was a much-needed, relaxing dinner at a great restaurant at Stone Brewery, that I wouldn't have even known existed, if it had not been for my friend Sabrina. The food is fresh, local and organic. The ales are pretty darned good too. After our dinner, we took a walk in the yard, crossing over ponds and creeks on a little bridge and there was a big clearing, lined with picnic tables and benches, bamboo trees and other abundant vegetation. Lola was tickled pink at this discovery. We will definitely be going again soon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day Camp




Lola is going to day camp every afternoon this week. It's a great little camp called "Earth Detectives: A solution to Pollution". It's at the natural history museum, which the kids adore. The class focuses on different wildlife everyday. Today, it's gray wolves and sea otters. Then the kids are given "assignments" to reinforce what they learned that day. Lola loves it! Elise loves that we spend the 3 hours strolling around the park and playing by the big koi pool.

Here are a couple of pictures of when we picked her up on the first day. They had studied polar bears that day, hence the polar bear mask she is wearing!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

When it rains...


Just a few short days after Lola lost her first tooth, she just lost another! So, the tooth fairy had to pony up another bill right after. It's pretty cute, though, she spent the first bit of money she got on buying frozen yogurt for her and her sister. How thoughtful!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More on San Jose






I wanted to share some pictures from yesterday, which was my only full day in San Jose. These were taken in the morning...Pierre and Nathalie came over to my hotel, where Pierre set up his webcam and we were able to chat with his kids (who are with Nathalie's parents). Lola was so excited all morning to see her cousins online, but then got super shy as soon as we could see them on the camera! Afterwards, we took a walk across the street. There is a great park there, with fountains that spurt water up from the ground. All around the park are restaurants and stores, etc...it was really quaint, I loved it.
We had some lunch and then walked over to the park. The girls were really anxious to play and stretch their legs for a while. After some play time, we drove on over to Pierre's brother Ted's house. They have a really nice communal pool and we spent the rest of the afternoon there swimming, talking and laughing. We had one last dinner together and the girls were so pooped, Lola fell asleep at the restaurant. Too bad I forgot my camera at the hotel though...I have no pictures from the afternoon and evening.
It was tough saying goodbye to Pierre and Nathalie. I feel as though I've known them forever. We are planning a huge reunion for August of next year, in Lac St. Jean, where all our family is from (and most still lives).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do you know the way to San Jose?






I haven't been able to get that tune out of my head for several days now.

So, here's an interesting little family factoid about me. I have a whole side of my family that I've never met. At least, before tonight anyway. I had never met a single person from my dad's side of the family ever. Oh no wait, there are pictures of me with my paternal grandmother when I was an infant, but that's it. When my mother was alive, there was some kind of something that must have happened long ago....don't know what it was but all I know is that she strongly discouraged communication between my father and his 9 other siblings (and their offspring...of which there are many).
This bothered me a lot my whole life. My mother's side of the family was small...I had not even a handful of cousins and we barely saw them. I knew that somewhere out there was this huge family that I belonged to, but I didn't even know if they knew I existed or vice versa.
Most of my paternal cousins are a bit older than me....my father is 8th in line of 10 kids and he is in his 70's....plus he didn't even start having kids until he was in his 40's. So most of my cousins are easily in their 40's and 50's. But not long after my mom passed away, my father reconnected with his siblings and we are finally becoming a family again.
A few years ago, I started corresponding (via email) with one of my cousins and he is actually close to my age. His mother (my aunt) had her children later in life, as did my dad. She actually passed away before I ever met her, but my dad speaks fondly of her and tells me that she was a great woman who was very loved.
So, my cousin, Pierre, and I started to chat. We are so happy to be connected now. When he told me he would be San Jose, I knew I had to come out and meet him and his wife Nathalie. They live in Alma, the same town where my father was born, in Quebec. The reason they are out here is because Pierre has also recently reconnected with brothers and sisters from his father's previous marriage. Pierre didn't know, until recently, that he even had brothers and sisters and they didn't know either. Pierre has developed a particularly strong bond with Ted, his brother, and is here in San Jose to visit with him for a couple of weeks.
So after a long car ride with girls, I arrived in San Jose today and got to meet not only my cousin, but his wife and his brother. It was an emotional night for all.

To round up our day of travel: Everything went actually pretty well. We left the house at 6 am, hit horrific traffic in L.A. (as was expected), made one potty break, then had lunch in San Luis Obispo, at Big Sky Cafe. The food & service were really excellent. Lola fell asleep in the car soon after lunch and when we stopped in Salinas for a potty break, we noticed that her tooth fell out. We can't find it anywhere and she was rather upset by this. I calmed her down by telling her that all she has to do is draw a picture of the tooth and write a note to the tooth fairy that her tooth is lost and that will be good enough. But the she thinks she may have swallowed the tooth and, secretly, that is what she's really afraid of.

Some photos of our trip....the restaurant, the Salinas gas station potty when we discovered Lola's tooth was first missing, Pierre and his brother, me and Pierre.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new....


I was originally going to title this post, "so my little girl is growing up" or something of that nature, but then I realized that a lot of posts are titled very similarly. But yes, this post is about yet another rite of passage...Lola losing her two bottom baby teeth. She is very excited about the whole prospect of the tooth fairy visiting her at night. I think it's really funny that here is this 5 year old girl who does not believe in Santa Claus or the Easter bunny or anything like that, but the tooth fairy??? Holy cow, the tooth fairy is alive and kicking in her mind and bless her soul for that.

(Although, we did have to have a talk about the economy and how the tooth fairy is frugal during such tough financial circumstances and can't possibly afford to hand out $20's for every tooth anymore, as she was told was the 'going rate' by her little friend.)

Poor thing, though, she is experiencing some discomfort and finds hard to chew a lot of foods. She's eating avocados, miso soup, tofu, fruit, etc...In addition to losing her two bottom teeth, the new ones have already cut the gums right behind the old ones, plus she is just breaking her 6 year molars in. 4 new teeth at once.
As much as she's excited about losing her baby teeth, I can feel she's a teeny weeny bit overwhelmed with all this growing up business that she's been doing a lot of lately. She's a little extra sensitive and has been crying a bit more than usual. I'm trying to be a bit more patient with her and give her a little extra love. Oh and yah, we need to find/make a tooth pillow (or pouch) pretty darned fast. I think it's going to be another day or two max!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Just a funny picture, nothing more!


I just really like this picture. The expression on her face is priceless.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Princess Sophie

Last week, Lola attended a theatre day camp through our local recreation center. The camp location was at a nearby middle school auditorium. The class worked all week on their very own play, which they presented to parents and friends on Friday. The kids got to name and create their own characters, develop the plot to their story and make up their own dialogue (which some guidance from their instructor, of course!!). It wasn't all about the theatrics, either. They played really creative games that honed in on their imagination skills. I was really impressed when I saw them in action. Lola loved it. For the performance, she played Princess Sophie, but didn't actually have any dialog. She said she didn't really want to talk! Wow, I've never known Lola to NOT want to talk, but ok!!! Nonetheless, she was ecstactic and truly proud of herself and the group accomplishment. It was great and despite her being so young for such a long day camp, I would totally send her again next year, if she wants to do it.
video

Camping & 4th of July Festivities






This past weekend we went tent camping for the first time as a family. We have camped a few times before in a camper or cabin, but this was a first time tent experience for us. I took just Lola for the first half of the weekend, while Elise stayed home with Dan. We didn't have any camping equipment so there was a bit of a mad rush to get the stuff we needed. It worked out great. Definitely a good first time experience for us. The campground itself wasn't a huge hit with Dan...it was beyond dusty and didn't have many amenities. He really prefers a few frills, like a pool or activities for the kids, etc...Although it was a bit more basic than he was expecting, he still had fun, which I'm glad for, considering he doesn't particularly care for camping anyway.
One of the highlights was the girls waking me up at some unGODLY hour (what was up with the crows performing an operetta at 5 am??) and taking the kids out on a little nature walk to see what wildlife we could spot. Although, the wildlife was sparse (that's actually a really good thing, considering some of the creatures we COULD have run into), we got great photos of the sun waking up and poking through the enormously tall trees.

The kids were besides themselves with glee and that is really what was important. They loved it and now we will be making it a much more regular activity for our family.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The calm before the chaos...




I know the expression is "calm before the storm" but storm sounded a little negative to me and "chaos"...well...chaos is just more of an accurate depiction.
Lola and I are going camping tomorrow and today is the only day I have to get everything done.

Lola has been in a theatre day camp everyday this week and tomorrow she and her class are performing a play that they've been practicing all week. I'm thrilled for her. She's very excited. I was apprehensive for the first couple of days that she was going...the age range is really wide, 5-16 years old. And I realized that Lola was the youngest and had to keep up the same schedule as the others. The first couple of days, she really had some adjustment. She was a more emotional than usual and had a bit of a chip on her shoulder. It's a long day for a 5 year old....typically, day camps for this age group are only 1/2 days, but Lola's is a full day.
She seems to be doing ok now, though, and I can't wait to see the play! We are hoping to leave for the campground soon after the cast party.

So, since I knew today would be a bunch of running around and packing, I decided to take Elise out to breakfast after we dropped Lola off at camp. It was really nice. I tend not to do much with Elise when Lola isn't around. I always feel guilty that she's missing out! I need to get over that, though. Anyway, we had a nice breakfast. Elise built endless "castles" out of cream containers and butter packets. It was cute.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Great Leaps Forward...

There's been so many recent accomplishments around here. Seems to be theme of this blog lately! In this past week, there's been at least one major accomplishment for each of us that has us beaming. Well, maybe not Dan...he's got ongoing drama in his business life. Poor guy.
First, the girls are now sharing a bed together at night, which means one very important thing: they are no longer hogging our bed!!! Yay! And it's been going so smoothly, we're kicking ourselves for not having started this sooner. Now, all of a sudden, they are happy to go to bed and, incredibly, they are sleeping all night. I'm surprised that we've not had a single middle of the night visit to our bed, which was happening all the time with Lola before we decided to put Elise in there with her. We're so happy for them and for us. We're all sleeping so much better!

Next, I got an idea from my friend, lifeineastcounty...she put up a chart for her girls and they are given stickers to encourage them to get along. I think at the end of the week, they get to go out for ice cream or something similar. I tried this with my girls recently too. Elise has begun using the potty quite regularly now so she gets a sticker on her chart for everytime she goes. Today was an especially good day...only one time did she not make it to the potty and it was because she had fallen asleep. I hope this is the real thing. It would be really nice to be done with diapers.
Lola also has a chart now too. She is learning the intricate art of being respectful of others around her. This means no interrupting when others are talking, especially nagging while one is on the phone, and being patient. For example, if I say "hmm, tomorrow we might stop off and get a smoothie before going to blah, blah, blah..." This means that while I have every intention of following through with my thought, it may not happen RIGHT THIS SECOND. She has a really hard time waiting. And I completely understand!! I get it! I get that she is only 5 and that waiting is a really hard concept to grasp. And while I'm perfectly understanding of her enthusiasm, what I'm not ok with are the 100 questions I have to answer before the actually event takes place...they are all really the same question, but posed in 15 different ways. That I asnwer over and over. And over again. It's enough to make me say, "you know what? Forget the f%$#ing smoothie!!!".

So yeah, we're working on that!

As for my own accomplishment? I just harvested my very first potatoes! I don't know why I'm so happy for myself about this, it's probably not that hard of a task! But for some reason, I'm really invested in my garden...I'm still so shocked that I have managed to grow something! Before this, I had the least green thumb possible and I'm known for unintentionally killing every plant that has every graced my home. But this garden is so beautiful and prosperous, despite me. Probably one of the most rewarding things I have done since birthing my children!

We also have some family visiting and it's always great to hang out with them. We've watched Dan's cousins, Nicole and Colette, grow up from kids into thoughtful, considerate and very wise young women. They are incredibly aware of their responsibility to our planet and strive to be good global citizens. They are very 'in tune' with themselves. It's a great to be around them and it rejuvenates my own pledges to a natural family environment and the earth.

All in all, a great week around this house.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lola's big day, Part 2






After graduation this morning and a rather short appearance at playgroup, we had to get ready for the county fair, where Lola was to perform with her gymnastics group. The group's performance was amazing and cute. I'm still in awe at how such young little minds can remember all the steps and execute them with such finesse!
After Lola's show, we hung out in kid's section of the fair. She and Elise rode rides, ate all kinds of crap that they would not normally eat at home, played carnie games and had the time of their lives.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A huge day for Lola, Part 1





Today was major. And a couple of weeks leading up to day were chaotic too. Lola graduated from Kindergarten this morning and then had a gymnastics performance this evening at the county fair opening day. That's just the actual events that happened today...and while they were fantastic and awesome in their own rights, they are not exactly all of what made this day so major. There's an emotional layer underneath...us, as parents, watching our little girl grow leaps and bounds and Lola herself, realizing what big steps she took.
Let's break it down.
Lola's graduation...this really should be a whole other post because it should include how fabulous our kindergarten year was, how great her school is, how great her teacher is, how wonderful our part-time school/homeschooling program has worked for us, how involved the parents were, etc...etc...All that wonderfulness aside, the graduation was emotional and super cute. I was probably more emotional today than I was the first day Lola's school. Today, there was an element of saying goodbye. I mean, it's just for a few weeks before first grade starts, but since her school is moving to a new location, it seems more like an end to an era.
Lola seems so much older now than the beginning of the year! The teachers provided a slide show of photos that they had taken all year long...all our field trips, swimming, skating, dancing, gardening and whatnot. It was amazing to see how much we had done during the year....it flew by all too quickly. It was a cute graduation. The kids sang really creative songs about what they learned at Kindergarten and what they were looking forward to in the first grade! Afterward, we feasted on goodies that we had brought, potluck style.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quick update on our trip

Unfortunately, bad packer that I am, I forgot some major stuff for this trip. The camera battery charger, the patch cord to upload photos from said camera, any warm and/or waterproof clothing items that would have been extremely helpful for this trip and my phone charger.
We are in the pacific northwest on an island off the coast. The weather is cold and rainy, totally unlike where we came from.
Luckily, the wifi works...very occasionally, but I get pockets of wifi opportunities here and there. I had to break down and buy disposable cameras (2 for 1 on sale though, score!). My phone is dead, nothing I can do about that. A hurried trip to Kmart (there are very few options here) got us a couple of extra sweaters that are already dirty (no laundry facilities!!!). We'll have to make a trip into town tomorrow to find some boots or shoes for Lola because hers got wrecked by all the hiking and beachcombing in the rain that we did today. They weren't in fabulous shape when we started, though. I was kicking myself for only bringing 2 pairs of shoes for her on this trip, but I had no idea the island was this rugged and every other pair of shoes she owns are sandals. We live in southern California after all, what the hell do we need with boots???

But, all that aside, we are having a FABULOUS trip! The reason for our pile of dirty clothes and the thrashed shoes is because we are getting out there on the shores of these islands and digging our hands and feet into mother earth. We are hiking, beachcombing, birdwatching, wildlife observing and history learning. On our beachcombing adventures today, we found clams, mussels, oysters, crabs, sea glass and hermit crabs. Even a bald eagle graced us with its presence! In the parks we found mama ducks leading their babies ducks in the lake, and learned about the Maiden of Deception Pass.
Robins, goldfinches and rabbits visit us frequently in the front yard and we watch boats, ships and barges drift past us all day long.
It's been an amazing trip so far and worth every penny.

I have some really great photos (I hope!) that I cannot wait to share.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chickpea cookies.



Sound appealing? I assure you it's not nearly as appealing as it sounds. Last night I attempted to make "chicken" nuggets, using chickpeas. But since I didn't actually have any recipe (well, I did actually, I just didn't know it....long story!) and don't own a copy of Veganomicon, I decided to wing it. How hard could chickpea patties possibly be, after all?
Well, as it turns out, not that easy! I just started throwing stuff in the food processor and then adjusting/adding new ingredients until I got a somewhat desired consistency.
Chickpeas, spinach, carrots, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, vital wheat gluten, chickpea flour....it was going ok until I decided to add a couple of eggs (why? I don't know), then the batter was way too...wet. A cursory search in my cupboard revealed that I had no more chickpeas, but I did have a can of black beans. In they went.
The final result, even after adding a bunch more flour, was pretty runny, much like pancake batter. I spooned small amounts onto an oiled cookie sheet and baked. Out came my chickpea cookies. They are not terrible tasting...the kids ate them with ketchup. I had a few with hummus spread on top. Dan took one bite and that was it.
Little does he know that I am serving them again tonight, falafel style, with pita and yogurt sauce. A nice greek salad to round it out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ballet school dropout? Maybe.




I haven't blogged in ages, I know. Either there just hasn't been anything interesting happening around here lately, or I'm just really not motivated enough to be creative with the introspect.
Whatever. I did finally get inspired to blog today because I took Elise to her very first ever ballet class. I have done a toddler "parent & me" gym class with her once before this, but today's ballet class was her first 'non-me' class.
To backtrack slightly, the parent participation class that we had previously done, was a 9 week class...30 minutes, once a week for 9 weeks. It took Elise until about the 7th or 8th week to finally participate in a majority of the scattered activities. She had clear favorites, like the parachute, that she would participate in every time, but others she was less fond of...like the warm-up. Some she grew to like.
Anyway, since she opened much during the span of that 9 weeks, I thought she might be ready for something new, like this ballet class.
Well, she looked awfully cute, but she spent most of the 30 minutes outside the building, either pouting, crying or trying to talk me into taking her to the playground across the street instead.
It was frustrating because she was the only one there who refused to participate...it was the first class of the series so there were all these moms, dads and even grandparents there, taking pictures of their little princesses, all doing everything the teacher told them to do.
And then there WE were.
Elise running to the corner and me, on the floor, trying do all the little exercises to show her how FUN it all is!
She studied the class a little bit, sometimes even copying the hand movements they were doing to the tune of the song they were all singing. But mostly, she just climbed on and off the bench and then, at one point, Lola accidentally stepped on her hand and that made her cry. Loudly. I swooped her up and took her out of the room, not wanting to disrupt the class.
I don't know how I should've handled the situation. It definitely felt wrong to scold a 2 year for not participating in a ballet class that she clearly didn't want to do, but I must admit, it was embarrassing to have all those eyes on me... eyes that probably judged me, at least a little bit, for not having more "control" over my child. Or at least, this is my insecurity.
Instead, I just took her outside and tried to provoke her interest in the class by pointing out the things they were doing. We stayed for the whole class, most of time we were outside looking in the window. Whenever I would ask her if that looked like fun, she would agree with a big grin on her face. Then I'd try to get her to join the class and she'd meet my face with her stern expression and say "NO, mommy".

*sigh*. I don't know why this upset me so much today. I guess it's moments like these that I wonder what I'm doing and doubting if I'm doing anything right. Please let me know if you have experiences to share!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Making do...




Poor Lola. Pretty much her whole weekend was a bust. All the things she was excited about didn't actually come to fruition. On Friday night we were supposed to join some friends camping and we promised her we would do s'mores by the fire. We even went out together and bought the supplies. But Friday night provided us with a series of mishaps and our get-together didn't happen. To make matter worse, Lola would up with a high fever on Saturday morning, which means she did not get to attend a birthday party that she had really been looking forward to. We had even bought a new dress for it just the day before.

Since she was feeling a lot better by Sunday night, I thought the least we could is fire up our dinky little grill and roast some marshmellows. She was thrilled. We ended up making the gooeyest s'mores she'd ever seen. She was pretty happy after that.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Our little getaway gone awry.




We decided at the very last minute (read: 11pm on Thursday night) to get away for a night on Friday. Well, there's pros and cons to planning a trip last minute. It's fun to be spontaneous, the kids get a kick out of it and it's great to get away. The cons...well, I rushed around like crazy on Friday morning, not only to pack our stuff but also going away, even just overnight, means my garden and guinea pig get neglected for 2 days. So, I took care of the garden stuff...watered the plants and seeds, then turned and watered my compost bins. I gave Henry and big salad and new hay to tide him over but didn't have any new bedding to clean up his cage with so I had to make a quick run to the pet store. My MIL came over later that day to clean up his cage and play with him a while.
So, now we were organized and, after a quick stop at playgroup, we were on our way. Here's the other little "con" about spontaneous getaways...the potential for miscommunication. I really, truly thought that the plan was for me to pick Dan up from his business meeting. He really, truly thought that we were just going to meet later in the day at the hotel (not even close to where his meeting was). I cheerfully called him, after I took the girls dress/shoes shopping, to let him know we were only a few minutes away from picking him up. That's when we had our "oh" moment and realized how badly we had miscommunicated. Turns out, he had left the meeting long ago and had accompanied the friends that we were planning to meet to get their camper and stuff that they needed for the weekend.
So the girls and I just spent the day by ourselves. We did a bit more shopping and slowly made our way to the town where our hotel was. We got there around 5 and found out that Dan and our friend were stuck in L.A. traffic with no hopes of getting out of it anytime soon.
We ordered some room service and kicked back in the hotel room to wait for Dan. We tried the pool but it was too cold so we came back to our room to hang out.
Despite the fact that Lola slept in the car most of the way to the hotel (very unusual, she never naps anymore), she konked out at 8:30. Elise, who barely slept in the car, was bouncing off the walls and totally hyper well after 10 pm, then she finally fell asleep!
After a series of mishaps, Dan finally reached the hotel room but it was late and the kids were asleep, all we wanted to do was go to bed.
Lola woke up 13 hours later, bright pink and really hot. She stayed in bed all morning and wouldn't eat or drink anything. Poor thing is sick as a dog. I guess that explains all the extra sleep yesterday. We are home now and she is still laying down. At least she's chatting a bit now...she has been so quiet and lethargic all day. I don't think I've ever seen her quite like this. If you know Lola at all, you know how energetic and incessantly chatty she is. It's very weird to see her like this.
She is so considerate though...she has been looking forward to a birthday party for a friend, but told me a little while ago that she doesn't think she should go. She said she didn't want to make anyone else sick. That is pretty mature for a 5 year old. *sniff*

Monday, March 2, 2009

Birthday weekend






This weekend we celebrated Dan's birthday, which was on Sunday, and our friend's little boy's 2 year birthday at the park on Saturday. I like when Dan has a birthday because it means that for 3 months, until my birthday come along, we are the same age. Then my birthday hits and I'm back to being older than him again.
We went out to dinner on Saturday night with a couple of friends. Sunday, we had planned to drive up to Carlsbad to meet some other friends for lunch but it turned into a whole day adventure. We took the kids to the beach and never figured anyone would be going in the water, but next thing we know, the kids and all are soaked completely from the waist down. I normally have a huge box in my car full of extra clothes, sweaters, diapers and so on, but we took Dan's car, of course, so we had nothing. We had to stop in one of those little beachwear stores and get us some dry clothes.
We ended up having dinner at a Mexican restaurant that had these great firepits. Not to mention their yummy margaritas and nopales! Poor Lola...her underwear was still soaked so we laid them on the edge of the firepit and dried them right up!
It was a fun day and we were exhausted by evening when we started going home. The kids fell fast asleep and stayed asleep all night.